11 Best Coffee Beans You Need to Try for Espresso

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If you ask a coffee enthusiast about their favorite coffee chances are they will say it’s espresso or a variation of the drink. Since lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, and so many other types of coffee are made from espresso, it’s really no surprise.

To truly fall in love with espresso you’ll need to experiment with the different options and brewing techniques but before you start pulling your shots or frothing your milk, you’ll want to pick the best possible coffee beans. I narrowed down the best experiences I’ve had with espresso, espresso-based drinks, to these coffee beans.

I’ve tried a number of different coffee batches for an espresso and this one stood out the most. Scroll further down to see my list of the best coffee beans for espresso.

The Best Coffee Beans for Espresso:

Pellini Vivace

  • Size: 35oz(1kg)
  • 90% Arabica 10% Robusta beans
  • Flavor notes: Chocolate
  • Single-origin
  • Premium Italian coffee

If want to make espresso, but haven’t mastered your espresso machine just yet, take a look at this step-by-step guide. It’s a simple way to make perfect espresso every time.

Here is a list of the best coffee beans you need to try for espresso. The reason these specific beans are suggested is because of their full flavor and delightful crema they offer.

11 Best Coffee Beans for Espresso

BrandRoastFlavor Notes
Pellini No.82 Vivace
Pellini No.82 VivaceMedium RoastChocolateCheck Price
Doma Coffee
Doma Coffee Roasting Co Carmela’sMedium RoastDark chocolate, pepper, and pipe tobaccoCheck Price
Top Shelf Grind
Top Shelf Grind Black DiamondDark RoastDark chocolate and Brazilian nutCheck Price
Copper Moon
Copper Moon Rainforest ReserveDark RoastCaramelCheck Price
Stumptown Coffee Roasters Hair Bender
Stumptown Hair BenderMedium RoastCitrus and dark chocolateCheck Price
SF Bay Coffee Extra Dark Italian
SF Bay Extra Dark Italian RoastExtra Dark RoastDark cocoa and brown spiceCheck Price
Intelligentsia Black Cat Classic
Intelligentsia Black Cat EspressoMedium RoastDark chocolate, ripe cherry, and brown sugarCheck Price
Verena Street Shot Tower Espresso Dark Roast
Verena Street Shot Tower EspressoDark RoastCaramelCheck Price
Kicking Horse Coffee Smart Ass Medium Roast
Kicking Horse Smart Ass
Medium Roast
Sugar cane, milk chocolate, and honeyed berryCheck Price
Lavazza Espresso Italiano
Lavazza Espresso ItalianoMedium RoastFruits and flowersCheck Price
Tanzania Peaberry Coffee
Tanzania PeaberryMedium RoastDried fruit, savory chocolate, and orangeCheck Price

Pellini No.82 Vivace

  • Size: 35oz(1kg)
  • 90% Arabica 10% Robusta beans
  • Flavor notes: Chocolate
  • Single-origin
  • Premium Italian coffee

I know you’re looking for that real authentic Italian espresso, well you’ve found it. This incredible coffee makes mouth-watering, creamy, smooth espresso. It’s literally everything you’d expect from the best espresso coffee beans, bold flavor, delightful crema, and just the right amount of caffeine.

I can’t say enough good things about this coffee. It’s the real deal. I know it doesn’t come in a fancy package or have a captivating marketing scheme, calling itself “the strongest coffee” or something useless like that, but believe me, this coffee is perfect for espresso. It’s as close as you will get to experiencing true European-style cafe shop espresso at home.

This batch is a little pricier than most coffee beans on this list, but for a good reason. Out of all the coffee beans I used to make espresso none have tasted better than Pellini Vivace. This is a must-try for all coffee enthusiasts, and it certainly earned the top spot on my list of the best coffee beans for espresso.

Doma Coffee Roasting Co: Carmela’s Espresso Medium Roast

  • Size: 12oz
  • Flavor notes: Dark chocolate, pepper, pipe tobacco
  • Aromas of brown sugar and almond
  • Freshly roasted to order

Here is a coffee bean most people have never tried nor heard of. Doma makes the perfect espresso coffee beans because of the delicate care they put into each batch. These roasted to-order fresh beans will make you fall in love with espresso if you haven’t already.

I want you to try these beans in a shot of espresso the very next time you make a coffee. Enjoy the sweet and nutty aroma and the vivid chocolate and pepper notes of the java. If you are looking for the best coffee beans for espresso, look no further, these will do perfectly.

Doma has been around for a little bit, making fresh, organic coffee beans. You can find a selection of them online. I personally love Carmela’s batch because of the rich flavor and spinetingling aroma.

Top Shelf Grind Company: Black Diamond Dark Roast

  • Beans sourced from Colombia
  • Very high caffeine
  • Flavor notes: Dark chocolate and Brazilian nut
  • Worlds strongest roasted java

This is a relatively new player on the coffee scene but they are certainly making an impact. This is not coffee for a casual espresso drinker, instead, it’s meant for people who’ve outgrown their regular cup of joe and need something a little stronger.

The title of “strongest coffee” gets won and lost on a regular basis but for now, Top Shelf Black Dimond is making the most caffeinated java on the market. How long will that last? I’m not sure. Having said that, I don’t want you to try it because it’s strong, I want you to drink it because it’s really good.

These roasters got everything right with these beans, they are ideal for espresso. The coffee has the right amount of boldness, the aroma is irresistible, and when pulled correctly the crema is heavenly.

Another reason to feel good about these roasters is the responsible sourcing of the beans. The company remains eco-friendly and is so sure you’ll enjoy your purchase they offer a full refund for anyone who doesn’t. 

Copper Moon: Rainforest Reserve Dark Roast

  • Size: 32oz(1lb)
  • Beans sourced from 5 continents and 17 different countries
  • 100% Arabica
  • Flavor notes: Caramel
  • Certified organic, non-GMO, gluten-free

You’ve got to make room for these healthy coffee beans. Anyone who is conscious of the environment, social issues, and responsible farming should take notice of Copper Moon. This is one of their best batches, especially when it comes to espresso. I can’t say enough good things about the smooth taste of the coffee, low acidity, and pleasant aroma. 

The company is committed to its farmers, and high-quality beans, and for that, it earned its spot on my list of best espresso coffee beans. 

When you make these hand-roasted beans in an espresso machine you bring out all their best qualities.  They are smoky, bittersweet, with hints of caramel, perfect for anyone who enjoys bold coffee flavors.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters: Hair Bender Medium Roast

  • Size: 12oz
  • Beans sourced from Indonesia, Latin America, and Africa
  • 100% Arabica coffee
  • Flavor notes: Citrus and dark chocolate

This brand should look a little more familiar, especially to regular coffee drinkers. It should be no surprise that Stumptown makes it on my list of best espresso coffee beans because they deliver exceptional quality coffee undoubtedly worth your consideration.

Stumptown continues to impress the coffee community with its premium-grade coffee beans. In return, the community continues to support these environmentally conscious and resourceful innovators.

If you’d rather stick to a proven classic instead of experimenting with newer coffee roasters I suggest the Hair Bender. Its dark chocolate and citrus flavor notes will make your espresso delightfully enjoyable. You shouldn’t feel any lingering aftertaste from these wonderful coffee beans.

The company was established in Portland, so I wonder if that’s what Stumptown is referring to with its name. Maybe one day ill find out. Until then, I’m going to keep enjoying one of the best espresso coffee beans every time I can.

SF Bay Coffee: Extra Dark Italian Roast

  • Size: 32oz (2lbs)
  • Beans sourced from Central and South America
  • 100% Arabica
  • Flavor notes: Dark cocoa and brown spice
  • Kosher

Extra dark roast coffee should not be taken lightly. These beans have a strong dark cocoa flavor and are a must-try for anyone looking for that real smoky coffee taste.  Everyone can enjoy these beans, but I want you to be aware of the difference between a dark roast and an Italian extra dark roast.

You can expect the extra dark roast beans to have burnt notes, licorice-like flavors with an almost wet texture. The beans take on extra gloss from the excessive roasting. If you’re a fan of these flavors, you need to try these beans as soon a possible.

I don’t drink extra dark espresso often, but I like to throw it into the mix once in a while. It has low acidity and can be the perfect addition for people who like to experiment with different flavors on occasion.

Intelligentsia: Black Cat Espresso Medium Roast

  • Size: 12oz
  • Beans sourced from Brazil and Colombia
  • 100% Arabica coffee beans
  • Flavor notes: Dark chocolate, ripe cherry, and brown sugar
  • Direct trade

Ideal for espresso, no doubt about it. This coffee might not be your favorite cup when made in a drip machine or a pour-over, but when pulled through an espresso machine it’s something special. Maybe it’s the carefully sourced beans or the thorough roasting process, but something about these beans screams espresso. Once you try them, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

What makes these coffee beans special are their unique smoothness and delicate aftertaste. Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso coffee is a must-try for every coffee enthusiast, novice and expert alike.

Verena Street: Shot Tower Espresso Dark Roast

  • Size: 32oz(2lbs)
  • Coffee beans sourced from Rainforest Alliance
  • 100% Arabica coffee beans
  • Flavor notes: Caramel
  • Kosher certified

These beans are perfect for anyone searching for robust flavor without the bitter, burnt taste of many dark roasts. Some say the flavor of these beans is a little over the top, especially in espresso, but others are looking for exactly that.

The rich flavor of this coffee makes it a must-try. Next time you’re thinking about expanding your coffee horizons, look no further than Verna Street. With their fantastic taste, low acidity, and creamy texture these beans need to be on your hitlist.

Kicking Horse Coffee: Smart Ass Medium Roast

  • Size: 10oz or 2.2lb(1kg)
  • Beans sourced from Africa, Central and South America
  • 100% Arabica coffee beans
  • Flavor notes: Sugar cane, milk chocolate, and honeyed berry
  • Roasted in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Kicking Horse continues to make delicious quality organic, shade-grown Arabica, Canadian Rocky Mountain-roasted coffee that’s only truly appreciated by those who’ve tried it.

When made as espresso these beans provide you a much-anticipated pick-me-up along with a subtle taste of sweetness and chocolate. Ideal for people beginning to dabble with espresso.

If you add this to your list of must-try beans you won’t be disappointed. The coffee is all-organic roasted right in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. As Canadas number one selling whole bean coffee company they offer top-notch quality coupled with unrivaled service.

Lavazza: Espresso Italiano Medium Roast

  • Beans sourced from Central and South America
  • 100% Arabica coffee beans
  • Flavor notes: Fruits and flowers
  • Non-GMO

I’m not a huge fan of all Lavazza coffee beans but these are exceptional and ideal for espresso. If I wasn’t experimenting with so many different coffee brands, I would be endorsing this batch full-time. This coffee is everything you’re looking for in espresso. The beans are rich, bold, and creamy, and smooth.

What I specifically enjoyed about this coffee is its balanced flavor. The tones of fruits and flowers stick around but also didn’t fade away too quickly.

No one makes expresso better than Italians. If you’re a traditionalist and don’t want to take a chance on a brand you’re not familiar with, go ahead a take a safe bet on these wonderful coffee beans.

Volcanica Coffee Company: Tanzania Peaberry Medium Roast

  • Beans sourced from Costa Rica
  • 100% Arabica coffee beans
  • Flavor notes: Dried fruit, savory chocolate, and orange
  • Washed

Volcanica coffee beans are an ideal choice for individuals who are seeking a healthy cup of joe. These roasters take additional time in making sure the quality of their products is top-notch.

Once you try these coffee beans you’ll grow to enjoy their rich tones of honey and lemon. What I really appreciated about the shot of espresso is that it didn’t have a lingering aftertaste.

These coffee roasters hit it out of the park with this batch. I can’t say enough good things about the smooth taste of the coffee, low acidity, and a pleasant chocolaty and nutty aroma.


Espresso, perfect for long-time coffee enthusiasts, ideal for causal coffee drinkers, and a worthy initiation drink for first-timers. Either way, you are serving espresso make sure you’re making it from the freshest and purest beans available.

I put together this list of the best coffee beans for espresso to help guide you on your coffee journey. Hopefully, you found something you liked, or maybe learned something new about beans you’ve tried before.

Add the beans that suit you best to your coffee hitlist and always remember to try different beans as often as possible. Coffee will always change from brand to brand, and from batch to batch, so it’s always good to have a backup or two in mind.

Related Questions

Can You Make Espresso from Regular Coffee?

The simple answer is yes, you can make espresso from regular coffee beans. You don’t need to purchase a specific type of coffee to enjoy this type of coffee.

I do suggest trying Pellini Vivace because it’s as close as you can get to the authentic cafe-style espresso at home.

What is the Best Espresso Coffee Machine?

Even though everyone will have their own preference I recommend you use the Gevi semi-automatic espresso machine. I made a list of all the best affordable espresso machines on the market, where you will find more information about this wonderful coffee maker.

Is Espresso the Same as Black Coffee?

Espresso and black coffee are not the same things. Espresso is a potent shot of coffee whereas black coffee is your regular morning pick-me-up. Even though espresso has more caffeine per 1oz serving, a whole mug of black coffee has significantly more caffeine than a single shot of espresso.

Must-Try Espresso Coffee Beans
Vivace 82
Pellini No. 82 Vivace
Italian Quality

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