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Best Espresso Beans: Our Top 10 For 2024

We’ve sampled a ton of espresso beans and some of our favorites are Sightglass Organic Crown Point, Atlas Coffee Espresso (50% off here!), and this single-origin espresso from Lifeboost. Read on to find out why.

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Best Espresso Beans

Espresso has become this diversified little coffee drink that’s not limited to a specific roast or flavors. While many might enjoy an intense and full-bodied shot with notes of roasted peanuts and dark chocolate, I prefer a medium-bodied style that marries vibrant fruit characteristics with sweet caramel flavors.

And that’s okay! I’d say what really makes an espresso bean great depends on how easy it is to coax sweet and balanced flavors out of the beans. And that means a well-crafted blend (or single-origin coffee) that will play nice with a wide range of espresso-making equipment, regardless of your flavor preference.

So you haven’t met an espresso you liked. Let’s try again, shall we? We’re here to point you in the direction of some of the best we’ve tried, for tastes of every kind.

Key Takeaways

  • Espresso isn’t one-size-fits-all; whether you love dark, full-bodied flavors or lighter, fruity notes, there’s a bean for every preference.
  • What sets espresso apart from regular coffee isn’t the bean itself, but how finely it’s ground and the brewing method involving pressure and temperature.
  • The best espresso beans come from mindful sourcing and precise roasting and are often versatile enough to be used across different espresso-making equipment.

At A Glance: Best Espresso Beans

Quick Summary: The Best Espresso Beans

rc2-table__imageLifeboost Organic Espresso Coffee Beans
  • USDA Organic
  • Hand Roasted
  • Hand Picked, Spring Water Washed, Sun Dried
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  • Comforting & Rich
  • Raspberry, Chocolate, Butterscotch
  • Medium-Dark Roast
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rc2-table__imageAtlas Coffee Club
  • Freshly Roasted
  • Single Origin Espresso
  • Subscription Service
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rc2-table__imageCoffee Bros Espresso Roast
  • Rich Flavor Profile
  • High-Quality Beans
  • Freshly Roasted
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  • Syrupy & Smooth
  • Medium Roast
  • Milk Chocolate, Nut, Ripe Fruit
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rc2-table__imageCuvee Coffee Karmadillo Dark Blend
  • Syrupy & Smooth
  • Medium-Dark Roast
  • Roastiness, Sweet Vanilla, Ripe Fruit
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rc2-table__imageRed Bay Coffee Brazilian Cake Lady
  • One Of The World's Great Flavor Combinations
  • Chocolate And Peanut Butter
  • Smooth, Sweet Expression
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Death Wish Coffee Co., Organic and Fair Trade Dark Roast Ground Coffee, 16 ozDeath Wish Coffee
  • USDA Certified Organic
  • Best Coffee Grounds In The World
  • Arabica And Robusta Coffee Beans
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Kicking Horse Coffee, 454 Horse Power, Dark Roast, Whole Bean, 2.2 lbKicking Horse 454 Coffee
  • Dark Roast Whole Bean
  • Certified Organic
  • Rich, Dark Chocolate, Cacao Nibs, Brown Sugar And Roasted Hazelnuts
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Koffee Kult Thunder Bolt Dark Roast Coffee Beans, Whole Bean, Fresh Roasted, 100% Arabica Robust...Koffee Kult Thunder Bolt
  • Organically Sourced
  • Columbian Coffee Whole Bean Product
  • Aroma Is Pleasing As The Taste Of The Gourmet Coffee
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Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso, Whole Bean Coffee, 5 Pound BagCoffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso
  • Italian Roast Espresso
  • Peak Flavor And Aroma In Your Latte, Mocha, Espresso Or Drip
  • Dark Roast Blend With Flavor Notes Of Cocoa And Smoky Molasses For A Vibrant And Strong Taste
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Intelligentsia Coffee, Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee - Black Cat Espresso 12 Ounce Bag with Flavor...Intelligentsia Black Cat Analog Espresso
  • Blend Produces Consistently Sweet And Chocolaty Espressos
  • Full-Bodied Analog Espresso With Hints Of Dark Chocolate
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What makes an “espresso bean”?

It’s not the beans that draw the line between espresso and brewed coffee. It is the method of preparation that those beans undergo. The origin and notes actually have nothing to do with it. But the grind size, pressure, and temperature? They have everything to do with it.

To make a good shot of espresso, your beans need to be very finely ground so the coffee can survive the high pressure and hot water during the brewing process. First, these grounds get tamped into a puck. Then, water is heated to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit and an espresso machine uses at least 9 bars (but often as many as 15 bars) of pressure to push the steam through the grounds.

This extraction process should take between 25 and 30 seconds. The high heat, high pressure, and increased surface area allow you to get a very intense coffee concentrate fondly known as espresso.

On the other hand, the average cup of Joe can be made with more coarsely ground beans because coffee brewing methods, like a French press or drip machine, do not have nearly the pressure or intensity of an espresso machine.

When it comes to roasting the beans, espresso beans are typically roasted longer and to a darker color than regular coffee beans, making their flavors stronger and the natural oils more prominent, therefore producing a fuller-tasting brew.

So, is there a difference between espresso and coffee beans, you ask? Not really. The beans themselves are the same, but it’s the method of preparation that sets the two apart. So, if you find yourself in a bind or want to experiment with your everyday cup of java, you can use coffee beans for espresso as long as they are finely ground, and if they are more coarse, your espresso beans are capable of producing a good cup of coffee.

Best High-Intensity Beans

Lifeboost Premium Espresso

lifeboost espresso beans
Lifeboost Organic Espresso Coffee Beans
Our rating:

Your coffee beans are lovingly cultivated by local farmers, after being grown slowly to full maturity in mountain shade. Your beans are hand-picked — one at a time to provide the highest in Gourmet blends — and then fermented for 26 hours so the skin can be carefully removed without damaging the seed.


If you’re in the market for a bag of organic fair trade coffee that will give you a solid caffeine kick, look no further than Lifeboost Premium Espresso. These tiny beans pack a mighty punch, and its notes of chocolate and caramel coupled with its slightly fruity flavor will guarantee this dark roast becomes the fuel that keeps your coffee addiction going.

These beans are grown in the mountains of Nicaragua, and after being handpicked one at a time, rinsed in spring water, and dried in the hot Central American sun, these espresso coffee beans are roasted to perfection, so you can rest assured that the quality of your coffee is of the utmost importance from the start of the process to finish.

Lifeboost’s 100% Arabica beans are grown without the use of any harsh chemicals or pesticides, so as you drink your freshly brewed shot of this lower-acidity espresso, you can be confident that you’re getting a high-quality coffee experience with every sip.

Click here to try it for yourself.

Sightglass Organic Crown Point

Sightglass Crown Point
Sightglass Organic Crown Point
Our rating:

No fair-weather fans here. Although this espresso rotates seasonally, it’s consistently a crowd-pleaser—especially when paired with milk.


If you’re a coffee aficionado with a strong sweet tooth and a passion for drinking organic brews, the Organic Crown Point blend from Sightglass has your name written all over it.

This espresso was created to pair well with milk, and its full-bodied flavor does just that. What makes this particular blend of beans unique is that it’s made of three different coffees: two types of Central and South American coffee that rotate seasonally and Ethiopian beans. Plus, it’s medium-roasted, which is great for those who prefer lighter roasts over dark ones.

Like Free Coffee? Get your first bag free with an Atlas Coffee World Tour Click here to get the deal

As you sip on coffee brewed from this blend of quality beans, you’ll notice notes of raspberry, chocolate, and butterscotch.

Atlas Coffee Club

Atlas Coffee Club
Atlas Coffee Club
Our rating:

We source premium single origin espresso beans from farms around the world and pay well above fair trade prices for the beans, helping to ensure ethically sustainable farming practices and the highest quality coffee year after year.

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If you like trying new espresso on the regular, we can’t recommend this coffee subscription club more!

With four new single origins to choose from each month, you get to curate what you get by selecting your preferred roast, grind level, and quantity of coffee.

Each roast is a single origin from the world’s top-tier coffee farmers. Beans are selected by Atlas Coffee Club and can’t be found anywhere else – they are one of a kind!

When you get your monthly box, you will get a postcard from the country of origin, tasting notes on the coffee, and the history of that coffee or farm. Each bag is roasted fresh the day before shipping and roasted to your preferred level.

With low prices per pound, this great subscription service lets you explore different coffee flavors from around the world. Whether it’s for espresso, drip, pour over, or whatever style of brewing you prefer, you won’t be disappointed with this high-quality coffee!

Coffee Bros Espresso Roast

Coffee Bros Espresso Roast
Coffee Bros Espresso Roast
Our rating:

We spent special care in roasting this Espresso Roast to highlight the natural sugars and sweetness from this Arabica, whole bean coffee. Our Espresso Roast Coffee beans are not the charred, over-roasted espresso roast.

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This espresso roast from Coffee Bros highlights sweeter flavors rather than more roasty flavors. It’s a delicious blend that’s vibrant, smooth, made from 100% Arabica beans, and freshly roasted for a maximum experience of flavors.

The Coffee Bros Espresso Roast is a natural/washed processed blend from Shara, Yirgacheffe Ethiopia, and Huila or Nariño, Colombia that’s grown at a mixed altitude of 1,860-2,300 meters. The tasting notes include strawberry, sugar cane, and vanilla.

Coffee Bros went the extra mile to ensure that this roast highlights the natural sugar and sweetness. They make sure that it’s perfectly roasted so that the flavor profile is significantly brought out. It has a vibrant and round body that’s sure to wake the mind!

Blueprint Coffee Penrose Blend

Penrose Blueprint Coffee
Blueprint Coffee Penrose Blend
Our rating:

With its nutty sweetness and gentle body, this iteration of Blueprint’s ever-changing espresso blend would be perfect in any espresso drink.


Are you looking for an espresso blend that tastes great no matter the time of year? If you answered yes (and why wouldn’t you?), a bag of Blueprint Coffee’s Penrose beans just might be exactly what you need.

This coffee is seasonal, which means its beans constantly change depending on which components are currently in season. That’s great news for coffee enthusiasts, as the beans guarantee a delicious cup all year long. You’ll find the smooth Penrose boasts a sweetness strong enough to stand on its own, but it tastes just as good with a splash of milk or creamer, too.

Cuvee Coffee Karmadillo Dark Blend

Karmadillo Dark Espresso Blend
Cuvee Coffee Karmadillo Dark Blend
Our rating:

For those among us who live la vida mocha: here’s your go-to. With incredible depth and chocolaty sweetness, this one packs a wallop you won’t soon forget.


It’s probably safe to assume Cuvee Coffee’s Karmadillo dark blend espresso is strong because according to the company’s website, this bag of dark roast beans “packs enough of a punch to feel as if you were brought back to life.” This is great news for those of us who are quite literally dead to the world until the first sip of strong coffee in the morning touches our souls.

Central and South American beans partner with Indonesian and Ethiopian coffee to create this batch of espresso that’s marked with flavors of milk chocolate and caramelized sugar.

A single shot of espresso brewed from this particular roast can appeal to all kinds of coffee connoisseurs, as the rich, complex flavors are strong enough to stand on their own but mix quite nicely with hot, steamed milk.

Red Bay Coffee Brazilian Cake Lady

Brazillian Cake Lady
Red Bay Coffee Brazilian Cake Lady
Our rating:

Chocolate and peanut butter is, we think, one of the world’s great flavor combinations. This Brazilian coffee delivers a smooth, sweet expression of that wonderful combo.


Just in case its name didn’t already give it away, Red Bay’s Brazilian Cake Lady roast is a single-origin coffee that hails from Bahia, Brazil. Why does this matter, you ask? Because an espresso shot made from these ground beans will display the unique range of flavors only available in coffee from that region, guaranteeing a purer brew.

To answer the question that’s no doubt on your mind — what do these single-origin beans taste like? — you’ll notice hints of golden raisin, nougat, and citrus zest in this smooth and full-bodied medium roast. Pay close attention, and you’ll likely taste flavors of chocolate, too.

This Brazilian coffee’s sweet, cake-like aroma will have your mouth watering before your espresso maker’s even finished brewing.

Death Wish Coffee

First, if you’re looking for something that’ll give you a serious kick in the bum, these are the beans for you. With double the caffeine of most beans, this dark roast will give you the boost you need for rough mornings and all-nighters alike.

Death Wish Coffee is organic and fair trade, which is part of the reason you’ll see it on a few of our bean rankings. But, the flavor is also a part of its success.

Despite being quite intense, the resulting brew surprisingly lacks too much bitterness. The cherry and chocolate notes from its origin in Peru still shine through.

On the flip side, this brew might be too much for casual drinkers and may even taste burnt to those inexperienced with dark roasts. These beans are also some of the pricier ones on this list.

Kicking Horse 454

If you still want a strongly caffeinated drink but don’t need to full-blast intensity of Death Wish, Kicking Horse’s 454 beans are a great tasting alternative. Plus they come at a more affordable price point.

Like Death Wish, Kicking Horse’s beans are organic and fair trade; it’s also Kosher. Sourced from Indonesia, Central America, and South America, the brew you get from these is sure to please with an earthy flavor profile featuring notes of chocolate and nutmeg.

Also, 454 is notably well-balanced for a dark roast and has a velvety mouthfeel and low acidity. It’s not quite as powerful as Death Wish but it will certainly ensure you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when you finish your cup.

If you want a robust dark roast but are leaning towards a different flavor profile, we recommend Kicking Horse’s (Kick Ass Dark) blend. It has a sweeter taste with a bit of smokiness.

Koffee Kult Thunder Bolt

Some people face the unique predicament of wanting a more subtle coffee taste while maintaining a substantial caffeine potency. If that’s the case for you, Koffee Kult’s Thunder Bolt might just do it for you.

While their packaging lacks any official documentation, Koffee Kult’s product descriptions boast sustainability. The beans themselves are sourced from Columbia and Brazil.

The resulting brew is not as high-impact as the other two on the list since it’s a French roast (more on the medium than the dark side). However, Koffee Kult advertises it as one of the most strongly caffeinated blends available.

Additionally, these beans are best for those who have finicky super-automatic machines that get clogged by extra oily dark roasts like Death Wish. You’ll still get some strong caffeination with a heavy body and slightly sweet flavor.

Their Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans also come highly recommended and have a slightly bolder flavor, if that’s your preference.

In-Between Beans

CoffeeBean Direct Italian Roast Espresso

If you’re looking to buy in bulk to save on your coffee without sacrificing quality, check out CoffeeBean Direct. This Italian Roast Espresso is a rich, strong brew that stands out at this price point.

Sold in 5lb bags, these whole beans are sourced from South America and India. The company prides itself on its unique roasting process.

The beans are slow-roasted immediately before packaging, allowing the consumer to enjoy their freshness and flavor. With this full-bodied brew, you’ll get notes of cocoa powder and smoky molasses.

The profile and intensity of these beans aren’t quite as distinct and impressive as some higher-end competitors we’ve listed, they’re a good option for the price range.

Intelligentsia Black Cat Analog Espresso

If you get bored easily but aren’t looking to get the jitters from drinking one of the high-intensity beans, Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Analog beans might be for you.

With a mission to revolutionize the way people think about espresso, this blend does not disappoint with its unique brightness. Plus, the flavor profile shifts slightly from season to season as it is a blend.

It has a syrupy mouthfeel and more sweetness than most espresso blends. Some chocolate notes ground the beans with a homey, classic feel.

Stumptown Hair Bender

On Sale

Another unique option, Stumptown’s Hair Bender beans are a fan favorite and boast one of the most complex flavor profiles on this list.

Sourced from Indonesia, Latin America, and Africa, this is a sweet, well-balanced blend. The sparks of cherry complement the prominent toffee and fudge flavors.

Thanks to the unique profile, it works well both as a morning pick-me-up and an evening dessert. Plus, it is not too oily (rare for a dark roast), making it a good choice for those with machines featuring built-in grinders.

Medium Roast Beans

Lavazza Super Crema

On Sale

One of the most popular espresso beans on the market, Lavazza’s Super Crema demonstrates that they opted to NOT sacrifice quality despite being a larger corporation.

These beans are blended and roasted in Italy, sourcing beans from Brazil, India, Columbia, and Indonesia. With espresso being a matter of pride in Italy, it’s unsurprising that these beans make a pretty excellent brew.

This medium roast is mild and creamy with notes of almonds and honey as well as a slight fruitiness. It has a higher acidity (due to the presence of Robusta beans) and lower caffeine content than some of the other beans we’ve reviewed and is made with 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta beans.

Lavazza beans are also nitrogen-packed, which gives them a longer pre-opening shelf life. The Robusta beans also provide the brew with an excellent crema.

Blue Horse 100% Kona Coffee

For those willing to invest a bit of money to treat themselves to a truly unique espresso experience, this Kona coffee is worth a try.

These single-origin, hand-picked Kona beans are directly sourced from a family farm in the Kona region of Hawaii. They are grown herbicide and pesticide-free (though they are not certified organic).

While these beans are priced pretty steeply, they aren’t quite as expensive as other Kona options, which can run around $90. However, you’ll still get that homey sweetness with hints of almond and vanilla plus some spicy afternotes, a signature of Kona coffee.

The medium roast helps the beans maintain their flavors, but you can also get it as a Dark Roast. The medium roast will give you an overall less impactful brew both in boldness and caffeine, which suits some and irks others. So take your personal tastes into account before investing.

Klatch Coffee World’s Best Espresso

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Ordained with the impressive WBE title at the 2007 World Barista Championships, this blend is sure to please your taste buds.

The three-bean blend includes Brazil Yellow Bourbon, Sumatra Lake Tawar, and a natural-processed Ethiopian coffee. This powerhouse combination creates a bright mix of chocolate and orange notes. The flavor develops as you sip, leaving you with a syrupy sweet taste accented by berries and spice.

Klatch also has the Belle Espresso which features a slightly different flavor profile: brandy, chocolate, and caramel.


The flavor of your beans heavily depends on factors surrounding its place of origin. Things like rainfall, shade, soil chemistry, and altitude can seriously impact the taste of that espresso in your cup.

First, a little background on the coffee bean industry: most of the coffee available around the world comes from coffee trees that grow along the “Bean Belt.” This is a region that hugs the equator, spanning about 25° north and 30° south of it.

Within that region, there are 50+ countries that produce coffee. However, like with any market, some options are more popular than others for several reasons. In this case, it’s the flavor profile. Read below for a little bit on some of the more well-known regional tropes.

  • Colombian beans are mild and well-balanced with prominent caramel flavors and occasional nuttiness. Most of the industry is supported by small family farms.
  • Brazilian beans vary much more in flavor profiles than Colombian varieties due to the shifts in altitude. However, the classic “Brazilian” flavor is generally identified as being slightly nutty or spiced with a heavy body.
  • Ethiopian beans also have a lot of variety, so you can expect to find anything from heady, wine-like palates as well as lighter, floral brews.
  • Kenyan beans are grown with more sunlight exposure than most of the other regional coffees. The result is quite savory with a bit of tart sweetness.
  • Indonesian beans are more often recognized by their use of wet-hulled processing, which gives the coffee some earthy and musty qualities. You’ll find those in addition to some aged coffees, which feature a deeper body.
  • Hawaiian beans, or Kona beans to be more specific, are prized for their unique flavor. Heavy rainfall and plentiful sunlight create rich coffee with slightly sweet and floral notes with the occasional biting aftertaste.

When it comes to espresso blends, most of them include Brazilian or Indonesian beans (sometimes both). A good few also include Colombian beans. For a fruit-forward single-origin espresso bean, natural-processed Ethiopian beans are quite popular.

Arabica or Robusta Bean…What’s that mean?

As you check out the bags of whole bean coffee we’ve linked above, you’ll more than likely find words like “Arabica” and “Robusta” in the product descriptions or printed on the front of the bag. But what do these words mean, and how do they impact your coffee experience?

Arabica and Robusta are two of the most cultivated species of coffee. Arabica beans, which tend to grow in higher elevations and predominantly in Africa and Latin America, usually have a soft and sweet taste, while Robusta blends are stronger with lower acidity and can be found exclusively in the Eastern Hemisphere.

A lot of the coffee you’d find in your grocery store is Robusta because it’s easier to grow, but many popular coffee brands and shops, including Starbucks, pride themselves on using 100% Arabica beans. But just because Arabica is a common shop favorite does not automatically mean they are the best coffee beans for everyone. Which bean you think is best among the two depends mostly on your taste, however, many prefer Arabica beans because they contain less caffeine and a less bitter flavor.

Whole vs pre-ground

You may have noticed that all of the beans we have listed here are sold as whole beans. However, many of these products also have pre-ground options, so what’s the difference?

The biggest difference is freshness. While you may do everything you can by checking the roast date on your beans, if they are pre-ground, they won’t retain the same freshness.

With any coffee, espresso, and otherwise, we recommend buying whole beans and investing in a quality grinder to grind the beans shortly before you use them. Most super-automatic machines and even a few fully/semi-automatic espresso machines have a built-in grinder, so you won’t have to worry about making an extra investment.

Furthermore, grinding your own beans allows you to get the most out of their flavor. Especially if your machine isn’t top-of-the-line, fresh grounds can help compensate to make sure you still get a great cup of espresso.


The roast time can play just as big of a role in your brew as the origin and grind. So, it’s important to know what you’re looking at when you’re browsing for beans. Each coffee bean has similar characteristics at the beginning of its lifespan — green and moist with a natural, earthy scent — but once roasted, the beans’ appearance, aroma, and tastes shift.

Dark or medium-dark roasts are generally the classic pick for espresso brewing because they have a full body and low acidity. You can recognize them by their near-black color and oily surfaces. Additionally, they have the most natural oils, which contribute to the formation of crema.

On the other hand, medium roasts will give you a little bit more of the bean’s flavor notes and have a more prominent acidity. Many single-origin espresso beans are roasted to this level, to preserve the origin characteristics of the coffee. The best kinds will have both vibrant and sweet flavors in the shot.

Light roasts are the driest beans and are known for their brighter flavor profiles. They are heated for the least amount of time and thus are the lightest shade of brown in the coffee bean family. If you’re looking to make a classic espresso, steer clear of these beans, as they will most likely produce a brew that lacks the rich, bold flavors espresso enthusiasts rave over. Instead, expect bright flavors and an overall lighter body.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it. Whether you prefer intense, caffeine-packed brews or lighter, more complex medium roasts, or something in between, you should be able to find a bean that suits your palate on this list.

Remember that you should buy whole beans and grind them yourself to get the most out of your bean of choice. Also, take into consideration your machinery, the roast, and the origin of the product to make sure you find the best bean for you.

Happy Caffeinating!

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