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10 Best Espresso Beans of 2020 – Espresso Coffee Brand Reviews

best espresso beans
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If there’s a better way to start your day than with a delicious cup of coffee, we don’t what it is! But the quality of your beverage starts with the quality of your beans.

If you’re feeling bewildered by the sheer range that’s available, don’t despair! We’re going to show you ten of the best types of espresso beans you can buy right now. And we’ll look at what you’ll like about them, as well as what you may not.

So if you’re ready, let’s find the perfect espresso beans for you!

Quick Glance: The Best Espresso Bean Brands

 

The Best Espresso Beans on the Market 2020

1. Starbucks Dark Roast Espresso Beans

Starbucks Espresso Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee, 20 Ounce (Pack of 1)

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This coffee from high street behemoth Starbucks gives you a dependable flavor. If you want the taste of the coffee shop in the comfort of your own home, it’s a great choice.

The beans are a blend sourced from Latin America and Asia Pacific. They’re dark roasted, so what you’ll taste most is the skill of the roaster. Although the coffee is robust, it isn’t bitter. And it has a sweet flavor of molasses and caramel.

The crema isn’t always as abundant as we’d like with this one. You can get a better result by adjusting the grind. Take it a little bit finer and the crema may improve.

If you’re a fan of Starbucks, you’ll also love their reward program. Each pack has stickers with codes. These codes can be exchanged for stars, which can in turn be redeemed for rewards.

One thing to note is that the dark roast will be a challenge for grinders. The oily coating on the beans can gum up the burrs. And if you have an automatic espresso machine, cleaning the grinder will be hard work.

Pros:

  • Consistent, sweet dark roast flavor
  • Collect stars from the packs to get Starbucks rewards

Cons:

  • You may need to grind finer than usual for a decent crema
  • The coffee oils on the beans can gum up your grinder.

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2. Lavazza Super Crema Medium Roast

Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend, Medium Espresso Roast, 2.2 Pound (Pack of 1)

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If you prefer the more balanced flavor of a medium roast, check out Lavazza’s Super Crema coffee beans. They’ll give you a milder taste with notes of sweet brown sugar and hazelnut.

The blend here is 60 percent Arabica and 40 percent Robusta. That means it’s not as smooth as blends with more Arabica. To some palates, it may even taste bitter. And the caffeine content is higher too.

On the plus side, the relatively high proportion of Robusta will give you a rich crema. And the medium roast produces a bean with less oil on its surface. That’s good news for your grinder.

Lavazza is an Italian firm, and the beans are roasted and blended in Italy. This is the brand’s best-selling blend in the USA.

The beans are well packed in bags with a one-way vacuum seal to help keep them fresh. Store them in a cool dark place to maximize their shelf life.

Pros:

  • Produces a rich crema
  • Balanced flavor with notes of hazelnut and brown sugar
  • The medium roast won’t gum up your grinder

Cons:

  • The high Robusta content will taste bitter to some people …
  • and it means the caffeine content is higher too.

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3. Kicking Horse Cliff Hanger Espresso Coffee Beans (Our Top Pick)

Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso, Medium Roast, Whole Bean, Certified Organic, Fairtrade, Kosher Coffee, 35.2 oz

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The Cliff Hanger Espresso from Kicking Horse is another medium roasted bean. Its combined flavors of chocolate and wild berry syrup will suit those looking for a smooth, balanced coffee.

The beans here come from Africa, Indonesia, Central and South America. They’re 100 percent Arabica and have been grown in the shade at high altitudes. The result is a bright coffee without any hint of bitterness. The aroma is a mixture of blackcurrant, cocoa and brown sugar.

Note that the beans from Africa are dry, rather than wet-processed. As a result, there’s a higher chance of the bean developing mold or mycotoxins. Any beans with visible mold will be rejected before roasting. But it you have a sensitive digestive system, this may not be the best blend for you.

We’ve also heard of some cases where beans have been oilier than you would expect of a medium roast.

The good news is that the beans here are certified organic and fairtrade. That means you can buy them with confidence that you’re not supporting harmful farming or trading practices.

Pros:

  • 100 percent Arabica for a smooth flavor
  • Great aroma and delicious notes of chocolate and wild berry
  • Certified organic and fairtrade

Cons:

  • Some of the beans are dry processed, so may not suit those with sensitive tums
  • Watch out for overly oily beans.

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4. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Hair Bender

Stumptown Coffee Roasters Hair Bender Whole Bean Coffee, 12 oz

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Stumptown’s Hair Bender blends 100 per cent Arabica coffee beans from Latin America, Indonesia and Africa. They’re medium roasted and will give you a flavor of dark chocolate, citrus and caramel.

We particularly like the fact that the pack is printed with both a “use by” and a “roasted on” date. That will allow coffee aficionados to ensure their beans are at the perfect stage for espresso. For that, you need beans that have degassed sufficiently after roasting, but are in no danger of going stale.

The packs also have a one-way valve to prolong the shelf-life. Your beans will stay fresh for up to 90 days as long as the bags are unopened. Once opened, you should use them within two weeks.

Stumptown is also a B Corp company, meaning they’ve been accredited for their sustainable business and environmental practices. So you can enjoy your espresso with a clear conscience.

There’s very little not to like about this coffee except the price tag. It’s on the expensive side, but you’re paying for quality.

Pros:

  • 100 percent Arabica beans with flavors of dark chocolate, citrus and caramel
  • Packs are marked with both “use by” and “roasted on” dates
  • Sumptown is accredited for their sustainable business and farming practices

Cons:

  • It’s pricey – especially for a blended coffee.

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5. Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso Beans

Intelligentsia Black Cat Classic Espresso - 12oz - Medium Roast, Direct Trade, Whole Bean Coffee

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If you’re looking for the distinctive flavor of a single origin coffee, check out the Black Cat Espresso from Intelligentsia. The beans here are 100 per cent Arabica from Colombia.

They’re medium roasted to deliver flavors of cherry, dark chocolate and brown sugar. You’ll get a smooth, sweet espresso that still packs a punch. And it has a good rich crema.

Each bag is printed with the “roasted on” date, so you can see exactly how old your beans are. Remember that just-roasted beans will need at least a few days to degas before they’re at their best.

One thing to watch out for if you’re buying online, is that some suppliers seem to ship older beans than others. Check that “roasted on” date before you open the pack.

Intelligentsia works directly with their growers, so they can ensure sustainable farming and business practices. And they collect and share good practices among their suppliers to support continuous improvement.

Pros:

  • 100 percent Columbian Arabica
  • Sweet flavors of cherry, dark chocolate and brown sugar
  • Each pack is stamped with a “roasted on” date

Cons:

  • We’ve heard of some issues with customers receiving older beans
  • Quite expensive.

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6. Eight O’Clock Dark Italian Espresso Beans

Eight O'Clock Whole Bean Coffee, Dark Italian Espresso, 32 Ounce

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If you want a dark roasted bean at an economical price, check out the Dark Italian blend from Eight O’Clock.

The beans here are 100 percent Arabica and they’re roasted in Seattle. There’s no information on their origin, though, so we assume it’s a blend from different locations. The dark roast in any case means most of the flavor comes from the roasting process, rather than the characteristics of the beans.

The flavor is very consistent, so if you enjoy dark roasts this could be a great choice. It won’t give you the complexity of some other coffees on our list. But it’s a reliable blend that offers good value for money.

As with other dark roasted beans, though, watch out for coffee oils on your grinder. They can easily clog the burrs. And if you have an automatic espresso machine, getting to the grinder to clean it properly will be a chore.

Pros:

  • Consistent dark roast with chocolate and caramel flavors
  • 100 percent Arabica beans for a smooth finish
  • Good value for money

Cons:

  • Lacks depth and complexity
  • This is a dark roast, so the oils can risk clogging your grinder.

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7. Mayorga Organics Café Cubano Dark Roast

Mayorga Organics Café Cubano, Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee, 2lbs Bag, Specialty-Grade, 100% USDA Organic, Non-GMO Verified, Direct Trade, Kosher

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Mayorga’s organic dark roast coffee is sourced from Latin America. The beans here are shade-grown and come from Peru, Honduras and Nicaragua.

They’re 100 percent Arabica and slow-roasted to a Cuban-style dark roast. The result is a full-bodied flavor with notes of vanilla, a sweet smokiness, and a smooth finish. It’s not as bold as some dark roasts, so if you like stronger flavors you may prefer a different option.

The beans are sourced sustainably from small producers, with the aim of tackling systemic poverty in Latin America. The direct trade means Mayorga can trace every bean. And the coffee is certified as being organic, free from GMOs and Kosher.

There’s no “roasted on” date on the pack with this one, though. That means you won’t be able to fine-tune your extraction according to the age of the beans. For all but the most demanding coffee drinkers, however, this is unlikely to be a problem.

Pros:

  • 100 percent shade-grown Arabica beans from Peru, Honduras and Nicaragua
  • Full-bodied, smooth flavor
  • Sustainably sourced and organic

Cons:

  • May not suit those who like very strong flavors
  • No way of knowing exactly when the beans were roasted.

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8. AmazonFresh Colombia Medium Roast

AmazonFresh Colombia Whole Bean Coffee, Medium Roast, 32 Ounce (Pack of 1)

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This medium roasted coffee from AmazonFresh is very keenly priced. It’s also single origin, with all the beans – which are 100 per cent Arabica – sourced from Colombia. They’re then roasted and packed in the USA.

The flavor is full-bodied clean and crisp, with a smooth finish. There’s a hint of citrus in the aroma, and tasting notes of cocoa and brown sugar. It’s not particularly distinctive, so may not be the right pick for gourmet coffee lovers. But it’s smooth and very drinkable.

One thing to watch out for is that we’ve heard of a couple of cases where the medium roast has been more like dark. This is far from a consistent problem, but you might run into it if you’re unlucky.

Otherwise, this is a good, balanced medium roast at a very fair price.

Pros:

  • 100 percent Columbian Arabica beans
  • Smooth, full-bodied flavor
  • Good value for money

Cons:

  • The flavor profile isn’t complex or distinctive
  • Watch out for the occasional darker roasted batch.

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9. Lavazza Espresso Italiano Coffee Beans

Lavazza Espresso Italiano Whole Bean Coffee Blend, Medium Roast, 2.2 Pound Bag (Packaging may vary)

>>>See On Amazon<<<

The second option from Lavazza to make our list, the Espresso Italiano blends 100 per cent Arabica beans from Central and South America.

They’re blended and slow roasted to a medium roast in Italy, creating fruity and floral flavors. Lavazza rate the flavor intensity 5 out of 10. This is a good option for lovers of a smooth, full-bodied coffee.  You’ll get consistent shots with a decent crema.

Coffee connoisseurs should note that there’s no “roasted on” date on the packs. You’ll of course get a “use by” date to avoid stale coffee. But if knowing exactly how old your beans are is part of your quest for the perfect espresso, look elsewhere.

This may not have the depth of flavor of some beans, but you’ll get a good everyday espresso. And the price is reasonable too.

Pros:

  • Smooth, full-bodied medium roast
  • 100 percent Arabica beans from Central and South America
  • Decent crema

Cons:

  • No “roasted on” date on the packs
  • Lacks some depth of flavor.

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10. SF Bay Coffee French Roast

SF Bay Coffee French Roast Whole Bean 2LB (32 Ounce) Dark Roast

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If you like a dark roast with a smoky flavor, check out SF Bay Coffee’s French Roast.

The beans here are 100 percent Arabica. They’re sourced from Central and South America, where they’re grown at altitudes of between 1,200 and 2,000 meters. They deliver a full-bodied cup with notes of toasted cinnamon and a smoky finish.

SF Bay also put a premium on sustainable business practices, trading direct with coffee growers. They work only with shade-grown farms, to tackle deforestation. And they’ve restored thousands of acres of rainforest through their community aid program.

But note that the French roast does mean there’s a lot of oil on the surface of the beans. The glossy look is very attractive, but it can clog up your grinder. And if it’s hard to clean – for example, because it’s buried inside a super automatic espresso maker – there will be better options for you.

Pros:

  • Distinctive dark and smoky flavors
  • 100 percent shade-grown Arabica beans from Central and South America
  • SF Bay Coffee support sustainable farming practices

Cons:

  • Won’t suit those looking for a more balanced flavor
  • The beans are oily, so risk clogging up your grinder.

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Ready for your next espresso?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our tour of some of the best espresso beans out there. Whatever your flavor preferences, there are some great options to choose from.

We love the Cliff Hanger Espresso from Kicking Horse. It delivers a smooth cup with notes of chocolate and fruit. And the beans are sustainably sourced too.

But whichever option is right for you, freshly ground espresso is a delight. We hope you’re enjoying a superior cup very soon!

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