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The Best Coffee For Espresso Machines: 10 Coffee Beans Reviewed & Compared

Let’s talk espresso. Those cherished, (sometimes absolutely necessary) single or double-shot cups of coffee. These portions of black focus harbor a beautiful variety of different tastes and hints of flavor. We wanted to reveal to you (and finalize for ourselves) the absolute best coffee for espresso, so we compared some that earn the title of “Top 10”.

Our findings are revealed to you in this article.

A quick refresher for those out of the loop: an espresso is prepared by heating up water hotter than usual, then pressurizing it to flow through densely packed (and finely ground) coffee beans, using a special machine.

The main difference between an espresso and other types of coffee like a Doppio or Americano is the method of preparation. It’s really got nothing to do with the difference in beans, though choosing certain beans will make a great difference in whether the espresso is delicious or not.

This post compares the main differences between espresso and drip coffees.

That said, there are still specialized products to make espresso; beans that make a good espresso are usually extra roasted so they can be finely ground. From a personal standpoint, my favorite beans for espresso come from also one of the most affordable options listed below, the Cafe Don Pablo.

But we’ll keep this post unbiased and stick that one somewhere in the middle!

Before we get to the Top 10 best coffees to use when making power-packed espresso roasts, we wanted to set up a few ground rules for the article below. A “buyer’s guide” of sorts.

This is something to help you wisely choose the perfect beans for the perfect espresso, according to your own tastes and inclinations. Everyone has a different preference, (especially when it comes to coffee) and there are three main tips to keep in mind when browsing beans.

Let’s get down to the grinds…

Click here to jump straight to our top 10 list.

The Ultimate Espresso Buyer’s Guide: 3 Tips to Remember

1 – Texture
Put simply, your best coffee blend results will come from buying whole beans and grinding them yourself, through a myriad of ways (pestle and mortar, electric grinder, manual grinder, etc.).

That said, some people wish to buy pre-ground coffee to save time, or for the convenience it brings.

Part of the reason you should probably grind your own beans is that you only grind up what you need at the time. This drastically reduces the chance of mold or extremely dangerous mycotoxins getting in your coffee, and it keeps everything immaculately fresh.

Doing this properly would require investing in a top of the line grinder, and for your health, the freshness, and the simplicity, it’s highly worth it!

The end outcome is another variable that’s up to you, as some people love very coarse grinds, and some like smooth grinds that resemble a fine powder.

2 – Arabica or Robusta
Knowing the difference between Arabica beans and Robusta beans is ground zero for serious coffee enthusiasts.

If you’re not aware, not to worry; essentially Arabica is the higher quality bean, grown more difficultly by skilled farmers. It’s got more taste, but less caffeine.

Robusta is the slightly more common blend, used for the majority of instant coffees. It’s got a much higher caffeine content, is grown more commonly and easily, and the tastes can vary widely.

Robusta however is sometimes mixed into espresso blends, not typically for an improved taste but rather for improved crema which Robusta beans are better at producing in espresso machines.

Knowing the difference, your own preference, and what you’re buying is key. You can read more about the differences between robusta and arabica here.

3 – Price
Of course the price will also have a seat at the conversation table. If you’re an extreme coffee connoisseur, you won’t much mind what it costs.

You’ll simply look for the best of the best blends, likely using Arabica beans, and you’ll know the exact taste and texture you’re going for.

Not everybody can say this though.

To some, the cheaper price is better, and oftentimes the price will be different primarily for just branding or marketing reasons, so it makes sense to go for the cheaper options.

If you’ve been drinking and dissecting the flavor profiles of different roasts for years now, you’ll have a sharp tongue for the differences and will not care much about price.

Keep this buyer’s guide in the forefront of your mind moving forward, as it’s important to remember these three choice points for great espresso beans.

The 10 Best Coffee Beans For Espresso

Technically speaking, you can make a decent enough espresso with almost any high quality bag of coffee, with a full flavor profile that’s sufficiently roasted.

But the quality selections we’ve carefully cultivated for your perusal below, are simply the most relevant for making great espressos. They’ll be far more enjoyable for creating espresso shots, and you should keep these selections handy, ideally knocking them down one by one, finding your favorite blend.

Here we go!

Lavazza Super Crema Espresso - Whole Bean Coffee1. Lavazza Super Crema Espresso – Whole Bean Coffee

Coffee lovers around the world enjoy blending this bean into a flavorful espresso. Super crema represents the thick layer of light brown foam on the top of your cup, and is a collection of the fine oils preserved from the bean itself.

It demonstrates a high-quality coffee when you see crema on top.

This is one way you know these beneficial oils and fats have been preserved.

This is a whole bean coffee, meaning you’ll have to do the work of grinding it first.

But remember, this is a great way to preserve freshness, flavor, and avoid some of the toxins that could eventually express themselves in your coffee grounds.

This is a class-favorite considering its roast profile; it’s not too dark, nor is it too light of a blend, leaving flavor on the table.

Its delicious and dark, nutty profile contains scents of fresh almond and rich honey. It also carries with it the undertones of deeply flavored stone fruits, rather than an acidic, bitter berry taste.

There are several other comparisons that’d leave this in the number one spot, and when using it for espresso machines, this one has earned its place.

You can pick up this unique blend here.


JO ESPRESSO: 12 oz, Medium Dark Roast, Whole Bean Organic Arabica Espresso Coffee2. JO ESPRESSO: 12 oz, Medium Dark Roast, Whole Bean Organic Arabica Espresso Coffee

Any list of ideal espresso blends couldn’t be complete without JO.

According to many sophisticated coffee lovers, this blend is the epitome of luxury for espresso tasters. This blend has a unique value-add in the form of an included guide, showing you how to reap the most flavor and benefits out of your roast.

It’s a whole bean coffee, so again you’ll have to grind it yourself (but we prefer it this way, for freshness and health preservation). Additionally, this is no normal coffee blend…

Rather than being a mix between Arabic and Robusta, it’s pure, 100% Arabica blend, which brings forth its intense dark, unsweetened chocolate flavor, that produces a rich crema on top as well.

These powerful, deep undertones are what makes the blend superb.

The astute wisdom applied to its ideal roast level leaves a delicate aftertaste of bitter, chocolatey, thick and creamy coffee beans, and it’s not too dark or too light.

On top of all these fantastic traits, it’s also a fair trade blend, and it’s organic.

Organic + Arabica = close to perfection in the coffee sphere.

No pesticides are used to grow it, which is impactful since Arabica is already difficult to grow to begin with.

All of these talking points combine to bring a well-balanced roast, yet the taste and quality alone do all the talking for the blend itself.

You can pick up this unique blend here.


Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso, Medium Roast, Whole Bean3. Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso, Medium Roast, Whole Bean

Moving down the list we have a medium roast; yet another whole bean coffee.

By now, you know what this requires of you. If you’ve ever wanted to get kicked in the mouth with the power of a horse, (but from caffeine) this is the roast for you.

It’s not for the faint of heart; “wake up and kick ass” is their motto.

Another high-quality blend with fully organic, fair trade, Arabica beans that are roasted in the famous Rocky Mountains.

This blend steps out a bit from the deep and dark tastes of the first two, and shocks your palate with fruity, bright tastes that have undertones of bitter cocoa and berry.

The brand origins are Africa, Central & South America, and Indonesia.

Flavor profiles from these regions of the earth pack a wide variety of flavors, and this one, roasted to medium levels, is particularly bright and bitter.

You can pick up this unique blend here.


Peet's Coffee Whole Coffee Bean, Espresso Forte, Dark Roast4. Peet’s Coffee Whole Coffee Bean, Espresso Forte, Dark Roast

Peet’s coffee is known for its perfect balance.

It’s got a flavor that represents the perfect mixture between powerful coffee and smooth, oily crema from the beans. This makes it stand out, since it has such a superb balance.

If you’re not ready to try out anything crazily bitter, or with exceptionally dark and deep flavor profiles, this could be your perfect tame blend to start with. It’s a good daily coffee with a reliable blend and is great for its consistency.

It serves well as a morning whole bean espresso to start your day with, and makes a good espresso to rely on, at that!

You can pick up this unique blend here.


Kirkland Signature Starbucks Espresso Blend Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee5. Kirkland Signature Starbucks Espresso Blend Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee

There are many people of the opinion that Starbucks is the brand that makes the best espresso roast.

Well, this is what they use for it!

You should know a couple things about this roast. Primarily, it’s a dark roast for those who love dense and dark coffee blends when making espressos. If you’re a dark roast lover, this would definitely be one of the best pre-ground espressos to consider.

If you’ve ever wanted to take the powerful aromas and flavors from Starbucks home with you, this one is a great candidate. You’ll need a coffee grinder to grind up the whole beans for use in your espresso machine.

You can pick up this unique blend here.


Koffee Kult DARK ROAST COFFEE - Organically Sourced Fair Trade Whole Bean Coffee6. Koffee Kult DARK ROAST COFFEE – Organically Sourced Fair Trade Whole Bean Coffee

This Koffee Kult espresso blend is a special one, known for its powerful aromas.

Its dark roast is attractive to the lovers of powerful, dark and densely-flavored espressos. The intense flavors come from the depths of Latin American countries like Colombia and Guatemala, bringing you uniquely flavored, dark roasted beans.

It’s got a very strong, smooth, and bold flavor that still retains its clean and crisp feel, thanks to it being organic. No fertilizers, pesticides, or other distractions in here.

The blend is made by sourcing smooth, full-bodied beans guaranteed to pack that punch in the morning, day in and day out.

You can pick up this unique blend here.


Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee - Classic Italian Espresso7. Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee – Classic Italian Espresso

As promised, we’ve arrived at my personal favorite.

See, I told you I’d blend it in this article somewhere. And, though it’s seventh on the list, that’s not indicative of any ranking or specific order.

I simply love this blend.

It originates primarily from Colombia, it’s fully Arabica, and it is actually mixed with a beautiful Sumatran blend that’s grown in rich volcanic soil. It’s a special blend because of the nutrients used to grow it, and the specific origins in which it comes from and is blended:

A Colombian Supermo is carefully mixed with a Sumatran Mandheling.

This coffee is found nowhere else in this exact combination, with these deep and rich flavors. Yet it’s still one of the cheaper items on the list! You’ll have to try this one out, boasting of its complex flavors and rich mix profile.

You can pick up this unique blend here.


Verena Street, Shot Tower Espresso, Whole Bean Dark Roast, Craft Roasted Specialty Arabica Gourmet Premium Coffee8. Verena Street, Shot Tower Espresso, Whole Bean Dark Roast, Craft Roasted Specialty Arabica Gourmet Premium Coffee

We’ve arrived at an espresso roast that sticks out from the rest.

This one doesn’t pack a punch, and it’s not over-the-top in caffeine content or fruity flavors.

Instead, this blend from Verena Street suavely influences your day with a rich body of sweet, creamy complexity, complete with a thick layer of crema on every espresso you make.

Like the rest, it’s a whole bean so you’ll need to grind up the beans yourself to express the rich coffee tastes it promises inside. This roast makes an enjoyable, balanced fine grind that’s perfect for espresso shots, single or double.

It’s sure to not only wake you up and keep you alert for the day, but it’s not a crazy shock to the system, rather it’s a smooth elevation on the way there.

You can pick up this unique blend here.


Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso, Whole Bean Coffee9. Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso, Whole Bean Coffee

Another unforgettable espresso roast, that’s earned its way onto this list, is this particular Italian Roast.

A giant bag sitting at five pounds, the blend is grown until full maturity in South and Central America, Africa, and even India. Not a lot of blends or brands of coffee can boast roasts from India, but this particular one has imported its flavorful beans that give off a perfectly-roasted honey-flavored blend with deep notes of cocoa.

Due to its unique origins and combinative blend, it further offers subtle (but strong) undertones of molasses, chocolate, dark cocoa, and sour honeys.

They say themselves that the taste resembles a bit of a “smoky” roast, probably due to their unique roasting style.

You can pick up this unique blend here.


Death Wish Organic USDA Certified Whole Bean Coffee10. Death Wish Organic USDA Certified Whole Bean Coffee

We’ve arrived; those with a death wish, you now have your outlet.

With an outrageous level of caffeine content, (double the average cup of coffee) Death Wish guarantees you will get a spike that lasts all day.

It’s also whole bean and organic, and is specially roasted with a micro-roasting process. This makes beans extremely potent, and squeezes every last drop of caffeine out of the bean to pack a wildly delicious punch.

The taste of D.W. coffee is bold and strong, the premium beans are scrutinized for quality and impact. This dark roast belongs in the energy-stack of any focused entrepreneur, serious businessperson, artist, or educator who’d like to get up and stay up!

Keep in mind that buying this 16 oz. bag is almost equivalent to buying the strength of any normal 32 oz. bag, purely based on the potency of caffeine they provide.

You might want to start off with just a single shot espresso here, and work your way up to doubles, or full cups of coffee from a french press or drip.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

You can pick up this unique blend here.

Wrapping Up Our Top 10 Espresso Blends

At Gamble Bay Coffee, we sincerely hoped you enjoyed (and your tastebuds profited from) our Top 10 espresso blend wrap-up.

We carefully chose the highest quality espresso blends that carry unique notes of aroma and undertones of various flavors, grown in mountain earth, rainforest, and volcanic soil around the world.

This list includes unique blends from Sumatra in Indonesia, mountains in Guatemala, Colombian soil, and even drier, African plains environments, to source all types of delicious roasts into your kitchen, and inside one article from your friends here at GBC.

These are our personal favorite roasts and blends, and we hoped you enjoyed reading and tasting them as much as we did pulling them all together for you.

Until next time! But before you go, be sure to check the FAQ section all about espressos, and go pick up a few of the blends that stuck out to you today.

Make sure to leave a comment telling us which is your favorite below.

Espresso Coffee Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

There are a few questions that this article might not have answered during its Top-10 ranting espresso comparisons.

But generally, most of the espresso questions have to do with blends, roasts, and the accepted practices of making these types of coffees.

We’ll answer a few questions here to help you choose the right blend, and make a perfect shot of deliciousness part of your morning routine.

What Is An Espresso?

We briefly covered this at the beginning of this article, however an espresso isn’t a regular form of coffee. It’s a dense version of regular coffee, far more potent and strong, with much less liquid content.

It’s prepared slightly differently: by heating up and pressurizing the water, shooting it through very finely ground coffee beans, and pulling out all of the flavors, oils, fat, and antioxidants into a perfectly strong cup of coffee for you.

What Are The Two Main Types of Coffee Beans?

This one comes down to Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica beans are generally considered to be the higher quality form; they’re more difficult to grow and cultivate, more rare, and have the superior flavor profile overall.

Robusta is far more common, used in many more roasts, has slightly inferior flavor profiles (to the initiated) and carries far more of a caffeine punch.

It’s really up to you to choose which is “better”, as across the board there’s not a certified winner, since all preferences will differ.

Can I Use These Blends to Make Any Regular Coffee?

Yes, you could!

However, these products are specifically aimed at the espresso-lovers, who want to distill these roasts down to their strongest forms and most powerfully delicate blends.

Brewing the best out of both worlds, you could make an espresso double shot, then on the side put some grounds in a french press, a Vietnamese drip, or a filter paper and see which one you like best.

What If I Try Them All, But Don’t Like Any of Them?

Well, you’d probably be the first!

Today’s post has been a carefully-chosen selection of the best espresso-focused blends our world has to offer, sourced from exotic locations around the world.

That said, if absolutely nothing whets your appetite for the perfect espresso on this list, keep in mind there are hundreds (if not thousands!) of other roasts that would go perfectly in your espresso machine, and make a delicious coffee with notes and flavors of various kinds.

Enjoy your roasts friend, and caffeinate responsibly.


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Gamble Bay Coffee

James Lambert

Owner and proprietor of the Gamble Bay Coffee Company. Its my mission to teach you how to make amazing coffee at home... no barista needed other than yourself.