Best coffee beans for espresso
The difference between a good espresso and a bad one is in the beans. If you use the best espresso beans, you’ll always be able to make a tasty espresso. So we will teach you everything you have to know about how to choose the best coffee beans for espresso, based on the numerous blends we tried in the past.
The advice below allows you to buy beans that give you the strongest aroma and flavour. Never neglect the importance of good coffee beans or your espresso will not be perfect.
Do you want to use the very best coffee beans for espresso and enjoy an espresso you will love? If so, here is what you have to know:
Why Use Beans For Espresso?
The option to use pre-ground coffee beans seems convenient but the truth is that coffee beans are better if you want a flavorful espresso. After coffee beans are ground up, they start to age fast. If you use whole-bean coffee for your espresso, you will notice a better scent, flavour, and a higher freshness. Pre-ground coffee may be convenient but should only be considered when you cannot use coffee beans.
The most important benefit of using whole beans for espresso is that you can always enjoy the very best cup. With pre-ground coffee, it is impossible to achieve the same freshness as with whole beans.
A great way to understand why beans are preferred is to compare making espresso with baking. After you take the baked goods out of the oven, you let them cool. Then, they are perfect. If you want to eat them the second day, you will notice that the aroma died down. Ground coffee is exactly like this. It is always best during the very first moments after grinding. If you use whole beans for your espresso, you are guaranteed the best possible flavour and aroma.
What Is Special With Espresso Beans?
Most people think there is no difference between beans so they believe all types can be used for espresso. This is incorrect. All cafes use a special espresso coffee blend and they avoid the use of regular beans. Here’s why:
Tradition – Dark roasts were always used for espresso. This led to coffee lovers expecting a specific flavour when they drink an espresso shot. This is impossible with the use of regular coffee beans.
Price – Single-origin coffee beans are perfect for French press or filter, but blends are preferred in the world of espresso. This is, in part, due to the large cost savings that appear with blends. As single-origin coffee is more expensive, cheaper coffees become the base of espresso bean blends.
A Better Taste With Milk – Those who want to use the espresso shot in a drink with milk, like a cappuccino or a latte, need a dark roast that can cut through the milk’s creaminess. When using a lighter roast, the taste is not good.
How To Choose The Best Whole Bean Coffee For Espresso
There are different things you have to think about when you choose beans for espresso. The choice can be difficult if you do not know much about the different types of coffee. Check the information below so you can make an informed decision.
Bitterness And Acidity
Coffee is acidic. This is actually a good thing because it offers a natural flavour. However, different beans have different acidity levels. Numerous coffee enthusiasts are particularly sensitive to the acidity of coffee. In the end, this comes down to personal taste. Generally, the two important things to know are:
- African coffee has higher acidity, with floral or fruity tasting notes.
- Brazilian coffee or beans from Sumatra are less-acidic, with nutty and cocoa notes.
Altitude influences acidity greatly. When coffee is grown at a lower altitude, you get low acidity.
The bitterness appears during brewing. If the coffee is too bitter, it tastes bad. The finish is bitter and harsh due to over-extraction. If you use a too fine grind or if you over-brew the ground then coffee can end up with a bitter taste.
Simply put, coffee bitterness can be avoided with proper brewing but acidity cannot be avoided because it is natural. If you have a problem with acidity in coffee, you can choose beans with a low-acidic value.
Freshly roasted coffee is always better for a flavorful espresso. But few people know about when it is best to consume coffee after roasting. While there is a debate around this topic, the safest range is between 8 and 20 days after roasting. When you buy coffee beans from reputable roasters, you can see the roast date listed on the package.
Coffee experts all agree that coffee beans retain full freshness for 1 week to 1 month after being roasted. This is a short time so if you want your coffee to be as fresh as it could be:
- only buy what you will use for a couple of weeks;
- brew the coffee in under 30 minutes from when you grind;
- store whole coffee beans in a dry, cool place.
The extra thing you need to know is that the coffee beans you use can be too fresh. A minimum of four days needs to pass after roasting for the coffee to be perfect for brewing.
Blends Or Single Origin For Espresso?
Most coffee companies sell blends and single-origin coffee. In case you are wondering, single-origin means unblended coffee. All the beans come from one region. The blend is made out of different beans that are combined into the packet.
Generally speaking, the blends are perfect for drinks that include milk and the single origins ones are better when opting for black coffee. Blends are carefully crafted so they offer a balance in acidity, body, and flavour. One roaster can sell a blend that has a full body and another roaster can offer bright tasting notes.
The problem is that some roasters create blends with the goal of hiding beans that are poorly roasted among the normal beans. This is why it is always best to stick to the roasters that have a spotless reputation. Remember that most commercial blends feature very low-quality coffee.
Having said that, single-origin beans are preferred by hardcore coffee drinkers. Typically, single-origin coffee is blended darker. This makes it a good choice for a strong, dark espresso. When you use single-origin for your espresso, you gain access to full natural notes and the taste will be pure. Blends are perfect when you want to use the espresso shot to make a milk-based drink like a cappuccino.
What About The Omni Roast?
An Omni roast is another option that you need to take into account when you look for coffee beans for espresso.
The Omni roast appeared in an attempt to offer a “one-size-fits-all roast” you can use for pour-over, French press, and espresso. Roasters can also easily create a blend that is more affordable and more appealing to different people. However, the Omni roast is not great for those who are looking for the taste of the traditional espresso.
How To Choose A Good Coffee Blend
If you decided that you want to use a blend for your espresso, it is important to think about whether or not you will only drink strong espresso or you are also interested in milk-based drinks. The blend that is very good for milk-based drinks is one that features a large percentage of Indonesian and South American coffee beans. Robusta is sometimes acceptable but only when the blend will be used for latte drinks.
The coffee blend meant to offer a tasty espresso shot is made out of Arabica beans, with beans coming from high altitude locations being preferred for the fruity top notes. It is important to read reviews written by people who really know coffee before you buy. Also, opt for small quantities when you buy a blend so you only have the amount you need for a limited time since, over time, coffee loses its flavour due to oxidation.
Using Dark Roasts For Espresso
Espresso beans need to be darker than what you use for filter coffee. This is traditional and is preferred by most enthusiasts. However, this does not mean a dark roast is always perfect.
Generally speaking, the official recommendation is to opt for a roast that is in the middle of the spectrum. This is perfect because you can use the coffee beans for both flat whites and lattes, not just single shot espresso.
In order to check the coffee bean and be sure it is dark, look at how oily it is. When oil migrates towards the outside, the roast is very dark. When the surface shines, it is Italian roast or French press roast style (this means really dark). The “fully city roast” is a dark roast bean with a dry appearance.
Pro Tip: Always keep an eye on the roasting date. Espresso is always better with fresh coffee. Even so, it is not as vital as with the beans you need for filter coffee. The period between two weeks and two months is always best for a flavorful espresso. This is why when you buy coffee beans for espresso from an online store, like Amazon, you need to pick a vendor that actually roasts the beans, although this is more expensive. When you do this, the beans are guaranteed to be freshly roasted
Arabica Or Robusta Coffee Beans?
There is a debate around the use of Arabica beans or Robusta beans. Many believe that Robusta coffee is inferior but this is not always the case. You can find very good Robusta coffee blends, even if this is rare. In order to find great Robusta, you need direct access to the roaster. It is close to impossible to find tasty Robusta in the supermarket.
Robusta coffee is less acidic and less sweet when compared to Arabica. It is also cruder. Because of the fact that espresso is concentrated, not much acidity is required so a properly washed and grown Robusta can taste just as good as single-origin beans.
What you need to remember is that, although you can enjoy a very good espresso made with Robusta coffee, it is very hard to find what you need. Therefore, opting for a 100% Arabica beans blend is the safest choice.
The Best Grind Size For Espresso Coffee Beans
It is not enough to buy the best possible coffee beans for espresso to get the taste you love. Grinding is also necessary. Unfortunately, this is a very complicated topic. Many things need to be taken into account. What is particularly important is to use a grinder that can offer the grind that makes a perfect cup of espresso. If you cannot grind your own coffee beans, the best thing you can do is to buy ground coffee for espresso.
When the grind is not fine enough, the portafilter’s puck cannot offer the resistance needed by the water when the espresso machine works. The result is thus a watery and thin espresso without much crème. Espresso cannot be made with a medium roast grind or a coarse grind.
Where Can You Buy Perfect Coffee Beans For Espresso?
The truth is that the best coffee beans always come from those roasters that care about high quality. Local roasters stand out as the first good choice to consider. When you buy from the local roaster you know exactly what quality you receive and you are guaranteed that the roast is fresh. Obviously, trying coffee first is the best thing to do. Never buy in large batches first because you need to first assess the quality of the beans.
If there is no local quality roaster available, you can buy from the internet. There is a huge number of great roasters from all parts of the world, from South America to Europe. In this case, you need to only consider the companies that roast coffee solely after an order is placed. The roasters that roast in advance should not be taken into account.
Be extremely careful when buying from Amazon sellers, especially when they are located in a far-away destination like South America. If this is the choice you make, it is vital that you can assess the quality offered first. Only trust recommendations from coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs. This includes the sellers that just say the coffee beans are freshly roasted but actually roast in advance.
Always avoid the grocery store if you are looking for very good coffee beans for your espresso. It is rare to find anything else except low-quality coffee beans that have a longer shelf life and that are not perfect for the coffee drink you want.
After you find the best coffee for espresso, see if there is a subscription service available. This allows you to receive the amount of whole bean coffee that you need for a couple of weeks so that freshness remains high and your espresso always tastes great.
Extra Tips To Choose Espresso Beans
Always think about your preferred coffee’s flavour profile. For instance, when you enjoy subtle flavours, the roast can be a little lighter. If you enjoy bitterness more, the dark roast is perfect. It is very rare that a medium roast works. Consider the following when you choose beans for your espresso:
- Coffee beans should never be too dark and they need a depth of strong color. Over-roasting is a common practice among roasters to mask inferior beans. Coffee aroma needs to be pleasing. Whenever possible, taste a coffee bean before buying so you get a clearer idea of the taste before brewing.
- Obviously, the bag’s roasting date has to be checked. Avoid all bags with a roasting date older than 3 months.
- Do not buy coffee from open coffee beans. This is because air will degrade coffee bean quality. The result is always an inferior cup of coffee.
- Think about how the espresso is going to be used. Will you be drinking it as it is or will you dilute it with milk or cream? Contrary to popular belief, when you drink the espresso straight, the coffee bean that is best for you is not that expensive.
Simple Tips To Make The Best Espresso
It is not that difficult to make a very good espresso but there are many variables that you have to be aware of. You should at least know the basics of making a tasty espresso before you buy coffee beans.
When you first make an espresso, set the extraction time to 25 seconds. This is a good benchmark to start. Then, you can fine-tune the extraction time to get the espresso taste you want.
You should also know that dosing is flexible. Specialists recommend using 8 to 10 grams of ground coffee for one shot of espresso. Grinding coffee beans right before the espresso is brewed offers the best possible end result.
The standard espresso shot is between 25 and 35 ml.
When you make a cup of espresso, you follow these steps:
1. Warm The Cup
Thoroughly rinse the cup with the use of warm water. This guarantees that the hot espresso is not cooled down when coming into contact with glass or porcelain.
2. Check The Portafilter And The Basket
The portafilter needs to be dry and clean. Check the basket so there is no moisture present since this impacts extraction.
3. Grinding And Dosing
Put the amount of ground coffee you need into the machine’s portafilter. Be extremely careful with grind size since espresso requires a fine grind. When coffee is under-extracted, the taste is sour. When over-extraction happens, the espresso is bitter. Experiment with grinding and dosing for a perfect cup of espresso.
4. Distributing Grounds
Coffee has to be evenly distributed so that air pockets do not appear. Whenever air pockets exist, water unevenly travels through coffee. The extraction process is spoiled.
It is mandatory to tamp grinds to reduce the possibility of air pockets appearing. At the same time, this guarantees that coffee is properly leveled out. Use as much pressure as is needed for coffee to be compressed when you are tamping.
The tamper is used to polish the finish of the freshly ground coffee. Simply pop it on top of the puck and then spin.
7. Cleaning Up
Remove all the surplus coffee that appears around the espresso machine’s portafilter.
Remove lingering particles by rinsing the group head.
9. Pulling The Shot
Put the handle inside the group head and then start pouring in order to get an espresso shot. You need to start brewing as soon as possible so that heat does not burn the coffee’s surface.
The optimal brewing time for an espresso is around 25 seconds. As soon as the perfect time is reached, the shot can be removed from the coffee machine.
Right after you serve the espresso, the coffee machine needs to be properly cleaned. You want to remove the portafilter and then knock out the coffee puck. This stage should never be skipped. Make sure you clean the handle and then move on to the group head. Replace it before you pour the next espresso shot.
The espresso is not just a simple drink. It is a highly-concentrated shot that is the basis of macchiato, latte, and various other drinks. When you master making the best possible espresso, the drink you get is always appreciated.
To sum up, making a great espresso is impossible if you do not use the best possible coffee beans and you do not grind right before you start the espresso machine. The advice mentioned above allows you to make the correct choice every single time. You can thus buy whole coffee beans that you can trust will offer a strong espresso.
Never compromise when it comes to the best coffee beans you buy for your espresso. This is the only way to enjoy the best possible brew.
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