What Are The Best Coffee Beans for Espresso Machines?

February 21, 2020

As an espresso aficionado, you know that a truly awesome espresso has a sweet aroma, a thick and smooth crema, and a remarkable flavor. It’s way better than an ordinary cup of coffee.

If brewed right, it could well be the best coffee to have ever excited your taste buds. However, without the best coffee beans for espresso machines, forget about extracting all the goodness from your espresso.

So, if you wouldn’t like to brew a bland, weak, and bitter espresso, you’ll need the best coffee beans. But where do you find those?

Well, here are the top five beans that will give you top-notch espresso that you are going to love, each day.

The Best Coffee Beans for Espresso Machines

As earlier mentioned, the degree of roast of coffee beans determines the quality of your espresso. Thus, here are the top five beans you can explore and indulge your coffee whims:

1. Kicking Horse Coffee 454 Horse Power, Whole Beans

Known for its sustainable and ethical practices, Kicking Horse is one of Canada’s biggest certified organic and Fair Trade roaster. All the coffee from Kicking Horse comes from Arabica beans, which are usually shade-grown under bird-friendly surroundings.

Top Features

Organic Shade Grown

The coffee is grown under the canopy of diverse vegetation at 3000 feet above sea level. This environment creates not only a balanced and healthy ecosystem, but a superior coffee bean, as well.

A dark roast

The coffee beans are creatively named 454, which is the exact temperature (in Fahrenheit) at which they undergo roasting. The outcome is a dark and bold roast.

This doesn’t mean your coffee has excess caffeine, but the dark roast will give your taste buds a bigger “kick.”

Smooth taste

 After passing water through your finely ground beans, the crema will form at the top, and you’ll feel the rich aroma with a slightly sweet tone. It has a smooth taste.

Additionally, it has a complex earthiness, subdued acidity and a chocolate undertone. If you enjoy a strong flavored espresso shot to wake you up, this coffee would do the trick. In fact, the aroma itself could pretty much do that.

The fans of 454 Horse Power describe the coffee as smooth and bold without bitterness and with notes of caramel and chocolate.


  • Organic
  • Rich aroma
  • Sweet flavor
  • No bitter aftertaste
  • Well blended
  • Rich crema


  • The aroma may not be as pleasant compared to other beans

2. Lavazza Crema E Gusto Ground Coffee Blend, Espresso Dark Roast

Lavazza Crema E Gusto is a dark-roasted espresso blend with a bold flavor and a distinct classic espresso taste. An exceptional blend of Indian and Brazilian beans, this coffee is rich with chocolate undertones. Designed for espresso lovers, this coffee comes packaged in four 8.8-ounce bags.

Top Features

Sensational Taste

Lavazza Crema e Gusto is combination of carefully picked coffee beans. It contains Robusta beans that give your coffee a stunning crema and Arabica beans to provide a sensational taste.

Classic Scent

It produces rich espresso with great chocolate notes, a fragrant flavor with an intense, spiced aftertaste. Once you open the bag, the classic scent quickly fills the kitchen. It’s one of the boldest and darkest roasts from Lavazza; a top choice for those who love classic espresso.


  • Cream flavor
  • Non-GMO
  • Vacuum packed to give it a long shelf life
  • Made for espresso machines
  • Thick crema
  • No bitterness


  • It’s finely ground and so not suitable for coffee makers, as it would probably clog the filter before dripping through.

3. Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend, Medium Espresso Roast, 2.2 Pound

Lavazza has been in business for over 120 years and is among the first companies to blend coffee beans, which brings together the aroma and flavor of various coffee varieties. The company blends and roasts the beans in Italy and then sends them to eager customers all over the world.

Lavazza Super Crema’s Top Features

Honey and Almond Flavor

The blend comprises of Indian Arabica, Natural Arabica, and Robusta beans from Indonesia, Brazil, Vietnam and Columbia. Robusta coffee beans are used in nearly 40 percent of global production due to their ease of growth and high caffeine content.

On the other hand, Arabica beans contain more sugar, which is one of the reasons people like them. Lavazza Super Crema has both the beans, which balances the aroma, producing a honey and almond flavor.

Ideal for Both Espresso Machines and Coffee Makers

Lavazza Super Crema is among the best coffee beans for espresso machines, thanks to its medium-to-dark brown color that defines the real espresso. The beans are also evenly roasted. Unlike most medium-roast beans, Lavazza Super Crema beans have little to no oil in them, meaning they won’t clog your espresso machine.

To brew an espresso, you should finely grind the beans. But, you could still coarsely grind them for a coffee machine or French press. Not to mention, the beans produce a smooth and thick crema, ideal for cappuccinos.


  • Whole coffee beans blended and roasted in Italy
  • Suitable for espresso machines
  • Mild and creamy espresso roast containing notes of brown sugar and hazelnuts
  • Thick and smooth crema
  • Magnificent aroma
  • No acidity


  • Some customers have complained of finding a rock or two in the coffee bag.

4. Koffee Kult Coffee Beans Dark Roasted

Located in Hollywood, FL, Koffee Kult has been producing some of the most desired coffees across the world. Starting with its founder who took time to search the world for the best coffee beans, Koffee Kult continues to grow into South Florida’s biggest family owned and operated coffee roasting company.

Top Features


The beans are immediately roasted before packaging. This ensures the coffee is fresh, which translates to quality espresso after brewing. The fresh beans have no oil, which could make them stale from overstaying on the shelf.

100% Arabica

The coffee beans are 100% Arabica originating from Colombia, Brazil, and Sumatra, which give smooth dark roasted coffee. Arabica is known to contain less caffeine, which is a good choice for those who don’t prefer excess caffeine.

Besides, the Arabica beans give your espresso a sweet flavor rather than a bitter one. This is one of the reasons behind the popularity of Koffee Cult Coffee Beans.


  • Strong aroma
  • No bitterness
  • Any machine or method can brew it
  • Smooth finish
  • A family owned and operated firm dedicated to crafting coffee that lasts
  • Fresh with no oil


  • Not 100 percent organic, but it’s organically sourced

5. Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso

Based in New Jersey, Coffee Bean Direct was founded a decade ago and is known for distributing coffee beans with nuanced flavor. The company fills each bag with carefully roasted beans.

Top Features


The coffee beans are immediately roasted before packing them to ensure they stay fresh. Besides, the beans undergo slow roasting that makes them densely aromatic and more flavorsome.

Toasty Aroma

The full-bodied gourmet coffee has a toasty, honey-like aroma and flavor notes of smoky molasses and cocoa powder. The unique flavor and aroma will make you look forward to waking up to an espresso every morning.


The dark roast makes these beans good for making espresso. But of if you prefer something else, no problem, as the beans are also ideal for drip coffee makers, French press, reusable K-ups, pour over, and percolator.


  • Beans roasted immediately before packing to lock in maximum aroma and freshness
  • Slow roasted for optimal flavor
  • Has cocoa, molasses, and smoky notes
  • Versatile
  • Honeyed aroma


  • Beans a quite oily and so not suited for machines with a built-in grinder

What Defines a Great Espresso Bean?

If you order a shot of espresso and are given black coffee, you’d be disappointed and vice versa. The reason is there’s a distinct difference between espresso and coffee and while both are made from the same beans, you’ll need the best beans for your espresso machine.

The only way to make true espresso is by using a specialized machine. An espresso machine delivers a flavor of rich coffee with a distinct rich taste.

Due to its strong flavor, most folks prefer to mix their espresso with milk (the popular latte), or water (an Americano).

But what brings a difference between coffee and espresso?

Preparation Method

To make espresso, water passes through finely ground coffee at high pressure. The result is a highly concentrated coffee with a caramelly taste and a unique crema (layer) at the top.

Coffee preparation, on the hand, involves two methods. The first one is the pour-over method, which entails pouring hot water on fresh coffee grounds. The second approach is immersion brewing, which involves putting coffee fresh grounds inside hot water.

By using either method, the hot water dissolves most of the coffee grounds and is filtered through a cloth, paper or metal into a carafe or glass where it can be served.

Typically, when making espresso, the coffee beans take a longer time to roast than those used to make drip coffee.

Thus, passing water through finely ground coffee is what gives espresso a stronger and bolder flavor than coffee.

Grind quality

To brew quality espresso, coffee should undergo fine grinding. This is because the contact because it takes a short duration for the coffee grounds to be in contact with water. As a rule, the shorter the contact time, the more finely ground the coffee should be.


  • Light-roasted beans lack the oily sheen, and are ideal for white coffee. They are also best for non-pressure brewing methods, such as cold brew coffee or pour-over coffee.
  • Dark-roasted beans are shiny with a dark brown color and oily surface, making them suitable for espresso brewing.
  • Medium-roasted beans, on the other hand, result in a varying flavor profile, and depending on the origin of the beans, can be used to brew coffee or espresso.

Tips for Enjoying Espresso Beans

If you are new to specialty coffee and are wondering how you can enjoy it from home, you are not alone. Here are easy tips to help you get the most out of your espresso beans.

  • Check the Roasting Date

Coffee is highly perishable and has no expiry date. It can change quickly after reacting with heat, oxygen, and heat. During this process, it can quickly age and get stale. Thus, you can only extract its sugar and aromatic oils when it’s fresh.

Thus, it’s recommended you always check the roasting date and ensure it’s not more than three weeks old. If it was roasted more than three weeks ago, then you may not enjoy much of its flavors. Besides, it may fail to produce a golden crema that we all like in an espresso.

  • Set the Grinder Correctly

Once you have the best coffee beans for espresso machines delivered to you, it’s time to weight them. If you won’t have enough time in the morning, you may want to weight beans into small jam jars or even plastic tins that contain an air-tight lid.

Fill your grinder with beans for each shot and put the right adjustments to the grind setting so the espresso can run through within 25 to 30 seconds. The grinder’s arrows will show the direction to turn for coarseness and fineness.

It might take a couple of goes before getting things right. For the best results, make the adjustments when the grinder is empty.

Check the crema to know if the espresso was finely ground. If the crema has many large bubbles or is thin, you should try a finer grind by adjusting the machine.

If you can’t seem to reach a fine grind, you may consider ordering pre-ground coffee beans. Lavazza, for example, offers pre-ground espresso with the right level of fineness for both automatic and manual machines.

  • Temperature Surf

Most espresso machines have a thermostat to regulate the temperature. The problem with thermostats is that water may be a bit too hot when the thermostat goes off.

Extremely hot water can scorch your coffee grounds and make your espresso bitter. To prevent this, when the portafilter is attached, wait for the thermostat to turn off and then flush a small amount of water in the system so the temperature can slightly drop before you reattach the portafiler and pour an actual shot.

  • Keep the Machine Clean

To keep enjoying your espresso, you will need to keep the machine clean. Each time you use the machine, clean coffee grounds from the group head. Also, back-flush the machine at least once a week according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

That way, debris and oils won’t build up over time to taint your espresso’s flavor, restrict the flow of water, and eventually destroy your machine.

  • Tamp Firmly and Evenly

Put the edge of your portafilter on a flat surface followed by an even and firm tamping. To achieve this, use a strong handshake or approximately 30 lbs of pressure. The outcome should be a flat and uniform coffee surface rather than a lopsided or indented one. Proper tamping ensures that water passes through your coffee to extract all the flavors evenly.

Final Verdict

The above best coffee beans for espresso machines can match the tastes of every espresso lover. We selected beans from the world’s top coffee companies that have satisfied thousands of customers. If you are looking for something classic, then you may want to consider Lavazza Crema E Gusto.

For a thick crema, Lavazza Super Crema would do. However, if you want something more organic with a dark roast, then you may want to brew Kicking Horse Coffee 454 Horse Power. In other words, know your tastes then find beans that will make your taste buds go places.

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