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The Best Espresso Beans of 2023: Our Top 10 Picks
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The Best Espresso Beans of 2023: Our Top 10 Picks

With the new year beginning and our mutual love of all things coffee, we’ve put together a guide on what the best espresso beans of 2023 will be. Look no further, as we have rounded up the top 10 best espresso beans you should get your hands on this year!

An array of espresso bean varieties are available, all with their distinct taste and aroma. We've sampled some of our favorite espresso beans and have compiled a list for you to check out. 

The Science Behind Espresso Beans

Contrary to common belief, it is not the beans that differentiate espresso from coffee. Instead, its distinction lies in how those same beans are prepared! Origin and taste notes may be significant for some coffees, but grind size, pressure levels, and brewing temperature play an even more crucial role.

To produce a delectable cup of espresso, the beans must be ground to an ultra-fine texture so that the coffee can resist heat and pressure during brewing. A puck is created by firmly packing these grounds into position before water heated to 200°F is forced through with at least 9 bars (sometimes up to 15) of pressure from an espresso machine.

This extraction should take between 25-30 seconds and yields an intense coffee concentrate that is lovingly known as espresso. High pressure, heat, and surface area give your cup of joe its signature flavor!

In contrast, an average cup of coffee can be produced using more coarse ground beans since devices like a French press or drip machine do not generate near the intensity or pressure found in espresso makers.

To produce a richer-tasting espresso, beans are conventionally roasted for longer periods and with darker hues than regular coffee beans. This technique enables the natural oils within the bean to become more prominent, creating a deeper flavor in your cup of joe.

You may wonder if there is a distinction between espresso and coffee beans. The answer is no, not really. While the beans are identical, how they're prepared sets them apart from each other. Therefore, if you find yourself in need or curious to try something new with your everyday cup of joe, feel free to use either type of bean for both beverages - just keep in mind that finely ground coffee can work great for espresso, but coarsely ground espresso beans will make an excellent cup of coffee as well! 

TOP HIGH-INTENSITY BEANS

LIFEBOOST PREMIUM ESPRESSO

If you want a high-quality, organic, and fair-trade coffee with intense caffeine content to give you a robust jolt of energy, Lifeboost Premium Espresso is the perfect choice for you. The dark roast beans have bold flavors of chocolate and caramel alongside subtle hints of fruity notes that will surely satisfy your coffee cravings. Get ready to experience maximum caffeination!

Sourced from the lush mountains of Nicaragua, each espresso bean is handpicked with meticulous care before being thoroughly rinsed in pure spring water and dried under the warm Central American sun. Then undergoes a roasting process that brings out all its exquisite flavor - so you can rest assured that your cup of coffee will always be made with the utmost quality throughout every step!

When you enjoy Lifeboost's 100% Arabica beans, you can be sure that their premium espresso is grown using only natural products and ingredients. With each sip of your freshly made shot of this lower-acidity coffee, experience a high-grade taste without harsh chemicals or pesticides. 

SIGHTGLASS ORGANIC CROWN POINT

If you are a coffee enthusiast with an insatiable sweet tooth and love to drink organic beverages, the Organic Crown Point blend from Sightglass is made just for you.

Combining three specialty beans from Central and South America plus Ethiopian coffee – all expertly medium-roasted to bring out the perfect flavor – this espresso blend was crafted specifically for those who enjoy a full-body delight with milk. If you crave a lighter, smoother coffee flavor than the darker roasts provide, then this is the perfect solution for you. Reinvigorate your morning routine with its distinct taste, courtesy of two rotating types of Central & South American coffee and some stunning Ethiopian beans.

Enjoy the delightfully rich, full-bodied cup of coffee this exclusive blend offers. Experience tantalizing hints of raspberry and chocolate, with an unmistakable hint of butterscotch lingering on your palate. 

BLUEPRINT COFFEE PENROSE BLEND

Are you searching for an espresso blend that will tantalize your taste buds throughout the year? If so, Blueprint Coffee's Penrose beans may be a perfect choice. Think of it as a delicious reward for all the hard work you have put in. These medium roast beans have a smooth, nutty taste and a hint of chocolate.

Penrose Coffee is a seasonal delight, with its beans changing depending on the time of year. That's why coffee enthusiasts will not be able to get enough of it! Its smoothness and sweet taste make this cup alone an experience you'll never forget, but if you feel like adding some milk or creamer, go right ahead; Penrose works great that way too. 

CUVEE COFFEE KARMADILLO DARK BLEND

It's no surprise that this espresso is a powerful brew - the company website boasts that one sip of this rich and intense roast will have you feeling like you've been "brought back to life from death." We all know how essential strong coffee can be for those mornings when we feel dead, dreary, and in desperate need of some energizing caffeine.

A harmonious blend of Central and South American coffee beans and Ethiopian and Indonesian varieties come together to form this espresso batch packed with creamy milk chocolate sweetness and a hint of caramelized sugar.

This roast's unique blend of bold and complex flavors makes it the ideal espresso for all coffee lovers. Whether enjoyed on its own or combined with steamed milk, each shot is sure to tantalize your taste buds in the best possible way. 

RED BAY COFFEE BRAZILIAN CAKE LADY

This coffee comes from the lush fields of Bahia, Brazil, an exceptional single-origin coffee that will tantalize your taste buds. Wondering why this matters? Using beans grown in one specific region of the world guarantees a more concentrated flavor profile and a potent espresso shot with each cup! You won't find these flavors anywhere else - Red Bay's Brazilian Coffee ensures you experience the purest brew.

You won't be disappointed if you're curious about what these single-origin beans taste like! Upon tasting this medium roast, one will notice sweet notes of golden raisins and nougat, as well as hints of tart citrus zest. Be sure to take your time when sipping; there may even be subtle chocolatey undertones that can only truly be experienced by taking the journey sip by sip.

When your espresso maker starts brewing, this Brazilian coffee's sweet and savory aroma will make your taste buds crave a sip. 

DEATH WISH COFFEE

Are you looking for something that'll give you a serious burst of energy? Look no further; these beans are here to pick up your mornings and late nights alike. Boasting double the caffeine content of regular coffee beans, this dark roast will provide plenty of zings when you need it most.

Not only is Death Wish Coffee organic and fair trade, but its unforgettable flavor contributes to why it constantly ranks amongst the top beans. You won't regret trying this coffee for yourself!

Despite its hefty kick, the final product surprisingly shows minimal bitterness. The subtle cherry and chocolate tones from Peru remain at the forefront of this delicious blend.

On the contrary, this blend might be too bold for those just starting out and could taste overly roasted or burnt to unaccustomed tongues. Additionally, these beans are among the costlier options on this list. 

KICKING HORSE 454

If you're after an intense caffeine kick but don't want to shell out for Death Wish, Kicking Horse's 454 beans are a deliciously strong and budget-friendly alternative. Enjoy the full flavor of these roasted wonders without breaking the bank!

Kicking Horse's organic, fair trade, and Kosher beans are sourced from Indonesia, so their bold flavor is sure to tantalize your taste buds with natural notes of chocolate and nutmeg. As a staple in the Death Wish coffee family, you can be certain that each sip will provide an earthy experience like no other!

In addition, 454 stands out as a balanced dark roast with its velvety texture and low acidity. It might not be as bold as Death Wish coffee, but that's alright because it still packs enough punch to wake you up and keep you energized throughout the day!

If you're searching for a bold, intense dark roast flavor, Kicking Horse's Kick Ass Dark blend is the perfect coffee. This coffee offers the robustness of a dark roast with an added sweetness and smokiness — it'll kick-start your day! 

KOFFEE KULT THUNDER BOLT

Are you looking for coffee that is both full of flavor and provides a significant caffeine kick? If so, then Koffee Kult's Thunder Bolt can be the perfect solution! With its subtle taste, yet powerful potency, this blend offers an ideal balance.

Koffee Kult prioritizes sustainability in their coffee beans sourced from Columbia and Brazil. While there are no formal documents to prove this claim, it is clear by reading through the product descriptions that they take pride in the quality of their company.

Koffee Kult's French roast brew may not be as intense as the other two options, but it is one of the most robustly caffeinated blends available. With its medium-dark notes, this blend will surely give you a burst of energy to take on your day!

These beans are ideal for those with delicate super-automatic espresso machines. They offer a powerful caffeine kick without being overly oily like Death Wish and boast a heavy body and an exquisite sweet flavor. 

IN-BETWEEN BEANS

COFFEE BEAN DIRECT ITALIAN ROAST ESPRESSO

If you thirst for monumental savings without the usual drop in quality, then CoffeeBean Direct is your answer. Their Italian Roast Espresso offers a flavorful and full-bodied blend that rivals even the steepest of price points.

With a distinctive roasting process, this company proudly offers 5lb bags of South American and Indian-sourced whole beans. The flavor is truly one-of-a-kind!

We take pride in roasting our beans just before packaging so that you can savor their natural freshness and flavor. Our full-bodied blend offers delightful smoky molasses and cocoa powder notes, providing a unique aromatic experience with every sip!

Although these beans don't carry the same profile and intensity as higher-end competitors, they are still an excellent option, given their budget-friendly price range. 

INTELLIGENTSIA BLACK CAT ANALOG ESPRESSO

Intelligentsia's Black Cat Analog blend should be on your radar if you're easily bored and don't want the unnecessary jitters from high-octane coffee. This low-acid bean offers a smooth finish with just enough stimulation to keep boredom at bay.

Aiming to revolutionize our espresso-drinking experience, this blend guarantees an unparalleled brightness that shifts slightly in flavor with each season. Its unique seasonal variation makes it a truly remarkable cup of coffee every single time!

With its thick, syrupy texture and more sweetness than the average espresso blend, these unique beans offer subtle chocolate notes that provide a warm familiarity. 

STUMPTOWN HAIR BENDER

Stumptown's Hair Bender beans are a one-of-a-kind choice, quickly becoming a favorite among coffee fans due to their intricate flavor profile.

This delectable blend hails from Indonesia, Latin America, and Africa, boasting a delicious combination of toffee and fudge with the additional sweetness of the cherry. Every sip is sheer perfection and is delicately balanced with flavor in mind.

This unique blend is perfect to start the day and end it. Unlike many dark roasts, this one has a smooth taste with no oily residue that can clog your grinder if you have an espresso machine at home. 

MEDIUM ROAST BEANS

LAVAZZA SUPER CREMA

Lavazza's Super Crema is one of the most sought-after espresso beans around, which shows that they've refused to compromise on quality despite being a large corporation.

Roasted and blended with immense Italian pride, these beans from Brazil, India, Columbia, and Indonesia make a truly remarkable espresso. With decades of coffee-making experience in Italy, it's no wonder this brew is so exquisite!

A Light to Medium Roast with an exquisite flavor, this blend is sure to please. Richly creamy and nutty with a touch of sweet honey and subtle hints of fruitiness, it also packs a high acidity due to its 20% Robusta beans composition. Caffeine content remains relatively low when compared to other roasts we've sampled so far, making the 80% Arabica-20% Robusta combination perfect for those searching for an outstanding cup full of unique aromas!

Providing an extended pre-opening shelf life, Lavazza beans are nitrogen packed. Furthermore, the company ensures that each bag is well-sealed to preserve the integrity of its flavor. 

BLUE HORSE 100% KONA COFFEE

If you're seeking a unique and indulgent espresso experience, Kona coffee is worth the investment. Whether it's your morning pick-me-up or an afternoon treat, this luxurious beverage will leave you with an unforgettable flavor!

Freshly harvested from a Kona family farm in the Hawaiian region, these single-origin Kona beans are entirely free of herbicides and pesticides. Although not certified organic, you can be sure that their quality is guaranteed!

Although steeper than most, these Kona beans are still a bargain compared to other options, which can be as high as $90. Enjoy the comforting sweetness of almond and vanilla with a spicy afternote, all signature flavors of Kona coffee!

The Medium Roast ensures the beans will retain their distinctive flavor, but if you want something more intense, there's also a Dark Roast option. The medium roast produces milder coffee that is lacking in boldness and caffeine content which may be desirable to some while displeasing others. Therefore, make sure you factor in your individual tastes before buying. 

KLATCH COFFEE WORLD'S BEST ESPRESSO

Awarded the prestigious WBE title at the 2007 World Barista Championships, this blend will surely mesmerize your taste buds.

A compelling combination of Sumatran Lake Tawar Beans, Brazilian Yellow Bourbon, and Natural Ethiopian beans creates a dazzling array of chocolatey orange notes in this three-bean blend. The flavor intensifies as you immerse yourself with each sip, leaving an understated sweetness underscored by hints of berry and spice.

Klatch's Belle Espresso is like no other, offering a unique flavor profile of chocolate, brandy, and caramel. 

ORIGIN

The flavor of your beans heavily depends on the environment in which it was grown, including rainfall patterns, the amount of shade present, soil composition, and altitude. All these factors can determine your taste when you take that first sip of espresso!

Before delving into the intricacies of the coffee bean industry, let's start with a brief overview: The majority of international caffeine lovers enjoy beans that come from an area called "the Bean Belt." This belt spans nearly 55 degrees around the equator -25° north and 30° south.

There are over fifty nations that cultivate coffee in this region alone. But, as with any market, a few selections prevail due to their flavor profiles and other traits. Keep reading for more details about the most popular regional coffees!

Hawaii beans: The rare and exclusive Hawaii beans or Kona beans from Hawaii boast an unrivaled flavor. The perfect combination of heavy rainfall and a plethora of sunshine brings out the unique richness in these aromatic coffee bean varieties, offering pleasingly sweet floral notes with a hint of sharpness that lingers on the palate.

Ethiopian beans: With Ethiopian beans, you'll never lack in variety. Discover a robust and full-bodied wine flavor, or select something light and fragrant - endless possibilities!

Colombian beans: Colombian beans are a delightful experience, full of rich caramel flavors and lively nuttiness. Fortunately, most of Colombia's coffee industry comprises small family farms that provide excellent quality coffees.

Brazilian Beans: Brazilians boast a much broader range of flavor profiles than Colombians because of their altitude variations. While the quintessential "Brazilian" taste is usually described as having hints of nuts or spice, it also has an unmistakably rich body.

Kenyan beans: Blessed with ample sunlight, Kenyan beans are praised for their rich flavor and subtle sweet-tart taste. It's no wonder why the coffee from this region is so highly sought after!

Indonesian Beans: Indonesian coffees are renowned for their unique varieties, like the bold-bodied Sumatran and Java beans. Not to mention, some aged blends provide an even richer flavor profile.

When it comes to creating an espresso blend, Brazilian and Indonesian beans are widely used alone or blended together. Additionally, Colombian beans are also frequently incorporated for a fuller flavor profile. 

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ARABICA AND ROBUSTA BEAN

As you browse through the selection of whole bean coffee linked above, there's no doubt that words like "Arabica" and "Robusta" will appear in the product descriptions or directly on the bag. But what exactly do those terms mean and how can they improve your daily cup?

Among the many types of coffee beans, two of the most widely consumed are Arabica and Robusta. Favored for its sweet flavor, Arabica is primarily grown in Latin America in high-altitude regions. On the other hand, Robusta coffee has a stronger taste with less acidity and can only be found on the eastern side of our planet.

Commonly found in grocery stores, Robusta coffee beans are often viewed as the conventional choice due to their ease of cultivation. However, numerous renowned cafes and brands, like Starbucks, prioritize using 100% Arabica beans for a unique flavor experience. Ultimately, which type you prefer boils down to your taste; most opt for Arabica because it contains less caffeine and has a considerably smoother taste. 

WHOLE VS PRE-GROUND

Have you taken notice that each of the beans we have presented here is sold as individual beans? But you may not know that some of these products also offer pre-ground versions. So why should you care about this distinction?

The ultimate difference lies in their freshness. Even if you choose to inspect the roast date on your coffee beans, pre-ground coffee will no longer contain that same crisp flavor and aroma once ground.

For the best-tasting coffee, espresso, and other beverages, we highly suggest purchasing beans whole and investing in a reliable grinder to grind them close to when you brew. Luckily there are many super-automatic and semi-automatic machines with integrated grinders, so you don't need to spend extra money on one!

Moreover, grinding your own beans ensures you can relish their full flavor potential. Fresh grounds are the ideal choice if your espresso machine isn't of the highest quality; this will help guarantee a delicious cup.

For those who prefer to do their own grinding but don't want to commit to the task every time they make espresso, grinding in small batches is a perfect solution. To ensure the freshness of your grounds throughout successive uses, you must store them in an airtight container.

ROAST

Roasting time is just as significant in acquiring that perfect cup of coffee as the origin and grind. You must be mindful of what you are getting when searching for beans since all coffee beans possess similar qualities at first - green, moist, and aromatic natural earthiness. But after roasting them, these same beans exhibit a different look, scent, and taste altogether!

Coffee connoisseurs have long favored bold, dark and medium-dark roasts for espresso brewing due to their robust flavor profile and low acidity. Oily, near black in color – these beans are recognizable by sight alone! Plus, the larger concentration of natural oils helps produce that signature crema you know a cafe-quality cup of coffee requires.

If you're looking for the rich flavor of a dark roast without risking your machine getting clogged, then medium roasts are the way to go. Their balanced flavor and mid-range acidity give them an edge over lighter varieties, making them ideal for those just starting out in their espresso journey. Whether it's new or experienced baristas behind the counter, these beans will provide consistent results every time!

Light roasts will satisfy the taste of those who enjoy an earthy flavor profile, but if you're aiming to make a cup of rich and bold espresso, it's best to avoid them. These beans are roasted for the shortest amount of time, resulting in their slightly lighter color than other coffee bean varieties. To get that delicious espresso flavor everyone loves so much, opt-in for medium or dark roast beans instead!

Conclusion

In conclusion, whether you enjoy intensely caffeinated drinks or milder and more complex medium roasts, there is a perfect bean for everyone's taste. This list will certainly help you find what suits your needs best!

To get the most out of your coffee beans, purchase them as whole beans and grind them yourself. To select the highest quality bean for you, consider variables such as the roasting process, the product's origin, and the machine used during grinding. With these points in mind, you can rest assured that your coffee will be a truly delicious and aromatic experience!

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