The Best Beans for Espresso: A Guide to Your Perfect Daily Brew

Last updated on January 15th, 2024 at 06:45 pm

Do you know what kind of coffee beans are the best beans for espresso?

Delving into the realm of espresso excellence, the pursuit of the best beans for espresso takes center stage. In this article, I will discuss the secrets behind the best beans for espresso for crafting that coveted, impeccable shot of espresso. Join me as we navigate through the intricacies of origin, roast, and blend, seeking to unravel the age-old question: What truly constitutes the best beans for espresso?

Table of Contents

Difference Between Regular Brew and Espresso

The Amount of Liquid Water in a Cup

Typically, espresso is brewed at a 1:2 ratio, one part of coffee, and two parts of water, whereas a regular brew coffee can be brewed at a 1:15, to, 1:18 ratio. The amount of total dissolved solids is 8% – 12% for espresso. As in regular brewed coffee, it’s usually around 1.2% – 1.3%. Thus, espresso is 8 to 10 times stronger than regular brewed coffee.

The time that it takes to make these two kinds of coffee is also very different. According to the traditional recipe, espresso is brewed under pressure, and it takes about 30 seconds to pull a shot. Regular brewed coffee takes much longer, typically, it takes 3 to 4 minutes.

Espresso Is Often the Base of a Milk Drink.

If we use espresso beans to brew a cup of regular coffee, the coffee will probably taste ashy and a little burnt. However, when espresso beans are brewed at a more intense espresso ratio, the acidity will be right, the sweetness starts to come out, and overall, the balance is just much better.

a close photo shot showing a coffee machine pulls a shot with nice crema into a white cup using the best beans for espresso.
Best Beans For Espresso Pull

Dark, medium , or light roast for espresso?

The first compound that is extracted when brewing coffee is acid, and since espresso is just brewed in 30 seconds it doesn’t extract that much sweetness. What are the best beans for espresso, dark, medium, or light roast?

Most of the time, dark roast coffee is used for espresso. Dark roast is the most soluble coffee ground compared to either medium or light roast coffee. The sweetness of dark roast is easy to extract within a very short time with high temperature and pressure.

As for medium roast, we probably would grind finer and adjust the water temperature to get a little bit more sweetness out of the coffee. You can drink it as a French espresso, it will still taste good.

Currently, specialty coffee aficionado is crazy about light-roast Ethiopian coffee. This coffee has a very floral and fruity aroma and tastes good as a V60. However, if you were to try and brew this as an espresso it would just be terrible. The sourness probably tastes like lemon juice or battery acid. This light-roasted coffee is not very soluble which makes it very difficult to extract the sweetness. If you try to brew ultra-light roasts then you don’t get a very sweet cup of coffee, you tend to get a lot of acids.

Conventionally, dark roasts are the best beans for espresso. The medium roasts can be used to extract the espresso. As for light roasts, it becomes a very personal preference. I would not recommend light roasts as the best beans for espresso, however, some people just like the sweet taste extracted from this type of roast. 

What is an espresso paradox?

However, there is an espresso paradox. The Ethiopian beans are grown under very specific circumstances and that’s what gives them their unique flavor. When it comes to specialty coffee, we typically value coffee that grows at a high altitude because that results in a denser bean and more flavor. 

This flavor is very easy to appreciate when you brew it at a 1:15 or 1:16 ratio. Espresso is typically 8 to 10 times stronger, and more concentrated than normal coffee, so you don’t get that much acidity because the brewing method will amplify the bean’s flora character. In a way, you can get away with using what is normally considered lower-quality coffee and espresso.

There are a lot of rules to follow when it comes to specialty coffee, people care a lot about single-origin coffee and special lots. When it comes to espresso, a lot of these things aren’t that important. For instance, lower-altitude-grown coffees are more common, and blends are a lot more common. 

It’s interesting that this espresso brewing method improves coffees that are seen as mediocre, lower-scoring coffees, and it tends to mute the interesting characteristics of good coffees. This is especially a paradox because espresso equipment is so expensive. It can be 100 times more expensive than a regular coffee machine.

As a tradition, blends have been a part of the espresso. A cheap low altitude grow Brazilian coffee can be mixed with a little bit of Robusta to add some crema and caffeine; then add a little bit of a high-altitude-grown Colombian coffee to give it some acidity. 

That way the coffee maker can keep the prices down and consumers can have a consistent flavor of a brand.

What exact is the best beans for espresso?

What kind of coffee beans are the best beans for espresso? The rules that we normally talk about when it comes to coffee, don’t usually apply to espresso. One should not roast expensive beans from Panama for espresso, probably just use a cheaper Brazilian coffee should pull a sweet shot without breaking the bank.

Interestingly, Starbucks started selling a type of espresso drink using ”Blonde Espresso” beans from 2010. If you like to know more about blonde espresso, please check out the article by click here!

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Of course, read more blog posts I post now and then, such as  “Nespresso VertuoNext vs VertuoPlus“.

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