Even though you may own an amazing espresso machine, the only way to find the flavor that you enjoy the most is to use the best espresso beans. A quick glance at the stock that any retailer has could leave your head spinning. In order to cut down on the confusion, the best way to choose them is to decide on your preference and go from there. You’ll need to know which beans have the characteristics and taste that you prefer. This guide will help you to know how to choose the right espresso beans online to match your tastes and suit your mood every time.
Best Espresso Beans Comparison
Espresso beans or coffee beans?
These two terms are interchangeable because they are the same thing. Espresso is made from the same type beans as coffee. What makes them different is the way that they are roasted, the grind and the machines that are used to brew them. The main points that we shall focus on first are region of growth, different grinds and roasting process with regard to how they affect espresso beans. All three have a major impact on the flavor and the intensity of the finished product.
The place where the espresso beans are grown dictates the differences in flavor characteristics. It is similar to the grapes which are used for making wine. Just as wine experts can discern which kind of grapes were used for a particular wine and where they came from, so will you do with espresso beans. There are four regions of the world which are famous for coffee/espresso bean production. They are Africa, Arabia, Italy and South and Central America, which is the most famous.
Types of coffee beans
There are two basic types of coffee beans and these are arabicas and robustas. Arabica beans are most commonly grown in South and Central American countries. Robusta beans are grown in Africa, Indonesia (Sumatra) with some in Brazil and India which each produce both types. Within the types there are a few different varieties but ultimately, they possess quite similar qualities within the type.
Columbian coffee beans have a unique flavor that is influenced by the climate, growing conditions, varieties grown and the techniques which are used to process them. Arabica beans are grown most commonly in this region. The most obvious nuance of the arabica is the mellow taste that features a caramel feature with undertones of nuttiness. They are medium in acidity and are also medium bodied. These are most often used for common coffee blends that are available on supermarket shelves.
Brazian beans are more full bodied with a heavier ambiance. They flavor has a tendency to linger on the tongue longer than others and it possesses a peanut quality with a longer aftertaste. Robusta beans are the variety most commonly grown here.
Mexico and Guatamala
Coffee beans grown in Mexico or Guatamala possess a fruity bouquet with a smooth sweet flavor that comes across as buttery. These beans produce a milder flavor and are recognizable for this quality. When your senses are finely honed you will be able to detect subte hints of cherry in the Mexican beans and Apple in those from Guatmala.
Ethiopian coffe has a tendency towards being heavier and posesses light floral and fruity qualities. This is largely because the beans are processed in the same areas that fruits are and a light nuance is transferred.
Some other Ethiopian blends may possess lemongrass or jasmne qualities with a hint of berry. The characteristics are generally drier and lighter on the palate than most other coffees.
The espresso beans that are produced in Kenya offer the bold flavor of Robusta that hits you with strong sensations of savory and almost sweet intensity because they are grown in the sun with little shade. This is one of the effects that climate and growing conditions have upon the crop. It produces a stronger and harsher quality of flavor. The processing of the beans in this region includes a post fermentation soak that definitely adds to the uniqueness of the flavor qualities.
Sumatran coffee beans have an herblike quality with a stout burst that is smoky with hints of mushroom qualities and a complex array of flavor nuances. Throw a hint of unsweetened dark chocolate in there and you have the basics of Sumatran. Robusta varieties deliver this somewhat harsh flavor with their unique Sumatran characteristics.
Now you have a good idea of how the region of growth influences the flavor of the coffee on an intellectual level. The best way to become really proficient at telling them apart is to start tasting coffees from different regions to get a feel for them. It doesn’t take long until you start to recognize familiar flavors and associate them with specific regions. This happens whether you’re fond of the flavor or not.
The benefits of choosing whole bean over ground coffee
Grinding your own coffee gives you control over the size of the grounds. Coarser grinds produce a milder coffee and fine grinds, such as espresso grind render a more aromatic and flavorful brew. This isn’t the only reason why whole beans are a better choice. When coffee beans are first ground they are at their peak with the natural oils that are responsible for the flavor still fresh. Ground coffee tends to lose the volume of its oil as it ages. The oils begin to dissipate and with them, so do elements of the flavor. In order to capture the maximum flavor potential it is recommended that you grind your beans as they will be used or at a minimum seal them in a container that is airtight if you will be storing them for later use. This helps to preserve the natural oils and gives you a richer brew.
What to look for in espresso beans
The decision that will need to be made first is whether or not you prefer arabica, robusto or a combination of the two. You’ll generally find that the robustas are lower in price because they are much easier to grow and there are more of them in production. Bear in mind that robustas have twice the amount of caffeine that arabicas do.
The difference between bold and strong
Although arabica beans have a milder flavor than robustas, this has nothing to do with the strength of the espresso. The strength is determined by the grind and the amount of grounds that are used in the brewing process. The roast that you select will also have an impact on the flavor and strength. Darker roasts including French roast produce stronger flavored coffees and espressos.
There are several different roast styles for coffee beans. Each has an impact on the flavor of the bean and the qualities that it will impart when brewed. Every coffee bean is green until it has been roasted. It is the roasting process that gives it the rich and dark color that we are accustomed to seeing in whole bean and ground coffees that are purchased through local retailers. Here is the break down of the different roasts and how they are accomplished.
The beans are roasted in an oven that is set between 350 and 400 degrees fahrenheit. They are allowed to roast at this temperature for approximately eight minutes and then removed when a single crack appears in the bean. The color is generally a very light brown. The surface will be dry and the beans will still contain large amounts of oils because they have not yet been released from the bean. Some common light roasts are Cinnamon, New England, Light City and Half City.
This is accomplished by heating the beans in an oven that is around 428 degrees F. They are roasted for 11 minutes and the color is a deeper brown than light roasts. The results are a darker roast with no evidence of oil yet on the surface of the bean. They are a more full bodied bean adn are classified as Breakfast, City or American roasts.
Medium dark roasts
Medium dark roasts are beans which have been heated for slightly longer than the medium roasts, approximately 12 minutes. Some popular medium dark roast names are Espresso and Full city.
Dark roasts heat the beans for 14 minutes for a yet darker bean that can also appear black. These roasts are caled New Orleans, European, Viennese, High, Continental, Espresso, Italian or French. A higher heat of up to 510 F may be used to achieve a charring effect. The acidity at this point is removed from the heat of processing and the flavor becomes more bitter.
Dark roasting requires precision timing and expert knowledge to avoid ruining the batch. A moment too long can cause the rich flavor to be lost forever. There is less caffeine in darker roasts although the coffee may have a stronger taste. With this in mind, here are examples of popular espresso beans, their names and the attributes that make them special.
Where to buy espresso beans online:
Lavazza Caffe Espresso 100% Premium Arabic Review
100% whole Arabica beans that are suitable for all types of coffee brewing and espresso roasting.
Arabica beans deliver a sweeter taste with higher acidity and a winelike taste with tones of berries, fuit and sugar. The espresso roast brings out the darker side of the flavor with heartier tones and increased boldness
Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Review
Artisan roasted in small batches immediately before they are packaged to retain their best flavor. A blend of rich, full bodied and smooth coffee beans from rain forest origins to produce the cleanest smooth yet strong tasting coffee. Contains coffee from Columbia, Guatamala and Sumatra.
Coffee Bean Direct Italian Roast Espresso Beans Online Review
Italian roast espressso beans selected for their intense oiliess and black color for the perfect blend that brews heavy and rich flavor espresso.
Kirkland Signature Starbucks Espresso Blend Dark Roast Review
100% whole Arabica beans with a rich espresso roast so rich that the coffee aroma travels
Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee Espresso Bean Review
Premium blend of whole bean coffee consisting of Sumatra Mandheling and smooth columbian Supremo for a European flair in this complex, rich and extremely smooth coffee.
Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee Beans Review
Two pound package of Whole bean medium dark roast. Certified to be one hundred percent organic with origins from the Honduras, One hundred percent arabica beans which are GMO free.
Full bodied beans that produce a richly deep chocolate flavor that finishes clean. Honey, cocoa and caramel tones. Grown at a high altitude where insects are not an issue. Fresh roasted to bring out the natural flavor and subtle nuances.
Dark Brazilian Cerrado, Whole Bean Coffee Review
Dark Brazilian roasted whole coffee beans that produce a woody walnut and creamy cocoa flavor with a bold flavor and low acidity.
Paradise Mountain, Rare Thailand Dark Roast Beans Review
One pound of one hundred percent pure arabica whole coffee beans of a rare distinction with a lively body, vibrant overtones and an earthy aroma. Undertones of caramel, chocolate and citrus notes for a clean finish without an aftertaste.
NM Piñon CoffeeRegular Whole Bean Review
Fine blend of one hundred percent arabican coffees from high altitude locations.
Death Wish Whole Bean Coffee, The World’s Strongest Coffee Review
The world’s strongest coffee. Whole bean coffee that is certified kosher and organic with twice the caffeine of regular coffee. Premium coffee beans hand selected and precision roasted for a smooth and bold brew.
These are ten unique coffee beans that are recommended for use as espresso beans. Understanding how the area of origin, climate, variety, altitude and processing methods affect coffee flavor is helpful in choosing espresso beans that will have very specific characteristics. This combined with choosing the roast and the grind will help you to choose the espresso beans that will brew the type of coffee with all of the attributes that you find the most delicious.
Patience with the process
It takes time and practice to become truly proficient and choosing the perfect espresso bean. You may go through a few different types before you find one that truly appeals to you. Trial and error can lead you to coffes that may seem a bit off at this stage in your development. You may not enjoy the taste at this juncture and move on to try others, only to return in later years and find that your taste has changed. While some people find on espresso they prefer and refuse to try new things, others experience a change in tastes and preferences. This is the odd thing about becoming an expert in coffee beans. New options can bring about new tastes and there are always plenty to choose from.
Which is the best espresso bean?
This comes down to a matter of quality and personal preference. The beans must be picked and then roasted while they are still fresh to retain the natural oils. The roasting process must be accurate and precise to avoid over heating or underheating to achieve perfection in the desired roast. After this, the most appropriate grind will complete the process. Starting out with the perfect bean is key in making the perfect cup of espresso.
It takes practice to find the perfect settings and water to grounds ratio when using an espresso machine. Allow yourself a learning curve and be creative. You can use guides to elp you initially, but in the end, you will need to find the perfect balance to please yourself. Espressso as well as any type of coffee has the richest and best flavor when it is freshly brewed. Coffee that is allowed to sit in a heated pot will lose its appeal within about a half an hour’s time. Heat kills coffee flavor so this is something to keep in mind when you’re shooting for the perfect cup of espresso or coffee.
Continue to experiment with a variety of different coffee beans, blends and variations until you are satisfied. There are hundreds out there and you can start to hone in on the basic types with the most appeal. Brand diversity is also a good idea to expose you to even more differences. Keep in mind that as you continue you will begin to pick up on subtle nuances in flavor. You will begin to distingish between high acidity, low acidity, and the countless notes of flavor that can add complexity to and influence the overall taste of the beverage. Gentle tones of fruitiness, savory, smoky, chocolatey, herbal, nutty and the list goes on.
If you’re not currently familiar with or well versed in common terms used by coffee experts, don’t let it concern you. As you progress in your coffee knowledge and develop more sensitive taste, this will evolve naturally. With a little practice and preserverance and a whole lot of experimenting, it will all come to you. You may even develop some of your own terminology. This is what makes trying different blends such an adventure. You can read the descriptions, but until you actually taste the differences, you can only guess at how wonderful the experience can really be. Here is to you in your adventure for finding the espresso bean(s) that bring you the greatest joy and pleasure.