Welcome to our guide on the best coffee beans for espresso! We understand that making espresso can be a confusing and daunting task, so we created this guide to help answer all your questions.

Espresso is a type of coffee brewing method which originated in Italy. Espresso is made using a special machine which forces pressurized hot water through very finely ground coffee beans. This produces a concentrated ‘shot' of espresso that has a creamy texture, with a strong and distinctive flavor.

Whether you’re a barista looking for advice on the best coffee beans for espresso, or a home-brewer trying to make your own espresso, this guide will arm you with the tools and knowledge you need to make the perfect cup of espresso. We’ll discuss the different types of coffee beans, grinding and extraction techniques, and other useful tips on how to create and serve your espresso-based drinks.

In this guide we will cover:

  • Coffee Varieties and Origins
  • Grinding Coffee Beans and Extraction
  • Best Coffee Beans for Espresso
  • Water Quality and Extraction
  • Milk Frothing and Texturing
  • Brewing Methods
  • Espresso Beverages
  • Flavoring Syrups and Other Add-ons
  • Other Uses for Espresso Grounds
  • Cleaning Equipment

We hope that by offering detailed information on the different aspects of espresso-making, you’ll gain a better understanding of this wonderful drink and be able to make a delicious cup of espresso for yourself.

Let’s begin by looking at coffee varieties and origins.

Coffee has a long history of cultivation, with origins around the world. There are several varieties of coffee beans, each with its own unique characteristics. Knowing about different types of beans, their origin and flavor profiles can help you pick the best beans for your espresso.

Types of Coffee Beans

There are two primary types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are known for their delicate flavor, while Robusta beans are full-bodied and have more caffeine.

Within these two categories, there is tremendous variety in flavor and body. For example, Arabica beans from Colombia typically have a sweet, chocolatey flavor, while Kenyan Arabica beans are known for their bright, floral taste. In contrast, Robusta beans from Indonesia may have a nutty, earthy flavor, while Brazilian Robusta beans tend to be more acidic.

Origins of Coffee Beans

The origin of a coffee bean can greatly impact its flavor profile. Coffee is grown in tropical and equatorial regions around the world, including Central and South America, Africa, India, and Indonesia.

Coffee beans grown closer to the equator tend to have brighter, fruitier flavors, while beans grown in higher elevations have more balance and complexity. Different growing regions also have their own unique characteristics. For example, Ethiopian beans are known for their floral aromas and intense acidity, while Guatemalan beans are chocolatey and nutty.


When selecting the best beans for espresso, it’s important to consider the characteristics of the beans. The most desirable espresso beans will have a blend of sweet, acidic, and bitter notes, as well as a full body and creamy texture.

Aroma is another key characteristic of espresso beans. Aromatic beans will have a pleasing smell when ground and brewed, while beans with poor aroma will lack an enticing scent. The ideal beans for espresso should also have a good crema, which is the layer of foam that appears on the surface of a freshly brewed espresso.

Finally, the flavor of espresso beans will also influence their quality. High-quality espresso beans should have a balanced blend of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness. Complex flavors such as caramel, chocolate, nuts, and fruits are all indicative of premium espresso beans.

Grinding Coffee Beans for Espresso Extraction

Making espresso is a complex process that requires precision and skill. To get the perfect espresso, it’s important to understand each step of the process. One of the most important steps is grinding the coffee beans, as it has a huge impact on the overall extraction.

When it comes to grinding coffee beans for espresso, you want to aim for a more refined grind than normal. This will give you a smoother extraction with a more balanced flavor. When the beans are too coarse, the water won’t be able to penetrate the grounds quickly enough, resulting in an under-extracted espresso. On the other hand, if the beans are ground too fine, the water won’t be able to permeate the grounds quickly enough, resulting in an over-extracted espresso.

Finding the right grind size can be tricky but it's essential to creating a perfect espresso. To begin narrowing down a grind size, use a grind size chart as a reference. Generally, most espresso brewing machines require a grind size that is between a very fine powder and a medium-coarse grind. Try out different coffees at varying grind sizes until you find the perfect one for your machine.

By understanding the process of grinding the coffee beans and why the particle size matters, you’ll be able to achieve maximum flavor and texture in your espresso.

Best Coffee Beans for Espresso

Espresso is an Italian-style coffee that produces a strong, concentrated drink. It is made by forcing hot water through tightly packed, finely ground coffee beans and produces a rich, aromatic cup. To make the best espresso, selecting the right type of coffee beans is essential.

The two main types of coffee beans used to make espresso are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are known for their sweet and subtle taste, with a higher acidity and higher caffeine content than Robusta beans. Robusta beans have a more robust and full body, with a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans.

Arabica beans are considered the best beans for making espresso due to their complex flavor profile and sweeter finish. They are also easier to work with during extraction and can be used to produce a wide range of espresso beverages. Robusta beans are often used in blends and provide a more intense flavor and higher caffeine hit.

When selecting coffee beans for espresso, it is important to take into account origin, roast level, and the grind size. Different origins can impart different flavors, with beans from Central and South America generally having more intense flavors than those from Africa. The roast level will affect the intensity of the coffee, with darker roasts having more body and a more intense flavor.

Finally, the grind size is very important as it will determine how quickly the water passes through the coffee and how much flavor is extracted. If the grind size is too coarse, the espresso will be weak and lack flavor. If the grind size is too fine, the espresso will be bitter and over-extracted.

Water quality is of vital importance for any espresso-based beverage. It is what contributes to the flavor and character of the espresso. If the quality of the water is poor, it can lead to bitter, acidic or even muddy tasting espresso. However, with the right quality of water, espresso can be transformed into something truly delicious.

Water used for espresso extraction should have a neutral pH and low levels of hardness, which is typically achieved through the use of filtered or distilled water. This will ensure that the beans are able to extract evenly and that no element of the water will affect the espresso’s flavor. Additionally, the water temperature should be between 194° F and 203° F to get the best extraction.

To get the most out of your coffee beans, use freshly ground beans as this will give you more control over how they are extracted. The grind size is particularly important as it dictates how much surface area the hot water is exposed to – the finer the grind size, the more surface area and the more quickly the espresso will be extracted. Generally, espresso beans should be ground very fine in order to achieve a strong extraction.

Finally, ensure you weigh out the amount of coffee beans used so that you can ensure consistency each and every time you make an espresso-based drink. Start with a ratio of 1 part coffee to 2 parts water and adjust from there if needed.

By taking these steps, you can ensure your water quality is good and the extraction process will result in the best possible espresso-based beverage.

Milk Frothing and Texturing

Frothing and texturing milk is an integral part of making espresso-based beverages such as cappuccinos and lattes. Milk is frothed by introducing air into it with a steam wand attached to an espresso machine, creating a creamy foam. The more air introduced, the longer the froth will last. But it’s important to not over-froth the milk or it will start to separate.

The texture of the milk also needs to be taken into consideration. Milk should be frothed until it is thick and creamy, but still pourable. If it’s too thin it won’t hold its shape, but if it’s too thick it can become difficult to pour.

When frothing milk for espresso beverages, it also needs to be heated to the correct temperature. Different drinks require different temperatures, but generally speaking, milk should be heated to between 140°F and 160°F (60°C – 70°C).

The texture and temperature of the milk are important factors when making espresso-based beverages, so it’s important to practice and master the art of frothing and texturing milk.

Brewing Methods

Brewing espresso is a delicate balance of time, temperature, and pressure. With the right technique, you can extract the perfect cup of espresso every time. The right brewing method and technique will depend on your espresso machine and the type of coffee beans you are using.

The two most common methods for brewing espresso are the pump machine and the manual lever press. Pump machines use electricity to pressure an internal water tank, forcing the hot water through the coffee grounds. Lever presses use hand-operated levers to apply the same intensity of pressure needed for espresso extraction.

Other brewing methods include steam-driven espresso machines, super-automatic machines, and siphon brewers. Steam-driven espresso machines achieve espresso extraction by using a release valve that pushes hot steam through the ground coffee, while super-automatic machines offer one-touch convenience and are great for busy baristas. Finally, siphon brewers use vacuum-pressure technology to force hot water through the coffee grounds.

Each brewing method brings its own unique flavor profile to the cup. It is important to experiment with different methods, beans, and grind size in order to find the perfect combination for the perfect espresso.

Espresso Beverages

When it comes to espresso-based drinks, there are many to choose from and each has their own delicious flavor and texture. From macchiatos and lattes to cappuccinos and more, there’s something for everyone.

A macchiato is a shot of espresso with a dollop of foam and a little milk. It’s strong and full of flavor. A latte is a shot of espresso mixed with steamed milk. This popular option is made with the same amount of espresso and milk. A cappuccino is a combination of espresso, steamed milk and foam on top. The ratio of espresso to milk is 1:1.

The same espresso shots can be used to make other drinks such as an affogato which is an espresso shot poured over a scoop of ice cream. Espressos can be combined with different syrups, liqueurs and flavors for added sweetness, making them great for dessert-style beverages.

Milk shakes and smoothies can also be made from espresso shots. Simply mix your favorite espresso with ice cream, milk and/or yogurt, a sweetener and any additional flavorings you like such as cocoa powder or nutmeg. Blend everything together and you have a creamy treat that’s sure to satisfy.

Flavoring Syrups and Other Add-ons

Adding syrups, powders and other ingredients to espresso can enhance the flavor experience. Popular syrups, such as vanilla and hazelnut, are available to add sweetness and flavor. Other add-ons can include cinnamon and chocolate powders. Recipes for making syrups and other flavored beverages can be found online or in cafe handbooks.

When not in use, it's important to store the syrups properly in a cool, dry place. If a syrup is left out on a counter it will spoil quickly, making it unusable for coffee production. Keeping ingredients in air tight containers and away from extreme temperatures will help them last longer.

Other Uses for Espresso Grounds

Espresso grounds are an incredibly versatile ingredient and can be used in many ways. Perhaps surprisingly, there are a number of beauty products that contain or make use of espresso grounds, and some people even use them as a kitchen compost!

Espresso grounds have been found to have great exfoliating properties and can be used to create a natural face scrub. This is due to the small particles that are created when the beans are ground, which act as tiny beads that can buff away dead skin. To create an espresso scrub, simply stir together two tablespoons of ground espresso and two teaspoons of olive oil.

Espresso grounds can also be used as a natural body scrub. To make this, mix together equal parts of espresso grounds and coconut oil. This will create a lightly abrasive mixture that is great for gently exfoliating skin.

Espresso grounds can also be used as a natural dye, creating a deep brown hue. To use espresso grounds as a dye, mix together one cup of espresso grounds with four cups of water. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The liquid can then be strained and cooled before being applied to fabric.

Finally, espresso grounds can be used as a kitchen compost, helping to break down food scraps and other organic materials. Simply add equal parts of wet and dry ingredients to your kitchen compost, and stir up the mixture occasionally to ensure it’s all breaking down evenly.

Cleaning Equipment

If you love espresso, you know that it takes more than a few steps to get the perfect cup. One of the most important parts is keeping your equipment clean. Regularly cleaning your espresso machine and its accessories is essential for ensuring you get the best results.

First, you will need to clean the portafilter and the grouphead, which is where most of the coffee grounds build up. Use a damp cloth or brush to remove any remaining oil and coffee residue. You can also use a portafilter cleaning detergent if needed. Also be sure to clean the drip tray and the spouts of the machine, as these can easily get clogged with coffee residue.

It is also a good idea to descale your machine every few months, depending on how hard your water is. This process helps to remove any mineral buildup on the inside of your machine, which can otherwise leave an unpleasant taste in your espresso. Use a specialized descaling solution to help you get the job done quickly and effectively.

Finally, make sure to regularly service your machine. This includes replacing any worn out seals and gaskets, replacing the steam wand, and other parts as necessary. Doing this will help ensure that your equipment is working properly and that your espresso is extracted correctly.


Brewing great espresso is a science. With the right approach, knowledge and practice, creating delicious espresso beverages can become second nature. We hope that with this guide, you have a better understanding of espresso and the different factors involved in making it. From sourcing the right coffee beans, to grinding, extraction and milk frothing, each step needs to be done with precision for the best results.

Whatever your experience level with espresso, there is always something new to learn. Get creative with experimenting different flavors, techniques and recipes. Enjoy your espresso journey and continue developing your skills.

We wish you all the best on your espresso-making adventure. Happy brewing!


  • Q: What is Espresso?
    A: Espresso is a type of coffee brewed by pressing hot water through finely-ground, darkly roasted coffee beans at high pressure. It results in a stronger and more concentrated flavor than other forms of coffee.
  • Q: How does one grind coffee for espresso?
    A: Espresso requires a much finer grind size than coffee makers used for other brewing methods such as French press or automatic drip. Coffee should be ground to a texture that feels like table salt.
  • Q: What are the best coffee beans for espresso?
    A: The two main types of coffee beans suitable for espresso are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are generally more complex with richer flavors of fruit, berries, caramel and chocolate. Robusta beans, on the other hand, produce a more intense bitterness but provide a fuller body and texture.
  • Q: What is the importance of water quality in espresso extraction?
    A: Good water quality is essential for successful espresso extraction. Purified or filtered water provides less mineral content, which reduces the risk of scaling and keeps the machine running smoothly.
  • Q: What is milk frothing and texturing?
    A: Milk frothing and texturing is an integral part of espresso making. This involves introducing air bubbles into the steamed milk to make it thicker and creamier so it can be used to create lattes, cappuccinos and more.
  • Q: What are the different brewing methods for espresso?
    A: There are several popular brewing methods for espresso ranging from traditional machines to pod-based systems. Manual lever espresso machines are the most hands-on method, while semi-automatic machines use electronic pumps to help regulate the building and tamping process.
  • Q: What other uses are there for espresso grounds?
    A: Espresso grounds can be used for various purposes such as enhancing garden soil and making specialized beauty products. They can also be used to boost flavor when baking or making chocolates, as well as in place of activated charcoal for skin detoxification.