Last updated: August 9, 2021

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Welcome to our big espresso bean test 2021. Here we present all the espresso beans we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best espresso beans for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy espresso beans.




Summary

  • Espresso beans are roasted longer than normal coffee beans. This gives them their dark colour and reduces caffeine and acidity, which generally makes espresso more tolerable for the stomach.
  • Generally, a distinction is made between two types of beans: Arabica and Robusta. The finer Arabica variety is the most commonly used, while the Robusta variety provides the typical crema in espresso.
  • It is important to store the espresso beans in a cool, airtight place so that the aroma is not lost. Once opened, the beans should be used as quickly as possible.

The Best Espresso Beans: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying espresso beans

What is the best way to store my espresso beans?

To ensure the optimal taste of your coffee, it is important to store it well. For example, in a coffee tin. In addition to the right packaging, the location also helps to keep your espresso fresh and aromatic.

In general, the beans should be consumed as soon as possible after opening. Other factors such as oxygen, foreign odours, heat, moisture and light deprive the coffee of its flavour or make it taste rancid after a while.

You should follow these tips for optimal storage:

  • Always grind only as much of your coffee beans as you want to use, as powder that has already been ground loses aroma more quickly.
  • It is best to use up your coffee beans within 4 to 6 weeks of purchase.
  • Make sure the coffee packaging has a good seal or store your beans in airtight containers, preferably made of porcelain or ceramic. Alternatively, you can use sealable Tupperware or metal tins.
  • Store your espresso beans in a place that is as dark, dry and cool as possible, such as the pantry. The beans should not be stored in the refrigerator, however, as this can cause them to take on unpleasant flavours and odours. It is also not necessary.

What is important when grinding espresso beans?

On the way to the perfect espresso, the degree of grinding of the coffee grounds is crucial. It is best to grind the beans just before making the espresso to get the full aroma.

Espressobohnen

The right grind determines the quality of the espresso. (Photo: fotios-photos / pexels.com)

For the perfect grind, you should buy a high-quality coffee grinder, electric or manual. Finding the right grind is often a matter of trial and error, because it has to be adapted to both your coffee beans and your espresso machine.

In general, the coffee grounds for preparing an espresso with a portafilter machine should be fairly fine, and somewhat coarser with manual lever machines. Coffee that is ground too finely or too coarsely can taste too watery or bitter. The ground coffee is optimal when it sticks to your fingers when you touch it.

Did you know that espresso is often called the essence of coffee?

This is because the special preparation under the pressure of 9 bar extracts special ingredients from the coffee, which is not possible with conventional coffee preparation.

Decision: What types of espresso beans are there and which are the right ones for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between two different types of espresso beans:

  • Robusta
  • Arabica

Due to the different flavours and aromas of the beans and your own preferences, a certain bean is best suited for you. In addition, Arabica and Robusta are often mixed to obtain a unique taste.

Espresso beans are also not always roasted for the same length of time, which results in differences between manufacturers and products, as well as advantages and disadvantages.

We would therefore like to introduce you to the different types in the following section and help you find out which espresso bean is right for you. For this purpose, we will introduce you to the above-mentioned types in more detail and clearly present exactly what their advantages and disadvantages are.

What is a Robusta bean and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The Robusta bean is, as its name suggests, more robust than the Arabica bean. It is less sensitive to diseases, heat and high humidity. In addition, the fruits of the Robusta plant ripen faster, which allows for several harvests per year. The Robusta bean is thus the second most important variety after the Arabica bean.

The taste is very earthy and woody and has a fuller body. In addition, the caffeine content is twice as high and is therefore also a very popular bean for making espresso. Another advantage is the thicker crema that can be achieved during brewing. The low oil content in the bean is responsible for this.

Compared to the Arabica bean, the Robusta bean has a much harsher taste and a lower number of aromas. If you prefer a tart taste, the Robusta bean is the right choice. It also has chlorogenic acid, which can cause heartburn and stomach aches but is reduced by a gentle roasting process.

Robusta and Arabica beans are often mixed to produce more intense aromas and a better crema. A classic blend has a ratio of 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta, which is offered in many espresso roasts.

Advantages
  • Faster maturing process
  • More robust in cultivation
  • Higher caffeine content
  • Fuller body
  • Better crema
Disadvantages
  • Weak aroma
  • Tart
  • High chlorogenic acid content

What is an Arabica bean and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The Arabica bean or Java bean is probably the most important bean on the coffee market. However, its cultivation is much more complicated than that of the Robusta bean. The ripening period here is about nine to eleven months and it is mainly grown in the highlands. The external difference to a Robusta bean is the fuller size and the typical S-line that runs down the middle.

A clear advantage is the full aromas and the fruity, berry and sweet taste of the bean, which is why it is used in almost all coffees. It also has a significantly lower caffeine content, which makes it particularly suitable for fragrant lovers who like less caffeine and is therefore also considered particularly mild.

Like the Robusta bean, the Arabica bean also has chlorogenic acid, which can cause heartburn and stomach aches, but which is also significantly reduced by a gentle roasting process.

Advantages
  • Noble taste
  • Fuller flavours
  • Low caffeine content
Disadvantages
  • Slow maturing process
  • More sensitive during cultivation
  • High chlorogenic acid content

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate espresso beans

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate espresso beans. This will make it easier for you to decide which variety is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Type of bean
  • Strength/Character
  • Origin
  • Organic/Fairtrade
  • Scope of delivery

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Type of bean

Basically, you can distinguish between two types of espresso beans that are used commercially today: Arabica and Robusta. The Arabica variety is the most commonly used for espresso preparation.

In addition to shape and size, the two types of beans differ primarily in their ingredients. While the Robusta bean is characterised by a high caffeine content and a harsher taste, the Arabica can score with finer aromas and is therefore more popular.

However, a better crema can be achieved with Robusta, which is why coffee shops often offer a blend of both types.

The taste and character of your coffee can be determined by the bean blend and you can take this into account in your purchase decision.

The following table shows different bean blends and their flavours:

Bean blend Description Characteristics
Excelsa This variety is not so well known and is considered a rare delicacy, discovered in 1904 in West Africa at Lake Chad Strong, earthy taste. Quite expensive and only available in specialist shops.
Arabica This variety is quite susceptible and needs a stable and cool climate with temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius. It thrives preferentially in regions above an altitude of 1000 metres Varied aroma. Characteristic of the Arabica is a kind of curved scar, which is located on the flat side of the bean.
Robusta Robusta coffee, as the name suggests, is more robust than the Arabica, so it thrives in flat regions with strong temperature fluctuations and higher temperatures. Less multi-faceted but earthy, low-acid aroma.
Liberica It only has a particularly small market share Lots of caffeine but not as aromatic.
Maragogype This is a cross between Liberica and Arabica coffee. The coffee from these beans is considered to be particularly suitable for making filter coffee Very mild, large and low-acid fruits that are also quite robust.

Strength / Character

The degree to which the bean is roasted determines its flavour, acidity and the strength of the coffee. Espresso beans are roasted longer than normal coffee beans.

The roasting degrees are classified on a scale from 1 to 5. While level 1 promises a very light roast and thus a mild taste (suitable for filter coffee), level 5 gives you a dark espresso roast with an intense and slightly bitter taste.

Origin

The origin provides information about the country the coffee comes from. The cultivation of coffee depends on a warm and temperate climate, with sometimes higher amounts of rainfall. Highland coffees (Arabica) are considered to be of particularly high quality.

Classic coffee regions are located in Central America, the Caribbean Islands, South America, Africa and Southeast Asia.

Did you know that the word espresso does not stand for a "fast" coffee?

It derives from the Italian verb esprimere, which means to press out.

Organic / Fairtrade

Some types of coffee are grown organically, i.e. with little or no use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers to protect the environment. In the Fairtrade trade, attention is paid to improving the mostly difficult economic situation of coffee farmers and producers in the country through fair and equal trading conditions.

Organic and fair trade products are often more expensive than conventionally traded coffee products. If the sustainable origin of your coffee is important to you, organic and fair trade are definitely important issues to think about before you buy.

Scope of delivery

Depending on how much coffee you drink, the amount of coffee beans you buy and the storage that goes with them is of course also crucial.

If, for example, you only want to surprise your guests with a good roast from time to time, it is advisable to choose a small quantity but a particularly high-quality selection.

Facts worth knowing about espresso beans

Where do espresso beans come from?

According to tradition, coffee was drunk in the Arab world as early as the 6th century BC. Areas in Yemen and Ethiopia in particular are considered to be the countries of origin of coffee.

Coffee beans first reached Europe at the beginning of the 17th century through Venetian merchants. The stimulating hot drink quickly became very popular among the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie. In the mid-19th century, espresso preparation by means of pressure was discovered and professional espresso machines were subsequently developed.

Today, coffee is grown in the highlands of Central America, the Caribbean islands, South America, Africa and Asia.

What is the difference between espresso and coffee beans?

For a conventional coffee bean to become an espresso bean, it must be refined through the right roasting process.

Espresso beans are roasted longer than normal coffee beans to release the essential oils. This also gives the espresso its typical thick crema. During the roasting process, caffeine and acid are reduced, which is why espresso is generally easier on the stomach than conventional filter coffee.

In the following table, we have listed further differences between espresso and coffee beans for your convenience:

differences espresso coffee
roasting time approx. 20 minutes approx. 13 minutes
appearance glossy and dark matt and light
grind fine to very fine medium to coarse-grained
brewing process 25 - 30 seconds up to 6 minutes
pressure min. 9 bar -
water temperature 90-93 degrees Celsius 92-96 degrees Celsius
coffee extraction approx. 24 % approx. 17 %

Picture source: Pixabay.com / MV photos

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