Depending on your own preferences and the qualities you want in your espresso, you can choose which coffee is best for making espresso. Nonetheless, specific varieties and mixes of coffee beans are frequently preferred for preparing espresso. Here are five things to consider when picking your espresso beans:
Always use freshly roasted coffee beans*. Coffee flavour degrades over time, and using recently roasted beans enhances the aromatic and flavour qualities of your espresso.
*However, most roasters will recommend a "rest period" or "peak rest time" to let your beans "settle". Meaning; let some of the gasses that are created through roasting release. We generally want 10-14 days of rest time after roasting.
2. Bean Type:
Arabica Beans: Arabica beans are often preferred for their nuanced flavours, acidity, and aromatic qualities. Espresso made with 100% Arabica beans tends to have a more complex and fruity profile.
Robusta Beans: Robusta beans are known for their higher caffeine content and a more robust, bitter flavour. Including Robusta in espresso blends can contribute to a thicker crema and a stronger taste.
3. Blend or Single Origin:
Blends: Many espresso blends combine different coffee beans to achieve a balanced flavour profile. Blends often include a mix of Arabica and Robusta beans to balance acidity, sweetness, and body.
Single Origin: Some espresso enthusiasts prefer single-origin beans for a unique and distinct flavour experience. Single-origin espresso highlights the specific characteristics of beans from a particular region.
4. Roast Level:
Medium to Dark Roast: Espresso is commonly brewed using medium to dark roast beans. The roasting process influences the flavour, with darker roasts often contributing to a richer and bolder espresso.
5. Grind Size:
Unlike Filter or Pour-over brewing, espresso requires a fine grind to facilitate the pressure extraction process. Ensure that your coffee beans are ground to the appropriate fineness for espresso brewing. Check out this post Unravelling the Distinction: Filtered Coffee vs. Pour-over Coffee, for those methods.
Popular espresso blends often include beans from regions like Ethiopia, Brazil, Colombia, and Sumatra. However, the "best" coffee for espresso is subjective and depends on individual taste preferences. It's worth exploring different beans and blends to find the flavour profile that suits your liking.
Ultimately, the best coffee for espresso is the one you enjoy the most. Experiment with different beans, roasts, and blends to discover the flavours that resonate with your palate. Additionally, consider consulting with local coffee roasters or baristas (like us!) who may offer recommendations based on your taste preferences and the specific characteristics you seek in your espresso.