The 10 Best Coffee Beans for Espresso

Finding the best coffee beans for espresso is a lesson in variety. Not only do you need to differentiate between roasters and the beans they offer, but you also need to differentiate between the Moka pot and the traditional espresso machine!

Traditional espresso machines have far more steam power than Moka pots, using more bars of pressure to squeeze out its signature rich gold crema.

That said, the Moka pot is no slouch with its dark, creamy espresso and much lower price point. No matter the method you prefer, we’re here to help you find some delicious coffee beans for espresso.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to the espresso from an espresso machine as ‘traditional espresso’. We’ll call the Moka pot espresso by its own name. Without further ado!

Moka Pot vs Espresso

moka pot vs espresso

Both forms of espresso are sumptuously rich, flavorful, and perfect on their own or in a recipe. They’re still different in their grind level and brewing method, however, and will yield different flavors as a result.

Is Espresso Just Finely Ground Coffee?

Yes and no! While finely ground coffee is an important aspect of traditional espresso, it’s just one-half of the equation.

Traditional espresso uses a fine grind (that almost looks like flour) alongside high levels of steam and pressure to push out a concentrated coffee shot. Moka pot coffee is similar, using a medium-fine grind and a small volume of steam to craft a similar result. However, be very careful not to mix up these different grinds!

Using a Moka pot grind for an espresso machine will give you bland-tasting coffee and will probably eliminate any crema. Likewise, using a super fine espresso grind for a Moka pot will clog your device.

Is Moka Coffee as Strong as Espresso?

‘Strong’ is commonly used for either flavor or caffeine content. When it comes to getting a buzz, traditional espresso technically has more caffeine per volume. Expect around sixty to seventy milligrams of caffeine per espresso shot.

The same amount of Moka pot espresso will yield around forty grams of caffeine. Since traditional espresso is usually consumed in smaller sizes, you’ll actually receive less caffeine than your average mug of Moka pot coffee.

In terms of flavor, traditional espresso tends to be more robust and subtle. That said, Moka pot espresso is favored for its strong chocolate notes and velvety texture.

Can You Use Regular Ground Coffee in a Moka Pot?

If you’re referring to regular ground coffee as the scoopable grocery store fair you’d use for a Mr. Coffee pot, then no. Moka pot grinds need to be medium-fine: roughly as coarse as the kind you’d use for a pour-over.

Moka pot coffee grounds should have a grainy, sandy texture you can both see and feel. If your grind is too fine and powdery, you run the risk of clogging your pot. If it’s too coarse, your Moka pot espresso will feel watery and taste bland.

Best Coffee Beans For Espresso

The best coffee beans for espresso should be in the medium-dark to dark range. While lighter roasted coffee can still produce a tasty shot, the flavors tend to not be as vivid or complex.

1. Copper Moon Whole Bean Coffee Dark Roast Blast Off Blend

Do you need a little extra caffeine than usual? Copper Moon created their Blast Off Blend to give you around twice as much caffeine than you’d find in a regular bag: all without compromising flavor!

These beans hover in a medium-dark range to give you a robust flavor of dark chocolate while steering clear of any bitter or smoky notes.

Copper Moon Coffee is dedicated to providing the highest quality coffee, so much they crafted their own bean sourcing program: ‘SEE Copper Moon Rising’. Not only do they focus on cultivating organic and single-origin beans, they primarily purchase from small, women-owned farms.

This bag is well-suited to Moka pot espresso to exaggerate its dark chocolate notes (and will make a mean cold brew if you like cold coffee).

Best Espresso Method: Moka pot espresso

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Love the espresso method, but still like to experiment
  • Gravitate to darker roast levels
  • Want to buy coffee sourced from smaller farms
  • Prefer organic coffee

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Lean toward lighter roasts or the darkest roasts possible
  • Want more fruit-forward notes

2. Onyx Coffee Lab Eclipse

Living up to its name, Onyx Coffee Lab’s Eclipse is a stunning showcase of how dark you can roast coffee beans while keeping the flavors subtle. While you’ll get plenty of the toasty goodness one expects with this roast level, this bag still manages to surprise and delight.

This coffee’s chocolate notes lean toward sharp and bitter, balanced out by its hints of dark brown sugar and vanilla bean. Like biting into a decadent dessert, this coffee pairs naturally with cream, milk, or a little sugar.

Drinkers of black coffee will get plenty of smoke and sugar to keep them happy, though we highly recommend trying this espresso in a flat white.

The Moka pot method also shines here with the coffee’s naturally heavy body and roasted character.

Best Espresso Method: Both

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Want the darkest roast possible
  • Enjoy notes of chocolate and baking spices
  • Like to experiment with multiple espresso methods

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Want lighter roasts
  • Prefer citrus, fruit-forward or floral notes
  • Need decaf or half-caf options
  • Want kosher options

3. La Colombe Whole Bean Coffee Full Bodied Medium Roast Winter Toast

Although not as dark as a traditional espresso coffee, this medium roast offering from La Colombe was too decadent to pass up. Their Winter Toast release will offer up a level of complexity not found in many coffee bags.

La Colombe sourced these beans from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Peru to give you an impressively layered set of flavors. Notes of roasted almond blend into classic chocolate and hints of rum, a combination just begging for a traditional milk-based recipe.

We highly recommend transforming these traditional espresso shots into a creamy cappuccino with a hearty dollop of foam.

Best Espresso Method: Traditional Espresso

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Enjoy a complex set of flavors
  • Prefer classic flavors of chocolate or nuttiness
  • Gravitate toward blends

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Prefer single-origin bags
  • Want more fruit-forward or woody notes
  • Want decaf or half-caf options
  • Need kosher options

4. La Colombe Bleu Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee

Never let it be said that La Colombe doesn’t cover all bases. You can still see what they have to offer on the darker end of the spectrum with the Bleu Dark Roast, a blend with some serious staying power for your kitchen.

These beans come from coffee-producing countries with growing international demand: Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru. Each bean brings its own strength to create a complex cup with flavor notes of nuts, chocolate, and a hint of sweet cream.

This is the type of coffee you’d make to destress and unwind, just south of a classic hot chocolate. While the Moka pot will be a delight, it naturally leans hard toward chocolate notes, so we recommend traditional espresso to get the most subtlety.

These bags are certified organic by the USDA and is explicitly sourced from farms that are implementing sustainable growing practices

Best Espresso Method: Traditional espresso

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Enjoy classic dark roast espresso
  • Want organic coffee
  • Love coffee that almost tastes like a hot chocolate

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Prefer medium or medium-dark roasts for espresso
  • Need decaf or half-caf options
  • Want kosher options

5. 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters – Old School Espresso Whole Beans – Gourmet Coffee

If you’re the kind of coffee drinker who wants to recreate an old Italian cafe in the comfort of your kitchen, this is your bag. 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters wears their inspiration on their sleeve with their aptly named Old School Espresso.

These beans head straight for the classics with flavor notes of creamy caramel and dark chocolate with a nutty finish. The medium-dark roast ensures your espresso will have some bite without being too bitter, a crowd-pleaser just for you or the whole family.

This coffee has an exceptionally heavy body, meaning a Moka pot espresso will feel extra velvety.

Best Espresso Method: Moka pot espresso

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Want straightforward, traditional espresso flavors
  • Enjoy thick, creamy mouthfeels
  • Are curious to try classic Italian-style coffee

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Want to try lighter roasts for espresso
  • Prefer floral, fruit-forward, or baking spice notes
  • Need decaf or half-caf options
  • Want kosher options

6. Lifeboost Coffee Espresso Whole Beans Coffee Low Acid Single Origin USDA Organic Coffee

Roasting coffee darker naturally removes acidity from the mix, a boon for drinkers who have sensitive stomachs. Lifeboost Coffee Espresso takes things a step further, having dedicated its entire brand to digestion-friendly coffee.

This kosher, single-origin bag hails from Nicaragua, boasting an organic certification to ensure your purchase is free from harmful pesticides.

Their low-acid coffee goes easy on the stomach lining to reduce nausea, irritable bowel, and acid reflux. In fact, less acid is also easier on your teeth and gum line! No matter where you fall on the coffee health spectrum, these details will be just as pleasing as the rich, chocolatey flavor.

Both traditional espresso and Moka pot espresso will taste hearty and flavorful here.

Best Espresso Method: Both

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Have sensitive stomachs, acid reflux, or gum disease
  • Enjoy classic espresso flavors
  • Like to experiment with different espresso methods
  • Want kosher options

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Enjoy tart, acidic coffee
  • Want floral or fruit-forward flavors
  • Need decaf or half-caf options

7. Counter Culture Coffee Finca Pashapa Dark Roast

So much of the coffee industry is built on lasting relationships between coffee producers and traders. The Finca Pashapa Dark Roast is the result of two decades of collaboration between a family-owned farm and a passionate roaster, so you know this bag will make some of the best coffee for espresso.

Hailing from Honduras, this dark roast coffee is a bold and creamy display of what this origin has to offer. Old-fashioned flavors of dark, bitter chocolate ease their way into a toasted marshmallow, not unlike the smores you’d bite into next to a campfire.

In fact, you can easily recreate that delicious set of flavors with a classic milk-based recipe! Traditional espresso will form the ideal base with which to craft a cappuccino, latte, or flat white.

Best Espresso Method: Traditional espresso

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Enjoy a spin on classic coffee flavors
  • Want dark roasts for their espresso
  • Want to try lesser-known coffee origins

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Prefer citrus, fruit-forward, or floral notes
  • Need decaf or half-caf options
  • Want kosher options

8. Kahwa Cuban Coffee Beans Cubano Dark Roast Espresso Blend

Just how dark can you roast a coffee while still keeping a little sweetness? This challenge was met head-on by Kahwa Cuban Coffee Beans, offering you a classic cubano espresso that doesn’t compromise on balance.

Cuban espresso is known for being powerful and full-bodied thanks to the addition of raw brown sugar, though you can adjust your espresso however you like. These beans are roasted as dark as possible, snipping out acidity to create a smooth drink that’s heavy on the toasty chocolate flavors.

Traditional espresso will sport a bold crema, while Moka pot espresso will taste exceptionally chocolatey.

Best Espresso Method: Both

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Want the darkest possible roasts
  • Are curious to try lesser-known coffee origins
  • Enjoy blends

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Want medium or medium-dark roasts
  • Prefer single-origin coffee
  • Need decaf or half-caf options
  • Want kosher options

9. Organic Light Roast Whole Bean Coffee The Best Espresso Beans from Peru

Wait, a light roast espresso? It’s true! While darker roasts are still best suited for traditional and Moka pot espresso, we recommend stepping off the beaten path once in a while to see what you enjoy most.

The Organic Light Roast comes from Peru, a lesser-known region that still exports a few hundred thousand metric tons of coffee per year.

This region is gifted with high attitudes that contribute to higher-quality coffee, cultivating luscious flavors and healthy trees. The flavor notes on display hover from classic chocolate to more subtle notes of black tea and a honeyed finish, a boon for coffee fans who also love a cup of chai.

Both espresso methods will work well here: traditional espresso will sport a thick and honeyed crema, while the Moka pot will embrace the chocolate notes.

Best Espresso Method: Both

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Want a spin on classic espresso flavors
  • Enjoy both brewing methods
  • Are curious to try light roast espresso

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Prefer medium-dark to dark roasts
  • Need decaf or half-caf options
  • Want kosher options

10. Copper Moon Whole Bean Coffee Dark Roast Sumatra Blend

Indonesian coffee doesn’t have quite the same household reputation as Brazilian or Colombian beans. This Dark Roast Sumatra blend is one of the many delightful coffee bags bringing this lesser-known origin into the spotlight.

This bag states straight up its allergen-free, kosher make-up, which is a high note for coffee drinkers with specialized diets. The flavor notes are one of the most subtle examples on this list, hovering between a robust earthiness and an herbal finish. This coffee is almost tea-like in its approach and will no doubt be an acquired taste for fans of traditional flavors.

The Moka pot will taste a little more simple and earthy, while the espresso will have the classic bitter punch some drinkers are looking for.

Best Espresso Method: Both

We Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Want more tea-like coffee
  • Are curious about lesser-known origins
  • Enjoy herbal and earthy notes
  • Need allergen-free coffee
  • Want kosher options

We Don’t Recommend This Coffee For Drinkers Who:

  • Prefer classic or fruit-forward flavors
  • Need decaf or half-caf options