5 Best Coffee For Espresso Shots

Do you need an espresso to get you through a long day? You’re in the right place! I’ve prepared a list of the best coffee for espresso shots to perk you up.

Best coffee for espresso shots
Espresso shots are in a class of their own due to their versatility

As a beverage, coffee is one of the most consumed drinks in the world. According to reports, around 9.97 billion kilograms of coffee were consumed worldwide between 2020 and 2021.

But espresso shots are in a class of their own due to their versatility. It can be drunk straight as the Italians do and can also be mixed with milk and foam for a cappuccino or latte. 

Regardless of how you enjoy your shot, one thing’s for sure: it’s delicious and invigorating, so what is the best coffee for espresso shots? You might also be curious about discovering the best coffee for Jura espresso and which Peet’s coffee is best for espresso

What To Look For In The Best Coffee For Espresso Shots


Espresso brands aren’t created equally since coffee beans are farmed differently. The taste of coffee depends on how the beans were grown—from the soil characteristics, climate, and even elevation. Roasting and grinding also affect the taste. 

Some of the best brands in the world, like Lavazza, Starbucks, Illy, Stumptown, and Intelligentsia, provide some of the best-tasting and high-quality espresso shots. That doesn’t mean you’re limited to well-known brands. Some small coffee growers are also known for producing excellent espresso beans.


Branded coffee is like designer goods—they are expensive and worth it. However, if you look around, there are independent coffee makers that have affordable, high-quality coffee. 

Arabica Vs. Robusta

Coffee beans come from different varieties of plants, but there are two basic types of beans: Robusta and Arabica. Sometimes, a pack of ground coffee is a blend of the two. 

A bags of arabica and robusta coffee beans
Two basic types of beans: Robusta and Arabica


Arabica beans are generally larger and are known for their complex flavors—a hint of sweetness with fruity, floral, chocolatey, and nutty tones. They have lower caffeine content. They are grown at higher altitudes between 500 and 2,500 meters and need several years to mature. 


Robusta has more caffeine than Arabica. The taste is stronger and deeper with woody tones. They are grown at altitudes of 1,000 meters or less and bear fruit faster than Arabica.

Physically, Robusta beans are smaller, paler in color, and more circular. 

Signature Blends

Some brewers create their own coffee blends by mixing Arabica and Robusta beans or other coffee varietals. Marrying distinctive tastes provides a more compelling and unique flavor. 


Coffee beans are roasted to bring out their flavor and aroma. The longer they are roasted, the more flavorful they become. The time spent roasting them produces different roast types:


Unroasted beans are green, soft, and have a grassy smell. When you roast them, they change color.

The green beans are roasted for short periods to retain their original flavor when creating light roasts. As a result, the color remains light without much oil on the surface. Despite the deceiving name, these beans are quite acidic. 


Medium-roast beans are darker in color since they’re roasted for longer. They have a smoky, sweet flavor with a more balanced acidity. Most coffee shops use medium-roast beans.


Of the three, dark roast coffee has the deepest colors because they’re roasted the longest. Dark roasted beans have a strong smoky scent and robust flavor. Any sugar left on the beans gets caramelized. 

How To Pick The Best Coffee For Espresso Shots

Your preferred espresso shot is a matter of taste. Generally, however, you’ll want to pay attention to the following to ensure a satisfying espresso every time.


Coffee beans must be consumed fresh. In addition to the expiration date, check when it was roasted. The ideal freshness is a bag of beans that have been roasted within a week to two weeks. 


Ground coffee, roasted coffee beans, grinder, rose quartz stone, and monstera left on wooden table
Espresso tastes better when you use freshly ground beans

Buy coffee in small quantities so it doesn’t become stale. If you can, buy whole coffee beans. Espresso tastes better when you use freshly ground beans.


Opt for high-quality coffee. High-quality beans may be more expensive, but they are worth it. Some signs of high-quality coffee are the brand, a one-way valve on the coffee bag, a recent roast date, and the place of origin (look for countries that are famous for their coffee beans).

You must never go for coffee that is untraceable.

1. The Best Coffee For Espresso Shots For The Eco-Conscious

Trust the Italians who invented espresso to produce some of the best coffee through Lavazza. As one of the most trusted coffee brands in the world, Lavazza Super Crema has a rich hazelnut and brown sugar flavor with fruity and floral notes. Each medium to light-roasted bag contains a delightfully distinctive blend of Robusta and Arabica. 

Lavazza Super Crema Medium Espresso Roast
$23.98 ($0.68 / Fl Oz)
  • One 2.2 pounds bag of Lavazza Super Crema Italian whole coffee beans
  • Mild and creamy medium espresso roast with notes of hazelnut and brown sugar
  • 60% Arabica and 40% Robusta
  • Best used with an espresso machine
  • Produced in a nut-free facility
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03/07/2024 02:22 am GMT


  • Full-bodied, mild, creamy coffee
  • It gives the best of both worlds with its Robusta and Arabica blend
  • Lavazza employs sustainable farming practices


  • Not ideal for iced coffee
  • Bag is not resealable, must be consumed quickly before the taste changes
  • Not all beans are freshly roasted; check the manufacturing date carefully

2. The Best Coffee For Espresso Shots For Those Who Love A Smooth Brew 

Here’s another great-tasting Italian brand. Illy Espresso Medium Roast is made from 100% Arabica and slow-roasted for a richer, smoother taste. It has delicate notes of caramel, jasmine, and orange blossom. 

illy Classico Ground Espresso Coffee, Medium Roast, Classic Roast with Notes Of Caramel, Orange Blossom and Jasmine, 100% Arabica Coffee, All-Natural, No Preservatives, 8.8 Ounce Can (Pack of 6)
$58.33 ($1.10 / Ounce)
  • Classico Medium Roast: Composed of 9 of the finest Arabica coffee sources worldwide, the medium roast features a rich and balanced taste with notes of caramel and chocolate.
  • World’s Most Ethical Coffee: illy caffè was named on Ethisphere’s list for the seventh consecutive year, among just a handful of honorees in the beverage industry, highlighting illy’s achievement of leading with integrity.
  • 100% Arabica Coffee: We could offer you every roast and blend under the sun, but we’d rather give you the perfect one. We’ve spent eight decades refining a singular, signature blend of ground coffee—celebrated as the pinnacle of what coffee can be.
  • Freshly Brewed Perfection: Finely ground to provide optimal extraction with espresso machines that take ground, tamped coffee. illy coffee is packed in an air-free, pressurized can that enhances and seals in aromas and oils, for perfect coffee.
  • Sip. Savor. Be Inspired: illy believes in sustainable quality and boasts more than 30 years dedicated to perfecting coffee bean growing methods to obtain a harvest that is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable and responsible.

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03/07/2024 12:45 am GMT


  • Slow-roasted 100% Arabica coffee
  • Bold and strong taste
  • Illy is recognized as one of the most ethical companies in the world
  • Available in small 8.8-ounce packs
  • It comes in a reusable tin can


  • Grind may be too fine for some espresso machines
  • It doesn’t work well with a Moka pot
  • Some products don’t come with a lid when ordered online

3. The Best Coffee For Espresso Shots For Those Who Need A Pick-Me-Up

With its rather intense name, Death Wish Coffee Co. is one of the world’s strongest coffees. It’s so strong thanks to its slow-roasted production process and blends of Arabica and Robusta beans. If you like your shot accompanied by subtle notes of chocolate and cherry, this is the brew for you.

Death Wish Coffee Dark Roast Grounds
$16.48 ($1.03 / Ounce)
  • Day starter ground coffee
  • Quality brew coffee grounds dark
  • Smooth, dark, ground coffee
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03/06/2024 07:25 pm GMT


  • Very strong coffee
  • Bold flavor
  • Made from USDA-certified organic beans
  • Fair Trade-certified 


  • The exceptionally strong taste isn’t for everybody
  • It’s supposed to have low acidity, but it isn’t easy on the stomach
  • Not for casual coffee drinkers

4. The Best Coffee For Espresso Shots For Those With Lighter Preferences 

Featuring coffee from Africa, Latin America, and Indonesia, Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ Hair Bender has notes of sweet citrus, dark chocolate, and raisin. It is 100% Arabica coffee. 

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03/06/2024 10:39 pm GMT


  • Perfect for fans of light and medium-light roasted blends
  • 100% Arabica beans from several origins
  • Maintains an equitable and transparent supply chain to ensure quality


  • Some shipped items are too close to the expiration date
  • Can be too weak for serious coffee drinkers
  • Has a strong citrus aftertaste that isn’t for everyone

5. The Best Coffee For Espresso Shots For Those Who Love Brand Names 

While coffee snobs aren’t fond of Starbucks, you can deny that it’s the most accessible since there’s a store in almost every corner of the world. The Starbucks Espresso Roast has hints of rich molasses and caramel. It makes a great base for cappuccinos, lattes, and iced coffee. 

STARBUCKS® Espresso Roast – Whole Bean Coffee 18oz​ - Packaging may vary
$12.48 ($0.69 / Ounce)
  • PREMIUM WHOLE BEAN COFFEE—Starbucks delivers exceptional coffee cup after cup with this 18-ounce bag of Espresso Roast dark roast whole bean coffee
  • STARBUCKS ESPRESSO ROAST COFFEE—A classic and time-honored dark roast with notes of rich molasses and caramel that’s perfect for making classic espresso drinks
  • FRESH TASTE—Starbucks adheres to the highest quality standards—shipping you the same carefully roasted 100% arabica coffee beans we brew in our cafés
  • MAKE IT YOUR OWN—An everyday cup no matter how you brew it, Starbucks whole bean coffee can be ground and used for a variety of brewing methods, including drip brewer, coffee press, pour-over and moka pot
  • SUBSCRIBE & SAVE—Add the convenience of automatic delivery and save up to 15% off your favorite Starbucks coffee while never missing a cup
  • NEW LOOK. SAME TASTE.—Starbucks Espresso Roast Coffee has a new packaging look, but the same great taste you know and love. You may receive either package during our update
  • ETHICALLY SOURCED—Starbucks is committed to 100% ethical coffee sourcing in partnership with Conservation International

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03/07/2024 10:54 pm GMT


  • Always available and almost always fresh
  • Ideal for the everyday coffee drinker
  • Not too acidic
  • 100% Arabica
  • Starbucks practices sustainable production


  • May taste too bitter for some people
  • Very oily
  • Roast is inconsistent

Testing Criteria

I drink at least five cups of coffee a day. Unlike most who stick to their favored drink, I like changing it up every few days because I’m always looking for the next ultimate cup. 

Since I love trying out new blends, brands, and roasts, I reserve a few mornings each week for sampling new coffee beans. I brew small batches from one brand at a time and savor the aroma to get a whiff of the flavor profile before taking a sip. As the coffee cools, I continue taking regular sips since the flavor can change at different temperatures.

Why You Can Trust Me

I’m insatiably curious about coffee and willing to work for my Java. I’ve been to Brazil and Colombia to visit coffee plantations. I’ve also explored coffee factories in Italy.

I haven’t visited Ethiopia and Uganda yet, but I already have my itinerary mapped out for next year.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.