The Best Espresso Beans for Crema

Updated: November 10, 2021 by Owen Richardson

 

A lot has happened in the recent past that has made shopping for the best espresso beans for crema more difficult than ever. It’s not just the brands you have to be careful about; you have to pay particular attention to things such as coffee origin, roast levels, freshness, and other factors.

The good news is that it can be done. Armed with all the relevant information, you will have an easier time navigating this tight space. Don’t worry though — all the content you need is right here in this guide.

I’ll show you the espresso beans you can count on for beautiful crema based on the factors I have just mentioned and also how to go about shopping for them. On top of that, I answer the most pressing questions about this topic.

Join me as I take you through this journey.

TOP PICK

Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean sits at the top on the list of the best coffee for espresso crema because it scores highly in all the essential areas. You get the freshest beans specially stored to save them from going stale, no oily characteristics to worry about, the roast level is medium, and the beans boast a rich flavor profile.

Presenting… The Best Espresso Beans for Crema

ProductFeaturesPrice
Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean1. Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean
(Best Overall)
  • Blends Arabica and Robusta coffee
  • Sourced from India, Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia, and Brazil
  • Medium roast
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Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend2. Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend
(Best Budget)
  • Combines Arabica varieties from Honduras and Brazil with African Robusta coffee
  • Medium roast
  • Expertly selected and roasted for espresso
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Filicori Zecchini Whole Coffee Bean Italian Espresso Medium Dark Roast3. Filicori Zecchini Whole Coffee Bean Italian Espresso Medium Dark Roast
  • Obtained from India, Brazil, and Central America
  • Medium roast 
  • Certified by the Italian Institute of Espresso
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Stumptown Whole Bean Coffee4. Stumptown Whole Bean Coffee
  • 100% Arabica coffee 
  • Sourced from Africa, Indonesia, and Latin America
  • Medium roast 
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1. Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean – Best Overall

Lavazza Super Crema Espresso Whole Bean

Espresso is known to have a bitter aftertaste, but if you despise this part of it, then the Lavazza Super Crema has you covered. And because you most definitely want something you will extract a rich, thick crema from, these whole beans complete your desires. There’s a lot more to love about these espresso beans.

Key Features

  • Sourced from multiple countries including India, Vietnam, Columbia, Indonesia, and Brazil
  • Available as whole bean coffee
  • Medium roast
  • Blends Arabica and Robusta coffee in the ratio of 60:40

Now, the Super Crema yields not just a full body but also a precise taste experience, and this can be attributed to the expert selection of beans and innovative roasting techniques. Hints of honey and roasted hazelnut further add to its flavor profile, giving it a well-balanced taste.

Should you get to a point where you feel like setting espresso aside and using your coffee maker, these coffee beans would still serve you reliably.

Pros

  • Nitrogen-packed to preserve the freshness and lengthen their shelf life
  • Makes a rich espresso with hints of almonds and honey
  • Produces a luscious, velvety, robust crema
  • Higher levels of acidity intensify its already rich flavor and aroma
  • Being a coffee blend means it pairs well with espresso-based brews such as cappuccinos and lattes
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Not being a single-origin coffee makes it vulnerable to taste variations, but you can avoid this by not letting the beans overstay

Super Crema Lavazza ticks all the boxes, be it freshness, roast level, or looks. It’s a popular brand you can count on for great-tasting coffee beans.

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2. Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend – Best Budget

Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend

For a full espresso experience, this is the go-to blend. Lavazza’s goal was to enable you to make your espresso exactly as the professional Italian baristas do, either with a full-automatic or an espresso machine.

Do it well and it’s not just the velvety crema you are going to love! You can expect a rich, intense espresso with a spicy and chocolatey aroma.

Key Features

  • Combines Arabica varieties from Honduras and Brazil with African Robusta coffee
  • Medium roast
  • Available as whole beans

One thing that has kept many coffee lovers coming back for more Espresso Barista Gran Crema is the lingering fruity flavors. Long after you’ve had your shot, you’ll still feel the true taste of Italy.

Here’s the best part: This blend isn’t just perfect for espresso. Use it with your French press or drip coffee maker and the result will be just as great.

Pros

  • Long-lasting flavor
  • Balanced with washed Arabica coffee to minimize acidity and achieve a sweet taste
  • Expertly selected and roasted for espresso
  • Can be used for espresso, French press, and drip coffee maker

Cons

  • Because it is a blend, the taste may vary if you keep the beans for long

Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema is no doubt an aromatic blend with balanced flavors and an aftertaste every coffee lover desires. This makes it a worthy buy.

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3. Filicori Zecchini Whole Coffee Bean Italian Espresso Medium Dark Roast

Filicori Zecchini Whole Coffee Bean Italian Espresso Medium Dark Roast

Filicori Zecchini shines where other brands struggle. For the many decades they have supplied coffee beans, consistency has never been anywhere near their weakness. Year in, year out, their coffee supplies yield the same flavor, if not better.

That already tells you a lot about the Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema Whole Bean Coffee Blend. It’s not just a unique blend but also the best for espresso crema.

Key Features

  • Obtained from India, Brazil, and Central America
  • Medium roast
  • Certified by the Italian Institute of Espresso
  • Available as whole beans

Because freshness matters a lot when it comes to espresso crema, the brand went the extra mile. The beans are stored in a unique multilayer box with a special one-way valve. As a result, oxygen can’t find its way into your coffee beans; the one-way helps to make sure of that.

What’s particularly unique about this blend is that it is dark but without any of the frightening oily characteristics. You get beautiful crema without having to worry about it clogging your espresso machine.

That aside, whatever doubts you may have about blends won’t hold for the Filicori Zecchini Whole Coffee Bean Italian Espresso Medium Dark Roast. As everyone else blends theirs before roasting them, they do the complete opposite. In fact, they do it so well that all their whole coffee beans carry the same color and produce that peak taste we all cherish.

Pros

  • Every single-origin is separately roasted so as to achieve the ultimate taste
  • Specially stored to increase shelf life
  • Popular brand certified by top coffee institutions in Italy
  • Produces an intense and round aroma with notes of toasted cereals and a rich aftertaste
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • No fruity, earthy, or similar flavors, so it may not be the best option if you have a sweet tooth

Clearly, these are the beans you should go for if you want the purest espresso with beautiful crema.

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4. Stumptown Whole Bean Coffee

Stumptown Whole Bean Coffee

Stumptown! For starters, this is a household name in the American coffee industry. They have earned it thanks to their excellence in making the best coffee beans. Hair Bender Whole Bean Coffee Beans made it into this list for a reason. No matter how you brew them, rest assured that they will liven up your day. You are guaranteed more body, an intense flavor, and, of course, lots of crema.

Key Features

  • 100% Arabica coffee sourced from Africa, Indonesia, and Latin America
  • Available as whole beans
  • Medium roast

Because the beans are from Stumptown, that’s a guarantee that they are fresh. Plus the manufacturer stores them in special bags that are effective in maintaining their freshness for up to 90 days.

Even though this is single-origin coffee, the Arabica beans are sourced from different areas, giving you a “blend” with a complex flavor profile defined by dark chocolate, citrus, and raisin notes. Stumptown continually tastes this blend to ensure that the flavor is consistent all the time.

Pros

  • Stored in an innovative bag that maintains freshness if left opened
  • Rich and complex flavor profile
  • Versatile “blend” that is great for both espresso and coffee
  • Lingering chocolate aftertaste
  • Not oily, which makes it suitable for full automatic espresso machines

Cons

  • A bit pricey

Don’t let the odd-looking bag distract you from this rich, savory, and complex “blend.” It may be expensive, but you are assured of tremendous value for your money.

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What Is Crema?

Crema is the reddish-brown frothy layer that forms on top of a freshly prepared shot of espresso. It may not be what primarily makes a perfect cup of coffee, but there’s more to crema that makes it important to coffee lovers and baristas.

To begin with, it’s the sign of a perfect shot of espresso. The presence of crema points to well-ground coffee beans and of  course refined coffee-making skills. It is not only a barista who can pull this off; even you, a coffee enthusiast, can do it.

Here’s how crema is generated: Once ground coffee encounters hot water, the result is generation of carbon dioxide microbubbles. It’s no different for espresso—only that, here, pressurized hot water comes into contact with finely ground coffee. This generates liquid and crema. However, the CO2 microbubbles are only present in the crema. When they attach to the fats and natural oils in coffee, the crema rises to the top, leading to the formation of a frothy layer or what many people prefer to call the ‘Guiness effect.’

How to Choose the Best Espresso Beans for Crema

Let’s face it, as cafeholics, we all know that the best coffee beans for espresso crema are the ones from independent coffee roasters. That’s because they come with a roast date to remind you how fresh your coffee beans are.

You could call one and have them mail you a batch of fresh whole beans for espresso right now, but there’s a catch — this isn’t cheap at all.

If you don’t have the budget for it, you are only left with one option: buying from trusted online suppliers such as Amazon. But even on Amazon, you need to be careful not to fall for the wrong product. Here’s a guide to help you:

Freshness

None of us would want to miss out on a chance to achieve crema perfection. And the trick to this is pretty simple: Use the freshest whole coffee beans (probably those that were roasted not more than 24 hours ago).

If you live near the coffee havens, this shouldn’t be a big deal. But since most of us don’t enjoy such a privilege, online vendors are our best alternative.

So before you place your order, check the roast date. Or save yourself all the trouble by buying any of the options on our list!

Roast Level

It’s not just the coffee connoisseurs who wouldn’t settle for anything but medium to dark roasts, even the high street coffee shops use whole beans that are roasted to that grade. You could use the lighter roasts, but your espresso won’t have that much-desired kick.

That said, always make sure that your dark coffee roasts are not only fresh but also of good quality. That’s the only way you can be assured of good crema.

Looks Matter Too

Take a closer look at your chosen espresso beans. You do not want to go for the shiny, super dark, wet type.

Such qualities point to over-roasting. You will be lucky to even see a slight hint of good crema from such beans. Instead, go for those that seem to have a dry surface but are a little bit glossy and have what looks like drops of moisture.

One final point that’s slightly unrelated to your buying decision but equally critical is that you should only use the best espresso machine to brew your coffee. Get one that is pump-driven because, with it, you can adjust the temperature to achieve that sweet spot where the water pressure yields that perfect layer of sweet crema.

best espresso beans for crema

FAQs on Crema

What Coffee Beans Produce the Most Crema?

All politics about crema being overrated aside, the freshest whole coffee beans make the most crema. By fresh, I mean no more than three weeks old post-roasting.

In terms of variety, Robusta is way better than Arabica in yielding more crema, even though it’s slightly less acidic and sweet compared to Arabica.

How the coffee is processed also influences crema levels. Dry processed coffee normally produces more of it than washed ones. You may dislike the flavor if you have a sweet tooth, but a quick solution to that is to blend the dry with washed so as to achieve the perfect taste.

Why Is There No Crema on My Espresso?

It sucks to brew espresso at home only to end up with a flat shot and no crema in sight.

Now, a complete lack of crema on your coffee can be attributed to a number of factors, with the most obvious one being stale coffee beans. Always go for a fresh batch to begin with.

Grind size matters too because it determines how much water seeps through the filter. Your coffee beans shouldn’t be too fine or too coarse. A perfect size would be something close to powdered sugar.

Get the coffee to water ratio right as well. 1:2 is the sweet spot most free connoisseurs agree on.

Other areas you may want to keep an eye on so as not to end up with no crema are:

  • Pressure level
  • Choice of machine
  • Choice of water (always use filtered water)

Is Crema Good in Coffee?

The answer to this will depend on who you ask. Any espresso lover will tell you crema is the definition of the perfect shot of espresso. It gives the brew a stronger, fuller flavor and lingering aftertaste, and its presence also indicates fresh roasted beans.

Some coffee connoisseurs, however, see crema as just an overrated foam. Whether their cup of coffee has it or not doesn’t really matter to them. And that’s not a harsh take, because most of us can admit to having had a great cup of fine-tasting coffee that was without crema.

So, whether crema is good in coffee or not boils down to your palate and personal preference.

How Do You Make Good Crema in Coffee?

It takes a while to perfect the art of brewing a perfect cup of espresso. You may not have full control over espresso crema, but there are a few things you could do to pull a perfect shot.

Top on the list is to use freshly roasted beans. Next, make sure the grind of your coffee is fine and consistent.  Your choice of espresso machine should be a pump-driven option because it can comfortably hit higher temperatures (as high as 200F) and deliver the desired water pressure consistently (at least 130psi).

Remember to tamp your coffee as well. Thirty pounds is the recommended pressure level that guarantees a stronger brew.

Go Get That Crema!

Lavazza lives up to their name again. The Super Crema Espresso Whole Coffee Beans triumphs over the rest of the products because of its higher freshness levels, rich flavor profile, and unique roasting technique. It gets even better knowing that you can use them for coffee as well. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on it.

Of course, the rest of the espresso beans are equally great in different areas. It’s up to you to find out which brand suits you best. Keep in mind all the factors I mentioned as you shop around for the best coffee for espresso crema.

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