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The best espresso beans for your moment of pleasure

Do you love espresso beans with chocolaty, intense notes or do you prefer it fine, mild and sour with lots of roasted aromas? This is what a really good espresso can taste like. Whether it can meet expectations depends primarily on the green coffee used. Umberto Durante, master roaster at Cellini Caffè in Genoa, explains in detail what is special about espresso beans and what you should look for when buying one.

We also introduce you to selected espresso beans that guarantee a particularly aromatic coffee experience. Taste is very individual and so roasting master Umberto from Cellini Caffè in Genoa, together with his team, has developed various compositions that are tailored to the most diverse needs.


How are espresso beans different from coffee beans?

How are espresso beans grown?

What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta?

The processing of espresso beans

The differences between espresso beans and coffee beans

Espresso preparation with expert tips

The grinding makes the difference

Which type of espresso is right for you?

How are espresso beans different from coffee beans?

The term ” espresso bean ” is technically not entirely correct. For the preparation of a caffè, as the little pick-me-up is called in Italy, the same beans are used as for any other coffee. There is simply no coffee plant that grows espresso beans. The beans for regular coffee and espresso both come from the coffee plant.

The main difference lies in the roasting process, which creates an espresso bean from a coffee bean. In contrast to filter coffee, the mixture for making an espresso is refined much longer and darker . The significantly longer roasting time means that the coffee loses chlorogenic acid and caffeine. This contrasts with the popular belief that an espresso contains more caffeine than filter coffee. However, since significantly less water is used to prepare an espresso, the caffeine content per cup is lower. Nevertheless, there are certain coffee beans that are more suitable for espresso roasting than for classic filter coffee.

So there is no such thing as a special espresso bean. It comes from over 60 different types of coffee. However, only two types of coffee, Arabica and Robusta, are of economic importance. For many coffee lovers, Arabica is considered the higher-quality variety. However, this cannot be generalized. On the one hand, there are big differences depending on the growing area, on the other hand, personal taste is very different.

How are espresso beans grown?

By definition, coffee beans are not beans at all, but seeds contained in the fruit of the coffee plant, the so-called coffee cherry. The coffee cherry is surrounded by a soft, red-yellow flesh with two stone pits, which are protected by a parchment-like film. The plano-convex seeds (coffee beans) are surrounded by a very thin seed coat. These are raw coffee beans that have not yet been processed. Incidentally, the term coffee bean goes back to a mistake. In the 15th century, the Arabs imported coffee from East Africa, which they called “bunns”. Bunns denotes berries. It was only later that the term bean came about in Europe.

Of the approximately 40 different species of the plant genus Coffea, two are the most common worldwide. Coffea Arabica and Coffea Caanephora and Robusta respectively. About 70% of the coffees grown worldwide are Arabica varieties. It was not until the 18th century that Coffea Robusta was discovered in Congo, which today covers around 30% of global demand. The climate, growth conditions in the country of origin, cultivation and the processing of the green coffee create an unbelievable variety from these two types of coffee, which can be refined as espresso or coffee.

What is the difference between Arabica and Robusta?

mounting height:
Arabica is also known as highland coffee because it only grows above 1000 meters above sea level. Robusta is so-called lowland coffee, which feels most comfortable at a cultivation height of 300 to 600 meters. The name Robusta is no coincidence. This type of coffee is more resistant to diseases, pests and temperature fluctuations, while Arabica is the “sensitive” type of coffee.
Cultivation region:
Both Arabica and Robusta grow around the equator, this zone is also known as the so-called coffee belt. The tropical climate that prevails here with its humid and warm conditions is an ideal growth engine for the coffee plant. Arabica coffee is mainly at home in Africa, Central and South America and southern Asia. This includes countries such as Thailand, Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Costa Rica. Robusta coffee comes mainly from Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia.
coffee harvest:
The average annual production of an Arabica plant is 700 g. Due to the altitude and cooler temperatures, the vegetation process is slower – around eleven months – and the crop yields less. Robusta has a significantly shorter ripening process of around 6 to 8 months and delivers a yield of around 900 g.
The Robusta bean is small and plump with a straight line down the middle. While the Arabica bean is a lot larger, has an elongated oval shape and a curved indentation in the middle. It has a bluish-green color in the ungrafted state, whereas Robusta has a yellowish-grey appearance.
Caffeine content:
Robusta contains up to 4% caffeine, Arabica up to 2%. In addition, Robusta coffees contain fewer oils than Arabica beans. This is one of the reasons why the crema is more stable in espresso blends with a Robusta portion than in pure Arabica blends. Due to the higher fat content of the Arabica blends, the bubbles in the crema are broken down more quickly.
Appearance: The Arabica bean is above all longer and larger and has a curved incision in the middle. The Robusta bean is significantly smaller and has a straight incision. In addition, both types of beans differ in color in the raw state.
The differences between Arabica and Robusta in detail

Which type of coffee is suitable for an espresso?

With a lighter roast, Arabica coffee is suitable for making filter coffee. Roasted darker, it is ideal for espresso purists who like it fine and mild combined with pleasantly sour notes. Lovers of strong coffee notes like to opt for blends with a high Robusta content, which produces particularly strong, spicy and chocolaty notes. Robusta is less suitable for making filter coffee.

Roasting master Umberto describes a combination of Arabica and Robusta as the ideal espresso blend. In this way, the best of two “coffee worlds” are combined, because each type of coffee has its own specific advantages.

Single Origins – espresso beans from a special origin

Many roasters now offer espresso beans with a special origin from a specific growing area. One speaks of so-called single origins. In doing so, the master roaster wants to emphasize the characteristics of the growing region, similar to the way the winemaker does it with wine.

What is the flavor profile of Arabica single origins?

special variety of aromas (e.g. fruits, citrus notes, flowers, cereals, chocolate etc.)
balance of acidity

And what about Single Origin Robusta ?

less complex
strong and full-bodied

Espresso bean mixtures – so-called blends

Depending on the desired taste and aroma of a coffee blend, coffees from different origins and types are matched. Depending on the philosophy of the roaster, this blending can either be done before roasting or after each provenance has been roasted on its own. Since coffee is a natural product, is subject to many influences and is not always available in all varieties and qualities, it requires a great deal of skill to always be able to offer you the same good taste profile you are used to.

Incidentally, drinking habits in Italy are fundamentally different. While in the south one drinks extremely strong mixtures with up to 100% Robusta, in Rome it is already a 50/50 mixture (Arabica and Robusta). Northern Italians prefer it a bit finer and mainly drink blends with a high Arabica content.

How are espresso beans roasted?

The process that turns a coffee bean into an espresso bean is what we call refining. There are different procedures here. We will go into detail about two widely used techniques.

High yield roast

The small, aromatic espresso gets its aroma and appearance from the dark roasting of the beans. There are different methods to achieve this dark color. The most commonly used roasting process is the so-called high-yield roasting , in which the beans are roasted at very high temperatures within a very short time. The result is a high yield for the producer and poor quality beans. Due to the high temperatures and uneven roasting, the beans quickly darken on the outside. The beans would only get the necessary even roasting through careful slow roasting.

Traditional drum roasting

The traditional and particularly gentle long-term roasting in the drum, in which the washed green coffee is refined for around 18 – 20 minutes at around 220 degrees. The result: fully roasted espresso beans for particularly wholesome coffee enjoyment. This art of roasting, which has been used and developed at Cellini Caffè in Genoa for three generations, brings out the best in every single bean. They become more aromatic and contain optimally broken down bitter and tannins.

In addition to the excellent taste, this refinement has another advantage: in contrast to conventionally roasted espresso, you need a little less coffee per cup with traditionally roasted beans, ie more cups of coffee drink are produced from one kg of Cellini Espresso.

Why do espresso beans have a slight sheen?

Due to the longer roasting time, espresso beans often have a slight sheen. The exposure to heat allows coffee oils from inside the bean to rise to the surface. Filter coffee beans, on the other hand, have a lighter roast profile and a dull appearance.

If the beans are very oily, this is a sign that the roast was too long and too hot. Too much coffee oil then escapes, which is often the case with large industrial roasters. Incidentally, very oily coffee beans can also affect your grinder by sticking it together. Ideally, a large part of the coffee oil should remain inside the bean. This is important for the formation of the crema during preparation.

With espresso beans, due to the longer roasting time, some of the coffee oils from the inside of the beans can come to the surface – this gives them a slight sheen that distinguishes them from the lighter filter coffee beans with their matt appearance. That’s perfectly fine as long as it doesn’t go to extremes.

What is the difference between espresso beans and coffee beans?

roasting time18-20 minutes12-13 minutes
opticsslightly shinyfrosted
acidsmall amountVery high
caffeine content
per 100 ml*)
110 mg80 mg
*) A simple espresso with a capacity of around 30 ml contains around 30 mg of caffeine. A cup of filter coffee with around 125 ml content has 100 mg of caffeine. Generally, the caffeine content of espresso is higher, but you drink far less espresso than filter coffee. If you do need a real caffeine boost, it is best to prepare an espresso doppio, which consists of twice the amount of beans and water.

The main differences in the preparation

degree of grinding fine grain medium to coarse grain
preparation In the steam pressure process
using fully automatic machines or portafilters
With the hand filter or French press
water temperature 88 – 94 degrees Celsius 92 – 96 degrees Celsius
cream Depending on the Arabica and Robusta content
light or dark
no crema with the previously described

The espresso preparation – expert tips

To get the most out of your espresso blend, you should pay attention to a few tips that we have put together for you.

Traditional portafilter machines, such as those often used in coffee bars in Italy, are particularly suitable for the preparation. There is a large selection for home use in specialist shops. They build up the ideal brewing pressure and, with the right care, shine with longevity. You can also use a fully automatic coffee machine to prepare excellent espresso or specialties such as latte macchiato and cappuccino. Many parameters are already preset at the factory, so that handling is particularly practical and easy for you. In Italy we often use an espresso maker at home. You probably know the small solid metal stovetop pot by Bialetti.

It all depends on the grind

Once you’ve decided on your preparation technique, getting the grit right is crucial. For preparation in the portafilter, the grind must be finer than with normal coffee. The reason for this is the high pressure and the relatively short brewing time.

Under vs. over-extract :

If you have ground your beans too finely, the hot water will trickle through the espresso grounds very slowly and the contact time between the hot water and the grounds will be too long. Then one speaks of over-extracting . It just tastes bitter. Conversely, if the grinding is too coarse, the contact time is too short, so that the hot water cannot extract the fine aromas as well. Baristi speak of under-extracting in this case. When preparing the coffee in a fully automatic coffee machine, the grain should also be fine and only slightly coarser than in the portafilter.

Store and store espresso beans properly

In the Cellini Caffè online shop you can discover the complex range of espressos, each with different aromas, acids and flavors. In addition to the correct preparation, storage is also important for perfect espresso enjoyment. Umberto has three tips for you:

1. If you chose whole beans when you bought them, you shouldn’t grind them before storing them. Grinding increases the surface area exposed to atmospheric oxygen and the extremely fine aromas evaporate all too quickly. If you use a fully automatic coffee machine or portafilter for the preparation, it is best to only fill the bean container with the amount that you will use in 2-3 days, because the grinder gives off heat and your dark treasures like it cool.

2. Coffee aromas have five “enemies”: atmospheric oxygen, moisture, light, heat and other smells. So it is best to keep your espresso beans in the well-sealed original packaging, which you should ideally place in an airtight container with a rubber seal. Our metal cling clips are particularly suitable for closing your pack.

3. Please do not store your coffee beans in the refrigerator. This is also where foods such as cheese or sausages are stored, which give off strong odors and can impair the aroma. Added to this are the temperature differences when opening and closing the refrigerator door.

How much espresso ground do you need for one cup?

7 to 9 grams of espresso coffee are recommended for one cup. There are significant differences between northern and southern Italy as to how “thick” or “thin” one loves his caffeinated pick-me-up.

Perfect cream

If you prepare your espresso with a traditional portafilter, you want it to look like a little mouse tail when it comes out. In Italy we say like a “coda del topolino”. Then you have found the right degree of grinding and the crema will be hazelnut brown and fine. The color also has something to do with the proportion of Arabica and Robusta. The higher the proportion of Robusta coffee, the darker the crema. And: the crema is “perfetto” when the fine-pored head of foam stays for about two minutes. Our master roaster Umberto is of the opinion: “A really good espresso, the aromas of which you can still taste in your mouth 30 minutes after consuming it.”

Filter water or use mineral water?

For excellent espresso you also need the “right” water. The ideal hardness range is between five and eight carbonate hardness. This is where the flavors come into their own. Softer water lets the acids dominate in the coffee, harder water pushes the bitter substances to the fore. Now not everyone has a professional water filter and descaler at home. But even normal flow-through filters from the trade can help. In any case, this is better than if you tap the water from the tap. And it’s not just the coffee that benefits from the filtered water – your machine doesn’t calcify as quickly either. Also important: The water should always be fresh. If you have a fully automatic machine with a large tank, you better change the water regularly. Portafilter machines with a larger brewing kettle also benefit from regular water changes.

Tip: Before enjoying the espresso, it is best to neutralize your palate with a small sip of water.

What else is important in the preparation?

The basic pillars when preparing a good espresso are traditionally the four big Ms: coffee mixture , grinder , machine and man . Humans have to carefully clean the machine’s sieves, otherwise the throughput and taste may change. The human or the barista in the coffee shop adjusts the settings if the coffee is too acidic or too bitter.

The variety of whole roasted dark happy makers gives you the opportunity to experiment according to your individual preferences. In addition to selecting the type, you can influence and customize the aroma, for example, with the grind, the water temperature or with the correct tamping with the help of a coffee stamp.

Possible mistakes in the preparation and how you can avoid them?

If your “little black one” doesn’t quite meet your taste expectations, we have put together a few tips below on how you can optimize the result:

taste too bitterYou have either ground the espresso beans too finely, in this case one speaks of so-called over-extraction, so that the contact time between the hot water and the ground espresso is too long. Note the following rule: you will get an optimal result if the throughput time for an espresso with around 30 ml is 25 – 30 seconds. Another reason for a bitter taste could be a brewing temperature that is too high. This can contribute to the espresso burning. The water temperature should not be higher than 94 degrees Celsius.
taste too sourHere, too, the degree of grinding cannot be optimally adjusted and the throughput time can therefore be too short. This is called under-extracting. What was said before applies. The best result is when about 30 ml of espresso get into the cup within 25 – 30 seconds. You may have selected a brewing temperature that is too low.
Little aromaYou may not have stored your espresso beans carefully, stored them for too long, or used too little espresso powder.
Hardly any creamThe grinding degree is set too coarse.
Very dark creamThe grind is too fine.
Crema has no stabilityInsufficient water pressure can be the cause here or the cups are too cold. For an optimal result and so that your little pick-me-up does not cool down, pre-heated cups are useful.
Trouble shooting when preparing espresso

Discover espresso beans – find your favorite variety

After you have learned the specifics of roasting, the differences between espresso and coffee and tips on storage and preservation and much more, it is now time to discover the perfect blend for you.

Fine and mild espresso beans

One of our top sellers for many years: Cellini Prestigio 100% Arabica . If you love fine and mild espresso. If you like to prepare a caffè lungo, these espresso beans are the perfect choice for regular coffee. Fine Arabica coffee beans from Central and South America guarantee you a balanced taste with fine acidity and fruity notes.

Aromatic and creamy

Cellini Cream and Aroma . As the name suggests, a composition that combines a harmonious yet intense aroma with a special creaminess. Excellent for pure enjoyment or in combination with milk for Italian specialties.

Strong, spicy and extra creamy

About 80% of all espressos are used to prepare milk specialties such as cappuccino and latte macchiato. A strong espresso blend such as our Crema Speciale is particularly recommended for this purpose. At the same time, Crema Speciale is ideal if you love a very strong espresso with a thick, velvety crema and notes of chocolate. Our composition of 60% Arabica and 40% Robusta offers you this experience.

Barista espresso beans – your upgrade

In our home country of Italy, we supply around 3,500 bars and restaurants with espresso specialties from our barista selection . Only the highest quality green coffees are used here. Become a barista in your home and experience original Italian coffee enjoyment in excellent professional quality. Our roasting master Umberto’s favorite is Cellini Barista Gran Aroma . A perfect balance of acidity, body and balanced taste. Enjoy this excellent professional quality at home.

Caffeine-free enjoyment around the clock

Even if espresso contains only around half as much caffeine as traditional filter coffee, there are still espresso lovers who appreciate the fine aroma but suffer from caffeine intolerance. In the Cellini Caffè Shop you will also find decaffeinated espresso beans for different preparations. Incidentally, at Cellini Caffè we use the carbon dioxide process. This method is particularly gentle and completely harmless to health.

Espresso beans offer

Are you still undecided or would you like to be inspired by new varieties? Then the Cellini Caffè tasting sets are the right choice for you. Embark on a wonderful journey of flavors.

Do you have any questions or would you like advice? The Cellini Caffè team is happy to be there for you! You can reach us on 044 542 38 38 or write to us at info@cellinicaffe.ch

We wish you many original Italian moments of pleasure.

Buon coffee!

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