Trying out new coffee beans?
You can’t go wrong with Italian roast. After all, Italian coffee culture is what they’re known for.
Coffee beans are grown throughout Italy, but which are the best?
Well, there are a couple of them that stand out.
In this article, we’ll break down the best Italian coffee beans, so that you know what to look for.
Best Italian Coffee Beans – Our Top 5 Picks
- Lavazza Gran Espresso Whole Bean Coffee (Best Overall)
- illy Classico Whole Bean Coffee (Premium Option)
- Lavazza Dek Ground Coffee Blend (Best Decaf)
- Lavazza Super Crema Whole Coffee Bean (Best for Classic Espresso)
- Lavazza Crema e Gusto Ground Coffee (Best Pre-Ground Coffee)
Lavazza Gran Espresso Whole Bean Coffee
Good espresso needs to be full-bodied, creamy, and strong – but not bitter. And that’s exactly how this blend by Italian coffee brand Lavazza tastes.
The Gran Espresso consists of 40% Arabica beans from Brazil and Honduras and 60% of Robusta beans from Uganda. I was surprised by these numbers, given the fact that it’s uncommon to see such a high amount of Robusta in blends coming from Northern Italy.
But it turns out that this blend is perfect for espresso. Prominent notes of cocoa and black pepper leave a powerful but pleasant after-taste that lingers. Now, this is something a single-blend coffee can’t achieve.
But even though this blend is created with espresso in mind, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for other brewing methods as well.
If you prefer a Moka pot or a French press coffee maker, you’re in luck. The bold flavors of this coffee blend really shine with these two methods.
Gran Espresso, like most Lavazza whole beans, comes in a packaging of 2.2 pounds. This means you’re set for weeks! Just make sure to store it in an airtight container. Otherwise, the beans might go stale pretty fast.
Illy Classico Whole Bean Coffee
If you don’t mind spending a bit more on high-quality coffee, then you shouldn’t miss out on the Classico blend by Illy.
The main reason why this brand is so expensive is the fact that it uses 100% Arabica beans grown on 4 different continents.
This particular blend, the Classico, is made with 9 medium-roasted Arabica bean varieties from across the world. The end result is a rich and well-balanced blend with natural smokiness.
This medium roast has a lingering sweetness with delicate notes of caramel, citrus, and jasmine. The flavor really shines in espresso, but you can make filter coffee with these beans as well.
Another reason for the high price of Illy coffee is the fact that it’s sold in pressurized packaging. Basically, they add inert nitrogen gas under pressure into the can to prevent the beans from oxidizing.
If you like stocking up on coffee, you won’t go wrong by filling your pantry with Illy cans. The pressurized packaging keeps your coffee fresh for up to 2 years unopened!
Lavazza Dek Ground Coffee Blend
Going decaf doesn’t necessarily mean settling for worse. The old-school process of removing caffeine from coffee beans affects their chemical structure. But Lavazza uses the new technology to keep the flavor intact.
This new method works by pushing liquid carbon dioxide under pressure through the beans. This is a natural process that doesn’t strip the beans from their original characteristics.
This specific blend contains a mix of Arabica and Robusta coffee from Brazil and Vietnam. By combining beans from these two regions, what you get is a well-balanced cup of coffee with aromatic notes of oak and roasted cereals.
Since the Dek is medium-roasted, it’s perfect for making a strong but not overwhelming cup of espresso. In fact, it kind of leaves a refreshing, floral aftertaste that goes well with milk.
Thanks to the natural decaffeinating process, the coffee isn’t stripped of its natural oil. Because of that, the espresso you make with the Dek blend is full-bodied with rich, velvety crema on top.
Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee
A nice layer of crema is what differentiates a good cup of espresso from an average one. It should be rich and dense but without any additional bitterness. And that’s exactly what Super Crema by Lavazza achieves.
This blend is a result of a careful combination of 60% Arabica and 40% Robusta from Brazil, India, Columbia, and Indonesia. The final result is a rich and highly acidic cup of espresso, with prominent notes of honey and almond.
As for the crema, it’s velvety and thick and leaves an aftertaste of brown sugar. While strong and roasted, the flavors you pick up are by no means bitter. This is thanks to the fact that the beans are only slightly-medium roasted.
Super Crema is packed in 2.2-pound bags that are filled with nitrogen. This means you don’t have to worry about coffee going stale before you even open it.
Considering the focus is on crema, don’t expect to get that great-tasting coffee with brewing methods, such as filter coffee. The only method that comes close is the AeroPress. But even with it, you won’t achieve that perfect crema this blend is designed for.
Lavazza Crema e Gusto Ground Coffee
Now, this is one of Lavazza’s dark roast blends, and it’s great for all kinds of espresso-based drinks. Whether it’s cappuccino, latte, or an Americano, prominent notes will really shine through.
Like most other Lavazza blends, Crema e Gusto is a mix of Brazilian Arabica and South East Asian Robusta beans. This composition results in a very dark and rounded taste with a hint of spices and chocolate.
You know how dark the coffee must taste just by the look of it. When brewed, espresso gets that deep brown tone with amber crema.
But that doesn’t mean it’s bitter. Those subtle chocolate notes add a bit of sweetness to the coffee, creating a more enveloping taste.
One thing to keep in mind is that Crema e Gusto is pre-ground coffee, so it will go stale faster than the beans you grind manually.
Once you open it, that is. Since it comes in vacuumed packaging, it can sit unopened on your shelves for at least a couple of months. And since the packaging is 8.8 ounces, you’ll probably run through it before it goes stale.
Crema e Gusto is medium-fine ground coffee, so it’s ideal for different brewing methods as well, including Moka pot and French press.
Things To Consider When Buying Italian Coffee Beans
Coffee is a big part of Italian culture. And there’s a wide range of coffee brands from this country to choose from. So how does a coffee lover make the pick?
Well, there are a few things to keep an eye on.
Type of Roast
When making espresso, Italians mostly focus on using the dark roast.
Why is that, you might ask?
While it’s true that you can make espresso with both light and dark roasted beans, it’s easier to get a rounded shot with the latter.
Dark roast coffee grounds are more porous than light roast. What this means is that water gets inside the ground particles, causing them to extract at a faster rate. And by the time your 25-second pull is done, you’ll get a well-balanced shot of espresso.
Arabica beans are the most popular coffee variety, making up more than half of the world’s coffee. The reason why Arabica is so loved lies in its smooth taste with fruity or floral notes and slight acidity.
Second on the list is Robusta bean, a variety that doesn’t enjoy nearly as much popularity as Arabica. That’s mainly because it’s exactly what the name says it is – coffee with a very robust taste.
With Robusta, you can really taste that strong flavor with nutty and earthy notes. Depending on where it’s grown, you might also notice quite a bit of bitterness.
Oh, it’s also quite caffeinated. In some cases, Robusta beans can have twice as much caffeine as Arabica.
Now, why am I telling you this?
Because depending on where in Italy a certain brand is produced, you might find these varieties in different percentages.
In Northern Italy, mixing Robusta with Arabica is almost unheard of. For instance, Illy comes from this region, and its blends are 100% Arabica beans.
But as you go South, you can see more Robusta added into the blend, for a more intense flavor.
Beans vs Grounds
Finally, you should also consider the way coffee is packaged.
If you own a grinder at home, there really is no reason to think between the two. Whole beans stay fresh for much longer. Plus, you can grind them in different sizes, depending on the brewing method you want to use.
If you don’t have a grinder, then you’re stuck with preground coffee. Not necessarily a bad thing, as it does save you some time and trouble doing it yourself. Oh, and then there’s the tedious cleanup after grinding, of course.
But there’s one thing to keep in mind when buying pre-ground coffee. I’m talking about grind size.
The two most used brewing methods in Italy are, unsurprisingly, an espresso machine and a Moka pot. For that reason, you probably won’t have trouble finding finely grounded coffee for these two methods.
However, if you use a drip coffee machine, you should look for a medium grind size instead.
Summing Things Up
There are tons of great Italian espresso coffee beans you can enjoy at home, coming from different regions of the country.
But one that stands out from the crowd is the Lavazza Gran Espresso.
This blend combines Arabica and Robusta from different parts of the world to achieve a strong and dark flavor. All that, without bitterness.
The notes of chocolate and spices add complexity that shines even when mixed with steamed milk. For that reason, this blend is great for different coffee drinks.
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