Special espresso beans, do they actually exist?
What coffee beans are suitable for espresso then?
For a good espresso, you'll need quality beans. Preferably 100% Arabica, or Arabica mixed with a small amount of Robusta, so get good advice from a specialty store and try to avoid bulk packaging from the supermarket if at all possible. What you're looking for is a bag of aromatic, freshly roasted beans. That's another important factor there, the roasting of the beans. When you think of a good espresso, an Italian coffee bar immediately comes to mind, doesn't it? The Italians, though, don't quite agree among themselves about the ultimate espresso. For example, the beans in northern Italy are lightly roasted and have a fresh taste with a little hint of sour in the aftertaste. In southern Italy, they prefer a punchy espresso and that's why beans are often roasted darker there. Which beans you prefer for a good espresso also depends on taste.
Arabica or Robusta?
There are countless combinations of Arabica beans and, of course, Arabica or Robusta can also be mixed. Arabica is often thought of as the ultimate coffee bean, and an espresso blend usually consists of various kinds of Arabica. Robusta beans have a spicy taste and contain more caffeine than Arabica beans. On top of that, they have a fatty layer, which is good for the crema. When choosing a blend of Arabica and Robusta, always go for a 80-20% distribution, since the Robusta bean's fatty layer can cause your fully automatic espresso machine to get clogged eventually.
So which ones will you choose?
As we saw, there are no special espresso beans; you always use coffee beans for the Italian preparation method called espresso. However, some beans are more suitable than others. The Arabica bean, for example, is considered the best, because of its mild and aromatic aftertaste. It comes in many kinds and is blended into different blends at different degrees of roasting. The Robusta bean's higher fat content provides a nice crema, but also increases the chances of your fully automatic machine getting clogged. Other than that, the best espresso for you largely depends on your own taste.