We love Italy for so many reasons; food, cars, and colorful hand gestures, just to name a few. But arguably topping the list is their ability to produce world-class coffee.
This can be a bit confusing since Italy does not grow any coffee. That’s right, the country of Italy is not in the coffee belt and therefore does not have the proper growing conditions that other countries have. They are, however, experts at the preparation of coffee beans.
Italian coffee has made a name for itself using specialized roasting and preparation techniques. It has caused many people to make the mistake of thinking that Italy is a producer of coffee. Now that you know the truth, let’s look at which are the best of the best from a country that cannot and will not ever grow coffee itself.
Top 6 Italian Coffee Brands
- Medium Roast
- Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, and hazelnut flavor
- Best for Moka Pot
- Dark Roast
- Smoky flavor with dark chocolate notes and caramel
- Best for espresso
- Medium Roast
- Notes of fruit, flower hints
- Best for Moka Pot or French Press
- Medium Roast
- Rich milk chocolate flavor with notes of caramel
- Best for Moka Pot or French Press
- Medium Roast
- Woody and floral notes mixed with chocolate
- Best for Moka Pot or espresso
- Medium Roast
- Smoky, nutty, and rich with dark chocolate and caramel flavors
- Best for Moka Pot or French Press
Here are the specific flavor profiles and the best methods to get the most out of your Italian coffee beans.
1. Musetti Coffee – Cremissimo – Best Overall
This quintessential Italian coffee takes the top spot for its authenticity and versatility. It’s one of the most popular coffees in all of Italy, but you’ll find it most in the Northern regions. These days, it’s being sold in over 60 countries around the world.
It’s available in pre-ground and single-use cups, but I recommend ordering it in its natural bean form for the freshest taste and longest shelf-life. This gives you the flexibility to experiment with different grind sizes.
Making a shot of espresso is what this coffee is known for. Its bold taste is excellent for sipping but also pairs nicely with frothed milk if that’s what you prefer. This is due to a mix of 70% arabica and 30% robusta.
A balanced taste of chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, and hazelnut makes this coffee flavor perfect for any time of day. Using a Moka pot will bring out the best here, and the irresistible aroma will fill your kitchen immediately.
Musetti has also gone the extra mile to ensure freshness from their roaster to your coffee grinder. Specialized vacuum-sealed packaging keeps the coffee fresh for up to 24 months after roasting. This is great if you need to stock up for a while and hate having to place regular orders.
- Available all over the world
- Choose between pre-ground or single-use cups
- Versatile flavor profile for any time of day
- Packaged in a vacuum-sealed bag to maintain maximum freshness
- Not great if you like americano style
2. Pellini No.82 Vivace Roasted Coffee Beans – Best Value
The Pellini No. 82 Vivace is an excellent choice for espresso lovers on a budget. Pellini Cafe was founded to share well-crafted blends from Italian coffee culture with the rest of the globe.
Pellini Cafe has a dedicated team of taste-testers to ensure that only the Pellini top roasts and most authentic coffee are shipped.
It is a time-honored, family-run coffee company with humble beginnings dating back to 1922 in Verona, Italy. Paired with an epic name like Pellini No. 82 Vivace, this coffee sounds like it really was taken out of Romeo and Juliet.
With such high expectations, I’m happy to say that the coffee quality did not disappoint.
The blend of 90% Arabica beans with 10% Robusta brings a refined sweetness to your espresso while still giving you a bold shot. The beans are slow-roasted, which brings a nice balance between sweetness and earthy flavor with a low acidity level.
This coffee brews a full-bodied, smooth mouthfeel topped with rich, super crema. It’s a stronger blend and body than most other budget espresso beans from other coffee producers.
The price per espresso shot levels out to about $0.27, making it affordable for any budget and all coffee aficionados.
- Inexpensive espresso coffee for any budget
- Team of taste-testers to ensure you get the best coffee blends
- Full-bodied and bold flavor with Arabica/Robusta blend
- Only one available size
- Long shipping time
3. Lavazza Qualita Oro Italian Coffee – Best Ground Coffee
Lavazza is an international hit in the coffee world and is loved by most Italian coffee enthusiasts. With over 125 years of experience in coffee excellence, they are now well into their 4th generation of brewing traditions based on their founder Luigi Lavazza.
The Lavazza Qualita Oro is no exception to this high standard, quality coffee. This blend features a full body with notes of fermented fruit with chocolate-covered cherry undertones. Talk about decadence.
The acidic content is balanced with natural sweetness, giving the Lavazza Oro a lighter roast than most espresso blends in North America. It also wholly rids the bean of any bitterness. The finish is a signature golden Lavazza super crema the company is known for.
The beans are 100% arabica sourced from Central America and the highlands of Africa. They’re then brought to one of three Lavazza processing centers in Italy, where they are roasted and ground using innovative technology for the delicate flavor of Italian coffee.
This is by far the best Italian pre-ground coffee out there. The packaging is vacuum-sealed and air-tight, so your coffee stays fresh day after day. The Lavazza Qualita Oro is specifically for people who’d rather have a bright fruit flavor than bitter coffee.
- 100% arabica
- Coffee with no bitterness
- A lighter roast than most espresso blends
- Vacuum-sealed packaging keeps this Italian roast coffee fresh for longer
- Like most pre-ground or canned coffee, there’s a subdued aroma
4. Illy Classico Ground Moka Coffee – Best Premium
Cafe Illy makes a delicious medium roast coffee with the Classico Ground Moka.
A twin and contemporary of the Lavazza brand, Cafe Illy was founded in 1933 and is now in its 3rd generation of Illy coffee brewers, now headed by Andrea Illy, with the Classico being its most famous roast.
This brand prides itself in single-origin coffee, with blends from Guatemala, Brazil, Costa Rica, India, and Colombia, which are processed and roasted in Italy. Single-origin coffee offers a robust flavor with balanced acidity and bitterness. The result? A delicious coffee taste with distinct flavor profiles.
The flavor profile for the Classico is milk chocolate, caramel, toast left over from the roasting process, and lots of crema and mocha richness. The bright sweetness of the taste profile makes this coffee great for espresso.
The Classico is a blend of 9 different Arabica beans. Something I like about Cafe Illy is that they buy their beans above market price, ensuring they build long-lasting relationships with coffee farmers and that their beans are the best of the best.
One of the best features about the Classico Moka coffee isn’t in the coffee at all but the packaging. Cafe Illy ships in a pressurized, oxygen-free tin that keeps all that strong flavor in your coffee as it ships worldwide.
- Amazing notes of chocolate and caramel
- Pressurized, oxygen-free tin packaging
- 100% Arabica with a blend of 9 different beans
- Quality Italian coffee that’s available in most coffee stores
- Exclusive, refined roasting process makes this coffee too expensive for the average coffee drinker
5. Caffe Vergnano 1882 Espresso Crema – Best For Espresso
Caffe Vergnano, founded in 1882, has over 70 stores in 19 countries and is present in all Italian regions, the North being the most popular. Vergnano prides itself in authentic Italian espresso with one of the best espressos I’ve had from Italian coffee brands.
This is a subtle, delicately aromatic espresso, with hints of wood in the taste profile. You get an intense flavor of chocolate from Asiatic robusta beans with your first sip, paired with the subtly sweet flavor of bright floral notes. There’s also perfect crema every time.
This coffee is ideal for people who appreciate their espresso with a delicate, perfumed aroma but with a full-bodied taste.
The 1882 Espresso is a blend of Central American Arabica and Robusta from Asia, though it’s unclear online as to the ratio.
Vergnano coffee is also available in pods, with the infamous Nespresso as one of the retailers that sell the 1882 Espresso. You can finally have real Italian espresso with the convenience of single-button brewers.
- Perfect, smooth crema
- An easy-drinking espresso that still has a full-bodied flavor
- Available in pods and Nespresso stores
- Floral notes are a bit lost in the earthy, wood flavor
6. Segafredo Zanetti Whole Bean Coffee – Best Whole Bean
Segafredo is one of the most popular brands internationally regarding Italian coffee. They’re present in over 100 countries, and you’ll often find Segafredo in bars and restaurants across Europe. More than 50 million cups of various Segafredo coffees are consumed every day.
With such international success, you’ll be able to find the Segafredo Zanetti Enzo in just about any grocery store, coffee shop, or wherever you buy your coffee.
The Zanetti Enzo is an arabica whole bean sourced from Colombia and Brazil. The distinct, South American dark roast taste really pops in this coffee.
The Enzo roast has a nutty and smoky taste with dark chocolate and caramel infusions. It is a darkly bold, intense coffee that invigorates your senses and knocks your socks off; black coffee drinkers will love it.
The Segafredo brand meticulously blends and roasts their coffee, with a team of professional taste-testers ensuring only the finest beans are shipped.
The whole bean packaging makes this coffee the freshest it can be and will last you a lot longer if stored properly. It’s best to keep whole beans at room temperature away from sunlight.
It would help if you opted for an opaque, air-tight tin or Tupperware when storing instead of the bag it comes in. I’d have hoped for a more air-tight, pressurized seal instead of a flimsy vacuum seal.
- As available as your ex
- The perfect dark roast for black coffee drinkers, with a smoky, nutty taste
- Taste-tested for quality before shipping
- Packaging could be improved on as most online reviewers highlighted the bag doesn’t keep their coffee fresh after it has been opened
Things To Consider
I’m sure you’ll want to try all of these delicious Italian coffees at some point, but to help you prioritize them, have a look at what features are most important.
Light, medium, or dark are your options, and one is not better than the other, just different.
You can spot these easily with the naked eye by their light brown color and lack of oil on the bean. Physically, they have a lighter and thinner body. Lightly roasted beans roast for a short time and at lower temperatures, with a toasted grain taste and noticeable acidity on the finish.
With a thicker body and a more balanced flavor than lighter roasts, medium roasts are very popular around the world. They are roasted slightly longer than light roasts and tend to lose some of that pronounced floral taste prevalent in lighter roasted coffee beans.
These coffee beans have a discernible black color, with a robust full body and bold, smoky taste. This is sometimes an acquired taste because dark roasts can cook and burn away all the flavor farmers worked so hard to cultivate. Think of it as toasting your artisanal bread for too long and turning it black.
Arabica vs. Robusta
Many people are shocked to find out that there are only two types of coffee beans in the whole world. While the flavor profile of these beans can be manipulated based on where they are grown, ultimately, there are only two.
Most coffees will have a blend of both beans that they swear is the best combination that has ever been invented. As a consumer, you get to be the judge of that.
Arabica is known for being the more approachable bean. It provides a smoother, sweeter flavor that is great for just about any type of coffee preparation, especially espresso.
Robusta is stronger and more bitter. It’s rare to find 100% robusta bean coffee, but it’s out there. Many coffees will blend Arabica mostly with some robusta to give it some kick. Robusta also has more caffeine, so if you find a robusta-prominent coffee, it will definitely wake you up in the morning.
- Read Also: Arabica vs Robusta
Choosing your brewing method will depend on what kind of roast you prefer. This will also determine the grind size of your bean because you want the most effective extraction, and you’re just fancy like that.
Drip And Pour Over
This is the most versatile method for brewing, and we won’t kick you out of the coffee club for using any type of coffee bean here. But if you want the best results, stick to a lighter roast. You don’t want the coffee to be too hot or steep for too long because you’ll remove all the subtle floral notes that lighter roasts are known for. Pour over is easy to perform, and you can make one cup relatively quickly in under 3 minutes.
French Press And Cold Brew
Use this method for medium roasted coffee beans to get the full experience of your selection. I love the French press for its simplicity and ability to extract just the right amount of flavor. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the learning process is worth it. Plus, you can bring it with you when you’re traveling.
Cold brews are all the rage these days, so be sure to do it correctly with the proper technique and coffee beans. Cold brews also go well with a shot of coffee liqueur, but you didn’t hear that from me.
Espresso Maker, Moka Pot, And AeroPress
Get a dark roast for the authentic Italian coffee experience and choose one of these three methods. An espresso maker is the least labor-intensive and offers the most variety. A lot of these types have a built-in milk frother so that you can make your own lattes and cappuccinos.
A Moka Pot is the old-school way to enjoy a strong cup of coffee. You can get these in different sizes to brew many cups or just one for yourself, requiring no power other than a way to heat your water. So it’s perfect for camping.
An AeroPress is similar in that it doesn’t need a power source either but operates more like a French press. You manually force the water through the coffee grounds after your desired amount of steeping to produce a rich cup of joe.
While the debate on where the best coffee comes from rages on, you can be sure that Italian coffee will always be mentioned. Musetti Coffee – Cremissimo is one of the best I’ve had SO FAR, as I hope to come across a coffee that tops it one day. With so many countries producing world-class coffee, it’s hard to stick to one region. Still, the Italians are certainly professionals at this, and I’m happy to keep sampling anything they produce.