The coffee you brew is only as good as the coffee beans you use. Pre-ground coffee is convenient, but the coffee you get is actually stale. Even the most premium brands of ground coffee are stale by the time they are packaged and reach the store shelves.
To make the best-tasting coffee, you have to buy the best coffee beans, and that’s exactly what we’re here to help you do. Knowing which are the best coffee beans means knowing certain pieces of information, like when the beans were roasted and for how long.
Light roast coffee beans are less robust than dark roast coffee beans. If you prefer a full-bodied, rich flavor, then you will need to choose a dark roast. If the dark roast is too full of a flavor, then you’ll want to choose light roast coffee beans.
So, let’s get started with the 9 best coffee beans to choose from and where to buy them!
Top 9 Best Coffee Bean Reviews
Best Overall Coffee Beans
Death Wish Valhalla Java Whole Bean Dark Roast Coffee
Our pick for the best overall coffee beans is the dark roast Valhalla Java whole bean coffee. It is a dark roast whole bean coffee that comes from the volcanic earth of Indonesia, South America, and Central America. There is a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans perfectly roasted together to create a rich, flavorful blend of dark roast coffee.
Valhalla Java whole bean coffee is USDA certified organic, so you know that you are brewing the most natural coffee possible in each pot. Each bag of coffee is 340 grams or 12 ounces.
What makes Death Wish coffee so unique and better than the rest is the high caffeine content and robust flavor. It is definitely the coffee you should choose if dark roast and maximum caffeine content if what you’re looking for
- Full flavor
- High caffeine content
- Premium Arabica and Robusta beans from the volcanic earth
- Best for those who enjoy dark roast
- Not intended for those who are sensitive to caffeine
User Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
Best Budget Choice Coffee Beans
Seattle’s Best Coffee Portside Blend Medium Roast Coffee
If you want affordable, flavorful, and smooth coffee every time, then you can’t go wrong with Seattle’s Best Portside Blend Coffee, which is why this coffee brand is our choice for the best budget coffee beans.
The Portside Blend is formerly known as Seattle’s Best Signature No. 3, but it has been recrafted as the Portside Blend because of its improved quality and taste. This has made the Portside Blend the best budget coffee beans on our list. It is made of 100% Arabica beans, which are coffee beans found in the Arabica plant of Ethiopia and Latin America.
Arabica beans make up approximately 60% of the world’s coffee bean production. To produce Arabica coffee, it has to set apart from the rest. At an affordable price, Seattle’s Best has done just that in this 12-ounce bag of medium roast coffee.
- Using too many grounds when brewing can make your coffee taste burnt
User Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Best Premium Choice Coffee Beans
Koffee Kult Dark Roast Gourmet Coffee Beans
Our choice for the best premium coffee beans is the dark roast gourmet coffee beans by Koffee Kult. Because it is a dark roast, it is made with Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, and Sumatra coffee beans, giving it the most robust and full-bodied flavor.
The beans used in the Koffee Kult dark roast are 100% Arabica beans and come from the rainforests around the world. These rainforests produce rich and fresh coffee. The coffee beans are roasted and packaged within hours of being processed. This seals in as much flavor as possible, giving it a premium and untouchable taste.
Oftentimes, dark roast coffee is bitter, but not Koffee Kult. It has a full and rich flavor with no bitterness. Koffee Kult dark roast coffee is best recommended for premium cups of coffee or specialty espresso drinks.
- Robust and full flavor
- Great for crafting specialty coffee drinks or espresso
- Can be used for different coffee brewing methods (Aeropress, French press, drip coffee makers, and espresso machines)
- Large quantity in the bag (32 ounces)
User Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Lavazza Super Crema Medium Roast Coffee
Continuing our list of the best coffee beans, we have included this medium roast whole bean coffee by Lavazza. It is a 2-pound bag of whole bean medium roast coffee that is blended and roasted in Italy. While it is considered an espresso coffee bean, you can also use it in a drip coffee maker; it is just considered an espresso coffee bean because of the rich flavor and crema created when the coffee is brewed with an espresso machine.
The medium roast coffee beans contain a blend of hazelnuts and brown sugar, giving the coffee beans a flavor of their own. This makes the flavor of the Lavazza coffee so rich and desirable. The coffee bean blend is 60% Arabica and 40% Robusta. This gives the coffee a hint of dark flavors without being a dark roast coffee.
Remember that when you are grinding coffee beans for an espresso machine, you must grind them extra-fine. Espresso machines require an extra-fine grind so that the machine can press the coffee grounds to create a layer of crema on top. Coffee grounds that are too coarse won’t effectively make espresso.
- Large quantity (2-pound bag)
- Great for espresso machines or drip coffee makers
- Aromatic undertones of hazelnut and brown sugar
User Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Intelligentsia House Blend Light Roast Coffee Beans
This one is for the light roast coffee lover! If you love a good house blend light roast, then these coffee beans are for you.
The Intelligentsia House Blend is light roast coffee beans from Latin America. The coffee beans have flavors of chocolate, apple, and mandarin that you can smell and taste when grinding and brewing your coffee.
We chose to add the Intelligentsia House Blend to our list because of the 100% Direct Trade guarantee. 100% Direct Trade means that the coffee roaster receives the coffee beans directly from the farmer. This ensures the roaster that they know exactly what type of coffee beans they are receiving to roast. This means roasting uniformly quality coffee beans every time.
Each 12-ounce bag is filled with lightly-roasted 100% Arabica beans. The coffee brewed from the Intelligentsia House Blend creates a flavorful yet light flavor of coffee with fruit and chocolate undertones.
- Light and flavorful
- Direct Trade coffee beans
- Great for different methods of coffee brewing (not espresso)
User Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars
Mayagora Organics Cafe Cubano Dark Roast Coffee Beans
The Mayagora Organics Cafe Cubano is a blend of dark roast coffee beans from Peru, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The coffee beans are 100% Arabica, and USDA certified organic and Direct Trade.
The roasting process is what makes the coffee beans so unique, flavorful, and unmistakable. Mayagora uses a Latin, slow-roasting process to roast small batches of coffee beans to give the Cafe Cubano its perfect flavor. The dark roast coffee beans have undertones of vanilla and smokiness that can be picked up by the senses when the coffee is ground and brewed.
Cafe Cubano is Mayagora Organics’ signature blend, so you know you are receiving the overall best blend of coffee that Mayagora Organics has to offer. With a two-pound bag of whole bean dark roast coffee, you can use the coffee beans for virtually any type of coffee maker, from an espresso machine to a French press and everything in between.
- USDA certified organic
- Direct Trade
- Bold flavor
- Can use in drip coffee makers or espresso machines
- Not recommended for those who prefer light roast coffee
User Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
Kicking Horse Coffee Three Sisters Medium Roast Coffee Beans
The Three Sisters medium roast coffee by Kicking Horse Coffee is just one of the many blends of flavorful coffee that Kicking Horse has to offer. We have chosen the Three Sisters blend because it is a flavorful medium-roast coffee bean that is USDA certified organic and has subtle but flavorful undertones of tobacco, coconut, dried fruit, and cocoa.
Three Sisters medium roast coffee is best used for coffee brewing methods and not espresso machines. French presses, Aeropress, drip coffee makers, and pour over coffee makers can all be used to make great flavorful coffee with Kicking Horse Three Sisters coffee.
The coffee beans are 100% Arabica beans from Indonesia, Central America, and South America. The beans are then exported to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, where the beans are roasted by Kicking Horse Coffee.
Kicking Horse Coffee guarantees their coffee beans are 100% Fairtrade. This means that the farmer who produces and sells the coffee beans is guaranteed maximum compensation for the beans they grow. There are other additional benefits to 100% Fairtrade, including protecting workers’ rights and preventing child labor.
- Medium roast is rich and flavorful
- USDA certified organic
- 100% Fairtrade
- Great for all types of coffee brewing methods
- Large bag (2.2 pounds)
- Pricey; however, larger quantity than most
User Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Allegro Coffee Organic Whole Bean Light Roast Coffee
Allegro Coffee is a Whole Foods Market brand of coffee, which means it is certified organic, GMO-free, and Fairtrade certified. The Organic Breakfast Blend is a light roast coffee bean made of 100% Arabica coffee beans from Latin America and Ethiopia.
The Breakfast Blend has aromas and flavors of milk chocolate, caramel, and citrus. It is perfect for all types of coffee makers and not recommended for espresso machines because it is a light roast coffee bean. The Allegro Coffee roastmaster’s recommendation for perfect brewing is pour-over coffee.
Allegro Coffee Organic Breakfast Blend is one of the more affordable options on our list, especially when purchasing 100% USDA certified organic coffee beans that are Fairtrade certified.
- 100% USDA certified organic
- 100% Fairtrade certified
- Not recommended for espresso machines or for those who enjoy dark, robust coffee
User Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Bulletproof French Kick Dark Roast Whole Bean Coffee
Last on our list (and definitely not least!) is the French Kick dark roast coffee bean by Bulletproof.
Bulletproof Coffee has been around since 2004 and was designed for those who are active but don’t want to remove coffee from their diet. It is keto-friendly, clean, and 100% Direct Trade coffee beans. It is toxin-free to keep you from experiencing jitters or other toxic crashes that coffee can carry.
The French Kick blend of Bulletproof Coffee is a dark roast whole bean coffee with undertones of chocolate and smokiness. The beans always come from the rainforests of Central and South America, primarily in Guatemala and Colombia. The Rainforest Alliance that Bulletproof shares with the coffee farmers mean that the farmers and forests are protected as they produce the coffee beans.
French Kick Bulletproof Coffee can be used in both coffee makers and espresso machines. This is because the beans are dark roast with a smoky flavor, making them a great choice for signature coffee drinks and espresso machines.
- 100% Direct Trade
- Certified Rainforest Alliance
- Full flavor can be used in coffee makers and espresso machines
- Dark roast has a full flavor; not recommended for those who prefer a lighter blend
User Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
The Ultimate Buying Guide for Choosing the Best Coffee Beans
Now that we’ve gone over the 9 best coffee beans, it’s time to help you make your decision. We made sure to include various light, medium, and dark roast coffee beans throughout this list because we understand how important the roast level is when choosing the best coffee beans.
The roast of the coffee is not the only important factor you need to consider when choosing the best coffee beans. There is also the type of coffee bean, the roasting date of the coffee, and where the coffee bean grows that all play a part in which coffee beans are the best you should choose.
What is the Difference Between the Different Types of Roasts?
Light, medium, and dark roasts are all different roasts of coffee. Not knowing the difference in these roasts can cause you to end up with a bag of coffee beans that don’t align with your taste preference. Using the right coffee roast with the right brewing method will give you the perfect cup of joe every time.
Light Roast Coffee Beans
Coffee beans roasted between 350° and 400°F and barely crack are classified as lightly roasted. They are light brown in color with no oils on the exterior of the beans.
Light roast coffee beans focus solely on preserving the flavor of the coffee bean rather than the flavor that is created from lengthy roasting. This is why light roast coffee beans are highly favored among coffee drinkers who are just entering the coffee scene; because it is mild and packed with the most flavor that the coffee has to offer, rather than the flavor created by the roast.
You will want to choose a light roast coffee if you are new to enjoying coffee and will be making coffee in an automatic drip coffee maker. Light coffee will preserve the flavor of the coffee bean without adding the bitterness and smokiness that dark roasted coffee will add.
Medium Roast Coffee Beans
Coffee beans that are roasted between 400° and 430°F are medium roasted coffee beans. They have a medium-brown color with an oily exterior.
Medium roast coffee beans are often considered the best roast because they appeal to both new coffee drinkers and those who enjoy a slightly stronger flavor. Medium roasted coffee beans crack through the first layer of the bean but not the second.
Medium roast coffee beans will combine the flavor of the coffee bean with the flavor produced by the roasting process. This creates a coffee bean that contains both the flavors of the bean and flavors from the roasting process.
You will want to choose a medium roast coffee if you prefer the coffee bean's natural flavors as it combines with the flavors derived during the roasting process. Medium roast coffee beans are ideal for essentially all brewing methods.
Dark Roast Coffee Beans
Coffee beans roasted higher than 430°F have an oily exterior and reach the second crack are considered dark roast coffee beans. Many roasters of dark roast coffee will extend the roasting process past the second crack to guarantee that the coffee bean reaches a nutty and smoky flavor. This is why many coffee connoisseurs prefer dark roast coffee beans; it brings out the nuttiness, smokiness, and chocolate flavors.
You will want to choose a dark roast coffee if you prefer a robust flavor. Dark roast coffee is recommended for specialty coffee drinks and espresso machines. This is because it takes a small amount of coffee to pack a large punch of flavor, which is exactly how espresso and specialty coffee drinks are made.
Robusta or Arabica Beans? What’s the Difference?
You’ve probably seen that many of the coffee beans on this list have a label that reads “100% Arabica Beans.” Still, some blends may also contain Robusta coffee beans. Knowing the difference between Arabica and Robusta coffee beans will help you decide which blend of coffee is the best for you.
Arabica Coffee Beans
Arabica coffee beans make up between 60 and 70% of the entire coffee bean production on the market today. Arabica coffee beans are found largely in Ethiopia, but they are also grown in Central and South America.
Arabica coffee beans are oval and have a lower caffeine content than Robusta coffee beans, containing around 1.5% caffeine.
Arabica beans are best grown in volcanic regions or rainforests, each having their own benefits and advantages. Rainforest Arabica beans maintain freshness and reduce molding risks, while volcanic Arabica beans grown in volcanic soil are usually richer and have a smoother taste.
Arabica beans are also always used in coffee blends, whereas robust coffee is typically a filler or additive. While you will likely buy a bag of 100% Arabica bean coffee, you likely won’t buy a bag of 100% Robusta bean coffee. This is because the Robusta plant is more bitter and rubbery than the Arabica plant.
Robusta Coffee Beans
Robusta coffee beans are more bitter than Arabica coffee beans, so there is rarely 100% Robusta bean coffee. Instead, Robusta beans are typically blended with at least 60% of Arabica beans to create a full-flavored coffee with an additional caffeine content compared to most. Robusta coffee beans contain around 2.7% caffeine, as opposed to the 1.5% caffeine of Arabica beans.
The Benefits of Choosing Coffee Beans that Support Local Farmers and Communities
Many coffee beans are labeled as being 100% Direct Trade or 100% Fairtrade Certified. Because coffee beans have to be imported into North America for roasting and resale, roasters and retailers rely on local farmers to provide them with coffee beans to process.
Direct Trade and Fairtrade create a secure relationship between the farmer and the roaster. These programs protect the farmers by ensuring that they will continuously have a customer purchase their product.
100% Direct Trade
Being 100% Direct Trade certified means the roaster purchases the coffee beans directly from the farmer. Direct Trade is beneficial to both parties involved in the trade.
For the roaster or retailer, Direct Trade means guaranteeing that you will receive the best price and best quality of coffee beans.
For the farmer, Direct Trade means never having to worry about wondering where your next customer will come from.
These benefits aren’t just limited to the farmers and retailers. It also trickles down to the consumer. The consumer knows they will receive the best flavor and quality of coffee each time it is purchased. This is why the Direct Trade certification seal is one feature you may want to consider the coffee beans to have.
100% FairTrade focuses mainly on the farmers who produce the coffee beans. With FairTrade, the farmers who are selling their product to Fairtrade Certified brands will have a percentage of the revenue go directly into the schools, economy, environment, worker’s right, and gender equality.
When you, the consumer, purchase a product that is certified FairTrade, money from the transaction contributes to the continuation of the relationship between the retailer/roaster and farmer, meaning that schools, poverty, and worker’s rights are all helped through this partnership.
The Advantages of Choosing Whole Bean Coffee Instead of Ground Coffee
As we mentioned initially, buying coffee beans that are already ground means you are buying stale coffee. Coffee goes stale within hours of grinding. The bags of ground coffee seen on the grocery store shelves have usually been ground weeks prior. This causes them to lose much of their flavor and aroma when brewed.
Whole bean coffee is often packaged and shipped within hours of roasting. If you can purchase your whole bean coffee based on roast date, you should always opt for this choice. That way, you know the exact date the coffee was roasted. Naturally, coffee that was roasted days or weeks before receiving it can cause the coffee beans to lose flavor and aroma.
Last, you should make sure that you only grind your coffee as needed once it is received. You shouldn’t grind your coffee all at once after receiving, as this can cause your coffee to go stale within hours. Instead, grind the exact amount of coffee you will need for the serving of coffee you are making.
Different Coffee Grinds for Different Brewing Methods
Once you have chosen the best coffee beans, you will need to know how to grind them. The key to crafting the best cup of coffee is in the best coffee beans, and this includes how they are ground.
Drip Coffee Makers
When using an automatic drip coffee maker, you should grind the whole bean coffee to a medium grind. Medium coffee grounds will be small enough to steep the coffee grounds as the hot water pours over them, but not too fine that the coffee grounds will slip through the filter and into the pot of coffee.
Pour-Over Coffee Makers
Pour-over coffee makers will use a vat or carafe to collect the coffee as it is brewed. In the top opening of the vat or carafe, there will be a cheesecloth or another type of filter cloth that will hold the coffee grounds while hot water is poured over the coffee grounds to brew the coffee and collect it in the container underneath.
This makes medium to medium-coarse coffee grounds best for pour-over coffee makers. Any coffee grounds that are finer than a medium grind will likely slip through the filter as the hot water is being poured over the coffee.
French Press Coffee Makers
The French Press is a coffee maker that can be used to make hot coffee or cold brew. Because the coffee grounds and water are placed together in the carafe, the coffee grounds need to be coarsely ground.
The French Press will take the plunger of the coffee maker to press the coffee grounds down to the bottom of the carafe, separate from the brewed coffee. This will keep the grounds out of the brewed coffee only if the coffee grounds are coarse enough not to slip through the filter of the plunger.
The finer, the better. Espresso machines rely on extra-fine coffee grounds to be able to press the coffee puck with enough pressure to create a full-bodied espresso with the right amount of crema. Coarse coffee grounds will not create a compact coffee puck that is needed to make espresso. You will need to grind extra-fine coffee grounds to tamp a compacted puck of coffee in the espresso machine.
What You Need to Enjoy the Best Coffee Beans
Once you have chosen your coffee beans, you will need a coffee grinder. A coffee grinder is an imperative tool to have when grinding coffee beans. A blender or food processor will not suffice when grinding coffee beans.
Coffee grinders are designed to grind coffee beans, not pulverize them. Blenders and food processors will simply chop the beans until they break apart, whereas a coffee grinder will create true coffee grounds.
When choosing a coffee grinder, we recommend choosing a burr coffee grinder. A burr coffee grinder is made up of two revolving burrs that rotate to grind the coffee. This is what gives the coffee grounds their perfect texture, whether it’s coarse or extra-fine.
The coffee grinder you choose should have settings that range from extra coarse to extra fine. This allows you to create the exact grind of coffee you need for the method in which you are brewing.
The best coffee beans should be ones that suit your preferred taste. Remember that light roast coffee will encompass the natural flavors of the coffee beans, whereas dark roast coffee will have richer flavors that are smokier and more robust.
Any coffee that contains Robusta coffee will have a higher caffeine content than 100% Arabica coffee, so if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you may want to steer clear from this blend.
So, sit back, grind your favorite coffee beans, and pour up the best cup of coffee right from the comfort of your own house.