Drinking tasty brewed coffee is the objective for most coffee lovers. But to achieve coffee nirvana you need to know which are the best coffee beans. The challenge is there are so many options, it can be hard to choose.
Our coffee lovers guide to the best coffee 2021 covers everything you need to know before you buy. From the best gourmet coffee in the world to the best whole bean coffee for different brewing methods at home and good coffee brands to try, it’s all here in one convenient place.
So before you buy your next batch, read on to find out what sets top rated coffee beans apart from the rest so you can enjoy high quality coffee at home every day.
Summary of The Best Coffee Beans To Buy
Short on time and you just want a recommendation for the best coffee beans to buy?
In our comparison table we list all the top coffee bean brands covered in our coffee beans review below.
How To Find The Best Tasting Coffee Beans
Here we share our top tips for finding the best gourmet coffee beans.
Buy Whole Bean Coffee
If you are searching for the best coffee beans, the first most important thing to know is you should try and buy whole bean coffee.
Coffee beans are heavily impacted by exposure to light, air and heat. The impact is compounded once you grind your beans, resulting in a rapid loss of flavor and aroma.
Pro tip: Only buy whole bean coffee
You simply won’t extract great flavor from good quality coffee beans if you buy them pre-ground.
Try 100% Arabica Coffee
There are two main types of coffee beans – Robusta and Arabica.
Arabica beans are grown at higher elevations than Robusta beans and have a superior depth of flavor and acidity. They account for around 80% of the world’s coffee production and are grown all around the world.
Robusta coffee beans are commonly used in instant and supermarket coffee plus many coffee blends as they are cheaper to produce and have a higher caffeine content.
Many great coffee blends will include both Arabica and Robusta beans, but most good single origin coffees will be 100% Arabica coffee beans.
Best Coffee Regions
Coffee is produced in dozens of countries around the world and like any food product, coffee reflects the environment in which it is grown.
Sun, rain, elevation, soil quality and coffee farm harvesting techniques all influence the intrinsic flavors in the coffee bean. Micro-climates within countries also influence the quality of coffee production.
All of the best coffee beans are sourced from the “coffee belt” which stretches around the Equatorial zone.
Whilst coffee beans from each region will have a distinct flavor, they will also vary within country and even farm to farm. Remember, if you want to taste the differences between each region in your cup, you need to buy single origin coffee beans.
Pro tip: Buy single origin coffee beans to learn more about regional differences
Some of the best coffee regions to try include:
Colombia is one of the most well known coffee producers and is the third largest producer in the world. Colombian coffee beans tend to have a mild well balanced flavor with medium acidity and caramel sweetness. Very popular for use in espresso coffee styles due to the lack of bitterness.
Ethiopia is thought to be the birthplace of coffee. Ethiopian coffee is renowned for its fruity and floral flavors with a light body and high acidity. It is a great choice for pour over coffee lovers.
Kenya coffee beans are similar to Ethiopian beans with a floral aroma and high acidity. They are mostly grown at high altitude and are considered some of the best quality coffee beans in the world.
Indonesia is the fourth largest producer of coffee beans world wide. One of the most popular regions for coffee production in the country is Sumatra.
Due to the lower elevation and unique processing techniques, Sumatran coffee has an earthy flavor and heavy body not found in many other regions. It is commonly used in coffee blends and tends to be a polarizing coffee style.
Buy Fresh Coffee Beans
Not only do you need to buy whole coffee beans, you need to buy fresh coffee beans. So what do we mean by fresh?
It is generally accepted within the specialty coffee community that fresh roasted coffee beans are best used from 1 week to 4 weeks after roasting. Green coffee beans can last up to a year (or more), but once they are roasted they need to be consumed within a month for maximum flavor.
Pro tip: Buy freshly roasted beans and use within 1 month
How can you tell when the beans were roasted?
The best coffee roasters will include a Roasted Date on the coffee packaging. Don’t confuse this with a Best Before or Used by Date commonly seen on supermarket or large scale producer’s coffee packaging.
While coffee beans don’t go off, they do lose their complexity and flavor over time.
The Best Coffee In The World
We start our Coffee Guide with 5 of the best coffee beans in the world. These are styles of coffee renowned for their consistent quality and are produced by different coffee brands.
They are the cream of the crop, are often in short supply despite their high price, and are some of the finest examples of what great tastes like in the coffee world.
Don’t worry, we get to some more practical (and still amazing) coffee brands below – if you like you can hop straight to them here.
Geisha Coffee Beans
Geisha coffee is known as the world’s most expensive coffee beans. While they can be grown in many countries, the most famous producers are located in Panama and Costa Rica.
Hacienda La Esmeralda and Ninety-Plus are the two most famous producers selling in limited batches to a small number of companies.
Buying a bag of Gesha coffee beans is a significant financial investment, so you should only buy them from top coffee brands like Volcanica. Brace yourself and click here to check the price.
Jamaican blue mountain coffee beans are high end coffee beans and originate from one specific location in Jamaica – Blue Mountain. The exotic coffee beans are grown in small quantities over a long period at high elevation.
This particular Jamaican coffee is renowned as one of the smoothest coffee types. With fruit flavors, medium acidity and full body it has little bitterness, which is one reason why it is so popular.
Volcanica Coffee is one of the top premium coffee brands and they produce several Blue Mountain Coffees from Jamaica.
This one is from Clydesdale, one of the oldest coffee making regions in Jamaica. It is an excellent example of the coffee style. It is roasted to order for maximum freshness.
Important Note: Don’t be fooled into buying a Blue Mountain blend – these often have as little as 5 or 10% blue mountain beans. Buy 100% blue mountain coffee from reputable coffee roasters and expect to pay a premium for the privilege.
Kona coffee from Hawaii is well known as one of the best premium coffee beans. With a unique micro-climate, Kona produces some of the smoothest, naturally low-acid coffee beans in the world.
Koa Coffee is one of the best coffee brand suppliers of pure Kona coffee beans. With a range of roasts and styles including Peaberry, they are a great option if you want to experience the joy of a cup of Kona.
The Estate is a single farm origin coffee grown at high altitude on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano.
The medium roast showcases the unique flavors of the region and it is shipped to you direct from Hawaii. This is a top quality coffee and one of the best medium roast coffee beans that you have to try at least once.
Ethiopian coffee has great complexity and is a versatile style. A light roast coffee is great for pour over. A medium roast perfect for french press coffee. A dark roast is good for espresso.
The country has perfect coffee growing conditions, with much of the crop grown at high elevation in the shade. The natural processing methods result in fruity flavors and a high acidity with medium body.
There are many premium suppliers of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee, but this one by Fresh Roasted is one of the best affordable examples of this premium coffee.
Make sure you try it black to fully appreciate the more delicate flavors in your cup.
Unlike regular coffee cherries which contain two coffee beans, a peaberry has just a single round coffee bean.
Only a small percentage of any crop is a peaberry. Some farms separate them (by hand) and sell them as 100% Peaberry coffee. Do they taste better? There are many different opinions about whether they taste better, but their smaller volume and higher production cost result in a coffee with a high price tag.
Kenyan coffee is known for its high acidity and floral aromas. Some believe the Kenyan Peaberry has a sweeter, lighter taste than other Kenya AA coffee brands.
If you would like to try it for yourself, Volcanica Coffee produce an excellent example of the style. It has complex fruit flavors, a sharp acidity and a hint of spice.
The Best Coffee 2021 (To Try at Home)
Now you’ve read about the highest quality coffee beans in the world, you have no doubt realized it can be a pretty expensive habit to buy and drink them.
But don’t worry, below we share some of the best whole bean coffee brands that are much more affordable for everyday drinking. These coffee bean recommendations cover some of the best coffee beans for home brewing.
Best Espresso Beans – Koffee Kult
Most dark and some medium roast coffee beans work well in espresso machines.
If you drink your espresso with milk, you need a coffee blend that can withstand pressurized brewing and hold its own against the milk. So if you are looking for the best coffee beans for cappuccino or latte coffee drinks, these beans by Koffee Kult are a great choice.
Koffee Kult have a huge range of artisan coffee blends and single origin coffees available, but this dark roast blend from Sumatra, Colombia and Guatemala is one of the top rated espresso beans on Amazon. It is also on our list of the best espresso coffee beans which you can read more about here.
The Koffee Kult Dark Roast has a bold strong flavor yet lacks the bitterness found in many dark roasts and simply has to be tried.
Best Low Acid Coffee Beans – Lifeboost Coffee
If you love to drink coffee but suffer from stomach issues, low acid coffee beans may help.
Some coffee bean brands produce naturally low acidity coffee beans as a result of their climate and region. Other low acid coffees are manufactured through processing to reduce their acidity level. You can see our full list of low acid coffee beans here.
This single origin low acid coffee by Lifeboost Coffee is one of the most popular low acid coffee bean brands. It is from Nicaragua, a region known for producing naturally mild acidity in their beans.
Beans are shade grown without chemicals and the certified beans have been tested to have a PH level of 6 or higher, which is why people with sensitive stomachs love these beans.
It has full body and a smooth flavor and is fairly traded and certified USDA organic.
Best Organic Coffee Beans – Kicking Horse
The organic coffee bean market is pretty crowded so it takes a special coffee roaster to claim top spot. Not only is Kicking Horse Coffee USDA Certified Organic, it is Fair Trade and Kosher too.
The Kicking Horse Smart Ass coffee is a medium roast blend made from beans sourced from Africa, South and Central America. It is an excellent all rounder and will work just as well in your espresso machine as your drip coffee maker or french press.
Described as cheeky, bright and precocious you might wonder if someone was describing their child instead of the coffee.
It has syrupy aromas, notes of milk chocolate and a honey finish. It is not only one of the best organic whole bean coffee brands, it is also one of the best drip coffee beans and is a well loved blend.
Best Flavored Coffee Beans – Bones Coffee Company
Flavored coffee beans tend to divide coffee lovers – some love them, others hate them. If you are in the love camp, then one of the best flavored coffee bean brands is Bones Coffee Company.
With a huge range of flavors including mint, caramel, Irish cream, maple Bacon and S’mores, it is pretty hard to choose between them all.
A good place to start is their Highland Grog flavored coffee beans, which are one of their most popular flavors. It is medium roasted and has a butterscotch and caramel flavor. Delicious hot or cold in your favorite brew style.
Best Strong Coffee Beans – Death Wish Coffee
There is no end to the popularity of Death Wish Coffee, with double the caffeine of most other brands.
Even for those of you not overly obsessed with caffeine percentages, Death Wish Organic Coffee is one of the best dark roast coffee beans on the market.
It is an intense and bold coffee with overtones of cherry and chocolate. You will either love it or hate it. Coffee drinkers love it for their espresso machine and cold brew.
Note this coffee is a blend of arabica and robusta beans. The use of robusta is one of the ways they have increased the caffeine levels as they have a higher percentage of caffeine compared to arabica beans.
Best Cold Brew Coffee Beans – Stone Street Coffee
Cold Brew is one of our favorite brewing methods. Many styles of coffee beans are used to brew cold brew, but we love this one by Stone Street Coffee.
Stone Street have produced a single origin Colombian coffee specifically for cold brewing. It is a dark roast with low acidity and a slightly sweet flavor.
Pay attention to the grind to maximise the flavor in cold brew – it needs to be very coarse. Stone Street is one of our top recommended coffees in our cold brew coffee reviews.
Best Fair Trade Coffee Beans – Tiny Footprint
A growing number of coffee bean brands now carry Fair Trade certification of one kind or another.
This offering by Tiny Footprint is one of our favorites. Sourced from Nicaragua it is 100% Arabica, organic and shade grown coffee.
It also claims to be the first carbon negative coffee. For every pound of coffee sold, the company donates to reforestation projects in Ecuador.
The dark roast has a bold flavor with chocolate and nutty aromas. It is great for cold brew, french press or espresso brewing.
Best Italian Coffee – Lavazza Coffee
These Lavazza coffee beans are from one of the world’s most well known Italian coffee brands.
Lavazza have a range of roasts and offer some of the best budget coffee beans on the market. This medium roast espresso blend with honey and nutty aromas is well-loved by many coffee drinkers for its smooth, mild and creamy flavor.
Note Lavazza use both Arabica and Robusta beans in their blends, but the coffee is competitively priced and well rated by thousands of happy customers.
Best Affordable Coffee Beans – Eight O’Clock Coffee
We debated whether to include the best affordable coffee beans category on this list. Are they the “best”? Well I guess it depends on your budget.
If you want to enjoy roast to order coffee beans, but also need an everyday coffee brand to ease the pain on your pocket (or you are making coffee for a crowd), finding the best cheap coffee beans is an important consideration.
This Colombian coffee by Eight O’Clock is one of the most popular whole bean coffee brands on Amazon. With 100% Arabica beans and a full bodied medium roast, it is renowned as a smooth coffee and is perfect for your drip coffee maker.
Best Decaf Coffee Beans – Jo’s Coffee
Let’s face it, good decaffeinated coffee beans are hard to find. Sometimes it is the chemical processes they use to extract the caffeine. Other times it is the poorer quality coffee beans used to produce it.
This coffee by Jo’s is different. It is both USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified and made from high quality arabica beans.
Jo’s use the swiss water process to decaffeinate the beans. This method extracts the caffeine without the use of chemicals.
If you are looking for decaf coffee, this one by Jo’s is a great choice.
Where To Buy Coffee Beans
There are many different places to buy coffee beans – here we share some of the best and quickest ways to get coffee beans to your door.
Buy a Coffee Subscription
A coffee bean subscription is the perfect way to explore different coffee roasts and regions to learn more about different styles of coffee and to identify your top coffee roasters. Here are some of our top subscription services.
Atlas Coffee Club is a unique travel-themed coffee of the month club that explores the world’s best coffee – from Tanzania to Brazil, Papua New Guinea to Peru.
With more than 50+ countries producing unique and exquisite coffee offerings, a subscription to Atlas Coffee Club delivers the ultimate journey in delicious flavor discovery and culture from far off countries.
Trade Coffee source high quality coffee beans from top coffee roasters and offer full flexibility to choose the frequency and amount of coffee beans delivered straight to your door.
They have a huge range of premium coffee roasters on their site, and you can buy as a subscription or as a single order.
Driftaway Coffee allows you to track your favorite coffees in their app.
They even allow you to share feedback directly with the coffee farmers.
If you want to experiment with the idea of a coffee subscription box before you commit, Bean Box offer a fixed 3 month subscription.
Each month 4 gourmet coffee beans from Seattle’s small-batch coffee roasters are delivered direct to your door.
Order Coffee Online
Many specialty coffee roasters have web stores for you to buy coffee online. Once you find a roaster you like, look them up to see if they offer roast to order coffee beans for their customers.
Pro tip: Buying fresh coffee beans online is a super easy way to enjoy great coffee at home.
If you are worried you will forget to re-order before you run out, why not sign up to Amazon Prime for free same day delivery (for select cities). You can sign up for a 30 day free trial here.
Buy from your Local Cafe or Coffee Roaster
The other place to buy whole bean coffee is at a local coffee shop. Many local cafes source beans from local roasters and will happily sell you a small bag of the whole coffee beans they use in store.
Check how regularly they receive fresh beans and ask to check the roast date on the bag. Beans from your local cafe will be fresher than anything you can buy at the grocery store.
If you are fortunate to have a local coffee roaster close by, pop in and say hi. They will no doubt happily chat to you about their coffee roasts and you can order from the them directly.
How To Choose Between The Top Rated Coffee Beans 2021
Now you have a list of the top coffee beans how do you choose between them? Here are three ways to help you narrow it down.
Coffee Brewing Method
The coffee brewing method you use is perhaps the most important factor when deciding which coffee beans to buy. Check what brewing style the producer recommends for the beans.
Also, different roast profiles are best for certain brewing methods. So if you enjoy pour over coffee, light or medium roast coffee bean brands are a good choice. For an espresso machine a medium-dark or dark roast is generally better.
If you enjoy drinking a latte or cappuccino, dark roast beans are a better choice as the intensity of the dark roast holds up through the pressurized brewing method and the flavor of the milk. They are also great for using in coffee mixed drinks.
There are no hard and fast rules, but it is good to understand that the brewing method will impact the resulting flavor you achieve from your coffee beans.
The reality is there is no one best tasting coffee in the world. While one person may love the delicate tea like flavor of a light roast coffee, others can’t stand it. For some it is all about the sweet honey flavors, for others it needs to be chocolatey.
The key is to identify the flavors you love. Once you know this, choosing great coffee beans becomes a much easier job.
There are essentially three flavor styles described on most coffee bean packaging. You can see the full flavor wheel here, but in essence coffee roasts tend to be described as:
- Bitter, smoky or chocolatey
- Nutty, spicy and sweet
- Acidic and fruity
As you try different coffees, read the packaging when you buy fresh roasted coffee beans, document what you love and look out for similar styles from different brands.
Single Origin vs Blends
There is no right or wrong when it comes to single origin beans vs coffee blends.
Many of the best coffee companies offer coffee blends for sale. A good coffee roaster will know how to combine different coffees to achieve great tasting coffee blends.
However, if you want to learn more about the coffee from a specific region, choose single origin coffee beans.
Organic USDA Certified
Coffee plants are susceptible to disease and over time this has meant heavy use of pesticides on farms to protect crops.
While organic coffee is not necessarily of a guarantee of superior quality, it is an indication of natural farming methods and a commitment to protect the land for future generations.
It is worth noting that many coffee farmers may practice organic production methods, but not have official certification. Certification adds significant cost to the farmer and is not always sought as a result.
To be USDA certified as organic coffee beans, coffee must be grown, harvested, processed and packaged according to a long list of requirements which focus on avoidance of synthetic pesticides and a focus on sustainable farming practices.
If it is important to you to buy organic coffee beans, look for USDA Certification or contact the roaster to find out more.
Fair Trade Coffee Beans
Like organic certification, Fair Trade certification will not necessarily result in the best kind of coffee beans, but it is an indicator of sustainable farming practices.
Note: Fair trade does not equate to organic (and vice versa) so if both these criteria are important look for organic fair trade coffee certification on coffee packaging.
There are a number of Fair Trade organizations with different standards offering certification. Essentially Fair Trade Coffee brands follow fair trade standards to achieve greater equity in the coffee trade process from the farmer to the retailer.
If Fair Trade is important to you, look for Fair Trade certification when buying coffee beans.
Top Coffee Roasters
There is a growing list of top rated coffee roasters all around the country – people who are passionate about producing the best roasted coffee beans for you to enjoy.
Like coffee beans, everyone has an opinion about who are the best coffee roasters. Be adventurous, do your research and try different gourmet coffee brands, starting with one of the recommendations on our list!
Things To Avoid
Try Not To Buy Ground Coffee Beans
Coffee beans rapidly lose their freshness. Which is why we recommend you buy whole coffee beans and grind them on demand.
Pro tip: Use Coffee grounds within 30 minutes of grinding
Don’t worry, they don’t go off, they just won’t have the depth of flavor and aroma you would expect from the best coffee beans.
Avoid Buy In Bulk Coffee Beans
It is very tempting to bulk buy coffee beans. They tend to be cheaper and it means less trips to the store (or online purchases).
But, fresh roasted coffee beans are only at their freshest for 2 to 4 weeks. After that they are losing much of the complexity in flavor and aroma you bought them to enjoy. So only buy what you can use within a month.
Pro tip: Buy small quantities of fresh roasted coffee regularly
If you live a long way from your specialty coffee grocer, we recommend you take a look at an Amazon Prime membership for free coffee delivery. You never need run out of coffee beans again. Click here to find out more.
Useful Coffee Equipment To Use With Your Quality Coffee Beans
If you have made it this far, you already know that to drink superior coffee you need to grind coffee beans on demand. A good coffee grinder really is an essential piece of coffee equipment for the home.
Like all specialized equipment there is a huge range of price points amongst coffee grinder brands. You don’t need to buy a top of the range grinder, but we do suggest you avoid the budget grinders as they just don’t produce a quality grind.
If you are starting out on your coffee grinding journey and drink coffee daily, we recommend you buy an automatic grinder.
The Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder is a high quality entry level grinder to buy.
It will grind everything from fine espresso grinds to coarse cold brew grounds.Click here to check the price and read more reviews.
If you mostly drink espresso, another other option is to buy an espresso machine with an integrated grinder. You can see all our top recommendations here.
Pro tip: Use cheap bulk coffee beans to experiment with the grind settings on your new coffee grinder.
If you enjoy coffee when camping or don’t drink coffee very often, buy a manual grinder. Compact and light weight you will never have to drink stale coffee again.
I own and love the Porlex Mini – it comes on every camping trip! Click here to check the price and read the reviews or read our full review of all the best manual coffee grinders here.
For lovers of French Press coffee, you need a grinder capable of producing coarse coffee grinds. Click here to read our reviews for the best coffee grinder for french press coffee.
A coffee scale may seem a bit over the top, but if you want to perfect your daily cup of coffee it is a necessary piece of equipment. Why? To achieve consistency which is challenging due to many factors including:
- The weight is determined by their density and age.
- Different brew methods require different coffee to water ratios.
- The amount of water you use impacts the intensity of the flavor.
Pro tip: Use your scale to achieve a 1:17 coffee to water ratio for the best tasting coffee
A coffee scale allows you to replicate your coffee day after day. The right weight, the right coffee to water ratio, the right brewing time.
Our favorite coffee scale is the Hario V60 Scale.
The Hario will help you achieve the right coffee water ratio every time.Click here to check the price and read the reviews.
Storing Coffee Beans
How you store your coffee beans at home will have a big impact on their flavor and longevity. Light, oxygen and heat are the enemies of whole coffee beans.
Pro tip: Store your beans in a cool dark place and keep them away from the fridge!
Use an opaque sealed storage container to maximise coffee freshness. Click here to see one of our favorite coffee canisters.
Congratulations – you now know everything you need to know to buy, grind and store the best coffee beans at home. We hope you enjoy experimenting!
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