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10 Best Coffee Beans! Reviews and Guide to Best Coffee

10 Best Coffee Beans! Reviews and Guide to Best Coffee

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Sasha Pavlovich

04/30/2021 · 16 min reading

Ever get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of coffee available. The range of brands, origins, roasts, and grinds can be confusing. But how to make the right choice.

We don’t want you to drink bad coffee! We compiled this list to help you narrow down your options. But more importantly, we’re giving you information. Armed with knowledge, you can determine coffee truth from propaganda. Here’s to a better cup of Joe!

How to Choose the Best Coffee Beans

Is it possible to objectively decide what is the greatest coffee? Certainly, we can agree on what bad coffee is. Inferior beans, mass roasting techniques, and long shelf life can all lead to terrible coffee.

When deciding which is best, obviously, personal taste is a factor. Personally, I love a deep, rich Sumatran. These coffees carry an earthiness along with chocolatey notes. But someone else might only like light, fruity coffee with a winy aftertaste. In this section, we’ll break down some of these characteristics to help you define what you love in a coffee. Then you can make an informed decision on which coffee to try.

Coffee Grading and Rating

Coffee grades can be confusing. How does a Kenyan AA compare to a Hawaiian Extra Fancy? What is a Colombian Supremo?

There is no single, universal grading system. The closest would be the Specialty Coffee Association’s numerical rating system for green beans. It’s based mainly on the number of defects in a bag of beans. These defects can result in bad-tasting coffee.

This system has five levels, but you only need to worry about the first two. The highest (aka best) level is Grade 1, specialty coffee. Virtually all the coffees we recommend are specialty grade. Grade 2, premium grade coffee, can also be satisfying in the cup.

Many countries have their own rating systems. The state of Hawaii also has its own system that is strictly enforced. Some of these systems are based on the size of the bean. The bigger the bean, the more flavor it packs. Here are the top ratings for a variety of systems. If you see these designations, you know you’re looking at a high-quality coffee.

  •  Specialty (SCAA)
  •  Extra Fancy (Hawaiian Coffee Association)
  •  AA (Africa and India)
  •  Superior (Mexico and Central America)
  •  Supremo (Colombia)

USDA Organic sign

Certifications

Some companies are just out for the biggest buck, without regard for the cost to the workers or the planet. Other companies put a premium on sustainable practices, good stewardship, and fair wages. You can tell a lot about a company and their coffee by their certifications. Below is a breakdown of some common certifications and what they mean. For more detailed information, you can check out the Specialty Coffee Association’s Sustainable Coffee Certifications matrix.

We also want to note that there are ethical companies that don’t have certifications. Often, the process is expensive. If the coffee farms are very small or in remote locations, it may be difficult (and expensive) to get a certifier to come out. So, just because they don’t have certifications doesn’t necessarily mean they are careless.

USDA Organic

To get this certification, a farm must not have used any banned chemicals for at least three years. The USDA also requires certain sustainability practices. Many people look for this label because they want to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals. It also signifies an attitude of caring toward the earth.

Fair Trade

This organization is primarily concerned with improving the lives of farmers, their families, and their communities in developing countries. Fair Trade certification promotes fair prices, direct trade, and community development. It also looks at environmental stewardship.

Rainforest Alliance/UTZ

These two organizations recently merged. Together they form a holistic program. It helps provide a comprehensive strategy to improve the growing, processing, shipping, and other practices in the coffee industry. The certification program helps farmers and other companies in the supply chain develop a plan to grow and improve. Some of the key tenets of certification include climate-smart agriculture, conserving biodiversity, human rights, living wages, and gender equality. Certification is available not just for the farms, but for all companies involved in the industry.

Bird Friendly (Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center)

The focus of the Bird Friendly certification is to support a biodiverse, sustainable world. The program is based on conservations science. It promotes foliage cover, tree height, and biodiversity to support birds and other wildlife. This seal means the product is eco-friendly and organic.

4C Common Code

Many of these certifications apply to a wide range of crops and products. The Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) pertains exclusively to coffee. The 4C Code of Conduct focuses on economic, social, and environmental sustainability for the entire coffee sector. 4C has three levels of compliance. This provides a system for continuous improvement for certified producers.

Freshness

When you’re looking to buy good coffee, where you look matters. The coffee you find on grocery store shelves has probably been sitting around for months or longer. That means your coffee may already be stale before you get it home.

One way to guarantee that your coffee will taste bad is to use stale beans. Much of the aroma and taste of coffee are due to volatile oils and solubles in the beans. From the moment the coffee is roasted, CO2 starts outgassing. This allows oxygen in. This process of oxidation destroys the flavor in those oils and solubles, making the coffee taste flat.

I used to get my coffee from the bulk bins at the grocery store. I don’t do that anymore. Bulk coffee storage allows oxygen to invade the beans and rob your coffee of taste and aroma.

The best way to get freshly roasted coffee is direct from the roaster. Higher-end brands roast to order then immediately seal and send the coffee to your door. Many of these roasters also put a roast date on your bag. That way you know exactly how old your coffee is. Don’t be fooled by “use by” or “best by” dates. These tell you nothing about how fresh the coffee is and may give a false sense of security.

The final note about buying fresh beans is to buy whole bean coffee if at all possible. When the bean is cracked open, the process of oxidation speeds up dramatically. Ground coffee loses taste in a matter of hours. Even grinding coffee the night before means you are losing flavor. We understand that it’s not always practical, but if you can, only brew freshly ground coffee.

Review of the 10 Best Coffee Beans

There are almost as many opinions about what the top coffee is as there are coffee drinkers. Here, we’ll break down the characteristics of several brands and their coffees to help you decide what coffee to try next.

1 LifeBoost Coffee Medium Roast [Organic]

LifeBoost Coffee Medium Roast [Organic]
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Starting our list is LifeBoost's Medium Roast coffee. This company started with the idea of bringing the healthiest coffee possible to the consumer.

Dr. Charles Livingston, the founder of LifeBoost coffee, was particularly concerned with mold. He understood that processing of coffee at all stages, from tree to cup, has an impact on mold and other toxins in the green coffee bean. LifeBoost uses independent labs to certify that its coffee is free of pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and mold.

LifeBoost coffee is also low acid. They claim that even people who had to give up coffee due to stomach issues reported no ill effect on their belly. So, if you've had to limit or give up your coffee intake, it may be worth it to give LifeBoost coffee a try.

All of the beans for Lifeboost's coffee are grown at elevation. The coffee is single-origin from Nicaragua. After hand-picking the coffee cherries, the workers wash and sun-dry the beans. Then the beans have a 30-day rest period which allows the flavor to develop.

LifeBoost also takes steps to take care of the planet and the people on it. Its coffee is always fairly traded and they ensure that the farmers use sustainable growing practices.

This company offers coffee in a range of roasts and flavors. Our top pick is their medium roast. It offers the rich, bold flavor the region is known for. This full-bodied brew has an earthy touch. The aroma has caramel and woody notes. With all their coffee, you only get 100% specialty-grade arabica beans.

2 Koa Coffee Hawaiian Kona Coffee

Koa Coffee Hawaiian Kona Coffee
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Koa Coffee was founded in 1997 and has won many awards since then. All of the beans for Koa Coffee are hand-picked and carefully processed and roasted. To assure the quality of every bag, they cup each batch of roasted beans.

By definition, Kona coffee comes from the slopes of the Hualalai and Mauna Loa volcanos on the Big Island of Hawaii. The coffee is known for its smooth taste and enticing aroma. Many consider Kona to be the finest coffee available. The flavor profile for Kona coffee is light and fruity. You might detect notes of spice or nuts.

All of Koa's coffee is 100% Hawaiian coffee. But they're not all Kona coffees. Remember, to be called Kona coffee, it must come from a very specific region near the town of Kailua-Kona. This brand also offers coffee from the Islands of Oahu and Ka'u.

If you've only had a Kona blend, you have not truly experienced Kona coffee. Many blends have as little as 10% Kona beans. The rest come from who-knows-where. When it comes to Kona, Koa Coffee only offers 100% Kona coffees.

The cream of the crop offering from Koa Coffee is the Peaberry 100% Kona coffee. The peaberry is a natural mutation where the coffee cherry grows a single, oval seed. Coffee cherries usually have two seeds facing each other. The peaberry is said to pack even more flavor than your typical coffee bean. This coffee brews into a full-bodied cup that is incredibly smooth.

You can get their 100% Kona Peaberry in a medium or dark roast. The medium roast will preserve more of the unique flavor Kona coffee is known for. You could also choose Koa Coffee's Grand Domaine 100% Kona coffee with a light roast or any of their other Kona and Hawaiian coffees. If you're not sure, this company also offers two- and three-packs. That way, you can try several varieties before deciding on your favorite.

3 Volcanica Costa Rica Geisha Coffee, Natural Process

Volcanica Costa Rica Geisha Coffee, Natural Process
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The founders of Volcanica coffee were originally from Costa Rica. Generations of their family had helped harvest coffee cherries high in the mountains. The inspiration to start the company came from the founders' frequent trips back to Costa Rica. There, they experienced a rich and flavorful cup of coffee that they couldn't find in the US.

As a company, Volcanica is dedicated to giving. All their coffee is sustainably sourced. This family-owned business works directly with the coffee growers and cooperatives to assure the money goes to the people who are doing the work. It also donates 1% of its sales to charity: water.

Besides being an ethical company, their coffees are renowned for their quality. Geisha coffee is an ancient variety that hails from Ethiopia, the motherland of all coffees. But this coffee is grown in Costa Rica The name of the varietal comes from the town of Gesha in Ethiopia. It contains 30% less caffeine than typical coffee. When grown in Costa Rica, it has a sweet taste with notes of apple and floral flavors.

This single-origin coffee is harvested in microlots. The coffee cherries are naturally processed. That means the cherries are sun-dried, sorted, and raked by hand. This allows a sweeter, more floral profile in the cup.

The delicate taste of this Geisha coffee is accompanied by an aroma of flowering grass, lavender, and cocoa with hints of molasses and pipe tobacco. In the cup, it has an almost tea-like body. It is Kosher certified. We always recommend buying whole bean coffee, but this variety is also available in several different grind sizes.

4 Volcanica Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee, Organic

Volcanica Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee, Organic
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We already talked about the good things Volcanica does, so we'll get right to this unique coffee. The Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is Fairtrade and Kosher certified and organically grown.

This Ethiopian bean brings a truly exotic taste to your home. The Yirgacheffe region produces traditional arabica beans that are descended from wild coffee trees. The brew has distinctively fruity and floral tones. Tasting notes include lemon, blueberry, and blackberry. The medium-light roast retains these delicate flavors.

These single-origin beans followed the wash process and were then patio dried. It's on the lower end of the acid scale with a pH level of 5.1. This medium-bodied coffee is unique and pleasing. You can purchase it as whole bean or in a variety of grinds.

5 Royal Kona Estate Kona Coffee (Extra Fancy) – Hawaii Coffee Co

Royal Kona Estate Kona Coffee (Extra Fancy) – Hawaii Coffee Co
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Royal Kona Coffee has been roasting fine Hawaiian coffee since 1969. While the slopes of the Hawaiian volcanos are perfect for growing coffee, they're a bit tough to navigate. All the coffee cherries for Royal Kona are meticulously picked by hand. This guarantees that only ripe cherries are picked. Unripe cherries lead to bitter coffee.

Because this coffee is grown in the US, you know that the workers are paid actual wages as governed by federal laws. The coffee is wet-processed. Then it is dried in mechanical dryers to assure uniform moisture content.

Hawaiian coffee has its own grading standards. It is based primarily on the size of the bean and the number of defects per bag. These don't replace the Specialty Coffee Association's numeric grading system but are in addition to it. For Kona coffee, the best beans are rated "Extra Fancy." These are the largest beans and carry the most flavor.

A nice feature of coffee from Royal Kona Coffee is that it is available in small bags. This lets you try a variety of different beans without breaking the bank.

This single-estate coffee was grown at high elevation. Royal Kona uses a proprietary roasting profile to bring out the best these beans have to offer. The resulting brew is lively and bright with a clean aftertaste. It's available pre-ground or as whole bean.

6 Volcanica Kenya AA Coffee

Volcanica Kenya AA Coffee
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Here's another fine offering from Volcanica Coffee Company. Like Hawaii, Kenya grades its coffee by size. The largest is graded AA. That is followed by A and B. Grade AA is the most sought after and packs the most flavor.

The National Kenyan Coffee Board works closely with coffee farmers to ensure the highest quality of beans. The coffee is sold weekly at auction. This serves to reward farmers for higher-quality beans.

Kenyan coffee is known for its bright acidity and winy aftertaste. The bold taste is never bitter. The coffee is grown on the high plateau surrounding the extinct volcano Mount Kenya. The region has rich volcanic soil. At an elevation between 4900 and 6800 feet, the region is perfect for arabica coffee cultivation.

This offering from Volcanica is Rainforest Alliance Certified. Volcanica adheres to fair-trade policies to ensure that workers and producers are paid well for their work. This coffee is also Kosher Certified.

This Kenya AA coffee is wash processed and sun-dried. A single-origin coffee, it hails from Nyeri Hill Estate and is shade-grown.

Flavor notes include raspberry, cranberry, fresh-cut redwood, and alyssum-like flowers. A medium-light roast preserves the flavors of this region. As with most of Volcanica's coffee, Kenya AA is available as whole bean or in a variety of grind sizes. You can also get this coffee in decaf.

7 Koffee Kult Coffee Dark Roasted Beans

Koffee Kult Coffee Dark Roasted Beans
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Koffee Kult is a little company with a big personality. The founder started roasting for himself in 2010. Soon, friends and family demanded the fresh-roasted beans. Before long, the hobby grew into a business selling locally in Hollywood, FL. By 2013, Koffee Kult started selling online to a rapidly growing clientele.

As a company, Koffee Kult demands not only high-quality beans but also fair treatment for the growers and workers. Representatives regularly visit the coffee farms. They ensure that the growing practices are sustainable for the planet and the people. They make sure that women are paid directly and equally. They don't allow their growers to use child labor. In fact, they support schools on the farms for the kids.

Koffee Kult imports beans from over 50 countries in Indonesia, Central and South America, and Africa. This dark roast is a blend of beans from Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, and Sumatra. It is roasted to the second crack for a full flavor. Koffee Kult uses this blend in their own cafes for espresso.

The beans in this dark roast are 100% specialty arabica beans. Cupping notes include a smooth, heavy body with cinnamon notes. It is a bright brew with a long finish. Other flavor notes include caramel and chocolate. Koffee Kult only sells their coffee in whole bean.

8 Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew

Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew
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The focus at Stone Street Coffee is to deliver expertly roasted coffee. Stone Street coffee is based in Brooklyn, NY. The buyers take care to select the best beans from around the world.

This company deals with blends as well as single-origin coffees. They also offer a variety of flavored coffees. Many of their coffees carry Organic, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, and Kosher certifications. To make your life easier, they also have K-Cup pods.

Our pick for this list is Stone Street Coffee's Cold Brew. This South American blend is dark roasted to deliver full flavor in a cold brew. It is Kosher certified.

It comes in whole bean or coarse ground specifically for cold brewing. Cold brewing delivers a smooth, exceptionally low-acid coffee. Because no heat is applied to the bean, this method virtually eliminates any bitterness. It also gives a sweeter cup.

You don't need any fancy equipment to make cold brew at home. A jar with a lid and a strainer will get it done. For ultimate convenience, you can get Stone Street Cold Brew in pitcher packs. No need for a strainer.

9 Kicking Horse Coffee Kick Ass

Kicking Horse Coffee Kick Ass
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The founders of Kicking Horse Coffee have been roasting coffee for 25 years. They roast their beans high in the Canadian Rockies. All of Kicking Horse's coffee is 100% certified Organic and Fairtrade arabica beans.

This signature blend includes beans from Indonesia & South America. The package identifies this coffee as sweet, smoky, and audacious. That's right. Audacious. That gives you a sense of the company culture.

The aroma of this very dark roast carries traces of sweet vanilla and dark chocolate. Flavor notes include chocolate malt, molasses, and licorice. You'll enjoy an earthy lingering finish.

It's a great get-up-and-go coffee recommended for a variety of brewing methods. It might perform best in a French press. Because it is very dark, the oily surface may not do as well as an espresso. You can find it as whole bean or pre-ground.

10 Subtle Earth Organic Coffee - Medium-Dark Roast

Subtle Earth Organic Coffee - Medium-Dark Roast
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Subtle Earth is the organic line of Don Pablo Coffee Growers and Roasters. The company maintains relationships with suppliers to guarantee reliable quality. This is 100% specialty-grade arabica coffee. It is also USDA Organic and Sharing Certified.

This coffee comes from the Marcala region of Honduras. The farmers use traditional methods completely free of chemicals. These sustainable methods include composting with cascara for natural fertilizer. The crop grows at a high elevation which helps eliminate insect infestation. If there is a problem with bugs, the farmers plant complementary plants like peppers to repel the insects.

The beans are carefully roasted in small batches to a medium-dark color. The brew is rich and full-bodied. Tasting notes include dark chocolate, smooth milk chocolate, sweet honey, caramel, and cocoa. This sweet yet bold brew is low acid. You can buy this organic medium-dark roast as whole bean or in a variety of grind sizes. You can also get it as a K-Cup in a recyclable cup.

Where Did Coffee Come From?

There’s no telling how long animals knew about the joys of coffee before humans were let in on the secret. But thank goodness we finally figured it out! This video gives a quick overview of the history of coffee. Below are some key points on the journey from boiling wild coffee cherries to that double shot in your cup.

Origins

The original wild coffee trees sprouted in Ethiopia. Legend says that it was discovered by a goat herder in the 11th century. For the next 300 years, coffee cultivation and consumption spread across the Arabian Peninsula. Coffee houses arose throughout the Islamic world. This was long before Europeans knew what they were missing.

European Introduction

Roasted coffee first appeared around 1550. Soon after, the black brew made its way to Europe. It came through the port of Venice. But religious leaders deemed the potent potion the devil’s making.

The story goes that Pope Clement VIII was not one prone to contempt prior to investigation. He tried the beverage. He fell in love with the dark drink and gave it his blessing. Whether or not the story is true, it is true that coffee caught hold in Europe and spread like wildfire.

Coffee houses popped up in England, Austria, France, Germany, and Holland. These were major social centers. People gathered to exchange ideas, play games, and relax. By the mid-1800s, London had hundreds of coffee houses. Many of these houses were the start of companies we still see today. For instance, Lloyd’s of London took root at Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House.

Coming to America

Like in England, tea was the preferred beverage in the New World. At least until the infamous Boston Tea Party in 1773. That changed everything. Today, Americans consume about 400 million cups of coffee per day! That makes the U.S. the leading consumer in the world.

But, per capita, we’re not drinking very much. Americans only drink about four cups of coffee per day. The winner in that category goes to Finland. The Finns average nearly 10 cups of coffee per day. Sweden is not far behind at 8 cups per day. I, for one, do my part to keep up with the Scandinavians.

Coffee Cultivation

As coffee grew in popularity in the British colonies, a glaring problem popped up. Getting coffee to these outlying areas was a big problem. For a long time, coffee-growing was limited to eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Slowly Europeans got ahold of plants and tried to plant them elsewhere.

But arabica coffee plants are picky. Eventually, they took hold in areas around the globe known as the coffee belt. Plantations were spreading through Oceanic areas, but this didn’t help the settlers on American soil.

Around the mid-1700s, coffee crops flourished on the island of Martinique. Those plants then spread throughout the Caribbean and South and Central America. Later that century, coffee plants finally made it to Mexico.

History of Brewing Methods

The earliest way of brewing roasted coffee was to grind the beans and soak them in hot water. The Turkish used a pot called a cezve, but in English, we call it an ibrik. They might steep the grounds anywhere from five minutes to half a day. This original brewing method would add sugar and spices with the grinds before brewing.

Aroma of coffee

When coffee made it to Europe, coffee shops used a coffee pot with a steep spout. They would throw the coffee and water into the pot and heat it to near boiling and then let it steep. They relied on the steep spout to keep the grinds in the pot. Sometimes, people used a cloth, such as a sock, to filter the coffee before drinking.

The first commercial coffee pot came out in 1780. They called it the Mr. Biggin. It had several parts, including a tin filter or cloth pouch. People in England still use a refined version of the Mr. Biggin. Siphon pots showed up in the early 19th century. These were similar to the Moka pot you can find today. Around the same time, inventors developed the precursors of the percolator.

My most beloved coffee brewer, the espresso machine, first showed up in 1884. The secret to the espresso machine is the build-up of pressure. The 1920s saw the emergence of the French press as we know it today.

Throughout this history, coffee filters were either not used or were not very effective. Until the invention of the paper filter. Are you familiar with the Melitta brand? Melitta developed the first commercial paper filter. That was in 1908. You can find it in almost any grocery store.

The drip coffee with the ubiquitous paper coffee filter is the most common brewing method in the U.S. But that is rapidly declining. With so many affordable single-serve and espresso makers available, you don’t need to wait for drip coffee.

Coffee Beans 101

We haven’t talked much about the coffee plants and beans themselves. Here we’ll delve into that and also cover some of the best practices for brewing coffee.

Arabica vs Robusta

Nature contains over 120 species of coffee plant. But you don’t hear about most of them. The two main varieties of coffee plants are arabica and robusta.

Arabica is the original plant from Ethiopia that spread throughout the world. Almost all specialty coffee is arabica.

Robusta comes from western and central sub-Saharan Africa. It is more resistant to pests and disease but does not taste as good. It is used in commercial coffees. It has significantly more caffeine than arabica. At least one specialty coffee roaster spikes their arabica with robusta beans to have the ‘world’s strongest coffee.’ But that is definitely the exception rather than the rule.

A lesser-known coffee plant is the eugenioides. This plant comes from the highlands of eastern Africa. This includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, and western Tanzania. This plant has less caffeine than arabica. That’s why most Kenyan coffee and others from this region are especially low in caffeine.

Of course, then you have an almost endless variety of cultivars, hybrids, and crosses. That could be a whole article in itself!

Single-Origin vs Blends

Another distinction between coffees is if it’s a single-origin or a blend. But what does single-origin mean?

Single-origin can mean many different things. It may mean that all the beans come from a single country. You’ll see Honduran or Colombian or Kenyan coffee. But when used this way, it doesn’t mean much. The beans may be of different varieties or grown under different conditions.

When many specialty coffees use the phrase single-origin, they are referring to a specific area within a country. For instance, Colombia has five distinct growing regions. Each of these grows and processes coffee differently. Each region is known for different characteristics in its coffee.

Next, you have a single-estate coffee. These would come from a single farm. Estates can vary in size. Some specialty roasters get specific with micro-lots. These come from small farms, maybe as little as a hundred bags per lot.

These single-origin coffees all allow the unique characteristics of the region (or subregion) to shine through. Single origins will usually be a lighter roast. But single-origin coffee needs special handling. As a result, they may be more expensive.

Other than cost, why do we need blends? Coffees from some regions are lacking. One might have a delightful fruity character but a thin body. One might have an intense aroma but not much flavor. Another might have a sweet, lingering aftertaste but no aroma. The purpose of a blend is to bring balance to your cup. You can bring the best of many parts together to produce a truly satisfying cup.

Another benefit of a blend is that the overall experience will be more consistent throughout the year. Rainfall, seasonal temperatures, and other factors can affect the taste, aroma, and more. The single-origin cup you raved about last year might not measure up this year.

One more consideration is that single-origin coffees perform better with certain brewing techniques. Pour-over and cold brew coffee highlights the delicate characteristics of the original bean. If that’s how you brew, single-origin could be worth the extra expense. On the other hand, espressos are almost always made from a blend.

Roast Level

Coffee Roast Type

The coffee bean is roasted for a number of reasons. First, most of what we consider the overall smell and taste of coffee come from the roasting process. The green beans have a grassy aroma, nothing like the coffee we drink.

Between 800 to 1000 different aroma compounds develop during the roasting process. The first stage of the process is the browning. At the end of the first stage is what they call the first crack.

Roasters manipulate the process, slowing down parts or speeding up others, to develop the flavor. Color is the main factor of the roast degrees. Master roasters carefully monitor the beans to get the exact features they want.

Lightly roasted beans retain most of the original flavor of the bean. That’s when you can tell the difference between a Kenyan and a Colombian and a Kona. But not all beans do well as a light roast. The roaster’s job is to understand the qualities of each type of bean and develop the roasting profile that will work best. There’s a lot of science as well as trial and error to develop the perfect roast profile for a given bean.

Most coffee in the U.S. is a medium roast. The medium roast retains some of the brightness of the lighter roast yet allows the nutty and chocolatey flavors to develop.

If you like a bold taste and want your coffee to stand up to milk, you might want to go for a dark roast. Many people think dark roasts are bitter. But that’s not necessarily the case. An expert roaster is important in picking the right beans and developing the process to get those deep flavors without bitterness.

Another reason to roast coffee is that an unroasted coffee bean is incredibly hard. Roasting makes it more brittle so we can grind it. And that brings us to our next topic.

Grind Size and Brew Method

What’s the best grind size for coffee? It depends on the brewing method. With the wrong grind size, your coffee will be thin, bitter, or will simply make a mess.

Most pre-ground coffee comes in a regular grind. This is suited best for drip coffee makers. Some methods require a coarser grind. French press and cold brew coffee let the grinds sit in the water for an extended period of time. If the grind is too fine, you’ll get bitter, over-extracted coffee. Also, you might end up with a mouthful of coffee grinds.

On the opposite end is the espresso grind. This can be almost a powder. Espresso is extracted under pressure. The water is exposed to the grinds for a matter of seconds. If the grind isn’t fine enough, the water runs right through and you get tinted water. Have you ever accidentally put an espresso grind in a drip maker? You probably flooded the counter with brownish water. Mere gravity won’t pull the water through a fine grind.

If at all possible, you want to buy whole beans and grind them immediately before brewing. So now a word about coffee grinders. You might think that a $10 grinder will be just fine. But please think again. Blade grinders produce an uneven grind. That means that part will over-extract and others won’t release any flavor. Also, blade grinders can heat up the beans, which can detract from the flavor.

A quality burr grinder is perhaps the most important tool you can have if you’re making coffee. These give an even grind to get the best brewing results. Most burr grinders allow you to finely tune your grind size instead of just guessing with a blade grinder.

Coffee grinder comparison

FAQs

  • Where to Buy the Best Coffee Beans?

    We recommend buying directly from the roaster. A local roaster is best, but that dramatically limits your options. That's where the internet comes in. Many upper-end roasters only roast to order. That means they always ship coffee right after roasting.

  • How Much Coffee Should I Buy?

    When exposed to air, the flavor and aroma of coffee deteriorate quickly. To balance freshness and convenience, you might want to buy enough coffee to last six to eight weeks. If beans are kept longer than that, you'll notice the flat taste.

  • What Is the Best Coffee Bean for Espresso?

    Contrary to popular belief, you don't want the darkest roast possible for espresso. The darker the roast, the oilier the coffee. These oils can clog the espresso machine. We recommend a medium or medium-dark roast. You don't necessarily have to get an espresso blend. While roasters choose beans for their espresso blend specifically for how they perform for espresso, there are many medium roast coffee beans that make a great shot.

  • What Is the Best Coffee for Cold Brew?

    It's more about grind size than the type of bean when it comes to cold brew. Many single-origin coffees do well in a cold brew. Some brands offer a blend particularly suited to this brew process. You'll want to stick with a medium or darker roast. Without the heat, a very light roast may not extract enough flavor.

  • What is the Best Way to Store Coffee?

    You should always store coffee in an airtight container protected from light and heat. Please, don’t store it in the freezer or refrigerator. You don't want your coffee with a hint of onion. Also, the extra moisture can kill the coffee's taste.

  • Why Is Roast Date Important?

    The moment coffee is roasted, it starts to lose flavor. A roast date, as opposed to a “use by” or “best by” date, lets you know exactly how old the coffee is. The best coffee brand will put the roast date on each bag. That means they care that you receive the freshest coffee possible.

Top Honors Goes To…

Our overall top pick for the best coffee brand goes to LifeBoost coffee. They closely monitor each step of the way between tree to cup. Their coffee is certified organic and they fresh roast and deliver coffee as quickly as possible. The medium roast yields a rich and satisfying cup for any occasion.

While some people drink coffee just for the effect, we believe it should be savored and enjoyed. We hope this helps you weed out the hype and select a coffee that will be relished. There’s a whole world of coffee waiting for you to explore.

10 Best Coffee Beans! Buyers Guide to Tasty Coffee.

Sasha Pavlovich

Hi, I'm Sasha, and this blog is about coffee!

I'm myself an experienced barista with a high passion for coffee. Love brewing, cupping, and talking coffee non-stop. I hope you enjoy my blog and feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

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