Best Coffee Beans (Reviews & Buyer’s Guide)

There’s no other way around a great shot of Java other than grinding your own coffee. However, not even the best grinder and coffee maker will be an excuse for not using the best coffee beans.

It would take you a couple of years- and a small fortune- to try out all the different coffee bean brands that exist today. Since you want recommendations here and now, our review team has narrowed down to the best coffee beans to buy in 2020.

Of course, “best” is subjective among coffee purists. However, when almost everyone is raving about individual coffee beans, then those particular brands are worth checking out.

Best Coffee Beans for Espresso: Lavazza Super Crema Coffee Blend Review

lavazza super crema coffee beans

Highlights:

  • Coffee Blend
  • 60% Arabica 40% Robusta
  • Medium roast
  • Rich crema
  • Full rich taste
  • Smooth flavor

You know you are among espresso fanatics when they can’t stop raving about the Lavazza Super Crema. This is one of the best coffee beans for espresso in Italy, and they call it Crema for a reason.

The Lavazza Super Crema is for coffee lovers who prefer their shot of espresso the traditional way; that is, a full, rich taste with a smooth well-developed flavor and devoid of any bitterness. Our coffee beans review experts also can’t recommend it enough if you prefer your espresso without milk.

These beans have a medium-to-dark brown roast, and they grind finely for use in espresso. There are no limitations, though. You can also mill them into a coarse grind for French press or use with other coffee machines. Actually, its smooth blend and frothy crema also make it a favorite choice for cappuccino and percolated coffee too.

The Lavazza Super Crema is a blend that combines Indian Arabica, Natural Arabica, and Robusta beans in the ratio 60% Arabica and 40% Robusta. While Lavazza is in Italy itself, it sources its coffee from around the world. The coffee beans used for Super Crema are obtained from; Vietnam, Indonesia, Columbia, and Brazil.

Pros 👍
✔ Has no bitterness
✔ Nice and smooth aroma
✔ Cream holds very well
✔ For espresso and percolated coffee

Cons 👎
✘Complaints regarding rocks
✘ Not for strong espresso

Best for Flavor: Koffee Kult Dark Roast Review

koffee kult coffee beans

Highlights:

  • Coffee blend
  • 100% Arabica
  • Columbia, Brazil, and Sumatra
  • Flavor notes of Cinnamon and cocoa

When we set to compare the best coffee beans on Amazon, we knew that Koffee Kult would have to be on the list. Its 1500+ reviews on Amazon (most of which are positive) is the vote of confidence you’d want from previous users.

Koffee Kult is a family-owned coffee roaster based in South Florida, USA. This brand has several other coffee blend varieties, but this particular one interested our review team the most.

Koffee Kult is a dark roast coffee blend of 100% Arabica obtained from some of the best producers of Arabica coffee in the world; Colombia, Brazil, and Sumatra.

Here’s the big question; how does the Koffee Kult Dark Roast taste like?

Well, as a dark roast, this coffee bean has a noticeably heavier body with a rich and bold flavor, an incredible balance of acidity, and an impressively smooth finish. It does not have even the slightest hint of bitterness.

These could be your best coffee beans, especially if you appreciate taking your coffee black without adding coffee or flavor enhancers.

These coffee beans will do well when used for espresso thanks to their great cream delivery. You can also roast them to different grinds for use with other coffee brewing methods and machines.

Pros 👍
✔ Great consistency
✔ Incredible flavor
✔ Superb crema delivery
✔ Not bitter

Cons 👎
✘ Flavor is mild for some
✘ Some users report bitter finish

Best for Caffeine: Death Wish Dark Roast Review

deathwish coffee beans

Highlights:

  • Blend of Arabica and Robusta
  • Highest caffeine level
  • Fair Trade certified
  • No bitter aftertaste

Have you reached a point where your best coffee beans don’t wake you up any more? No, there’s no problem with you. What you need is to up your caffeine intake, and we’ve got just the perfect coffee beans for that.

Aptly named Death Wish, these dark roast coffee beans have the highest levels of caffeine that we’ve come across so far.

On average, Death Wish has a caffeine content level of 55mg per fluid ounce. This is almost 3 times the amount of caffeine in Starbuck’s Dark Roast beans. As such, we recommend it to coffee connoisseurs who want something with a satisfying caffeine kick. Even as an avid coffee drinker, you may want to go slow on this one as the risk of causing caffeine hypersensitivity or insomnia is real.

You can brew Death Wish coffee beans in pretty much any method that works best for you. However, the team at Coffee Verdict suggests Aeropress or French press as these 2 tend to bring out its true flavors the best.

What’s so good about it?

There are a ton of things that make Death Wish the best coffee beans in the world from its unbeatable caffeine kick with long-lasting effect to its bold flavor. Also, our review team appreciates that these beans are sustainably sourced and certified by Fair Trade.

Pros 👍
✔ Strong bold flavor
✔ Not very bitter
✔ Long-lasting caffeine kick
✔ Highest caffeine level
✔ Sustainably sourced

Cons 👎
✘ Insanely high caffeine levels
✘ Could cause caffeine-hypersensitivity
✘ Lacks gentler, pleasant notes

Best Single Origin Coffee: Driftaway Coffee

driftaway coffee beans

Highlights:

  • 4 samplers
  • Single origin
  • Freshly roasted (Sunday)
  • Eco-friendly bags
  • Sustainable livelihood

We have different palates. What one claims to be the best coffee beans to buy may not be another person’s go-to variety. This is what makes choosing whole coffee beans a sort of hit or miss affair. What about a brand that sends you several coffee varieties to taste and choose what tickles your taste buds the best? Driftaway demands your attention.

Driftaway started as a passion project and side hustle for a couple living in Brooklyn. Today, this is one of the premier coffee subscriptions in the US thanks to the way it conducts its business.

Started in 2012, Driftaway could be your best beans subscription brand if you prefer single-origin coffee beans. It will also interest you if you appreciate brands that contribute to sustainable livelihoods for the farmers.

When you order from Driftaway, you’ll receive a package of 4 bags of samplers labelled fruity, classic, balanced, and bold. Once you’ve sampled and determined what works for you, you are supposed to inform Driftaway through their website or an App. After that, you’ll receive coffee beans with your desired style every week, every fortnight, or once a month.

What makes Driftaway the best is that they source, roast, and ship their coffee. Again, freshness is guaranteed since they roast coffee every Sunday and shipment is done in utmost 6 hours after placing an order.

Pros 👍
✔ Great-tasting coffees
✔ Offer 4-5 coffee choices
✔ Freshness is guaranteed
✔ Ethical coffee sourcing
✔ Eco-friendly operations

Cons 👎
✘ No blends
✘ Pricier than competitors
✘ Fewer options

Best Coffee Beans for Smoky Aroma: Kicking Horse Kick Ass Coffee Review

kick ass horse coffee beans

Highlights:

  • Arabica coffee blend
  • Indonesian and South America
  • Dark Roast
  • Smoky flavor

Kicking Horse is probably not any new to you, is it? This Canadian roaster has several great coffee varieties under its name. Kick Ass is one of its best offerings, especially if you are a fan of dark roasts.

Our review team chose this particular coffee blend as a recommendation for coffee lovers who are looking for coffee with a smoky flavor profile.

Kicking Ass is a blend of South American and Indonesian Arabica coffees. This variety tends to kick the ball out of the park as a solid dark roast. It has nicely full-bodied flavor with a notable smoky sensation. We wouldn’t say that it’s audacious as Kicking Horse claims on the packing bag, but it has a smooth finish to it.

Other tasting notes to give you a clearer picture of how Kick Ass tastes like, include molasses, licorice, chocolate malt, and an earthy lingering.

As a dark roast, Kicking Horse Kick Ass is a little more forgiving on the brewing method. You can go with almost any method, including drip machine, French press, pour-over, and cold brew.

Pros 👍
✔ Smooth and delicious
✔ Tasty without acidity
✔ Great aroma
✔ Full body

Cons 👎
✘ Smoky flavor strong for some
✘ Negative report of oily beans

Our Verdict

At Coffee Verdict, we believe, there’s nothing like the best coffee beans for everyone. So, it might be quite difficult to pick one coffee brand in these reviews and crown it as the overall king.

All in all, if you are on the hunt for the best coffee beans for caffeine, you can’t beat Death Wish (don’t take its name lightly!). On the other hand, if you are looking for a premium subscription coffee brand for hassle-free coffee delivery, Driftaway has ticked all the boxes to become our favorite recommendation.

If you are a home-coffee newcomer, you are better off with Lavazza Super Crema. This Italian roasted blend was our pick of the best coffee beans thanks to its distinctive rich taste and an easily attainable and long-lasting crema.


Everything You Need to Know When Choosing the Best Coffee Beans to Buy

Do you ever walk into a store and wonder, “why are there so many different coffee brands? Isn’t coffee just coffee?” Yes, coffee is coffee, but each brand is distinctly different from the other one.

There are a lot of factors that come into play as far as the taste of the coffee is concerned? For instance:

  • What type of coffee is it?
  • Is it a single origin or a blend?
  • What type of roast is it?
  • What is its roast date?
  • What is its acidity/bitterness level?

Now, not everyone will be interested in knowing so much about what goes into their cup of coffee. However, if you want to immerse yourself into the home-coffee arena, understanding these nitty-gritties may make choosing the best coffee beans of the world easier and fun.

So, let’s start here.

Type of Coffee Beans

There are currently 4 major categories of coffee beans circulating in the coffee market; Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa. Of these, the first 2 (Robusta and Arabica) are the most common and probably what you’ve heard of.

Arabica Coffee Bean

Arabica is the most popular commercial coffee species in the world today. It’s also a fan favorite among most coffee connoisseurs and coffee lovers.

History has it that this coffee variety was found growing naturally in Ethiopia. It was also the earliest type of coffee bean to be cultivated.

Today, this coffee variety is mostly grown in mountainous regions with steady rainfall and plentiful availability of sunshade. The Coffea arabica tree is highly susceptible to diseases and, therefore, takes almost double effort to take care of it compared to other coffee varieties.

Arabica coffee currently boasts a prevalence of between 60% and 75% of all the best coffee beans around the world. It is highly favored since it is dramatically superior to all others in terms of flavor. Its beans boast a softer and sweeter taste and tend to have tones of sugar. They also have a higher level of acidity that gives its beverages a superior winey taste.

Robusta Coffee Bean

Scientifically known as Coffea canephora Pierre ex A. Froehner, Robusta is the 2nd most popular coffee bean after Arabica. It makes approx. 30% of world coffee. This coffee variety is said to be a native of the Republic of Congo in Africa. It is currently grown in several other parts of West Africa and Brazil, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

Unlike Arabica that grows in high altitudes, Robusta coffee is mainly grown in lower altitudes of utmost 2,000 feet above sea level.

Robusta coffee tree is high-yielding and much more resistant to diseases and infestations. However, due to its ideal climatic conditions, its coffee has lower acid levels and a somewhat bitter taste. As such, it is considered to be less aromatic compared to Arabica.

Nevertheless, Robusta is known to create the best coffee beans in terms of high caffeine levels. As such, it is mostly used in instant coffees. Robusta coffee is also used as a taste enhancer in some Italian-style espresso recipes.

Due to its relatively lower price tag, Robusta coffee is certainly what you are going to find in most supermarkets. Cheap ground coffees and instant coffees are more often than not Robusta too.

Excelsa Coffee Beans

What is Excelsa coffee?

Excelsa is the 3rd most popular coffee and accounts for around 7% of global production. This coffee is highly favored by medium altitudes, and it’s, therefore, mostly grown in South East Asia.

Excelsa coffee is often confused with Robusta and Liberica coffees due to its taste. In fact, it was recently reclassified as a variety of Liberica. However, when roasted and brewed, Excelsa coffee has a distinctive, mysterious dark, fruity, and tart taste.

Although some people claim these to be the best coffee beans, a large proportion of coffee drinkers don’t find its aroma attractive. Similar to Liberica coffee below, most coffee shops that stock Excelsa coffee beans use them to blend into other coffees.

Liberica Coffee beans

Liberica (or Coffea Liberica) is among the least known coffee types and doesn’t appear in best coffee beans reviews a lot. You’ll be hard-pressed to get it in most Western Countries, especially the US.

All in all, the Liberica comes as the 4th best coffee bean for drinking and makes up around 2% of the world’s coffee. This coffee variety is named after the country where it was first discovered, Liberia. Today, Liberica coffee is grown in most countries in South East Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

How does Liberica coffee beans taste like?

Well, its coffee has a very similar taste profile to that of Arabica. By this, we mean that it brings out the darker, earthier flavors more boldly and has a distinctive ‘kick’ to it.

However, brewed Liberica coffee has an unpleasant aroma and smells almost rancid. Most people also say that it has smoky, nutty notes when brewed.

While it’s not so popular among Western roasters and brewers, connoisseurs use it as a mixer with the best coffee beans. Liberica has a unique way of giving other types of coffee an incredible aroma when 10% of it is added to the main coffee variety.

Single-origin Vs blend

Next, let’s move to 2 other terminologies that you’ll hear a lot in your hunt for the best coffee beans to buy: single-origin coffee vs coffee blends.

What is a single-origin coffee?

As the name implies, single-origin coffee is essentially coffee that has been sourced from one country (for instance, Kenya), region, crop, or a single producer. Single-origin coffee may also imply that the coffee was harvested from one particular estate or farm.  

Since single-source coffee are obtained from one source, they tend to be exclusively available at a particular time of the year only. Their availability is contingent on their growing season in the country or region from which they are obtained.

What are coffee blends?

Just as the name sounds, coffee blends refer to a mix of coffee beans derived from multiple locations, mixed, and then roasted together. Most roasters use an average of 2-4 coffee types to make one blend. However, it’s not uncommon to come across a blend of coffee obtained from up to 9 different places.

Does single-origin make the best coffee beans?

Similar to anything else from a single origin, these types of coffee beans tend to bring a perception of higher quality. This is more often than not reflected in the price tag.

One reason why coffee lovers appreciate single-origin coffee bean brands is that they have a distinct flavor influenced by the production conditions of its source. Most individuals who order for single-origin coffee drinks are usually interested in one particular cultural coffee taste. Notably, most people who prefer this coffee variety tend to take it bare black, without adding sugar or creamer.

The higher price tag of single-origin coffees does not always indicate a higher quality level compared to coffee blends. On the contrary, this can be attributed to its production, which is exclusively seasonal. Considering that coffee is harvested once annually, then single-coffee types aren’t available all-year-round.

Blended coffee debate

Unlike what most of us might think, blended coffee is not always poor quality. We have to admit, though, that some crooks will blend several coffee bean types to hide lower-quality beans. However, reputable brands marry several single-origin coffee brands as an art of enhancing the best flavor qualities of each specific bean.

For instance, one coffee type with a high citrus acidity may be mixed with another one with a delicate flavor. Also, a single-origin coffee bean with a light body may be complemented with another one with a velvety mouthfeel and smooth chocolate notes.

The main aim of mixing 2 or more coffees from different origins is to create a blend with a signature flavor profile. Economically, blending a cheaper coffee brand with an expensive one also helps in making the end offering much more affordable.

Coffee Roasting and Types of Roasts

Besides coffee type and origin, another critical aspect to understand when choosing the best coffee beans on Amazon is the type of roast. One coffee bean brand may have Light Roast on its package, while another one claims to be a medium or dark roast. What does this terminology mean, and should you care?

The word roast is derived from roasting. Coffee roasting is the process of heating green coffee cherry seeds while swirling them. This process is what gives the coffee you brew at home its characteristic flavor and taste.

Green, unroasted coffee cherries have a similar make-up to roasted coffee beans in terms of sugar content, acidity, and caffeine. However, unroasted coffee beans don’t have the taste of coffee until they are roasted.

Worth noting, there is more to simply adding coffee cherries in a heating basket. This process is an art and a science that requires a perfect balance of the right temperature and perfect heating duration.

So, what exactly is a coffee roast?

Coffee roast simply refers to the extent to which coffee beans have been roasted. Let us explain.

Before roasting, coffee beans have a green color and a grassy aroma. When they are subjected to the process of roasting (heating), the beans start undergoing a gradual change in chemical composition and moisture content.

Before the roasting process, the beans may have moisture content in the neighborhoods of 10-12% db. After roasting, this percentage may reduce dramatically to about a third.

In addition, the process of roasting coffee triggers a myriad of chemical reactions that involve degrading some compounds, changing others, and creating new ones.

During the roasting process, the roasters use a device called an Agtron to analyze the degree of roast. Depending on market preferences, coffee beans may be lightly roasted or left to roast until they have a rich dark color.

The Agtron shows the degree of roast in numbers ranging from 25 to 95. Lower numbers illustrate darker roasts.

Understanding different types of coffee roast

Type of RoastCommon namesAgtron NumberDescription
LightHalf-city and Cinammon roasts80-70When brewed, this coffee has less body and more acidity.  The flavor profile is varied.
MediumAmerican, Breakfast, and Regular roasts70-50It has a typically lower acidity level and the body is fuller. However, the flavor is a bit more compressed and the bitterness is somewhat pronounced.
Medium DarkFull city and espresso50-40The body is noticeably heavier. The flavor is more pronounced too and the coffee may have a spicy taste.
Dark Brown/Full RoastFrench, Continental,Viennese, and Italian Espresso40-35It has a heavy body and a relatively lower acidity. This roast also reveals deeper darker flavors.
Double RoastTurkish, Spanish, and French35-30It is characterized by a hint of smoky sweet flavor and a thin/less body and mouthfeel.
Black BrownDark French30-25Coffee beans are chocolate in color or even black. They also have an easily visible sheen of oil that is transferred to the cup. These coffee beans will have a bitter, smoky or even burnt taste. 

The Best Coffee Beans Demand a Great Grinder

When it comes to brewing a great cup of coffee, going for the best coffee beans in the world is just half the battle. You need to complement it with a reliable grinder that churns out a nice consistent grind.

You must have heard it elsewhere, and we’ll repeat here: a burr grinder is much better compared to the more common bladed alternative. A burr grinder (also known as a coffee mill) is pricey, yes, but you can’t create top-quality coffee brews with the uneven grinds that bladed grinders produce.No 2 coffee grinders are designed the same; some are best for espresso while others work best with black coffee beverages. That’s to say that these devices need to be chosen wisely. We put together a list of the best coffee grinders to buy here.

Tips for Selecting the Best Coffee Beans

  • If you prefer high levels of caffeine, consider light-to-medium roasted beans. Dark roasted beans have lower caffeine levels.
  • Always buy freshly roasted coffee beans as the quality starts dissipating once they are exposed to the air. Roast date is indicated on the package.
  • Buy your choice of best coffee beans in small batches to ensure that you are getting the best quality flavors and tastes to the last cup. Our review team suggests buying a week’s worth.
  • Go for whole bean coffee as opposed to pre-ground varieties. The quality of coffee beans degrades at a faster rate with the increased surface area.
  • Always consider buying from respectable coffee roasters. This increases your chances of getting the best coffee beans in terms of quality. If you are buying from your local grocery or supermarket, enquire about their supplier. You could also check out who Good Food Award has recognized as the best roasters for the year near you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I store freshly ground coffee?

Coffee retains its freshness and quality when stored in a clean and dry opaque ceramic, glass, or non-reactive metallic container on the shelves. You could also use clear plastic and glass containers, but remember to place it in a dark location.

Can I freeze coffee beans?

If you are not going to grind all your coffee at once, you can freeze the whole beans. The best way to store frozen coffee is by using airtight coffee containers, vacuum-sealed bags, double Ziploc bags, or sealed, one-way valve bags. When properly stored, frozen coffee beans could retain their quality for 3-4 months

How long do whole and ground coffee beans last?

The quality of coffee degrades over time, but the process is much higher for ground coffee. When whole beans are stored in an opaque container that is not truly airtight on the shelves, it will remain fresh for utmost 2 weeks. Beans packed in a bag with a degassing valve could last up to 6 months or more. Stored ground coffee will develop a funky taste over the course of 1 or 2 weeks. If you are into great-tasting coffee, we recommend grinding just what you’ll use there and then or in utmost 2 hours.