Best coffee beans: 10 delicious coffees to start your morning with

Your perfect cup of coffee starts with the coffee bean. We're sharing our best-bagged beans from coffee shop favorites to gourmet roasters.

coffee beans
(Image credit: Amazon)

Our mornings start with a cup of coffee. The coffee beans we choose can truly make or break the experience as not just any bean will do. The most discerning coffee enthusiast enjoys the whole coffee experience, and not just for its caffeinating properties. Whether you love the automation and convenience of drip or the art of the French Press, the right brew starts with the beans. 

The coffee beans that we choose is just as personal as the way we take our coffee orders. So which coffee beans should you choose? We rounded up the 10 best coffee beans, taking into account personal experiences and buyer reviews, to determine the best coffee beans you can buy for at-home consumption, as well as examined the factors and flavors you should consider when buying your next bag.

Reminder choosing a flavor of coffee is truly subjective. What's bitter to one, may be smooth to another. Shake up your coffee routine to discover your new favorite coffee bean blend. Open your mind to experimentation and to try something new. 

In the market to upgrade your coffee machine? Check out our list of the best coffee makers. 

The best coffee beans 2021

Peet's Coffee Big Bang, Medium Roast

(Image credit: Peet's Coffee)

1. Peet's Coffee Big Bang, Medium Roast

Best overall: a foolproof option that will please any coffee fan

Specifications
Roast Level: Medium
Origin: Latin America & Ethiopia
Varietal: Arabica Coffee
Flavor Notes: Fruit Cup, Milk Chocolate, and Graham Cracker
Packaging sizes: 10.5, 12, 18, and 20 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Available in whole bean, ground, and k-cups+Many size options+Hand-roasted in small batches+Smooth, tropical fruit flavoring
Reasons to avoid
-Freshness issues when ordered online

If you're looking for a coffee that achieves high marks across the board when it comes to taste, price, and options, the Peet's Coffee Big Bang Medium Roast, the coffeehouse's 50th-anniversary blend, is a bona fide crowd-pleaser.  

What we like about it 
Peet's values itself on only serving the freshest of beans, which are hand-roasted in small batches. The Big Bang celebrates Peet's Coffee's 50th anniversary and its founder and has a smooth finish with an infusion of tropical fruit flavors. It has a bright fruity finish that is neither too light nor too dark, and remains bold and flavorful. Those who see darker coffees will want to try Peet's Major Dickason blend.

Things to note
Freshness issues and sell-by dates when purchased from Amazon, or online.  It's a gamble, but it seems to be the risk of buying coffee online, and a common complaint down the list. If you're not happy with your beans, you can always return it and try again—or buy direct from Peet's.

Dunkin' Original Blend Ground Coffee, Medium Roast

(Image credit: Dunkin')

2. Dunkin' Original Blend Ground Coffee, Medium Roast

Best value coffee beans: sip a coffee shop favorite at home

Specifications
Roast Level: Medium
Origin: Central and South America
Varietal: Arabica Coffee
Packaging sizes: 12, 20, and 30 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Same coffee straight from Dunkin'+Full body flavor+Easy to find in stores and online+Sold as whole bean, ground and,  k-cups+Other flavor varieties available, too 
Reasons to avoid
-No flavor note description

If you're trying to kick your coffee shop habit,  Dunkin' Original Blend Ground Coffee, Medium Roast brings a favorite coffee shop blend right into your own home, and at an incredible price. 

What we like about it
Dunkin' is no-frills coffee at its best, and when you brew it at home, you get the same coffee shop favorite at a fraction of the price. In addition to Medium Roast, it's also available in specialty flavors like French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Dark Roast, and other seasonal flavors, not available in store. 

Things to note
When purchased online, some complained that the coffee was not delivered fresh, or complained of a bitter taste.  

Koffee Kult Coffee Beans Dark Roasted

(Image credit: Koffee Kult)

3. Koffee Kult Coffee Beans Dark Roasted

Best gourmet coffee beans: artisan roasted organic coffee

Specifications
Roast Level: Dark
Origin: Columbia, Guatemala and Sumatra
Varietal: Arabica Coffee
Flavor Notes: Cocoa and Cinnamon
Packaging sizes: 12 ounces, 2 and 5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Smooth, heavy body, bright with a long finish, balanced acidity+Organic+Also great for espresso
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

Want gourmet, with a literal cult-like following? Check out family-owned and operated South Florida roaster, Koffee Kult

What we like about it
Bold and bright, with flavors of chocolate and cinnamon, the dark roast has a smooth flavor and balanced acidity. One described it as drinking straight chocolate and didn't feel the need to add any sweeteners, as was his typical coffee drinking habit.

Things to note
Koffee Kult runs on the more expensive side, but when you buy larger bags, the price per ounce decreases. Admittedly, some say it lacked the "oomph" they were looking for from a dark roast, and that the coffee could have been bolder (and darker) in taste.  

Intelligentsia Black Cat Classic Espresso

(Image credit: Intelligentsia)

4. Intelligentsia Black Cat Classic Espresso

Best for espresso: the ideal blend for espresso at home

Specifications
Roast Level: Medium
Origin: Brazil and Colombia
Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee
Flavor Notes: Dark Chocolate, Ripe Cherry and Brown Sugar
Direct Trade: Yes
Sizes: 12 ounces, 5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Direct trade+Syrupy, chocolatey flavor and aroma+Great straight or mixed with milk
Reasons to avoid
-Freshness, and out of date issues

For those who love to pull a shot of espresso at home, the Intelligentsia Black Cat Classic Espresso is a rich, consistent option with a smooth finish that easily grinds into a fine ground.

What we like about it
It's Intelligentsia's flagship espresso option, and the same varietal you'll find brewed in its cafes. Black Cat is identified by its silky, smooth chocolate and cherry taste and develops a beautiful crema. It's completely drinkable on its own,  or in milk-based lattes. 

Things to note
Most negative reviews mention stale beans and coffee being sent far past its roasted date when purchased from Amazon, an issue that most coffees have come across. 

Stumptown Coffee Roasters Holler Mountain Whole Bean Organic Coffee

(Image credit: Stumptown Coffee Roasters)

5. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Holler Mountain Whole Bean Coffee

Best organic coffee beans: the Portland-based roaster is a B Corp organization that emphasizes its sustainable practices—and makes a great cup of coffee

Specifications
Roast Level: Medium
Origin: Latin America and East Africa
Varietal: 100% Arabica Coffee
Flavor Notes: Creamy and Caramel
Fair Trade: Yes
Sizes: 12 ounces and 5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Rich, full-bodied flavor+Organic
Reasons to avoid
-Freshness issues when purchased online

Stumptown did organic before organic was cool. Try one of their signature flavors that has been a part of Stumptown from the very beginning: The Holler Mountain Blend

What we like about it
The flavoring has notes of citrus zest, caramel and hazelnut.

While some specialty coffees need to be used as soon as they are ground, Stumptown beans can be enjoyed and considered fresh up to 90 days after the Roasted Date, but should still be enjoyed within 14 days of opening. 

Things to note
As coffee beans are enjoyed best within a few weeks of roasting, several Amazon customers complained about their deliveries coming after the "Enjoy by date." Perhaps stick to buying in-store or straight through Stumptown. 

DEATH WISH COFFEE Whole Bean Coffee

(Image credit: Death Wish Coffee Co.)

6. Death Wish Coffee Co. Whole Bean Coffee

Best dark roast coffee beans: bold flavor and considered the "world's strongest coffee"

Specifications
Roast Level: Dark
Origin: Not specified
Varietal: Arabica and Robusta
Flavor Notes: Cherry and Chocolate
Sizes: 1 or 5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Extremely caffeinated+Fair-trade and organic +Made in small batches+No acidity or bitter aftertaste +Available in whole, ground, and k-cup options+Try it risk-free, no questions asked if you want a refund 
Reasons to avoid
-Very strong and caffeinated; might make you jittery or make it hard to go to sleep-Expensive

Looking for a dark roast with bold flavoring, and no bitter after taste? Well, Death Wish Coffee Co. has the dark roast market cornered with its World Strongest Coffee. 

What we like about it
Due to their slow roasting process, these beans develop twice as much caffeine as a standard cup of coffee. And it tastes fantastic too. The flavor notes are described as a smooth, subtle, never bitter cherry and chocolate flavor profile. 

Things to note
Due to the caffeination, we wouldn't want to drink this in the a.m. hours so it doesn't affect us when its time to go to sleep. Death Wish is also on the more expensive side, but keep in mind, the coffee is produced in a fair trade and organic environment and takes on the strength of two cups of coffee in one. 

Kicking Horse Coffee, Hola, Light Roast,

(Image credit: Kicking Horse Coffee)

7. Kicking Horse Coffee, Hola

Best light roast coffee beans: a spirited roast with extraordinary flavoring

Specifications
Roast Level: Light
Origin: Central & South America
Varietal: Arabica
Flavor Notes: Juicy red fruit acidity paired with a creamy honey body
Fair Trade: Yes
Size: 10 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Grown in a socially and environmentally responsible way+Citrusy, fruity, and bright flavoring+Other roasts available 
Reasons to avoid
-Only available in ground coffee-Reviews mention inconsistent roasts

On the other spectrum, is light roast, and Kicking Horse Coffee's Hola Light Roast is exactly how you will want to start your day. 

What we like about it
A coffee taste like no other, with a juicy red fruit acidity paired with a creamy honey body with an intoxicating aroma of brown sugar, nougat, and cocoa powder. It's an excellent choice for drip, pour-over, or cold-brew methods. 

Things to note
If Light Roast coffee isn't your cup of 'jo, Kicking Horse also makes several other varietals, perhaps their most popular, being Smart Ass. 

Bones Coffee Company Flavored Coffee Beans Sinn-O-Bun Whole Bean Coffee

(Image credit: Bones Coffee Company)

8. Bones Coffee Company Flavored Coffee Beans Sinn-O-Bun Whole Bean Coffee

Best flavored coffee beans: stop and smell the cinnamon

Specifications
Roast Level: Medium
Origin: Brazil
Varietal: Arabica
Flavor Notes: Cinnamon
Fair Trade: No
Size: 12 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Easy, resealable packaging +No added sugar or calories+Lots of flavor options+Available in whole bean or ground
Reasons to avoid
-Artificial flavoring for some

It's true that flavored coffee can be hit or miss. There's a lot of factors that can go wrong (artificial, overly sweetened flavors, we're looking at you) but Bones Coffee Company knows how to get it right, starting with the indulgent Sinn-O-Bun Whole Bean Coffee

What we like about it
If the play on words doesn't give it away, Sinn-O-Bun is iced cinnamon bun flavored coffee without any added sugars, and is decidedly low on acidic content.  And, it's Keto friendly! 

Additionally, it's hard to resist good packaging, and Bones Coffee Company is absolutely eye-catching, as well as resealable. 

Things to note:
If cinnamon coffee isn't for you, there are plenty of other flavors to try like: S'morey Time, Cookies N' Dreams, Highland Grog (rum and butterscotch), or Jacked O' Lantern Pumpkin Spice.  Unsure of which to try? You can even snag a sampler

Some finicky customers suggested that their coffee had an artificial taste, but the overwhelming majority agree, it's not overly sweet, and raved about its smooth flavoring. 

The Original Donut Shop Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods

(Image credit: The Original Donut Shop)

9. The Original Donut Shop Keurig Single-Serve K-Cup Pods

Best K-cups: classic and flavorful single-serve coffee in minutes

Specifications
Roast Level: Medium
Origin: N/A
Varietal: Arabica
Flavor Notes: Original
Fair Trade: No
Size: 12-96 count
Reasons to buy
+Recyclable +Several size options+Great if you don't like coffee that's too strong
Reasons to avoid
-Not a gourmet coffee

The Original Donut Shop K-Cups are one of the best-selling K-Cups on the market for it's smooth finish, pleasing taste, and affordable price points. 

What we like about it
The Original Donut Shop K-Cups are extra-bold, and have more coffee than in regular K-Cup pods for a taste this is strong and smooth, rather than watered down. They're available in size counts as small as 12 and as large as 96, making it easy to buy in bulk.

Things to note:
The Original Donut Shop K-Cups are not particularly fancy, or gourmet. If you're looking for a convenient, single-serve cup that will please a wide array of coffee drinkers, this nails it.  It's also a great value, typically less than 50 cents per a cup of coffee.

Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve, Coarse Ground, 1 LB Bag, Dark Roast,

(Image credit: Stone Street Coffee)

10. Stone Street Coffee Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve Whole Bean Coffee

Best cold brew: for when only iced will do

Specifications
Roast Level: Dark
Origin: Colombia
Varietal: Arabica
Flavor Notes: Low acidity, slightly sweet, very smooth, well balanced, & strong/bold coffee flavor
Fair Trade: Yes
Size: : 1, 2, and 5 pounds
Reasons to buy
+Designed specifically for cold brew for a smoother finish, and a less acidic taste+Resealable bag+Available in whole bean or coarse ground
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't perform as well for hot coffee

Particular to your cold brew, no matter the season? You'll want to have Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve Whole Bean Coffee  on hand at all times. 

What we like about it 
It's a dark roast that's engineered for cold brew, meaning you get a slight sweetness and a smooth balanced taste, without the bitterness. The coarse ground is specially made for cold brew preparations. 

Things to note
The price. It's definitely on the more expensive end, but keep in mind, this is a specialty, fair-trade coffee. Also, results were not as delicious when brewed as hot, according to some reviewers. 

How to choose the right coffee beans for you? 

QUICK LINKS TO BUY THE BEST COFFEE BEANS

It's not an exaggeration to say that there are thousands of coffee companies out there competing for a sliver of the at-home coffee market. Whether you prefer to stick with your favorite coffee shop variety or experiment with independent roasters, consider these factors when selecting your coffee. 

Origin: Origin refers to the region where your coffee was grown and has a large influence on flavoring. Popular coffee regions include Africa, and Latin America, among many others, and each region has a unique set of characteristics that are regularly used to define the region.  Factors like altitude, soil conditions, and rainfall can influence a coffee's flavoring. Single Origin Coffees come from one specific region, while blended origin beans can come from many places. 

Varietals:  Coffee beans are typically sold as "Arabica," commonly considered the good stuff, and "Robusta," which has higher caffeine content.  They can also be blended together. 

Roast: You've heard the terms light, medium, or dark roast, but what does it all mean? The roast level refers to the time it spent roasting, so a shorter roast time yields a lighter bean. However, it does not affect the caffeine levels.  Light roasts have a milder, fruity flavor and tend to be acidic. Meanwhile, dark roasts have a full-bodied flavor and can run more bitter. 

Acidity: Acidity is a way of describing sharp, tart coffee flavors. Good acidity will lean towards being sweet, crisp, and tart and enhances your coffee.  A bad acidity will taste sour and stringent, sometimes almost chemically. Light or medium roasts will have a slightly higher acidity content, which decreases as roast get darker. Additionally, the coffee described as bright will have a higher acidity while a low acid coffee may be described as smooth.

Whole Bean vs. Ground Coffee? 

Coffee experts will wholeheartedly tell you to buy  the whole beans, so you're going to want to invest in a good coffee grinder.  Beyond being the freshest in taste, grinding them on your own allows you to choose the grind size that works best for your preferred brewing method. For instance, fine for normal drip coffees, but coarse for French press or cold brew. 

Ground coffee is convenient, but once the grounds are exposed to air, it loses its freshness and can start to taste stale. It's also more likely than not been sitting on a shelf (or in a warehouse) for months from the time beans were roasted and ground, meaning you're more likely to be greeted with a stale bag. But hey, for some, convenience is key, and that's OK. And if you go through a pound of coffee extremely quickly and can consume within the 14 recommended days, you'll still find yourself with a great-tasting cup. 

What is the best coffee bean? 

We admit, choosing the overall best coffee bean is entirely subjective, but we stand behind Peet's Coffee as our favorite, overall brew for its affordability, quality ingredients, and general ease of use.  

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Jaclyn Turner

Jaclyn is an ecommerce editor at Future, and joined the team in January 2021. She has previously worked with sites like Apartment Therapy, Kitchn, The Spruce, The Spruce Eats, and MyDomaine.  When Jaclyn's not working, she loves long strolls through HomeGoods,  falling into a Netflix binge-session, and unwinding with a chilled glass of Rosé. 

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