- Coffee Beans Buying Guide: 2020 Update
- Best Coffee Beans (Whole Bean) in the World - Top Picks and Reviews
- 1. LifeBoost Coffee - Our Purest Coffee Pick
- 2. Atlas Coffee Beans - Our Best Pick for Quality Coffee
- 3. Kona Coffee Beans from Koa Coffee - Our Favorite Pick
- 4. Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee
- 5. Kenyan AA Coffee Beans
- 6. Tanzania Peaberry Coffee
- 7. Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Beans
- 8. Toraja Sulawesi Coffee - 'White Eagle'
- 9. Central American Geisha Coffee Beans
- 10. Indian Monsooned Malabar Coffee
- 11. Ethiopian Yiracheffe Coffee Beans
The quality of your coffee beans can make a huge difference in the flavor and aroma of your morning cup. But how do you figure out which beans are the best?
We have a list of best coffee beans for you to try, but before we get there, let's talk about the fundamentals of beans and how they're measured, ranked and categorized.
Also Great Bean Picks
Coffee Beans Buying Guide: 2020 Update
Here is a quick guide on choosing the right coffee beans.
Coffee beans come in three varieties:
Arabica - Also known as "the good stuff," arabica beans are high-quality beans that are rich in flavor. They have to be grown in specific conditions to reach their fullest potential, and that's why they're so valuable. You'll see a lot of brands slap "100 percent arabica beans" on their labels as an assurance of quality.
Robusta - Robusta beans are inferior to arabica beans in terms of flavor, but they also contain more caffeine. Some people are willing to make the trade-off to get their fix. Robusta beans are also much easier to cultivate than arabica, so they're cheaper to buy and sell.
Arabica and robusta - Some brands mix their arabica and robusta beans. This is usually done to increase the caffeine content of their coffee without sacrificing its flavor. You might like an arabica and robusta blend if you're interested in finding this balance yourself.
Country of Origin
"Single origin" beans come from one specific region like Colombia or Kenya. "Blended origin" beans can come from many different places.
Most countries that grow coffee beans have their own mythos surrounding it. For example, Brazilian roasts are known for being dark and heavy; Ethiopian coffees tend to be sweeter and fruitier. If you're looking for a specific flavor profile, you'll probably want to go with single origin beans from your country of choice.
On the other hand, if you like unique, complicated flavors, you might prefer blended beans that will swirl together to create a complex roast. Just make sure that you're buying artisan blended roasts and not cheap blended roasts that were thrown together for cost-cutting purposes.
PRO TIP: To taste a new single-origin bean each month, we recommend Atlas Coffee Club! Each month they highlight coffee and culture from a new country. From Zambia, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Peru and beyond!
Acidity can refer to two different things in the coffee world. For laymen, it's just a way of describing sharp, tart coffee flavors. For scientists, it's used to describe the coffee's pH content.
There's nothing wrong with drinking acidic coffee if your body can handle it. In fact, some people really like the tang of an acidic coffee to wake them up or get them focused.
On the flip side, if you suffer from headaches, stomachaches or toothaches after drinking your morning cup of joe, you might want to switch to a low-acid coffee. It's much easier on your body, and it won't damage your teeth enamel or irritate your stomach lining. Just remember that the pH scale goes backwards, so lower pH levels mean higher amounts of acid. This means that a low-acid coffee would actually have a higher pH level than other brands.
There are so many ways to brew coffee that we'd be here for hours if we tried to cover them all. Here are just a few of the most common to give you an idea of how you can play around with your coffee beans.
Drip Method - This is how regular, run-of-the-mill coffeemakers do it. It involves putting coffee grounds into a paper filter and pouring hot water over them. If you're working with whole coffee beans, you'll need to grind them before putting them into the filter.
French press - French press coffee involves "pressing" your coffee grounds to the bottom of a container instead of filtering them the traditional way. While you can use any type of bean to make your grounds, there are certain roasts and coarseness levels that work best with a French press, so you'll want to do some research before you start experimenting.
Cold brewing - This method involves steeping your beans or grounds in cold water for 12-24 hours before roasting. They become much less bitter after the water has drawn out their acids and oils. Many low-acid coffees are made this way.
There are many other coffee brewing methods, including specialty methods for things like espressos and Turkish coffee. If you want to use your beans to do something different than the usual drip, you'll need to look into various types of brewing.
If you're specifically looking for espresso coffee beans, do check out this guide.
Organic Versus Non-Organic
Is it worth it to buy organic coffee beans?
The short answer is YES, especially if you're concerned about quality.
But here are the facts if you need a little more persuading:
If you ever have concerns about the organic nature of your coffee, don't be afraid to contact the manufacturers and ask. If they're legitimately raw and eco-friendly, they should have nothing to hide.
Last but certainly not least, consider how you want your coffee to taste.
Do you prefer something sweet or bitter? Are you looking for coffee with fruity, smokey or biscuity notes? Do you like the tangy kick of an acidic coffee, or does your heartburn demand that you shop for something milder? There's no right or wrong answer here.
It all depends on the type of coffee that you like, so before you start shopping for the best beans on the market, ask yourself how you're going to define "best" in the first place.
Best Coffee Beans (Whole Bean) in the World - Top Picks and Reviews
Are you ready to shop for high-quality whole bean coffee?
The good news is that there are plenty of online lists devoted to ranking coffee brands.
The bad news is that these lists can quickly become outdated as coffee trends change and harvesting practices evolve over time.
If you want fresh, piping hot coffee rankings, this is the guide for you.
It details nine of the best coffee beans to buy in 2020, and they're from all around the world with a variety of different tastes, textures and aromas.
No matter what kind of coffee that you like, there's something on this list for you!
1. LifeBoost Coffee - Our Purest Coffee Pick
BEST SUITED FOR:
People who want clean, ethical coffee that tastes unbelievably good. People who have stomach issues or who want teeth friendly coffee - This coffee is considered a low acid coffee.
LifeBoost is an up-and-coming brand in the coffee world, and it’s only a matter of time before they’re huge.
This medium roast is our favorite of their entire line of beans, with a smooth chocolate richness, a dark caramel sweetness, and a hint of fruity aromas (think apple and berries).
First, they only use specialty beans, which represents the very best of the world’s coffee yield or 3% of global production. That means that each bean is inspected and has less than 5 defects making it as close to perfect as you can get.
It’s Certified Organic, so you know there were never pesticides sprayed on it at the farm (conventional farms use tons of harsh chemical fertilizers—sometimes up to 250 pounds per acre!).
It’s also Fair Trade, meaning the farmers were paid $0.30 extra per pound of coffee. It may not seem like much, but with the price of coffee hovering at just $1.00/pound, that extra 30% income is hugely helpful and is what enables the farmers to grow such incredibly delicious and ethical coffee.
And since the beans are handpicked and carefully fermented for precisely 26 hours, there’s no chance for harmful mycotoxins to form on the beans.
If you want your coffee to be sustainable, ethical, healthy, and stunningly delicious, we’re confident this Lifeboost Medium Roast is your best option.
>> Save on LifeBoost Coffee (50% off) When You Buy a 6-Pack <<
2. Atlas Coffee Beans - Our Best Pick for Quality Coffee
Origin: Single-Origin coffees from around the world
Roast: Light, Medium, Dark - they roast to your preference
BEST SUITED FOR: Coffee lovers (and coffee newcomers) that like discovering new, delicious, and exciting coffees.
With 50+ countries, Atlas Coffee Club delivers a World Tour of Coffee - highlighting a new country's coffee each month...So if you want to try the best beans from each country, this is our top pick.
From Papua New Guinea to Peru, Burundi to Brazil, Atlas Coffee Club bills themselves as Coffee Tour Guides, and delivering more than exceptional coffee, they deliver an incredible experience to go with it adding a postcard, coffee country card, and fun info with each shipment. Each coffee is specialty grade, as fresh as possible (roasted and shipped on the same day), and comes with additional information to make the experience a true journey.
Why people love them:
- Unrivaled, quality coffee beans from countries around the world
- Exciting coffees you can't find on the shelves, think Myanmar, Ecuador, Burundi, etc.
- Freshest coffee possible (roasted & shipped in the same day!)
- Flexibility and ability to change roast type or coffee frequency at any time
- Remarkable customer service
to name a few... If you love trying new coffees, I can't recommend Atlas Coffee Club enough. From their coffee quality to their quality service, it's a go-to coffee subscription to discover the best beans from around the world. And is why they've been featured by Forbes, Business Insider, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and more...
Black Friday Early Access: Try Atlas Coffee today and get your first shipment for FREE! Perhaps the best deal for the best coffee.
Koa Coffee specializes in "Kona" coffee, a very rare and tasty coffee that's only harvested on the shores of the Kona district in Hawaii. The weather is the perfect blend of sunny, balmy and rainy, so coffee beans thrive in dark, mineral-rich soil at high altitudes with plenty of trees.
As for Koa Coffee, they're known for the full-body roasts and fantastic flavors. When you brew Koa Coffee, you can be assured that you're getting something special.
Another great thing about Koa Coffee is that they make it easy for you to try their coffee by offering several sampler packs filled with their most popular roasts. For example, here's a sneak peek into their Dark Roast Tri-Pack:
All of these beans are authentic Kona beans grown in Hawaii, but they have subtle differences in the complexities of their flavors and roasts. In short, they'll keep you brewing Koa Coffee again and again as you try to figure out all of their mysteries!
(Save on Koa Coffee When You Buy a Tri Pack)
BEST SUITED FOR:
Coffee connoisseurs who are very picky about the quality of their java.
Billed as the "Rolls-Royce of coffees," Jamaica Blue Mountain is some of the most exclusive java that you can buy.
It's grown in limited quantities because of the restrictions of the local government, so it's not something that you can just pick up at the grocery store. It isn't cheap, either.
If you want authentic Jamaica Blue Mountain, you have to be willing to fork over some cash.
Once you've gotten past the regional and financial barriers, however, you'll be glad that you picked Jamaica Blue Mountain for your coffee beans. They produce a decadent cup of joe!
For starters, they're medium roasted for a smooth and even blend.
They have fruity notes that will make you think about berries and wines.
They'll also create a rich, full-body brew with just enough acidity to keep you on your toes without being overwhelmingly sharp.
Last but not least, Jamaica Blue Mountain is the kind of coffee that you can smell from miles away. It has a thick, heady aroma that will fill every inch of your kitchen, and your mouth will start watering before you've ever made it to your coffeemaker.
You may also read: The Complete Guide to Blue Mountain Coffee
BEST SUITED FOR:
Anyone who's ready to upgrade from mass market beans to carefully-cultivated, organically-grown ones.
The "AA" in Kenyan AA Coffee stands for its quality grade. Once you see how it's harvested, you'll understand why it gets this distinction.
The first step is peeling off the skin of the coffee cherry. Then the farmers put the beans in a tank full of water. This is called wet processing, and it helps farmers distinguish ripe beans from unripe ones before de-pulping.
After they're soaked and sorted, the beans are removed from the water tank and dried in the sun. By the time that they're shipped to you, they're small, round and just bursting with flavors that are ready to come out during the brewing process.
This meticulous preparation is one of the reasons why Kenyan AA Coffee has been growing more and more popular among coffee lovers.
The beans aren't just plucked from the trees and thrown into a bag; they're given careful attention during every step of the harvesting process.
If you're tired of cheap supermarket coffee that offers no quality guarantee at all, consider Kenyan AA Coffee. Its quality is right there in the name.
BEST SUITED FOR:
People who aren't afraid of intense flavors that explode on the tongue.
How explosive do you like your coffee to be? What if it's grown on the side of an active volcano?
Tanzania Peaberry Coffee is harvested from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Not only do the beans benefit from the high oxygen levels of their immense altitude, but they're also planted in rich volcanic soil that doesn't even need artificial fertilizers to thrive. You won't have to worry about any chemicals in this coffee!
As for the flavor, it's exactly what you'd expect from such a bold product. Those with weak hearts should seek another brand. Tanzania Peaberry Coffee is rich, strong and intense, and it doesn't shy away from its acidity. You can taste it with every sip. This is coffee with a kick.
That said, there are milder elements to Tanzania Peaberry Coffee. It's a medium roast, so it's not entirely bitter. It has sweet and mellow notes that taste like wine, and if you want to blend it with milk, you can make it even sweeter.
All things considered, however, Tanzania Peaberry Coffee should be treated like the volcanic coffee that it is. It's definitely a brand that will get you going on sleepy mornings.
BEST SUITED FOR:
People who are ready to try something outside of their comfort zone.
If you've never tried Sumatran coffee, buckle your seat belt. This is going to be a wild ride.
The first thing that you'll notice about Sumatra Mandheling Coffee is the greenish tint of its beans. This comes from a combination of its organic harvesting and wet processing. Your actual cup of coffee will be brown, but your beans will be on the blue-green side.
Another notable thing about Sumatra Mandheling Coffee is its taste. It's very thick, heavy, earthy and pungent, so it isn't a coffee that you can gulp down on a busy morning. It's meant to be savored in small sips that allow you to enjoy its rich body and sweet, almost syrupy aftertaste.
Did we mention that it's organic? Sumatra Mandheling Coffee is certified fair trade and shade-grown. It even has the official stamp of approval from the Rainforest Alliance.
If you want a regular cup of coffee, this coffee isn't for you. If you're looking for something different, however, its rich and complex flavors might be exactly what you need for a fresh, exciting coffee experience.
BEST SUITED FOR:
Serious caffeine addicts who want fresh, remote and hand-picked beans to make outstanding coffee.
Toraja Sulawesi Coffee is grown on ancient trees in a secluded part of the Indonesian mountains. It's so remote that it takes four days of horseback riding to get from the market to the mountain, and you have to travel on hard, flat dirt that hasn't been paved like a modern road.
The good news is that Toraja Sulwesi Coffee is worth the trouble. It creates a very smooth, creamy blend with hints of sweetness that would pair well with breakfast pastries or after-dinner desserts.
The beans are also packaged in a vacuum-sealed bag to keep them fresh until they reach your door.
You might also like the fact that Toraja Sulwesi beans are 100% arabica. Their stocks are carefully culled so that only the best beans are shipped to consumers.
The pickiness of the farmers means that just 300-600 bags are sold per year, so they're very exclusive for those in the know.
What do you think? Do you want to join the club of Toraja Sulwesi buyers?
Origin: Costa Rica, Ethiopia
BEST SUITED FOR:
Anyone who wants a mild coffee that still packs a tasty flavor.
Despite the name, Geisha Coffee doesn't have anything to do with painted women. It actually refers to a "geisha" or "gesha" class of coffee that originated in Africa and has since made its way to Central America.
Geisha Coffee beans will create a low-acid, low-caffeine cup of java.
It's perfect for people who enjoy the taste of coffee but don't want to deal with a case of the jitters when it wears off. It's also great if you suffer from heart or stomach issues that can make coffee-drinking a painful experience. Geisha Coffee is mild enough that it won't inflame your gastric issues.
If you think that mildness equals tastelessness, however, think again! Geisha Coffee has an amazing flavor profile that mixes both floral and saccharine elements. You'll taste berries, molasses, lavender, tobacco and even brown sugar.
Whether you're looking for complex flavors or just a low-acid coffee that won't hurt on the way down, Geisha Coffee has you covered on both counts.
BEST SUITED FOR:
People who want coffee with a cool origin story that they can brag about to their friends and colleagues.
It doesn't get more exotic than Monsooned Malabar Coffee. Grown in India, these beans are exposed to monsoon winds that cause them to expand in size thanks to the moisture in the air. The result is large, beautiful coffee beans that look like something out of a catalogue.
But that isn't the only good thing about Monsooned Malabar Coffee. Its beans also create a light, smooth roast that can be enjoyed at any time of day. It doesn't taste bitter at all, and it won't sit heavily in your stomach. You can drink it in the mornings without fear that it'll make you feel sick by lunchtime; you can drink it in the evenings without worry that it'll keep you awake.
You might be wondering about its flavor. While everyone tastes something different, Monsooned Malabar Coffee is commonly described as earthy and subtly spicy. You can also bring out hints of cocoa if you add cream.
At the end of the day, Monsooned Malabar Coffee represents a great choice of coffee beans on the lighter end of the spectrum. Who says that you have to be dark to be delicious?
BEST SUITED FOR:
Favor junkies who want the latest and greatest in rich, complex blends.
You can taste the wildness of Ethiopian Yiracheffe Coffee with every sip. Instead of being harvested on a neat, tidy estate, it's gathered from wild coffee trees in the heart of Africa. This gives it a richness of flavor that "tamed" coffee simply can't hope to match.
Ethiopian Yiracheffe Coffee also stands out because it's dry-processed.
We've featured a few wet-processed brands on this list, but tossing coffee beans into water tanks isn't the only way to treat them! With dry-processed beans, they're set out in the sun to bake until they're ready to be roasted. They can be slightly acidic since they don't go through a fermentation process, but a little kick just adds to the thrill of drinking something so raw and wild.
The last thing to mention about Ethiopian Yiracheffe Coffee is its aroma. Since it has rich flavor notes of cinnamon and earth, it will smell absolutely heavenly as you brew it.
It doesn't matter if you have a fancy coffeemaker or just a basic drip machine at work. People will come into the break room to see what's causing that wonderful aroma.
Ethiopian Yiracheffe Coffee might be rough around the edges, but it's an exotic blend with smells and tastes that you'll never forget.
These are just a few of the best coffee beans available for purchase in 2020. As you can see, some of them are quite rare and exclusive, so don't dither around when it comes to buying and brewing. If you see something that you like, take a chance on it! It might not be around in 2021.