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Best Dark Roast Coffees of 2021 for Some Strong, Rich Joe

We get it: you take your coffee as dark as your humor before a good mug of joe. What even are light roasts, right?

Still, you’ve probably figured it out by now: not all dark roasts are the same.

After shedding some light on how to find the right one for your personal preference and habits, we’ll show you the best dark roast coffees we’ve ever tasted.

Let’s get you one step closer to the darkest cup!

Dark Roast Coffee Buying Guide: Finding the Right Dark Beans for a Bright Start to the Day

lifeboost coffee dark espresso roast

To pick the best dark roast coffee, you first need to understand what you prefer.

Type of beans

There are two main types of beans that you can choose from:

  • Because Arabica are grown in special conditions, they ensure superior flavors, and that’s why most of the best dark roast coffees that we’ve included in this review roundup fall into that category. They translate into a smoother brew with chocolatey, sugary and fruity notes, and you’ll be able to appreciate all their nuances if you take your coffee black;
  • Robusta beans aren’t as renowned because they’re easier to grow and, therefore, cheaper. However, they have a special ace up their sleeve: more caffeine. If you’re happy to sacrifice some flavor nuances in favor of a stronger kick, they could be a better match, especially if you usually take your coffee with milk and sugar.

Single origin or blend?

  • If you were excited at the idea of Arabica beans, then you’ll probably love single origin coffee. As the name suggests, all the beans are sourced from the same farm, area or country. This allows you to appreciate the unique flavor of each batch, since its origin will definitely influence it;
  • Blends consist of beans from different origins, and the best roasters experiment until they find the perfect combination. If you usually put in creamer and sugar, you’ll probably prefer them.

Whole beans or grounds

Some of the best dark roast coffees are sold as beans, some as grounds, and some others let you choose between the two:

  • Whole beans preserve all their flavor nuances and freshness. Because different brewing methods require finer or coarser coffee, beans will allow you to brew for all of them as long as you invest in a good burr grinder;
  • Grounds are a time-saving choice for those who value speed and practicality above everything else and, especially, who always brew with the same coffee maker. 

PRO TIP: Make sure you pick the right grounds for your brewing method. They’re usually sold as fine for espresso, medium-fine for automatic drippers and most pour overs, and coarse for French press.

Best Dark Roast Coffees of 2020 Reviews: From Volcanic to Organic Coffee & More

Maybe your new favorite dark roast is among our top 5 picks?

Amazon Product
Lifeboost Organic Dark Roast
  • Healthiest dark roast
  • Non-GMO, organic and sustainably grown
  • Available as a practical subscription, too
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Amazon Product
Koa Coffee Estate 100% Kona
  • Premium single-origin beans from Hawaii
  • Grown on volcanic soil
  • Best Coffee in America according to Forbes
Check Latest Price
Amazon Product
Coffee Bros
  • Freshest coffee, packaged within minutes of roasting
  • Chocolate, caramel and maple tones
  • Fair-trade
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Peet’s House Blend
  • Iconic brand
  • Fresh and shipped within 24 h of roasting
  • Available as an exclusive subscription
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Revelator Pale Rider
  • Decaf that’s just as tasty as traditional coffee
  • Premium Colombian beans
  • Grind sizes for all kinds of coffee makers
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Whether you’ve already spotted something you love the sound of or you still want more options, keep reading: the answer to your quest is definitely in one of the 9 best dark roast coffees below!


Type: single-origin Arabica, beans or medium-fine grounds

Origin: Nicaragua

Best for: a healthy, organic and sustainable brew

This dark roast is also the healthiest and… greenest. Fair-trade and grown at high elevation on the Nicaraguan mountains, it’s free from chemicals, pesticides and heavy metals, as well as 3rd party tested for common coffee mold.

It’s also one of the best organic coffees and part of the 2% of all world’s shade-grown beans, which are kinder to the environment and result in more sophisticated, purer flavors (1).

Sun-dried and spring water-washed, the LifeBoost dark roast guarantees a mouth-watering brew that’s so low in acidity that even those with stomach problems will be able to enjoy it.

You can buy it as you go or save yourself 30% with a handy subscription. Learn more about this company’s unique approach in our Lifeboost Coffee review.

Bottom line: Literally the least acidic and healthiest dark roast we’ve tasted.


2. Koa Coffee Estate 100% Kona - Premium Pick

Koa coffee dark roast


Type: single-origin Arabica, beans

Origin: Kona, Hawaii

Best for: those who want to tap into the uniqueness of Kona coffee

 “Hawaii’s Big Island possesses that rare combination of ideal growing conditions: high elevation, volcanic soils, cool mornings, warm afternoons, and natural shading. The result is a superior, rich-tasting coffee.” Kenneth Davids, co-founder of Coffee Review (2)

Koa Coffee is one of the best Kona coffee brands, and their dark roast truly stands out: its aroma alone will be enough to transport you to that exotic, sunny district of Hawaii where the beans are harvested on the most fertile volcanic soil.

Oh, did we mention that it’s considered the Best Coffee in America? (3)

You can grab yourself bags of different sizes, from 8 oz to 5 lbs.

Bottom line: It doesn’t get any more premium than single-origin beans grown on volcanic slopes.


3. Coffee Bros - Freshest Coffee


Type: Arabica blend, beans

Origin: Brazil and Sumatra

Best for: those who just can’t stand stale coffee

If you’ve been relying on store-bought coffee and feeling that, no matter how well you brew it, it never tastes as good as the one from your local coffee shop, you’re right. It can’t. 

That’s because beans start losing the precious volatile compounds responsible for flavor nuances once they’re roasted and, especially, ground.

Coffee Bros goes out of their way to send you the freshest coffee ever. Roasted in small batches and packaged within minutes, it’s delivered in an air-tight resealable bag (12 oz) with a degassing valve.

This freshness combined with a slightly lighter dark roast allows these beans to retain their unique characteristics, resulting in a smooth, bold-tasting brew with chocolate, caramel and maple tones.

Another great reason to buy from this startup run by two brothers is that they give back to coffee growing regions by planting a tree for every 5 bags of coffee sold.

Bottom line: If you’re fed up with stale coffee, this dark roast will be the upgrade you were desperate for.


4. Peet’s House Blend - Best Value


Type: Arabica blend, beans or grounds (drip, percolator, espresso, commercial brewer)

Origin: Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica

Best for: an affordable but high-quality brew

With over 50 years of experience, Peet’s coffee is an established household name within the coffee community and its dark roast doesn’t disappoint. 

Rich-tasting but medium-bodied and well-balanced, it translates into a crisp finish with a pleasant hint of spice and a bright, citrusy aftertaste.

Peet’s coffee is roasted to order in small batches, sealed for freshness, and shipped the same day (find out more about them in our Peet’s Coffee review).

PRO TIP: While you can always purchase a new 16 oz bag every time, why not join the other ‘Peetniks’ with a special subscription?

Bottom line: A fresh, rich blend to really get your money’s worth.


5. Revelator Pale Rider - Best Decaf

Type: Arabica blend, beans or grounds (automatic drip, French press, Chemex, pour over, espresso, AeroPress, percolator/cold brew)

Origin: Colombia

Best for: those who’re tired of bland-tasting decaf coffee

This decaf dark roast is so delicious that we bet it’ll conquer the palate of even the most caffeinated coffee lovers!

Using different seasonal lots from Colombia, this company guarantees a balanced brew with red apple, caramel and milk chocolate notes.

“From pluck to pour, the Revelator team is tireless in pursuit of the perfect cup.” Christi Barnes, Woven Magazine (4)

Enjoy it in 12 oz bags without worrying about losing sleep.

Bottom line: Tasty dark roast. Decaf coffee. Zero compromises.


6. Volcanica Costa Rica - Best Flavored

Type: single-origin Arabica, beans or grounds (drip, espresso, French press)

Origin: Costa Rica

Best for: those who want to indulge in superior flavors

“A magical formula found only in Costa-Rica, comprising unique growing conditions, meticulous production standards and an undeniable, country-wide obsession with all things coffee.” National Geographic (5)

Directly from this country’s renowned coffee region of Tarrazu, this Volcanica dark roast relies on rich volcanic soil, frequent rain and a unique high-altitude climate that allows the beans to develop more slowly, unlocking more flavor nuances.

It has a medium body and acidity with a balanced feel and crisp apple notes which create a silky but rich profile.

The bags range from 16 oz to 5 libs but it’s so delicious that you’ll probably regret not opting for the largest ones.

Bottom line: A sip of this dark roast will be enough to understand the hype about Costa Rican coffee.


7. Caffe Vita Peru Rancho Sabancaya - For a good cause


Type: single origin Arabica, beans

Origin: San Martin, Peru

Best for: an ethical cup

This is a dark roast coffee that you definitely want to savor black. With a medium body and moderate acidity, it combines blackberry and brown sugar flavors with a maple and nougat finish, resulting in strong tobacco, dark chocolate, cedar and caramel aromas.

Basically, opening this 12 oz bag and making the most of its scent will already be a superior coffee experience in itself.

We especially love this roaster for giving back to their local community in Seattle by supporting programs for its homeless youth and local arts.

Bottom line: A guilt-free cup that’s just as kind to the community as it is dark.


8. Death Wish Coffee - Strongest dark coffee


Type: Arabica and Robusta blend, medium-fine grounds

Origin: India and Peru

Best for: those who need a proper caffeine kick in order to function

For a coffee that’s both dark and powerful but still full of nuances, you can’t go wrong with the world’s strongest coffee. 

Death Wish has double the caffeine of an average cup of coffee and yet, because it relies on high-quality beans without any artificial additives, it’s smooth, subtle, and never bitter.

Enjoy its cherry and chocolate profile and support a brand that takes fair trade at heart by choosing one of their bags, ranging from 1 to 5 lbs.

You can learn more about them in our Death Wish Coffee review.

Bottom line: The best way to start the day with a double caffeine fix while still enjoying the rich taste that characterizes dark roasts.


9. Koffee Kult Coffee Beans - Best blend

Koffee Kult Coffee Beans Dark Roasted - Highest Quality Delicious Organically Sourced Fair Trade - Whole Bean Coffee - Fresh Gourmet Aromatic Artisan Blend (32oz)


Type: Arabica blend, beans

Origin: Colombia, Guatemala and Sumatra

Best for: those who prefer the roundness and creaminess of full-bodied java

This small family-owned roastery surprised us with a remarkable blend of 100% Arabica beans that give you a full-bodied but smooth brew.

It’s a truly satisfying sensorial experience, all the way from its bright cinnamon notes to its long finish.

Plus, it’s roasted in small batches and shipped within hours to retain its freshness.

Bottom line: Rich-tasting, fresh, and incredibly aromatic.


FAQs

1. What are the best dark roast coffees?

The best dark roast coffees are LifeBoost for a sustainable and healthy brew, Koa Coffee for the most superior single-origin experience, and Coffee Bros for the freshest beans.

2. Is a dark roast coffee stronger?

It depends. A dark roast coffee isn’t stronger than lighter roasts when it comes to caffeine: on the contrary, it has slightly less if you measure them by scoop. However, they usually result in a stronger, deeper flavor.

3. What's the difference between dark and medium roast coffee?

The difference between dark and medium roast coffee is that, because the former is roasted for longer, it loses some of the beans’ unique characteristics but translates into a fuller body and interesting chocolaty and caramel-like notes.


References

1. Tory, S. (2014, March 26). Sunburnt Beans: Where Has All the Shade-Grown Coffee Gone?. Retrieved from https://civileats.com/2014/05/26/sunburnt-beans-where-has-all-the-shade-grown-coffee-gone/
2. Davids, K. (2013, May 3). Coffee Around the World. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/coffee-around-the-world
3. (n.d.). (2011, April 29). 50 of America's Best. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/forbes-life-magazine/2001/0430/058.html#60f1a721224e
Barnes, C. (2015, May 3). Revelator Coffee Company: A New Culture for Craft Coffee. Retrieved from https://wovenmagazine.com/story/revelator-coffee-co/ 

4. (n.d.). (2019, April 8). Why Costa Rica is one of the true coffee capitals of the world. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2018/10/why-costa-rica-one-true-coffee-capitals-world 

Avatar for Giada Nizzoli

Born in Italy but currently brewing from the UK, Giada is a highly-caffeinated coffee expert with a soft spot for espressos. She worked in cafés for years and has recently fallen in love with the practical Kalita Wave (just don’t tell her Italian moka pot!).

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