The Best Coffee Beans In 2023

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From espressos and lattes to cold brews, coffee is a subject that could divide a nation. Some people love dark roasts, others swear by lightly-roasted beans. For some, sustainable bean cultivation practices and fair trade principles are a priority, while others select their brews based on price. This is precisely why choosing the best coffee beans is such a tall order.

While coffee enthusiasts can disagree about their choice of beans and coffee preparation methods, there's one aspect they all agree on: When it comes to brewing coffee, not all beans are created equal. Aside from the fact that most coffee is made from either Arabica or Robusta beans — each with its own flavor profile — there are several other factors that can influence aroma and taste. The most important being the region where the beans are sourced, as well as their processing and roasting methods (via CoffeeAM).

With so many variables, it's no wonder that many people are confused about their coffee choices. While we realize that coffee is a very subjective topic, we've picked our top choices for the best coffee beans of the year by category, to make your decision process simpler.

How we selected products

According to a 2020 report by the National Coffee Association, 62% of Americans drink coffee every day, and the average enthusiast consumes just over three cups daily. Despite these high numbers, many people still select their coffee on a trial and error basis — they go into a shop, pick a bag of coffee beans, and hope for the best. Suffice it to say, this is less than ideal.

In our quest to find the best coffee beans on the market, we sifted through dozens of community and expert reviews. We took into account light, medium, and dark roast levels, tasting notes, and the coffee's origins. We also looked at whether the beans were of single origin (meaning that they came from a single estate), or blended for a more balanced flavor (via Di Bartoli). Whether you're searching for the best beans for your daily espresso shot or want to go all out and spend lavishly on your brews, here's our selection of the best coffee beans in 2023. All prices were accurate as of the publishing date of this article.

Best coffee beans overall

Smooth yet robust, the Stumptown Coffee Roasters Holler Mountain is a full-bodied blend that might just make you ditch your local barista. Highly approachable, the medium roast fuses the chocolatey flavors of South and Central American coffees with the bright crispness of East African beans (via Stumptown Coffee). Co-founder of the Coffee Review, Kenneth Davids, describes Holler Mountain as a "strong-gestured" brew with notes of "nut, citrus, fresh-cut fir, and a deep, apricot-like sweetness." Packaged in brown paper bags of yesteryear, the beans are a great option for any brewing method from espresso to French press.

Stumptown's Holler Mountain is produced from Arabica coffee beans sourced from organic-certified farms around the world. In fact, since setting up in 1999, the boutique Portland-based roaster has built an international reputation not just for its incredible coffee but for its direct trade business practices as well (via Seattle Coffee Gear). These are based on three main principles: building fruitful partnerships, paying good prices for quality beans, and developing long-term relationships with producers.

Purchase the Stumptown Coffee Roasters Holler Mountain from Amazon starting at $13.49 for a 12-ounce bag.

Best coffee beans for espresso

While you can use any beans to make espresso, some roasts lend themselves particularly well to a more concentrated flavor profile. The Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso is a case in point. The medium-dark espresso blend has been an Intelligentsia staple since the brand was founded in 1995. Sourced from Brazil and Colombia, the beans produce a balanced and sweet brew that exudes the flavors of chocolate and molasses, both of which work particularly well in espressos and short cappuccinos (via Coffee Review).

With the motto, "Great coffee is not the result of chance" printed on every bag of beans, Intelligentsia takes pride in delivering top-quality products. The Chicago-area roaster works closely with its partners to leave absolutely nothing to chance. As such, Intelligentsia is actively involved in the production process from the time the coffee bean seeds are planted to the moment they are packaged. Standing testament to the company's attention to detail, each coffee bag showcases a printed roast date.

Purchase the Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso from the manufacturer starting at $16.50 for a 12-ounce bag.

Best flavored coffee beans

While coffee purists might argue that there's nothing better than a classic cup of coffee, others — particularly those with a sweet tooth — swear by flavored java. After all, there's a good reason why coffee chains such as Starbucks stock an array of flavored syrups to add a personal touch to any beverage. True to its name, the Lifeboost French Vanilla Coffee is a creamy medium-roast brew infused with a natural French vanilla essential oil extract. The single-origin coffee is both mold- and chemical-free, and non-GMO. And to ensure the highest possible quality, it's third-party tested for heavy metals, mycotoxins, and over 400 other toxins (via Lifeboost Coffee).

Lifeboost Coffee is a company with a conscience that promotes fair trading practices. In fact, the founder Charles Livingston launched the brand after one of his customers — a small coffee farmer in Nicaragua — sent him some of his beans in 2015. In an interview with Inc., Livingston raved about the richly flavored coffee. Today, Lifeboost buys beans from small farmers around the world who use sustainable farming methods, paying them fair prices for their products. Additionally, Lifeboost Coffee donates a part of its profits to two organizations that are making the world a better place: Rainforest Trust and Project Alianza.

Purchase the Lifeboost French Vanilla Coffee from Amazon starting at $29.95 for a 12-ounce bag.

Best organic coffee beans

Also available in dark and medium-dark roast, the Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Light Roasted Coffee is made with USDA organic certified coffee beans from the Marcala region of Honduras. Non-GMO and grown without the use of pesticides, the Arabica beans are roasted in small batches shortly before shipping to ensure optimal freshness (via Don Pablo Coffee). In addition, the company gives a portion of its profits to the coffee farmers who supply quality beans and reach "benchmarks in Labor, Economic, and Environmental Sustainability."

Smooth and full-bodied, the Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Coffee features a rich chocolatey flavor with hints of caramel, cocoa, and honey. The light roast, in particular, is smooth, highly drinkable, and characterized by low acidity and a sweet aftertaste. Significantly, Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Light Roasted Coffee has scored 9.5 out of 10 from Best Views Reviews for its aroma, flavor, ingredient quality, overall satisfaction, value for money, and packaging.

Purchase the Don Pablo Subtle Earth Organic Light Roasted Coffee from the brand's website starting at $12.99 for a 12-ounce bag.

Best budget coffee beans

Positioned at level three on the brand's grading system, Seattle's Best Coffee Portside Blend is a medium-roast brew that's both smooth and affordable. At around $8 for a 12-ounce bag, these beans are guaranteed to kick start your morning and keep you going all day long without breaking the bank. And if the balanced flavor of the Portside Blend doesn't hit the right notes with your taste buds, you can always try Seattle's Best Breakfast Blend — a brew that's crisp, light, and citrusy. Alternatively, opt for Seattle's Best Post Alley, which is bold, strong, and intense (via Coffee Stylish).

Ideal for most methods of coffee preparation, Seattle's Best Coffee Portside Blend is an all-purpose coffee characterized by an aroma of sweet vanilla and a nuanced flavor of chocolate and fruit. And while the flavor of the beans tends to fade if the coffee is mixed with milk, the brew does retain some of its appealing fruity chocolate taste profile (via Coffee Review). 

If you're still unsure whether the Portside Blend is for you, the brew is very similar in taste to Starbucks coffee — in fact, it's manufactured by the coffee chain (via Business Insider). One coffee enthusiast compared the blend to Starbucks' offerings saying that "it's less than half the price and tastes almost exactly like it, if not exactly like it."

Purchase Seattle's Best Coffee Portside Blend from Amazon starting at $11.89 for a 12-ounce bag.

Best fair trade coffee beans

For many roasters, producing quality coffee is about much more than just taste — it's about having a positive impact on the world. Equal Exchange is a prime example. Dating back to 1990, the company partners with farming communities in Latin America, Asia, and Africa to source sustainably-grown beans. And the story doesn't just end there. Aside from coffee beans, Equal Exchange also produces chocolates, sugar, cocoa, honey, and oils that can be traced back to the source.

Fairtrade means much more than just paying farmers fair prices for their produce. Per the company's website, "Farming is a perilous business, at the mercy of the weather, and with climate change this challenge is getting bigger. We forge long-term relationships with our suppliers so that they can plan for the future and get access to credit when they need it."

One of the company's offerings is the Organic Mind, Body & Soul whole bean coffee. Certified organic by the USDA, the coffee is a blend of a medium roast and a Vienna roast, a combination that gives it the kick of a darker roast. Nick Usborne, aka the Coffee Detective, describes it as a strong brew with a subtle touch of dark chocolate. At the same time, the medium roast provides a nuanced flavor profile of soft berries and a lingering bitter note.

Purchase the Equal Exchange Organic Mind, Body & Soul Coffee from Amazon starting at $11.50 for a 12-ounce bag.

Best dark roast coffee beans

With the tagline, "The World's Strongest Coffee," Death Wish Whole Bean Dark Roast Coffee contains twice the caffeine of the average brew. While this may not be everybody's cup of tea, it does make for a great morning wake-up call. Although the company has not shared the coffee's exact caffeine content, Wirecutter reports that it's somewhere in the vicinity of 650 to 728 milligrams of caffeine per a 12-ounce cup. To put this in perspective, the assorted Starbucks roasts range from 193 milligrams of caffeine per cup to 270.

Made with USDA organic and fair trade certified Arabica and Robusta beans sourced from across the globe, the brew exhibits notes of dark chocolate and black cherry. And thanks to the company's small-batch roasting policy, the beans are lower in acid than many other blended coffees on the market. So does the Death Wish Whole Bean Dark Roast Coffee stand up to the taste test? According to Roasty Coffee, the bold brew tastes "fresh and rich without the excessive bitterness of other high-caffeine alternatives."

Purchase the Death Wish Whole Bean Dark Roast Coffee from Amazon starting at $17.48 for a 16-ounce bag.

Best decaf coffee beans

Caffeine affects different people in different ways. While many rely on coffee for that much-needed morning energy boost, the beverage can leave others restless, anxious, and unable to sleep. Luckily, plenty of decaf coffee options are available to keep everyone satisfied. The Kicking Horse Decaf Dark Roast Coffee is one of them. In terms of aroma and taste, this organic roast is just as satisfying as its caffeinated counterparts and it's even ethically sourced.

Kicking Horse Decaf is a breath of fresh air in a world where many decaf coffees fail to stand up to the bold flavors of caffeinated beans (via Page One Coffee). Grown in Central and South America and roasted in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the Kicking Horse Decaf displays a nutty deep chocolate nose. In terms of flavor, the rich brew exudes hints of chocolate and hazelnuts and — just like a good wine — comes with a lingering finish. Better still, Kicking Horse uses the Swiss Water Process to decaffeinate its coffee, a method to remove caffeine without resorting to chemicals (via Coffee How).

Purchase a 10-ounce bag of Kicking Horse Decaf Dark Roast Coffee on the company's website for $12.99.

Best coffee beans for a French press

While you can use any coffee beans in a French press, it's generally agreed that medium to dark roasts work best with this method of coffee preparation. This is because placing coffee beans in a French press tends to bring out their full flavor and reduce any residual bitterness. The oilier quality of dark roasts also tends to create a wonderful crema, adding to the coffee's final texture (via Coffee Break Lovers).

One coffee that is particularly well suited to the French press preparation method is the Wild Foods Mexican Chiapas Dark Roast Coffee. The single-origin beans are not only rated Premium Grade 1 — the highest coffee rating out there — but are both organic and fair trade so you can feel good about your next caffeine hit. So what about the taste? Exuding a strong chocolate aroma, the mildly acidic coffee is characterized by the flavors of Baker's chocolate with hints of nuts and caramel. To finish, a smooth and creamy after-taste completes each appealing cup (via Try New Coffee).

Purchase the Wild Foods Mexican Chiapas Dark Roast Coffee from Amazon starting at $19.99 for a 12-ounce bag.

Best light roast coffee beans

Light roast coffee is usually characterized by bright flavors, crisp acidity, and a mellow body (via Java Presse). And Peet's Coffee Light Roast Luminosa Breakfast Blend is no exception. Scoring the beans at 88 out of 100, Coffee Review describes the coffee as mild and sweetly pungent with "apricot, brown sugar, hints of dark chocolate, and lily in aroma and cup." Like many other light roasts, the brew also comes with background acidity and a quiet finish.

Formerly known as Colombia Luminosa, Peet's Coffee Light Roast Luminosa Breakfast Blend is a unique fusion of Colombian and Ethiopian beans. Aptly, luminosa means bright or shining in Spanish. The roaster's website explains that the unique combination originates with coffee from Huila, Colombia, a high-altitude growing region that produces smooth sweet beans. Additionally, beans from Ethiopia are blended in for a delicate touch.

Purchase the Peet's Coffee Light Roast Luminosa Breakfast Blend from Amazon starting at $11.99 for a 12-ounce bag.

Best coffee beans for a splurge

At $60 for a one-pound bag, the Kona Gold Trading Medium Dark Whole Bean Coffee sets high expectations. And the award-winning brew might just be worth its steep price tag. Cultivated on a family-owned single-estate farm on the volcanic slopes of Hawaii's Big Island, Kona Gold beans have been rated Extra Fancy by the Hawaii Agricultural Society –- the highest grade of Kona beans available. Better still, the hand-picked beans are sun-roasted and air-dried just as nature intended (via Coffee Maven).

In the flavor department, Kona Gold Trading Medium Dark Whole Bean Coffee is characterized by apple, peach, and strawberry with hints of brown sugar, cloves, melon, and molasses. And the charms of the medium-dark roast — as well as its price — haven't gone unnoticed by coffee enthusiasts. Perhaps one Amazon reviewer sums it up best, saying, "excellent strong coffee smell with a smooth and very succinct taste. A bit expensive for an everyday coffee, but very appropriate for a 'special' pot."

Purchase the Kona Gold Trading Medium Dark Whole Bean Coffee from Amazon starting at $80 for a one-pound bag.