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According to the National Coffee Association (NCA), 62% of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee each day. If you love a cup of the good stuff, you’re not alone. But even though gourmet specialty brews and high-end coffee shops are a common sight today, a strong portion of coffee drinkers in the United States rely on single-serve coffee machines for their brews. That’s a shame, because buying whole coffee beans and grinding just before brewing results in a fresher, more flavorful cup of coffee.
Before you rush off to buy a bag of coffee beans just because we told you your coffee will taste better, there are a few things to consider. The first among those is whether you prefer Arabica or Robusta coffee beans. In the coffee world, Arabica beans are considered superior in terms of quality and taste, due to the fact that they’re grown at a higher altitude. Robusta beans, on the other hand, contain more caffeine and are generally cheaper.
Next, you’ll need to decide how acidic you like your coffee. While bitterness is a quality that can be avoided with proper brewing, acidity is a big part of what gives coffee beans their flavor. The acidity brings out the floral notes of African coffee, and the lack thereof results in a nuttier flavor in most Central and South American coffees. Which level of acidity you like most, comes down to personal preference as everyone reacts to the various pH levels differently.
Finally, you have to consider whether you prefer single-origin coffees or coffee blends. Single-origin coffees source all the beans in the bag from the same region. Blended coffees can include beans from all over the world. The former is often of higher quality, but the latter can offer a more balanced flavor profile. Either type of coffee can be amazing, provided you buy quality beans from reputable roasters.
To help you find the best coffee beans for your kitchen, we’ve selected the best beans from the top coffee-producing countries around the world. Scroll through this list and find a new coffee to tickle your taste buds.
1. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Holler Mountain
Portland-based Stumptown has become one of the dominant names in the world of specialty coffee, but you don’t need to make a special trip to the PNW for a cup. The brand is widely available online and at grocery stores, and if you want to give them a try, Holler Mountain is a great place to start. It’s a medium roast, but if you’re used to the shiny dark black beans of brands like Starbucks, you might be surprised by the matte, brown color of these beans. They’re more lightly roasted for a more pure flavor with less of a burnt aftertaste. Holler Mountain is smooth, slightly sweet and perfect for slow sipping.
2. Lavazza Coffee Medium Roast
Coffee roasters pop up all the time, but not all of them stand the test of time. Italian roaster Lavazza, on the other hand, has been around since 1895, and it has remained a family business for generations. It can be somewhat hard to find their coffee in whole bean varieties, but you can sometimes pick up whole bean Classico house blend in grocery stores. Classico is strong and bold, without being bitter. They recommend it for drip machines, but it can also be used for French press or pour-over.
3. Sightglass Whole Bean Single Origin Coffee
Ethiopia is often considered to be the birthplace of coffee. These beans have been cultivated in the country for over a thousand years. Pick up a bag of Sightglass Whole Bean Single Origin Coffee to taste this legacy. This particular bag of beans has notes of jasmine, lemon and bergamot when brewed correctly. And, thanks to the floral notes found in most Ethiopian beans, coffee from this African country is usually ideal for cold brew or iced coffees.
4. Intelligentsia Direct Trade House Blend
BEST DIRECT TRADE
The West Coast tends to dominate the market when it comes to coffee, but just like with hip hop, you shouldn’t sleep on the midwest. Intelligentsia is a Chicago-based coffee company that makes delicious direct-trade coffee, which is available online, at grocery stores, and at the company’s many cafes. The House Blend is a blend of coffees from Burundi and Colombia.
5. Illy Classico Roast Coffee Beans
BEST ITALIAN COFFEE
Italian coffee is famous for a reason, and Illy is one of the most famous Italian coffee brands in the world. When you pick up one of their distinctive silver and red cans, you know you’ll be enjoying something special. Classico is the Italian brand’s house roast, and as is typical of a house roast, it’s a crowd-pleasing medium roast blend.
6. La Colombe Whole Bean Coffee
BEST WITH BREAKFAST
Philadelphia-based La Colombe has been around since 1994 and was a driver of the third-wave coffee movement, helping to make direct trade more mainstream. Nizza is a medium roast with a sweet flavor and notes of milk chocolate and brownie.
7. Verve Coffee Roasters Seabright
BEST SMALL ROASTER
When it comes to West coast coffee, places like Seattle and Portland get a lot of love, but Verve Coffee Roasters puts the town of Santa Cruz, California on the map. Verve’s strong brews have helped make this sleepy college town a little less sleepy for roughly 15 years. This medium roast is the brand’s house blend, and it takes its name from the Seabright neighborhood in Santa Cruz.
8. Peet’s Big Bang Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee
ALWAYS FRESH ROASTED
Peet’s bills itself as the original craft coffee, and it’s got a decent stake to that claim. The brand predates Starbucks by five years, but Peet’s has continued to brew reliably strong coffee without a bitter flavor. Peet’s Big Bang medium roast is easy to find either whole bean or ground. Best of all, Peet’s always stamps the date the coffee was roasted right on the front of the bag.
9. Equal Exchange Organic Whole Bean Coffee
Fairtrade coffee benefits coffee farmers by putting more of the profits into their pockets. It can also work to mitigate the negative impacts coffee crops cause on the environment by supporting small farmers over large producers. If you would prefer to spend a little bit more on a coffee that’s good for the people who make it, consider the Equal Exchange Organic Whole Bean Coffee. This balanced, medium roast is a delight for the senses.
10. Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee Colombian Supremo
With its mild and beautifully rich taste, this Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee Colombian Supremo is a fine example of the high-end Arabica coffee Colombia has become known for. Each pack of the coffee is roasted in small batches to ensure optimum freshness, and the coffee is of the highest quality. The medium-bodied beans deliver a low acidity experience for your taste buds, which is finished by a smooth cocoa-toned finish you’re sure to love.
11. Stone Street Coffee Tanzanian Peaberry
Because of the bright acidity and medium body, Peaberry coffee beans from Tanzania are among the most popular in the world. In this Stone Street Coffee Tanzania Peaberry Whole Bean Coffee, you’ll discover the reason for their popularity as you enjoy a cup of this smooth, rich coffee with its clean and crisp taste. If you enjoy Kenyan coffee, this is a great choice as Tanzanian and Kenyan beans share many of the same characteristics, but Tanzanian beans tend to have less acidity. Furthermore, this Stone Street Coffee is roasted in small batches to keep the bean’s flavor profile trapped inside each bag.
12. Two Volcanoes Coffee Guatemala Whole Bean
BEST CENTRAL AMERICAN
If the fact that this coffee is grown at the base of two volcanoes isn’t enough to pique your interest, how about the promise of a perfectly balanced bean with just the right amount of flavor, aroma and acidity? These coffee beans are organically grown and offer a unique flavor and aroma due to the mineral-rich volcanic earth they live in during the organic growing process. The beans are roasted in small batches to ensure the medium roast is even across the coffee. In addition, this bag comes in a gift box which makes it a great choice to gift any coffee lovers you know.
13. Kauai Whole Bean Coffee, Koloa Estate Dark Roast
Hawaiian coffee was the best in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. The coffee crop, which was introduced to the island chain in the 1800s, benefited from having the right techniques for growing a superior cup before the rest of the world. Unfortunately for the islands, growers in other countries have caught on to what produces a great coffee bean and have equaled (and in some regards surpassed) the quality of Hawaiian coffee. Nonetheless, if you want to try a cup of purely made-in-America coffee, the Kauai Coffee Co. Single Origin Dark Roast is a good place to start.
14. Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans
For coffee drinkers looking for a tailored and well-balanced blend of beans, give these Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans a try. The blended beans are sourced from all over the world to give you a 100% Arabica blend that delivers a bold and smooth flavor. The Colombian, Guatemalan and Sumatran mix has a low acidity that provides an enjoyable drinking experience to most palates. Furthermore, the blend is produced using environmentally friendly growers and roasters, so your conscience can rest easy as you enjoy your morning cup.
15. Cooper’s Cask Coffee Whiskey Barrel Coffee
Not all coffee roasters stick to the unrefined taste any given bean is supposed to deliver. Some roasters believe that adding modern, flavor-adding techniques can enhance a cup of coffee, and that’s exactly what Cooper’s Cask Coffee has done in creating the Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Coffee with great success. Before roasting, the company ages coffee beans in rye whiskey barrels so that the beans can absorb the oaky flavors from the wood. The result is a positively unique yet enjoyable cup of coffee.