Best Coffee Beans: Top 5 Brews Most Recommended By Experts

The best coffee beans are sourced from diverse regions around the world, each contributing unique flavor profiles and aromas. These exceptional beans are often grown at higher elevations, which results in a more complex and well-balanced taste. Roasted to perfection, they offer a harmonious blend of acidity, body, and rich, nuanced notes that cater to the discerning coffee connoisseur’s palate.

As if we needed to give coffee lovers another reason to wake up and sip a cup or two, but research reveals that drinking two to three cups of coffee each day could add years to your life. Researchers found that drinking this beloved morning beverage lowers the risk of heart disease and dangerous heart rhythms. Exciting stuff, right? The study reveals this benefit applies to both healthy individuals and those with cardiovascular disease. In the biggest analysis of its kind, scientists tracked more than 400,000 people from the United Kingdom for at least a decade. And what exactly did they find? “Daily coffee intake shouldn’t be discouraged, but rather included as a part of a healthy diet for people with and without heart disease,” says senior author Professor Peter Kistler of the Baker Heart Institute in Melbourne, Australia, in a media release. So, cheers to waking up and sipping your way to a healthier heart.

But there is that old, “too much of a good thing” saying, of course. As with most foods and drinks, there is a line that can be crossed, taking you from healthy to unhealthy consumption. This too applies to coffee consumption, and we, of course, have research to back it up. While one study released in 2017 found that drinking four or more cups daily may reduce one’s risk of death from any cause, this latest work determined that drinking six or more cups in a day increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease by up to 22 percent. That’s because too much caffeine can cause high blood pressure, a precursor to heart disease, researchers say. Meaning, there is a limit to how much coffee is a good thing, and the researchers say that six cups per day is the limit. Keep in mind that the number will likely be lower for those sensitive to caffeine.

Forget instant brews and supermarket grinds – crafting the perfect cup of coffee starts with exceptional beans. But navigating the dizzying world of Arabicas and Robustas can leave even the most dedicated joe-lover bewildered. Fear not, caffeine comrades! This guide will equip you with the knowledge to unlock a universe of bean-tastic goodness.

How to choose the best coffee beans:

  • Freshness is King: The magic of coffee lies in its volatile oils, and these aromas fade like fleeting dreams. Look for beans roasted within the past two weeks for peak flavor. Check the roast date, not the “best by” date.
  • Bean Basics: Arabica reigns supreme for its smooth, nuanced flavors, while Robusta packs a punch with its higher caffeine content. For a balanced blend, seek out Arabica-dominant mixes with a touch of Robusta. Explore single-origin beans for terroir-driven experiences, where unique growing conditions shape the bean’s character.
  • Roast Revelation: Light roasts preserve delicate fruit and floral notes, ideal for pour-overs and filter coffees. Medium roasts offer a balanced profile, perfect for drip coffee and espresso. Dark roasts boast bold, smoky flavors, best enjoyed as espresso or with milk. Choose a roast that aligns with your brewing method and taste preferences.
  • Beyond the Bag: Sourcing matters! Ethically sourced beans ensure fair treatment for farmers and sustainable practices. Look for certifications like Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance for peace of mind and a delicious cup. Don’t be afraid to ask your local roaster about their sourcing practices – transparency is a good sign!
  • Sensory Safari: Engage your senses! Examine the beans – they should be uniform in size and free of defects. Sniff them! Fresh beans release intoxicating aromas of chocolate, fruit, or flowers. Listen! Grinding should produce a satisfyingly even crackle.
  • Bonus Tip: Grind just before brewing! Pre-ground coffee loses its magic quickly. Invest in a grinder for barista-worthy freshness in every cup.

It’s time to get to our list so you can grind up some beans and enjoy a fresh pot. Below are the five best coffee beans you can buy, according to experts. As always, we want to hear from you. Comment below to let us know which coffee beans you kickstart your day with!

Bag of coffee beans in burlap sack
Bag of coffee beans (Photo by Tina Guina on Unsplash)

The List: Best Coffee Beans, According to Experts

 

1. Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Who? No, they’re not a household name, but they are extremely popular in an industry where consumers are becoming increasingly picky about the quality of the coffee they sip. Even if they’re not on every street corner, they still take the number one spot on our list, and by way of landslide victory, even. Experts love this brand, and that’s why it ranked number one on most lists.

Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Stumptown Coffee Roasters Founder’s Blend

Tasting Table touches on the “newness” of the brand and just how good the coffee is: “Among a list that includes coffee producers which have been in business for a hundred years or more, giving the top position to a relatively new roaster might seem outrageous. However, Stumptown’s coffees are outrageously good. Since opening in the 1990s, Stumptown has slowly percolated into a superior position in the world of coffee, boiling into the crème de la crème of caffeine companies. Through a dedication to coffee science, and careful consideration of the product they source, Stumptown offers beans that encompass the complexity of what coffee really is. They do so in an approachable way, encouraging a learning experience with each cup. Their bagged offerings are some of the higher priced choices on this list, so purchasing one is more of a splurge than it is an everyday habit. Still, having Stumptown coffee stored and on hand for special occasions or a slow weekend morning can change the way you see and taste coffee. These beans are that good.”

“Stumptown has become a real force in the coffee landscape and for good reason,” says The Manual. “The Pacific Northwest operation sources amazing beans and delivers them freshly roasted, so you can take on the joy of grinding at home. The company’s whole bean lineup is noteworthy and generally as aromatic as it is flavorful.”

The Spruce Eats writes: “It’s impossible to truly choose the best coffee. Some people prefer dark roasts, others prefer light. Sometimes it depends on the brewing method or the bang for the buck. But Stumptown has been an all-around favorite at the top of the coffee game for decades. The brand has many blends deserving of our best overall spot, but we chose Holler Mountain because it has a strong flavor with wide-ranging appeal. It’s easy to drink as your daily batch of drip coffee without tiring of it. Holler Mountain also suits a variety of brewing methods, including espresso and pour over. This medium roast balances smooth notes of chocolate and caramel with a hint of citrus and berry jam to stand out. It’s widely sold in grocery stores, as well as online, and is available both whole bean or pre-ground.”

2. Stone Street Coffee Company

We have two words for you: cold brew. When it comes to recommendations for the best cold brew coffee, Stone Street was at the top of most experts’ lists. But do not be fooled, they are by no means a one-trick pony.

Stone Street Cold Brew Coffee Beans
Stone Street Cold Brew Coffee Beans

Wizard of Coffee writes: “I have always used a Sumatra roast for cold brew until I ran across Stone Street’s cold brew roasts. This one comes in whole bean, which I prefer to grind the beans on an as-needed basis. The strong and smooth blend is exactly that, strong but smooth. The key to a good cold brew roast is that it performs well in cold brewing application and keeps its flavor without heat to bloom the coffee’s flavors. Stone Street has a whole line of cold brew coffee beans on Amazon. If you like your beans preground, they offer all their cold brew blends (and even flavored coffees) in a coarse ground that is so important for cold brew coffee to achieve the golden ratio.”

The Manual lists Stone Street Cold Brew as their best dark roast. “New York-based Stone Street makes a mean cup of dark coffee. The company has an array of options along the darker end of the spectrum, equally delicious and from all over the global coffee map. Often, a dark roast coffee is too intense to drink without a heavy pour of milk, but that’s not the case here.”

But if you’re into strong espresso, Good Housekeeping recommends Stone Street Knee Buckling Espresso. “And they mean knee buckling. This extra-dark roast wowed tasters when prepared in an espresso machine: Each sip boasted an invigorating, bold flavor that will instantly wake you up, similar to a classic Italian espresso that you’d get from a bar in Rome. While some super dark roast coffees can taste burnt, this one maintained its brightness and offered a smooth finish that wasn’t too harsh when enjoyed as an espresso without milk. If you prefer milk, however, its full-bodied texture and strong taste can definitely stand up to a little dairy.”

3. Intelligentsia Coffee

Based in Chicago and founded in 1995, this company is a third-wave coffee representative. Third-wave coffee places emphasis on high quality coffee – the beans typically come from individual farms. Because of this, you can generally expect to pay a little more for coffees like this as compared to the ones you can pick up while you’re on the go.

Intelligentsia Coffee El Diablo
Intelligentsia Coffee El Diablo

“This is another legendary company in the American specialty coffee scene,” writes The Coffee Chronicler. “Intelligentsia makes direct trade and has relationships with all the farms they buy from. They pay a reasonable cost and receive incredible quality consequently. This isn’t just marketing BS like it is with some of the big multinationals. [Black Cat Espresso] is dark, mysterious, and rounded. It has flavors of chocolate, caramel, and molasses. This coffee is also low in acidity which means that it’s good for milk-based drinks or for those folks with sensitive stomachs.”

Delish mentions, “Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Espresso delivers notes of stone fruit and dark chocolate, making it perfect for espresso-based drinks. ‘I absolutely love this espresso,’ said one reviewer. ‘It leaves a nice crema and is a smooth-tasting, easy-drinking espresso.’”

The Spruce Eats adds: “Intelligentsia’s House Blend is the kind of coffee that gets you out of bed in the morning. It combines crisp notes of apple and citrus with the sweetness of cane sugar and milk chocolate for one delectable brew. The Chicago-born company offers a number of terrific light roasts, like the El Gallo Breakfast Blend and several single-origin coffees, but this one is our favorite. Intelligentsia is one of the most beloved and influential roasters of the past few decades, focusing on craftsmanship and progressing the direct-trade coffee model. While its products range in price, House Blend is typically quite affordable and, when compared to competitors in a similar price range, much more flavorful. A bag can be purchased in two sizes: 12 ounces or 5 pounds.”

4. Illy Coffee

Illy, Italy, same thing. This Italian coffee company headquartered in Trieste specializes in espresso. And for a fun fact, they are reportedly the first coffee company to market coffee pods.

Classic Roast Illy Coffee Beans
Classic Roast Illy Coffee Beans

The Coffee Chronicler names them a classic in the espresso community. Why? “Illy is a traditional Italian company that for many years was almost synonymous with espresso. In spite of being a big and somewhat industrial enterprise, there’s no doubt that Illy puts a lot of care into selecting the right beans for their blends. That means sweet cherries with only a few defects. This is the same kind of coffee that the world barista champions used only 16 years ago. They are medium roast and will suit almost any brewing style. Illy is not going to win any competitions in the highly snobby and advanced coffee world we have today, but it also won’t disappoint in the cup no matter how you brew it. This one is preground, so you don’t need a grinder. If you have a proper setup with your own grinder, then make sure to go for the whole-beans option.”

Tasting Table agrees: “When you think of quality espresso, it’s hard not to let your mind drift towards a daydream of an idyllic Italian scene. Your kitchen may not look like a gleaming Sicilian villa or a bustling cafe on the streets of Rome, but illy Coffee can make it smell like one. The city of Turin often gets most of the love for birthing the now-international Lavazza brand, but there is another place that has long been a crucial part of the Mediterranean nation’s coffee history. The far northeastern city of Trieste is as true a coffee capital as there has ever been. The king of the capital? illycaffè. To be fair, illy comes at a fairly high price point for grocery store coffee. It also comes with an incredibly fine flavor. The 8.8-ounch tins come packed with one of Italy’s finest roasts, including pods for your single-cup machine and some of the best instant coffees under the Tuscan sun (and anywhere else). illy is often used as an espresso coffee, but the magic of it is that — whether from your French press or regular coffee maker — it tastes smooth and balanced rather than burnt or sour. Even so, there is a Ground Drip Classico in case you don’t believe it. Getting your toes wet is an Italian tradition after all.”

According to Good Housekeeping, “The medium roast coffee is smooth and robust without much bitterness or acidity, leaving you with a subtle, lingering sweetness and desire to take another sip. Plus, it comes in an air-free, pressurized can for maximum freshness and easy storage. It’s made from 100% arabica coffee, which is often considered the higher quality pick between the world’s two most common coffees, arabica and robusta. (Of course, the final quality and taste of a coffee also depends on its origin, processing and more). The balanced brew is available in retailers nationwide (including Kroger, Safeway and Target) so it’s a great, accessible option for anyone looking for a new go-to cup.”

5. Lavazza Coffee

You’ve no doubt seen this name on grocery store shelves. The Italian brand was founded by Luigi Lavazza in 1895. And while many businesses do not survive long enough to be passed on to new generations, Lavazza is currently run by third and fourth generation family members – the brand has some serious staying power.

Lavazza Coffee Medium Roast
Lavazza Coffee Medium Roast

Cuisine at Home loves this brand. Why? “The Lavazza Coffee Beans are an excellent choice for those looking for a rich and creamy cup of coffee. The light-medium espresso roast works wonderfully to bring out the aroma of hazelnuts and brown sugar. This blend [Super Crema] of 60% Arabica and 40% Robusta is perfect for creating a unique taste in your favorite espresso machine. For those looking to truly enjoy this blend, the 2.2 lb bag is just right. It’s not too small, which would mean that you’d have to buy more soon after opening up, but it’s also not too large, so you don’t end up with a lot of extra coffee. This ensures that your coffee will be fresh and flavorful every time you brew it. It’s mainly intended for people who care about quality: it contains only pure coffee beans, free from any additives or preservatives. Whether you’re looking for an after-dinner treat or simply something to sip on while enjoying a light snack, this blend offers something for everyone.”

Speaking about Lavazza Espresso Italiano, The Coffee Chronicler adds: “This is a medium roast coffee from Lavazza. It’s a subtle, balanced coffee with notes of hazelnut and chocolate. This is truly an all-around coffee. You can use it in milk drinks or enjoy it as a straight shot. I’m not sure why Lavazza calls it ‘Espresso Italiano’ since that might confuse some people who’d think Italian espresso implied [that it’s] super dark and strong – this is NOT dark at all. If you’re looking for that then go for the next coffee on this list, Qualita Rossa. The Rossa version is one of company’s most famous blends. There is a bunch of robusta in here, so expect a strong coffee that doesn’t really offer that much regarding acidity or subtle flavors. This one is more about the crema, texture, and mouthfeel. This is a very traditional espresso!”

Tasting Table also mentions: “Starbucks may be the biggest backers of espresso in America, but never forget that the origin of this coffee making technique comes from Italy. If you ever need a reminder, pull a bag of Lavazza from your store shelves. From the first scoop of grounds to your final mug, this brand of beans will take your morning redeyes and turn them into a leisurely flight to the world’s cappuccino capital. Lavazza coffees are known for their intensity, and each roast comes clearly labeled with where it sits on the scale. The Classico is a coveted roast, but it is the Gran Selezione that holds the crown. The chocolate-forward accent makes it a morning cup to savor slowly. It may be 7 on the intensity scale, but it is a 10 of 10 in terms of taste. Other blends can come in lower intensities but still pack as much flavor as a true espresso. (And if you decide to spring for a home espresso machine, take heart: Despite what you might expect, a daily espresso actually has less caffeine and lower acidity than a daily coffee.)”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.

Comments

    1. My dark-roasted Mexican is the tastiest, most robust, chocolate-forward smoothness you’ll find. Try yourself at sigrew dot com and use coupon code Firstorder

  1. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is one of my favorites. I used to bring back pounds of it from our trips to Jamaica. Lavazza is great too. I’d also suggest Ruta Maya from Mexico. I get it at Costco. Yum!

  2. The best I’ve found?

    Arabican Night from Prairie Fire, by far.

    And I had a factory in Costa Rica for many years, and enjoyed many amazing Costa Rican coffees.

  3. All the above coffees are my favorites. As Kona is #1. As for Jamaican Blue Mountain I am not sure I am always getting Blue Mountain beans in the package.

  4. Been buying Peerless coffee for 15 plus years, hands down best variety of coffee, though I always fall back to the light roast Columbian whole bean 5lbs a month

  5. Who were the “experts” being referenced here? No coffee expert I’ve ever heard of would recommend a single one of these… Every one of them is nasty except for Intelligensia which is still waaay past its hay day.

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