The 12 Best Coffee Beans : Reviewed for 2021

As you have probably discovered choosing the best coffee beans, means sifting through the thousands of different options.

It doesn’t matter how fancy your coffee maker is, or how good a Barista you rate yourself, choose the wrong coffee bean and you will be stuck with bad coffee, not to mention seriously out of pocket.

In this Coffee Bean Review I will reveal the 3 simple secrets you need to know, to make choosing your perfect beans so much simpler, and ensure you can enjoy your coffee without regret.

I will also reveal the top 12 coffee beans as rated by years of drinking coffee myself and by a panel of trusted coffee experts and connoisseurs.

Contents

My Top 3 Picks

Before I get into the meat of the article, and for those just want to know the best without reading, here are my top 3 choices:

Best All Round

This double gold star winning coffee is well balanced and a great all round coffee. A great coffee to have in the cupboard

Best Buy

Lavazza Rossa is the best selling coffee beans in the UK, and with good reason. Its Italy in a cup. You will not be disappointed

Best Premium

Make sure you buy the genuine 100% Jamaican Blue, if you do you’re in for a real treat. This is a fantastic coffee

The Worlds Best Coffee Beans

Lavazza-Qualita-Rossa

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Full bodied and long lasting
  • Aroma: Hints of chocolate and dried fruit
  • Beans: Arabica and Robusta
  • Origin: Brazil and Africa
  • Suitable For: Espresso, Moka Pot, French press and filter coffee machine

This is actually the best selling blend of coffee beans uk, and the number one recommended on Amazon for customer reviews.

And it is a great cup of coffee, from one of the most well known brands, and it really deserves the number one spot as the best coffee bean in the UK.

This is a medium blend with a delicate taste and will please just about everyone.

If you are looking for a great stable coffee then this is perfect.

Jamaica blue coffee beans

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Sweet, Milk Chocolate and Fruity
  • Aroma: Floral and Nutty
  • Beans: Arabica beans
  • Origin: Jamaica
  • Suitable For: Medium roasted for French Press, but you can get lightly roasted for Pour Over.

The Jamaican blue is regarded as one of the best beans in the world and is revered for its complex flavour profile. If you do fancy trying this, and you should, then make sure you get a good one. Firstly buy 100% Jamaican blue (blends can be less than 10%), and buy from roasters who knows how to handle this delicate bean.

What you will be able to enjoy is a high quality coffee with a full body and complex flavour that slowly builds on the palate.

If you are serious about coffee then you simply have to give these a go.

kona gold coffee

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Creamy Molasses and Brown Sugar
  • Aroma: Sweet and Fruity
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Origin: Hawaii (Kona Region)
  • Suitable For: Depending on the roast good for all methods

This is a 100% Kona Bean coffee, be very wary of other Kona branded coffee beans, there are a lot that are only 10% or less Kona.

The Hawaii Coffee Association certify and test every single batch of Kona and grade them on quality. Kona Gold Coffee beans received the highest possible grade of “Extra Fancy” (3) – Less than 10% of all real Kona beans obtain the top grade.

This is mountain grown on a single estate family farm, who consistently produce quality beans.

If you buy any other type of Kona bean, you will simply spending premium money buying nothing better than a standard bean.

Buy the best, it’s worth it.

Hampshire Coffee Co Medium Roast Arabica

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Dried Fruit and Hazlenut
  • Aroma: Fruity
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Origin: Blended from the best Arabica beans around the world
  • Suitable For: Espresso to Cold Brew they are great in all Coffee Makers and Machines

This premium blend from UK roasters is one of the best coffee blends available. Roasted in small batches with a emphasis on quality.

It produces a smooth, clean and well balanced coffee with a natural sweetness and hints of hazelnuts. It will carry milk well, so is perfect either black or with milk.

This is an award winning coffee and boasts 2 gold stars awarded at the great taste awards.

Lean Caffeine-Whole-Beans UK

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Dark Chocolate and Vanilla
  • Aroma: Strong and Clean
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Suitable For: Black Coffee, Espresso and Aeropress.

Don’t be confused by the name “Lean Caffeine” it does not mean Low Caffeine or decaf. No it refers to clean and low toxin coffee.

This is a different type of coffee company, they hand sort, wash and correctly store their beans. They then dark roast the beans to remove any mycotoxins, pesticides and heavy metals. This is then confirmed by lab tests.

What you get is a depth of flavour, low acidity and minimal bitterness, all from a clean coffee. If you suffer from caffeine headaches or are careful what you ingest, then this is perfect coffee producer for you.

Union Hand Roasted UK Coffee Beans

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Caramel, Dark Chocolate and Cinnamon
  • Aroma: Sweet, hints of berries and citrus
  • Beans: Arabica / Robusta
  • Origin: Blended from Guatemal, Rwanda, Burundi, Costa Rica and El Savador
  • Suitable For: All Union Roasted Coffee can be used in all methods. All though this is particularly suited to espresso and bean to cup machines

As the name suggests this Coffee Roaster is a small batch, hand roaster. Even when you order online from the big retailers, your coffee is freshly roasted to order.

The revelation dark roast is my favourite one from Union, but they offer a full range of roasted beans and there will be something for everyone.

They are 3 time winners of “Best Specialty Roaster” so they do know what they are doing.

The beans are sourced from small holder farms and each is paid a fair above market price for their beans.

Originally reserved for the high class coffee shop, it is now available for home use.

Consuelo Gran Crema

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Light Chocolate
  • Aroma: Rich Aroma
  • Beans: Arabica and Robusta
  • Origin: Brazil and Asia
  • Suitable For: Espresso or Bean to cup Machine

These mainly robusta beans are carefully selected and blended by Italian coffee masters, to give a rich, full cream on your coffee.

This a great store cupboard coffee to stock up on

Enjoy black without milk.

Lavazza Gold Selection

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Honey and Almond
  • Aroma: Smooth and Lightly acidic
  • Beans: Arabica / Robusta blend
  • Origin: Indonesia / India
  • Suitable For: Espresso, full flavoured with a rich crema.

The Lavazza Gold is one of the most popular coffee blends in Italy, used in espresso bars and high end hotels around the world. And from one of the biggest coffee brands going.

These quality beans produce a great tasting coffee you can enjoy anytime of the day. The coffee is rich, full bodied and has a long lasting chocolate/hazelnut after taste.

They will fill your kitchen with that distinctive coffee aroma.

Close your eyes as you sip your shot and you will be whisked away to Italy in an instant.

DEVIL'S ROAST Coffee

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Strong and bold
  • Aroma: Subtle notes of Nutty Chocolate
  • Beans: Premium Robusta
  • Origin: Colombia, Brazil, Kenya, Ethiopia and India
  • Suitable For:Espresso, Bean to cup, Cold Brew

This is a seriously strong coffee, so not for those who may be sensitive to caffeine. If you like a house filled with a coffee aroma then you will love these. Using fine beans from Colombia, Brazil, Africa and India.

Roasted in small batches and by hand, the Black Donkey roast coffee company really know how to treat whole bean coffee.

Taylors of Harrogate Rich Italian Coffee Beans UK

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Rich and Refined
  • Aroma: Dark Chocolate and Almond
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Origin: Latin America / Africa
  • Suitable For: French Press, Pour Over

Taylors are coffee roasters with a difference, instead of roasting to match a flavour, they roast to suit an occasion. These are perfect as an after dinner coffee.

Inspired by the local roasting style of Northern Italy. This medium dark roast coffee is great from a French Press or Espresso machine. Serve Black to get the best out of this blend.

Cafédirect Fairtrade Machu Picchu Coffee

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Rich, Smooth and Nutty
  • Aroma: Full Bodied with Dark Chocolate overtones
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Origin: Peru
  • Suitable For: Cafetiere, Filter Coffee Machine

Pure and hand picked 100% Arabica organic coffee beans grown in lush areas of the Andes, close to the famous site of Machu Pichu.

They offer a distinctive and subtle nutty flavour, with hints of dark chocolate.

Best brewed gently in either a Cafetiere or filter machine, to protect its subtleties, this is perfect for anyone who likes a gentle taste.

Zavida HazelnutVanilla Coffee

Things to like

  • Tasting Notes: Gourmet Flavour
  • Aroma: Nutty hazelnut, creamy vanilla
  • Beans: Arabica
  • Origin: Central America
  • Suitable For: A great all round bean

This 100% Arabica organic coffee bean produces a smooth taste and creamy cup of coffee.

A great all round bean that is suitable for all brewing methods, you just need to grind it to the right level.

What is also great is for every bag sold the company will plant a new tree in the rain forests of Central America.

A good cup of Coffee with a conscience

The Ultimate Coffee Bean Buying Guide

The Three Secrets To Choosing The Right Beans

Earlier I promised you the 3 simple secrets you need to consider when choosing your perfect coffee beans.

They will help you narrow down the choices and make the whole process less overwhelming.

So without further ado, here you go….

The Flavour You Like

The very first and most important consideration is what type of coffee drinker are you, and what flavour do you enjoy?

The growing region, type of bean, roast and even blend can all have an impact on the flavour profile. But a quick guide is

A Full Flavoured Coffee : If you are a fan of the traditional coffee taste, then go for an Arabica bean or blend with a dark roast. You can alter the strength of taste by adding milk

Exotic and Floral : To enjoy the more subtle floral flavor notes of certain coffees, you will need a lightly roasted bean of single origin. Due to the delicate profile you should have it black, and brew using the pour over method to extract more of the flavours.

Fruity and Mixed : Fans of the more fruity and modern coffees will need a medium roast and look for a quality blend. An experienced blender can balance the exact flavours you require, there are endless flavour choices available.

What Type Of Coffee Maker

The method you use to brew your coffee, should have significant impact on your choice of beans. Certain methods will require a certain type:

Espresso Machine : For an espresso machine you need to use a dark roast that can handle the pressure and the brewing method. I would go for something like an Italian roasted Arabica or a Robusta/Arabica blend.

Cold Brew : You want a high acidity level as the cold brew process will reduce the level over time. For this method I recommend a light roast, single origin bean. Preferably from high altitude.

French Press / Cafetiere : Here you are looking for a medium or even a dark roast, the French Press lowers the bitterness so you can get away with the stronger roasts.

Drip Coffee / Pour Over : This is a very delicate method of brewing. Choose a lightly roasted bean with the flavour hints that excite you.

Other coffee methods such as bean to cup you can get away with anything up from the lighter roasts.

Personal Requirements

Everyone is different and their requirements will be just as different, you probably have a good idea of these already, but here are a few things to bear in mind:

Caffeine Junkie : Look out for a highly caffeinated bean, be careful some can pack a real punch if you’re not used to them

Caffeine Sensitive : If you’re the opposite then look for the best decaf options. Mostly these will be pre ground, but you can find a few whole decaf coffee beans.

Prefer Milk : If you not a fan of black and neat coffee, and you insist on a little milk. Then go for a darker roasted bean.

Low Tolerance : For those like my dear old mum, who love a coffee but find it upsets the tummy, then don’t despair you probably just need a low acid option

Arabica vs Robusta?

98% of the coffee consumed is from either Arabica or Robusta beans, but what’s the difference?

Arabica beans : Are harder to cultivate and therefore cost more. But they do produce a smoother and sweeter coffee (they actually contain more sugars). The Arabica coffee beans contain less caffeine than the Robusta bean

Robusta beans : Due to the higher concentration of caffeine and less sugar the Robusta bean gives a harsher and more bitter flavour. The Robusta is a lot easier to cultivate and is therefore cheaper.

A third and popular option is a blend of the two, which if done by someone who knows what they are doing can produce an excellent coffee.

Single Origin or Blends?

A single origin coffee is as it sounds sourced from a single place, this means all the beans come from the same crop, grown by the same farmer. Think single malt whiskey.

A blend is therefore a mix of beans that can come from all over the world, think blended scotch.

As a rule of thumb single origin will be better quality and a blend will offer more balance.

There is no real right and wrong here, but to go back to my whisky analogy, then a single source should be enjoyed neat, meaning don’t ruin it with milk. You wouldn’t ruin a single malt whiskey with coke?

How Much Should I Buy?

This is not as simple as saying “as much as you can afford” or some other general remark. No there are a couple of points you need to consider first.

A 250 gram pack of whole coffee beans will be enough on average for 15 cups. So you need to consider how much you use, I would suggest not buying more than one months worth at a time. So if you drink one cup a day, the 500 gram is enough, 2 cups a day then 1kg is enough.

You could extend this out to two months at a time if you have adequate storage, such as a specialty airtight beans container.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Beans Make The Best Espresso?

Due to the extraction method used to make an espresso leading to a more sour coffee, I would recommend using a dark roast to add balance to your shot. Check out my full guide to the best espresso beans

Which Are The Best Beans For a French Press?

Generally a medium roast or dark roast will be better in a French Press or cafetiere, due to having a higher oil content.

You will want to grind these coarse as this will give a greater surface area for the brew to take place, resulting in a fuller flavour coffee. A more coarse grind will also ensure none of the grounds escape through the filter into your cup, there’s nothing worse than a mouthful of grounds, yuck!

What Are The Best Beans To Make A Cold Brew?

Cold Brewing your coffee will lower its acidity level, and since the acidity is essential to its distinct flavour profile, I recommend a highly acidic bean. These are usually those that are grown at higher altitudes.

Can You Get A Good Decaffeinated Coffee?

Of the three decaffeination methods the best one is the Swiss Water Method (1), this is the only commercially viable method not to use solvents, and as such protects more of the flavour and aroma. This method is also certified organic.

Just look out for the logo or trademark when choosing your decaf coffee.

Which Are The Worlds Best Coffee Beans?

If you believe price is a direct result of quality then the worlds best coffee bean is the Kopi Luwak beans(2). These are coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of Asian palm civet. I personally think this is gimmicky, especially when it works out at £50 a cup.

In reality the best coffee beans are the ones you like the most, that have been responsibly sourced and don’t break the bank.

What Makes The Best Whole Bean Coffee?

What makes a whole beans good can be judged simply by eye. What you should look for is a consistent colour across the beans, a uniform size and shape, and there should be no cracks or broken beans. You are looking for coffee beans that have been grown and handled with love.

FYI All the beans featured on my list of the best coffee beans can be considered a great whole bean.

Why You Should Use Coffee Beans over Pre-Ground?

Simply put using fresh coffee beans over pre-ground will ensure your coffee is a fresh as possible and give you the maximum flavour and aroma. Sure ground coffee offers convenience but as soon as you grind the beans they start to deteriorate.

What Coffee Beans Should I Not Buy?

All decent roasters will have a roasted on date on the pack, this is essential to know how fresh they are. Avoid any roaster that does not disclose this information as they are probably hiding something.

Also I am a huge fan of co-operatives and always ensure I buy from a company that participates in one of these. It doesn’t have to be “fair trade” but something with similar ethics. I would avoid those that don’t, if you knew the extent of the bad labour practices outside of these it would make your coffee taste sour.

The Final Verdict

Lavazza Qualita Rossa 1

Among the plethora of different Coffee Beans available to buy in the UK, there is one that stands out from the crowd and is universally loved. The Lavazza Rossa is a little taste of Italy right in your own home.

The best selling bean in the UK it has the taste of luxury, but at a price tag that means you can enjoy it daily and not just as a treat.

About Jacques Carner

Jacques is the man behind behind We Spill The Beans. He as a lover of all things coffee, and has previously worked as a buyer for one of the biggest coffee companies in the world. You can find more about him here.