Last Updated: 14-08-2020

12 Best Coffee Beans for 2020

Coffee beans are of course the basis of all cups of coffee. Thankfully, there are literally thousands of blends out there to choose from if you have a very particular taste in mind

Or you may actually see this as a negative if you have no idea what to look for. From all of the different tastes and origins to the individual roasters and coffee requirements, there is a lot to take in, especially for someone buying their first-ever batch of beans.

So, we have compiled a guide of some of our personal favourites below, as well as notes on their particular USP’s if you’re looking for something particular.

Grab your coffee grinder and get ready to be taken on a journey of quality coffee…

Our Top Picks

Image Product Details
Lavazza Super Crema Coffee Beans
  • Taste: Hazelnut, Brown sugar
  • Origin: South America/Indonesia
  • Type: Blend
  • Capacity: 1kg
  • Grind Choice: Beans
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Guatemala Elephant Coffee
  • Taste: Chocolate, Orange
  • Origin: Guatemala
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Capacity: 125g, 250g, 500g, 1kg
  • Grind Choice: Beans, Cafetière, Filter, Espresso, Turkish
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Taylors of Harrogate Hot Lava Java Coffee Beans
  • Taste: Smokey, Nutty
  • Origin: Indonesia
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Capacity: 1kg
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean
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The Best Coffee Bean Brands

1.
Guatemala Elephant Coffee

Specifications

  • Taste: Chocolate, Orange
  • Origin: Guatemala
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Capacity: 125g, 250g, 500g, 1kg
  • Grind Choice: Beans, Cafetière, Filter, Espresso, Turkish

This Arabica coffee, from Whittards of Chelsea, is their most popular medium-dark roast with good reason.

The dark chocolate and orange flavour is really powerful, which is ideal for anyone with a love of rich flavours and something which gives quite a hit. The deep roasted bass tones are the first thing you taste, then the soft fruity top notes come through, with a balanced chocolatey sweetness to finish.

And, as another USP, the beans dwarf most other varieties as they are almost triple the size. It is often agreed that larger beans are of better quality because they have developed and ripened for longer.

If you have a dedicated bean to cup machine you may need to shift them around a bit to fit them into the grinder because of the size, but it will be worth it.

2.
Lavazza Super Crema Coffee Beans

Specifications

  • Taste: Hazelnut, Brown sugar
  • Origin: South America/Indonesia
  • Type: Blend
  • Capacity: 1kg
  • Grind Choice: Beans

One of the most popular beans around the world, from a well-known brand which you can rely on.

If you’re looking for something which can give the ultimate crema, then this unique blend is perfect as there is a long-lasting foam created no matter which technique you use. They would be the absolute best if used in espresso, however, which isn’t dulled down by milk and other additions.

The use of Arabica/Robusta in a 60:40 ratio gives you the best of both worlds, and there are notes of hazelnut and brown sugar for a smooth taste. The beans have been medium roasted, so are just that right middle-level for everyone’s taste buds.

3.
CRU Kafe Organic Honduran Coffee Beans

Specifications

  • Taste: Roasted cashew, Caramel, Stone fruits
  • Origin: Honduras
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Capacity: 250g
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean, Ground

Fairtrade, ethical organic coffee which features smooth, full-bodied tastes with hints of sweet and mild fruits and caramels.

Perfect for any time of day, the medium roast Arabica contains a good kick of caffeine as well as a balance which will fit any taste palates. It’s available in either whole bean or pre-ground.

4.
Pact Coffee House Espresso

Specifications

  • Taste: Chocolate, Toffee
  • Origin: Multiple
  • Type: Blend
  • Capacity: 250g
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean, Aeropress, Cafetiere, Drip, Espresso, Stovetop

Espresso beans are often roasted longer and/or at a higher temperature than beans for other types of coffee (although can be used in other methods, too).

A finer, more dedicated flavour is also seen as beneficial. This coffee from Pact is a dark espresso, with hints of chocolate and toffee. The mix of Arabica beans, perfectly selected to work together, are ideal for espresso.

Pact has also ensured that it is perfect for those who are just trying to get into the coffee, with a taste that is ‘familiar coffee’ with popular hints which linger. As a bonus, you can buy it as a one-off or in a recurring plan.

5.
Caravan Coffee Roasters The Daily Blend

Specifications

  • Taste: Dark chocolate, Brown sugar and Praline
  • Origin: Guatemala, Kenya, Indonesia
  • Type: Blend
  • Capacity: 250g
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean, Ground

Perfect for seasoned coffee lovers as well as anybody who wants a safe introduction to coffee which packs a flavour profile.

The blend has been perfectly recreated by the team at Caravan to work well using any method. The chocolate and praline are just subtle, meaning it won’t overpower the coffee taste for anybody who still wants this to overrule, but is enough for anybody who isn’t too sure about full-on coffee flavours.

6.
illy Classico Coffee Beans

Specifications

  • Taste: Caramel, Orange blossom, Jasmine
  • Origin: Multiple
  • Type: Blend
  • Capacity: 250g
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean

The classic medium roast taste from a brand who you will have likely had in a coffee shop once upon a time. Rather than trying to craft multiple coffees over the year, illy have put all of their time and research into creating this one which they believe is the finest possible.

Using Arabica beans originating from nine various growers around the world, the delicate sweetness and lingering taste profiles come through in abundance. 

All the beans have been sustainably grown, and illy have direct relationships with the growers. They have even been on the list of the most ethical companies to work for every year since 2013.

We love how they come in a recyclable pressurised can as opposed to a bag, so they can remain fresh until used (recommended that this is within a month).

7.
Taylors of Harrogate Hot Lava Java Coffee Beans

Specifications

  • Taste: Smokey, Nutty
  • Origin: Indonesia
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Capacity: 1kg
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean

This coffee is roast level 6, for someone who loves extra-dark roasts and really smokey, rugged flavour profiles (but there are lower roast levels available, too).

The beans are sourced from growers in Indonesia and use a mix of Arabica and Robusta. Roasting then takes place in Yorkshire by a traditional drum roaster.

The beans can be ground to your particular taste and method, and work especially well in espresso, cafetiere or drip methods.

8.
Neighbourhood Coffee You’ve Got A Blend In Me

Specifications

  • Taste: Blackberry, Cacao, Liquorice
  • Origin: Ethiopia, Brazil
  • Type: Blend
  • Capacity: 250g
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean, Ground

A Great Taste 2018 winner, this coffee is an espresso blend with a lot going on which will take you on a journey.

The fruity punch is the real stand-out, with a berry vibe, and you then get hints of chocolate, spice and liquorice creeping in. You can drink it with milk as the flavours still shine through, although the more you add, the more the chocolate will stand out.

Therefore, it is great for anyone who drinks both black and milk coffee depending on the method used, or the mood you are in. Each cup will give you a varied taste.

Neighbourhood says it is particularly great for drinking in the evenings, afternoons, or after-dinner when you have time to savour it. As well as espresso, it also works particularly well if you use an Aeropress.

9.
True Start Coffee Energising Colombian

Specifications

  • Taste: Citrus, Caramel, Dark chocolate
  • Origin: Colombia
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Capacity: 200g
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean, Ground

Made from 100% arabica beans which are really intense with flavours such as citrus and chocolate, this is a really vibrant pick for anyone who doesn’t necessarily want the coffee to be the taste at the forefront.

It has a high speciality grade, with a Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Q-grade (scores above 82.5). All of the packaging is environmentally friendly and sustainable, and the coffee is naturally vegan as well as being Barista approved.

10.
Brown Bear Blue Mountain Blend

Specifications

  • Taste: Toffee, Caramel
  • Origin: Costa Rica
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Capacity: 227g, 1kg
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean, Ground

Blue Mountain Coffee is a classification of coffee which people specifically search out due to the mild flavour and lack of bitterness. Originally grown in Jamaica, it can now be found elsewhere in the world too.

This particular blend from Brown Bear has hints of caramel and toffee for the perfect midday treat – smooth and elegant, but still with the same caffeine punch you need to push you through. The roast level is three which is a nice mid-compromise, but 1-5 are available.

The coffee comes in resealable bags, and the beans are 100% arabica. If you need any more persuasion, 5% of sales are donated to the Free the Bears Charity.

11.
FITCH Brew Co Coffee Beans

Specifications

  • Taste: Caramel, Chocolate
  • Origin: Colombia
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Capacity: 250g
  • Grind Choice: Whole Beans, Ground

Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee from Colombia, with hints of chocolate and caramel for a really luxurious afternoon pick-me-up.

The beans have been specifically chosen for these flavour pairings, and are then roasted in the UK to a medium roast. It sits nicely in the middle of the weak/strong scale, so will give you enough of a satisfying boost without going too far.

The bag is resealable, although we would always suggest getting a dedicated storage container.

12.
The Gentleman Baristas Gatsby

Specifications

  • Taste: Cacao, Orange zest, Cherry liqueur
  • Origin: Cordillera, El Salvador
  • Type: Single Origin
  • Capacity: 250g
  • Grind Choice: Whole Bean, Ground

A brand with coffee shops situated throughout London, infamous for their oldy-worldy takes on hospitality. Think of the glamorous world of Peaky Blinders, or indeed The Great Gatsby which this coffee gives its name to.

These beans are fruity and have a little bit of a sweet liqueur kick as well. They’re from the red bourbon variety and are cultivated under native shaded trees to improve and conserve the soil and provide habitat for local wildlife. This makes the beans perfectly vegan.

All beans achieve AA grading, and these ones work best in an Aeropress, French Press or Pour-over method. There is a roasting date so you can maintain freshness too.

The Gentleman Baristas have loads of blends if this one doesn’t quite take your fancy. They’re all named after hats for a cool twist too.

The Ultimate Coffee Bean Buying Guide

How To Choose Your Coffee Beans

Above, we have some of our favourites, and a pick for pretty much every flavour profile, method and preference. But how do you narrow it down to what you want?

Ask yourself three simple questions – which method are you using, which flavours are you seeking and what kind of coffee drinker you are.

Method

  • French Press – Medium to dark roast for a full bodied taste
  • Cold Brew – Light roasted, higher-acidity beans. Single origin is great for maximum taste. We have listed our favourites here
  • Espresso Machine – You want a dark roast for more flavour without milk and sugar
  • Pour Over/Drip – If you don’t add milk, choose an exotic single origin bean with stand-out flavour notes of your choice which will be intense
  • Pod Machine – You can’t use any of the beans above (unless you prepare your own pods using a fine ground). Look at our picks of the best Nespresso pods instead

Any other method, such as bean to cup, is pretty flexible and can adhere best to your tastes

Flavours

  • Fruity, Floral Exotic Flavours – Opt for light roast single origin coffee. Best drunk without milk and using a drip method
  • Full Bodied Coffee Taste – After the classic palate? Go for dark roast coffee. You are flexible with aftertastes, and can add milk
  • Fruity Picks – Something medium roast from Africa, or a speciality house blend, will likely give you this. You can choose between berries, citrus or floral picks

Circumstances

How do you drink your coffee? As mentioned above, if you use milk, a darker roast is best so the coffee flavours still emerge through the dairy. Anybody who needs something quick may be best buying pre-ground, and using a cafetiere or automatic coffee machine, so pick accordingly.

When you drink the coffee can also have an impact. You may want an invigorating strong roast in the morning, but something more mellow with hints of caramel for a post-lunch perk.

Grind Choice

We have included this information because despite being a page for the Best Coffee Beans, you don’t necessarily have to buy them as beans.

While we would always recommend buying beans and grinding them just before use, this does require a grinder or bean to cup machine, so it is easier for a lot of people to buy it pre-ground, even if it means it has to be used within ~two weeks.

Capacity

A 250g bag will give you around 15 cups. By this following, a 1kg bag will be enough for around 60 cups.

Think about how much coffee you drink. Freshly roasted beans should ideally be used within a month, so if you are only partial to a coffee rather than drinking two or three per day, a small bag will be plenty.

Origins

There are two things to bear in mind here – country, and blend.

Where the coffee bean was grown can have a big effect on taste. Ethipian coffee has distinct fruity flavours, like berry, with floral notes. Guatemalan coffee has chocolate hints in the aftertaste, with nutty hues when being drunk. El Salvador coffee can see plum or red fruit.

This isn’t to say your coffee will definitely have these flavours because of where they come from, but it is used as a good guide.

The blend can either be single origin or house blend. Single origin means one bean, from one grower, so there will be a particular taste. A house blend is a mix of beans, usually from different countries, to create an overall taste.

FAQs

Why choose coffee beans?

Why beans over the ready-ground coffee available in the supermarket? Surely that just means more faff and work for you?

Well yes, there is a bit of grinding needed from you, but the closer a bean is ground to when it is used, the fresher it will taste. You can still buy most of the above beans pre-ground if you don’t have any access to a grinder, however.

Buying the beans is also perfect for anyone who wants to grind to a particular level, or who uses multiple types of coffee maker and would require various grinds.

Is there anywhere I shouldn’t buy coffee beans from?

Not particularly. All we will say is that you should be wary of anywhere where freshness could be a possible issue, such as supermarkets or grocery stores where the beans could have been in storage for quite a while before being sold.

Online, this could be any store which doesn’t give you the option of your beans arriving whole bean or pre-ground. Any coffee which is roasted/ground to order should feature a roasting date on the packaging so you can keep on top of the freshness.

But in general, buying from a named brand such as an online coffee store or large supermarket will mean you’re getting quality, and they won’t have been sitting around long enough for their taste to be impacted anyway.

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