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The Best Coffee Beans To Buy in 2021: 15 of Our Favorite Picks

A warm cup of coffee and spoon on a saucer with coffee beans.

Nothing beats the first sip of hot coffee to start the day right– regardless if it’s a dark roast made from coarse grounds and a French Press or something less strong and dark via your reliable Mr. Coffee. But like everything in life, there’s always room for improvement. Whether it’s owning a high-end coffeemaker or buying the right milk or milk frother, the ideal method for making the perfect cup of coffee is easier than you think. In addition to tasting great and kickstarting your day, coffee also promotes liver health and reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

While we’re all for coffee clubs and coffee subscription services, there will come a time when you need to be in charge of your coffee beans. We’ve done our research to bring you our comprehensive list of the best coffee beans that will surely please your palate and elevate your mornings. A word of advice: Coffee beans do expire, so don’t let them sit for too long in the kitchen.

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Best Overall: Water Avenue

A bag of coffee beans from Water Avenue.

Portland, Oregon, knows coffee, and Water Avenue has long been a model roaster in the caffeine-addicted city. The outfit reigns supreme in all facets, from flavor and variety to presentation and packaging. The beans — the most important part — are roasted so deftly that you can recreate the quintessential coffee shop experience at home with ease.

Best Dark Roast Coffee: Stone Street Coffee Company

Coffee beans beside a bag of Stone Street coffee beans.
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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. Too often, a dark roast coffee is too intense to drink without a heavy pour of milk, but that’s not the case here.

Best Light Roast Coffee: Cognoscenti Coffee

A coffee bean label from Cognoscenti Coffee.

It’s no surprise a warm-weather town like Los Angeles would specialize in a lighter roast style of coffee. Cognoscenti turn out some of the best of the category, without sacrificing big flavor profiles. You’ll fall for this lauded roaster if you’re a fan of fruit and citrus-driven coffees.

Best Budget Coffee: Peet’s Coffee

A black bag of coffee beans from Peet's Coffee.

Peet’s has done some cool things over the years, like collaborating with a brewery to create a coffee-infused IPA. Throughout, the roaster has produced quality beans at a great price. Stalwart options like Major Dickason’s Blend continue to impress without putting a large dent in your bank account.

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Best for Espresso: Onyx Coffee Lab

Four bags of Onyx Coffee Lab coffee beans in front of a box.
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Award-winning Arkansas specialist Onyx Coffee Lab is always up to something creative in its roastery. While its coffee bean selection is strong and worth your time, the company is also behind some fantastic espresso beans. If you want to elevate your single-shot or Americano game, check ’em out.

Best Flavored Coffee: Java Pura

An Espresso coffee bean bag from Java Pura.

Houston’s Java Pura is doing great things in the Lone Star State for coffee. The company does fine cold brew, makes a surprisingly good batch of decaf (not that you don’t need the caffeine), and even has a barrel-aged series of coffee beans. You can always count on big, memorable flavors with this roaster, including a tasty espresso blend.

Best Variety: Intelligentsia

A red bag of coffee beans from Intelligentsia.

Intelligentsia has grown significantly over the years but without losing sight of its quest to produce top-notch coffee. The Chicago roaster has been at it since 1995 and has since developed relationships with growers all over the planet. In turn, it has created an impressive portfolio of coffees. If you’re after diversity in origin and flavor, be a coffee tourist with Intelligentsia.

Best Whole Bean Coffee: Stumptown

The Hair Bender coffee bean bag from Stumptown.

Stumptown has become a real force in the coffee landscape and for good reason. 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.

Best Sustainable Coffee: Peace Coffee

A bag of coffee beans from Peace Coffee.

Out of Minneapolis, Peace Coffee has become synonymous with fair trade practices and sustainable farming. You’ll enjoy sipping the roaster’s work as well as knowing your money is going to something worthwhile. Peace Coffee was founded by the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy, a non-profit devoted to equity in farming and fair agricultural practices.

Best Single-Origin Coffee: Coava

A bag of coffee beans from Coava.

A trip to Coava’s flagship coffee shop is a sensory joy. Fortunately, you can recreate that experience at home with the roaster’s outstanding cast of single-origin offerings. You’re bound to come away with a new favorite coffee region on top of a fantastic cup of joe.

Best Ground Coffee: Brooklyn Roasting Company

A can of coffee beans from Brooklyn Roasting Company.

Brooklyn Roasting is one of the better East Coast roasters. Even better, the company grinds just about everything it makes, in a variety of coarse levels depending on how you like to make your perfect cup. The outfit makes some great beans and does so in a socially conscious way that’s worth supporting.

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Best Instant Coffee: Waka Coffee

A bag of coffee beans from Waka Coffee.
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Sometimes you don’t have time to do the whole coffee rigamarole. Enter instant coffee, which for years was nothing more than dirt-flavored caffeine. It’s vastly improved, with purveyors like Waka turning out some fantastic coffee you’d never know was instant in a blind tasting. Waka Coffee is a brand that consistently works toward combating water waste, so you’ll be supporting a brand with the environment in mind.

Best Coffee for K-Cups: Dunkin’ Donuts

A cup of Iced Coffee K-Cup from Dunkin' Donuts.

Face it, Dunkin’ Donuts has always made a good cup of coffee. Not only it is a bargain buy, but it’s available in pod format for your at-home Keurig pleasure. Now you just need some donuts to accompany the java.

Best Coffee in a Can: Cafe du Monde

A 15-oz. can of Cafe du Monde coffee beans.

A New Orleans staple, chicory coffee is delicious and fun to drink. Cafe du Monde is the most iconic brand on the market, with its signature can and very bayou-style insignia. The taste will send you straight to morning along Bourbon Street, and you can hold onto the cool can when you’re done and use it to store your coffee tools.

Best Coffee Splurge: Kona Gold

A bag of Kona Gold coffee beans.
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Sometimes you need to go with the really good stuff. Kona is world-renowned for its coffee, which is incredibly smooth and full of many delicate flavor layers. And it’s best to go with the real deal (aka 100% Kona), like Kona Gold. Consider it your special occasion coffee.

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