I am not afraid to admit it; I love coffee. I don’t know if my love for coffee comes from the caffeine kick, the smell, the warmth or the morning routine it provides. Either way, if you are anything like me (and most of the world), coffee is essential. No matter what language you speak, how you brew it or where you live, people are fueled by coffee.
Your preferred cup of joe might be much different than someone living halfway across the world, but at the end of the day, you both live for that caffeine jolt.
But have you ever really thought about where your coffee comes from? What do you really like about your morning coffee? Is it the coffee beans? Do you flock to a medium roast or a dark roast? Maybe you have never really thought about the intricate details and complex flavors in your coffee.
For most of us, as long as the flavor is good and it smells good, we are satisfied. It can become pretty overwhelming when you get into the vast world of nitty-gritty details. From fair trade to local roasters and French press to cold brew, there are countless ways to source and brew that delicious beverage.
If you feel overwhelmed or confused when someone asks you if you prefer Arabica or Liberica beans, this guide will help you determine the 11 best coffee grounds for you and your palette.
Best Coffee Grounds
Peet's Coffee Luminosa Breakfast Blend
Volcanica Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee
Death Wish Coffee
Lavazza Super Crema
Stone Street Coffee Knee Buckling Espresso
Kauai Whole Bean
Real Good Coffee Co. Donut Shop
Folgers Classic Roast
Delacora WE-BDDOL Full Steel Loft Bed
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Ground Coffee
Cafe Altura Freeze Dried Instant Organic Coffee
Types of Beans
You may have heard of the four main types of coffee beans at some point or another. Arabica and Robusta are the main commercial beans sold, while Liberica and Excelsa are a little less common. But do you know what beans you prefer?
Arabica beans are definitely the dominant coffee bean when it comes to world production, accounting for around 60% of the global production. These trusty beans have been around since 1699 and thrive in wet climates with lots of shade and some elevation. Arabica beans are grown in places like Brazil, Guatemala, Jamaica, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Sri Lanka and more. Think lush, humid environment with some sort of mountain or elevation gain. These little beans are pretty labor-intensive to produce and vulnerable to diseases and pesticides if not cared for properly.
The aromas in Arabica beans are deep. They are full-body beans with lower acidity and are full of flavor. And it is best to drink Arabica beans hot.
Now onto the second most commonly consumed type of coffee beans, Robusta. Unlike Arabica beans, these beans can withstand just about anything. They originated in sub-Saharan Africa but are now grown in places like Vietnam, Indonesia and India. These beans are much easier to care for and not as susceptible to diseases and mass contamination. They grow in hot climates, lower altitudes and need way less moisture to thrive.
With a more earthy flavor and high bitterness, these beans are seen in Italian espresso beans due to the flavor punch they offer. Robusta beans offer more caffeine than Arabica beans and often have chocolate undertones.
Robusta beans are perfect for steaming with milk, cream, sugar or other additives because you don’t lose the flavor in your cup of coffee or the caffeine kick.
Liberica & Excelsa
While Liberica coffee beans are much harder to get your hands on, they should not be forgotten. Liberica beans helped save the Arabica beans during the late 1800s coffee rust, which wiped out 90% of the world’s coffee plants.
The Philippines saved the day and offered to grow beans to help the coffee demand. However, the United States and the Philippines cut ties, making it so these beans really weren’t reintroduced into the coffee game until 1995. As great as it is that they could get back in the fold, the Arabica beans dominate the industry, making it hard to keep up.
These beans are now primarily grown in the Philippines and Malaysia. They offer more fruity and floral notes. Some drinkers have described the taste to be woody or smokey as well. Liberica beans come at a premium price tag due to the demand. They also offer much lower amounts of caffeine than Robusta or Arabica beans.
Last but not least are the Excelsa beans. While they only make up about 1% of the coffee bean consumption worldwide, they are a diamond in the rough.
These coffee beans are technically part of the Libercia family, but some people still think of them as many different beans. They are used in coffee blends to give a little bit more depth of flavor and offer tart, fruity and mild undertones. They are a combination of a dark and light roast with their full-body flavor profiles.
Whole Bean vs. Ground
Most coffee is sold pre-ground. But you may have your own coffee grinder at home or have seen the grinders at the grocery store in the coffee aisle.
Whole bean coffee comes as the entire bean. You can grind it up to whatever consistency you like, and it is great for making espresso or pour-over coffee. Whole beans also last longer, so if you are an infrequent coffee drinker or only turn on the coffee pot when you have guests over, whole beans are a better route.
Ground coffee is pre-ground for you and great for old-school drip coffee makers. The grounds are going to be a lot finer than if you were to grind it yourself.
Types of Roasts
Places like Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Dunkin and other commercial coffee retailers all offer a light and dark roast coffee. Do you know what the difference is between the roasts? The best-tasting coffee to you might be different than your significant other.
Before serving coffee, the beans must be roasted. The roasting time and the amount of heat will affect the color and affect the flavor and smell as well.
Coffee lovers across the globe have an opinion when it comes to their preferred roast.
A light roast coffee is going to be, shockingly, lighter in color. Since light roast beans are not roasted as long, the flavor is mild, offering floral and fruit flavors. Light roasts are often more acidic and allow the full bean flavor to pop through.
Common light roasts are Half-City, Cinnamon, Light-City, American and New England.
Dark roast coffee is going to be much more bitter than a light roast. With dark roasted coffee beans, the oils actually come out of the bean and rise to the surface, causing them to have a shiny or oily hue.
A dark roasted bean is going to taste smokey, bitter, less acidic and at times spicey.
Types of bold dark roasts are espresso, Italian, French, Continental, European and Viennese.
Medium roasts are in between a dark and light roast with a middle-of-the-road brown color. They still offer a strong flavor but do not have an oily shine on top of the beans. They have a slightly sweet flavor and middle-of-the-road acidity. You might also see medium-dark roasts on menus, which are just closer to a darker roasting time and a more bitter flavor.
This is the most popular kind of roast Americans buy. Types of medium roasts are Breakfast, Full City, American and Regular Roast.
Blends are just a combination of different roasted beans. Specialty coffee shops will create their own unique blends with different flavor notes. This is common for flavored coffees or seasonal tasting notes. Blends offer deep flavors and take a little longer to produce, which can come at a higher price point.
Ways to Brew Coffee
There are so many different ways to get your caffeine fix. Here are the most common ways to brew your coffee.
Coffee Maker/ Drip Coffee
Making drip coffee from a coffee maker is by far the easier way to make a cup of joe.
All you need is medium grind beans. Add the grinds to your maker, fill your coffee pot with water, pour into the coffee machine, push start and sit back and wait.
Make sure to measure your amount of coffee grounds out by how many cups of coffee you are going to make. A good rule of thumb is 2 tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water. If you like a stronger brew you will want to add more grounds. Likewise, if you like a weaker coffee, either add more water or less grounds.
Most drip coffee makers these days even have settings on them where you can queue up your morning coffee in the morning to be ready for you. Just add in your grinds and water the night before and set up the timer.
French press coffee has been around for many, many years. This might be your grandparent’s preferred method of brewing their coffee. While this method does take a little bit more time, it is very easy.
First, you need a French press maker, coarse coffee grounds and boiling water. Like any brewing method, the amount of grounds is dictated by the amount of coffee you are making. Add the grounds to your French press, then add the water and wait about 3 minutes, then push down the little plunger and voila, your cup of coffee is ready to go.
French press coffee is very flavorful, but be careful drinking the last few sips, and there could be some residuals if your grind is too fine.
This is also a great way to brew coffee if you are camping!
Pour over coffee is said to brew some of the best tasting coffee out there. But there is a reason for that, it is the most meticulous way you can brew and you need a few special tools on hand to do so.
You will need a grinder, filter, kettle (preferably gooseneck), brewer and a scale. If you are really particular you will want to have a sifter and a thermometer to make a classic cup of pour over coffee.
To make pour over you will grind and weigh out your coffee grounds and experts recommend a 1:17 coffee to water ratio. (1 gram of coffee and 17 grams of water – hence why you need the scale).
Then you will add your filter to your brewer, add in the coffee and heat up your water. Coffee experts suggest around 200 degrees Fahrenheit for the ideal temperature.
Once the water is ready, pour over your coffee grounds in the filter, set a time and wait. In about three minutes your coffee will be ready! Remove the filter and enjoy.
If you know anything about coffee, you know what an espresso is; you might even own an espresso machine at home if you really love caffeine.
These little machines need a little time to heat up, require finely ground beans and are going to be the most concentrated form of coffee you can get. Espresso comes out in a shot. It will be quite bitter if you just drink the shot and it is meant to be sipped, not taken all at once.
You can choose to add water, milk or other flavors to create your drink of choice. Common drinks served with espresso are lattes, cappuccinos, americanos and macchiatos.
My personal favorite is cold brew coffee and is actually pretty easy to make at home.
All you need is coffee grounds, a French press and some patience. It is the same method as making French press coffee except you let it steep for 12 to 24 hours. The longer you let it steep the stronger it will be. The slower process offers that strong, concentrated taste that is full of flavor.
The Best Coffee Grounds
Now that you know all about the types of beans, what flavors come from different roasts and the most common brewing methods, it is time to share the eleven best coffee grounds out there.
Best Dark Roast Coffee – Stone Street Coffee Knee Buckling Espresso
Stone Street coffee is a small batch roaster from Brooklyn, New York, that has been roasting delicious beans since 2009. Despite being a small-batch roaster, they have the ability to sell to a wholesale market.
The Knee Buckling Espresso blend is no joke, as you might guess by the name. It is 100% Arabica and a velvety taste. This coffee would be great for lattes, cappuccinos or as a delicious shot. You can get this dark roast in a whole bean or ground variety and it comes in a one, two or five-pound option.
Flavors: Full-body, not too bitter, rich crema
Best Light Roast Coffee – Peet’s Coffee Luminosa Breakfast Blend
You have probably seen Peet’s coffee at your local grocery store. There are tons of different roasts and flavors, but the Colombia Luminosa blend is the best right roast option on the market. This 100% Arabica Coffee has a light and floral flavor and would be great for a beginner coffee drinker.
Peet’s prides themselves on their high-quality bean sourcing, so if you are looking to dip into other varietals that won’t break the bank, you can always pick up a few bags with your next grocery order.
Flavors: Stonefruit, passionflower
Best Arabica Coffee – Volcanica Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee
The best Arabica coffee comes from the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Volcanica Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee is a full-body coffee with lots of rich flavors, giving you that true Arabica taste. Peaberry coffee beans have a richer flavor than other types of beans.
Volcanica roasts are fair-trade and rainforest alliance certified, organically grown, and made with beans from around the world cultivated from volcanic regions, but roasted in Atlanta, GA at a family-owned facility.
Flavors: Lightly fruity, chocolate and citrus
Best Robusta Coffee – Death Wish Coffee
Known as the “world’s strongest ground coffee,” Death Wish Coffee is another coffee shop from New York City. Made with USDA-certified organic fair-trade coffee beans, this is the most caffeinated coffee brand out there.
You can expect rich, bold flavors without any bitterness or additives. Once you try a bag of Death Wish Coffee, you are never going to want to buy store-bought grounds again. If you aren’t delighted with the strongest coffee in the world, Death Wish will refund you without any questions.
Flavors: Chocolate and cherry
Best Italian Coffee – Lavazza Super Crema
Italians know a thing or two about their coffee and Lavazza has been roasting coffee beans since 1895. The Lavazza family still brews Lavazza coffee after four generations with pride.
They blend Arabica and Robusta beans to create unique one-of-a-kind flavors. Lavazza Super Crema is no exception.
This coffee is best made in an espresso machine, in the true European way.
Flavors: Brown sugar, hazelnut and dried fruit
Best American Coffee – Kauai Whole Bean Coffee, Koloa Estate Medium Roast
Kauai Whole Bean Coffee, Koloa Estate Medium Roast coffee is grown in America and made with 100% Arabica beans. This Hawaiian coffee is the largest grower in Hawaii on over 3,100 acres, is sustainably grown and every bag offers amazing flavors.
If you are looking for coffee that is American-made and full of flavor, you can’t go wrong with any varietal from Kauai Coffee.
Flavors: Floral and nutty
Best Whole Bean Coffee – Real Good Coffee Co. Donut Shop
This single-origin coffee from Seattle, Washington, is focused on one main thing and that is making good coffee.
The Real Good Coffee Co. Donut Shop beans have sweet and bold flavors from South and Central America. While their packaging might look a little bare-bones, one thing is for sure, the flavor is there, and these whole beans will keep their robust flavors for a lot longer than a grounded roast.
This coffee is great for any type of brewing method, from French press to pour over to drip and espresso machines.
Flavors: Hazelnut, plum and brown sugar
Best Budget Coffee – Folgers Classic Roast
If you grew up in America, you can probably sing Folger’s theme song about it being the best part of waking up in the morning.
Folgers Classic Roast is a pretty standard roast ground and comes in a massive fresh sealed container to last for a while. This is great to have on hand for big family gatherings, potlucks or staff lounges.
Flavors: Smooth and rich
Best Decaf Coffee – No Fun Jo Decaf
Sometimes you want that delicious coffee taste but can’t handle the caffeine. Whether you are craving coffee in the evening, pregnant or just don’t need caffeine, fix No Fun Jo Decaf will save the day.
Even though it is a decaf blend, the flavor is top-notch with USDA certified organic beans, a detailed removal process with over 99.9 percent of the caffeine content taken out and brewed in a micro-roastery. You can still be a coffee lover and enjoy a nice cup of premium decaf.
Flavors: Chocolate and blueberry
Best Coffee for your Health – Four Sigmatic Mushroom Ground Coffee
Have you heard of mushroom coffee? While this coffee does have about half the caffeine than a regular coffee, it is great for your health because it offers Lion’s Mane and Chaga mushroom powder. You can add in probiotics or adaptogen, too, for an extra boost.
This healthy Four Sigmatic Mushroom coffee is known to help with your memory, focus and concentration with added antioxidants to support your immune system and help you fight stress. Basically, it is a super coffee and can be used in multiple brewing methods, from drip to French press to pour-over.
Flavors: Nutty, not mushroom-y
Best Instant Coffee – Cafe Altura Freeze Dried Instant Organic Coffee
Sometimes instant coffee is just what you need. The fair trade Cafe Altura Freeze Dried Instant Organic Coffee is 100% Arabic freeze-dried and has great flavors, just like real coffee. While it might not be the same as traditional coffee, it tastes like the real deal.
It is great for baking and drinking hot or cold. This is also a great option for packing when you are traveling and will want a caffeine fix.
Flavors: Rich body and strong
At the end of the day, the best coffee beans depend on how you will brew your cup of joe, what flavors you enjoy, how often you drink it and how much caffeine you are looking to consume.
Whole beans last longer than ground beans. Light roasts are more floral than dark roasts. Espresso is mega-caffeinated, while decaf has no caffeine.
Knowledge is power when it comes to pretty much everything, and that includes your coffee. If you are just starting your coffee adventure, try a few different blends to discover which ones you like best. And if you are a die-hard coffee connoisseur, there might be a new flavor you want to try from your favorite company.
You won’t know until you try what your favorite type of coffee truly is.
You might also be interested in: What Is Lion’s Mane and a Few of Our Favorite Supplements
The 11 Best Coffee Grounds:
- Best Dark Roast Coffee – Stone Street Coffee Knee Buckling Espresso
- Best Light Roast Coffee – Peet’s Coffee Luminosa Breakfast Blend
- Best Arabica Coffee – Volcanica Tanzanian Peaberry Coffee
- Best Robusta Coffee – Death Wish Coffee
- Best Italian Coffee – Lavazza Super Crema
- Best American Coffee – Kauai Whole Bean Coffee, Koloa Estate Medium Roast
- Best Whole Bean Coffee – Real Good Coffee Co. Donut Shop
- Best Budget Coffee – Folgers Classic Roast
- Best Decaf Coffee – No Fun Jo Decaf
- Best Coffee for your Health – Four Sigmatic Mushroom Ground Coffee
- Best Instant Coffee – Cafe Altura Freeze Dried Instant Organic Coffee