What may be considered the world’s best coffee beans for a sweet-toothed coffee beginner will not be the same as for an acid-sensitive coffee connoisseur. When it comes to taste and brewing methodology, it all becomes very subjective. 

Nonetheless, there are coffee beans out there that are of much higher quality, because they are harvested, stored, and prepared in the most concise way possible. This is why, as always, we have a Coffee Dorks approved and highly recommended product below. But, if you feel adventurous we invite you to check out the other coffee beans that we have reviewed. Maybe you will find something that suits your taste buds even better!

Top Recommendation

Volcanica JBM

jbm 250x250

If you have never heard of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee, we can forgive you. But, if you have never brewed and tasted it, one day you will likely not be able to forgive yourself. 

Volcanica is one of very few companies out there that offers 100% certified Blue Mountain coffee. We recommend the medium roast to start with, but if you like intense and aroma full flavor – you might want to start with the dark roast!

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Why Whole Beans?

Because we said so.

And also, because the flavor is stronger, and the subtle notes and complexities will be easier to find. Fresh whole beans will be bursting with those flavorful coffee oils. Once beans are ground, they have a larger surface area and those oils start to leak out. This not only means they get stale quicker but they also instantly lose some of the rich complex coffee flavors.

For highest taste and quality, buy whole beans, store them correctly (keep reading for info below) and grind them just before you make your coffee.

The 10 Best Coffee Beans

ProductDetails 
volcanica jbm coffee beans
Our Top Pick

Volcanica JBM


  • Origin: Jamaica

  • Acidity: Medium-high


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koa's kona beans
Lowest Acid

Koa Kona


  • Origin: Hawaii, USA

  • Acidity: Low

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colombian supremo
Colombian Supremo


  • Origin: Colombia

  • Acidity: Medium


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sumatra mandheling
Sumatra Mandheling


  • Origin: Indonesia

  • Acidity: Low


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death wish coffee beans
Death Wish


  • Origin: India & Peru

  • Acidity: Low



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koffee kult 110x110 image
Koffee Kult


  • Origin: Colombia & Brazil

  • Acidity: Medium




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Peet's big bang
Peet's Big Bang


  • Origin: Latin America

  • Acidity: Medium


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driftaway coffee
Driftaway


  • Origin: Mbozi

  • Acidity: Medium

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FTO Yirgacheffe
FTO Yirgacheffe


  • Origin: Ethiopia

  • Acidity: Medium-strong

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tiny footprint coffee beans
Tiny Footprint Coffee


  • Origin: Nicaragua

  • Acidity: Moderate


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Common Mistakes When Buying Coffee Beans

The biggest mistake is one we are often guilty of. Being greedy! You really shouldn’t buy more coffee than you need, even when you’ve fallen in love with 3 or 4 coffee beans on our list. Instead, try one at a time and buy a small amount that you know you’ll be able to use up before it goes stale.

Other mistakes you’ll want to avoid include:

  • Not paying attention to the roast date, or buying coffee that doesn’t clearly label a roast or expiry date (how will you know if you’re buying fresh coffee?)
  • Choosing a single origin blend… then adding milk when you brew it. Buy single origins for drinking black and enjoying the subtle nuances, buy blends for rich complex flavor profiles that can stand up to milk.
  • Buying on face value, e.g. buying what’s cheap or labeled as gourmet without delving deeper. Buying sustainably grown coffee that’s Fairtrade or certified in some way will support the industry. Not checking is irresponsible on your part and you could end up with a poor-quality counterfeit coffee bean.

When you’re buying coffee beans, you’re looking for quality (in the growing/harvesting process as well as the flavor/grade) and clarity (is it clearly labeled, do you know where it was grown, is it certified, when was it roasted).

What Makes for a Quality Coffee Bean?

Don’t take the sellers word for it. You can work out the quality of the bean just by knowing the rough details of how coffee is grown and handled. For the best coffee beans on our list, we’ve done the research for you to ensure how the beans were grown and handled is of a high quality… but when you come to find your own beans, you’re going to need to arm yourself with the following information.

Growing and Handling Coffee Beans

growing coffee beans

First thing you want to check is the variety of bean. It doesn’t matter how excellent the growing process is if you’re stuck with bog-standard Robusta beans. Google the variety, see what comes up. Then there’s the first step in the growing process.

Planting

Where the beans are planted is essential. From the soil type to the shade density, to the soil moisture and of course the altitude – all this affects how a bean will grow and eventually taste in your coffee. You’re looking for consistency here, are they all partially shade grown or only some? Are they all grown within a narrow altitude bracket or is it varied? Consistency shows that the growers have found the optimum for growing a perfect coffee bean and are sticking to it.

Harvesting

The growing process quality requires just a simple and quick check for organic certification – that will let you know if chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides were used. The real sign of quality is in the harvesting process. Hand-picked beans are typically higher quality than machine picked beans, as the machines need a flat surface to roll on, so won’t be used at the higher altitudes needed to produce quality beans.

There are 2 main ways that coffee beans are hand-picked, there’s the strip picking where the picker will grasp a whole branch and strip off all coffee beans. And there’s the selective picking method where the picker only plucks off the ripe red coffee cherries. The selective method is a higher quality as it ensures only the ripe cherries are plucked.

Processing

For single origin coffees, the best way to handle the coffee cherries is with the wet processing method. By washing the pulp off the cherries, you coax out those delicious and subtle flavors better compared to the traditional dry processing method of laying them out under the sun. There are some exceptions to this rule, like wet hulling in Indonesia and honeyed processing in Costa Rica. Some specialty coffees like these are high quality because of their unique processing method.

Is Polishing Necessary for Quality?

As part of the hulling process, once the beans have been washed and dried, they can be polished to remove any lingering silverskins. Although this makes the green beans look nice, it does nothing for the flavor or quality. If a coffee seller is bragging that their beans have been polished, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re high quality… although it does indicate they have the time, money and equipment to go the extra mile for a nicer final product.

Coffee Grades

Before they’re shipped off and roasted, the beans are sorted into grades according to size and, for higher quality, any defective beans are removed. There’s no definitive coffee grading system, some countries have their own way of grading that differs to others. Typically, the best grades have very few defective beans, are all uniform in shape and color. If a coffee seller mentions a specific grade, whether it’s “grade 1” or “AA” you’ll be able to find out if that’s high or low with a quick Google.

What About Certifications?

Certified Organic or Fairtrade doesn’t always equate to high quality. Some countries, where workers are paid fairly across the board, won’t have any Fairtrade certifications at all – simply because they aren’t needed. Certifications are positive, but they aren’t necessary for all high-quality beans.

Coffee by The Region

world coffee regions

Region matters, from the altitude to the soil type, to the way the ocean breeze hits the mountains. Everything about the region coffee is grown in will impact the way the coffee grows and eventually tastes. Key factors the best regions have in common are high altitudes, fertile often volcanic soil, and tropical/damp climates.

Colombia

Colombian coffee is typically fresh and fruity. It’s grown by small independent farmers who put a lot of care and attention into growing their coffee – each individual estate can have a very unique flavor profile, so there’s no guarantee that one Colombian coffee will taste the same as another. Supremo quality coffee is the best grade in Colombia.

Ethiopia

Some of the best and most famous coffees come from this one African country. They’re typically complex, fruity, floral and winey, with berry and tropical notes. Fairtrade and Organic certifications are worth searching out to ensure you’re getting a quality coffee from Ethiopia. Coffee is born to grow here; it actually grows wild across most of the countryside.

Guatemala

Guatemala is a rising star in the premium coffee world. Guatemalan coffees are sweet and balanced, ideal for your espresso maker. The country is home to steep mountainous altitudes, volcanic soils and cool ocean breezes, perfect for making heavily bodied coffees with bright acidity and sweet, tart or smoky notes.

Jamaica

Jamaica is a safe bet if you want to ensure your coffee is what it says on the tin. Quality Jamaican coffee, usually from the Blue Mountain region, is heavily regulated. It’s also relatively affordable compared to some of the very high-quality beans from Hawaii and Ethiopia. Jamaican beans are typically smooth, mellow and have that classic coffee flavor.

Costa Rica

Another classic bean you’ll find is from Costa Rica, with smooth, gentle nutty notes. Margarita and Cashier are popular high-quality bean varieties from Costa Rica – both are wet processed for a clean finish. Costa Rican coffee is well-rounded and balanced on all fronts, so if you’re new to coffee and are looking for the best coffee beans for a beginner palate, Costa Rican beans are a good choice.

Indonesia

From the new varieties springing up in Bali and Java to the centuries-old favorites like Mandheling. Indonesia has a history of producing excellent coffee from its volcanic, fertile soils. Expect smooth, rich and full tasting beans with a moderate body. If the subtle tasting notes of Ethiopian coffee is lost on you, but you still want a high-quality bean, check out Indonesian coffee.

Hawaii

We’ve raved about Kona before. It’s a world-class bean and probably the most counterfeited coffee out there. Kona coffee is rich and full of an intense flavor. It’s the champagne of the coffee world and definitely worth a try at least one. Make sure you buy the Kona from our list of best beans below to make sure you’re getting legitimate Kona coffee.

The actual most expensive coffee in the world is Kupi Lowak, a Vietnamese coffee that’s eaten and digested by a civet cat. It’s hellishly expensive and not on our list, don’t worry.

Coffee Taste and Aroma

Choosing a variety that’s known to be sweet isn’t a guarantee that it will be. There are several important factors that alter how a coffee will taste when it finally reaches your lips. Generally, the higher the elevation and the more nutritious the soil, the better the bean will taste. It might have the same flavor profile as a bean grown lower down on the mountain, but it will be noticeably richer or brighter or more intense or simply fresher tasting.

Processing

Dry processing leaves the pulp on the cherry while it dries. This gives you a fruity, sweet flavor as the pulp juices have time to infuse and ferment. Wet processing quickly washes off the cherry pulp, resulting in a cleaner and brighter flavor.

Roasting

Roasting at different levels alters not just the flavor but also the acidity. The darker the roast, the lower the acidity… but you also lose any high or light notes, like floral or citrus notes. With a light roast, you maintain those delicate flavors, but you also lose some of the richness, the full-bodied taste and you also have a higher level of acidity.

Blending

When you blend several single origin blends, you lose some of the subtle nuances and get a more rounded, complex flavor with no dominant flavor profile…. But with that being said, we have found a few blends below that have artfully managed to pull through a distinctive high note.

Best Way to Store Coffee Beans

Always keep your beans stored in an airtight container – remember that coffee is porous and will absorb odors, so a plastic container could give you coffee beans a plastic-like flavor if you’re storing them for a long time. A glass jar will be better, but you’ll need to keep it away from light to stop the glass jar heating up too much.

There’s some debate over whether you should store coffee beans in the fridge or freezer. We never store our coffee beans in the fridge as the beans will just suck up any odors from food in there.

So, the best thing to do is order coffee beans whole in small amounts to reduce the storage time. When you do need to store them, chose an airtight odorless jar and store them at room temperature in a dark cupboard.

Volcanica Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee

volcanica jbm

  • Country of Origin – Jamaica
  • Regions – central Blue Mountains
  • Growers – Clydesdale Estate
  • Altitude – 1000 meters
  • Harvest – March to June
  • Milling Process – sun-dry processing
  • Aroma – intense and strong
  • Flavor – full, fruity and sweet
  • Body – medium and clean-tasting
  • Acidity – medium-high
  • Certification – 100% Certified Blue Mountain Coffee
  • Recommended brew methoddrip or French press

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Certified by the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica, Volcanica’s Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee is a traditional and historically high-quality coffee grown on the central and southern slopes of the Blue Mountain.

This particular coffee is a medium roast and is harvested solely from the Clydesdale Estate, where the traditional sun-drying process is still used. Blue Mountain coffee is regarded as one of the best coffees in the world, with this particular estate having a particularly notable reputation for providing high-quality coffee.

It has an intense, classic coffee aroma but the flavor is fruity and sweet, while the texture is silky and smooth. Drip is our preferred method for this particular coffee bean as it allows time for the full fruity notes to develop. The medium blend has a noticeable level of acidity, but if you opt for a darker roast to reduce the acid, you’ll also start to lose those clean, fruity and sweet notes.

Koa Kona Coffee

koa coffee 300x300

  • Country of Origin – Hawaii, USA
  • Regions – Kona (South and North), the Big Island
  • Growers – specially selected independent farmers
  • Altitude – 150 to 900 meters
  • Harvest – late August to January
  • Milling Process – unknown, likely dry processed
  • Aroma – rich, berry notes
  • Flavor – bold, smooth, complex fruity and sweet notes
  • Body – full-bodied and rich
  • Acidity – low
  • Certification – 100% Kona coffee
  • Recommended brew method – French press with milk

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Yes, it’s a blend of coffee beans, not a single estate… but that really doesn’t detract from the quality and flavor of these coffee beans! Koa Coffee’s Private Reserve Dark Roast Whole Bean Kona Coffee is a secret blend of Kona coffee beans.

They’re high quality not just because of the Kona bean flavor, but because they’re certified Kona beans by the Hawaiian government. Only coffee blends containing pure Kona beans grown in the Kona region of the Big Island can be named “100% Kona Coffee”.

It’s bold, smooth and complex with that rich coffee taste. We love the mouthfeel of this coffee, it’s warm and rich. It’s a good choice if you like your coffee with a dash of milk, as it can break through and balance with the creaminess without losing any of the unique coffee flavors.

Colombian Supremo Coffee Beans

colombian supremo coffee beans

  • Country of Origin – Colombia
  • Regions – Colombian Andes
  • Growers – Colombian Supremo Andeano Estate
  • Altitude – 1650 to 1800 meters
  • Harvest – October to March
  • Milling Process – fully washed
  • Aroma – heady and nutty
  • Flavor – Sweet, floral and fruity with nutty notes
  • Body – rich and medium-full
  • Acidity – medium, smooth and pleasant
  • Certification – Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance
  • Recommended brew method – espresso

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Another quality coffee bean sourced through Volcanica. Grown high in the Colombian (not Columbian) Andes, this single-origin coffee has a medium, smooth acidity and bold, complex flavors. Our preferred brew method is espresso to really bring out the pleasant acidity and floral notes – Colombian coffee is rarely bitter, even under the high heat and pressure of the espresso maker. An AeroPress is also a good option if you want to enhance the smoothness of this coffee.

The sweet floral and nutty notes make it a great dessert coffee (we like it with amaretti biscuits) but don’t drink it too late into the evening as the caffeine level is medium-high.

The coffee on this estate is grown on volcanic ash-rich soil, which is nutrient rich and contributes to the high quality and flavors of the beans. It’s also partially shade grown, thoroughly washed and patio dried under the Colombian sun.

Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Beans

sumatra 300x300

  • Country of Origin – Indonesia
  • Regions – Pandang, Sumatra
  • Growers – individual estates
  • Altitude – 750 to 1500 meters
  • Harvest – June to December
  • Milling Process – semi-washed
  • Aroma – pungent earthy with notes of chocolate and caramel
  • Flavor – brown sugar, earthy, winey and dry fruit
  • Body – deep, full and rich
  • Acidity – low
  • Certification – Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance
  • Recommended brew method – any, with or without milk

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Sumatran Mandheling coffee is renowned for its unique, delicious flavor that comes more from the processing method than the conditions it’s grown in. The pulp is washed off, like in wet processing methods, but then it’s dried in stages to remove the silverskins until the beans are polished and clean.

Mandheling refers to the ethnicity of the original growers of this coffee, rather than the region. It’s grown at high altitudes in the Pandang region of Sumatra, Indonesia. We love the intensity of this coffee, whether you have it with milk or just black from your drip coffee maker, you’ll only want to drink a small amount at a time. It’s a specialty coffee, something to save for special occasions.  Savor it, don’t guzzle it down.

It’s bold with low acidity, particularly with the medium roast we’ve chosen. Plus, it’s very affordable compared to other premium coffee beans on our list.

Death Wish Coffee

death wish

  • Countries of Origin – India and Peru
  • Regions – unknown
  • Growers – independent Fairtrade and USDA Organic certified growers
  • Altitude – unknown
  • Harvest – unknown
  • Milling Process – unknown
  • Aroma – intense and fresh
  • Flavor – bold with cherry and chocolate notes
  • Body – smooth
  • Acidity – low
  • Certification – Fairtrade, USDA Organic
  • Recommended brew method – drip coffee with a splash of milk

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There’s very little that we know for sure about this coffee, thanks to Death Wish’s secrecy… but what we do know is that it has the taste of a supremely high-quality coffee and the growers, wherever they are, stick to high-quality processes. It’s roasted in small batches freshly, to ensure when you open the pack the bright and fresh coffee aroma really smacks you in the face.

A blend of beans from India and Peru (mostly) create a very bold and intense coffee experience. But despite the very high caffeine content and intense flavor, it’s not high in acidity. We recommend trying it with milk to enjoy the fullness with a creamy edge.

This coffee really gives you a kick, so if you’re caffeine sensitive you might want to skip it. It’s the perfect pick-me-up for slow Monday mornings.

Koffee Kult Thunderbolt

death wish coffee

  • Country of Origin – Colombia and Brazil
  • Regions – unknown
  • Growers – independent small coffee farmers
  • Altitude – unknown
  • Harvest – unknown
  • Milling Process – unknown
  • Aroma – fresh and bold
  • Flavor – earthy, smoky tobacco and molasses
  • Body – full and heavy
  • Acidity – medium
  • Certification – no official certifications
  • Recommended brew method – French press, pour-over or drip

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The Thunderbolt blend from Koffee Kult is bursting with specialty grade beans sourced from Colombia and Brazil. Although there are no official “Fairtrade” or “organic” certifications, Koffee Kult does state that they support over 650 independent coffee farmers and all their coffee is grown/processed free from chemical contaminants.

This is another bold, strong and intense coffee in flavor, aroma, and body – but it’s a small step down from Death Wish coffee. Again, you’ve got a very high level of caffeine but with only medium acidity.

We consider it one of the best thanks to its unique smoky tobacco flavor and well-balanced composition. Even though it’s a blend of different origin beans, it works remarkably well together, and you’ll love drinking it black as well as with milk. Koffee Kult are master coffee blenders and we highly recommend Thunderbolt to anyone who wants a super strong coffee that still has high-quality, unique flavors that pull through.

Peet’s Big Bang Coffee

Peet's big bang

  • Countries of Origin –Latin American countries and East African countries
  • Specific Countries – Ethiopia
  • Growers – unknown
  • Altitude – mixed, unknown
  • Harvest – unknown
  • Milling Process – unknown
  • Aroma – bright and sweet
  • Flavor – bright, citrus and sweet with vibrant tropical fruit notes
  • Body – smooth, medium
  • Acidity – medium and balanced
  • Certification – no official certifications
  • Recommended brew method – drip, pour-over and cold brew

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The Big Bang blend from Peet’s Coffee is an unknown mix of high-quality beans from Latin America and East Africa. The highlight, the strongest flavor that pulls through the complex and well-balanced blend, is Ethiopian Super Natural. This single origin blend from the Hambela region of Ethiopia is gloriously sweet and citrusy.

This is a very fruity blend that we particularly enjoy with the cold brew method or over-ice. The fruitiness is lovely in the summer months. If you like your coffee hot, go for a drip or pour-over method.

Like several other blends on our list, we don’t know much about where it’s grown, who grows it and how it’s processed. It’s just the extraordinary flavor that’s saved this blend a spot on our best coffee beans list. Going on the flavor alone, this coffee is worth a try.

Driftaway Light Roast Artisanal Coffee

Driftaway Light Roast Artisinal Coffee

  • Country of Origin – Tanzania, East Africa
  • Regions – Mbozi
  • Growers – Iyenga AMCOS farmers
  • Altitude – 1400 to 2000 meters
  • Harvest – June to August
  • Milling Process – washed
  • Aroma – rich, citrus notes
  • Flavor – rich berries, citrus and tropical fruits
  • Body – medium light
  • Acidity – medium and tangy
  • Certification – no official certifications
  • Recommended brew method – pour-over

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A single origin, AA grade, clean and fruity coffee from the Mbozi region of Tanzania. Not the first country you think of when you’re looking for high-quality coffee, but one you should definitely consider! The government here is helping farmers get through the dry season and properly process their beans to provide gourmet coffee to sell.

Driftaway’s light-roast TIA single origin coffee is consistent and clean tasting with a tangy but not unpleasant level of acidity. We like it best black, made using the pour over or drip method – you don’t need anything fancy to bring out the best in this coffee.

It’s citrusy, sweet and has similar tropical fruit notes as our favorite Peet’s Big Bang Coffee… yet it’s far more delicate. We highly recommend this bean for those coffee lovers that like to savor their coffee and detect all those intricate flavor notes.

FTO Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee

FTO Ethiopian

  • Country of Origin – Ethiopia
  • Regions – Yirgacheffe, Southern Ethiopia
  • Growers – Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Cooperative
  • Altitude – 1650 to 2500 meters
  • Harvest – October to December
  • Milling Process – washed
  • Aroma – sweet and floral
  • Flavor – sweet tangerine, lemon tea and lime notes
  • Body – mild and medium
  • Acidity – medium-strong and bright
  • Certification – Fairtrade, USDA Organic
  • Recommended brew method – drip or pour over

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Small but powerful FTO beans from the Yirgacheffe region of Ethiopia. They’re high in acidity, bright and strong and zesty. Notes of sweet tangerine, citrus fruits, and tea are delicate and permeate through when you brew it slowly. Pour over or drip methods are our favorite for this coffee – you want something gentle to bring out the citrus notes, rather than strong and powerful like an espresso. If you’re a tea drinker, think of this like your Earl Grey. You don’t want to brew it strongly.

Yirgacheffe is widely known and regarded as one of the best, so you might come across some counterfeits online – just stick with this one from Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC and you’ll be fine. We’ve tried and tested it ourselves!

This is one of the best coffees for the experienced coffee lover who wants something a bit different.

Tiny Footprint Nicaragua Segovia Whole Bean Coffee

FTO Ethiopian

  • Country of Origin – Nicaragua, Central America
  • Regions – Nueva Segovia
  • Growers – family farmers part of ‘Promotora de Desarrollo Cooperativo de Las Segovias’
  • Altitude – 1250 to 1800 meters
  • Harvest – October to March
  • Milling Process – fully washed
  • Aroma – sweet and chocolatey
  • Flavor – apricot, fig, spices, and chocolate notes
  • Body – bold and sultry
  • Acidity – moderate and bright
  • Certification – Fairtrade, Organic
  • Recommended brew method – espresso

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Last on our list is Tiny Footprint’s Nicaragua single origin blend. With many eco-conscious brands, flavor and quality is compromised to make way for eco-friendly practices. That’s not the case with Tiny Footprint, they manage to maintain the integrity of the coffee beans while still packaging it up in eco-friendly boxes and planting trees along the way.

Sandwiched in Central America, Nicaragua is ideally located with the perfect climate and altitudes for growing premium coffee.

Although the flavor notes are similar to others on this list, this is one of the most rounded best coffee beans – that makes it excellent for use in your espresso maker. Drinking the espresso black, or as an Americano, is best. But if you want to try it as a latte, you’ll enjoy how the warm fig, spices and chocolate notes interact with the creamy milk.

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