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.
- 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
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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. Ethiopian 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.
For the extra curious, we have a separate guide on where coffee beans come from and how they are processed.