Wandering into your local café for a bag of beans fresh out of the roaster might be the ideal scenario for any coffee drinker. But it’s not an option for most of us, right?
Whether your favorite coffee spot doesn’t roast their beans, or (gasp!) you don’t have access to good coffee, buying online can open up plenty of opportunities for your caffeine fix.
Given their incredible number of products and fast shipping, Amazon is an obvious choice. But how do you know what’s worth buying and what you should avoid at all costs?
Behold our top picks for best coffee on Amazon! Of course, we also give you some tips for how to find quality coffee online.
The 10 best coffee brands on Amazon in 2020
Given the sheer volume of products on Amazon, you’re sure to find most things that you’re looking for. But with all of that choice, how do you figure out what’s worth buying?
Here is our pick of the best coffee on Amazon.
The 454 Horsepower blend is one of the top sellers for Kicking Horse, and it’s easy to see why. They source their beans from Indonesia and Central and South America. Then they expertly blend them to create this strong but smooth coffee.
Try this coffee for any slower brewing methods such as a drip machine, French press, pour over, or even as a cold brew. You’ll be rewarded with a full-bodied cup that has earthy and tobacco flavors, with a finish reminiscent of black licorice.
The company has a commitment to sustainable practices that helps bump it up to the top of our list for best coffees on Amazon. Since 2017, Kicking Horse coffees have all been certified organic and fair trade purchased. These particular coffee beans are shade-grown, which not only improves the taste but is also shown to be ecologically beneficial (1).
Their claim of producing the world’s strongest coffee is something that Death Wish takes very seriously. Rather than branching out into single origins and exclusive coffee beans, they’ve applied a laser focus to their line-up, with just the original and Valhalla blends on offer.
While it is always possible to make a stronger coffee during the brewing process, Death Wish gets its caffeine source directly from the beans. And they even guarantee that if it’s not the strongest you’ve ever tasted, you can get your money back. Pretty cool, right?
Despite the strength, it’s a very smooth and highly drinkable coffee. The caffeine might hit you like a truck, but your tastebuds will be pleasantly surprised by flavors of cherry and chocolate, with no hint of bitterness.
Don’t let the tough-guy name or packaging put you off either. Death Wish coffee has a soft side, too – these beans are both fair trade and USDA certified organic.
Lavazza is a brand that hardly needs introducing. Sure, it’s a supermarket staple. But with a history dating back to 1895, there’s no denying the experience behind the brand. Clearly, you won’t find any single-origin or third-wave coffee here, but you will get expertly crafted blends for easy drinking.
As the name suggests, these coffee beans are best suited for espresso preparation and make a perfect canvas for milk-based drinks like macchiatos. They’ve been given a medium roast – just enough to bring out nutty and caramel flavors. This blend is a mix of Arabica beans to provide flavor and Robusta beans to give it a bit of a kick on the caffeine front.
In 2017, the Italian brand joined the United Nations Global Compact. The program sets standards for global businesses in human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.
Don Pablo usually specializes in Colombian coffee, but these beans have been sourced from Honduras’ Marcala region. The cold nights here mean the beans take longer to grow, but as a result, they produce a sweeter coffee with a velvety body.
With a medium-dark roast, these organic coffee beans brew a cup of coffee that’s full-bodied with notes of chocolate and low acidity. You can also get the same beans as a light or dark roast, which are always roasted to order for maximum freshness.
One downside to this coffee is that the smallest pack available is a 2-pound bag. But if you’re worried that your coffee might be past its best, try making it as a cold brew.
Using fresh coffee for cold brew is kind of a waste. You can use really old coffee, and it’ll taste just as good,
This method is very forgiving for freshness, as long as you get the grind size right.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different, this sample pack is worth a try. Cooper’s Cask specializes in coffee that’s aged in barrels previously used for whiskey, bourbon, rum, or wine. The founders are quick to point out that this is not the same as flavored coffee, with the unique taste coming from the aging process instead of additives.
Cooper’s Cask starts with single-origin coffee beans to give them the best canvas to work with. Each coffee’s flavor profiles are then paired with a particular spirit that will best complement the taste.
These unique coffees are the result after aging for 45-60 days.
The natural, earthy, and tobacco flavors of the Sumatran Lintong beans have been given a lift with vanilla and caramel from Uprising single malt whiskey.
Beans from Ethiopia get some spice notes from Battle Cry rye whiskey.
The Rwandan beans have been aged with Thomas Tew rum to produce an incredibly smooth cup, with flavors of dark toffee, cocoa, and vanilla. Colombian beans start out with flavors of stone fruit and nutty chocolate, with a rich finish provided by the Kentucky bourbon. It’s one of the more pricey options on the list, but it is truly unique.
At one point, Eight O’Clock was the biggest selling coffee brand in America, with almost a quarter of the market share. For most of their long history, the company only sold whole bean coffee, with ground coffee not added to the line-up until 2003.
As you can probably guess from the name, this blend represents the company’s oldest recipe. And for a blend that was first crafted in 1859, it still stands up. With 100% Arabica beans from Latin America and East Africa, it’s a balanced coffee that brews a sweet, fruity cup.
Eight O’Clock has managed to find a balance between providing affordable coffee options and responsible sourcing. They’ve partnered with several organizations to improve the lives of all those working in the coffee production chain. They’re also partnered with the International Women’s Coffee Alliance to empower women working in the coffee industry.
Ethiopia has a reputation for producing some of the best quality specialty beans out there. Well, that makes sense since Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. Among its growing regions, the Yirgacheffe area in Sidamo is considered to grow particularly good beans.
Unlike in other parts of the country, the beans from here tend to be wash-processed. This maintains the “true” flavor, allowing you to taste the sometimes-subtle regional differences. Stone Street has treated its Yirgacheffe coffee with a light roast to complement the processing. Light roasting highlights the more floral and fragrant qualities of the coffee and results in a smooth, mild-bodied brew.
Stone Street is a relative newcomer to the coffee scene, setting up shop in 2009. The Brooklyn-based roaster specializes in coffee for cold brew, but they also have a good line of single origins such as this one, as well as plenty of fun, flavored coffees.
If you like your coffee strong and rich but don’t want to deal with the caffeine jitters, this is the perfect pick for you. It’s a blend of Bourbon, Parainema, and Caturra varietals that have been put together to create a rich full-bodied coffee.
This decaf has been roasted to medium-dark for brewing as an espresso. Yet, it is equally good with milk as a latte or cappuccino. The flavor profile is at the darker end of the scale, with smoky spice, dark chocolate, and vanilla.
These coffee beans have been water processed, which is the healthier and more environmentally-friendly way to remove caffeine. Before water processing was established, coffee makers had to produce decaf coffee using chemicals, some of which inevitably remain on the bean (2).
SF Bay has a brand ethos that involves Four Pillars of Change. This means paying farmers fairly and helping them improve their farming techniques and the farm’s social condition. Finally, it consists of enhancing the social needs of the local community. So your purchase could go towards funding a school or medical center.
Grinding your coffee first thing in the morning does give you a sense of achievement for the day. But let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like the convenience of a single-serve coffee. Peet’s understand that quickly doesn’t have to mean low quality, so they’ve made their famous French roast available as K-cups.
If you’re not familiar with the French roast, it’s a sub-set of the dark roast family, lighter only than the black Spanish roast. French roast beans develop a rich, smoky flavor, balanced out by a sweet aftertaste.
Peet’s French roast is true to type, with a smoky palate and burnt caramel notes.
Peet’s Coffee is known for its dark roasts, which it’s said were responsible for broadening the American coffee palate back in the 1960s. The company is also famous for its signature blends, so you know that you can expect excellent coffee with the French roast. If you opt for the whole bean, your coffee will be roasted to order and shipped the same day.
Starbucks is another brand that needs no introduction. You can barely pass a city corner without spotting one of its green-clad cafes. While the high-street stores might have a reputation for overly sweet, cream-filled, flavored brews, their ground coffee is simply coffee (unless you decide to turn it into a caramel frappuccino in your kitchen).
The coffee giant also has a somewhat unfortunate reputation for overly dark roasts that can even taste a little burnt. Their Breakfast Blend, however, is much lighter than their other coffees, with a medium roast.
It’s called a breakfast blend not because it will kick start your morning, but more because it will help you ease gently into your day. The 100% Arabica beans have been blended to create a mild-bodied coffee with a bright finish. Sweetness is there in brown sugar flavors, accompanied by a hint of orange for that citrus lift.
How to choose the best coffee on Amazon?
There’s no doubt that buying online is quick and convenient. But when you compare it to buying in person, it can be much harder to know exactly what you’re getting. Once you’ve learned how to read the details on coffee labels, it does get a bit easier to judge what might be the best coffee for you.
Here are some guides to common coffee selling points.
|Kicking Horse 454 Horsepower|
SEE ON AMAZON
|Death Wish Coffee Whole Bean|
SEE ON AMAZON
|Lavazza Super Crema Espresso|
See on Amazon
|Subtle Earth Organic Coffee Medium-Dark Roast|
See on Amazon
|Cooper’s Cask Whiskey & Rum Barrel Aged Coffee Whole Bean Box Set|
See on Amazon
|Eight O’Clock Whole Bean Coffee The Original|
SEE ON AMAZON
|Stone Street Ethiopian Yirgacheffe|
SEE ON AMAZON
|SF Bay Decaf Espresso Roast|
SEE ON AMAZON
|Peet’s French Roast K-Cup|
SEE ON AMAZON
|Starbucks Breakfast Blend Medium Roast|
SEE ON AMAZON
How growing conditions affect the taste
Many brands may proudly label their coffee as high-altitude or having been grown in volcanic soil. But what does this mean for you? You’ll be pleased to hear it’s not just a marketing ploy and that growing conditions significantly affect the resulting flavor of the beans.
Altitude – generally speaking, coffee grown at higher altitudes is higher in acidity. High-altitude beans are considered better quality – especially by coffee lovers who prize acidity – but if you prefer a low-acid drink, don’t be shy about looking for coffee grown closer to sea level. High-altitude coffees also take longer to grow, which results in a sweeter coffee with more intense flavors (3).
Temperature – temperature, and altitude often go hand in hand, as mountainous regions can be much colder. In hot areas, coffee overgrows and does not have time to develop rich flavors, resulting in mild or bland tastes. One way to slow down the growing speed is by shade growing, which has the added benefit of helping the local ecosystem.
Soil – the richer the soil, the more complex the flavors that develop in the bean. The reason volcanic ash soil is so highly regarded is that it’s full of minerals. Volcanic soils are high in potassium and phosphorus, which have been shown to produce coffee with better aroma, flavor, and acidity (4).
Choosing a roast level, as always
While the type of coffee and its growing conditions ultimately control what flavors develop in the bean, how you roast determines how these flavors are expressed in the cup. Roast profiles not only tweak flavors but also affect the amount of acidity and oiliness in the beans.
If you want to get the best idea of the beans’ inherent taste, go for a light roast coffee. These coffees are generally more subtle in flavor but also more nuanced. Expect to experience more of the fruity or floral aromas, accompanied by bright acidity.
A medium roast has traditionally been the most popular, but trends are seeing more interest in lighter roasts these days. A medium roast coffee combines the bean’s natural flavors with the tastes imparted by the roasting process. This level is considered to be well-balanced, smooth, and complex. Flavors you’re likely to find are chocolate and caramel, but with remainders of fruit or acid.
Many people find the bold flavors of a dark roast to be very comforting. The process has given the beans a new, roasted flavor profile and reduced the coffee’s acidity. While you might not experience all the bean’s natural flavors, dark roasted coffee has its attractive features. Here you’ll find rich flavors like molasses, dark chocolate, or even smoke and earth. The rich body holds up well against milk, so it’s the best choice for making beverages like cappuccinos or lattes.
To this day, there are no universally-agreed colour spectrometer numbers to define what is ‘light’, ‘medium’ or ‘dark’.
So, be aware that roast profiles aren’t necessarily the same between different brands. So what’s medium for one roaster will be medium-dark for another. The only way to discover what you like is to try!
What do the certifications mean?
Along with regions and bean type, you may also see your coffee advertising its certifications. These all sound positive, but it’s essential to know precisely what you’re paying for.
Organic – To receive the USDA organic certification, coffee farms must meet strict criteria. This includes no pesticides, fertilizers, or other prohibited substances used on the land for at least three years. They also need a buffer from any non-organic crops and a plan to combat soil erosion.
Fair Trade – Industry established this certification to ensure that farmers are paid a minimum price for their coffee, with an added premium if it’s organic. In return, these farms have to provide safe working conditions, environmentally sustainable practices, and prove they do not use child labor. Be aware that coffee labeled as Fair Trade USA only needs 10% fair trade coffee to get certified (5).
Bird-Friendly – There is no specific certification for “shade-grown” crops, but this is the closest thing. Farmers must provide at least 40% shade coverage (even after pruning), with at least 11 species of trees (the dominant species must be native) and a canopy of at least 12 meters high. The farm also requires a separate organic certification.
Rainforest Alliance – Products with this label haven’t necessarily met specific criteria but must be actively improving their sustainability practices. This isn’t just related to environmental concerns but also involves social and economic issues.
Compact by design – Amazon has created its certification to help customers make buying decisions. These products have less air, water, or packaging, meaning that they are more efficient to ship (6).
Kosher – Coffee bearing this symbol means that it has been certified as meeting all kosher criteria by a rabbinic agency. As well as having kosher ingredients, this means that no tools or machinery used have any trace of non-kosher substances.
We know that you must have some misgivings for findind best coffee on Amazon. But trust us, there are plenty of top-quality coffees available there. Of course, we’re a fan of everything on this list, but the 454 Horsepower blend from Kicking Horse takes the to spot. It’s a versatile coffee with buckets of flavor and a smooth, velvety finish.
The fact that Kicking Horse coffees are fair trade sourced and certified organic might also help assuage any guilt you have about buying from the e-commerce giant.
The best way to store coffee is to protect it from oxygen and light. This is true whether it’s whole beans or ground coffee. In other words, you need an airtight container, preferably one that is not transparent. Alternatively, you can protect it from light by storing it in a dark cupboard. Some brands sell their coffee in packaging with a one-way valve that prevents oxygen from entering (7).
You should buy whole beans for the freshest coffee. However, there are times when pre-ground coffee might be the best choice for you. For example, if you don’t have a decent grinder. If you do buy pre-ground coffee, purchase small quantities and store it correctly to maintain freshness.
Dark roast coffee does not contain more caffeine. It has a stronger flavor, which people may confuse with caffeine levels, but it is not the same. A dark roast and light roast of the same coffee beans should have similar caffeine levels (8).
- Ecological Benefits of Shade-grown Coffee. (2019, July 12). Retrieved from https://nationalzoo.si.edu/migratory-birds/ecological-benefits-shade-grown-coffee
- What is Swiss Water Decaf Coffee? A guide to the Swiss Water Process. (n.d.). Retrieved December 29, 2020, from https://www.decadentdecaf.com/pages/about-swiss-water-decaf
- Reasons Why You Should Care About Coffee Growing Regions. (2020, June 11). Retrieved from https://flavorsofbogota.com/coffee-growing-regions/
- Steele, A., Dr. (2020, August 7). Why Do Some Producers Grow Coffee Near Active Volcanoes? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/08/why-do-some-producers-grow-coffee-near-active-volcanoes-volcanic-coffee-tephra-eruptions/
- Be Good: Your Ultimate Guide to All Top 10 Coffee Certifications like Organic and Fair Trade -. (2014, November 27). Retrieved from https://www.javalush.com/coffee-drinkers-save-planet-heres-definitive-guide-11-coffee-certifications/
- Compact By Design. (n.d.). Retrieved December 28, 2020, from https://www.amazon.com/b?node=21221609011
- Goldberg, E. (2017, May 30). If You Care About Your Coffee, Then You Should Know How to Store It. Retrieved from https://www.bonappetit.com/drinks/non-alcoholic/article/storing-coffee
- Fleisher, J. (2017, September 28). Which Has More Caffeine: Light or Dark Roast? Retrieved from https://scribblerscoffee.com/blogs/news/which-has-more-caffeine-light-or-dark-roast