I’m Tim, a coffee expert and avid coffee and espresso brewer. I make several coffee-based drinks every day for myself, my friends, and my family.
I know that finding the right beans to buy can be overwhelming, so I made this guide to help you through it.
This is what we will go over:
So, let’s dive in.
- Light roasts have more acidity and brighter notes, while darker roasts are bolder in flavor with a heavier body (and medium roasts are in-between).
- When you buy coffee beans, try to find a bag with a recent roast date for maximum freshness.
- In general, coffee beans showcasing the beans’ origin are of higher quality and have richer flavors.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with coffee beans you haven’t tried before– for example, you can try all types of roasts, origins, flavorings, etc., to help you define your preferences.
11 Top Tips for Buying Coffee Beans
Buying the right coffee is primarily up to your personal taste preferences, what you can afford, and how keen you are to try different types of coffee beans. Here are the top tips for choosing the right coffee beans for your brew.
1. Choose the Right Beans
|Coffee Bean Type||Flavor||Origin||Best Drink|
|Liberica||Bold & smoky with a woody aroma||West & Central Africa, & Southeast Asia||Espresso|
|Arabica||Sweet & nutty with a fruity acidity||Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala, & Costa Rica||Drip coffee|
|Robusta||Bitter & earthy with a grain-like taste||Africa, Indonesia, & Vietnam||Espresso & Turkish coffee|
|Excelsa||Tart & fruity with a hint of cinnamon||Southeast Asia||Pour-over coffee|
There are many different types of beans and blends out there, so it is important to know what flavor profiles you are looking for to make the best selection.
Really, the only way to know what type of beans you like and don’t like is to try many types. Over time, you will better understand what types of flavors appeal to you and which don’t.
That said, the table above gives some general recommendations.
2. Pick the Right Roast
Beans can be roasted at light, medium, or dark, and the beans’ roast level will determine the flavor profile.
Generally speaking, lighter roasts have more acidity and brighter notes, while darker roasts are bolder in flavor with a heavier body (and medium roasts are in-between).
Roasting coffee beans for a longer time (and at higher temperatures) removes acidity from the beans. More heat also “burns” the beans, imparting bolder flavors.
3. Look for Proper Packaging
When buying coffee beans, it is important to look for proper packaging. Resealable bags with a vent valve (degassing valve) are best because they keep the beans fresher for longer.
However, if the coffee bag doesn’t have that, you should transfer the beans to an airtight container in a cool and dark location.
4. Know the Bean’s Origin
Bean origins can also significantly impact the flavor of your coffee, so it is important to understand where they come from. Different regions produce beans with different flavors, so if you have a particular taste in mind, look for beans from that region.
Some blends are made up of beans from all over the world, so looking at the blend’s origin can give you an idea of what you should expect.
Generally speaking, coffee beans that list a single origin are of higher quality and don’t mix the beans from multiple origins.
With multiple-origin coffee beans, several bean types may be mixed in, resulting in conflicting flavor combinations.
Plus, they tend to be factory-farmed and mass-produced, resulting in lower quality than single-origin beans which tend to be raised by local farmers with smaller operations.
Additionally, when you know the origin of the beans, you can more easily determine if they were ethically sourced, fairly traded, and sustainably farmed.
5. Choose Freshly Roasted Beans
Additionally, you want to make sure that the package is clearly labeled with the roast date so that you know when the beans were roasted. Always check the
When purchasing coffee beans, make sure to check the expiration date.
Coffee beans are best enjoyed within a few weeks of being roasted because they start to lose flavor after that. The last thing you want is for your coffee beans to be stale.
6. Pick the Right Beans for Your Coffee Beverage
Choosing the right coffee beans for the coffee beverage you plan to make is important. For example, if you plan to brew espresso drinks, get espresso beans (or dark roast beans if you’re in a pinch).
And if you want a cup of light roast coffee, get light roast beans. This is mostly intuitive, but the key point is to ensure you buy and have the right beans before you brew your coffee.
Here are our bean recommendations for some common coffee beverages.
|Drink Type||Recommended Coffee Bean Type|
|Pour-over coffee||Light roast beans|
|Drip coffee machines||Medium roast beans|
|Iced Coffee||Light and medium roast beans|
|Cold brew coffee||Medium roast beans|
|French Press||Medium-dark roast beans|
|Moka pot||Medium-dark roast beans|
|Espresso||Medium-dark, dark roast beans, and espresso beans|
|Cappuccino||Medium-dark, dark roast beans, and espresso beans|
|Americano||Medium-dark, dark roast beans, and espresso beans|
|Cortado||Dark roast beans and espresso beans|
|Latte||Medium-dark, dark roast beans, and espresso beans|
|Flat White||Dark roast beans and espresso beans|
|Italian Coffee||Dark roast beans and espresso beans|
7. Try Something New
If you want to expand your coffee palate and explore new bean types, trying something new can be a great way to do it.
Instead of sticking with the same beans you always buy, look for specialty beans from regions that produce unique flavor profiles. You might find something you love.
Another way to try something new is to experiment with different brewing methods, like pour-over or cold brew.
8. Try Flavored Beans
If you’re looking for something a little different, you might want to try flavored coffee beans. These beans are roasted just like regular coffee beans and then flavored with extracts or oils.
An endless array of flavors is available, from vanilla and caramel to pumpkin spice and almond biscotti. Some flavors can be pretty intense, so knowing what you’re getting is crucial before you buy.
My personal favorite is the pumpkin spice!
9. Stay Within Your Budget
Staying within your budget when buying coffee beans is important. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for all price points. You can find excellent quality beans without breaking the bank.
In general, specialty coffees (from specific regions or with unique flavors) tend to be more expensive than everyday blends. If you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, it’s best to stick with traditional blends and brands.
10. Buy Only What You Can Use
When buying coffee beans, it’s important only to buy what you can use right away. Although unopened coffee beans can stay fresh for up to a year after the roasting date, don’t buy more than you can use.
If you bite off more than you can chew, you risk ending up with stale coffee beans down the road (and wasting your money). So, the best way to keep your beans fresh is to not have too many in your pantry.
11. Roasted or Unroasted Beans
Perhaps you want to roast your own coffee beans. In that case, you should buy green coffee beans (unroasted). You can buy unroasted beans online or from a local coffee roaster.
Roasting your own beans takes time and dedication. However, you’ll have access to freshly roasted beans whenever you want, and your coffee drinks will taste better because you made it. Plus, your home will be filled with great coffee aromas.
You can also grow your own coffee beans at home.
Where to Buy Coffee Beans in Bulk
Buying coffee beans in bulk can be a great way to save money and ensure you always have fresh coffee on hand. When shopping for bulk coffee beans, look for reputable online retailers that specialize in selling freshly roasted high-quality coffee.
It’s important to read reviews and check out the website’s FAQ section to know exactly what you’re getting when you buy.
Additionally, you can contact local coffee shops/roasters and ask if you can buy in bulk from them.
Where to Buy Specialty Coffee Beans
If you want to try something more unique than traditional coffee beans, specialty coffee beans could be the way to go. Specialty coffee beans are typically from single-origin farms and are known for producing unique flavor profiles.
The best place to buy specialty coffee beans is with local roasters or online specialty retailers. Local roasters will likely have the freshest beans, whereas online retailers might provide more variety and selection.
Where to Buy Fresh Coffee Beans Online
If you’re looking for fresh coffee beans and don’t have access to local roasters or specialty retailers, the internet is a great place to find what you need. Several reputable online retailers specialize in selling freshly roasted, high-quality coffee beans.
All you have to do is search for “fresh coffee beans for sale” in Google to find some great options.
Where to Buy the Best Coffee Beans in the World
Most of the world’s coffee grows in the “Bean Belt,” a region along the equator that provides the best environmental conditions for coffee to grow. 
As such, most of the recommendations below are from countries within this hot and humid region:
- Hawaii– Kona coffee beans
- Mexico– Altura coffee beans
- Puerto Rico– Grand Lares and Yauco Selecto coffee beans
- Guatemala– Antigua, Coban, and Huehuetanango coffee beans
- Cost Rica– Arabicas beans
- Columbia– Colombian Supremo and Excelso Grade coffee beans
- Brazil– Arabica and Robusta coffee beans
- Ethiopia– Sidamo, Harrar, and Kaffa coffee beans
- Kenya– Kenyan coffee beans
- Ivory Coast (South Africa)– Robusta coffee beans
- Yemen– Mocha Java coffee beans
- Indonesia– Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi coffee beans
- Vietnam– Robusta coffee beans
Here are some common questions about buying coffee beans.
How do I know which coffee beans to buy?
The best way to determine which coffee beans you should buy is to start by considering your taste preferences.
Do you like light or dark roasts?
Are you looking for something with a unique flavor profile, or would you prefer a traditional blend? Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, it will be easier to narrow down your choices.
What are the best coffee beans for beginners?
For those just starting out, it’s best to stick with traditional blends and brands. Many of the well-known brands offer a range of lighter roasts that are mild in flavor and easy to drink.
Of course, if you don’t like light roasts, you can dabble into dark roasts right away.
Should I buy coffee beans from the supermarket?
Buying coffee beans from the supermarket can be a convenient option, but it’s important to remember that you may not be getting the freshest beans this way.
Supermarket coffee beans tend to be pre-packaged, meaning they may have been sitting on shelves for a while and lost some flavor.
If you buy from the supermarket, look for a roast date on the packaging and get a relatively recent one.
Is there really a difference in coffee beans?
Yes, there is definitely a difference in coffee beans. Different varieties of beans have different flavor profiles and yield different flavors when brewed.
Also, freshly roasted coffee beans will always produce a more vibrant cup of joe than those sitting on shelves for a while.
What coffee beans do most coffee shops use?
Most coffee shops use high-quality, freshly roasted coffee beans to prepare beverages. Typically, these beans are sourced from specialty coffee roasters specializing in specific bean varieties.
These specialty roasters often focus on single-origin or small-batch coffees and unique blends with distinct flavor profiles.
What coffee beans does Starbucks use?
Starbucks typically uses a variety of high-quality, freshly roasted coffee beans in its drinks.
For example, they use Arabica beans – known for their smooth flavor and low acidity – as the base for their signature espresso blend.
Their Pike Place roast (signature medium-roast blend for regular coffee orders) combines beans from Latin America and East Africa.
Buying coffee beans can be overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting to get into coffee. When you purchase coffee beans, I suggest getting them from a local coffee roaster. Get a bag that has a recent roast date for peak freshness and taste.
If you want a stronger/bolder flavor, choose a dark roast. Alternatively, buy a light roast if you want a milder brew. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different bean origins, roasts, and flavors to help you find what type of coffee beans you like the best.