The best coffee beans to buy online

Love coffee in the morning? Ordering beans straight to your door means you'll never run out. We've rounded up the best UK coffee roasteries and highlighted winning products from each.

Flat white served in a black mug

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On those early mornings, we could all use a good cup of coffee to kick-start the day. Whether you reach for an artisanal pourover or a cafetière cup, no one wants to wake up to the terrifying realisation that they have no coffee. Thankfully, with the recent rise of outstanding roasteries in the UK, finding your perfect brew is easier than ever. 

These days, many roasters are treating coffee less as a quick-fix energy solution and more as a legitimate culinary experience that is a connection to other countries and cultures.

Perhaps the only drawback to the recent growth in specialty coffee is that choosing the perfect morning cup has become a bit of a quandry. There are now many roasting companies out there, all raising the bar in exciting ways and offering a wide selection for a variety of tastes. 

Highlighted below is a selection of the best coffee beans to buy online. We've selected our top 10 following a blind taste test that scored performance across four main flavour categories: sweetness, acidity, bitterness, and balance.

Due to the nature of artisan bean production, some of these blends will only be in stock temporarily, but we've recommended the roasteries, too.

We used only wholebean coffees for our taste test, as grinding right before brewing produces the best flavour results. Find more about our tasting criteria in our testing notes below, plus discover simple brewing tips to take the guesswork out of that perfect cup. 

For more on coffee, we've reviewed bean-to-cup coffee machinesespresso machinespod machinescafetièrescoffee grinders and reusable coffee cups, plus find our guide to all coffee machine types in our best coffee machines review.

The best coffee beans to buy online

Rave coffee beans in a golden tin

Rave Coffee

Coffee type: special release single origin 
Sourcing details of coffee tested: Daterra Estate, Brazil
Flavour notes: chewy caramel, tropical fruits, brown spice
Recommended brew method: pourover, aeropress, French press

Roasted in the small town of Cirencester in Gloucestershire, the people behind Rave have started making coffee without much fuss. 

With unpretentious packaging and an aim to make coffee both affordable and sustainable, the team has an open-door ethos that's supported by its ethical sourcing program. With a wide selection of beans as well as brewing guides and barista kits available online, Rave is like a neighborhood roastery, but its products are delivered straight to your door. 

In addition to its blends and single origins, Rave’s masterpiece collection features small and unusual lots of coffee – packaged in 80g gold tins – that allows the average drinker to sample coffees that might otherwise be too rare or pricey for everyday consumption.

The seasonal offer we sampled, a Brazilian coffee from the rare Acaua coffee tree, is made using a special fermentation process that increases the sweetness and acidity of the brew.

The result is a combination of the traditional Brazilian flavours of caramel and chocolate with more exotic notes of pineapple, mango, and cardamon. We loved this coffee from a cafetière, where its creamy texture combined with the lighter acidity to make a perfectly balanced cup.


Available from: 
Rave (from £3.70 for whole beans)
Amazon (from £4.95 for whole beans)

Grind coffee beans served in a pink tin on a white background

Grind

Coffee type: house blend
Sourcing details of coffee tested: Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador
Flavour notes: brown sugar, red apple, milk chocolate
Recommended brew methods: pourover, aeropress, French press, hob, espresso

Grind is a morning staple for many London commuters, with 10 locations in the city and more on the way.

Opened in 2011, Grind has been quickly scaled to encompass a variety of spaces and purposes. What keeps it all together is a decidedly cosmopolitan and craft-centered ethos, with an upbeat atmosphere that never slows down. 

Grind’s house blend is as simple and classy as it gets, and comes in a reusable pale pink tin that can be refilled at any of their locations.

The coffee itself has an emphasis on big, sweet notes, with just enough acidity to keep things interesting. With a medium roast, this will satisfy a range of coffee drinkers, as it doesn't have the bitter or carbonic notes that we tasted in other house blends.

We found it to be a solid all-rounder, performing well across different brew types and looking great while doing it. 


Available from Grind (from £9 for 227g)

Blak Nektar coffee beans in a white bag on a white background

Blak Nektar

Coffee type: single origin
Source tested: Guji Highland, Ethiopia
Flavour notes: blueberry, black tea, digestive biscuit
Recommended brew method: pourover, aeropress, French press

Blak Nektar is a new project brought to us by the team at Glasgow’s Matthew Algie, one of the UK’s oldest roasting companies.

Matthew Algie has drawn upon its decades of experience in sourcing and roasting coffee to create this range, focusing on higher-quality beans that are roasted in small batches. However, it still maintains the same dedication to supply chain transparency and certifications that we see in the rest of its lineup. 

The coffee we tested comes from the Guji Highland, a region in Ethiopia about 500 kilometers south of Addis Ababa. It's grown around 2000-2300 metres above sea level, on a family farm that specialises in high-quality, organic coffee.

The coffee is processed naturally, meaning the beans were dried in the sun with the fruit of the cherry still on them. This method allows some of the fruit flavours to enter the bean, creating a sweeter and bolder cup with a distinct profile – in this case, it's classically Ethiopian, with big, sweet berry notes and a refined, tea-like acidity. 


Available from Blak Nektar (£12 for 250g)

White Star coffee beans served in a pink packet on a white background

White Star Coffee

Coffee type: single origin
Sourcing details of coffee tested: Mutana 66, Burundi
Flavour notes: yellow nectarine, floral, red berries
Recommended brew method: pourover, aeropress

Sourcing coffee can be a complicated process, with dozens of origins to choose from and a huge number of players between the farms and the final customer.

Taking a risk on a lesser-known origin can be hard for roasters who may not know how to market or roast the coffee, but the team at Belfast-based White Star has both the expertise and vision to invest in up-and-coming origins.

This offering from the east African country of Burundi comes from the Long Miles Coffee Project, an initiative launched in 2013 that aims to connect smallholder farmers with buyers across the globe.

Coffees from Burundi tend to be fruity and even floral at times, qualities that are best highlighted by a lighter roast style. In addition to these more delicate flavours, this coffee has a syrupy texture with lots of jammy sweetness. Its juicy acidity and complexity make it perfect for a pourover, where its nuances can really shine. 


Available from White Star Coffee (£14 for 250g)

Origin Coffee Roaster San Fermin beans in a black packet on a white background

Origin Coffee Roasters

Coffee type: single origin
Sourcing details of coffee tested: San Fermin, Colombia
Flavour notes: red berries, caramel apple, orange sherbet
Recommended brew method: pourover, aeropress, French press

From Cornwall to the bustling streets of Shoreditch, Origin Coffee Roasters has made a name for itself. Taking top awards in many of the UK's coffee competitions, the team at Origin is made up of some of the country's most well-respected baristas, roasters and wholesalers.

Bringing home a bag of Origin beans is a surefire way to make your own best cup, especially if you follow the brewing recommendations on the back. 

We tasted an Origin coffee from San Fermin, Colombia. Colombian coffees have a huge range of possible flavour combinations thanks to the varied, naturally occurring microclimates in the country.

This region is known for producing tangy, fruity and creamy-bodied coffees, of which this offering is no exception. The medium-light roast allows the acidity of the coffee to shine, while still highlighting the dark caramel sweetness in the cup.

While this coffee positively sings on a pourover, we also enjoyed it from a cafetière, which produced a slightly heavier but equally dynamic brew. 


Available from Origin Coffee (from £6.99 for 250g)

Kiss the Hippo coffee beans in a white back with red logo on a white background

Kiss the Hippo Coffee

Coffee Type: single origin
Sourcing details of coffee tested: San Antonio de Esquipulas, Guatemala
Flavour notes: caramel, red apple, floral
Recommended brew methods: pourover, aeropress

Kiss the Hippo Coffee was launched in 2018, but assembling a team of professionals with impressive coffee credentials has already helped it rocket to the top of many coffee lovers’ lists.

While its blends are a safe place to start, we love its single origin lineup, in particular the Guatemala from San Antonio de Esquipulas.

Grown in the northern highlands that border Mexico, this coffee benefits from a combination of high altitude, rich volcanic soil and heirloom varietals, all of which help to produce a cup that is refined and delicious.


Available from Kiss The Hippo (£11 for 250g)

Redemption roasters coffee beans in a white bag

Redemption Roasters

Coffee type: Aylesbury espresso blend
Sourcing details of coffee tested: Brazil, El Salvador, and Guatemala
Flavour notes: dark chocolate, vanilla, orange
Recommended brew methods: French press, hob, espresso

Social impact in coffee typically centres on those at the beginning of the supply chain: the farmers and workers who grow and process the beans. However, Redemption Roasters is making an impact in a totally different way, by focusing on reducing recidivism rates among young offenders. The company trains them as roasters and baristas while they serve their time, then provide them with a pipeline to work after their release. The aim is to help those who leave the prison system to land on their feet.

Redemption currently runs its main roastery from HM Prison Aylesbury, and has barista training centres at three other prisons. With over 100 wholesale accounts and four London coffee shops, Redemption Roasters has already helped over 160 offenders as of 2019.

The Aylesbury blend – named for the prison that houses the roastery – is sourced from farms in Brazil, El Salvador, and Guatemala. While it's roasted for espresso, we found it to be very well balanced as a filter coffee as well.

This medium-dark roast style supports a big chocolate sweetness, but allows room for a bit of playful acidity to come through, with a candied orange note in the finish. Hob lovers will find this an exceptional choice, and its dense and rich texture goes well with milk. 


Available from Redemption Roasters (from £8.90 for 250g)

Clifton Coffee Roasters bag of coffee beans in a beige packaging

Clifton Coffee Roasters

Coffee type: single origin
Sourcing details of coffee tested: Bani Ofair, Yemen
Flavour notes: raspberry sorbet, rosewater, sweet vermouth
Recommended brew methods: pourover

Yemen has a long history in the coffee world, as the main exporter of coffee to Europe from the 16th century. Its Port of Mocha lends its name to one of coffee's most-loved beverages, a living record of its once vital position in the coffee trade. Though coffee is no longer a top export, many families continue to rely on it as their main source of income. 

Clifton Coffee Roasters, based in Bristol, has focused on long-term relationships with farming communities since it began in 2001.

Though Yemen is now arguably one of the hardest places in the world to grow and export coffee, Clifton has invested in these origins on the basis that it benefits everyone: farmers receive a fair price and a route to market, Clifton is able to sell an amazing product and consumers have an opportunity to drink a rare brew. 

Yemeni coffee is processed naturally and left to dry in the sun. This method helps to produce a cup that is exceptionally fruity, floral, and complex.

Anything less than a pourover would risk muddling the delicate flavours – this is a genuine coffee lover's cup that's worth the price tag for those looking for a truly unique experience. 


Available from Clifton Coffee Roasters (from £28 for 250g)

Coffee in cups waiting to be tested in a kitchen setting

How we tested coffee beans

Sweetness: Coffee contains naturally occurring sugars that brought out by the roasting process. While some beans have higher concentrations than others, the roaster is typically responsible for the sweetness in a cup. We looked for coffees with plenty of sugary notes and coffees with more unusual types of sweetness, which scored higher than those with more common features. 

Acidity: Most of us underestimate the importance of acidity in coffee, but the level of acid signifies where a coffee is from, how it was processed and even at what altitude it was grown. Acidity, like sweetness, can range from simple to complex. We scored coffees with more complex or enjoyable forms of acidity higher in our blind taste test. 

Bitterness: When coffee is roasted, some of its inherent bitterness is diminished, making it more palatable for human consumption. However, if roasted too dark, the roasting itself produces bitter flavours, most of which we perceive as unpleasant. We looked for coffees with a low-to-medium bitterness, and with no acrid or carbonic notes. 

Balance: Much of what defines our favorite coffee experiences depends on our personal preferences. However, balance is a way of determining objective overall flavour. In our blind taste test, we defined balance as harmony across the three flavour categories. Combined with a good roast profile, these flavours work together to create a balanced cup. 

Samples of coffee beans in bags waiting to be tested

How to brew coffee 

Below are basic quantities and timings for making coffee using popular methods.

French press/cafetière:
75g coarse ground coffee per liter of water (adjust as necessary)
Filtered hot water, just boiled (poured to an inch from the top)
Total brew time: 4 mins

Hob:
15g fine ground coffee (slightly coarser than for espresso)
About 250ml filtered water (poured to the level below the safety valve)
Total brew time: 2 mins, or until the pot starts gurgling 

Pourover: 
25-27g medium-fine ground coffee
415ml filtered hot water, just boiled 
Total brew time: 3 mins 

Aeropress:
18-20g medium-fine ground coffee
About 250ml filtered hot water, just boiled (poured to the top)
Total brew time: 2 mins

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This review was last updated in January 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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