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.

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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 15 following a blind taste test that impressed 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.

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

Check out expert barista Celeste Wong's recommendations for the best moka pots, gooseneck kettles, coffee grinders and decaf coffee to buy on our sister brand, olive magazine:

Best coffee beans to buy at a glance

  • Best for French press coffee: Rave Coffee, £5.25
  • Best for espresso coffee: Grind, £25
  • Best for pourover coffee: Kiss the Hippo Coffee, £12.50
  • Best for flexible subscription: Pact Coffee, from £9.99
  • Best all-rounder coffee beans: Volcano Coffee Works, from £7.50
  • Best for coffee bean blends: Presto Coffee, from £18.99
  • Best coffee beans for letterbox delivery: HALŌ Coffee, from £7
  • Best coffee beans with a social mission: Redemption Roasters, from £8.90
  • Best coffee beans for gifting: Balance Coffee, from £7.99
  • Best coffee beans for budding baristas: Rounton Coffee Roasters, from £23.50 for 1kg
  • Best for premium and rare coffee beans: Assembly Coffee, from £10
  • Best for environmentally friendly coffee delivery: Alpaca Coffee, from £9.95
  • Best for aeropress coffee: White Star Coffee, £12
  • Best cafetière coffee: Origin Coffee Roasters, £6.99
  • Best for reduced caffeine: Norlo Coffee, from £9

The best coffee beans to buy online 2023

Rave Coffee

Best for French press 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 £5.25 for whole beans)
Amazon (from £6.65 for whole beans)

Grind

Best for espresso coffee

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.

Kiss the Hippo Coffee

Best for pourover 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.

Pact Coffee

Best for flexible subscription

Coffee type: single origin
Sourcing details of coffee tested:
Sertão, Brazil. Grown by Nazareth Dias Pereira
Flavour notes: dark chocolate, cherry and almond
Recommended brew method: hob, French press

Pact Coffee has been running since 2012 and has become one of the most visible coffee subscription services in the UK. It's achieved B Corp company status, currently conducting trials on recyclable coffee bags, and also offers coffee in recyclable aluminium pods designed to be compatible with coffee pod systems.

The ordering experience is user friendly, too – it's based on how much coffee you drink, so it’s simple to calibrate how often you want to receive coffee.

We enjoyed their Sertão coffee from Brazil, which tasted of roasted damsons and cherries, with a sharp richness. We also detected some acidity and subtle bitterness similar to orange zest, which was balanced by a golden caster sugar sweetness and hints of dark chocolate. This particular release from Pact worked especially well with brewing methods that require longer contact time (such as cafetiere/French press or moka pot), which intensified the flavour profile.

Available from:
Pact Coffee, from £9.99

Volcano Coffee Works

Best all-rounder coffee beans

Coffee type: blend coffee
Sourcing details of coffee tested:
The mount blend, El Salvador/Columbia/Brazil
Flavour notes: Caramel, red grapes, milk chocolate
Recommended brew method: aeropress, hob, French press, pourover

Based in the suburbs of south London, Volcano Coffee was founded by Kurt Stewart in 2010. Bringing his experience of New Zealand coffee culture with him to the UK, the company is committed not only to coffee being not just good, but also sustainability and ethically traded. They’re working towards carbon neutral status and pay their suppliers more than the fair-trade rates for the coffee.

Volcano’s website has a regularly updated blog which communicates general information about the company, seasonal gift guides and a selection of recipes using their coffee, which all feels easily accessible.

In the tasting we were impressed by The Mount Blend which is a mix of beans from El Salvador, Columbia and Brazil. As a blend it has a more consistent flavour profile than a specific crop or specific harvest.

On tasting we picked up smooth sweetness from milk chocolate, plus even a playful note of candy-floss with delicate acidity to keep everything in balance. Subtle sharpness came through as hints of lime zest and sherry vinegar, while a light bitterness reminded us of grape and plum skins. We found this incredibly versatile showing itself well in all brew methods making it a great all rounder.

Available from:
Volcano Coffee Works, from £7.50

Presto

Best for coffee bean blends

Coffee type: intense espresso roast
Sourcing details of coffee tested: House espresso, Brazil.
Flavour notes: Dark chocolate and almond
Recommended brew method: aero press, pourover, French press, espresso

Presto have been established for around 3 years and are a B-Corp certified company. They are looking to reduce their carbon emissions and have 100% recyclable packaging across all of their products. On their website you’ll find a blog that covers brew methods, gift guides, sustainability updates and recipes.

They have a concise range of 5 blends going from intense espresso roast (made up of 100% arabica) to their crema espresso combining both arabica and robusta and then a ‘rocket roast’ which is 100% robusta. They also sell a decaf blend, plus coffee in instant or coffee bag form.

Despite appearing like a very dark roast, the house intense espresso roast beans are classified as medium-dark and the resulting flavour is beautifully balanced. It made for a robust espresso with lots of dark chocolate, but without an excess of bitterness. It’s still well balanced when brewed in varying methods – for instance using an aero-press we picked up lots of marzipan sweetness.

Available from:
Presto Coffee, from £18.99
Amazon (from £7.99)

HALŌ Coffee

Best coffee beans for letterbox delivery

Coffee type: single origin
Sourcing details of coffee tested: Honduras single origin
Flavour notes: walnuts, milk chocolate, malt
Recommended brew method: aero press, pourover,

Perhaps best known for their compostable coffee pods, Halō also sell whole beans in their signature slim letterbox friendly boxes. Halō has a strong emphasis on sustainable packaging with a compostable bio-laminate sleeve covering the recyclable cardboard box container.

We tried the Honduras single origin coffee beans and found that these tasted best with shorter contact time brew methods such as aero press or pourover/filter. We enjoyed the easy drinking smoothness of the coffee which delivered rounded rich flavours, bringing forth notes of sweet and buttery hazelnut shortbread biscuits. Also detected a hint of maple syrup and squidgy dates which was balanced by a touch of balsamic vinegar as the subtle acidity. For the bitter notes we found a walnut skin character which was pleasant without being overbearing.

Available from:
HALŌ Coffee, from £7

Redemption Roasters

Best coffee beans with a social mission

Coffee type:
Sourcing details of coffee tested:
La conserva, Guatemala
Flavour notes: Peach, mango, vanilla
Recommended brew method: aero press, pourover/filter

Redemption Roasters was founded in 2016 by university friends Ted and Max, who had worked together and separately in coffee for a few years first. The company is founded on the principle of helping to reduce reoffending rates and preventing at-risk people from getting into trouble by giving them skills and experience in the coffee business both as roasters and baristas.

They sell coffee blends (such as The Wing, The Block and The Yard, reflecting their ethos) in orange packaging as well as seasonal single origin varietals in blue bags.

In addition to providing training and running a roastery from within a prison they have also partnered with Community Arts Projects, who exhibits art work of inmates from UK prisons. Some of this artwork is featured on the coffee description cards that accompanies their limited edition single origin coffees.

We tried the La Conserva coffee from Guatemala, which Redemption class as one of their filter coffees. On tasting we would agree, as it performed best in the pourover, aero press and French press serves. We picked up on some interesting acidity reminiscent of underripe nectarines and mangos. The bitterness was low but complex conjuring up toasted oats. This was an overall balanced coffee with a dry finish leaving a pleasant aftertaste of cobnuts and vanilla biscuits.

Available from:
Redemption Roasters, from £8.90

Balance Coffee

Best coffee beans for gifting

Coffee type: espresso blend
Sourcing details of coffee tested:
Level up espresso, Columbia/Vietnam
Flavour notes: red berries, caramel & pecan
Recommended brew method: pourover, hob, French press aeropress, espresso

Balance have 3 hero coffee products - their “stability”, “rotate” and “level up” blends. They are also moving into the world of mushroom coffee with a collaboration with Lions Mane.

A relative newcomer to the world of coffee, Balance was founded in 2020 during lockdown. Their website is easy to navigate and it’s simple to order the coffee as whole bean, cafetière, filter or espresso ground.

We tried their “Level up” espresso blend and were pleasantly surprised at how successful it was in all methods of brewing. It delivered a lot of rich, mouth coating sweetness particularly in the pour over/filter method, giving off flavours of sticky toffee pudding and pecan pie. The acidity and bitterness came through as hints of grapefruit and we detected lots of high cocoa chocolate and pecan skins.

Available from:
Balance Coffee, from £7.99

Rounton Coffee Roasters

Best coffee beans for budding baristas

Coffee type: African blend
Sourcing details of coffee tested: Two stories, Uganda - Mbata 50% and Ethiopia - Rocko Mountain
Flavour notes: pomegranate, orange zest, silky
Recommended brew method: filter, aero press

North Yorkshire based Rounton are working through a “road map” to sustainability. So far their coffee bags are carbon neutral and fully recyclable and they are involved with long term projects designed to support the communities that grow their coffee in places such as Uganda. With a professional approach to coffee they run training courses and supply coffee kit for home and commercial premises. They also have a fun side – it’s worth seeking out their brewing method videos via their website which include brewing coffee on a train!

We rated their Two Stories blend which is 50% mbata beans from Uganda and 50% rocko mountain from Ethiopia. This worked best in aero-press and pourover brewing methods and gave complex fruity bitter-sweetness that reminded us of pomegranate molasses and marmalade. It was nicely balanced with subtle vanilla notes and a delicate and dry finish.

Available from:
Rounton Coffee Roasters, from £7.75
Amazon (from £23.50 for 1kg)

Assembly Coffee

Best for premium and rare coffee beans

Coffee type: single origin
Sourcing details of coffee tested: Puerto Arturo, El Salvador
Flavour notes: chocolate orange, redcurrant and velvety
Recommended brew method: French press, aero press, hob

Brixton-based Assembly Roastery was founded in 2015 with a focus on quality, insights and innovation in the coffee industry. Passionate about premium coffee, you’ll find some very rare and exclusive coffee on their site. They go into great detail in the descriptions for each one, so if you feel about coffee the way a sommelier does about wine then this company will really appeal. As an example of their passion for premium coffee, their head roaster Claire Wallace won this year’s United Kingdom Barista Championship before heading to the World Barista Championships in Melbourne, where she came third in the final. The coffee that she used in this competition is still available on their website.

For tasting we enjoyed their Puerto Arturo coffee from El Salvador. This was a light and easy drinking coffee so benefitted from the longer contact or slower brewing methods. Once brewed it really was velvety smooth and gave us hints of creamy milk chocolate and rich hazelnut truffles.

Available from:
Assembly Coffee, from £10

Alpaca Coffee

Best for environmentally friendly coffee delivery

Coffee type: house blend
Sourcing details of coffee tested: 'Ermm’ blend from Brazil/Columbia, medium dark roast
Flavour notes: almond brittle, white chocolate and dried apple
Recommended brew method: hob, pour over/filter

Alpaca was founded with help from a kickstarter with the promise of being a 100% plastic-free coffee company. Successfully established and based in Portsmouth, the brand continues to push for sustainability and advocates direct trade, to pay higher rates to suppliers than Fairtrade.

Alpaca sells a limited range of blends and single estate coffee, focusing on supply from a small handful of coffee farming estates.

The ‘Ermmm’ blend is a medium dark roast of Castillo from Columbia and Catucai from Brazil. We found it to be a complex yet delicate blend which worked particularly well when brewed using the pour-over and hob methods. We picked up on sweet notes with flavours of dried fig, dried apple cut with the bitterness similar to that found on hazelnut skins and a perfumed note, which was a delicate hint of rosewater.

Available from:
Alpaca Coffee, from £9.95

White Star Coffee

Best for aeropress 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 (£12 for 250g)

Origin Coffee Roasters

Best cafetière coffee

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)

Nørlo Coffee

Best for reduced caffeine

Coffee type: ground, low-caffeinated
Flavour notes: jasmine, bergamot, chocolate, blueberries and stone fruits
Recommended brew method: hob, pour-over/filter, aero-press

Dorset-based Nørlo coffee roasts its coffee 'Norwegian-style' – it's inspired by the light and bright taste of the coffee the owners experienced during a trip to Oslo. It sells caffeinated, decaffeinated and lightly caffeinated coffee in the form of beans, ground coffee or pods. Its beans are all ‘lightly roasted’, which it claims results in a smoother drink.

We feel that having a lightly caffeinated coffee is a wonderful idea, and found it to be a light, delicate coffee with a wonderful balance of flavours. In tasting, we picked up malty chocolate notes and a complex sharpness, which was slightly floral – reminiscent of unripe strawberries. This tempered the smooth sweet notes of vanilla custard and ripe apricots beautifully. A great coffee at the more delicate end of the scale, without compromising on complexity.

Available from:
Nørlo Coffee, from £9

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.

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 November 2022. 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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