Choosing coffee beans is somewhat of a personal decision. You can take other peoples’ recommendations and aim for a type of bean, a roast level, and even the flavours that you have enjoyed previously, but it will come down to whether you like a particular flavour or a specific bean or not.
When shopping around or browsing for coffee beans, it helps to have somewhere to start, and below, we have included 10 of the best coffee beans in the UK, including any tasting notes, coffee strength guidelines, and other features to help you find a coffee bean to start your journey or to settle on one that you can keep returning to.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favourites in 2023
The 10 Best Coffee Beans in the UK
1. Cherry Storm No. 17 Blend Coffee Beans – Best Overall
|Origin:||Brazil, Peru, Honduras|
Cherry Storm No. 17 Blend Coffee Beans are a medium roast and produce a medium-strength coffee. The beans, which are 100% Arabica, are a blend of Brazilian, Peruvian, and Honduran beans, and have a taste of chocolate and praline. Because they lack bitterness, the beans are suitable for espresso making, and Cherry Storm roasts the beans themselves in the UK, which means that you will likely get much fresher beans than those that are roasted where they are picked before being shipped.
The 1-kilogram bag is a little on the pricey side, but the beans are fresh, and the lack of a bitter aftertaste will appeal to most coffee drinkers. However, that lack of bitterness, and the medium roast of the beans, means that some drinkers might lament a lack of flavour.
2. Lavazza Qualita Rossa Coffee Beans – Best Value
Lavazza has more than 120 years of coffee-making experience having been founded by Luigi Lavazza in 1895. Unsurprisingly, the Italian company is most widely recognised for its espresso making, and as well as roasting and selling coffee beans, they also sell pods, ground coffee, and coffee machines and accessories.
Lavazza Qualita Rossa Coffee Beans are a medium roast combination of Robusta and Arabica beans that come from Brazil and Africa. This blend, which is said to taste of chocolate and dried fruit, it rated as 5 out of 10 on Lavazza’s own strength scale, and the company says that the beans are suitable for use in bean-to-cup machines, moka pots, filter coffee machines, and French presses. The beans are cheap, and some people will have had Lavazza coffee in coffee shops and especially Italian restaurants before.
3. Volcano Coffee Works Bold Whole Bean Coffee – Premium Choice
Volcano Coffee Works Bold Whole Bean Coffee is a dark roast, strong coffee blend that is designed to give a caffeine kick start to the day. It claims flavours of plums, dark chocolate, and molasses, and is roasted in Brixton, London before being shipped so remains relatively fresh.
The company, Volcano, ensures that its farmers are paid double the fair-trade value and are certified carbon neutral. The strength and roast make this a suitable coffee for all types of coffee machines from espresso to cafetiere. However, it is an expensive drink, and it may be too strong for some drinkers.
4. Taylors of Harrogate Rich Italian Coffee Beans
|Origin:||Latin America, Africa|
|Volume:||2 x 1 kilogram|
Taylors Of Harrogate Rich Italian Coffee Beans come from Latin America and Africa, although Taylors states that the inspiration for the use of Arabica beans and the medium roasting style of the coffee firmly originates in Northern Italy. Once picked, the beans are roasted in Harrogate. The Rich Italian blend has a strength rating of 4 out of 6 and delivers flavours of almonds and dark chocolate.
Taylors is a Rainforest Certified coffee company, which means that they use growers and companies that help sustain the environment while also providing a fair wage to coffee growers. Unfortunately, the bags are not resealable, which means either having to transfer them to an airtight container or using the beans within 2 weeks, ideally sooner.
5. Union Hand Roasted Coffee Beans Yayu Wild Forest
Union Hand Roasted Coffee Beans Yayu Wild Forest are 100% Arabica beans that come from the Yayu Forest in Ethiopia. The coffee has a medium roast, and the beans are roasted by hand in small batches in the UK, so they are fresher than some of the bigger name brands.
The coffee is considered medium strength and has a smooth finish, with flavours of marzipan and dark chocolate. However, as well as being an expensive coffee, some drinkers have complained that this particular roast lacks depth of flavour, so it is best suited to those that like a milder coffee flavour.
6. Coffee Masters Mountain Water Decaf Coffee Beans
|Origin:||Central America, Brazil|
Decaffeinated coffee is not only a good choice for drinking in the evenings when you want the taste of coffee without the effects of caffeine, but also for those that are sensitive to caffeine. It is worth noting that some caffeine remains, with the decaffeinating process typically removing around 97% of the stimulant.
Coffee Masters Mountain Water Decaf Coffee Beans are 100% Arabica beans, medium roast, and have a strength of 3 out of 5, according to Coffee Masters. The beans are hand-picked, allowed to dry naturally in the Sun, and are then shipped to the UK where they are roasted. However, the coffee is expensive and lacks a strong flavour.
7. Brown Bear Blue Mountain Coffee Beans
Brown Bear Blue Mountain Coffee Beans come from the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. This is a 100% Arabica blend that is medium roasted and roasted here in the UK. It is described as a medium-strength coffee with a rating of 3 out of 5. The coffee has vanilla and toffee flavours, and Brown Bear recommends adding a little milk to help really draw out those characteristics.
The 1-kilogram bag isn’t resealable, so the beans will benefit from being transferred to another container if they won’t be used within a few days of opening. Although this is a pricey coffee, you can take some heart from the fact that 5% of the purchase price of every pack goes to the Free the Bears UK charity.
8. Pret Organic Espresso Coffee Beans
|Origin:||Peru, Honduras, Ethiopia, Sumatra|
Pret Organic Espresso Coffee Beans are a dark roasted coffee, designed for use in making espresso and espresso-based drinks, from Pret A Manger, the café and coffee chain. The beans have a strength rating of 5 out of 12 and consist of 100% Arabica beans, which means that it has a medium strength but smooth flavour and produces a good amount of crema when ground to a fine espresso consistency. The coffee has flavours of dark chocolate and nuts. The beans are organic, and because they are dark roasted, they are oily beans.
Although the beans could be a bit stronger, they are a good choice for those that like a milder espresso or those that want a Pret A Manger style coffee at home.
9. Black Donkey Coffee Roasters Wonky Blend Coffee Beans
Black Donkey Coffee Roasters Wonky Blend Coffee Beans are a mixture of the leftovers and scraps produced by Black Donkey when making their specialty coffees. As such, you don’t really know what you’ll be getting, but the coffee is likely a mix of Arabica and Robusta beans because these are both used in the company’s other coffees. Because these are the leftovers, the coffee is very well priced. Buying it also helps Black Donkey cut down on waste—coffee that would otherwise be thrown away.
Most Black Donkey coffee is considered quite strong, so it is likely that the Wonky Blend will be similarly strong, but, again, you can’t be sure, and the blend can change with each bag. A good way of getting premium coffee at a low cost, but because it is difficult to know what you’re getting, it isn’t the best choice for drinkers looking for a specific blend or flavour.
10. Coffee Masters All Day Blend Coffee Beans
|Origin:||Brazil, Honduras, Ethiopia, India|
Coffee Masters All Day Blend Coffee Beans is one of a range of blends from Coffee Masters and this blend of Arabica and Robusta is designed for all-day drinking. It has a milder taste, is a medium roast, and it can be ground for espresso or other styles of coffee.
As well as being a mix of blends, it is also a mix of beans from several countries. It has a chocolate flavour with a mild fruit aftertaste, although it is quite a mild flavour, especially for a Coffee Masters coffee. It is reasonably priced for a premium coffee, however, and is roasted in the UK, typically only a few weeks before you receive it.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Coffee in the UK
All good coffees start with good coffee beans, and choosing the best coffee beans means finding one with the right roast, strength, and flavours that you like. All these factors, as well as the source of the bean and even the altitude at which it was grown influence the final flavour and aroma of the drink you create.
Why Buy Whole Beans?
Coffee can take many forms from convenient, instant coffee, to pre-ground coffee, so why buy whole beans if there are easier options that require less work on your part?
What to Look For
There are thousands of different coffee bean options out there, and even once you’ve found a style you like, there are still different beans from different sources that can meet a similar taste and strength profile but with some minor differences.
There are three main roasting levels for coffee beans:
Strength has nothing to do with caffeine content but is a measure of the level of bitterness and whether the coffee is light, medium, or dark roasted. If you like your coffee to taste of coffee, you will want something that is high in strength. However, there is no universal measure of strength, and coffee roasters and manufacturers use their own measures. This can lead to confusion.
Some companies grade strength on a scale from 0 to 5, while others go as high as a 12. This means that a strength of 3 from one roaster might actually be stronger than a 5 from another company. As such, you will need to check the scale rating on each pack separately, rather than comparing them directly.
There are four main types of coffee bean, each with its own unique characteristics, flavours, and features:
The best coffee is a personal thing and while some people enjoy the mild, fruity flavours of a light roast brewed coffee, others enjoy a heavier dark roast espresso. Similarly, while some people enjoy trying to pick out additional notes of chocolate and plum, others prefer their coffee to taste of coffee. Fortunately, there are many coffee beans to choose from, but this also means it can be difficult to know where to start your coffee buying journey.
Above, we have listed reviews of 10 of the best coffee beans in the UK including Cherry Storm No. 17—a medium roast Arabica with hints of chocolate and praline, and our selection as the best overall coffee bean. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, Lavazza’s Qualita Rossa mixes Robusta and Arabica beans to give a chocolatey and fruity flavour at a fraction of the cost of some other beans, which is our choice as the best coffee bean in the UK for the money.
Table of Contents
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favourites in 2023
- The 10 Best Coffee Beans in the UK
- 1. Cherry Storm No. 17 Blend Coffee Beans – Best Overall
- 2. Lavazza Qualita Rossa Coffee Beans – Best Value
- 3. Volcano Coffee Works Bold Whole Bean Coffee – Premium Choice
- 4. Taylors of Harrogate Rich Italian Coffee Beans
- 5. Union Hand Roasted Coffee Beans Yayu Wild Forest
- 6. Coffee Masters Mountain Water Decaf Coffee Beans
- 7. Brown Bear Blue Mountain Coffee Beans
- 8. Pret Organic Espresso Coffee Beans
- 9. Black Donkey Coffee Roasters Wonky Blend Coffee Beans
- 10. Coffee Masters All Day Blend Coffee Beans
- Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Coffee in the UK