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Top 11 Beans For Best Black Coffee

Short on time? Our top choice is Stumptown Holler Mountain Organic Whole Bean Coffee!

All coffee is black until you add cream.

That means there are tons of options if you want to drink your coffee black.

And it’s hard to choose the best black coffee.

In this article, I’ll go over a few of my favorite coffees to drink black.

Then I’ll give you a short buying guide for everything I look for in such coffee.

Top 11 Beans For Black Coffee

Stumptown Holler Mountain Organic Whole Bean Coffee 

Stumptown Holler Mountain Organic Whole Bean Coffee 

Stumptown is a well-respected roaster with a reputation for producing quality coffees.

Holler Mountain is Stumptown’s medium roast. And it’s a great all-around coffee no matter your brewing style or recipe.

The medium roast keeps this coffee smooth and mellow. It doesn’t get too bright or too bold. It stays sippable and delicious.

The notes of citrus, caramel, and hazelnut keep this coffee a great option for drinking black. The profile is interesting and isn’t masked by the roast. So, no matter if you do drip or pour-over, this coffee will be tasty.

Stumptown’s coffees are USDA Certified Organic. That means the coffee beans were held to a high standard throughout the growing, roasting, and packaging processes.

The only downside to Holler Mountain is that Stumptown roasts in big batches. That means you might not get the freshest possible roast from bag to bag.

Pros

  • Notes of citrus, caramel, and hazelnut make this a great black coffee, no matter how you brew
  • The medium roast keeps this coffee mellow and smooth, so it’s not too bright and not too bold
  • Holler Mountain is a USDA Organic Certified coffee, so it was held to a high standard throughout the growing and roasting processes
  • It’s a great deal for a bag of coffee, especially given Holler Mountain’s reputation as a phenomenal drip coffee

Cons

  • Stumptown roasts in big batches, so you might not get great consistency from bag to bag
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Koffee Kult Costa Rica Naranjo La Rosa Medium Roast Coffee

When I think of black coffee, I usually think of medium roasts.

Why are medium roasts good for drinking black?

Well, they are usually smoother and easier to sip all morning than dark roasts. But without the acidity of a light roast.

I really enjoy this Koffee Kult Costa Rica. It’s a 100% Arabica single-origin coffee.

Arabica beans taste better and are of higher quality than Robusta beans. And because it’s single-origin, you get the unique characteristics of Costa Rican coffee without a blend.

Notes of sweet cherry, orange, and cocoa are all typical of Costa Rica. And this coffee delivers them in a smooth cup no matter how you brew.

The medium roast keeps everything balanced and with a good body. So it’s a forgiving coffee for any type of brewer.

The only downside is that this coffee comes from a handful of farms instead of one grower. That takes away some of the unique flavors you’d find otherwise.

Pros

  • It’s a single-origin coffee, so you get all the unique flavors and notes of Costa Rican coffee without a blend
  • The medium roast keeps this coffee smooth without sacrificing the flavors
  • It’s a 100% Arabica coffee, which tastes better and is of higher quality than Robusta or an Arabica/Robusta blend
  • Notes of sweet cherry, orange, and cocoa make this a great option for daily drinking

Cons

  • It is single-origin, but not from a single farm, so you don’t get the benefits of tasting coffee from one specific place
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Waka Quality Instant Colombian Coffee 

I’ll be honest, I don’t usually think of instant coffee when I think of good coffee.

That’s because usually instant coffee usually belongs down the sink.

But this Waka Quality Instant Colombian stands out.

This medium roast, freeze-dried instant coffee actually tastes good. It has a smooth body and subtle brightness, which is perfect for a daily drinker.

The freeze-drying process is, in my opinion, better at preserving a coffee’s flavors and aromas than spray-drying. That means you get better flavors in this Waka coffee.

Plus, the single-serve packages are convenient for camping, at the office, or for busy mornings.

And Waka uses recycled materials for its packaging.

The one thing to note is that it’s still instant coffee. And instant coffee simply isn’t as good as brewed coffee.

So while this coffee is good for instant coffee, it won’t taste any better than a brewed cup.

Pros

  • The medium roast keeps this instant coffee smooth and predictable from cup to cup, so you don’t have to worry about how your coffee is going to taste
  • This is a freeze-dried instant coffee, which is better at preserving the taste and aromas of coffee used for instant
  • This is a Colombian coffee with notes of citrus, which makes it a great bet for drinking black
  • The convenience of single-serve packages is hard to beat, and all the packaging is sustainable

Cons

  • Instant coffee is still instant coffee, so you do sacrifice some quality and taste as opposed to brewed coffee
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Death Wish Whole Bean Medium Roast Coffee

Death Wish Whole Bean Medium Roast Coffee

Death Wish is a well-respected roaster with a reputation for strong and smooth coffee.

Now, when I think of black coffee, I don’t usually include super strong or bold coffees.

But the medium roast Death Wish coffee beans make a surprisingly sippable black coffee. That’s because it has a smooth and balanced acidity with notes of stone fruit and dark chocolate.

Keep in mind, this is a strong coffee. So it’s best for people who prefer a stronger roast or a bolder cup.

This coffee does have a rather high caffeine content. After all, that’s Death Wish’s whole thing.

They use a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans. Robusta beans don’t taste quite as good as Arabica, but they have higher caffeine content.

Just know that you will sacrifice some consistency from cup to cup because of the Robusta/Arabica blend.

Pros

  • Because of the Arabica/Robusta blend, it has a high caffeine content for when you need an extra jolt
  • The medium roast ensures you have a smooth and balanced cup of coffee no matter how you brew
  • Notes of stone fruit and dark chocolate keep this balanced coffee rich and delicious, which makes it a great black coffee
  • Death Wish roasts in small batches, which means you get the freshest possible roast every time you buy a bag

Cons

  • Because it’s an Arabica/Robusta blend, you do lose some consistent quality from bag to bag, simply because Robusta beans aren’t as good as Arabica
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Volcanica Colombian Geisha 

Volcanica Colombian Geisha 

Only a few times in my coffee career has a coffee tasted like artificial cereals. I’m talking Apple Jacks or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

This is one such coffee.

I know that sounds ridiculous, but hear me out.

The Geisha variety is one of the best and most consistent in the world. It’s known for its full flavors and rounded body.

This coffee specifically has a great balance of acidity and sweetness, which makes it great for drinking black. In fact, professionals recommend you drink Geisha’s black.

Plus, it’s a micro-lot coffee, which means it comes from one specific farm in Colombia. That way, you get all the hyper-focused flavors from one farm instead of blended flavors from a handful.

It’s a naturally processed coffee, which means the beans were dried while still in the cherries. It gives the coffee more flavor and keeps it lively.

The only downside is that the price reflects the quality, and you’re paying a premium for a great cup.

Pros

  • The Geisha variety is one of the best in the world, and this Colombian is a great example of how good it can be
  • It has really nice balance of acidity and sweetness, making it a great coffee for drinking black
  • It’s a micro-lot coffee, which means it comes from one specific farm in one region of Colombia
  • The natural process keeps this coffee lively, rounded, and full of flavor

Cons

  • Because it’s a Colombian Geisha, the price tag reflects the quality
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Volcanica Kenya Peaberry 

Volcanica Kenya Peaberry 

Peaberry coffees are some of the most interesting coffees out there.

A peaberry coffee bean is actually a natural mutation in the coffee cherry. Instead of producing two seeds, it only produces one big one. It’s a mutation that happens in only about 3-5% of cherries.

That makes this coffee pretty rare.

Kenyan coffee has a ton of acidity, so expect this coffee to pack a punch like drinking pink lemonade.

The notes of strawberry, lemon, and guava are spot on. It sometimes tastes more like juice than coffee.

Because of the complexity of Kenyan coffees, they are typically washed process. Washed processed coffees generally have a crisper and clearer flavor.

The crisp profile helps keep the flavors full and interesting.

However, the high acidity in Kenyan coffee isn’t for everyone. I would recommend trying a high-acidity Kenyan coffee before pulling the trigger on a whole bag.

Pros

  • Peaberry coffee is full of flavor, and this coffee definitely packs a punch
  • Kenyan coffee has high acidity, and this coffee is no different, it is really bright and tastes much better black
  • Notes of strawberry, lemon, and guava keep this coffee interesting and fun no matter how you brew it
  • The washed process keeps this coffee crisp and the flavor profile clear in the cup

Cons

  • The high acidity of Kenyan coffee isn’t for everyone, so I would recommend trying a more typical Kenyan coffee before pulling the trigger on this one
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Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee

Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Coffee

Interesting flavors and unique characteristics have their place in the coffee world.

But sometimes, having a standard, run-of-the-mill coffee is the way to go.

Lavazza Super Crema is a great option.

Although it’s technically an espresso roast, it still tastes great no matter how you brew it.

The dark roast actually keeps this coffee smooth, balanced, and rich in every brew. That makes it a great black coffee.

Keep in mind, though, that this will taste pretty bold if you’re used to medium or light roasts. So tread carefully.

If you do brew this for espresso, it stays rich and balanced with a persistent aroma and no bitterness. That makes it a great black espresso coffee.

The blend of Brazilian, Indian, and Colombian coffees keeps the price down and the flavor full. So it’s a great bulk buy.

The only downside is that it doesn’t have any especially interesting or unique characteristics. So no matter how you brew, it will always taste the exact same.

Pros

  • The blend of Brazilian, Indian, and Colombian keeps this coffee smooth, rich, and interesting in your cup
  • Even though it’s an espresso roast, it tastes great no matter how you brew it
  • When brewed for espresso, it stays rich and smooth with a persistent aroma and no bitterness
  • The dark roast actually helps this coffee stay mellow and balanced

Cons

  • It doesn’t have any interesting or defining characteristics, it’s a pretty standard and middle-ground coffee
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Lifeboost Optimist Light Roast Whole Bean Coffee 

Lifeboost Optimist Light Roast Whole Bean Coffee 

Lifeboost is an up-and-coming roaster producing some interesting and unique coffees.

The Optimist Light Roast is a great choice.

Lifeboost keeps the acidity down in its blends, which means you get a smooth and rich coffee instead of a punchy coffee. That makes it a great choice if you like drinking black coffee.

Plus, the Central American beans for this blend keep your cup balanced with notes of citrus and chocolate. 

Well, light roasts have more unique flavors and characteristics. Roasting darker actually takes away a lot of the coffee’s differences and flattens out profiles.

Keeping the roast light allows the coffee’s profile to stay intact and make it through brewing into your cup.

The only downside of this coffee is that it’s still a blend. So you lose some of the unique and interesting flavors you would otherwise have in a single origin.

Pros

  • The light roast keeps this coffee unique, interesting, and sweeter than a medium or dark roast coffee
  • The Central American blend means this coffee is a good balance of sweetness and chocolate flavors, making it a rounded black coffee
  • It’s certified Fair Trade and Organic, which means it was held to a high standard through the growing, roasting, and packaging process
  • It’s a low-acidic coffee, which means it’s smooth and rich instead of punchy, which makes it a great light roast for drinking black

Cons

  • It’s a blended coffee, so you lose some of the benefits of specific flavors and characteristics you would get in a single-origin
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KOA Coffee Kona Natural Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee

KOA Coffee Kona Natural Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee

Hawaiian coffee is consistently some of the best in the world.

The growing conditions, beans, and culture of Hawaiian coffee are ideal for creating great coffee year after year.

This Kona natural is no exception. It has a strong body, delicate mouthfeel, and fruity notes. That makes it a rounded and exceptional black coffee.

The natural process means the beans are dried while still in the skin of the coffee cherry. That allows the beans to retain a lot of the unique characteristics of the cherry.

The end result is a coffee that is rounded, flavorful, and incredibly interesting. I tend to prefer natural coffees like this for their interesting and rounded flavor profiles. But you might sacrifice some clarity in the flavor.

However, Kona coffee can be a bit over-hyped for a daily coffee drinker. While it tastes great every now and then, you’re probably better served to find a great single-origin coffee from Central America as a daily brewer.

Pros

  • Kona coffee is some of the best in the world, and this natural Kona is no exception
  • The natural process keeps this coffee rounded and full-bodied, so you get a bigger flavor out of every brew
  • This coffee has a delicate mouthfeel, notes of stone fruit, and a consistent aroma, which makes it a great daily brewer
  • It’s 100% Kona coffee, so it’s single-origin and unblended, meaning you get all the specific characteristics of Hawaiian coffee

Cons

  • While Kona coffee is great, it’s a little over-hyped for drinking daily
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Colombian Supremo Volcanica Decaf Whole Bean

Colombian Supremo Volcanica Decaf Whole Bean

Decaf coffee is always hit or miss for me. It’s pretty rare that I find a decaf coffee that blows me away.

But this Colombian Supremo hits on all the markers.

First, it’s a Swiss Water Decaf coffee. That means no chemicals were used in the decaffeination process. In other words, no weird aftertaste and no chemical tastes get into your brews.

That’s huge because, in many other decaf coffees, you’ll end up with a flat and uninteresting profile.

Second, the medium roast keeps this coffee mellow, smooth, and balanced. That makes it a great choice for drinking black.

Finally, the notes of florals, the sweetness, and the lighter body mean this coffee is sippable any time of day. 

The only thing to note is that the Swiss Water Process is slower and more expensive than other decaffeination processes. So you end up paying a premium for high-quality decaf like this.

Pros

  • The Swiss Water Process keeps this coffee chemical-free, so you don’t get any weird aftertaste or unpleasant aromas
  • The medium roast mellows out some of the acidity and keeps this coffee smooth and rich when consumed black
  • Notes of florals, a bit sweet, and a lighter body mean this coffee is a great choice for daily drinking
  • It’s a single-origin coffee, so you get all the characteristics of Colombian coffee in a great and reliable decaf

Cons

  • The only downside is that the Swiss Water Process is slow and expensive, meaning you’re paying a premium for your decaf
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Lifeboost Embolden Dark Roast Coffee 

Lifeboost Embolden Dark Roast Coffee 

Embolden is Lifeboost’s dark roast. And normally, I’m not a huge fan of really dark roasts as black coffee, but this is an exception.

It actually has a really nice balance without being too bold or too acidic.

In fact, Lifeboost makes it a point to produce low-acidic coffees. That means you get really smooth and drinkable cups every time you brew.

Lifeboost’s high standards mean Embolden is certified both Fair Trade and Organic. That means that during the growing, roasting, and packaging processes, the coffee was properly handled.

Plus, this is a 100% Arabica blend. Arabica beans are tastier and of high quality than Robusta beans. The end result is a smoother, more interesting, and actually lower caffeinated coffee.

The only real downside to this coffee is that the dark roast takes away some of the characteristics of Central American coffees. You’re left with a somewhat flat and boring profile.

Pros

  • The dark roast evens out the coffee and makes it smooth, rich, and bold, which is perfect for enjoying black
  • Lifeboost produces low-acidic coffees, which means you get a balanced and more mellow flavor
  • Embolden is certified Fair Trade and Organic, so it was held to a high standard throughout the growing and roasting processes
  • It’s 100% Arabica beans, which are tastier and better than Robusta beans or an Arabica/Robusta blend

Cons

  • The dark roast takes away some of the interesting characteristics of Central American coffees, so you’re left with a boring profile
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Buying Black Coffee: What I Look For

Since all coffee can be consumed black, it can be tricky to figure out what to look for in black coffee.

You have to consider how all the variables impact your final cup. Things like roast level, acidity, and brewing method are the biggest variables that change how your coffee tastes.

Let’s dive into each of those variables to better understand how to choose the best coffee to drink black.

What roast level is best?

When I explain how roast levels change coffee tastes, I like to use a baking analogy.

Think about baking cookies.

When you put cookies in the oven, you control how hot the oven is and how long the cookies stay in there.

A shorter amount of time at a lower temperature is going to produce cookies that are soft and gooey. You can taste more of the ingredients that went into the cookies themselves.

A higher temperature for a longer amount of time will give you crispy cookies that have a classic crunch and flavor.

That’s how roast levels change coffee tastes. A lighter roast will be more like a gooey cookie, while a darker roast will be a crunchy one.

There isn’t really a correct answer about which one is better. It is personal preference, after all.

But I will say that light roast coffee beans are generally more interesting and have more unique characteristics.

Dark roasted coffee beans will have a more classic flavor. Like a coffee from a diner or restaurant.

BOTTOM LINE
I prefer lighter roasts for their unique characteristics and profiles. But sometimes a dark roast is good for the classic taste.

What acidity level should I look for?

a person holding black coffee

Acidity in the coffee world doesn’t mean literal pH. Coffee professionals actually prefer to use the word “brightness” when we talk about acidity as a tasting component of coffee.

Brightness is actually a desirable trait in coffee. No brightness means you have a coffee that is flavorless and tastes like sludge.

But too much brightness and your coffee will be really sour.

However, a good amount of brightness will result in a balanced, mellow, and incredibly drinkable black coffee.

Each coffee region in the world has its own characteristics and flavors. Brightness is one of the most obvious.

If you like a lot of brightness, look for African coffee. Kenya is specifically known for having some of the most acidic coffee in the world.

If you prefer a lower acidity, I would recommend sticking to Central American coffee.

IN A NUTSHELL
Don’t shy away from acidity entirely. You need some acidity to have a tasty black coffee. But too much will just taste sour. I recommend finding coffees with balanced acidity.

How should you brew black coffee?

This is all about personal preference.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to brew black coffee.

After all, all coffee is black until you add cream.

So however you brew can produce a tasty cup of black coffee. From a delicious Moka pot, or a drip coffee maker, to cold brew – black coffee can be anything you want.

I recommend, at the very least, being diligent about your water-to-coffee ratio and grind size.

Once you have a consistent ratio and grind, then you can play around with the ratio to find a good black coffee brew.

BOTTOM LINE
Any brewing method can produce quality black coffee. What matters more is your recipe. Perfect your recipe, and you’ll have a good cup of black coffee every time you brew.

My Final Thoughts

I’m sticking with the Stumptown Holler Mountain Organic Whole Bean Coffee as my top choice.

The notes of citrus, caramel, and hazelnut are classic and make Holler Mountain a well-balanced and classic cup.

The medium roast keeps everything mellow and smooth without sacrificing flavor or consistency.

And the deal for this coffee is hard to beat, especially for such a classic coffee.

But in the end, it’s all about the personal preference of a coffee lover. There’s definitely a coffee out there for you!

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Craig Carey
Craig spent a year as a barista in Denver's specialty coffee world. He spends his days rock climbing, cycling, drinking espresso, and hanging around the Rocky Mountains. He still lives in Colorado.