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Best Dark Roast K Cup Coffee (Top 11 Picks)

Short on time? Our top choice is the Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee Pods!

If I asked you to guess what the best dark roast K-Cup coffee was, I would bet you wouldn’t get any of my answers.

After so many years in the coffee industry, I’ve come to have a lot of thoughts about Keurig machines and K-Cup coffees.

So I made this list to help you out.

And I included a short buying guide to help you make a decision.

Let’s get to it!

The 11 Best Dark Roast K-Cups

Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee Pods 

Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee Pods 

Lifeboost is a rather young roaster taking the coffee world by storm. So it makes sense that it offers a dark roast single-serve coffee pod in the lineup.

And I’ll level with you: it’s perhaps the most solid dark roast K-Cup on the market.

Why is it so good? Well, the roast itself makes the coffee rich, smooth, and bold. It’s a dark roast in the most traditional sense.

But it’s also a single-origin dark roast, which is somewhat special. A single-origin dark roast means you get a complete and rounded flavor profile.

And this coffee is certified by Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and USDA Organic. That means you can be sure the production standards are high.

On top of all that, each pod is recyclable. That allows you to limit the environmental impact of your K-Cups.

These pods stand out for their classic taste and consistency.

The only downside is that the flavors are a little boring if you’re looking for something exciting and unique. This is a coffee for traditionalists.

Pros

  • It’s a single-origin dark roast, so you get a complete and rounded flavor profile
  • The dark roast is smooth, which means it’s still a bold and rich coffee
  • It’s certified by Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and USDA Organic, so you can be sure the standards of production were high
  • Each pod is recyclable, so you can limit the environmental impact of the coffee

Cons

  • The roast is a little boring for a coffee connoisseur
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Death Wish Dark Roast Death Cups 

Death Wish Dark Roast Death Cups 

Death Wish is known for strong coffee. My question was: will the K-Cups be as strong as Death Wish’s other coffees?

The answer is an astonishing yes.

These K-Cups are probably the strongest on the market.

The notes of dark chocolate and black cherry are spot on and come through no matter which size or strength you brew.

Plus, Death Wish still roasts this coffee in small batches. That means that you will always get fresh and smooth coffee. You’ll never find yourself drinking stale or bland coffee from one of these pods.

And Death Wish makes sure to source USDA Organic and Fair Trade coffees. It cares deeply about the farmers.

The last thing about these pods? Caffeine. If you’re looking for an extra boost in your cup, these are the pods for you.

But they achieve that extra caffeine by using a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans. So you’ll sacrifice a tiny bit of taste for that extra boost. So beware.

Pros

  • It has a lot of caffeine, which is great if you’re looking for an extra boost
  • Notes of dark chocolate and black cherry are interesting and unique flavors to find in a K-Cup
  • The coffee is roasted in small batches, meaning you’ll always get fresh and smooth beans
  • Death Wish uses USDA Organic and Fair Trade beans, which means it takes care of the coffee farmers

Cons

  • Death Wish uses a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, which prioritizes caffeine over taste
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Lion French Roast Single Serve Coffee Pods 

Lion French Roast Single Serve Coffee Pods 

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

Luckily for us, Lion managed to create single-serve K-Cups with this Hawaiian coffee.

That means you’re getting some of the best coffee in the world to use in your Keurig machine.

Plus, Lion is one of the oldest roasters in the US. You can be certain that you’re getting consistent coffee each time you buy a pack of these pods.

The roast itself is a French Roast, which means it’s very dark. But don’t be scared off. The coffee is rich, smooth, and bold. Certainly full-bodied, but that means it goes really well with cream and sugar.

I’d recommend these pods to someone looking for a classic diner-style cup of strong coffee that keeps its flavor with cream.

The benefit of Hawaiian coffee is that the quality comes through no matter what additions you put in your mug.

The only thing to note is that the French Roast does take away some of the more unique and interesting flavors you’d find in a lighter roast.

Pros

  • Lion is one of the oldest roasters in the US, so you can be sure you’re getting consistent coffee each time
  • The French Roast is super dark, which means the coffee is bold, rich, smooth
  • Hawaiian coffee is some of the best in the world, so you’re getting high-quality coffee in a single-serve pod

Cons

  • The dark roast takes away a lot of the interesting and unique Hawaiian coffee profile
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Illy K-Cups Forte Extra Dark Roast 

Illy K-Cups Forte Extra Dark Roast 

Dark roast coffees get a bad shake. The trend in the coffee world is toward lighter roasts for their unique flavors.

But if you’re anything like me, you fell in love with coffee because it tasted like coffee.

These Illy pods are perfect for that reason.

The extra dark roasts give this coffee a smoky and smooth texture. It has a deep and rich flavor to complement the full body.

Plus, it’s still made with 100% Arabica beans. Arabica coffee bean is simply better than the Robusta bean. So you get a tastier cup of coffee.

And the darkness of the roast means this coffee excels with cream and sugar. But you can brew it a little lighter for a great black coffee as well.

Lastly, Illy has been in the game for a long time. That means you can expect consistency and quality from box to box.

The only downside is that dark roasts like this take away all the unique flavors of the coffee beans.

Pros

  • The extra dark roast gives this coffee a smoky and smooth texture
  • It’s 100% Arabica beans, which taste better and are of higher quality than Robusta beans
  • The darkness of the roast means this coffee goes great with cream and sugar
  • Illy has been in the game a while, so you can expect consistency and quality with each box you buy

Cons

  • The darkness of the roast means all unique flavors are lost in favor of a smooth and smoky cup of coffee
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Death Wish Odin Cups 

Death Wish Odin Cups 

Death Wish just couldn’t stop making the strongest coffee on the market. They had to go and create a coffee that was even stronger.

That’s the Odin blend.

It was crafted as the best jumpstart to an early or busy morning. That means that if you’re looking for the most caffeine for your buck, this is a great option.

Yes, this is a really dark roast. But don’t let that fool you. Odin is still a super smooth coffee without any bitterness.

How does it get its strength, then? Well, it’s a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans. Robusta beans have more caffeine and an earthier flavor than Arabica beans. The Arabica beans add just enough acidity to keep it all balanced.

Death Wish coffee has also been around long enough that I certainly trust their consistency from box to box.

The only thing to note is that the focus is on strength. There are no unique or interesting flavors to speak of in this coffee.

Pros

  • Death Wish has been around for a long time, so consistency isn’t an issue
  • There isn’t much bitterness despite the dark roast, so it’s a super smooth cup
  • Odin Cups were crafted for jumpstarting your morning, so they have a high caffeine content
  • The blend of Arabica/Robusta beans means you get a deep and earthy flavor in your coffee that works with cream and sugar

Cons

  • Because the focus is on strength, there aren’t any unique or interesting flavors in this coffee
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Illy K-Cups Intenso Dark Roast 

Illy K-Cups Intenso Dark Roast 

Look, there’s a difference between dark roasts. There are super dark roasts, and then there are just dark roasts. These Illy Intenso dark roasts are of the latter category.

It’s actually more like a medium/dark roast than a pure dark roast. But that’s a good thing!

The slightly lighter dark roast means the coffee is incredibly balanced and smooth. There isn’t any bitterness at all.

And the balance of this coffee means it tastes just as good with cream and sugar as it does black.

Plus, it’s still 100% Arabica beans. That makes it smoother and tastier than any Arabica/Robusta blend.

Don’t let the level of the roast throw you off too much, though. This is still meant to be a bold and intense coffee. And it is.

It has a full body and a rounded mouthfeel.

The only thing is that the slightly lighter roast means it can sometimes taste weaker in bigger sizes.

Pros

  • It’s a medium/dark roast, which means it’s incredibly balanced and smooth without any bitterness
  • It’s 100% Arabica beans, which means it will be smoother and tastier than any Arabica/Robusta blend
  • The balance of this coffee means it goes well with cream and sugar
  • The roast is meant to be bold, so this coffee has a full body and rounded mouthfeel

Cons

  • The lighter dark roast means this coffee sometimes tastes weak at bigger sizes 
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Green Mountain Dark Magic

Green Mountain coffee has been around for a long time. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that it’s actually a Keurig company.

Keurig bought the roaster a while back and started creating coffees specifically for Keurig machines. Dark Magic was one such coffee.

That means that you can be almost certain that it will taste good and consistent no matter your brewing settings.

Plus, the pods themselves are recyclable. That means you can help lower the environmental impact of drinking single-serve coffee pods.

And the coffee is still 100% Arabica beans. You can be sure you’re getting a tasty and hearty cup from each pod.

Dark Magic has notes of dried fruit and chocolate. And those notes come through very well, no matter the size or brewing settings you’re using.

The only bad thing to say is that it’s not a unique coffee. It tastes like a lot of other dark roast coffees on the market.

Pros

  • Recyclable pods mean that you can lower the environmental impact of drinking single-serve pods
  • Green Mountain is owned by Keurig, so the coffee was created specifically for Keurig machines
  • It’s made with 100% Arabica beans, so you can be sure you’re getting a tasty and hearty cup of coffee
  • Notes of dried fruit and chocolate come through no matter your brewing settings

Cons

  • There isn’t anything special about Dark Magic, it tastes like a lot of other dark roast coffees
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Peet’s Coffee Major Dickinson’s Blend Dark Roast

Peet’s is one of the older major roasters still innovating.

Major Dickinson’s blend is one such innovation.

It’s a dark roast that’s a blend of coffees from around the world. The result is a smooth and balanced coffee.

It has rich, complex, and full-bodied flavors. That helps keep everything nice and smooth. It works great black or even with cream and sugar.

The roast itself isn’t too dark. It doesn’t have any bitter flavors and isn’t too bold or intense.

And all the pods are recyclable to help you lower the impact of drinking single-serve coffee pods.

Peet’s also makes a distinct effort to source beans consciously. They make sure to empower the communities and farmers they buy from. It’s a great all-around coffee with a good story.

The only downside is that the blend of coffees from around the world means that no flavor profile shines. You’re left with a rounded coffee flavor instead.

Pros

  • It’s a blend of coffees from all over the world, so you get rich, complex, and full-bodied flavors
  • All the pods are recyclable, so you can help lower the impact of drinking single-serve coffee pods
  • Peet’s makes a distinct effort to source beans in a way that helps local communities and farmers, so you can help buy consciously
  • The dark roast is still balanced and tasty, it isn’t too dark or too intense

Cons

  • The world blend means that no flavors stand out and you’re left with a rounded coffee flavor instead
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Starbucks French Roast K-Cup Coffee

I probably don’t need to say anything about Starbucks as a roaster. It pretty much invented modern coffee branding.

But what about their actual coffee pods? Well, the French Roast pods are pretty dang tasty.

Starbucks’ French Roast is pretty classic, after all. That helps with the pods because you know exactly what you’re getting each and every time.

French Roast has the tasting notes of dark caramel and sweet smoke. Those flavors come through pretty strong in the pods, no matter your brewing settings.

And these pods are all recyclable, which means they’re better for the environment than other types of pods.

The darkness of the rost means that this coffee works with whatever you want to add to it. Cream and sugar, whipped cream, flavoring syrups, it all tastes great with the French Roast.

The only thing to note is that this Starbucks coffee just doesn’t change. It’s been the same since I can remember. And there aren’t any fun or interesting flavors.

Pros

  • Starbucks’ French Roast is iconic and classic, so you know exactly what you’re getting in each and every pod
  • It has the tasting notes of dark caramel and sweet smoke, which comes across well in the single-serve pods
  • These pods are recyclable, which means they’re better for the environment than other types of pods
  • The darkness of the roast means that this coffee works with whatever you add to it

Cons

  • This coffee doesn’t change at all, it’s a dark roast without interesting flavors or profiles
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Tim Horton’s Single Serve Coffee Pods

If you haven’t heard of Tim Horton’s, then you probably haven’t spent much time around Canada.

Tim Horton’s is very Canadian. But in true Canadian style, Tim Horton’s has shared its dark roast with us in K-Cup form.

It’s a medium/dark roast that is actually incredibly smooth and smoky without being too bitter or overwhelming.

And it’s 100% Arabica beans from Central and South America. That means you get a more specific and focused flavor profile than a blend of coffees from all over the world.

All the pods are recyclable. You can help do your part to lower the impact of drinking single-serve coffee pods.

The pods are great because they are compatible with all Keurig machines. It doesn’t matter which model you have, these pods will work.

The only downside is that this roast tastes a little watery if you brew at bigger sizes.

Pros

  • The medium/dark roast is incredibly smooth and smoky without being too bitter or overwhelming
  • It’s 100% Arabica beans from Central and South America, which means you get a more focused and specific flavor profile
  • Recyclable pods mean you can do your part to lower the impact of single-serve coffee pods
  • The pods are compatible with every Keurig machine, it doesn’t matter which one you have

Cons

  • The medium/light roast sometimes means brewing bigger sizes makes the coffee watery
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Cafe Bustelo Espresso Style Dark Roast

Cafe Bustelo is quickly becoming one of my favorite roasters.

There’s something about Cuban-style espresso that has my attention at the moment.

This Cafe Bustelo roast is very dark and syrupy. You can really feel the coffee in your mouth with each sip. That makes it perfect for smaller coffees with or without cream and sugar.

Another thing that helps the versatility of this coffee is the rich and full-bodied flavor.

The roast itself isn’t too dark. That means the coffee is both balanced and smooth.

While it is a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, don’t write it off right away. Cuban coffee is actually designed to work with Robusta beans. It gives the coffee an earthy flavor that really works for small coffees.

The only thing is that because it’s supposed to be a small coffee, it can taste weak if brewed at bigger sizes.

Pros

  • It’s a Cuban-style roast, so it’s somewhat dark and syrupy, which is perfect for smaller coffees with cream and sugar
  • It has a rich and full-bodied flavor, so it works well with or without cream and sugar
  • The roast itself isn’t super dark, which means the coffee is balanced and smooth
  • It’s a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, which means it has an earthy flavor

Cons

  • Because it’s meant to be a small coffee, it can taste weak if brewed at bigger sizes
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How To Buy Dark Roast K-Cups

Alright, it’s time to take a quick look at how to actually go about buying good dark roast K-Cups.

I think about a lot of things when I buy dark roast pods. But I’ll give you the most important ones to help you decide faster.

The Different Kinds Of Dark Roast Varieties

The first thing to consider is that there are different kinds of dark roast varieties.

A dark roast can mean anything from dark to almost charred. And each roast level will have slightly different flavors and properties.

But as a general rule of thumb: the darker the roast, the more bitter the coffee.

That means that if you prefer your coffee with cream and sugar, then getting the darkest roast possible is fine.

But if you sometimes like black coffee, then I would recommend finding a coffee that’s not quite the darkest out there.

BOTTOM LINE
Darker roast makes more bitter coffee. But the darker the roast, the better it pairs with cream and sugar.

The Type Of Beans Make A Difference

There are two main types of coffee beans out there: Arabica and Robusta.

Now, common coffee knowledge is that Arabica bean coffee is better than Robusta.

And that is true.

However, there are certain situations in which I think it’s actually beneficial to have a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans.

Usually, when you’re looking for a bigger caffeine kick or want an earthier and more hearty flavor.

In almost all other cases, I would recommend sticking with all-Arabica blends.

BOTTOM LINE
Stick with Arabica beans unless you’re looking for a heartier coffee or want a higher caffeine content.

Each Brand Has Its Own Dark Roast

This one is a little bit different. But if you have a brand that you like and trust, then I can almost guarantee that they have a dark roast.

And I would recommend you get that one.

The thinking behind this is that they must do something right if you already trust them. And their process won’t be that much different from their dark roast.

So, trying a trusted brand’s dark roast is a great first step in buying dark roast K-Cups.

BOTTOM LINE
Buy a dark roast from a trusted brand as a first step into dark roast K-Cups.

FAQ

Let’s answer a few last-minute questions you might still have.

These are some of the most common questions I get about brewing with K-Cups.

How do I make my Keurig coffee stronger?

An easy way to make your coffee stronger is simply by using Extra Bold Keurig K-Cups. These pods were designed to be a little stronger and have a little more caffeine than regular K-Cups.

Another option is to use the “Strong” button on your Keurig machine if your machine has one.

Is dark roast stronger coffee?

Dark roast coffees have a bolder and more intense flavor. In that sense, they are stronger.

But they have about the same amount of caffeine as a medium roast or light roast coffee.

Do K-Cups have less caffeine than brewed coffee?

Keurig single serve cups have anywhere between 75 and 150 mg of caffeine. A standard cup of brewed coffee has about 165 mg of caffeine.

So Keurig K-Cups typically have less caffeine than brewed coffee.

My Final Verdict

I’d highly recommend trying the Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee Pods.

It’s a single-origin dark roast, which means you get the most specific and focused flavor profile.

And it’s one of the smoothest dark roasts I’ve ever had in a Keurig. There isn’t any bitterness, and it’s packed with flavor.

It’s an all-around great coffee. That’s why it has my vote.

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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.