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Beans & Grounds

The 11 Best Dark Roast Coffee Brands 2021

You might simply like dark roast coffee because it’s what you’re familiar with. Especially if you usually sip on the most concentrated form of coffee, espresso.

But it’s possible that you just like strong, intense, and bold-flavors

Anyway, you’re here to discover the best dark roast coffee. So let’s get to it! 

Below we run through 11 of our favorites, and if you’re in a hurry, here’s our top choice: 

Top Pick
Sumatra Mandheling Coffee

Bold and earthy flavor, complimented by syrupy and chocolatey notes. Naturally low acid yet rich and dark.

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Alternative Dark Roast Coffee Beans At A Glance 

Runner Up
Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee

Nicaraguan beans, which have been grown in the shade and certified USDA organic. Get 50% off your first order and free shipping via the link below too!

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Best Brewed With Milk
Peaberry Dark Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona

This 100% Kona dark roast has medium acidity and is complimented by sweet to nutty undertones.

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Best Central American
Volcanica Costa Rica Dark

Costa Rica is known for its rural beauty. The perfect stage to produce premium quality coffee. Its no surprise that this dark roast is exceptionally tasty!

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Best French Roast
French Roast by Lion Coffee

Decadently dark with an intense flavor, this one's perfect if you are looking for the ultimate DARK pick.

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Best From Brazil
Dark Brazil Cerrado Coffee

Dark and nutty. What's not to like? Use discount code SIP10 for 10% off your order too!

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Best Served Black
Organic Dark Mexican Chiapas

Smoky, bold, and electric! With no bitterness and a clean finish, it makes a refreshing yet dark brew. Use discount code SIP10 for 10% off your order too!

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Best Dessert Coffee
The Dark Side of the Moon - Creme Brûlée Coffee

Creme Brûlée Coffee - do we need to say any more?

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Most Bold
2LB Don Pablo Café Cubano Whole Bean
$16.99 ($0.53 / Ounce)
SEE NOW ON AMAZON
10/19/2021 08:20 am GMT
Kicking Horse Coffee Dark Roast
$7.49 ($0.75 / Ounce)
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10/19/2021 08:24 am GMT

The 11 Best Dark Roast Coffee Brands 2021

1. Volcanica’s Sumatra Mandheling

Sumatra Mandheling coffee is famous for its richness, mild acidity, and full body. This dark roast from Volcanica is perfect for drip or espresso-based coffee.

Top Pick
Sumatra Mandheling Coffee

Bold and earthy flavor, complimented by syrupy and chocolatey notes. Naturally low acid yet rich and dark.

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It has a heavy body and is naturally sweet, with the lingering taste of brown sugar. With the aroma of cocoa, and light earthy notes to finish.

It’s sweet, syrupy, and has a lot of depth. I couldn’t ask for much more when it comes to a darker coffee! It works well on its own for a strong shot of espresso, but it also perfectly cuts through milk to make a flavourful latte.

More generally, Sumatra brews are known to have low acid levels, so you won’t have to worry about this cup of Joe upsetting your stomach.

Lastly, it’s also a certified organic coffee. You can’t go wrong with this one!

2. Lifeboost Coffee Roasted Dark 

It’s a fact that coffee can unsettle your stomach if you’re sensitive.

If this is you, Lifeboost’s dark roast arabica coffee is what we’d recommend. This coffee has a pH of 6, which is a lot less acidic than other coffee options, most of which have a pH from 4.5 to 5.

Runner Up
Lifeboost Dark Roast Coffee

Nicaraguan beans, which have been grown in the shade and certified USDA organic. Get 50% off your first order and free shipping via the link below too!

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Grown in biodiverse Nicaragua, Lifeboost coffee beans have a rich, cocoa body with a hint of orange peels and a spiced finish. It’s a flavorful coffee with no bitterness whatsoever – perfect for espresso machines.

They are also organic and shade-grown, meaning they mature slowly for a sweeter taste and without any pesticides, just as nature intended!

P.S All Lifeboost coffee comes with all the neccessary credentials. It’s fair trade, GMO-free organic, and all their beans have low acidity!

3. Koa Peaberry Coffee

Most coffee cherries contain two coffee beans (seeds), separated by a ridge in the middle. But 3 to 5 percent of the time, you end up with a 2 in 1 “peaberry” bean. It’s harder, denser, and rounder than your usual coffee bean, and it’s full of flavor! 

Best Brewed With Milk
Peaberry Dark Roast Whole Bean 100% Kona

This 100% Kona dark roast has medium acidity and is complimented by sweet to nutty undertones.

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Peaberries are roasted separately and produce a similar but more distinct flavor profile than its twin sets of siblings. That doesn’t mean all peaberries are better than regular ones, but it does tend to be the case. And Koa’s Peaberry Kona Coffee is no exception to this rule.

These beans produce incredibly flavourful, medium-bodied, and subtly sweet coffee, finished off by a pleasant acidity. This is a cup full of flavor that I would love to wind down an afternoon with.

4. Volcanica Costa Rican Roasted Dark Coffee

Volcanica’s Costa Rican coffee is farmed and packaged in the Tarrazu valley. Cultivated at a high altitude, in a region with its own unique microclimate and fertile volcanic soil. This dark roast is well balanced, with a rich and bold flavor.

Best Central American
Volcanica Costa Rica Dark

Costa Rica is known for its rural beauty. The perfect stage to produce premium quality coffee. Its no surprise that this dark roast is exceptionally tasty!

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The volcanic soil and high altitude climate in the area work together to produce some of the world’s highest quality coffee cherries. The 100% arabica coffee beans are roasted perfectly, with just a thin coating of oil on the surface, leading to a creamy mouthfeel.

It’s a full-bodied cup of coffee with a balanced taste and the aroma of toasted apples. Unusual for me (a self-obsessed caffeine fiend), I also love the decaf version of this brew. You may be interested in those in case the taste of strong coffee minus the caffeine is enough to wake you up in the morning!

5. Lion French Roast Coffee

French roasts can sometimes end up tasting burnt and unpleasant, as little of the bean’s natural flavors are left. But rather than taste ashy and over-roasted, Lion’s French roast coffee beans are just the right balance of smoky flavor and sweetness.

Best French Roast
French Roast by Lion Coffee

Decadently dark with an intense flavor, this one's perfect if you are looking for the ultimate DARK pick.

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A blend of coffees, including central and South America, this is an intense but enjoyable brew. Just how French roasts are supposed to taste!

Overall, this dark roast coffee is perfect for people who like intense, full-bodied coffee. It has that strong coffee flavor, but without the bitterness typically found in many dark roasted coffee beans.

As a result, this is perfect if you like drinking strong, black coffee, which is darker than your typical dark roast.

6. Fresh Roasted Brazil Cerrado Dark Coffee 

Coffee grown in Cerrado, Brazil, is known for its low acidity and distinctly nutty flavor profile. When roasted dark, it also tends to taste more like dark chocolate. That’s exactly what you get with Fresh Roasted’s Brazil Cerrado coffee. I dunno about you, but I’m a chocolate lover, so I could never say no to a cup of this!

Best From Brazil
Dark Brazil Cerrado Coffee

Dark and nutty. What's not to like? Use discount code SIP10 for 10% off your order too!

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It’s a heavy-bodied coffee that has delicious notes of cocoa and walnut. The darkness of the roast also gives it a toasty edge. The roast’s flavor complements the bean’s natural nuttiness, just as all the best dark roasted coffees should!

7. Mexican Chiapas Dark Coffee

This organic coffee gets its depth and smokiness from its roasting process. The coffee produces a rich body with a nutty, maple finish. Notably, they are grown in the Mexican state of Chiapas, where the high altitude allows these quality beans to mature slowly for an optimal taste.

Best Served Black
Organic Dark Mexican Chiapas

Smoky, bold, and electric! With no bitterness and a clean finish, it makes a refreshing yet dark brew. Use discount code SIP10 for 10% off your order too!

SEE PRICE NOW

This is a strong and flavorful cup of Joe. And if you tend to prefer dark roasted coffee, I think you’ll enjoy Fresh Roasted’s Dark Mexican Chiapas. For me, this is the best coffee to sip black on this list.

8. Vashon Coffee Dark Side of the Moon Blend 

If you like desserts, you’ll love this creation by Vashon Coffee. It has notes of dark cocoa, and the roast gives it its toasty character, hence its nickname “Creme Brûlée Coffee”.

Best Breakfast brew
The Dark Side of the Moon - Creme Brûlée Coffee

Creme Brûlée Coffee - do we need to say any more?

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This, for me, is the best dark roast coffee to pair with a pastry for breakfast. That would be the perfect start to a day!

9. Death Wish Coffee Beans

You don’t need to have a Death Wish to enjoy this brew. But, if you’re looking for a potent caffeine kick with a bold flavor, then this is for you.

Made from a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, it’s dubbed the world’s strongest coffee. It edges on the darker side with notes of cherry and chocolate, making it a perfect espresso roast.

Accompanied with a 30 day no BS guarantee, there’s literally no reason you shouldn’t buy this – if you don’t like this coffee, just let them know and receive a full refund, no questions asked!

10. Don Pablo Whole Bean Dark Roast Beans

Don Pablo is a true artisanal roaster of quality beans. This particular pick is a Cuban style dark roast coffee, with a bold and rich flavor.

Most Bold
2LB Don Pablo Café Cubano Whole Bean
$16.99 ($0.53 / Ounce)
SEE NOW ON AMAZON
10/19/2021 08:20 am GMT

With an intense smokiness and caramelized exterior, this whole bean coffee is perfectly paired with milk. If you enjoy lattes and cappuccinos, you’ll love this!

11. Kicking Horse Coffee Dark Roast

Sweet, smoky and decedent. Drooling yet? I know I am! Kicking Horse Coffee is a blend of Sumatran and South American coffees, expertly roasted with quality beans for the best experience.

Kicking Horse Coffee Dark Roast
$7.49 ($0.75 / Ounce)
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10/19/2021 08:24 am GMT

Perfect if you’re a fan of drip coffees and enjoy something with a caffeine jolt! Give this one a shot in a French Press for its creamy mouthfeel for a fuller-bodied brew.

A Buyers Guide To The Darker Side of Coffee

When you’re trying to figure out the best dark roast coffee for you, it’s a good idea to understand the differences between types of beans.

Especially if you’re upgrading from K Cup Brewers ( I’m not a personal fan of K Cup Brewers if you can’t tell) to full-on coffee makers! But first:

What’s A Dark Roast Coffee

The main difference between a light, medium, and dark roast lies in the roasting process. A light roast will be roasted the least, while roasting them further will produce darker-colored beans and, therefore darker roasts. A light roast is usually preferred for pour-overs to savor acidity, whereas medium ones are more flexible brewing wise.

Dark roast coffee also has an oily surface, as roasting draws oils out of the bean. As a result, dark roast coffee has a heavy and rich body. Dark roasts are also known to have a relatively low acid level.

Dark roasts aren’t the most popular in the specialty coffee community because darker roasted coffee beans are often considered to taste less like the original bean.

So if you’re dark roasting high-quality arabica beans with a lot of subtle, fruity flavors and aroma, those flavors and aromas might not be cut through to the brew.

For coffee lovers, the taste will be mostly derived from the roast instead of the flavor of the bean.

The effect on flavor is similar to what barbecuing does to meat. The coffee’s natural flavors fade to the background and are replaced by smoky, sometimes burnt flavors. This is why it’s not uncommon for roasters to mask the unpleasant flavors of low quality coffee beans by roasting them dark.

That’s not to say the best dark roast can’t be flavorful and decedent. It certainly can. You just need the right kind of Arabica coffee!

The “Darker” Roasts

You might see something else on your coffee label, like “French Roast” or “Italian Roast” too when shopping.

Unlike a light roast or a medium one, that’s because there are subtypes of roasts within each category. Here are the different kinds of dark roast coffee beans:

Vienna Roast

The lightest of these coffee roasts, the Vienna roast, is just darker than medium-dark. Here, the beans are roasted until the middle of the second crack.

The oils start to penetrate the surface as a result of the roasting process, and the flavors of the coffee begin to resemble that of dark chocolate. It starts to get a smoky aroma, and it will give you a full-bodied cup of coffee or perfect for a cold brew!

French Roast

French roast coffee is roasted even further into the second crack.

The beans will be a deep brown in color, with a thin coating of oil on their surface where the resulting coffee will have a heavy body and a sweet, caramelized flavor. Most of the subtle natural characteristics of the coffee will have been muted at this point.

This type is often considered the best coffee for those who enjoy the edge towards smokiness (i.e the complete opposite of a light roast).

Italian Roast

If a light roast sits on one side, The Italian sits on the other. It has an even darker brown than the French roast. It’s no coincidence that Italy happens to be the home of espresso a well.

They enjoy the best dark roast coffees because they are perfectly suited for espresso.

But at this point, the beans have very little of their origin characteristics left. What’s left may come out as undertones or aftertastes. Nonetheless, if care is taken in coffee preparation, you can end up with a brew that is still thoroughly enjoyed by coffee lovers.

If this is the best dark roast coffee for you, remember it’s most suited to an extraction method, which reveals its often full and rich body.

Continental

This is the most robust roast on this list. Continental roast coffee is usually incredibly strong, with a burnt taste. This is often brewed with milk in order to help taper off its bitter edge.

Espresso

When it comes to the brewing methods and the best dark roast coffees, espresso needs no introduction.

Though you may have seen this on the label before, “espresso” actually doesn’t refer to a particular roast level or type of beans, just that they are best brewed in espresso coffee makers.

It refers to the beans being anywhere from roasted anywhere from medium-dark. Because these are often considered the ideal roasts for espresso, you will usually also find that the most popular ground coffee types are of a grind pre-set for espresso only.

Darker Origins

As I mentioned a while ago, it isn’t uncommon for roasters to hide the beans’ quality by dark-roasting them.

But, that doesn’t mean that some of the best dark roast coffee isn’t of a gourmet standard – it is. It’s still possible that some of the best coffee available today is of a darker roast too!

Colombia 

When it comes to coffee sourced from South America, Colombia is one of the larger players.

Colombia produces coffee with a strong caramel sweetness and hints of nuttiness. Colombian beans are often roasted dark, and it makes sense that a toasted edge would suit this coffee. Personally, I find the thought of dark caramel and toasted nuts mouthwatering!

Sumatra 

Meanwhile, Sumatran coffees from Indonesia, like the Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling I mentioned a while ago, are similar.

They naturally have a deep, earthy flavor that takes to longer roasting quite well, if those flavors appeal to you. Sumatran coffee isn’t my particular favorite, but I do prefer it when the most when it’s dark roasted.

Guatemala

Finally, beans from Guatemala are also commonly dark roasted. They have strong hints of chocolate, caramel, and nuts, particularly for Guatemala Antigua coffee. A smokiness certainly tastes well with these flavors.

Although Guatemala Antigua loses some of its natural citrus flavors when roasted, you might find that the best dark roast for you from Guatemala is a blend that has rebalanced these flavors.

The Final Verdict

So what is the best dark roast coffee? The truth is, there’s no single correct answer. The best coffee for me may end up not being your favorite, and that’s perfectly fine! Nonetheless, my favorite is from Volcanica:

Top Pick
Sumatra Mandheling Coffee

Bold and earthy flavor, complimented by syrupy and chocolatey notes. Naturally low acid yet rich and dark.

SEE PRICE NOW

Frequently Asked Questions

Why dark roast coffee is the best?

If you enjoy a bold flavor and usually drink espresso-based drinks with milk, you’ll probably enjoy a darker roasted coffee.

Remember, everything with coffee is subjective. It depends on how you brew and which coffee you use as to what flavor comes out on the other side.

What is the highest quality coffee?

Farmers who grow beans that have been grown organically and at a higher than average elevation tend to result in the highest quality coffee.

A higher altitude results in a slower time to maturity, and the beans’ sugars have time to develop, which means more flavor in your brew!

We’d recommend Volcanica or Lifeboost Coffee when it comes to a roaster or coffee manufacturer for this reason.

What is the darkest roast of coffee?

Italian roast is the darkest commonly available coffee.