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:
Alternative Dark Roast Coffee Beans At A Glance
The 11 Best Dark Roast Coffee Brands 2021
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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”.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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:
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 Lifeboost:
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.