Best Medium Roast Coffee Bean Brands in 2023
There are thousands of medium-roast coffee beans on the market. This should come as no surprise; it’s the most popular roast level, with compelling flavors like chocolate, nuts, and fruits.
How can you possibly find the best medium-roast coffee? That might be a tall order, but there are a few key things to look for, like freshness, quality sourcing, and knowledgeable roasting. While we won’t claim to have tried a thousand medium roast coffees in our quest for the best, our expert team has put together these six options that meet all the criteria.
At A Glance:
The 6 Best Medium Roast Coffee Beans in 2023
Medium roasts are crowd-pleasers. A bold dark roast coffee might be too bitter, and a bright light roast might be too acidic, but the best medium roast coffee offers balance. These are smooth coffees with nuts, fruits, chocolate, and caramel flavors.
I’m not saying that all medium-roast coffee beans from top-rated coffee bean brands are created equal. Flavor profiles, aroma, and mouthfeel vary widely depending on the coffee beans’ origin, processing method, and roast temperature. Here are 6 of our favorites this year, each with unique qualities. Try them all to experience the true diversity of medium roast.
|Volcanica Coffee Kenya AA||
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|Coffee Bros. Decaf||
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|Lifeboost Coffee Medium Roast||
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|Purity Coffee Flow||
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|Out of the Grey Costa Rica La Minita||
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|Kicking Horse Three Sisters||
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Kenya is known for producing some of the world’s finest Arabica coffee, and Kenya AA is the highest grade of bean in the country (1). This selection from Volcanica Coffee perfectly epitomizes what makes the whole-bean coffee from this region so coveted.
Volcanica Kenya AA receives a light-medium roast to preserve the character of the coffee while enhancing its natural caramel sweetness.
It has a full body with rich fruit flavors of raspberry and cranberry, a bright note of hibiscus, and a balancing wine-like acidity that is common to many high-altitude Kenyan coffees.
This coffee isn’t just the best-tasting medium roast coffee; it’s also shade-grown and certified by the Rainforest Alliance for the producer’s commitment to sustainability.
Coffee Bros. operates with the simple philosophy of sourcing great whole-bean coffee and letting the flavors speak for themselves. Lucky for decaf lovers, this doesn’t just apply to their caffeinated offerings. The Coffee Bros. Decaf is one of the most flavorful decaffeinated coffees we’ve encountered.
The Coffee Bros. Decaf is their best-selling Colombian single-origin coffee, decaffeinated via the Swiss Water process to maintain the original flavor profile as much as possible. You’ll taste rich semi-sweet chocolate paired with an almost savory graham cracker note. This delicious cup has a smooth taste and low acidity, perfect for late-afternoon relaxation.
Lifeboost Medium Roast is the brand’s best-seller, thanks to its smooth and easy-drinking character. With a medium body, low acidity, and compelling flavors of milk chocolate, brown sugar, and ripe fruit, you can easily sip this coffee all day. It’s so balanced, you’d swear it’s a blend, but it’s a 100% Arabica single-origin specialty coffee, shade-grown high in the mountains of Nicaragua.
Lifeboost has built its reputation on healthy coffee, using third-party testing to ensure its coffee beans are free of mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants. They are also certified Organic and Fairtrade. So Lifeboost isn’t just good for you; it’s good for the environment and community at its origin.
Coffee is good for you. It is well-established in the scientific literature that it is rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and other vital nutrients (2). Purity Coffee is currently the only brand tailoring its roasts to optimize the nutritional benefits of coffee.
I initially worried that roasting for health rather than flavor would lead to a bland or unappealing brew, but those fears were unfounded. Purity sources 100% Arabica beans certified as Organic, Rainforest Alliance, and Bird Friendly. From this starting point of quality beans, it’s hard to go wrong.
The best-selling Flow Medium Roast is richly flavored with notes of roasted nuts, dark chocolate, and ripe apple acidity. Moreover, it has been third-party tested to contain 65% more antioxidants than other organic coffees and is free of mycotoxins, pesticides, molds, and other contaminants.
If you’re a lover of dark roast coffee looking to branch out, this medium-dark roast from Out of the Grey is a beautiful option. The Costa Rica La Minita is a sweet and creamy brew with flavors of chocolate, caramelized sugar, and a pop of citrus acidity. It’s an exceptionally versatile coffee brewed in a coffee maker, as a crisp pour-over, or as a rich espresso shot.
These coffee beans hail from the famous Tarrazu coffee-producing region of central Costa Rica. Still, Out of the Grey claims that La Minita resides in a unique microclimate that results in an even more balanced and flavorful brew. It is a smooth coffee, with the darker roast providing a fuller body and lower acidity than others on this list.
Kicking Horse Coffee started as a small roaster in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. While their success has propelled them to multi-million-dollar status, they’ve stayed true to their roots, producing affordable and balanced coffee blends using Organic and Fair trade certified coffee beans. This is a testament to the vision and ethics of founder Elana Rosenfeld (3).
I have a vegetable garden. I’m not going to use herbicides and pesticides, so why would I buy non-organic coffee beans for my business?
Three Sisters is their most popular medium roast, and it’s a rare post-roast blend. Premium coffees are sourced from Indonesia, Central, and South America, and each is roasted to best showcase its qualities – light, medium, or dark. Then the roasts are blended to create the flavor profile of a medium roast, with appealing cocoa and stone fruit tasting notes and a tropical aroma of coconut and dried fruit.
How to Choose the Best Medium Roast Coffee Beans
It’s easy to find a good medium-roast coffee, and their middle-of-the-road roast ensures a pleasing balance of sweet taste and acidity that appeals to most coffee drinkers. But that doesn’t mean you won’t love one more than the rest. That’s what this buyer’s guide is here to help you discover!
The Flavors Will Be Crowd-Pleasing
Everyone’s taste is a little different, but the flavor profiles of medium roast coffees tend to appeal to most coffee drinkers. Indeed, it is the most popular roast worldwide.
Common tasting notes include chocolate, toasted nuts, and fresh or dried fruit – basically everything you hope to find in a great dessert.
Medium roast coffees also tend to be the sweetest. Dark roast beans can skew bitter, and lighter roasts can be acidic, but medium roasts hit the sweet spot (pun intended). You’ll often see flavor profiles, including brown sugar, caramel, toffee, and honey.
Blends Versus Single Origins
The origin of a coffee certainly impacts its flavor, but this is particularly true of lighter roasts. When it comes to a medium roast, the processing method, bean variety, and roasting profile play bigger roles in how the coffee eventually tastes – not to mention the brew method.
There is, however, a notable flavor difference between blends and single origins, and most coffee drinkers prefer one or the other in specific contexts.
Blends are known for being balanced and easy to drink, something you can sip all day long. They are often, though not always, preferred for more potent brews like espresso or for pairing with milk. Angie Katherine Molina Ospina, co-owner of Insignia Coffee, emphasizes that a coffee blend should be more than the sum of its parts (4).
Often, combining [coffees] adds greater balance and complexity, while highlighting the best notes of each component coffee.
Single origins, on the other hand, tend to have more complex and exciting flavors. They are particularly well as a filter brew or cold brew, which have the clarity to reveal their subtleties.
Should You Buy Pre-Ground Coffee?
It is common to hear a blanket “no” in response to this question, but there is a more nuanced answer. If you don’t have a good burr grinder, and can’t afford to buy one, pre-ground coffee is a better alternative to using a blade grinder or buying instant coffee.
Just make sure you buy ground coffee right.
Many online retailers – like our top pick Volcanica Coffee, for example – will grind and ship your coffee to order, so it’s still fresh on arrival. Once your fresh coffee arrives, store it in an airtight coffee canister away from heat and light to keep it from going stale. Aim to buy ground coffee in small quantities, no more than you can drink in a week or two.
Certifications and Why They Matter
Coffee industry certifications like Organic, Fair trade, Rainforest Alliance, and Bird Friendly are important markers of how coffee beans are produced (5). They don’t necessarily guarantee the flavor of a coffee, but the way the environment and community at origin are treated should be equally important considerations for true coffee lovers.
The presence of certification is an excellent way to know your coffee beans are meeting specific standards. Still, it is important to note that the absence of certification doesn’t mean coffee isn’t being produced sustainably. In many cases, small farmers using organic techniques can’t afford the expense and inconvenience of achieving a third-party certification. Similarly, many roasters deal with producers directly – the direct trade model – which doesn’t carry a certification but often results in farmers being paid above Fair Trade minimums.
Great medium-roast coffees are smooth, balanced, and flavorful. They are versatile and suitable for many brewing methods. Best of all, they are delicious, enjoyed black or with milk.
There are many excellent medium-roast coffees, and we encourage you to explore the options from your local coffee roasters. But, if you’re unsure where to start, this Home Grounds list has six coffees guaranteed to please.
Espresso roast coffee is coffee that has been roasted in a way that the roaster deems best for brewing using an espresso machine. Often, but not always, this means a long and slow roast that yields darker and more porous coffee beans. Espresso beans don’t have a particular roast level or variety.
The healthiest roast of coffee depends on your physiology. Lighter-roast coffee beans contain more antioxidants than dark-roast coffee beans. However, dark-roast coffees are lower in acrylamide, which has been linked to cancers (6). Dark-roast coffee is also lower in acid, which is better for those prone to acid reflux.
No roast of coffee has the most caffeine. Despite popular opinion, the coffee roast level has no impact on caffeine content, particularly with factors like brew method and bean varietal. However, light roast coffee beans are denser, so if you aren’t brewing by weight, you might accidentally brew a more caffeinated light roast cup.