Coffee beans make exceptional gifts, but not all beans are created equal. There's actually a wrong way to give coffee as a gift.
(But clever marketing tricks keep that from being realized for most people).
Let's explore how to find the best coffee bean gifts for your loved one, whether they're a casual fan or a super-enthusiast, including:
- What coffee beans you absolutely want to avoid
- 3 must-follow rules of coffee gift giving
- My #1 recommendation for the best coffee bean gift this year
We're about to turn a simple bag of coffee into a thoughtful gift that'll show your special person just how carefully you've picked out their beans.
Up First: Not All Coffee Is Created Equally
Contrary to common belief, coffee is never just coffee.
- There’s well-grown and there’s neglected coffee
- There’s stale and there’s fresh coffee
- There’s coffee that’s roasted with precision and there’s coffee that’s burned to a crisp
These things make a major difference in the final quality of the brewed coffee.
Low-end, poorly roasted coffee is bitter, dull and boring. Carefully grown, well roasted coffee is vibrant with rich flavors and aromas like blueberries, spice, rose, and beyond.
And it’s fantastic.
Here’s what you need to do to find these specialty-grade beans that'll rock the taste buds off of your lucky gift recipient.
Gift Rule #1: Aim To Maximize Freshness
The giant coffee sellers don’t want you to know this, but coffee begins to go stale after just 2-3 weeks of being roasted. The lively aromas evaporate, the crisp acids become bitter, and pleasant flavors fall apart.
Freshly roasted beans have no rival - they’re the epitome of what coffee can be, and the (obviously) make the most delicious coffee gifts.
- Look for this: Buy your beans from a coffee company that is transparent about when the coffee is roasted. The best case scenario is that the company roasts and ships out coffee to order. For example, at JavaPresse, we ship out coffee beans just two hours after they're roasted to preserve max freshness.
- Avoid this: Those “best by” dates on coffee bags are always way too far in the future, which is quite deceptive. Transparent roasters use the “roasted on” date instead of “best by”, because they prioritize freshness and honesty.
Gift Rule #2: Find A Specialty Roaster
Don’t just go with any coffee roaster, even if their beans are freshly roasted (even the worst roasters in the world can sell freshly roasted beans).
You want to find a roaster that’s quality-focused, who’s fascinated by nuance flavors in coffee. This means you’re skipping Folger’s, of course, but it also means no bags with big, green logos.
You can often tell a specialty coffee roaster by the way they package their coffee beans. Here are a few things to look for:
- “Roasted On” dates. Like I said, this shows transparency. Bad roasters don’t really do this because it makes it harder to sell older beans. Quality-focused roasters only want you to enjoy their coffee when it’s super fresh.
- Tasting notes. If the bag says mundane the coffee tastes like “chocolate, nuts, and citrus”, you may want to stay away. That’s the most generic tasting profile ever. If a roaster gets more specific and exotic (“vanilla, caramel, and tangerine”), you’re on the right track.
- Origin transparency. Roasters who buy low-grade beans don’t like to get specific about where they buy their beans. They want to keep their sources a secret. Specialty roasters, on the other hand, celebrate their partner farms (because the coffee’s so delicious).
In the end, specialty coffee roasters just look and sound different.
The easiest thing to look for is a powerfully obvious passion for their beans.
Gift Rule #3: Check For Sustainable Sourcing
Don’t gift beans that come from questionable sources. If the giftee knows you found beans that were sourced sustainably and ethically they’ll feel more proud of the gift.
This means you read up on the companies you buy from.
- Do they pay a fair and empowering price for the beans?
- Do they source from environmentally conscious farms?
- Are they transparent about where their coffee comes from?
If the answers to these questions can’t easily be found on the website, something may be fishy.
Specialty coffee companies love to share how their work is creating a better world.
That often means transparent pricing, partnering with farms awarded for ethical practices, and bringing the consumer (that’s you and me) into the passion.
Keep an eye out for coffee companies that are fighting the unsustainable status quo. Buy coffee from them.
Big No-No's: Whatever You Do, Avoid These
Like I said, there is a wrong way to buy coffee. But most of us aren’t aware of that because the big corporate coffee players are really good at making us think otherwise.
Here are some things you definitely don’t want to do.
- Don’t buy beans from the supermarket. Sadly, grocery stores have an awful reputation for not caring about coffee freshness. Those bags are often weeks or months past-roast, which means the beans inside are not even close to fresh, no matter what the “best by” date says.
- Avoid buying beans weeks in advance. I get it. I like to plan ahead too. But even though you bought fresh beans, you’ll be giving stale beans. Instead, buy a bag just a couple days before the gifting - or buy a bag the same day and give the giftee a receipt saying their uber-fresh coffee will be there soon.
- Pre-ground? Yuck. Whole beans have 2-3 weeks of peak freshness. Pre-ground coffee only has 30 minutes. If your giftee doesn’t have a grinder for whole bean coffee, manual coffee grinders are very affordable and also make great gifts.
Here's Where to Find the Freshest Coffee Out There for an A+ Gift
I have a feeling your gift is going to be the favorite this year.
You’ve done the research, you know what to look for, and now’s the fun part:
Choosing a great company to buy from.
In our JavaPresse Coffee Gift Subscription, we ship coffee beans within TWO HOURS of roasting to make sure coffee lovers get their beans at peak freshness and flavor. That's way faster than most companies can ship (many will even try to sell you old beans from a couple of weeks ago!).
But our coffees aren't just hyper-fresh... they're also sustainably sourced, roasted with craftsmanship, and are connoisseur-approved.