Coffee beans are great gifts - everyone knows that.
- They’re delicious
- They’re beloved by all (just about)
- And they’re fun to pick out for your coffee lover
However, there’s definitely a wrong way to buy coffee beans as a gift.
Because not all beans are created equal.
(But clever tricks keep that from being realized for most people).
I’ll show you why, where, and how to find some of the best coffee beans in the world - and we’ll talk about some things you don’t want to do for this gift.
Your coffee bean gift is going to be extra-appreciated this year.
Let me tell you why.
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.
This isn’t a joke - there’s coffee out there that has the fresh, crisp acidity of a green grape.
And it’s fantastic.
That’s the kind of coffee you want to give someone as a gift. The dull, bitter stuff? Leave those on the shelves…
Here’s what you need to do to find these specialty-grade beans
1. Aim To Maximize Freshness
The big 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.
Buy your beans from a coffee company that is transparent about when the coffee is roasted. Transparent roasters use the “roasted on” date instead of “best by”. Those “best by” dates are always way too far in the future, which is quite deceptive.
Whether you buy beans from a local roaster or shop online, aim to maximize freshness and get your beans to the giftee as quickly as possible.
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.
3. Check For Sustainability
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.
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.
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.
You have a lot of good options out there, but few are as simple and quality-centric as our own Coffee Club. We source coffee from some of the best farms in the world, roast the beans with precision, and ship them to you (or your giftee) the same day.
That means you’re getting beans that are as fresh as they can possibly be.
Our coffees have tasting notes of strawberry, spice, vanilla, and beyond. They’ll take your coffee lover’s taste buds on a wild sensory ride.