Best Dark Roast Coffee Beans in 2022 — Buyer’s Guide, Reviews, and ComparisonsWhile lighter roasts exhibit floral or fruity notes from where that coffee was grown, dark roasts allow the beans themselves to shine — literally and figuratively. The best dark roast coffee beans walk a line between smoky and charred and boast intense, robust flavors that will make you sit up and take notice.
- Available in whole beans or multiple grind levels
- Deep chocolate flavor with notes of honey, caramel, and cocoa
- Non-GMO and organic certified
Product Comparison Table
|Check Price At Amazon Subtle Earth Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Real Good Coffee Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Kick Ass Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Starbucks Dark Roast Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Death Wish Review|
|Check Price At Amazon BLUE HORSE Kona Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Don Pablo Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Koffee Kult Review|
|Check Price At Amazon San Francisco Bay Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Allegro Extra Dark Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Major Dickason's Review|
In a hurry? Skip to our reviews of our top picks:
- Subtle Earth Coffee - Dark Roast Organic
- Real Good Coffee Co French Roast Extra Dark
- Kicking Horse Whole Bean Coffee: Kick Ass
- Starbucks Dark Roast French Roast
- Death Wish Coffee Beans, Dark Roast
- BLUE HORSE Kona Coffee 100% Kona
- Don Pablo Café Cubano Dark Roast
- Koffee Kult Dark Roast Espresso Coffee Beans
- San Francisco Bay Coffee French Roast
- Allegro Coffee Extra Dark Roast French
- Peet's Coffee Major Dickason's Blend
Best Dark Roast Coffee Beans Buying Guide
Whether or not you’ve tasted dark roast coffee, you already know some of its trademarks. With strong, bold flavors, the power of dark roast coffee should never be underestimated. The best dark roast coffee beans create java that’s rich, smoky, and smooth.
Dark roast coffee beans are roasted for so long, that most surrounding environmental flavors associated with lighter roasts have literally been burned off. Remaining are tastes and aromas created by the beans themselves. Deep flavors of dark chocolate, earthy spice, and smoke are common flavor profiles.
With dark roast coffee beans, there’s a very fine line between smoky or intense versus charred or burned. To find the dark roast coffee that’s perfect for you, consider these points:
Preferred flavors and aromas
What Is Dark Roast Coffee?
Dark roast coffee consists of beans that have been roasted the longest — to and beyond what’s known as the second crack. While this coffee processing milestone isn’t as dramatic as the first crack, it’s significant. Oils inside the beans start seeping to the surface, which is why dark roast beans may possess a shiny exterior.
Dark roast coffee beans are typically roasted to at least 440 degrees Fahrenheit (230 degrees Celsius). Other names you may have heard that describe dark roast coffee include espresso roast, French roast, Italian roast, or European roast.
Common Attributes of Dark Roast
Dark roast coffee is the boldest of the roasts and often has an intense flavor. While its lighter siblings retain some flavor characteristics of where the coffee was grown, in contrast, dark roast coffee beans have had most of those flavors roasted away.
Smoky may be an apt adjective to describe dark roast coffee, along with full-bodied and robust. And, although it often has more bitterness than other roasts, its acidity is lessened. This java may also be sweeter than other roasts, as sugar has had more time to caramelize during roasting.
How to Choose the Best Dark Roast Coffee Beans
There are many dark roast coffees on the market, and if you’re not familiar with these beans, it can be tricky to pick a decent one. Here are some points to think about when you’re contemplating the best dark roast coffee for you.
This may not be of as much importance as with lighter roasts, simply because there’s not quite as much flavor variety with dark roast coffee. Dark roast coffee carries a very rich, deep flavor, which typically includes notes of dark chocolate, black cherry, or licorice.
Other flavors that might show through include hazelnut, caramel, or vanilla. Earthy spices like anise and cinnamon may also be noticed, although not as pronounced as the previously mentioned tastes. As a general rule, the darker a roast, the smokier and more intense the coffee’s flavor. Italian and French roasts can be even darker than plain dark roasts.
The two most popular types of coffee beans — Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica beans produce smoother java that may taste sweet or remind you of berries. These coffee beans are more acidic, but the caffeine content is lower than Robusta.
On the other hand, Robusta can be quite harsh. However, they’re easier to grow than Arabica, which earns them the pocket-friendly title. You can read more about the differences between Arabica and Robusta in our guide to the main types of coffee beans.
Arabica coffee beans are a more popular choice for brewing coffee, but it’s fairly common to find them blended with Robusta. If you prefer one over the other, the packaging should indicate what kind of beans are used.
The most common coffee beans are Arabic and Robusta. They aren’t the only ones, but they make up most of the java market. Arabica beans are usually preferred as they have an extensive range of flavors with a smooth taste.
Arabica beans are typically more expensive, and one reason for that is because they’re more difficult to grow. They don’t contain as much caffeine as Robusta beans.
Robusta beans grow more easily but contain more caffeine. They also have a stronger, harsher flavor, and they’re preferred for drinks like espresso. Because Arabica beans are better suited to a wider range of drinks, they’re typically used in low acid coffees, even though Arabica beans are more acidic than Robusta beans.
If you’d like to read about some other differences between Arabica beans and Robusta beans, you can click here.
For some people, their coffee has to be organic. Others may prefer that coffee be certified as Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, or bird-friendly.
Whether you’re looking for healthier options, you want to protect the earth, or you want to make sure people are being paid a fair wage, check for certifications on the packaging. If a product has earned recognition in a specific standard, the brand won’t hesitate to say so.
Ultimately for most people — price matters, especially if you drink a lot of coffee. The brands on this list run the gamut from extremely affordable to luxuriously expensive, hence, it pays to do a little research before you make your selection.
More expensive doesn’t always translate into better coffee, either. Some coffees on this list cost under a dollar per ounce. On the other hand, if you want 100 percent Kona coffee, you’d better be willing to pay for it.
Top 11 Dark Roast Coffee Beans
We weren’t kidding when we said there’s so much information out there about the best dark roast coffee. It’s a lot to filter through, and if you’re new to dark roasts, picking one can seem very difficult.
That’s where we come in. We’ve delved into the java descriptions, which are most popular, and what consumers really think about dark roast coffee. All you have to do is read and draw your own conclusions.
~ Best Overall
Our Rating: 4.7/5
- Full, chocolatey flavor
- Employs small-batch roasting for quality
- Low acidity is easy on sensitive stomachs
Subtle Earth Coffee – Dark Roast is certified as organic and comes from coffee plants grown in the Marcala region of Honduras. Using only 100% Arabica beans, this coffee boasts low acidity and a cleaner taste than some dark roasts.
Subtle Earth Coffee Dark Roast has a taste of deep chocolate, with hints of cocoa, caramel, and honey. Its intense roasting is reflected in its flavor, a result of the caramelization of sugars in the coffee beans. Its pleasant aftertaste is a delightful surprise, considering dark roast java can often be bitter.
This brand adopts small-batch roasting to ensure the quality of all its coffee beans. However, a few consumers comment that some beans appear burnt, which negatively affects how a brewed beverage tastes.
- Uses only organic Arabica beans
- Low acidity
- Beans are sourced from Honduras
- Some may find the large bag goes stale before consuming it all
- Comments concerning burnt beans
~ Best French Roast
Our Rating: 4.6/5
- Full body, slightly sweet finish
- Blend, not single-origin
- Extra bold flavor
Real Good Coffee Co Extra Dark Roast fits in perfectly with the company’s no-frills, quality coffee concept. Using Arabica beans sourced from Central and South America, this full-body coffee brings a touch of sweetness to finish.
Suitable for brewing drip, French press, or pour-over coffee, Real Good Coffee Company Dark Roast offers flavors of dark chocolate and raspberry, with hints of Mediterranean spice. The French roast makes it a bit bolder than regular dark roast coffee.
Real Good Coffee Company uses fully recyclable packaging to minimize waste, plus this brand has a reputation for quality coffee. While this brew has a tantalizing aroma, its flavor isn’t quite as complex as other dark roasts. The brewed java is also slightly more acidic than some others on this list.
- Uses fully recyclable packaging.
- Full body with a hint of sweetness.
- Works well for French press or pour-over
- Flavor isn’t as complex as some other dark roasts
- Slightly more acidic than other coffees
~ Best for Espresso
Our Rating: 4.6/5
- Aroma is smoky and sweet
- Tasting notes of licorice, chocolate malt, and molasses
- Available in whole beans or ground
Kicking Horse Dark Roast Coffee: Kick Ass Whole Bean is certified as both organic and Fair Trade. It contains a blend of Arabica coffee beans from Indonesia, Central America, and South America.
Consistently listed as one of the best, Kicking Horse dark roast coffee is smoky and bold — perfectly suited for espresso. You’ll get a scent of smoke, vanilla, and dark chocolate in its aroma. Chocolate malt, molasses, licorice, and earthiness make up the flavor profile for this coffee. It also bears less acidity than other dark roasts, making it easier on sensitive stomachs.
Kicking Horse Kick Ass Dark Roast’s flavor is bold and complex, but it may be too bitter for even die-hard dark roast fans. There have also been reports that the packaging lacks a roasting date, which makes it difficult to gauge when it might go stale.
- Organic and Fair Trade certified
- Kick Ass Coffee has a robust flavor
- Lower acidity than some other dark roasts
- No roast date listed on some bags
- Could be too bitter for some
~ Best for French Press
Our Rating: 4.5/5
- Strong aroma, intense flavor
- Uses ethical sourcing for coffee beans
- More acidic than some other dark roasts
While some coffee aficionados might scoff at the brand, Starbucks French Roast Dark Roast Ground Coffee delivers an intense beverage that shines when brewed as cold brew or French press coffee.
It possesses a robust flavor that’s both intense and smoky. This coffee bears a rich texture, enticing aroma, and traces of earthiness. While not organic, Starbucks Dark Roast Ground Coffee uses ethically sourced coffee beans from Latin America and Asian regions. And, Starbucks French Roast is available in ground or whole beans, along with K-cups.
Quality Arabica beans help create a taste that’s both smooth and bold. Starbucks Dark Roast Coffee does appear to have more acidity than some other dark roasts, and it may simply be too bitter and dark for some java lovers. Bag resealing issues have also been noted, potentially causing problems with freshness.
- Ethical sourcing for coffee beans
- Smoky, intense flavor that really shines with a French press
- Available as ground, whole beans, or K-cups
- Bag resealer can be unreliable at times
- It may be too overwhelming for some coffee drinkers
~ Best Caffeinated Dark Roast
Our Rating: 4.5/5
- Double the caffeine content of other coffees
- Flavor notes of black cherry and dark chocolate
- Strong, rich flavor
If you’re in need of a caffeine boost and love dark roast coffee, Death Wish Dark Roast Coffee Whole Bean could be your salvation. This certified organic coffee is bold but smooth, with around twice the caffeine content of other coffees.
Death Wish Espresso Beans use a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans sourced from India and Peru. Tasting notes of black cherry and dark chocolate make up its flavor profile. And, these beans are dark and oily, the classic characteristics of dark roast coffee.
Its strong flavors and richness make it ideal for espresso or cold brew. However, some people are turned off by Robusta beans, while the oiliness of Death Wish Coffee Espresso Beans can pose a problem for coffee grinders. What’s more, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you may wish to steer clear of this brand.
- Uses organic Arabica and Robusta coffee beans
- Double the caffeine of other brands
- Perfect for espresso or cold brew
- Oily beans, which can pose a problem for coffee grinders.
- Not the best dark roast coffee beans for those who are sensitive to caffeine
~ Best Kona Coffee
Our Rating: 4.3/5
- Mellow body, spicy aftertaste
- Single coffee estate, not blended
- Hawaii state certified pure Kona coffee
Unlike some coffees that are Kona blends, Blue Horse Kona is the real thing — Hawaiian coffee grown on a single estate. It’s also inspected by the state of Hawaii to verify that it’s 100% Kona coffee.
This coffee is grown in shaded areas, picked by hand, and dried in the sun. And, although it’s not technically organic, it is grown utilizing sustainable methods, and zero herbicides or pesticides are used.
Blue Horse Kona Coffee is more mellow than most dark roasts, with hints of bittersweet chocolate and caramel. It also has a slightly spicy aftertaste.
Unfortunately, one downside is that Kona coffee is expensive. This is partially due to the cost of labor involved in hand-picking coffee cherries. Plus, pure Kona coffee carries a much higher price point compared to Kona blends. A few customers have also mentioned their brewed beverages tasted bitter or burnt.
- Comes from a single Hawaiian estate
- Pure Kona coffee, not a blend
- Shade-grown and sun-dried
- Carries a premium price tag
- Some remarks of a bitter or burnt taste
~ Best Low Acidity Dark Roast
Our Rating: 4.6/5
- Rich, complex flavor, without bitterness
- Available in whole beans or multiple grind levels
- Pleasant aroma — isn’t overwhelming
Cafe Don Pablo Dark Roast, like most other Don Pablo Cafe coffees, is lower in acidity than some other dark roasts. It’s available in whole beans or multiple grind levels, depending on how you plan to brew your coffee.
This company uses 100% Arabica beans and relies on small-batch roasting to ensure the quality is consistent. These coffee beans are sourced from Guatemala, Brazil, and Colombia. Plus, its low acidity makes it enjoyable even for people with sensitive stomachs.
Don Pablo coffee has a rich, complex flavor that’s smooth without being bitter. A Cuban roast brews coffee that resembles espresso, dark and thick. It has a pleasant aroma, although its flavor may be too mild for some. Plus, unlike some Don Pablo coffees, this one isn’t organic.
- Uses only Arabica beans
- Pleasant aroma
- Small-batch roasting methods
- Flavor might be too mild for some
- Not organic
~ Best Small Batch Roasted
Our Rating: 4.6/5
- Heavy body, smooth flavor with cinnamon notes
- Roasted just before packaging and shipping
- Koffee Kult Espresso Dark Roast is roasted in 30-pound batches
Koffee Kult Dark Roast Coffee Beans are a blend from Sumatra, Colombia, Brazil, and Guatemala. They only use 100% Arabica coffee beans, although they aren’t organic or Fair Trade certified.
This heavy-body coffee exhibits a flavor profile of cocoa and cinnamon. With its strong aroma along with a rich, bold taste, this dark roast also has a long finish, which means that you can expect a lingering aftertaste.
It’s been noted that Koffee Kult Espresso Beans lack the dark, shiny appearance. On the other hand, shiny and oily beans can glom up your grinder. What’s more, the coffee bags include a best-by date, but not necessarily a roasting date, so it can be hard to determine how long the coffee will remain fresh.
To ensure quality, Koffee Kult uses small-batch roasting, with one of the lowest quantities we’ve seen roasted at a time.
- Small batch roasting — no more than 30 pounds at a time
- Strong aroma and heavy body
- Uses 100% Arabica coffee beans
~ Best Value
Our Rating: 4.6/5
- Flavor notes of cinnamon and chocolate
- Balanced flavors with a smoky finish
- Blend of coffee beans, not single-origin
SF Bay Coffee Dark Roast is one of the most affordable dark roasts on our list, proving you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a decent cup of joe. This java uses blended Arabica coffee beans from Central and South America, and it’s available in whole beans or ground form.
When brewed, SF Bay Coffee has flavor notes of deep chocolate and cinnamon, with hints of smoky sweetness. Since it’s a French roast, it’s slightly darker than traditional dark roast coffee. There’s also a good balance of flavors, and it doesn’t offer the bitterness that you often find with dark roasts.
However, as mentioned, it’s a blend, rather than using single-origin beans. SF Bay French Roast coffee also tastes somewhat weaker than some other dark roast brands. Hence, those who prefer the darkest, boldest java may be disappointed.
- Balanced flavors
- Value for money
- Arabica beans are sourced from Central and South America
- Weaker taste compared to other dark roasts
- Not single-origin
~ Best Non-GMO Dark Roast
Our Rating: 4.5/5
- Ethically sourced and sustainably grown coffee beans
- Intense, smoky flavor
- Beans are roasted to a deep purple-black color
Allegro Dark Roast Coffee is another cup of Joe that’s on the deepest end of the dark roast scale. As such, these beans are deep purple-black, and their brewed beverage has an intense and smoky flavor.
The company adopts ethically sourced coffee beans that are grown using sustainable methods in Latin America. And, while this product isn’t organic, it is non-GMO, plus this company has been partnered with Whole Foods.
Unfortunately, for some consumers, Allegro Coffee Extra Dark Roast seems to be too dark, with reports surrounding bitterness.
- Sustainably grown coffee beans
- Intense, smoky taste
- Too dark for some coffee lovers
- Can be bitter
~ Best Coffee Blend
Our Rating: 4.6/5
- Signature blend with an earthy, spicy flavor
- Uses washed and wet-hulled processing
- Hand roasted to order
Peet’s Major Dickason’s Blend is available in ground form or whole beans for DIY grinding. This brand sources 100% Arabica coffee from the Americas and Indo-Pacific region. While not single-origin, this blend of beans has us hooked.
Processing is carried out with either washed or wet-hulled methods, and it’s hand-roasted to order, shipping out the same day as it’s roasted. Peet’s Coffee also follows the small-batch approach to ensure high quality.
Major Dickason’s Coffee has a full, complex body with no bitter aftertaste. Its aroma isn’t overwhelming, and there’s an earthiness and spice in its flavor.
However, despite it being labeled as a dark roast, this coffee may not be dark enough to please fanatics. That said, Peet’s Major Dickason Whole Bean signature blend continues to be very popular.
- Peet’s Dark Roast Coffee Beans are hand-roasted to order
- Full body, rich flavor
- No bitter aftertaste
- Peet’s Dark Roast may not be dark enough for some
- Aroma lacks strength
Dark roast coffee has a somewhat intimidating reputation. After all, some people describe this java as burnt and acidic. However, those adjectives refer to dark roasts gone wrong. If processed correctly, dark roasting will enhance the flavors of the coffee beans, while incorporating some smokiness.
There may not be quite as much variety of flavors, yet those who love dark roast aren’t likely to be convinced that the lighter roasts are better. These beverages are delectable and sultry, often with a touch of sweetness.
So whether you’re trying something new with dark roast java or you’re a lifelong fan, you won’t go wrong with the best dark roast coffee beans.
Best Dark Roast Coffee Beans FAQs
Why Is Dark Roast Coffee the Best?
Many people love dark roast coffee for several reasons. It typically has a heavy body with a rich flavor. Dark roast lovers prefer the bold taste associated with it, along with lower acidity levels.
Is Dark Roast Coffee Stronger Tasting?
Dark roast coffee usually has a bolder taste than lighter roasts. These beans are roasted for longer, which creates smoky, intense aromas and flavors. Hence, the flavors may be stronger than the fruity or floral tones associated with lighter roasts.
Is Dark Roast More Bitter?
Not always, but generally speaking, dark roast java is more bitter than lighter roasts. This is due to the roasting process itself. The longer coffee beans are roasted, the more chemical compounds are broken down. Without those compounds, coffee can become bitter.
What Is the Difference Between Light Roast and Dark Roast Coffee Beans?
Roasting temperature and time are the main differences between the two types.
Light roast beans are only roasted until the first crack, which happens around 196 degrees Celsius (385 degrees Fahrenheit). Dark roast beans roast to the second crack or beyond, at least 230 degrees Celsius (440 degrees Fahrenheit).
While light roasts are light brown and dull in appearance, dark roast coffee beans are very dark, almost black, and may be shiny or even oily.
How Can I Make Dark Roast Coffee Taste Better?
There are a couple of tricks to making dark roast coffee taste better, if it’s too bitter or acrid. You can reduce the temperature of your water a little, just enough to avoid over-extracting your coffee. You can also experiment with different grind settings. Your coffee may taste better if you use a coarser grind.
Which Is Stronger French Roast or Dark Roast?
It depends on the coffee beans. Some roasters classify French roast as roasting coffee beans longer than a traditional dark roast, which may intensify their flavor.
What Are the Benefits of Drinking Dark Roast Coffee?
In addition to the general benefits — antioxidants and a decreased risk of certain diseases associated with drinking coffee, dark roast coffee may also help people lose weight and can help the body replenish Vitamin E.