Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Life is too short to settle for mediocre coffee, and here at Serious Eats we definitely have strong opinions about the best ways to caffeinate. But there’s no one perfect coffee that can match everyone’s flavor preferences—that’s why we compiled this list of staff-favorite picks from roasters around the United States. We might not all agree on which bags are the best to snag, but there’s one thing we’re on the same page about: The best way to drink coffee is to find your personal faves and never settle for the dregs (unless, of course, that’s what you’re into). 

So, if you’re looking for a new coffee to try (or are just curious about what’s in our mugs each morning), here’s a list of our tried-and-true picks.

Oh boy, where to start? Coffee is a constant in my house, and after 16 years in the specialty coffee industry, I’ve got too many personal favorites—and buddy, you’re going to hear about all of them. I’ve got a standing subscription from Vignette Coffee Roasters in Greensboro, North Carolina. Their green sourcing is top-notch (especially high-elevation Colombias), and I think their roasting style brings out incredible sweetness. My standby is their Rose Glass Blend for a lighter body espresso (Bright! Juicy! Sweet!), but I love being surprised by their roaster’s choice subscription for my morning pourover.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

I’m also a big fan of Mother Tongue Coffee, which was founded by a former coworker of mine. They roast on the lighter side of things, which highlights the unique and complex flavors of their single-origin options. My local cafe usually stocks bags from Sweet Bloom and George Howell Coffee, too, and both of those roasters really nail sweet, clean flavor profiles; I’m happy to grab a bag (or two) whenever they’re on the shelf.  — Jesse Raub, commerce writer

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

My go-to for espresso is Stumptown Hairbender. As I’ve learned from Jesse Raub, this is a classic espresso medium-dark roast, and I’ve been using it for my daily latte for years (and so have my parents). It’s also widely available, which I appreciate. In my area, I can easily (of course) buy it online, but also find it at Whole Foods and Target (the latter has fairly old roasted-on dates). For drip coffee, I tend to buy whatever looks good locally. I live in Amherst, MA and my favorite local coffee joint is Share. If I’m out of coffee when I swing by, I’ll pick up a bag of their Daily Driver. — Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, senior commerce editor

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

I’ve never had a strong loyalty to any one roaster, though my tastes lean medium-to-light on the roast spectrum when drinking my coffee black, which is almost always (I can not tolerate dark roasts unless there’s a lot of milk involved). While I have loved beans from many regions, I’m particularly fond of East African coffee. That said, when the pandemic hit back in 2020, I set up a monthly single-origin coffee subscription from Counter Culture just to ensure a regular supply of beans at home, and I’m still receiving those today. They send different beans each month, almost always either African or from coffee-growing zones in the Americas, so I get some variety without having to think about it. I’ve more recently yearned to branch out a little (I had a couple of excellent special-edition bags from Stumptown a few months ago that I happened to grab at a local shop after running low on my Counter Culture supply at home), but so far I can’t muster the energy to go about switching things up, and I’m happy enough with my subscription that I probably won’t any time soon. — Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

I’m a big Stumptown gal! Anytime I see it in stores, I’m grabbing a fresh bag. On days there is less urgency to my coffee-chugging, I’ve been into Holler Mountain. Otherwise, when I’m frantic, I, like most of the rest of this team, prefer to take Hair Bender straight to the face. — Tess Koman, senior editorial director

Serious Eat / Jesse Raub

I’m the black sheep here, as most days I brew and drink a crappy cup of coffee (read the merits of this practice here). What can I say, I’m a creature of (my poor college student days) habit. That said, once in a while I will splurge on a fancy bag of coffee from Borealis, one of my favorite local roasters and cafes. It costs a little more than my usual daily coffee, but I really love their Guatemala Huehuetenango, which is nutty and mellow, with a little fruity chocolate note shining through. — Grace Kelly, associate commerce editor

Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

Our coffee life consists of drip in the morning and espressos in the afternoon, and we’ve developed very particular preferences for both. I adore the Japan Blend and the Mexico Oaxaca Blend from Brooklyn Roasting Company, both of which produce wonderful drip coffee. For espresso beans, I walk over to my favorite local coffee shop, About Coffee, and buy a bag of Gimme Coffee’s Leftist Espresso, which is blended from organic, fair trade, single-origin beans from Peru and Guatemala. It’s also a nice bonus that About Coffee gives you a free small cup of drip coffee when you buy a bag of beans. — Jacob Dean, former updates editor

Serious Eats / Ashley Rodriguez

I always love supporting local businesses, especially when it comes to coffee. As a former barista at Weird Brothers Coffee in Herndon, VA, I have to give them a shoutout! They roast their own beans and offer single-origin options, blends, compostable coffee pods, and even sampler boxes. I’m partial to one of their OG dark roast blends called Embrace the Dark Side that I like to brew bold at home.—Yasmine Maggio, associate editor


What’s the best coffee to buy? 

Everyone’s coffee preferences are unique, so it’s important to try different options from a variety of roasters to find out what you like. Coffee gets its flavor from how the trees were grown on the farm, how the coffee cherries were processed to remove the seeds, and how those coffee seeds were roasted—with so much variation, it can be tricky to navigate. That’s why also recommend subscription services like Trade Coffee and Beanz which have questionnaires to help match you with the right coffee for your taste preferences. 

What’s the best way to brew coffee?

There’s no one right way to brew coffee, but there are some key factors to keep in mind. To start, you need a consistent grind size that’s only achievable with a high-quality burr grinder. You also need a brew method that can heat water to 200ºF, like a high-end drip coffee maker, but if that’s out of your price range, manual coffee methods like pourover, French press, or moka pots give you direct control over brew temperature as well. Finally, you need the right ratio of coffee to water, which you can achieve by using a coffee scale.

Why We’re the Experts 

Jesse Raub is Serious Eats’ commerce writer and spent over 15 years working in the specialty coffee industry. He’s our in-house coffee expert and regularly tests coffee gear for this site.He’s spent many hours chatting with the Serious Eats team about their daily brewing habits so he can dole out tips and tricks for better coffee at home. For this piece, he surveyed the Serious Eats team about their favorite coffees.

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