As temperatures start to drop and trees begin to explode with color, coffee shops are breaking out their best fall blends to help you get in the mood for autumn. But if you’re like us and prefer to make your coffee at home, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the pumpkin spice fun.
Pumpkin-flavored – well, everything – is all the rage these days, and that means there are more fall coffee options to choose from than ever before. We’ve put together this list of reviews to help you sift through all the fall roasts out there and find your favorite. Button up your flannel and grab your apple-picking basket as we run down our list of the best fall coffee.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||New England Coffee Cinnamon Hazelnut Ground Coffee||CHECK PRICE|
|Best Value||Eight O'Clock Coffee Flavors of America Ground Coffee||CHECK PRICE|
|Premium Choice||Door County Coffee Fall Seasonal Flavored Coffee||CHECK PRICE|
|Cameron's Coffee Roasted Ground Coffee||CHECK PRICE|
|Bones Coffee Company Flavored Coffee||CHECK PRICE|
The 10 Best Fall Coffee – Reviews 2020
1. New England Coffee Cinnamon Hazelnut Ground Coffee– Best Overall
Taking the top spot, we have New England Coffee’s cinnamon hazelnut roast. If curling up under a blanket with a book had a flavor, it would be this coffee. The cinnamon and hazelnut flavors are both prominent and blended to perfection. Just the smell of this coffee brewing is enough to get our mouths watering.
This is a medium roast, medium-bodied coffee that holds up well to milk, but is also delicious black. Some flavored coffee tends to leave an artificial chemically after taste, but not this one. New England Coffee is made with high quality, 100% Arabica beans at a fair price. It comes pre-ground in 11-ounce bags, but you might want to order two because you’ll go through it fast.
This brings us to our only complaint: the limited number of sizing options. We would love to stock up, but the only way to get more is to purchase several 11-ounce bags, which isn’t as cost-effective as buying in bulk. However, this is a small detail, and the combination of robust flavor and affordability make this our number one pick.
2. Eight O’Clock Coffee Flavors of America Ground Coffee– Best Value
Next up is the Vermont Maple Bourbon coffee from Eight O’Clock’s “Flavor of America” series. Vermont is known for its world-famous fall foliage, so it’s no surprise that the Vermont inspired coffee is packed with one of our favorite fall flavors. Maple is far and away the predominant tasting note, and we love it! There is a subtle hint of bourbon too, but it is not at the forefront at all. This coffee is for maple lovers only, and even though we like that about it, we can see it being a bit too strong for some people.
Like our number one pick, this coffee is a medium roast and comes in an 11-ounce bag. However, the price is significantly lower. The potential for the strength of the maple flavor to be overwhelming ultimately prevents this from being our number one choice, but the price can’t be beaten and makes this the best fall coffee for the money.
3. Door County Coffee Fall Seasonal Flavored Coffee– Premium Choice
Door County Coffee’s Wisconsin Harvest Blend brings a somewhat unique mix of flavors to the table with hints of roasted chestnuts and toasted praline. The result is a sweet, nutty coffee that pairs well with crisp mornings and falling leaves. This is a medium roast coffee that works well with all brewing methods, but be aware that the pre-ground option is meant for automatic drip machines. If you prefer an alternate brewing style, you should purchase the whole bean version and grind it yourself.
The coffee is undoubtedly excellent, but that excellence comes at a premium price. An 8-ounce bag will cost you about as much as an 11-ounce bag from another company. Still, we think it is worth paying a bit more for the unique taste and well-balanced flavor. This coffee is a great example of “you get what you pay for” in a good way.
4. Cameron’s Coffee Roasted Ground Coffee
If you’re looking for a fall coffee that is unlike any other, Highlander Grog from Cameron’s Coffee is one you need to try. The name “Highlander Grog” is not one we would normally associate with coffee and the notes of rum and butterscotch are equally intriguing. They are also delicious! The rum flavor gives this coffee a stout-like quality that we have never experienced in coffee before, and we are big fans. Also present are notes of butterscotch, caramel, and vanilla, which combine nicely for an overall sweet experience.
We did notice some consistency issues between bags, with one bag having a more burnt flavor than another. It’s not enough to ruin the coffee, but it is disappointing. Highlander Grog is only available in pre-ground 12-ounce bags.
5. Bones Coffee Company Flavored Coffee
Bones Coffee Company’s Jacked-O-Lantern Pumpkin Spice coffee marks the first pumpkin spice entry on our list. Pumpkin spice coffees usually emphasize one of pumpkin or spice more, but Bones Coffee finds an even balance. Sometimes the spice – mostly nutmeg – can be overpowering, but not here. The bean’s natural flavors play nicely with the pumpkin and nutmeg to produce a balanced, flavorful cup. One problem pumpkin spice coffees can have is an artificial aftertaste, but we did not find any hints of chemical overtones in our cup.
Available already ground or as whole beans, this medium roast is a crowd-pleaser. It is a bit on the expensive side, but it is a must-try for pumpkin spice fans. This is easily our favorite pumpkin spice offering, although if you prefer a more spice-centric blend, it could be underwhelming.
6. Paramount Roasters Pumpkin Pie Flavored Ground Coffee
Next up, we have Paramount Roasters Pumpkin Pie coffee. It’s all in the name as this coffee tastes like, well, pumpkin pie! Don’t confuse this with a pumpkin spice coffee, because there is no spice flavor here. Pumpkin is the predominant tasting note, and it is delicious. Unlike some other coffee with added flavor, the pumpkin is all we taste here. This isn’t a bad thing, but if you want your coffee to still taste like coffee, you might want to find a less pumpkin packed roast. The natural flavors of the bean take a backseat in this one and give pumpkin the spotlight.
One downside is the slightest hint of an artificial aftertaste on the back of the tongue. Given the robust pumpkin flavor, we expect that they’re pushing the flavoring limits here, and it shows a bit on the finish. Still, for pumpkin lovers, there is no better option out there at this reasonable price point.
7. Brooklyn Beans Maple Sleigh Roasted Ground Coffee
The Maple Sleigh Coffee from Brooklyn Beans is one of the more subtle offerings we have, but that doesn’t make it bad. We could detect maple in our tasting, but there was also an equally prominent nutty flavor present. It was quite good, but we think calling this a maple hazelnut coffee would be more accurate. The subtle flavor means you can also appreciate the coffee’s natural sweetness, which we quite like. Overall, this is a mild coffee with a hint of maple and hazelnut around the edges.
If you need a break from the flavor bombs higher up on the list, this coffee is for you. The subtle flavor can be a little too faint for some palates, so look elsewhere if you want a strong maple taste. Despite the light touch to the added flavor, there is an artificial quality on the finish. It isn’t a dealbreaker for us, but it is there. You can get this medium roast pre-ground in 12-ounce bags.
8. San Diego Coffee Pumpkin Spice Ground Coffee
Our other pumpkin spice coffee comes from San Diego Coffee Co. Made with 100% Arabica beans, this is a medium roast coffee that makes a surprisingly full-bodied cup. Coffee is the dominant taste, but the pumpkin spice flavor is present even if it is hard to find at first. Given a choice between overpowering and subtle, we prefer subtle, so we like that the flavor isn’t too strong. However, it has the most subtle flavor of any pumpkin spice coffee that we’ve tried.
In contrast to the last few reviews, this coffee doesn’t have any unpleasant artificial notes to it, probably because the flavoring is so light, to begin with. San Diego Coffee Co sells this coffee in 1-pound or 5-pound bags at a reasonable price, so stocking up is easy.
9. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Whole Bean Organic Coffee
Stumptown Coffee Roasters is very popular and known for producing high-quality roasts. Unfortunately, we were unimpressed with their Holler Mountain blend. It’s not that the coffee is particularly bad, but we expect more at this price point. Although it is described as having hazelnut and caramel notes, we didn’t find much flavor, especially compared to some of the coffee higher up on our list.
The coffee is good, but if you expect a strong fall-inspired flavor, you will be disappointed. Another issue is freshness. One bag was flat on arrival and behaved in our pour-over like borderline stale beans. If you get fresh beans, they make a good cup, but inconsistency combined with weak flavor at a premium price makes this a disappointing coffee.
10. Starbucks Fall Blend Ground Coffee
Last on our list, we have the Fall Blend from Starbucks. Starbucks is probably one of the first places people think of when they hear the words “pumpkin spice,” and they are one reason fall coffees have become more popular recently. This coffee is a full-bodied dark roast that makes a strong cup in the Starbucks tradition. Pumpkin spice is barely detectable behind the powerful flavor of the coffee itself.
One benefit of buying coffee from a big company like Starbucks is unparalleled consistency. Every bag you get will be virtually identical. The tradeoff is coffee that is not the freshest or most tasty. It is also quite expensive, and there are more flavorful options available at a lower price.
Now that we’ve finished our reviews of our favorite fall coffee, it’s time to dig in and dissect the details that go into choosing the right coffee for you. We’re going to discuss what makes coffee high-quality, how to pick the right roast level for you, what grind size has to do with making a great cup, how buying flavored coffee differs from buying regular coffee, and how to get the best bang for your buck.
Everyone wants to buy quality coffee, but what sets good coffee apart from bad coffee? First is the quality of the beans that go into the blend. Arabica is a variety of coffee known for being flavorful without being bitter. Coffee made from 100% Arabica beans will be higher in quality than a coffee that is a mix of other varieties, like Robusta. Arabica is generally more expensive than different types of beans, so some companies save on costs by using other, non-Arabica coffee. If you want the highest quality, best-tasting bean, look for 100% Arabica coffee.
The freshness of your coffee when it gets to you is important too. Coffee is the best and most flavorful when consumed from two weeks to one month after roasting. Some roasters list the roasting date on their bags, which can help you identify fresh coffee. If you want to get the freshest coffee possible, look for coffee that ships directly from a roaster rather than a reseller such as a grocery store.
What roast level is best is very subjective and highly dependent on how you prepare your coffee. Some people love ultra-dark roasts, while others prefer a lighter roast. If you’re not sure what your preference is, yet that’s okay! A rule of thumb is immersion style brewing – like French press or cold brew – is a good choice for dark roasts, and medium or light roasts do well in pour-overs, automatic drip machines, and percolators.
We’ll talk about flavor later, but most flavored coffees are medium roasts. A strong coffee flavor – a common hallmark of dark roasted coffee – can mask any subtle flavors added to the beans and defeat the purpose of having a flavored coffee. If you’re still not sure what roast you would like, then choose a medium roast.
Getting the grind size right is a huge part of making excellent coffee. What grind size you need depends on how you make your coffee. If you make French press or cold brew, you want a coarse ground coffee. Using standard pre-ground coffee meant for automatic drip brewers in a French press will produce a sludgy, bitter, all-around unpleasant cup of coffee. A larger grind size is necessary to avoid over-extraction, but finding coarse pre-ground coffee can be challenging. If you need a coarse grind, your best bet is to purchase whole beans and grind them yourself.
Automatic drip brewers, percolators, and some pour-overs produce good results with standard size pre-ground coffee. If you use a home brewer like a Keurig or a similar machine, you don’t have to think too much about grinding your own beans because pre-ground coffee will work well.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the French press, we have espresso. Espresso needs an extremely fine grind to extract properly and make great tasting coffee. If you want to make espresso, you need to look for coffee that is ground explicitly for espresso or grind it yourself at home.
Flavored coffees like those on our list require a few special considerations due to their added flavors. First of all, some flavored coffee has added sweeteners in addition to the added flavors. We typically recommend avoiding coffee with added sweetener because it’s not necessary. Adding artificial sweetener to a coffee can be a sign of lower quality beans or an attempt to mask bad tasting artificial flavors.
A widespread problem with flavored coffee is a strange, unpleasant aftertaste. Artificial flavors can be harsh, and it’s hard to know beforehand if a coffee will have a lingering chemical taste. We paid special attention to the aftertaste when we made this list, but taste varies greatly between people. If you’re concerned, look for coffees with a more subtle flavoring as those are less likely to have any unpleasant artificial flavors.
All of the above factors play into the final cost, and it’s up to you to decide what is most important to you. While we believe you get what you pay for in some cases, be conscious of the fact that sometimes you pay a premium for a particular brand name. Great coffee doesn’t have to be expensive, and there are some stellar fall coffees available at more than fair prices.
Ethics and Sustainability
There is a movement in the coffee industry to ensure that coffee is grown responsibly and that the farms that grow coffee receive fair compensation. Many roasters are taking action to support these movements and those that do advertise their involvement. While none of these factors will directly affect the coffee you drink, we believe it is essential to the coffee industry’s future to support roasters that source their coffee up to fair trade standards and practice sustainability.
We hope these reviews help you find some direction in your search for the best fall coffee. We highly recommend picking up a bag of New England Coffee’s cinnamon hazelnut coffee. It is a balanced, flavor-rich blend that is perfectly suited for a cozy autumn morning at home.
If you’re looking for an option that is a little lighter on the wallet, then the Vermont Maple Bourbon coffee from Eight O’Clock is an excellent choice. Not as flavorful as our first choice, but the saving on cost makes it a great value coffee that still tastes great. And finally, if you are looking to splurge for something exceptional, you can’t go wrong with Door County Coffee’s Wisconsin Harvest Blend. Break it out on special occasions or when you have company, and make sure you brew a big pot because it will go fast!
Still looking? Try one of our other favorite coffee brands:
- Gourmet, Low-Acid Lifeboost Coffee: Our In-Depth Review
- Best Coffee To Drink Black of 2020
- Best Flavored Coffee Brands: Reviews and Top Picks
Table of Contents
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 10 Best Fall Coffee – Reviews 2020
- 1. New England Coffee Cinnamon Hazelnut Ground Coffee– Best Overall
- 2. Eight O’Clock Coffee Flavors of America Ground Coffee– Best Value
- 3. Door County Coffee Fall Seasonal Flavored Coffee– Premium Choice
- 4. Cameron’s Coffee Roasted Ground Coffee
- 5. Bones Coffee Company Flavored Coffee
- 6. Paramount Roasters Pumpkin Pie Flavored Ground Coffee
- 7. Brooklyn Beans Maple Sleigh Roasted Ground Coffee
- 8. San Diego Coffee Pumpkin Spice Ground Coffee
- 9. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Whole Bean Organic Coffee
- 10. Starbucks Fall Blend Ground Coffee
- Buyer’s Guide