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Best Medium-Roast Coffee Beans 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

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medium roast coffee beans

Looking for the best kind of medium roast coffee? If you’re tired of the taste of Folgers and Maxwell House, there are other options out there. Too many, in fact. But to make it easier on you, we’ve reviewed the five best medium roast coffee brands. We looked at everything from organic, single-origin coffees to bigger brands that use blends to bring you a variety that will fit any taste.

We’ve listed the pros and cons of each, so we hope it’ll make it easier for you to decide the best brand to become your new favorite coffee. Read on for the list of our favorites as well as a buying guide when shopping for medium roast coffee brands.

A Quick Summary of our Favorite Products of 2020

ModelPriceSizeEditor Rating
Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling
Volcanica Coffee
(Top Pick)

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Cooper’s Coffee Kenya AA Beans
Kenya AA Medium-Dark

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Kicking Horse ‘Three Sisters’
Kicking Horse Coffee

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Peet's Coffee Big Bang
Peets Coffee Big Bang
(Top Pre-Ground Coffee Pick)

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Caribou Coffee Ground ‘Caribou Blend’
Caribou Coffee, Caribou Blend

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Best Medium-Roast Coffee – Reviewed

1. Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Beans – Top Pick

Volcanica Coffee

Volcanica Medium Roast Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Beans aren’t your typical arabica beans. These are Sumatran whole beans, which offer low acidity and a rich, heavy body. The flavor has notes of brown sugar, wine, and dried fruit. The beans are grown in volcanic soil that’s mineral-rich. It’s also organic and fair-trade certified, so you can be sure you’re getting a pesticide- and chemical-free product as well as an ethical one. This makes a delicious cup of chocolatey, rich coffee.

The only con with this brand is that it’s pricey; but honestly, we feel that it’s worth it for the price.

  • Tasting notes: smooth chocolate flavor with earthy undertones
  • Organic
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • Single-origin coffee
  • Grown in mineral-rich volcanic soil
  • Low acidity
  • Whole beans
  • Pricey

2. Cooper’s Coffee Kenya AA Beans – The Runner-Up

Kenya AA Medium-Dark

Cooper’s Coffee Kenya AA Medium-Dark Roast Beans are a solid runner-up because they are single-origin and micro-lot, which means that they can be traced back to a single farm. This lends the coffee superior yet predictable taste. The coffee beans are also roasted in small batches, so you can be sure that you’re getting the freshest ones available. This has a taste profile of honey wheat, bittersweet chocolate, and molasses. They’re also farm-gate certified, which means the farmer was paid directly for his beans, making these a great, ethical choice.

However, because the roast is a little darker than medium, this particular brand may be a little too strong for those who are used to a medium roast. The beans are also pricey because of their single-origin and micro-lot status.

  • Single-origin and micro-lot
  • Whole bean coffee for grinding
  • 100% farm gate beans
  • Coffee beans are roasted in small batches
  • Tasting notes: honey wheat, bittersweet chocolate, molasses biscuit.
  • Pricey
  • Darker roast

3. Kicking Horse ‘Three Sisters’ Whole Bean Coffee

Kicking Horse Coffee

The Kicking Horse brand is now widely available, which is a pro because then you don’t have to hunt for it on the Internet. We love the rich, smooth taste of their Three Sisters Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee and its tasting notes of sweet tobacco, stone fruit, and cocoa. It’s also certified Organic and Fair Trade, so you can be sure it’s a chemical-free and ethically-produced coffee.

Because this is a bigger brand, the coffee beans are roasted in larger batches, which leads to inconsistent quality. You may get a freshly-roasted bag, or you may get one that’s been on the shelves for a long time. This could result in a stale-tasting cup of coffee.

  • Available widely
  • Tasting notes: sweet tobacco, stone fruit, and cocoa.
  • Certified organic
  • Certified fair trade
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Roasted in larger batches
  • Not as fresh

4. Peet’s Coffee Big Bang – Top Pre-Ground Coffee Pick

Peets Coffee Big Bang

Peet’s Coffee is another brand that’s available widely, which is convenient when you’re running low on coffee and need it quickly. The Big Bang Medium Roast variety is smooth and mellow, with tasting notes of tropical fruit. We liked that the roast date is printed on each bag, so you can be sure of its freshness.

Unfortunately, even with the roast date on the bag, the quality is inconsistent. Sometimes the coffee tastes stale, which can happen with pre-ground coffee. It also has a more acidic taste than the others on our list. And for those who are interested in organic and fair-trade options, this isn’t a good choice. Lastly, it’s a blend of beans instead of a single origin.

  • Available widely
  • Tasting notes: tropical fruit
  • Roast date on each bag
  • Pre-ground
  • Stale
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Acidic taste
  • Coffee blend
  • Non-organic

5. Caribou Coffee Ground ‘Caribou Blend’

Caribou Coffee, Caribou Blend

Caribou Coffee is now available in most grocery stores, and we like that they use small-batch roasting. It’s also Rainforest Alliance-certified, which is important for sustainability. The Caribou Blend Ground Medium Roast Beans have tasting notes of spice and berries, with a bittersweet cocoa finish.

Perhaps because it’s so widely available, the Caribou Blend often has inconsistent quality. Sometimes the taste is on the bland side, and other times, it tastes bitter and burnt. Even though it’s roasted in small batches, it can taste stale. Lastly, it’s non-organic.

  • Small-batch roasting
  • Rainforest Alliance certified
  • Tasting notes: spicy and berry notes, with a bittersweet cocoa finish
  • Bland taste
  • Coffee not fresh
  • Coffee has burnt taste
  • Bitter taste
  • Non-organic

Buyer’s Guide

Medium roasts tend to be smooth and rich, but when choosing the best medium roast coffee beans, there are many things to consider aside from the taste. Here are some of the most important:


The growing conditions of the coffee beans all affect the taste: the amount of sunshine, the soil, and the volume of rain. When the label says the beans are single-origin, this can mean the coffee comes from one farm, multiple farms in the same geographical area, or multiple farms in the same country. Either way, this is a good thing, because you have a better idea of what taste to expect from that coffee. For example, if you buy a bag of coffee beans from a single origin in Ethiopia, you might find a particular farm or group of farms in the same area that produces beans with a floral, tea-like taste that you love.

Micro-lot single-origin coffee beans are even more localized: they usually refer to a single field at the farm or a small range of altitudes.

Blends, on the other hand, mean that the coffee beans originate from more than one place. Whereas a single-origin coffee will have a small set of tasting notes, a blend will have a variety.

Whole Bean

Whole beans produce the freshest taste because you can grind them right before brewing. You can also customize your grind size for any type of brew, so you aren’t limited like you are with pre-ground coffee.

Roast Date

Because coffee loses its freshness soon after roasting, it’s best to grind and brew the beans within two weeks of roasting. This is where a roast date can be so helpful: it lets you know the age of the coffee, so then you’ll be able to purchase the freshest beans.

coffee with coffee beans

Fair Trade Certified

Fair Trade Certified means that the beans were ethically sourced from the farmers who grew them, no matter their income level.

Rainforest Alliance Certified

Rainforest Alliance Certified means that your beans were grown in a sustainable way that is environmentally-conscious.

USDA Organic

The USDA Organic seal on a package means your coffee beans were grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and pollution was minimized.


The clear top pick of our list is the Volcanica Medium Roast Sumatra Mandheling Coffee Beans because they are single-origin Sumatran beans. We especially loved that the beans are Organic and Fair Trade. With their delicious notes of brown sugar, wine, and dried fruit, we’re confident Volcanica will become your new favorite coffee.

Our top pre-ground pick is Peet’s Coffee Big Bang Medium Roast because it’s widely available, and there is a roast date printed on each bag, so you can be sure you’re getting the freshest grounds. For those who like the convenience of pre-ground coffee, this is a solid choice.

We hope our list of reviews and buying guide of the best medium roast coffee beans has helped you narrow down your own list of coffee choices. Now all that’s left is for you to pick up a bag (or two) and start brewing!

Featured image credit: jarmoluk, Pixabay