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Best Starbucks Coffee Beans 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

best Starbucks coffee beans

Starbucks is – of course – a perennial giant in the coffee world. It’s able to churn out an incredible amount of reliably wonderful coffee, and this means an abundance of options to choose from.

These reviews walk you through some of our favorite Starbucks beans, so you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for.

All these options are available as both ground or whole bean. Starbucks sells all its products in both varieties, but it’s generally easier to find bags of whole beans. The good news is that any Starbucks café will happily grind your beans for you. Even if you don’t purchase them in the shop, feel free to bring a bag in and they will grind your beans free of charge.

Our Favorites Compared in 2020

ImageProductDetails
Best Overall
Winner
Starbucks French Roast Starbucks French Roast
  • Rich caramel flavor
  • Very dark roast
  • Great for drip machine and French press
  • Best Ground
    Second place
    Starbucks Sumatra Starbucks Sumatra
  • Bold and funky
  • Available pre-ground
  • Impressive bloom
  • Best Light Roast
    Third place
    Starbucks Caffé Verona Starbucks Caffé Verona
  • Rare post-roast blend
  • Mix of light and dark flavors
  • Popular, classic flavor
  • Starbucks Breakfast Blend K-Cups Starbucks Breakfast Blend K-Cups
  • Easy to use K-Cups
  • Light, bright flavors
  • Goes well with food
  • Best Decaf
    Starbucks Decaf Pike Place Starbucks Decaf Pike Place
  • Available in decaf
  • Dark and aromatic
  • Iconic Starbucks variety
  • The 10 Best Starbucks Coffee Beans

    1. Starbucks French Roast Whole Bean Coffee – Best Overall

    Starbucks French Roast

    Much like the Italian Roast that Starbucks sells, this French Roast harkens back to traditional practices. Traditionally French coffee was brewed with the French press method (of course), and these beans are roasted in the style that grew out of this traditional coffee preparation.

    The French Roast tends to taste a little more complex than some other options. Expect to enjoy satisfying notes of caramel, in addition to a smokiness.

    In general, we recommend this roast most for use with drip machines and French presses. Because of the complexity of the roast, this bean will not do well if prepared as an espresso or any similarly quick extraction.

    The French roast needs time for the proper flavors to be drawn out of the beans. If you don’t mind this aspect, this is definitely one of the most satisfying dark coffees by Starbucks. We recommend this very highly.

    Pros
    • Rich, smoky caramel flavor
    • One of Starbucks’ darkest roasts
    • Great with drip machines and French presses
    Cons
    • Doesn’t work well with quick extraction methods

    2. Starbucks Sumatra Dark Roast – Best Ground Coffee

    Starbucks Sumatra

    The Sumatra blend is our personal favorite, but it’s not universally loved, and that’s why it’s not our top pick. The Sumatra is full of rich and funky notes, and it’s for this reason that most people either love these beans or hate them.

    That said, if you’re looking for a bold coffee with definite notes of fruit, this is a great choice. Because it’s a darker roast, the Sumatra blend is distinctly less acidic than some other options. But it doesn’t suffer from the “overly bitter and smoky” problem of some lower-quality dark roasts.

    The Sumatra works well in any standard drip machine – whether at home or in the office – but it’s an especially good pick for pour-over brewing. Because of the roast, these grounds have an especially impressive “bloom.” This refers to the initial pour, when it’s recommended to let the grounds sit for a couple of seconds and dampen. In this first stage, the Sumatra blend releases natural oils and makes for a great experience.

    We always prefer buying whole coffee beans over ground coffee. However, if you don’t have a grinder, this is definitely one of the best Starbucks ground coffee options to choose from.

    Pros
    • Bold and funky
    • A particularly dark roast
    • Available in pre-ground
    • Impressive bloom
    Cons
    • Not as fresh as whole bean
    • May be too funky

    3. Starbucks Café Verona Coffee Beans – Best Light-Roast

    Starbucks Café Verona

    The Café Verona is an especially wild option. This stands out as one of Starbucks’ very first roasts, and its popularity has endured to this day – it’s one of the company’s most popular offerings.

    Café Verona is actually a “post-roast blend.” This means that a blend of beans from South America is roasted a little on the lighter side, and then different beans are roasted much darker. Eventually, these two roasts are blended, in a proprietary ratio, and the result is an incredibly rich and unique coffee.

    This blend is definitely on the lighter side, but the dark roasted beans do balance everything out nicely. Because of this combination, the Café Verona is a good choice for someone who may only be interested in buying one roast at a time. If you don’t often drink coffee at home, but you want to have something satisfying on hand, this is the right choice. The dark notes will be satisfying as a morning pick-me-up, and the lighter notes will do well cutting through any afternoon malaise.

    Pros
    • Rare “post-roast blend”
    • Pleasing mix of light and dark-tasting notes
    • Very popular classic flavor
    Cons
    • Too light for dark roast lovers

    4. Starbucks Breakfast Blend K-Cups

    Starbucks Breakfast Blend K-Cups

    Next up is the trusty Breakfast Blend. We’ve always imagined this blend as the perfect diner coffee: maybe slightly burnt, poured into stout white mugs, and enjoyed amidst the smells of pancakes and bacon. In truth, this roast is a little more than just diner coffee – but we think that this is the general atmosphere in which the Breakfast Blend shines.

    This coffee is definitely not for coffee aficionados who want to carefully swirl a tasting cup. Rather, this is for everyday coffee drinkers who don’t care about being too fussy. This blend is a lighter roast, and this means it’s more acidic. This is great because the brightness can be very pleasing in the morning and because this blend goes well with food.

    Overall, this blend does what it’s intended to do: be a happy companion to any morning activity. That said, the Breakfast Blend is not one of our top picks because its flavors don’t stand out.

    Pros
    • Reliable and always satisfying
    • On the lighter side, with bright acidity
    • Goes well with food
    Cons
    • Not the most interesting
    • Too light for dark roast lovers

    5. Starbucks Decaf Pike Place Coffee – Best Decaf

    Starbucks Decaf Pike Place

    The name of Starbucks’ Pike Place roast hearkens back to the company’s very early days. Founded just around the corner from Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, Starbucks has always tried to hold on to this sense of place.

    Over time, the Pike Place roast has become the company’s default roast. If you go to any Starbucks location and order “just a coffee,” you’ll be handed a steaming hot cup of Pike Place. We love this trusty roast because it really does just hit every mark. The Pike Place is a darker roast, but it does have some bright notes, and this helps to make the drink less heavy-feeling. The strong flavors make it a great decaf option.

    Additionally, this roast is especially pungent. Generally, darker roasts do have a more powerful scent, but Pike Place is notably aromatic. This is likely because Starbucks relies on this roast to perfume its stores.

    The Pike Place roast is a great pick for those who know they want something simple and satisfying. But if you’re looking for an especially fun purchase, you might consider some of the other options we’ve listed.

    Pros
    • The most iconic Starbucks variety
    • Very dark and aromatic
    • Strong flavors
    • Available in decaf
    Cons
    • Not very complex or unusual
    • May be too dark

    6. Starbucks Brazil Blend Whole Coffee Beans

    Starbucks Brazil Blend

    The Brazil Blend is incredibly unique. It was designed in anticipation of Starbucks’ entry into its namesake country, and it’s actually a part of a broader line of country-specific roasts. In Brazil, Puerto Rico, China, the Philippines – and a handful of other countries – Starbucks has made a point of serving roasts sourced entirely within the relevant country. All these roasts are a hit, but the Brazil variety is especially popular, and so we’re including it as one of our top picks.

    Coffee aficionados will know that beans from Brazil are generally more acidic and a little more fruity. This particular roast has been roasted just a little bit past what may be considered “traditional,” and the effect is wonderful. Because the Brazil Blend begins with such bright-tasting beans, but then features some pleasing nuttiness,  it really stands out.

    The Brazil Blend is sold through Starbucks’ website, but it may be difficult to find in grocery stores. This is because it is a part of the very particular line of country-specific coffee. Consider these beans if you’re feeling a little adventurous and if you enjoy both light and dark roasts.

    Pros
    • Flavors unique to the Minas Gerais region
    • Very bright and fruity
    • Adventurous, with unusual taste and roast level
    Cons
    • Can be hard to find
    • Not a basic or traditional coffee

    7. Starbucks Veranda Blend Coffee

    Starbucks Veranda Blend

    The Veranda blend has undergone a recent re-branding. As part of Starbucks’ push to increase the popularity of lighter roasts, the word “Blonde” has been added to the roast, which was initially known only as “Veranda.”

    The Veranda Blonde is Starbucks’ mainstay lighter roast. This is a very easy coffee to find, and a very pleasing coffee to drink. The beans are all from Latin America, and they’re all roasted with attention to drawing out the pleasing acidity of this coffee. It is a great choice for anyone who enjoys a lighter roast.

    Also of note: because this is Starbucks’ premier lighter roast, these beans have a little more caffeine than some other options. This is great if you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, but it may also be a factor to consider if you’re especially sensitive to caffeine.

    Pros
    • Starbucks’ de facto light roast
    • Slightly higher caffeine content than other options
    • Mild, easy to drink flavor
    Cons
    • Flavors may be too mellow
    • Not for medium or dark roast lovers

    8. Starbucks Espresso Roast Whole Bean Coffee

    Starbucks Espresso Roast

    Shockingly enough, you can use the Espresso Roast for anything, and it doesn’t even need to be espresso! This is an important aspect to consider because there really are good reasons to use these beans in a drip machine, pour-over, or French press.

    The Espresso Roast is just a well-curated blend of beans, designed to preserve a crucial bit of oil. This oil is important because it produces the satisfying crema that is key to any quality espresso shot. No matter how you brew this coffee, the oil will add an extra dimension to the flavor.

    This is absolutely a darker roast (one of Starbucks’ darkest), and it is very full-bodied. This means that the Espresso Roast may be a great cup to drink early in the morning, and it pairs well with sweet pastries.

    This is a great option for anyone who’s looking to make espresso at home, but also for anyone who appreciates a bold bean. Expect to enjoy some caramel notes and just a touch of spiciness.

    Pros
    • Bold flavor with notes of caramel and spice
    • One of Starbucks’ darkest roasts
    • Full-bodied, with quite a bit of oil
    Cons
    • Less complex flavor
    • May be too dark
    • Extra oil may clog filters

    9. Starbucks Italian Roast Whole Bean Coffee

    Starbucks Italian Roast

    In general, “Italian Roast” refers to darker roasts prepared specifically for espresso. Italian roasts need not be from any particular location – but, in the case of Starbucks’ Italian Roast, all the beans are sourced from the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America.

    Note that this is not Starbucks’ default espresso roast. Rather, this roast is designed to bring out many of the pleasurable qualities of these traditional Italian roasts. These beans will do well in any type of preparation.

    Expect an especially dark roast, and a coffee full of rich flavor with some notes of chocolate.

    This is a good choice for anyone who wants something bold in the morning, but it also isn’t one of Starbucks’ most interesting beans. For this reason, it’s not one of our top picks, though we do think it can be a satisfying purchase.

    Pros
    • Bold flavor
    • Works well in espresso machines
    • Chocolate notes
    Cons
    • Not very complex or interesting
    • May be too dark

    10. Starbucks Coffee Christmas Blend K-Cups

    Starbucks Holiday Blend K-Cups

    Last, we want to talk about the Christmas Blend – because how could we not? This is a very special blend that can stir up so many happy memories. I know that in my own family, Starbucks coffee has long been a reliable holiday gift, and that when cafes break out this blend for the fall, that’s when the festivities really begin.

    This is just a dark blend that has been roasted with very particular attention to aroma. The result is a box of K-cups ready to give off the most enticing smell imaginable, and to produce a great cup of coffee. Thanks to all of its syrupy and spicy-tasting notes, this blend does stand out as something special.

    Though it is best to save these festive beans for the dark days of winter, they can also be a hit year-round.

    You can read a full roundup of our favorite Starbucks K-cups here.

    Pros
    • Especially festive aroma
    • Rich syrupy notes
    • K-cups compatible with Keurig brewers
    Cons
    • May be too sweet
    • Not an everyday coffee

    Conclusion

    It can be exciting to go explore your local coffee shops and to sip craft coffee when traveling – but when you want something reliable, these Starbucks beans will never disappoint.

    Our top pick of 2020 is the trusty French Roast, and this is closely followed by our runner-up, the Sumatra blend. We’re also very excited about the Café Verona, which is our top pick for light roasts.

    Hopefully, these reviews have helped you find a delicious coffee. Good luck choosing!

    We also compared Starbucks’ Verismo to Keurigs. See our findings here.

    Kate MacDonnell

    Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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