The 8 Best Coffees of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Find the right brew for you

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Our Top Picks
"USDA Organic and third-party lab tested, this coffee is consciously crafted to be toxin-free."
"Their coffee varieties highlight regional seasonality of coffee harvesting, yielding delicately balanced flavor profiles."
"Lightly roasted, it retains the fruity flavor of the beans, and has invigorating notes of blueberry, golden raisin and lemon zest."
"Get a quality cup of coffee with natural bean flavors just by adding cold or hot water."
"Infused with nitrogen gas and served from a tap, it has a frothy texture, less acidity, and a natural sweetness."
"This is a medium-dark roast coffee with flavors of dark chocolate and caramel, sourced from Indonesia and Latin America."
"It uses the Swiss Water Process and has flavor notes of roasted hazelnut, chocolate."

Coffee is a popular part of morning rituals, social gatherings, and afternoon pick-me-ups—but how does it stack up from a health perspective? Coffee is a source of caffeine, which is a psychoactive drug that acts as a natural stimulant, increasing alertness and energy levels.

In addition to providing a caffeine boost, coffee intake is associated with added health benefits. Studies have shown that coffee consumption may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, liver disease, depression, cognitive decline, and cancer. Coffee also contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants from plant-based foods that help to neutralize oxidative stress in the body. 

While coffee is associated with health benefits, it can also be a source of added calories and sugar, depending on the type of coffee beverage consumed. Some mixed coffee drinks like frappuccinos and mocha lattes can contain upwards of 400 calories, 30 grams of sugar, and high amounts of saturated fat. For a healthy coffee, avoid added sugar and sweeteners, flavored syrups, and full-fat milks and creamers. 

When purchasing coffee, you want to consider how the coffee beans are sourced and processed. High-quality, USDA organic coffees may have fewer mycotoxins (specifically Ochratoxin A), a toxic byproduct of mold particles that can be found in coffee beans and other foods. Other certifications to consider are Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade Certified, which promote ethical and sustainable sourcing practices. 

How much coffee is too much? According to the FDA, for healthy adults, 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects. For reference, there are about 80 to 100 milligrams in an eight-ounce cup of coffee. Over-consumption of coffee can cause insomnia, anxiousness, tachycardia, upset stomach, nausea, headaches, acid reflux, and dehydration.

Individuals metabolize coffee differently, so you should assess your tolerance levels to determine intake. Consult your physician if you are pregnant or have an existing health condition before consuming coffee or other caffeine products. 

Here, the best coffees:

Best Overall: Natural Force Clean Coffee

USDA Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified, Natural Force Clean coffee tops our list. Their coffee beans are third-party lab tested and independently analyzed for the presence of mold, mycotoxins (ochratoxin A, aflatoxin), acrylamide, heavy metals, gluten, and other contaminants. 

Natural Force Clean Coffee has a low acidic profile and a smooth taste. Each bag contains 12 ounces of whole beans. To prepare, grind beans and add one to two tablespoons per eight ounces of water.

Best Ground: Stumptown Coffee Roasters Holler Mtn. Ground Organic Coffee

Stumptown is a small, boutique coffee roaster that practices transparent, direct trade sourcing of their coffee beans. Their coffee varieties highlight the regional seasonality of coffee harvesting, yielding delicately balanced flavor profiles. 

Holler Mountain is a medium roast with notes of creamy caramel. The flavors listed on their products are the natural flavors of the bean variety, and not from added ingredients. Each bag contains 12-ounces of ground beans.

Best Whole Bean: Blue Bottle Coffee Home Blend Bright Organic Whole-Bean Coffee

If you’re looking for optimal flavor and freshness, purchase whole beans and grind them right before brewing. USDA organic, Blue Bottle Coffee Home Blend Bright Whole-Bean Coffee is sustainably sourced from Uganda and Ethiopia and is lightly roasted, retaining the fruity flavor of the beans. 

This variety has bright, invigorating notes of blueberry, golden raisin and lemon zest, making it the perfect addition to your morning. Each bag contains 12 ounces of whole roasted beans.

Best Instant: Joe Coffee Specialty Instant Coffee Packets, The Daily House Blend

Joe Coffee Specialty Instant Coffee

No coffee maker? No problem. Joe Coffee Speciality Instant Coffee Packets offers a quality cup of coffee just by adding water. The coffee beans are roasted, grounded, brewed, and then dehydrated in small batches with natural bean flavors of chocolate, caramel, and marzipan. 

Each box contains six individual sachets of instant coffee that can be used to make either hot or cold coffee. Mix one packet with eight to ten ounces of hot or cold water.

Best Cold-Brew: RISE Brewing Co. Original Black Nitro Cold Brew Coffee

Many canned and bottled coffee drinks contain added calories and sugar from milk and flavorings. Try RISE Brewing Co., Original Black Nitro Cold Brew Coffee for a fresh sip with no sugar and no dairy. Nitro coffee is infused with nitrogen gas and served from a tap, giving it a frothy texture, less acidity, and a natural sweetness.

Made with just organic coffee sourced from Peru and purified water, each seven fluid-ounce can contains 0 calories and 0 grams of sugar and contains 180 mg of caffeine.

Best Espresso: Allegro Coffee Organic Espresso Sierra Ground Coffee

Espresso is a brewing method that uses high pressure and high heat to extract a concentrated coffee. USDA Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified, Allegro Coffee Organic Espresso Sierra Ground Coffee is a medium-dark roast coffee with flavors of dark chocolate and caramel, sourced from Indonesia and Latin America. 

Each bag contains 12 ounces of ground espresso beans that can be used in an espresso maker or a drip coffee. You can sip espresso as a shot or enjoy it with foamed milk for a cappuccino or latte. Prefer your coffee cold? Pour a shot of espresso over ice and add your favorite cold milk.

Best Decaf: Kicking Horse Decaf Dark Roast Coffee

When it comes to purchasing decaf coffee, look for brands that use the Swiss Water Process, like Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee. The Swiss Water method uses water and carbon filtration, while other common decaf processes use chemical solvents to extract the caffeine from coffee beans. 

Kicking Horse Coffee is a Canadian company that is organic and Fairtrade Certified. Their decaf blend is sourced from Central and South America and has flavor notes of roasted hazelnut, chocolate. The coffee comes in one-pound or 2.2-pound bags of whole bean coffee and can be used in a variety of brewing methods including, french press, drip machine, pour-over, espresso, and cold brew.

Final Verdict

For a USDA Organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified product that is third-party tested for chemicals, try Natural Force Clean Coffee (view at Amazon). Looking for a delicious cup of coffee without the caffeine? Go for Kicking Horse Decaf Coffee (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in Coffee

Quality:

Look for brands that practice transparent and ethical sourcing with certifications like Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance Certified. Choose USDA organic or high-quality brands to reduce potential exposure to mold and mycotoxins.

Type:

Choose a product that works with the equipment you have in your kitchen. Coffee varieties like French press, drip, and espresso require specialized equipment to brew. No coffee machine? Try an instant coffee or bottled nitro brew with no added sugars. 

Nutritional Content:

Many bottled and prepared coffee drinks have added calories, sugar, and saturated fats from flavored syrups and high-fat milk products. Be sure to check the nutritional content of these drinks before consuming them and avoid adding heavy creamer, sugar, and artificial sweeteners to your coffee. If you add milk to your coffee or want to enjoy a latte or cappuccino, use skim milk or an unsweetened milk alternative like almond or coconut and skip the packet of sugar or artificial sweetener.

FAQs

What is French press coffee? Is it better for you?

French press coffee is made by steeping coarse coffee grounds in hot water and then pressing a mesh strainer down to release the coffee. Because this is an unfiltered method, the natural oils found on coffee beans, called diterpenes, are transferred into the coffee. While this can enhance the flavor, high-amounts (five to eight cups) of unfiltered coffee have been shown to raise LDL, “bad”, cholesterol levels. If you choose to consume French press coffee, stick to four cups or less a day. If you have or are predisposed to high cholesterol, choose a filtered coffee option like drip coffee instead. 

Is flavored coffee healthy?

Flavored coffee comes from coffee beans that have flavors added during processing. While some companies use natural flavors to coat their beans, many spray their beans with artificial flavorings and oils. In general, it’s best to enjoy the natural flavor varieties of coffee beans and skip those with chemically processed, added flavors. Depending on the region, type of bean and level of roasting, coffee beans can yield a diverse range of natural flavors to suit your palate. 

Is decaf coffee okay for you to consume?

Decaf coffee is a good alternative to regular coffee if you are looking to limit your caffeine intake. There are two main types of processes used to decaffeinate coffee: solvent-based (direct solvent and indirect solvent) and non-solvent-based (Swiss Water Process and CO2 Process). Both direct and indirect solvents use chemical solvents, including ethyl acetate or methylene chloride, to remove the caffeine from coffee beans. When purchasing decaf coffee, look for a brand that uses the Swiss Water Process, as it is a carbon filtration process that does not use chemicals and retains a high-quality flavor.

What Experts Say

"Coffee is a delicious and well-loved beverage that many people use to start their day. While coffee can give you an energy boost, it can also be incredibly dehydrating. Be sure to drink a cup of water or two before your coffee to counteract the dehydrating effects."—Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a Registered Dietitian, Anne Carroll uses her clinical expertise to cut through marketing claims and get down to the science. These are all products that she has researched, vetted and would recommend to her clients in private practice and incorporate into her own diet.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  5. Britannica. How is Coffee Decaffeinated?