Coffee beans review

I’m looking for a review of coffee beans.

Welcome to the community @ian5.
Offered as a happy coffee consumer, barista (espresso) and capsule preferred in that order.

Is the interest in major store bought prepackaged beans, or specialty roaster beans prepackaged from the smaller and specialty retailers, or from one off roasters fresh packaged?

The variety of roasts and bean sources might make it an all consuming challenge. :yum:

One lifelong observation is coffee comes in many styles. Is one bean and roast perfect for all styles. We also have varying tastes.

I’ve edited the topic category to ‘request a test’ knowing Choice has previously taste tested the more readily available coffee capsules, tea bags, etc. Also reviews of coffee machines. Perhaps a taste test of the readily available branded beans we can all buy will be of interest.


Thanks, Mark. I can’t find any Choice tests of prepackaged beans.


I bought the Choice recommended Sunbeam Mini Barista and it’s excellent. The best beans I’ve enjoyed are the Coles 1kg Daley St medium dark roast.


The Request a Test category is usually how the community increases interest in product testing and reviews. Yes there is no current review or test.


Hi @ian5

There are a number of topics that may have some information that helps your choice of brand/variety/type.

There are others and a search of the site may offer other links that have an interest for you.


Interesting topic, but it’s a can of worms… and, it all depends.

Are you using pre-ground coffee? or grinding your own? If the latter, how granular is the adjustment for the grind? Does it have conical or flat burrs? …

Do you use a French Press? Mocha Pot? Turkish style pot? Portable espresso machine (Flair, Rok, Nonopresso etc)? Thermoblock machine? E61 HX or Dual boiler? …

There’s probably no answer as to which beans are “best”. Some are horses for courses.

If you want to make a decent cup of coffee without too much fuss, get an appliance grade grinder with a timer dosing function and reasonably good grind adustment. Breville BCG is pretty decent. I have had one for years, along with a much more expensive prosumer unit. Both produce good grinds, albeit the BCG is slower. My daughter has a cheap Sunbeam, and it also does a good job, but without the bells and whistles. For traveling, I have a hand grinder, but it lacks adjustment granularity - I traded functionality for price.

If you have a consumer grade coffee machine rated by Choice, you should be able to get a consistently pretty good cup of coffee from them. You don’t need to spend a fortune on beans, unless there’s one that you particularly like…

I used to buy specialty beans, freshly roasted in small batches from a stall at a market on the way home from work. Then, during lock-down, I tried various supermarket beans. I had problems with Vittoria, but I suspect I just ran out of patience trying to tune the grind and the coffee machine to the roast. They were always very under-extracted.

I had good results with Aldi single source beans - some of them made really good coffee when well tuned to extract at the right rate. I’ve also had good results with Sensory Labs Stellar roast; Grinders medium dark roast; Lavazza Ora; and some others.

A clean coffee machine is essential. Backflush with good cleaner ever kilogram of beans. Descale regularly. Be pedantic with the dose. If you want consistency, leave the hopper empty, and weigh the beans. Time the pour.

If you have a dirty coffee machine, the best beans will be tainted with rancid, stale coffee oils. Experiment with the beans. Bear in mind, most beans are a blend of beans from a variety of sources. They’re roasted according to a commercial process, with a range of results. Check the use by date. Freshly roasted beans are generally better. That’s not to say you can’t make decent coffee with beans that were roasted a month or two ago. You can… Price is not a completely accurate pointer to quality, let alone value.



As CaptJack says, it’s a can of worms. From what you have told us, you have a consumer grade espresso machine (Sunbeam Mini Barista) and you buy beans from a supermarket, presumably pre-ground. If I’m away somewhere and forced to by supermarket coffee, I’ll buy either of the two local brands Vittoria or Coffex. They are fairly reliable and reasonably fresh. The big name brands and the home brands I wouldn’t touch. There is no way of knowing how long those beans have been sitting in warehouses.
However, in your situation, I’d be looking for a local coffee roaster. They seem to be everywhere now and some have excellent online services. I live in Sydney and used to buy beans from Bathurst. With a tap of a few buttons, two day later, 1kg of freshly roasted bean were on my doorstep. Now I use a local roaster. Because I’m within 10km, the beans are at my doorstep, free delivery, within hours, and often roasted that day. Yes, it’s more expensive than supermarket coffee but well worth it if you love your coffee.
Your question is a common one for those transitioning to better coffee. However, you should be aware, for really good coffee, the bean is or least concern. Generally, the order of importance is as follows:

  1. Grinder - spend most your coffee machine budget on a good bur grinder
  2. Machine - spend the rest on a quality espresso machine. For me, the plunger is a close second and much much cheaper. I always take a plunger travelling.
  3. Technique - lean the correct technique but above all, be consistent.
  4. Roast - roast your own or find a good local roaster. Beans need to be freshly roasted but need a couple of days to de-gas. Flavour deteriorates rapidly after about a week or two. It’s still drinkable but not a patch on what it was flavour wise.
  5. Bean - of least concern. Arabica for flavour, Robusta for caffein hit. Choose blends for a bit of both if you like cafe (Maccas) style coffee :smirk:. Choose single origin for variety and interest. My current coffee roaster uses only arabica which is good because the lower caffein lets me drink more :grin:. They have a number of single origin and blends that I’m working my way through.

Thanks for that interesting and informative reply, Jack. I’ll clean my machine and try those beans.

I read that 100% Arabica is best.

If the ground coffee comes out in clumps is the grind too fine?

Thanks, Bob. Great info. Now to find a local roaster!

Not necessarily. There’s an argument that cheap grinders are more prone to clumping, but I’m skeptical. I use a Mahlkonig with flat burrs, and sometimes the grind will result in a clump or two. I put it down to the oils in the beans. You can buy a distributor tool to break up the clumps - or make one from thin wire stuck into a cork. I use a jewelers screwdriver.
Clumping can lead to channeling in the extraction (water finding a short path through the puck rather than spreading evenly.

If the coffee grind is too fine, the resultant shot will be over extracted (and bitter). Too coarse it will be under extracted (sour). You usually need to check the grind setting with each new lot of beans. If you want better coffee, time the shot and weigh the output in real time. There will be a range for your machine that works well.


Dull blades will usually cause clumping at espresso grinds but that is usually after a 5 to 10 years use.


Interesting, Phil. My grinder was recommended by Choice but I got it on Market Place for $70 so it may be worn.

I fixed the clumping by just setting the grind to a little coarser.

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And the clumps disappear by tapping the group head on a stone bench a few times.

In terms of flavour, yes, certainly. However, those early morning office caffein junkies need more so the take-away coffee outlets usually use arabica/robusta blends. As far as I know, robusta has more or less twice the caffein as arabica.

I agree. Clumping is fairly normal for an espresso grind which is fine anyway. certain beans, particularly those that are fresh and with a higher oil content would tend to clump more but a few taps on the bench and a firm tamp should fix it.
Your Sunbeam Mini Barista has a pressurised group head. That’s fairly normal in consumer machines. It ensures that the coffee is always brewed at 15bar. That’s good and bad. Good because it means the brew is less sensitive to dosing, grind, tamping and clumping. Good if you want a reasonably consistent brew without too much fuss. Bad because the optimum brew pressure for the perfect shot is more like 9bar. Commercial and higher end machines have plain group heads without the pressure regulating device. So, to achieve that perfect shot at around 9bar, dosing, grind, tamping, temperature and brew time have to be perfect. There is no formula because it varies with the style of coffee required, bean, roasting, age, grind, tamping, group head pressure, water temperature, even weather and time of day. That’s what being a Barista is all about.