Trader Joe’s is a beloved grocery store chain, and many of its products have even developed cult followings – think Everything Bagel Spice and Cauliflower Gnocchi. But what about the coffee? Is it, too, worthy of worship? Or is it just the generic, stale grocery store beans we all know and dread?
Home Grounds bought a ton of Trader Joe’s Coffees for this review. Overall, we were pretty impressed. They weren’t all winners, but we found seven delicious coffee beans spanning all brew styles. So no matter what coffee you enjoy, you’ll know what to buy if you find yourself at Trader Joe’s needing a caffeine fix.
The 7 Best Trader Joes Coffee in 2022
At Home Grounds, we love buying fresh coffee and supporting local roasters. But that isn’t always an option. Maybe you live in a town without a great coffee roaster, or you don’t have the budget for some of the best coffee beans we highly recommend. In that case, you’ll be happy to learn (as we were) that Trader Joe’s is a surprisingly great option.
You can find Trader Joe’s coffee in stores or online from purveyors like Amazon. Sure, it may not be perfectly fresh, but their wide selection of pre-ground and whole bean coffee includes all roast levels and premium origins. So there’s something for everyone.
Here’s a peek at some of our favorites.
||Trader Joe’s Organic Fair Trade Wake Up Blend||
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||Trader Joe’s Organic Sumatra Coffee||
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||Trader Joe’s French Roast||
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||Trader Joe’s Organic Fair Trade Breakfast Blend||
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||Trader Joe’s Joe Light Roast||
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||Trader Joe’s Shade Grown Ethiopian Coffee||
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||Trader Joe’s Barista Espresso Coffee Blend||
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Choosing a top Trader Joe’s coffee is silly since coffee is so personal, but this one reigned supreme among Home Grounds staff, probably because it is such a mellow and crowd-pleasing brew. The name is fitting; this is the perfect coffee to wake up with.
It’s a sweet and well-balanced medium roast, with smooth flavors of caramel and honey and a hint of green apple acidity.
We don’t just love this coffee for its flavor. The 100% Arabica beans, harvested from farms in Central and South America, are all certified Organic and Fair Trade. The farmers who grew them are committed to sustainable agriculture, and Trader Joe’s pays them higher wages to support that commitment – a policy we are happy to support.
This is a very versatile medium roast suitable for all brewing methods. We enjoyed it brewed with an automatic drip machine and a French press, and the hint of acidity made for a surprisingly delicious cold brew.
All Sumatran coffee has a distinct set of characteristics inherent to the growing region and its unique processing method, and they aren’t to everyone’s taste (1). Coffee expert Will Vunderink of PT’s Coffee Roasting explains it well:
Earth. Tobacco. Herbs. Cedar. Funk. Love it or hate it, “wet-hulled” coffee’s unique flavor profile is immediately recognizable in your cup.
We only selected this high-quality Trader Joe’s brew as our Runner Up. However, if you like Sumatran or Sulawesi beans, this is a beautiful example of the style – and it’s certified Organic and Fair Trade to boot!
Trader Joe’s Organic Sumatra coffee is rich and earthy, with a pronounced sweetness and very low acidity. It has a heavy body that is only enhanced by the medium-dark roast, which in all honesty, I would say is closer to dark. The beans have a deep brown color and noticeable oily sheen. The dominant flavors are dark chocolate, smoky cedar, and a hint of orange citrus.
These coffee beans are incredibly delicious and brewed under pressure. They yield a rich crema when prepared with an espresso machine and are fantastic from lower pressure brewers like an Aeropress or Moka pot.
3. Trader Joe’s French Roast – Best Dark Roast Coffee
Roast level: Dark
- Tasting notes: Bold, smoky, sweet chocolate
- Ground or whole bean: Whole bean
- Origin(s): Brazil, Peru
Dark roast lovers, take note! This low-acid French Roast from Trader Joe’s is the classic example of the genre, with a heavy body and bold flavors. Crack open the package of whole bean coffee, and you’ll find beans almost black in color with an intense oily sheen. The flavors are sweet and smoky, featuring bittersweet chocolate with just a hint of cherry aroma.
If you want a low-acid coffee that isn’t necessarily a dark roast, consider our other favorite low-acid coffee options.
The 100% Arabica beans making up this French Roast are harvested from farms in Peru and Brazil. They are roasted long and slow, the best way to achieve a darker roast without straying into “burnt-tasting” territory.
The robust flavors of this brew make it especially well-suited to milky drinks, like a creamy latte or frothy cappuccino. Indeed, the coffee flavor is so strong, it even holds up well to additional flavors. I’ve made many a successful mocha with this coffee.
Speaking of additional flavors, I can’t help but mention Trader Joe’s Wintry Blend here (2). Because the Wintry Blend is a seasonal special, it’s not on our list, but this robust flavored coffee with warm spices like sweet cinnamon and nutmeg is a wonderful choice in the winter months.
Like the Trader Joe’s Wake Up Blend we already raved about, a breakfast blend coffee is typically crafted with easy drinkability. This medium roast blend will do the trick if you want to be soothingly coaxed into your morning with a mellow and smooth taste. The Organic Fair Trade Breakfast Blend will wake you up gently with its roasty sweet caramel flavor and floral aroma. (On the other hand, if you want to be dropped headfirst into your morning with a wallop of flavor, scroll back to the French Roast above.)
This coffee is sourced from South America, from small farming cooperatives in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. It consists of 100% Arabica beans and is Organic and Fair Trade certified so that you can start your morning with a delicious brew and a clear conscience.
5. Trader Joe’s Joe Light Roast – Best Light Roast
Roast level: Light
- Tasting notes: Fruity, sweet, acidity
- Ground or whole bean: Ground
- Origin(s): Guatemala, Ethiopia
The defining feature of a light roast is that it showcases the character of the coffee beans, as opposed to just the roaster’s skill. With minimal roasting, the quality of the green coffee is much more apparent. So we were thrilled to see that Trader Joe’s sources the 100% Arabica coffee beans for its light roast from two premiere growing regions: Guatemala and Ethiopia.
Guatemalan coffee is sweet and nutty, with hints of honey and hazelnut. Paired with Ethiopian coffee’s fruity and floral flavors, this is a Trader Joe’s blend that is more than the sum of its parts – a perfect kick-off to the day or afternoon pick-me-up.
This is the only pre-ground coffee on our list, so it’s a great option for anyone without access to a quality coffee grinder. However, it does limit your brewing options to methods that suit the grind size. A drip coffee machine or pour-over brewer are the best choices, though you can also get away with a Moka pot, French press, or Aeropress. I wouldn’t try to prepare espresso or cold brew with this coffee.
Ethiopia is the homeland of coffee, and it still produces some of the planet’s most delicious beans (3). Certified Q-Grader and Head Roaster of Lomi Roastery and Cafe in Paris Paul Arnephy explain why (4).
Ethiopia is distinct from all other producing countries because of the flavour profiles that can be found, production methods, the country’s history, and of course the plethora of plant diversity.
Ethiopian coffee is grown at high altitudes and has a complex, sweet flavor and a rich aroma. These shade-grown Trader Joe’s beans are an excellent example, with an intense flavor that is both familiar and surprising.
It is relatively rare to find Ethiopian coffee given such a dark roast, but in this case, the medium-dark roast works. The darker roast takes the beans’ natural sweetness and turns it into a robust dark chocolate flavor, but it doesn’t overpower the more subtle notes of dried fruit and herbaceous florals.
This unique Trader Joe’s espresso blend is a far cry from the typical one-note dark roast so often used for espresso. Instead, it pairs 100% Arabica South and Central American coffee with Indian Cherry A Robusta for something truly out of the ordinary. This Barista Espresso Coffee Blend has an abundance of character, with sweet caramel, bright citrus, and toasted nuts.
It makes a good base for milky drinks, but it’s even better if you consume it as a straight espresso shot or Americano.
Though it claims to be a light-medium roast coffee, we found it to be more on the darker side of medium, which suits the brewing method better.
While you may have been taught that Robusta is a lower-quality type of coffee, don’t let that dissuade you here. Robusta is a common addition to espresso blends, even costly ones because it adds the earthy flavor notes, heavy body, and rich crema that make espresso feel like espresso – not to mention it ups the caffeine content.
The dark roast Trader Joe’s Five Country Espresso Blend is another tasty option if you’re looking for a 100% Arabica espresso blend with a more traditional flavor profile. The Five Country Espresso Blend makes an especially good starting point for a latte or flat white.
How to Choose the Best Trader Joe’s Coffee
There are a few things to consider when finding the best Trader Joe coffee to meet your needs. Of course, you want something that tastes good. But you might also want to think about your available equipment – coffee grinder, brewing device – and your purchasing habits’ environmental and social impact. This buyer’s guide is here to explain.
Do you have a quality coffee grinder?
This is the first question you must ask yourself when deciding whether to buy whole bean coffee or pre-ground beans. To grind coffee beans, you need a burr grinder, and a blade grinder won’t cut it. Or, more literally, a blade grinder will cut it, but it won’t grind it.
If the answer is no, buy ground coffee – or better yet, buy a good burr grinder if you can afford it. Buying pre-ground coffee is convenient because it saves you a step in preparing your morning coffee, and it certainly makes the morning coffee routine much quieter. Plus, it’s affordable. We know that burr grinders aren’t in the budget for everyone.
There are several disadvantages to pre-ground coffee. It won’t taste as fresh because as soon as coffee is ground, it starts to release its flavor compounds and go stale. You also don’t get any say over the grind size. Most ground coffee, unless otherwise specified, is for a drip coffee machine. If you plan on making cold brew, espresso, French press, or Moka pot, you’ll be better off grinding your own.
What flavors do you enjoy in your coffee?
How do you want your Trader Joe’s coffee to taste? Do you want it to be light, fruity, and brightly acidic? Do you prefer more classic flavors of chocolate and nuts? Do you plan to brew a pour-over and drink your coffee black, or are you more likely to pull a shot of espresso and make a creamy latte? What makes coffee so exciting is that there are different coffee beans to meet all these needs.
- If you like your coffee light and fruity, look for lighter roasts and seek tasting notes like light body, mellow, bright, acidic, and floral. The most popular brewing methods are light roast coffee are pour overs and drip machines, but you can also use a French press or make cold brews. It is tricky, but not impossible, to prepare a light roast espresso.
- Medium roast coffees tend to be lower in acidity, have a medium body, and are very versatile. They are suitable for all brewing methods and have tasting notes like sweet, caramel, nuts, milk chocolate, and balanced.
- Dark roasts have a heavy body and bold flavors, often tasting bittersweet chocolate, smoke, earth, and toasted nuts. Their rich flavor makes them perfect as a base for milky drinks, and standard brewing methods include French press, Moka pot, and espresso.
While there is no rule that you have to buy an espresso blend if you like to pull shots of espresso, there is a reason these beans have this name. They’re coffee beans like any other, but they’re selected and roasted to be optimal for rapid extraction in an espresso machine. Buying an espresso blend is a bit of a shortcut to making great espresso at home, especially if you’re new at it.
Like all commodities produced in developing nations and consumed in wealthier ones, coffee is fraught with social injustice (5). If you care about coffee farmers and their land – and if you enjoy coffee, you probably should – then look for beans that offer some guarantee they are being treated honorably (6).
Trader Joe’s offers many Organic and Fairtrade-certified coffees. While these certification systems aren’t perfect, they ensure farmers receive fair wages and that the land at origin is being preserved for generations to come.
If this is an issue of great importance to you, you may want to look beyond just Trader Joe’s and check out some of these other good organic coffee options. One of our favorites is Lifeboost Coffee, which goes above and beyond to protect the environment.
I admit I went in skeptically, but I was impressed by many of the Trader Joe’s coffees. Every coffee made this list was richly flavorful with a unique taste profile that left an impression, and the number of Fairtrade and Organic certified options was a nice bonus.
The Home Grounds-favorite was the crowd-pleasing Wake Up Blend, a lovely and smooth coffee made for getting the day off on the right foot. Our runner-up was a bit more divisive, but if you love the character of wet-hulled Sumatran coffees, you’ll enjoy this as much as I did.
What is the best Trader Joe’s coffee for cold brew?
The best Trader Joe’s coffee for cold brew is the one that suits your taste. We think our overall top pick, the Wake Up Blend, makes the best cold brew thanks to its natural sweetness, balanced flavors, and a hint of acidity.
Trader Joe’s also makes an instant cold brew when you can’t bear the thought of a 12 to 24-hour steep time. This instant coffee features 100% Arabica beans from India and delivers a dark brew with a caramel aroma. Of course, instant coffee will never match the flavor of freshly ground and prepared cold brew coffee.
What is the difference between Fair Trade and Direct Trade?
The difference between Fair Trade and Direct Trade is that Fair Trade is an official certification, whereas Direct Trade is a description (7). Fairtrade coffee certifications are administered by various bodies that conduct inspections and audits to ensure that a specific minimum fair price is paid to producers for their coffee. Direct trade means that buyers deal with producers directly. While this isn’t regulated, producers often make more money as it cuts out the certification middle-men. It also leads to long-term relationships that benefit both parties.
Are Trader Joe’s coffee beans fresh?
No, Trader Joe’s coffee beans aren’t fresh compared to coffee purchased directly from a roaster. Buying coffee in a grocery store almost always means it has been sitting on the shelf for longer than is ideal. However, Trader Joe coffee canisters are sealed with nitrogen, which ensures the coffee stays fresh for longer by avoiding exposure to oxygen.
If you want fresh coffee and don’t have a local roaster to support it, look for brands that roast coffee to order. For example, we’ve enjoyed Stone Street Coffee.
Does Trader Joe’s have decaf coffee?
Trader Joe’s does have decaf coffee, but there’s a reason none of it made this list. The selection is limited – one medium roast, some K-Cups, and an instant coffee option – and it isn’t the most flavorful brew. If you’re looking for coffee beans with all the flavor but none of the caffeine, look at our picks for the best decaffeinated coffee beans instead.
- Vunderink, W. (2018, June 28). What you need to know about Indonesian “wet-hulled” coffee. Retrieved from https://www.ptscoffee.com/blogs/news/what-is-wet-hulling
- Lo, S. (2021, November 8). Trader Joe’s Fans Are Freaking Out Over Its Wintry Blend Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.mashed.com/655115/trader-joes-fans-are-freaking-out-over-its-wintry-blend-coffee/
- National Coffee Association. (n.d.). The History of Coffee. Retrieved from https://www.ncausa.org/about-coffee/history-of-coffee
- Charles, S. (2019, November 4). Ethiopian Coffee: A Roaster’s Guide. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/11/ethiopian-coffee-a-roasters-guide/
- Myers, A.J. (2015, August 31). The dark side of coffee: an unequal social and environmental exchange. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/the-dark-side-of-coffee-an-unequal-social-and-environmental-exchange-46838
- Bradley, E. (2017, August 10). Coffee Certifications. Retrieved from https://www.freshcup.com/coffee-certifications/
- Macatonia, S. (2013, March 13). Going beyond fair trade: the benefits and challenges of direct trade. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/direct-trading-coffee-farmers