The 12 Best Places to Buy Specialty Coffee Online

The 12 Best Places to Buy Specialty Coffee Online

By, Dan Hunnewell

15 min read · Nov 01, 2023


If you are looking for the best place to buy specialty coffee online, this article is for you. Before we dive in, let us introduce ourselves.

We are Coffee Bros., a specialty coffee roaster based in NYC, founded in 2019. We pride ourselves on what we deem as the four pillars of running a coffee company: sustainability, quality, consistency, and freshness. You can read more about our company and mission below.

As coffee roasters, we cup thousands of coffees a year, our own for quality control and sourcing purposes, but also from other companies and peers in our industry. We also drink coffee across every imaginable brewing method as we craft some of our coffees for drinks like pour-overs or espresso. Finally, being in NYC, we are quite blessed to have a city full of outstanding coffee roasters, but we travel often and are constantly visiting cafes and evaluating coffees.

If you made it this far and seek a well-established brand, roaster, marketplace, or subscription to buy coffee online, we will break down all the best options. We have also sold coffee on sites like Amazon and our direct-to-consumer site which you are currently on, and we’ll give you our thoughts on buying coffee online from the large marketplaces.

Finally, if you are here because you are tired of the options at your local grocery store because of either freshness, flavor, or the variety of options (such as unique process methods or varietals), our recommendations take that into account. We want to ensure you are purchasing the freshest and most unique specialty coffee online and fast and convenient options.

Table of Contents

  1. The 5 things to look for when you buy coffee online
    • Stated roast dates
    • Variety of coffee types (blends, single origins, micro-lots)
    • Unique processing methods (natural, washed, honey)
    • A multitude of roast depths (light, medium, dark)
    • Other: discounts, shipping, and subscriptions
  2. Why to avoid Amazon (with some caveats)
  3. Best independent coffee roasters
  4. Best coffee subscription sites
  5. Best unique coffee offerings
  6. Best for coffee equipment and espresso machines

Where to Buy Specialty Coffee Online

Where to buy coffee beans online 2024

The 5 Things to Look for When Buying Coffee Online

When buying coffee online, you want to look for a few things. First and foremost, you want to find a trustworthy, consistent, and reputable coffee brand, and I am sure that is why you are here. You can ensure all recommendations in this post are highly recommended by us, industry experts, coffee roasters, and lovers of all things coffee. If you are looking beyond this list and want tips on what to look for when evaluating coffee roasters, here is what to look for.

Stated roast dates: Small independent coffee roasters may not roast daily but bulk their orders onto one or two days of the week. Like us at Coffee Bros., we roast on Saturdays and carry enough inventory for roughly five days. We do not send coffee past five days of roast date, though coffee tends to be optimal from a taste perspective in that 3 – 5 week range. When buying coffee online, look at the site or roaster states when they roast and ship out coffee and ensure the roast date is on the packaging.

Variety of coffee types: You are searching for coffee online for many reasons, but one is variety. Grocery store shelves tend to be stocked with your typical options as they need to appeal to the widest audience possible. When searching for a good coffee supplier online, look for variety, like the ability to purchase blends, single origin (and multiple origins), and rare micro or nano lot coffees. The coffee world is big, and your online shopping options greatly expand your ability to find all sorts of coffee varieties.

Unique processing methods: When shopping in-store, you will most likely find the common and not the unique options you may be seeking. Search for coffee roasters who offer different processing methods, from the standard, natural, washed, and honeyed to the more unique, like anaerobic fermentations and lactic methods.

Roast depths: Keeping it simple would be to state that every coffee is roasted either light, medium, or dark, but we know that the scale is quite varied, and what some roasters may consider their light may be a medium to dark roast for others (yes, the scale is that off, read our article here about roast profile comparisons). Find a roaster who explores a variety of roast depths, which usually means they are catering that particular coffee to a development that suits it best. These roasters are taking their time to understand a coffee before they roast it and put it to market.

Other things to look out for: If you are shopping online and want the best experience possible, look for a roaster who offers competitive pricing, maybe through a subscription service or fast shipping, sign up for their newsletter, and keep an eye out for discounts!

Why to Avoid Amazon When Buying Specialty Coffee

You won’t find too many specialty coffee roasters on Amazon; some have tried, like us, while others avoid it completely. What you will find is most specialty coffee roasters are too busy to manage another marketplace while also managing a café presence and their direct-to-consumer platform. While this is not why most specialty coffee roasters do not sell online at Amazon, it is mostly due to freshness and why I suggest not shopping there.

It is hit or miss for Amazon and freshly roasted coffee. We sold on Amazon for over four years. We may return to the platform eventually, but our inability to offer our customers the freshest inventory drove us off.

We went to extreme lengths of keeping inventory under 30 days on hand (now something penalized at Amazon) to ensure nothing at Amazon’s warehouses was beyond 30 days past the roast date; at least, that is what you hope for. When you send inventory to Amazon, they first accept it into a large distribution center before pushing it out to the many fulfillment centers nationwide. And would you believe it or not, that process can take anywhere from 3 days to two weeks. Many of our customers would receive coffee 5-7 days past the roast date, which is great, while others a few weeks past the roast date, which is okay, and a small bunch would receive coffee a month or two past the roast date. Why is that, well, if you have a small customer base in a certain part of the country, Amazon may send inventory to a remote fulfillment center to meet that demand. If that demand is not there, that inventory can sit for a few weeks to a few months until the demand is met. Even when staying super lean with Amazon, what you might receive when buying a coffee bag is not always guaranteed. Our motto talks about consistency and freshness, and it was tough to live up to those words when selling through Amazon.

Note that the bigger and well-funded coffee roasters stock a ton of inventory at Amazon, so take the above scenario on a larger scale. However, they may be moving more coffee, but Amazon doesn’t operate by the standard first-in and first-out methodology; you often have bags getting hung up at fulfillment centers for months. Read some reviews, and you’ll see what we are discussing.

Best Independent Coffee Roasters

Best for Coffee Blends and Espresso

Coffee Bros.

Overview: This is us! We are Coffee Bros. Coffee of NYC, an expertly crafted, small-batch coffee company. We are a proud business of two brothers who focus on sourcing 86-90+pt coffees and are committed to coffee excellence and sustainability.

We have pledged to produce high-quality coffee and help improve the livelihoods of those along the coffee supply chain. Our offerings range from the complex and sweet to the bold and rich, including our signature blend series to our unique single-origin coffee.

Best Known For: Coffee Bros. is best known for its wide array of coffee offerings from various origins and its focus on developing blends specifically for espresso enthusiasts, like its Espresso Roast or Dark Espresso Roast coffees.

Price Range: $16.99 - $49.99

Best for Single-Origin Coffee

Onyx Coffee

Overview: To us, Onyx Coffee represents the pinnacle of specialty coffee in the USA, serving as a major source of inspiration. With remarkable team members like Lance Henrick, Morgan Eckroth, and former roaster Mark Davis, among others, Onyx excels not only in its exceptional staff but also in its storytelling about coffee and the strong, positive connections it maintains with its coffee sources.

In specialty coffee, Onyx is a leader and innovator, influencing numerous smaller brands with its commitment to transparency, sustainability, and superior quality.

Best Known For: Onyx is best known for its wide array of single-origin coffee and unique collaborations with celebrities, other roasters, and other interesting partnerships.

Price Range: $17.50 - $58.00

Best for High-end Micro-lots

JBC Coffee Roasters

Overview: The reputation of JBC is evident through its numerous accolades, which initially drew our attention to them. As coffee roasters, we are constantly tasting and considering various coffees for our menu; part of our process involves comparing our selections with those from other roasters. JBC's multiple 90+ point ratings from Coffee Review caught our eye, prompting us to start buying their coffee for comparison with our top-rated offerings.

Their coffee is exceptionally flavorful, and their impressive array of awards rightfully positions them among the elite coffee roasters in the United States.

Best Known For: High-quality and rare micro-lots

Price Range: $18.00+

Best Independent Coffee Subscription

City Boy Coffee

Overview:  City Boy's Sphere Coffee Club offers a monthly journey of coffee discovery, featuring diverse flavors from around the world. Their coffee is roasted fresh in small batches to ensure the highest quality. However, their commitment extends beyond just roasting.

Specializing in single-origin coffee, City Boy's Sphere Coffee Club emphasizes the uniqueness of each batch. When a batch is finished, they introduce new, exciting seasonal coffees. Unlike other companies that blend coffees for consistent but less distinctive flavors, City Boy's Sphere Coffee Club celebrates the diverse tastes of single-origin coffees. They're constantly tasting new coffees to find distinctive and exciting options to share with their subscribers.

Best Known For: A highly selective coffee subscription offering one-of-a-kind coffees from around the world

Price range: $22.00

Best Coffee from an Award-Winning Roaster

Mostra Coffee Roasters

Overview: A list of the top coffee roasting brands in the US would only be complete by mentioning Mostra. Mostra Coffee and roaster Nick Berardi took home the coveted 1st place trophy at the US Coffee Championships in 2022. The intense three days of competition across six stages gave Nick and Mostra entry to the World Coffee Championships in Milan, Italy,

Our story with Mostra started with a phone call with one of their owners about a project we were working on. There are very few times when you come across someone so genuine and supportive of someone else’s ideas and business (especially in the same industry), and that is how we felt when we spoke to Sam of Mostra. Mostra strives to unite people, serving excellent coffee with a smile every time. Though we have never been to a Mostra location, we certainly felt this passion over the phone and can’t wait to visit one of their locations.

Best Known For: A wide array of blends and single-origin coffees from around the world.

Price Range: $23.00+

Best Coffee Subcription Sites

Best Unique Coffee Subscription

Atlas Coffee Subscription

Overview: Atlas Coffee Club is a monthly subscription service offering a curated selection of exceptional micro-lot coffees from around the globe, including places like Tanzania, Kenya, and Colombia. Each month, subscribers receive 12 ounces of freshly-roasted coffee, along with flavor notes, a postcard, and insights into coffee history, all delivered to their door. Atlas Coffee Club prides itself on exceeding the Specialty Coffee Association's 80-point standard for specialty coffee, ensuring high-quality selections. Recognized by industry leaders and media like Bon Appétit and The New York Times, Atlas also innovates with products like their acclaimed Keurig® compatible coffee pod.

Best Known For: A wide variety of origins, all scoring above the minimum threshold of 80pts by the SCA. Atlas will also grind your coffee based on any brewing method, which you don’t see with many subscription services.

Price Range: Price starting at $9.00+

Best Coffee Subscription for Variety

Trade Coffee

Overview: Trade Coffee stands out by offering high-quality, ethically sourced coffee, bridging the gap between coffee drinkers and roasters across the U.S. They focus on enhancing the coffee experience by handpicking only the finest beans and supporting the specialty coffee community and small to mid-sized independent roasters. Their expert team, including a Q Grader, curates a selection that meets rigorous quality standards and caters to diverse tastes. Combining data science and expert insights, Trade Coffee provides personalized recommendations from over 450 coffees. They ensure freshness and convenience with direct delivery in eco-friendly compostable packaging, promoting a more sustainable coffee market.

Best Known For: Featuring some of the top coffee roasters in the country in a unique subscription that is both curated yet highly variable and unique. Unlike other subscription services, Trade also provides a marketplace where customers can purchase single bags without subscribing.

Price Range: $15.75+

Best Unique Coffee Offerings

Best Bottled Cold Brew Coffee

Ground Work Coffee

Overview: Groundwork Coffee is dedicated to producing only Certified Organic coffee, emphasizing the rarity and importance of high-quality organic beans in an industry often reliant on chemicals. They engage in long-term partnerships with farmers to support and participate in organic farming, despite the challenges and lower yields. Groundwork adopts a direct trade model, working closely with farmers for premium quality coffee in exchange for fair prices, benefiting both parties. They source exclusively from smallholder, family-owned farms committed to sustainable practices. Groundwork roasts their beans in large-scale facilities in North Hollywood and Portland, utilizing solar energy and low-emission roasters. This process combines traditional and innovative methods, reflecting their deep understanding of coffee flavor and commitment to excellence.

Best Known For: While best known for its organic coffee offerings, Groundwork has also produced some outstanding bottled and canned cold brew and nitro brew coffees. You do have to shop through Amazon Fresh, but if not available there, you may need to visit one of their cafes! 

Price Range: $5.00+

Best Espresso Coffee Pods

Equator Coffee Roasters

Overview: Equator Coffee, founded by Brooke and Helen in a Marin County garage in 1995, embodies the belief that coffee can be a force for good. Their journey began with a vision to improve coffee roasting and sourcing methods, emphasizing quality, sustainability, and social responsibility. Over two decades later, Equator has expanded to twelve cafes and numerous satisfied customers, maintaining its core values. Named after the coffee belt, Equator symbolizes more than just a location; it represents a global connection. The company strives to enhance every aspect of the coffee journey, from bean to cup, under the philosophy that drinking good coffee leads to positive outcomes.

Best Known For: Equator is well known for its cafés and high-quality coffee but has gained recent recognition around their specialty espresso pod offerings for Nespresso machines.

Price Range: $14.00+

Best Frozen Coffee Pods

Cometeer Coffee

Overview: Cometeer Coffee, founded by Matt Roberts and Doug Hoon, revolutionizes coffee brewing with its unique flash-freezing process. Initially inspired by a desire for exceptional home-brewed coffee, the company has set a new standard in coffee quality. Cometeer capsules capture the full flavor of artisanal coffee and are flash-frozen to preserve freshness until brewing. These capsules are easy to prepare and require no machines or grinding—add hot water, and you are done. Cometeer emphasizes fair trade and sustainable sourcing, partnering with top specialty roasters who align with these values. Their innovative cryogenic packaging ensures a consistently perfect brew, maintaining its freshly brewed taste for months, delivering over 5 million cups of premium coffee.

Best Known For: The first frozen coffee pods are ready to drink by adding hot water!

Price Range: $84.00

Best Coffee for Travel

Blue Bottle Coffee

Overview: Blue Bottle perceives coffee from a unique perspective, a viewpoint they adopted two decades ago when they embarked on their modest mission. They played a pivotal role in reshaping how specialty coffee is presented today. Embracing the full spectrum of natural flavors, their vision was to introduce the world to the delightful intricacies of coffee. Blue Bottle's journey commenced with an unwavering commitment to demonstrating that coffee, treated with precision, care, and rigorous standards, could embody brilliance and delectability. They've spared no effort in unlocking coffee's true potential throughout the journey from seed to cup. Innovating at every juncture, they've fostered collaborations with like-minded growers, evolved farming and processing techniques, and revolutionized roasting methods to enhance flavor without intruding on the coffee's essence.

Best Known For: Some would say Blue Bottle was one of the few coffee roasters to showcase and shift what consumers deem as specialty or third-wave coffee. While roasting outstanding coffee from around the world, Blue Bottle also has highly rated and unique coffee offerings like their Craft Instant Espresso, which is great for anyone on the go!  

Price Range: $20.00+

Best for Coffee and Espresso Machines

Whole Latte Love

Overview: Whole Latte Love, founded by Gary and Lauren Salzman in 1997, is a family-values-driven business that views coffee as an integral part of culture and community. The company has grown to over 60 employees, starting in their basement, creating a 'coffee family.' They differentiate themselves through unparalleled customer service, coffee industry expertise, and a quality commitment. Their team is knowledgeable and personable, offering support through videos, blogs, and direct communication. Additionally, Whole Latte Love stands out for its superior warranties, backing many products with a 3-year warranty. They focus on providing only the best products, ensuring customers are well-informed and supported throughout their coffee journey.

Best Known For: A wide range of coffee and espresso equipment, from the perfect beginner machine to the more advanced setup.

Final Thoughts

You have seen the list and are now armed with 12 outstanding places to buy specialty coffee beans online! Whether you already deem yourself a coffee connoisseur, are just starting, or are looking for some unique options, the above list of specialty coffee roasters and subscription services should be more than enough to get your journey started.

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