Best 1kg Coffee Beans

Given you've, presumably, found your way here by slapping "best 1Kg coffee beans" into Google, this more than likely means that you're wanting to buy your coffee beans by the kilo, and you're wondering which would be the best to go for.

Either that or you were just bored, and fancied reading about kilo bags of coffee beans, in which case, whatever floats your boat ;-).

If you literally just wanted a 1Kg bag of coffee beans and you wanted a quick suggestion, then before I go on, these are our best sellers in terms of freshly roasted, 1Kg coffee beans:

Chocolate Brownie Blend

One Best Selling 1Kg Coffee Beans.

Use code CWNC25 for 25% off your first order

 

Chocolate Fondant Blend

 

One of our Best Selling 1Kg Coffee Beans.

 

Use discount code CWNC25 for 25% off your first order.

 

Millionaire's Shortbread Honduras

 

Freshly roasted coffee beans, 1Kg bags.

 

Use discount code CWNC25 for 25% off your first order.

 

I wonder if many people searching for best 1Kg coffee beans actually realise what a good question this really is?

If you were thinking it was a fairly mundane question with not much going for it, along the lines of which is the best rice, or which is the best white bread, then you may be surprised to find that there is way more difference between one 1 Kilo bag of coffee beans and another, than with other items on your shopping list. 

So if you thought you were wasting your time, you're really not, you're investing your time very well on answering a very important question.

Why Buy 1Kg Coffee Beans?

Before we get into detail about the best, the worst & the rest, let's first talk about why buying your beans by the Kilo is a good idea. 

The most obvious reason to buy 1Kg bags of coffee vs smaller quantities, is price. 

An image showing £10 and £20 notes depicting money saving.

When you buy your coffee in 1Kg bags vs 200, 227 or 250g, what you need to keep in mind is that you're using a quarter of the packaging material (bags & labels) and a quarter of the labour, as it takes about the same time to pack up 250g of coffee than it takes to pack up 1Kg of coffee. 

So as a result, it's cheaper to buy your coffee by the kilo. 

When it comes to freshly roasted coffee beans though (and we'll talk about the differences between freshly roasted and "normal" mainstream coffee beans shortly) there's another reason that 1Kg coffee beans are cheaper, which is that most roasters also roast for wholesale customers.

If you're a roastery that is roasting for wholesale, when you move to also supplying retail customers, the main reason for charging more is the increased cost of sale of selling to retail.

A lot of people don't realise this, and instead just assume that companies like to rip off the individual, which isn't the case. 

The cost of acquiring a customer, and then the average lifetime value of that customer, has to be taken into account when working out pricing.

The cost of acquiring new retail customers is about the same as acquiring a wholesale customer, and the average lifetime value of wholesale customers if much higher.

So with this, and the increased cost of selling coffee in smaller quantities, it's not hard to understand why retails customers end up having to pay more. 

However,  roasters tend to price their retail 1Kg coffee beans much closer to their wholesale pricing, vs the cost of the smaller bags.

So many roasters will see 1Kg coffee beans more as their wholesale volume, and 200/250g bags as retail, so if you buy by the kilo you generally end up paying closer to wholesale price.

Delivery cost also comes into play here, when it comes to buying by the kilo being cheaper, as many roasters and suppliers will give free delivery over a certain spend.

I'll let you into a little secret here, which really isn't a secret, and I'm sure you're aware, but the truth is, nothing is free! ;-). 

A woman with her finger in front of her mouth, shhhh.

When a roaster or coffee supplier states that they offer free delivery when you buy a kilo (or over a certain cost, which achieves the same aim) what they're really saying is that they've factored the cost of delivery into the price of a kilo of coffee.

It's usually not possible to factor all of the delivery price into a 200 or 250g bag, so they have to add a delivery charge to ensure they don't make a loss when selling coffee in smaller volumes. 

The less obvious reason to buy 1Kg bags of coffee, is dialing in. 

If you're using a brewing method that requires more dialing in, espresso of course, but also pourover and other brew methods albeit to maybe a slightly lesser degree, buying your beans by the 1Kg bag makes so much more sense than buying smaller bags. 

Let's say you're using an espresso machine, and you're using standard, traditional espresso baskets so that you can dial in for as close to perfect extraction as possible. 

If you've had some experience already of using traditional espresso machines, you'll be nodding your head in agreement (which may look strange to any onlooker) when I say that it's almost impossible to get decent results with your first shot. 

In fact, if you're relatively new to dialing in, you'll probably be familiar with having worked your way all the way to the bottom of a 250g bag, and you're still not properly dialled in. 

This isn't a rarity, this is actually hugely common, because espresso is a pain in the backside ;-), it's amazing when you get it right, but wow you have to work for it, especially when you're just getting started. 

When you're going through the initial learning curve, at least, buying beans by the kilo makes a lot more sense. 

I'd also recommend sticking to one bean initially, rather than continually trying lots of different coffee beans, just while you're initially honing your skills. Of course once you've started to get the hang of things you'll want to start trying different beans, and this is where your skills will really start to develop, as you rise to the challenge of dialing in different beans. 

When you do get to the point that you'd like to try dialling in various different beans, check this out, a 1Kg box (4 x 250g) of four relatively forgiving blends, to ease yourself into dialling in:

Beginner Home Barista Collection

 

 

 Use discount code CWNC25 for 25% off your first order.

 

Is buying 1Kg coffee beans better for the planet?

Another consideration when it comes to whether you should buy your coffee by the kilo or in smaller quantities, is sustainability. 

Buying by the kilo means less bags, less degassing valves, less seal strips, so there's less carbon footprint involved with making the packaging for your coffee, and less waste. 

It also means less carbon footprint where delivery is concerned, if we're comparing buying one or two 250g bags at a time vs buying 1Kg at a time.

If you're buying 4 x 250g bags per month vs one 1Kg bag, then of course there's no difference where delivery is concerned, but some people prefer to have a fortnightly or even a weekly delivery so they can always crack open a freshly roasted bag, so this means your coffee has a bigger carbon footprint due to delivery, which is something that many people are starting to thing about. 

Which are the Best 1Kg Coffee Beans?

OK so we've explored the reasons to buy coffee by the Kilo, now let's get into what you're probably really hoping to discover, which is what 1Kg beans are the best. 

The first thing to explain here is that there are essentially two main types of coffee, there is "mainstream" commodity coffee, and there's freshly roasted coffee. 

Mainstream coffee, or commodity coffee, is coffee that is produced, traded and roasted in huge quantities. It's priced by the commodities market, so this kind of coffee is really just coffee, just as rice is just rice, oil is just oil, sugar is just sugar, and so on. 

Up until the early to mid 1970's, this was the only type of coffee. There were small roasters in certain parts of the world who would trade door to door in some parts of the world, or via markets and so on, but it was all pretty much the same kind of coffee that was being roasted. So this kind of coffee was freshly roasted, but it was the same kind of green coffee (raw unroasted coffee beans) that were being used. 

This is until an amazing young lady called Erna Knutsen came along, and changed everything! 

Erna Knutsen

Erna worked for a one of the big coffee traders in San Francisco, in the early 70s.

She was a secretary, so when she showed an interest in getting involved in coffee, she faced an uphill battle, to say the least, which started out with her having to do remote cuppings from her booth, waiting for one of the men to bring her a cup, as women weren't allowed in the cupping room. 

She convinced her boss to give her a seat at the cupping table and to allow her to sell coffee, which lead to some of the male salesmen  threatening to revolt (they sound fairly revolting anyway).

Erna found that there were a number of interesting producers in more remote origins, producing what were referred to as "broken lots", which she referred to as "gems".

The big traders weren't interesting in these, as they bought by the full shipping container, and these small lots didn't fill a container. 

Unroasted coffee beans in a hessian/burlap sack

She knew a number of smaller roasters that the big traders also weren't interested in, she convinced these guys that this special coffee was worth the extra cost, it worked, and she created a booming trade, which she called "Specialty coffee". 

She literally started the speciality coffee movement.

Oh, and she then bought the company, and she very kindly solved the problem of the blokes who didn't want to work with her, by handing them their P45s, hehe.

What is Speciality Coffee?

Since Erna Knutson coined the phrase "Specialty coffee" during an interview in 1974 with a trade journal, specialty or speciality coffee has been the phrase to describe the high quality, smaller lots of coffee that were being freshly roasted and sold in smaller volumes, often directly from roaster to customer. 

By "high quality" we're talking about coffee beans that have been grown & processed in order to produce the best cup quality that this origin has to offer, and then also exported roasted and (hopefully) brewed all with the same aim of producing outstanding, characteristic flavours.

Brands can't just claim that their coffee is speciality, though. It has to have the seal of approval of the Speciality Coffee Association in the form of a cupping score of at least 80/100 to be officially termed "Speciality Coffee".

In 1982, the Specialty Coffee Association of America was formed, SCAA, and later in 1988 the SCAE, Speciality Coffee Association of Europe, and the two merged in 2017 to form what is now simply the Speciality Coffee Association, SCA.

SCA Logo

While this may seem like red tape the uninitiated, it's a lot more than that, it protects speciality coffee from being used simply as a marketing term. If that were allowed to happen, speciality coffee would have been polluted to destruction by now, I would imagine.

Big brands do their best to borrow from the speciality industry, using terms that would lead many to believe they're buying speciality coffee, but the fact that supermarket shelves aren't full of bags of coffee with "Specialty" proudly stamped on them purely to increase perceived value, is a very positive thing for the industry!

So speciality coffee is high quality freshly roasted coffee, and the fact that it has a score of 80 or more from the SCA and is therefore officially specialty coffee, is proof that this is the case.

What Isn't Speciality Coffee?

The efforts of Erna, and others involved in the development of speciality coffee, were focused on finding special coffee, and developing a situation where the coffee retained it's special character all the way from farm to cup. 

Speciality coffee these days not only achieves that, but the industry rewards producers for higher scoring coffees, as this is how speciality coffee is priced.

So given that speciality coffee is special, characterful coffee, which is priced based on quality, the opposite of speciality coffee is commodity coffee. Commodity coffee is coffee beans that are traded as a commodity, in huge volumes, via the commodities market.

Commodities graph chart.

This kind of coffee is just "coffee" in the same way that salt is salt, oil is oil and so on, there's really nothing special about it, in fact it's usually roasted particularly dark in order to ensure batch consistency, so this kind of coffee tends to be fairly generic. 

This is why people who haven't yet immersed themselves in speciality coffee are often sceptical about the notion that coffee could have peculiar flavour notes.

"Come on, you're telling me that COFFEE can taste like tropical fruits, fudge, milk chocolate, wine, or other weird and wonderful tastes that have nothing to do with coffee?" Yes, absolutely, if it's a very special bean that has been planted, grown, picked, processed, imported, roasted and brewed in a way that ensures that these characteristics are not lost at any stage. 

Only Speciality Coffee is High Quality?

Back when speciality coffee was just starting out, it was probably fair to say that if it wasn't speciality coffee, then it was commodity coffee, but now while there may be Speciality coffee and non Speciality coffee, this doesn't mean that all non-speciality coffee is the same as "normal" commodity coffee. 

There are many smaller producers who can't afford the associated costs of SCA grading. Many small producers join coops which share the costs among many different producers, but small coffee farmers in areas where there isn't a local coop they can join, often don't have the funds to consider trying to gain SCA approval. 

Also blends don't qualify as speciality coffee, only single origins. 

Many small batch roasters source incredible quality beans from producers who can't officially sell their beans as SCA approved speciality coffee beans, and there are many great espresso blends that can't be officially termed speciality.

Coffee farmer picking coffee cherries.

In my humble opinion, the best way to ensure that you're buying high quality coffee beans, is to buy freshly roasted coffee beans.

Small batch roasters are usually very passionate about what they do, they're not in it to turn a quick profit, they're in it for the love of it more than anything. So even if you're buying espresso blends, or single origins that haven't been graded, if you're buying beans that have been freshly roasted by a small batch roaster, it's unlikely to be "commodity" in the same sense as the mainstream coffee beans you'd pick up from a supermarket shelf.

So What Are The Best 1Kg Coffee Beans?

Best is a very subjective thing, in reality, the best 1Kg coffee beans are whatever coffee beans you enjoy the most.

But having said that, there is a big price difference, and not only between commodity beans and speciality beans, either. So are these all the same beans just available at different prices, or is there a difference? 

There really is a difference. 

At the lower end of the price point there are generic brand coffee beans selling for as little as £6-£7 per Kilo when you buy 2 Kilos, and then there are well known brands including Illy, Lavazza, Segafredo & Pelican Rouge selling their beans for around £10-£12 per kilo.

To the average every day coffee drinker, it may seem that this is commodity vs speciality, and this isn't the case at all. Most of the big well known brands are actually trading in commodity coffee. 

The main difference is that the bigger brands have spent a lot of time and money building their brands, and there's a value in a trusted brand. The big brands don't have to sell their beans at crazy low prices, and they couldn't anyway if they wanted to remain in business, due to the costs involved with building and maintaining bigger companies. 

The other difference however can be age, in that the much cheaper coffee can be quite old. 

Cartoon like graphic of an old man with a walking stick.

I'm not referring to age from roast date, you never know this with commodity coffee anyway as it doesn't come with a roasted on date, and usually you're looking at months since it was roasted, when you crack it open. 

To be fair, I don't actually think it really matters how freshly roasted that kind of coffee is, the nature of this coffee  means that it doesn't really matter all that much how long ago it was roasted, and it doesn't really matter how good a job you do of the extraction, it's all going to taste very similar.

I'm not looking down my nose at commodity coffee by saying that, in fact I think this is one of the positive things about this kind of coffee, this and the fact that it's inexpensive, but when I refer to some of the much cheaper generic coffee beans potentially being older, I'm referring to how long ago it was harvested, and how many years it's been sitting in a warehouse somewhere. 

Commodity coffee is discounted based on its age from harvesting, and there are occasionally opportunities to buy older coffee beans at a big discount, even sometimes almost free, so in some cases the very cheapest coffee on the market can be coffee that was getting on a bit before it was roasted.

There was a a bit of a fuss kicked up with this a few years ago when a WSJ article ran a story about coffee beans that had hit the market that were 9 years from harvest. Coffee at that age was reduced by $1.55 per pound, and in 2019 coffee was priced between $0.91 - $1.33 per pound, so you don't have to be particularly good at maths to work out that, this coffee would have been even better than free!

So if you're a fan of "normal" coffee beans, and you've not yet spoilt your taste buds like I have to the point that drinking that kind of coffee can often cause an involuntary backflip, I would say that the best 1Kg coffee beans would be the bigger, well known brands. 

If you've left mainstream beans in your rear view mirror, and you're looking for the best freshly roasted beans by the Kilo, then you may expect me to say that you'll find the best freshly roasted coffee beans right here :-). 

Yes, you'll find great quality freshly roasted beans by the Kg right here, but actually, you'll find mega quality freshly roasted beans by the 1Kg bag from loads of sources these days, including the hundreds of small batch roasters we now have in the UK. 

I can't say that ours are the "best", because again best is a very subjective, but I'd say since your here anyway, why not try some of our freshly roasted beans and see what you think?

Custard Cream Nicaragua

Use discount code CWNC25 for 25% off your first order.

Cranberry & Pomegranate Kenya

 

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