Have you ever been standing in front of the coffee aisle at Trader Joe’s, absolutely perplexed by all the different choices, all with those fancy names: Organic Sumatra Coffee, Fair Trade Shade Grown Ethiopian Blend, etc.? If so, you’re not alone. What of these will go to the trash as soon as you open it, and what will serve you well for those early mornings? No worries, we got you!
We’ve tested 17 products (yeah, it was harsh) and made a list of the 8 best Trader Joe’s coffees. We made sure to include ground espresso coffee blends and whole bean options, coffee with different acidity levels, dark roast and medium roast coffee, those with delicate notes of vanilla flavor oil and nutmeg hints. The Trader Joe's Shade Grown Ethiopian Coffee took our Editor’s Choice nomination. These are made of Arabica beans that are of sweeter, softer taste, with tones of sugar, fruit, and berries than strong, harsh Robusta with a grain-like overtone. They have a sturdy package design with a good, tight seal to keep your beans fresh and not stale.
This shade-grown coffee blend made of Ethiopian beans is the best Trader Joe medium roast coffee, in our opinion. And since medium roast is usually the ideal combination of bold and sweet flavors, we put it at the top of our list as well. For people who like balanced roasts and floral hints, this could be the cup of coffee you treat yourself to when you need a pick-me-up.
To be sure, this coffee has a sophisticated flavor profile that makes it a bit too rich for when you simply want a big shot of caffeine. It’s better suited for those who pause and enjoy certain moments in life, preferably in a posh place because this coffee is expensive! To be fair (and this coffee is fair trade), this coffee comes from one of the most acclaimed places for coffee and is shade-grown, which means 100% organic.
This coffee couldn’t be more appropriately named. Trader Joe’s Wake Up blend hits like a wet slap on the face, the kind that drives out sleep with the first three sips. Luckily, it is also very smooth and flavorful, not like the liquid abomination served in styrofoam cups in every auto dealership ever.
If you enjoy good coffee and have friends who enjoy good coffee, you can enjoy the Wake Up blend together. Alternatively, you can have this in your office to keep everyone alert, even though we may not guarantee the “friendly part.”
If average was a coffee, this would be it. Trader Joe’s organic fair trade Breakfast Blend is exactly what you expect your morning coffee at home to taste like, except with a bit more complexity in flavor and a surprisingly mellow aftertaste.
Being exactly average, the Breakfast Blend should be perfect for the average person. It is a medium roast, but it does have a more throaty flavor with genuine caramel and fruity undertones. For those who like a pot of instantly good coffee, this makes a great option for pour-over coffee at any time of the day or night.
The Trader Joe’s Colombia Supremo is one of Trader Joe’s most preferred coffee selection. It goes way back, but its packaging got a makeover recently. The label on the packaging is super-attractive as it is brightly colored and adorned with tropical flowers, toucans, and tree frogs.
The Colombia Supremo is a medium roast, thus can appeal to virtually all kinds of coffee drinkers. Compared to many other Colombian beans, Colombia Supremo’s beans are larger and more flavorful. You will enjoy its cocoa background flavor and smokiness. Moreover, the coffee is a bit on the light side of the medium roast spectrum. This means it is a tasty black but you may want to brew it a little stronger if you want it to be dark enough for using with plenty of creamer.
What’s more, Colombia Supremo is competitively priced and offers excellent value for money for the amount you get. If you love to make your coffee in different ways or you make coffee for several people with different tastes, the Colombia Supremo is your prime choice because of its versatility.
Other features: USDA Organic
As the name suggests, this espresso blend sources beans from five different countries. The exact countries can vary, but the blend aims to combine the unique flavors and characteristics of beans from different regions to create a harmonious and rich espresso. The beans used in this blend are both organic and Fair Trade certified. This means that they are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, and the farmers who produce them are paid a fair wage and work under ethical conditions.
The Joe Medium is a true medium roast, with no hints or charring or overly bitter aftertaste. The only word for the Joe Medium coffee is “decent.”
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys instant coffee, this is a treat. If you are accustomed to grinding your own Rwandan Isimbi or Kenyan AA, you will find it dark and uncharacteristic. For us average folks who take pleasure in simple, affordable coffee, it is just right.
Joe’s Dark coffee blend is a generic coffee blend roasted and blended by Trader Joe. It is one of the bottom-barrel choices, but that’s what makes it affordable and popular. This coffee is a hit with some people, but many of our colleagues thought it was appalling. That could be due to the after-effects of drinking so much good coffee previously.
Anybody who enjoys dark coffee and thinks that subtle flavors are for sissies will feel right at home with this coffee. It is especially generous with its dark tones, but it is exactly the kind of coffee broke students and cheap employers stock up on by the canister. For those who prefer a bold, earthy coffee, this is likely the best Trader Joe’s coffee for French press.
We normally wouldn’t give an instant coffee the time of day on an illustrious list like this one, but Trader Joe’s Instant Coffee Packets are worth mentioning. These packets are designed for those who want a quick and easy cup of coffee without the need for brewing. Each packet contains instant coffee along with creamer and sugar, making it a complete all-in-one solution for a cup of coffee.
It’s definitely not as bold and intense as any of the other options listed here; you might not feel the coffee flavor whatsoever if you’re used to strong cappuccino. It’s, however, a really decent instant coffee option, especially for those on the go.
In many cases, Trader Joe’s is the place you go to when you don’t want to have to deal with a dozen possible choices. Coffee is not one of these things, so you really have to know what you are looking for before you go shopping.
Why go to Trader Joe’s for coffee in the first place? While the chain has its share of good and bad coffee, most of it is actually very good. It has some of the most acclaimed small-lot coffees around, but these tend to come and go. However, Trader Joe’s has a robust department that makes in-house brands, including coffee.
Many of these coffee blends are actually really good, besides being affordable. If you don’t buy your coffee from Trader Joe’s for the quality, do it for the experience.
Buying your coffee from Trader Joe’s is very similar to buying from any other place. You want to make sure you get the right roast, type of beans, blend, etc.
You could have whole beans coffee like the most products on our list, pre-ground coffee, instant coffee, coffee concentrate, among others. Trader Joe’s has a wide variety of all these, so knowing what you want will help to narrow the pool significantly.
We recommend that you get whole-bean coffee whenever you can. That way, you can preserve its freshness and flavor for much longer. The best coffees at Trader Joe’s like Shade Grown Ethiopian Coffee, Trader Joe’s Dark Coffee and many more are available as whole beans that you can grind at home.
The type of roast really comes down to a matter of personal preference.
Again, the taste profile you choose is down to personal preference. You can have coffee with bright floral accents, coffee with warm nutty flavors, all the way to straight classic coffee. Our only recommendation here is: be adventurous and don’t be afraid to try new Trader Joe’s coffee blends. If vanilla, chocolate or nutmeg flavored beans sound too intimidating – start with simply adding pumpkin spice or any syrups you fancy to your regular coffee, to decide which flavor combinations are ideal for your taste buds.
For many people, the type of coffee you can actually buy is limited by the type of brewing you can do. Trader Joe’s coffee is usually not limited to one brewing method, though. The only thing you might keep in mind is the coffee coarseness if you choose ground coffee:
That’s why we recommend going for beans: this allows you grind them to the perfect fineness depending on the brewing method you prefer.
For the sake of your health, always insist on organic coffee. This is coffee that is grown with no synthetic chemicals and fertilizers, which means the farmers have to adopt natural means of pest control and fertilization.
Ethiopian Shade-Grown Coffee is one of the best examples of this, but plenty of other premium coffee is certified organic as well.
Some regions are well known for the high quality of their coffee. Ethiopia, Kenya, Costa Rica, Colombia, and countries in the Arabian Peninsula are well respected in this regard. Single origin coffee comes from one specific location, be it a country, region, or farm. It offers a distinct flavor profile that reflects its specific source, allowing drinkers to taste the nuances of its origin. This specificity often means a higher price and variability in taste based on seasonal harvests. On the other hand, blends combine beans from multiple regions. They’re crafted to provide a balanced and consistent flavor, often at a more affordable price. The choice between the two depends on whether you value unique regional flavors or seek a consistent taste crafted from multiple sources.
In addition to organic certification, it is important for many coffee aficionados to only purchase Fair Trade organic coffee. This means that is has been produced and sourced responsibly, and that all workers and farmers along the value are adequately compensated and protected.
Fair-Trade certified coffee should be traceable all the way to the source, even though many Trader Joe’s blends are opaque on details.
You can go for decaffeinated coffee if that’s your thing, and Trader Joe’s has a very good selection of this. For conventional coffee, though, caffeine quantity will vary.
Trader Joe’s coffee is quite pricey, especially the premium types. Most of the packs will indicate how heavy the weight of coffee beans or ground is, so you can measure by weight and determine how many cups you can get out of the pack.
Trader Joe’s is one of the best places you can reliably buy premium coffee, whether online or in-store. Our own review process took us through tens of different types of coffee, ending up with this fine selection.
Our Editor’s Choice, Trader Joe’s Shade Grown Ethiopian coffee, took the cake for its all-around delicious flavor, smoothness, and quality of beans. Our Best Value Breakfast Blend is only a little lower on the ratings but gives the best pop for your dollar.
The Trader Joe’s Colombia Supremo was a special one in every way, but there are other premium coffee brands you can find as well. Even after all this exhaustive review, our only advice is: be adventurous and try new things. You will be surprised at the quality of coffee to be found at Trader Joe’s.