Promising review for their OneCups: "San Francisco Bay produces the most superior coffee on the market, and their varieties will satisfy a wide array of tastes. They are also environmentally conscientious, because their pods are 97% biodegradable (but that doesn't compromises the quality of the coffee, or the quality of the pod itself). Some reviewers have complained about beans pouring into their cup, or receiving damaged pods, but I've never had an issue like that and I've been drinking San Francisco Bay for about seven years. When I rate a product with five stars, it means I won't look anywhere else, if I need it again. I've tried dozens of different brands and different coffees over the years, and no one comes close to San Francisco Bay. Pick a flavor profile you like and you won't be let down." —Michael J. McKenzie
Also reviewed here are Black Oak’s Ethiopia Hambela Alaka (93) and Noble Coffee’s Ethiopia Bishan Fugu (93), both of which are certified USDA organic, and labeled as such on the bags. Red E Café’s Homacho Waeno Natural (93; one of two coffees on this list imported by Sustainable Harvest), is in the same category as the Big Creek and Revel coffees noted above: certified organic at the farm level, but with no certification indicated on the bags.
Shifting, original, startling in its giddy intricacy. Winey pine (think retsina wine), cocoa powder, green apple, Concord grape, ginger blossom, much more in aroma and cup. Sweetly and delicately pungent in structure. Lightly syrupy and almost effervescently buoyant in mouthfeel. The winey pine character and a floral sweetness carry persuasively into a crisp finish.
All these processes take more time and care, and therefore more labor, and therefore increase the price of the coffee. But these coffees also simply taste better, and provide a more satisfying experience. The fact that these methods tend to be organic and socially responsible is a byproduct of the care and attention to quality that these specialty coffees require.
When I moved away from a grocery store that carried Equal Exchange three or four years ago, I remember checking, and you had to order it directly from Equal Exchange, and wait for standard shipping. I guess thanks to the Whole Foods merger, now you can get this right on Amazon. I was excited to discover this, but the mislabeling is a bummer! Amazon, please fix!
Java Planet is owned and operated by a family, producing certified USDA Organic coffee which is 100% free of chemicals and pesticides. The company roasts their Columbian coffee beans in small batches and put the date right on each bag. It is Fair Trade specialty coffee with a smooth, full flavor, and as some customers noted, a heavenly aroma. It’s a popular favorite with many coffee lovers.
Processing method also appears to play a significant role in qualifying for the Top 30. On this year’s list, for example, of the 20 coffees for which processing method is clearly identified, seven (vs. six in 2017) were dry- or “natural”-processed, meaning the beans were dried inside the fruit rather than after the fruit has been removed, as is the case with wet-processed or “washed” coffees. Until the last ten years or so, dry-processing was seldom applied to high-end specialty coffees like those that appear on our Top 30 list. This showing is evidence of the continuing trend toward use of alternative processing methods as creative tools for crafting distinctive cup profiles.
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The deity-level status of a coffee roaster hailing from Kansas' snoozy capital used to take the less-informed by surprise; nowadays, it seems less unusual that an operation as world-class as this should be found in such a place. No brash upstart, this—direct trading, single origin-loving PT's has been around since the early 1990's, and is still considered one of the finest source-erers in the land, last year snapping up another roaster with a similar reputation for quality, San Diego's Bird Rock Coffee. Lately, the company has given its retail operation a modern makeover, adding more modern shops in the college town of Lawrence, as well as Kansas City, Missouri.
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