Fair Trade International upholds social, economic and environmental development standards (Fairtrade International, 2015). While some of these standards are required to receive certification, some are simply encouraged. For example, they are required to pay the minimum price, offer sufficient health conditions, and cannot use child labor. On the other hand, growing coffee organically is not required, but it is encouraged and rewarded.

This brand should be called Starbucks’ “dirty little secret”. Although Starbucks prides itself on ensuring ethical and environmentally friendly practices are used in their coffee production and even offers organic varieties, their Seattle’s Best brand doesn’t hold to the same standards. It is basically Starbucks way of competing with cheap brands like Folgers and Maxwell House. They do offer a couple organic varieties.

New England Coffee was the dining hall coffee at my New England college—a bit on the nose, but a strong choice. Like Green Mountain coffee, New England Coffee locates its mythology north of Connecticut; its packaging includes a covered bridge, horse-drawn carriage, red barn, mill race, and church steeple in a landscape painted à la Grandma Moses. I hardly noticed I was drinking my pour-over cup until it was half gone, which is, unexpectedly, high praise for a cup of coffee. Like inexpensive wine, inexpensive coffee is best when its flavor is innocuous. A hint of sour coffee stomach waits in the wings, but with a hearty breakfast alongside, New England Coffee is a safe and delightful option.


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.


For the last 35 years our mission has been to find the world's finest Arabica varieties, roast them for the richest, most flavorful coffees available anywhere, at the lowest possible price, all while making the world a better place. Our coffee is grown responsibly, Fairly Traded and Grown For Good (see details about our Community Aid Programs below), we strive to improve the lives of each person we work with including the farmers, retailers, our employees, and you, our customers.
“I was never into coffee until I tried Death Wish. It makes drinking coffee an amazingly fun experience. You had me at organic, but the caffeine content is the icing on the cake or the froth on your cappuccino … The flavor, the aroma, the freshness, the caffeine content, the smoothness, and being organic all make drinking this coffee a truly fun-filled experience. I am happy to report that all five members of this household are all now hooked on Death Wish Coffee. It is absolutely superior to all other coffees! We drink it at all times of the day and night. It makes you feel alert and focused without feeling jittery or nauseous, which is amazing since I was always sensitive to caffeine, which is why I never really drank coffee. The roasting process makes this coffee absolutely wonderful … Once you try it, I guarantee you, too, will be hooked.”

In terms of flavor, arabica beans win the prize. They brew a more delicate cup of coffee with slight overtones of berry and a high level of acidity. Robustas have a lot more caffeine – nearly twice as much as arabica beans – but they also have a stronger, more bitter taste that can be a bit harsh. Still, there are high-quality robustas available, and these beans do make a good cup of espresso.
“So thrilled with this coffee. I happened upon this brand when searching for low-acidity coffee and purchased based on the positive reviews. I’m not typically a dark-roast fan; however, I haven’t been able to drink coffee in over a year due to GI issues, so I wasn’t about to be picky. I ordered and prayed this low-acid coffee would be the solution to my problems. Could I really drink coffee again without feeling like a bonfire is roasting my insides? Well, I’m pleased to report that YES! Yes, I’m able to drink coffee again — and it’s DELICIOUS! The dark roast is so smooth and not bitter at all; no funky flavor due to the low acid content. My co-workers love the taste as well. Most importantly, my belly is as unaffected as if I drank a glass of plain water. Thanks, Java Planet, for restoring my sanity and allowing me to resume my daily coffee routine I so sorely missed.”
Two roasting companies placed three coffees each on this year’s Top-30 list: Barrington Coffee Roasters (Massachusetts) and Dragonfly Coffee Roasters (Colorado). Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (California), JBC Coffee Roasters (Wisconsin), and PT’s Coffee Roasting (Kansas) each placed two. This concentration of coffees from certain roasters was definitely not by design. In fact, we did our best to reduce the number of coffees from any one roaster on the list—we would prefer to have more roasters appear on the list rather than fewer.
The Sunshine State has its share of interesting new cafes, but this extremely good roaster transcends not only its peers, but also bests the top offerings in many other states in the Southeast, and perhaps beyond. And here we are, still just talking about the coffee—the energy of Panther's cafes, which function as life hubs in a growing number of neighborhoods, from Coconut Grove to Little Haiti, is typically something approaching electric, and never to be missed. Don’t start a South Florida day without a visit to Panther.
The price is the exact average price of all the coffees we tested. The name Mississippi Grogg might throw you off, but this family owned and operated processing center is based in Iowa along the Mississippi river valley. Verena Street is 100% sustainably sourced from Rainforest Alliance certified coffee farms, is fairly traded and kosher. If you are a conscious consumer and look at where your money is being spent, we recommend checking out some other unknown brands we tested as well.
When we compared different machines, we looked at the availability of ordering discounted capsules. This usually happens when the manufacturers choose to sell the pods in larger packs. So, instead of buying a pack of 10 capsules at a cost of $.70 per unit, you can buy 30 at a cost of $.50 per unit. At the end of the day, this can make a significant difference in the overall operating cost of the machine.
In two pound bags, the coffee from Honduras is made from 100% Arabic beans and certified organic by CCOF. It is free of GMO. These are whole beans roasted to a medium dark for chocolatey and rich flavor, with low acidity. The body is described as like velvet. Many customers enjoy the full bodied flavor of this coffee and consider it to be excellent, and in one case “insanely good”.
“Is it the strongest coffee I’ve had? Probably not. Is it one of the best-tasting? Yes. The flavor transports me to some random and sinful island in Indonesia (a story for another day). Oddly, Death Wish brands its coffee as almost dangerously strong, and strong it is. However, the organic coffee maker should be shouting from the roof about the taste and quality. Yes, caffeine sells, but this is one incredibly great-tasting coffee. I would easily say second best I’ve ever had and certainly the best I’ve purchased at a store.”
Two roasting companies placed three coffees each on this year’s Top-30 list: Barrington Coffee Roasters (Massachusetts) and Dragonfly Coffee Roasters (Colorado). Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (California), JBC Coffee Roasters (Wisconsin), and PT’s Coffee Roasting (Kansas) each placed two. This concentration of coffees from certain roasters was definitely not by design. In fact, we did our best to reduce the number of coffees from any one roaster on the list—we would prefer to have more roasters appear on the list rather than fewer.
The main feature of the “FlexBrew” is the removable single-serve pack holder which allows you to choose between pre-packaged coffee pods or freshly ground coffee. While it does make a decent coffee on both settings, if you know you’re only making freshly ground coffee you’ll be happier with a single cup coffee maker that’s designed solely for that, and vice versa.
Promising review for the Original blend: "Every so often, you come across a company that builds their products for the right reasons: 1) to make money (of course), 2) to make the best possible product on the planet without taking shortcuts, proving that quality is their priority, 3) to make the world a better place by enhancing the lives of others. Most companies stop at the first reason, but Bulletproof embodies all three. Everything I have tried from Bulletproof is top notch, and some of the best possible products on the planet." —Storm
This coffee was pleasantly surprising. I usually like extra bold coffees, and they comprise the majority of my K-Cup purchases. But this coffee is a medium roast. Under normal circumstances, I probably would not have purchased it. But the store was out of my usual brand/flavor so I decided to try it. Wow! This is a great coffee! Rich flavor without any bitterness. I will happily add it to my favorites list. I will definitely purchase this again, and again and again!
Coffee nirvana! I bought this for my son who has trouble with very acidic coffee, and we both have been looking for an organic coffee that would really taste good and meet the low acid criteria. The first pot we brewed we brewed weak. Yet, it was surprisingly delicious. It had a mild vanilla after taste and while weak, (our fault not the coffee's), it was quite nice and palatable, both black and with added cream and sugar. The next pot was brewed by my husband who prefers his coffee so strong it doesn't just stand a spoon up, but actually might melt a stainless steel spoon. So, it was brewed VERY strong. Again, delicious! More robust flavor, of course, but did not taste at all overly strong so it suited both his taste and mine. You cannot make a bad ... full review
This coffee was not only organic, delicious and full bodied, it also is fairly traded. This ensures that the small growers of the coffee beans get a fair price for the coffee and are not exploited by large companies who make all of the profit. I have been a big fan of fairly traded coffee for many years now. Equal Exchange is a great product and a great concept.
After taste-testing thirteen different varieties of ground coffee widely available for purchase at a chain grocery store, the winner for a solid cup were Maxwell House. In terms of flavor and cost, it ranked highest overall, though it did lose points for not being very good to microwave. Still, at $5.83/lb, it's cost efficient enough to just make another cup of coffee.
Belfast native Michael McCrory met Lauren Crabbe behind an espresso machine in San Diego, her hometown. A move up north for school brought the pair to the relatively quiet Outer Sunset section of the city, to the opening of this café, to considerable success (and acclaim) on the roasting front, and then another café, just up the road. All of this good fortune aside, the cafes maintain the feeling of a treasured neighborhood hangout—that is, on days when lines aren't out the door.
Need further proof that great coffee can (and does) happen just about anywhere, nowadays? At least a couple of hours from the nearest big city and convenient mostly to nature—beautiful Blackwater Canyon, for example—this multi-roaster and unofficial community center anchors an array of independent businesses on an old coal town's handsome and very historic main drag.

If you want the authentic taste of excellent Colombian coffee, Melitta is a great option. They source their coffee beans from small high altitude farms in Colombia and pick only the best quality Arabica beans. The coffee has excellent aroma and flavor, thanks to the European processing employed. This elegant ground coffee provides a full-bodied brew.
In terms of flavor, arabica beans win the prize. They brew a more delicate cup of coffee with slight overtones of berry and a high level of acidity. Robustas have a lot more caffeine – nearly twice as much as arabica beans – but they also have a stronger, more bitter taste that can be a bit harsh. Still, there are high-quality robustas available, and these beans do make a good cup of espresso.

My parents drank Hazelnut Maxwell House for as long as I can remember, and used the empty metal canisters to store Ajax sponges and toolshed sundries. As a result I’ve always had a soft spot for canned coffee, and Maxwell House in particular, but of the canned coffees I tasted, it’s the best. Maxwell House is thoroughly uncomplicated, and it’s a difficult coffee to describe with much specificity. It is a perfectly reasonable (and quite cheap) starter coffee—that is, a coffee to start the day with—and one that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for affordability. It turns a bit as it cools, taking on a bitter aftertaste, but a quick drinker with a small mug should get by OK. A single caveat: Don’t microwave Maxwell House and expect to enjoy what comes out; it tastes unmistakably like airplane coffee, which in the grand hierarchy of complimentary coffee ranks just below single-serving hotel room coffee. For the price, even a coffee Scrooge like me would say you ought to just make a new pot. 
As more and more coffee companies cave to the temptation to adulterate with soy beans sprayed with chemical flavors and questionable trade practices, Equal Exchange may be the last coffee company standing to offer organic whole beans sourced from small producer coops, and roasted at a worker owned facility stateside. The company maintains its commitment to fair trade and supports many worthy causes. I recently had cause to engage in a lengthy discussion with reps at Equal Exchange and consider their inteigrity (and really great tasting coffee!) unsurpassed.
The only subscription service that will guarantee all your coffee comes from local roasters out of the Pacific Northwest, Bean Box ships solely from Seattle roasters. Bean Box will deliver four different coffees to your door from Seattle roasters each month. While not the most flexible of subscriptions out there, if you love Seattle coffee, this is the perfect coffee subscription to have. 

The second best organic decaf coffee on our list is Caza Trail Coffee. The dark imperial flavors inside actually come from a blend of coffees from Indonesia and Latin America. It has moderate acidity and a well-rounded finish. Caza Trail offers both classic and flavored coffee. Therefore, you can either have a traditional pick me up or take a break and reward yourself with a spiced coffee.

One of the best things about this product is the fact that it went through the Techno Roasting process. The latter is an FDA-approved procedure, which has the benefit of eliminating the acid in the coffee that causes heartburn. This also preserves the qualities of the coffee, such as the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. To add, it also removes the bitterness of the coffee while retaining its rich body and flavor. This means that you can enjoy unadulterated coffee with the purest flavor and aroma.
The first time I conducted my coffee taste test, I left Peet's out, and commenters were outraged. It turns out, they were right: this is a solid supermarket coffee contender, especially for people who might tend toward a darker roast. Social Media Manager Andrew Spena and I particularly liked this coffee. "I know it's not true, but I feel like this has a neutral pH balance," said Andrew. "A little nuttiness comes through once it's cooled a bit. I could see myself drinking too much of this on accident." If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is. The nuttiness and round body of this coffee set it apart. It had a chocolatey richness and some nice toasty notes. While the Thrive coffee is well-suited to those who like a lighter, fruitier roast, Peet's is perfect for people who like a rounder, nuttier, creamier, toastier flavor profile in their coffee.

The term Organic indicates that no chemicals were used in the cultivation of the coffee. In order to proclaim that a coffee is Certified Organic, a recognized third party certifier must document the cultivation of the coffee for three years running and issue an Organic Certificate. Without the certification, the term Organic carries little weight, as there is no way to prove the producer's claim. After passing the stringent, expensive tests conducted by a certifier, the symbol of that organization can (and will) be printed prominently on the coffee's packaging. Be sure to look for this symbol when shopping.
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