Equal Exchange is another strong boost of caffeine that is lesser than the Deathwish but stronger for many people. In addition to that, the brand also engages in paying the cultivators a fair amount for the quality of their yield. On the contrary, they do not earn the Fair-Trade certification. However, this company is under the ownership of the worker based group that engages in coffee producing.


With all of that indoor weather, and one of the country's top coffee importers right in town, the depth and breadth of Twin Cities café culture will come as no surprise, but in a town where so many spots—right on up to the best ones—are either too stiff or too much into the business of bells and whistles, this recent entry from two talents in their early twenties, a small-batch roasting operation stripped down to the essentials, is an enthusiastic vote for simplicity, not to mention good customer service, and it feels like a winner.

Their unique business model is one of the main advantages of Equal Exchange. They are one of the most ethical and environment-friendly brands around. They source high-quality arabica beans almost exclusively from small organic farmers who practice sustainable farming methods. As for the coffee, it is a smooth blend of medium and dark roasts. The final effect is a very mellow, not too strong or harsh coffee with a rich feel.


Dark roasts are easily identified with their rich dark brown or black color. Dark roast beans will have noticeable oil on the surface and taste more bitter, smoky or even burnt. As a coffee roast gets darker, it loses the origin flavors and takes on the flavor mainly from the roasting process. These beans are largest of the three, reaching an internal temperature of 464°F – 482°F, just past the 2nd crack.

According to the definition of organic farming, farming utilizes manual, mechanized, and cultural methods. Additionally, the farming methods shall neither comprise of synthetic chemical fertilizer nor the synthetic pesticides. In fact, the authority prohibits the use of GMOs or any other growth promoters/enhancers. Apart from that, the cultivators have to take care of the yield by keeping away/eliminating the soil erosion, ecological unbalance, unhealthy water irrigation, or the sewage sludge.
This k-cup sampler pack was part of a Black Friday bundle with the purchase of a Keurig coffee maker at an incredible price. Since I bought the Keurig for the work place, I went through the variety of k-cups (2 pods of each variety) kept what were my favorites and took the rest to work. It actually was one the the best varieties in an assortment pack I have seen. I like the dark roasts and this assortment had a nice blend of dark, medium and light/breakfast blends. Was very impressed.
We also asked tasters to guess the brew type (light, medium or dark) and include any flavor notes before anonymously leaving their feedback to later analyze. We have a very diverse group of coffee drinkers, but most tend to drink stronger and bolder coffee. When analyzing the results, we found that the taste testers overwhelmingly liked the stronger tasting light and medium roasts, which matched their pre-testing preferences.
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The organic coffee co. ground brand is purely organic. This is because they offer one hundred percent certified organic coffee beans, organic flavored coffees, and organic decaf coffee. Their coffee tastes good since they directly go to the source to purchase their coffee from, and they grow their own organic coffee at their own unique farms. They always stand for the premium, fair, sustainable, and direct trade coffee at prices customers love. They also give quality organic coffee to the market.
The Ethiopia Amaro Gayo Natural roasted by Ben’s Beans (92) happens to be certified organic, but co-owner Glen Lundstrom is willing to purchase quality coffees that are farmed organically but do not have certification if his trusted importers recommend a particular coffee. He says, “We are looking for coffees that are grown and processed free of any sort of chemical intervention. We specialize in certified organic coffees because this provides our customers with a level of confidence that the coffees are grown and processed using healthy and sustainable practices.  However, we also realize that, because many of these coffees come from smaller farms, organic certification is not always an economically viable option, even though [the farmers] may grow and produce the coffees using the same practices as a certified farm.  That is why we rely heavily on our import partners to provide us with background information on the farms and processors of any coffee we purchase.”
Certified organic coffees must be propagated, grown, processed, transported, stored, and roasted without contact with synthetic chemicals—particularly without contact with pesticides and herbicides. The certification process (carried out by a variety of organizations operating inside a common framework) is lengthy, thorough, rather expensive, but apparently reliable and free of abuse. The use of the term organic is built into the law in many countries, including the U.S.
The most exciting thing here is the fact that the beans are air roasted. Not many coffee brands do this because the process is complicated and takes quite a while. As a matter of fact, less than 1% of all coffee is roasted this way. However, for Kona, it provided unique taste as well as ease of use in different type of coffee makers, French press coffee makers, and cold brew machines.

Auto brew features are cool because they allow you to set the exact time you would like to have your brew ready. It is another option that we like, but would not consider seriously enough as a deciding factor. This is not a standard feature on low to mid-range coffee machines, which means that you need to be ready to drop $200 or more if you would like to have it.


The Organic Coffee Co. produces this light and flavorful blend of the south and central American beans. The company comes directly from the source, where it is grown without herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. It is Fair Trade and responsibly grown, plus USDA certified as organic. The coffee is grown only on shade grown, bio-diverse farms in Panama. The company also has a community aid program which has worked to restore thousands of rainforest acres.

“Let me start off by saying, I FREAKING LOVE COFFEE! And I love trying any new beans I can get my hands on. Usually, I don’t really care for the Colombian beans. They’re among my least favorite. However, these were really darn good. A rich and bold roast-y flavor with dark-chocolate notes. Dark chocolate happens to be another of my vices, and I’ve always liked a good bean that pairs well with it. Upon opening the bag, the smell of the beans permeated our household, and both my wife and I kept saying, ‘I can’t wait to try that coffee!’ … If you like dark roasts that have a bit of a dark-chocolaty flavor, give this a try. I already bought a second bag, and now I really want to try some of Stone Street’s other coffee.”
Also try As you might expect in a city that’s been at it for some time now, coffee is for everyone in Chicago, not just the cool kids. Back of the Yards Coffeehouse, for example, is a true oasis in a tough neighborhood, while down in impoverished Englewood, the non-profit Kusanya Café & Roastery has been holding down the fort since 2013. Up on the North Side, the still-scarred (but fast-gentrifying) Uptown neighborhood has Everybody's Coffee, a passion project from a group of fun-loving coffee snobs, living in a local commune. (Author disclosure: These same coffee snobs got me addicted to the stuff, back in the mid-'90's.)
Something that kept coming up in our research was “conscious consumerism,” or awareness of the impact your coffee makes on the community, environment and overall quality of life of those who harvest and grow it. Campaigns for products free from animal testing, bee friendly pesticides, compostable packaging and sustainable farming are all part of conscious consumerism.

On the other side of the caffeinated spectrum, the Canadian brand, Kicking Horse Coffee has been creating organic, Fair Trade coffee for several decades now. Proud of their place of business, they roast these premium beans to perfection, three-thousand feet above sea level, near the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River. Whether it’s the fresh air of the Rocky Mountains or the altitude, something about their process delivers incredible flavors.

On the flip side, if you suffer from headaches, stomachaches or toothaches after drinking your morning cup of joe, you might want to switch to a low-acid coffee. It's much easier on your body, and it won't damage your teeth enamel or irritate your stomach lining. Just remember that the pH scale goes backwards, so lower pH levels mean higher amounts of acid. This means that a low-acid coffee would actually have a higher pH level than other brands.
Promising review for the Medium Roast Original blend: "After drinking one cup of this, I became Canadian, eh. It gave me the confidence to finally try ice skating; before I knew it, I was stopping on a dime and blasting snow chips at tiny children. If you can't take the ice, get out of the rink. Also, I was a lot nicer to people. Pretty sure this is a drug that's making all Canadians pleasant and good at ice sports. My optimum pot is 10 cups of water and seven scoops of this magic stuff." —Amazon Customer
Next on our list is Jungle Costa Rican Coffee. This brand of coffee blend is made from pure Arabica beans. It is made and distributed by its namesake company, which is located in Doral, Florida. The beans are mainly sourced from local growers in Costa Rica. The beans are grown in fertile volcanic soil which gives the beans a light and mild acidic taste. Each batch of beans are roasted in the right temperature and in the right amount of time and are packed in heat-sealed high barrier stand-up foil bags.
As for authoritative seals, Equal Exchange Organic Coffee cuts no corners. Their coffee is USDA Organic certified. Also they are of course Fair Trade certified because that it literally what they have built their company on. They are the most Fair Trade coffee company that we have featured here.  Beyond that, they also have Arabica coffee beans, however there is no seal to cover that claim. But in their ingredients, they do have Arabica listed. Their website says that most of their coffee is shade grown. And just by looking at the company's practices it is hard to doubt that claim. Overall, it does not look like they have any claims that do not have something to back them up. 
Counter Culture was originally founded in 1995 and was one of the early leaders in the specialty coffee movement. Today, they focus on sustainability and quality and offer several different roasts that you can choose from. They have several different subscription plans available, but their most popular is the single-origin subscription, which gets you two 12 oz. bags of coffee with each shipment. With this coffee subscription you can have your coffee delivered to your door every one, two, three or four weeks.
Regardless, Kicking Horse makes sure to bring properly roasted beans to whomever is searching for them. What you’ll find with their signature blend, Kick Ass, is mainly Arabica beans sourced from top growers in South America and Indonesia, and roasted to a light perfection. Lighter on the spectrum than others on this list, if you’ve been disappointed at the darkness on the list thus far, search no further.

I have searched for a K-cup coffee that has a strong bold taste. The best that I have found is Caribou Obsidian. This comes close. Full flavor with no bitterness. Even using the K-cup a second time to make a small cup gives more flavor than several other brands do on the first run through. I will definitely buy again. This is the same review that I gave for Italian dark Roast. Why? They are both close seconds to Obsidian.
Do you want to know what passion tastes like? How about passion mixed with coffee? Caffe Appassionato can answer that for you in a single cup of organic decaf coffee. This lively blend comes to you straight from South and Central America and has been shade grown. This allows its producers to protect all the migratory bird populations of the area at the same time as growing their delicious beans.
In general, arabica beans make the best cup of coffee. They are more expensive, however, as the Coffea arabica plant is hard to grow and susceptible to pests and disease. What’s more, it needs several years to mature before it will produce cherries. Most arabica beans are grown in South America, particularly Brazil and Columbia, but Africa also produces crops of these valuable beans.
No study we have seen links prepared or brewed coffee, including espresso, with significant levels of contaminants. Typical is a 2008 Australian study which meticulously tested a wide range of coffee beverages purchased randomly in the Australian food service market and found that “there were no detectable levels in any of the coffee [beverages] sampled. This included all 98 pesticide residues, 18 PAHs, beryllium, mercury and ochratoxin A.” The key findings summary concluded that “The overall levels of chemical contaminants identified in this survey are generally considered to be low and are consistent with those reported in other comparable surveys both in Australia and overseas.”
In many ways, coffee is like wine. Depending on the area of origin, the degree of roast and grind levels, the taste of a particular coffee can vary drastically. Plus there is also the added layer of mixing different coffee beans to create unique blends. So, finding the best ground coffee brand for you depends entirely on your tastes and preferences. This brings us to the first section of our guide:
Cafe Don Pablo has been working tirelessly for some time now, to deliver a bold and natural coffee experience that lends itself to the lands it was created in. Providing low acidity and deep, rich flavor of milk chocolate with extraordinary notes of cocoa, caramel, and honey, Don Pablo Subtle Earth K-Cups are made of high quality, 100% Arabica coffee. Produced with no artificial substances, and grown at a high altitude where pests won’t disturb the crop, these K-Cups are certified organic by the CCOF.
Newman's Own Organics Extra Bold K-Cups are by far the best-tasting and highest quality K-Cups available. I either use these or the refillable My K-Cup with locally sourced coffees. For the price and the speed of brewing, it's hard to beat the strength and flavor of Newman's Own. Take it from a coffee-snob who owns more than half a dozen coffee brewers (pour-over, espresso machine, moka pot, high-end drip brewer, etc.) these are the best trade-off of a fast cup of coffee that still tastes great. Also: contrary to popular belief, K-Cups are completely recyclable. They consist of plastic, aluminium and paper and take minimal effort if you are already accustomed to recycling.
I try to eat & drink all-organic whenever possible, including my coffee, in order to avoid ingesting toxins. Certified organic coffee (in this case, certified by QAI--Quality Assurance Intl.) is grown & processed w/o pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, & other potentially harmful chemicals. So, Newman's Own 'Organics' Coffee is my daily 'go-to' coffee. I like the flavor of this 'Newman's Special Blend Medium Roast - Extra Bold' organic Arabica coffee. It's smooth, rich, hearty, & full-bodied, not bitter & not too acidic. It produces a pleasing aroma every morning from my Keurig B70 Platinum coffeemaker. I don't use any sweeteners, but I do stir in some Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Crème. Mmmm! You do sacrifice some freshness & flavor for the convenience of K-Cups vs. grinding your own beans. But the extra time & mess of coffee grinding are luxuries I can't afford in the rush of weekday mornings. One negative, & the reason for just 4 stars instead of 5: I do find that I sometimes get a stale box of K-Cups, even when the future 'best buy' date on the bottom of the 18-pod box is up to 20 months away, as was the case just last month w/a carton stamped w/an April 2019 'best buy' date. The distributor is Keurig Green Mountain. One wonders just how this coffee is initially stored, then transported, & then finally stored again after it arrives at Best Buy's facilities. For my part, I always keep the K-Cups stored in a cool, dry place, as recommended.
The next step in the quest for a quality cup of coffee is roasting. The roasting process heats up the beans at temperatures of 230 degrees Celsius; neutralizing the extreme unpleasant flavor profiles of the bean. The newly roasted bean offers nutty, smoky, or spicy flavors. The length of time that the bean is roasted determines the flavor profile and caffeine content. Beans roasted longer have a shiny black appearance and they boast a bitter and bold taste. Also, they are noted by an oily feel. Light roasted beans, which are roasted for a shorter length of time, tend to be sweeter, smoother, and even floral in flavor. If you prefer a lighter smooth taste, you will defer from bolder, darker roasts of equal of even better quality.
Coffee grown in the sun in fertilized fields produces more seeds (coffee beans) more quickly than coffee grown in the shade, but coffee grown in the shade produces a higher quality coffee with a better flavor. Growing coffee in the sun not only requires the use of fertilizers, but has led to wide-scale deforestation and habitat loss for wildlife species. Coffee grown in its traditional forested setting creates valuable habitat for many bird species. 
A. “Fair Trade Certified” means the farmers were paid a fair wage, no forced or child labor was involved in the growing or picking of the beans, the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals was limited, and the coffee plantation practiced sustainable farming methods. You’ll find many brands of coffee certified as Fair Trade, particularly specialty brands. The Fair Trade Certified program is an international program run by TransFair USA.
Conventional coffee is one of the more treated crops, thus it’s important for coffee drinkers to consider what goes into their beverage. Pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides all make up some components of a coffee farmers tools. However, organic coffee is slightly different as the labeling means that the coffee bean was grown with human consumption concerns in mind.

Produced by Equal Exchange, this coffee is a blend of French Roasted and Full City coffees. The content is gourmet Arabica beans. The beans are fairly traded in Latin American from small farmer cooperatives. The resulting coffee is said to have flavors of chocolate brownie, toffee, malt, and caramel corn. It is a deep and rich blend which customers enjoy because it is not bitter, has a wonderful aroma, and is fresh when it arrives.
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There is no beating around the bush with this brand. When you buy Death Wish, you know exactly what you are getting: a higher dose of caffeine than your body should need, like ever. There is a market for robust coffee out there, and these guys are there to cater to those caffeine-heads. The brand has all the right certifications, including FairTrade. And despite using robusta beans, they have managed to keep the taste at least tolerable, which is quite an achievement.
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