This is a subject of intense debate among caffeine junkies, but there are organic coffee drinkers who swear that they can taste the difference between natural and unnatural beans. Since organic coffee is naturally higher in antioxidants, who's to say that they're wrong? Their palette might be responding to the unique nutrients and compounds in their 100 percent arabica blends.
Kim Westerman is a licensed Q-grader, a longtime food, wine and travel writer and a certified sommelier. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, Bay Area Bites, and many other publications. She happily brings her sensory training in wine to the evaluation of coffee in Coffee Review’s Berkeley lab. She also handles communication with roasters and review logistics.
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.
Promising review for their Super Crema Espresso blend: "If you are expecting a dark and oily roast, this is NOT the espresso for you. Espresso does not need to be this black, bitter tar that some expect it to be. Lavazza Super Crema is one of my favorites, with a beautiful, brown bean that (when ground correctly) yields an amazing shot of sweet and creamy espresso topped with thick crema (with notes of mandarin orange). This is soooooooo much better than the over-roasted BS we so often find in the US." —Corey M.
The title doesn’t disappoint—this coffee has double the level of caffeine of most premier coffees. It’s hailed as The World’s Strongest Coffee, and for good reasons. It’s not just about the caffeine levels, Death Wish Organic Coffee‘s got that bold, rich, yet smooth and low-acidic taste that everybody is bound to love. Bring out the skull and crossbone bag of coffee beans in front of your friends and play chicken with the coffee maker. You’ll be up all night with the most coffee-tasting coffee this side of anywhere. These folks offer the best return policy on their specific, expertly-roasted coffee bean blend, which is also all USDA-certified organic and Kosher, as well as Fairtrade. Indulge your caffeine cravings with Death Wish.
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.
Coffee Review’s goal is to celebrate coffee roasters, farmers and mill-owners who make an extra effort to produce coffees that are not only superb in quality but also distinctive in character. In particular, we aim to honor the dedication of coffee producers large and small who, with the support of their roaster and importer partners, are crafting a range of sensory excellence and diversity that has never existed before in the history of the beverage.
On the other hand, the appearance of certain coffees on our list also suggests the value of continuity and tradition in processing. All four Kenya coffees in the Top 30 were subject to the meticulous Kenya variant on wet-processing that has been helping produce consistently great coffees in Kenya for decades. The two Sumatra coffees owe their distinction in great part to refined application of the decades-old “wet-hulling” process still largely unique to Indonesia, particularly to Sumatra. See our 2016 report Learning from Sumatras for more on wet-hulling and sensory distinction.
In the case of over half of the Top 30 coffees, distinctive tree variety appears to play an important role in generating an exceptional cup worthy of a high rating. There are stars and superstars among the hundreds of varieties of Arabica grown in the world today, and, whether we want them to or not, coffees from these distinguished varieties frequently dominate the very highest ratings at Coffee Review. They include the still rare and expensive Geisha/Gesha variety (three examples on the 2018 list), the various mainly indigenous varieties grown in Ethiopia (three on the 2018 list), the great SL28 and SL34 varieties of Kenya, and (slightly less distinctive but still likely to impress) the big-beaned varieties Maracaturra (one), Maragogipe (one) and the ancient heirloom Bourbon (four on the 2018 list).
“My wife and I have tried most of the higher-end, mail-order, and micro-roasters and finally found our go-to coffee. Really a great cup of coffee. We have always liked to freshly grind and brew our coffee, and prefer to use a French press. This coffee is not burned, bitter, or acidic. Not really a dark, dark roast. More of a medium-dark roast. Perfect. Has a slightly nutty, chocolaty, and full-body taste. For overall quality, I would give it four-and-a-half stars — but with this price point, quality, and [the fact that it] is organic, this coffee is a no-brainer.”
“Organic certification,” says Aaron Jordan of Roast House Coffee, whose Ethiopia Suke Quto scored 92, “is the bedrock of Roast House’s green coffee purchasing values. Seven years ago when the company started, we made a commitment to exclusively purchasing organically grown coffees, and one of the ways we prove that commitment is through certifications. It’s very important to the core of our business values and ethics.” So, Roast House has essentially built its business on organic certification as a fundamental value, and has drawn customers who share that priority, rather than picking and choosing coffees to market to various customer sectors. However, the Suke Quto bag doesn’t include the USDA organic seal, simply because Jordan reserves bags with the seal for his year-round offerings. (The Suke Quto is a limited reserve).
A. While instant coffee does start off as regular brewed coffee, it goes through a process – either freeze-drying or spray-drying – to remove all liquid from the beverage, leaving behind just the powdery remains. While instant coffee is convenient, it’s generally made from inferior-quality beans, and the drying process tends to leave the coffee with a bitter taste.
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
You have the option to enjoy this organic coffee from Honduras. It produces deep rich chocolaty flavor with a clean finish. This coffee impresses you with smooth milk chocolate, with tones of caramel, honey, and cocoa. The roasting is done keenly to bring out the natural flavor aspects and lovely sweetness. It’s Organic certified by CCOF so you can be sure it’s grown without the use of chemicals. The coffee is 100% Arabica, and it’s GMO-free. The pack contains 2 pounds of coffee for several servings.