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.
We couldn’t have a cheap coffee article without mentioning McCafe coffee! Rounding the top three, McCafe medium roast scored well among known coffee brands, but ranked seventh in our overall tasting list. Homebrewing this cup of coffee will only set you back $.50 per ounce, very reasonable and below average in cost. Our testers were split if this was either a medium or dark coffee, but either way it ranked well on quality. Our tasters also liked the balanced nature of this brew and included comments such as “bitter, but smooth” and “acidic, but fruity.”

Described by taste-testers as "nutty, earthy, smooth, and bold," these Sumatra Dark Roast pods from Starbucks are so bold in flavor that some reviewers claim they can actually be brewed twice to cut back on waste. Herbal and earthy, this single-origin coffee blend is not to be missed. These coffee pods are compatible with Keurig single-serve coffee machines.
Featuring 100% Arabica Beans for high quality taste, and having USDA Organic credentials, First Colony Coffee is packed in 24 ounce bags of dark roasted beans. Many customers enjoyed the rich dark flavor they found in this rainforest blend. A few experts felt that their cup was average in taste. Some recommended cold brewing the beans, while others recommended grinding the beans at the last minute before brewing to enhance the flavor, using double the amount recommended per every six- ounce cup of coffee. Most appreciated that the coffee is advertised as Fair Trade.
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.
Many roasters queried us to ask if they could submit coffees they felt confident were farmed without use of synthetic inputs because of their familiarity with the producers. Nevertheless, for this report, we concluded that we needed to stick to reviewing coffees that consumers could be assured were produced under organic conditions using organic protocols. We went so far as to check the organic documentation at the farm level provided by importers for all the coffees we review here.

Our trusty testers rated this coffee a 7.55 out of 10 on our overall testing scale. In the aroma category the coffee scored a 7.60 and received the most 10’s out of any coffee we tested. Those who like strong black coffee rated the aroma low with the thought it was going to be “fruity” or “weak,” but were pleasantly surprised with the taste. The coffee finish rated highly as well at 7.80 out of 10. Tasters specifically noted the caramel finish. Most guessed incorrectly that this was a Medium coffee roast.

Nescafe is a huge multinational brand of coffee owned by Nestle. We commend Nescafe partnering with for the Rainforest Alliance, the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) to be sure they are following internationally recognized sustainability standards but they do not offer organic certified coffees. Therefore, their coffee’s may contain chemicals and mold. They only offer instant coffees, ground coffee, or pods so again, freshness is a concern.
Africa and Indonesia grow the world’s supply of robusta beans. These harsher and more caffeinated coffee beans cost less than arabica beans, as the Coffea canephora plant is hardier than the arabica bush and produces far more cherries at a younger age. Supermarket brands, instant coffee, and inexpensive coffee is almost always ground from this type of bean.
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.
Our research was then directed towards the price point and determining what classifies as a “cheap” cup of coffee. If you are heading to Starbucks to grab a grande cup of regular coffee, it will put you back $2.10. McDonald’s premium roast coffee will cost $1.29. Dunkin’ Donuts medium coffee is $1.89. Frappuccinos, lattes and mochas will double your coffee cost.
Hey I love organic coffee and drink 2-3 cups each morning. I was excited to try this particular whole beans blend and I grind all my beans and make it fresh each day but I was very disappointed with these beans. I knew it was coffee but there was no taste of anything actually to allow me to enjoy it as fresh cup of coffee. Very bland and no chocolate after note as mentioned on this sight which was the reason for ordering these for the chocolate after note. I love coffees that gives me a slight chocolaty note after each sip but nothing with these beans. It was almost like a decaf or spunk free coffee. I won't order these again and I always do my best to order the equal exchange goods.
This is my favorite coffee! It's better than coffee I get at local coffee shops that sells for 20 dollars a pound. It's not too strong or too weak. I like to add milk, but this coffee is good black as well. I've tried a couple other Equal Exchange flavors, and I've enjoyed all of them, but Love Buzz is the one I keep returning to. I had originally tried it at a food co-op, and I just got a small amount to try, but as soon as I finished it I had to buy a whole bag of it. It's great that it's also fair traded, meaning people are paid fairly for the work that went into making this coffee.

Hey I love organic coffee and drink 2-3 cups each morning. I was excited to try this particular whole beans blend and I grind all my beans and make it fresh each day but I was very disappointed with these beans. I knew it was coffee but there was no taste of anything actually to allow me to enjoy it as fresh cup of coffee. Very bland and no chocolate after note as mentioned on this sight which was the reason for ordering these for the chocolate after note. I love coffees that gives me a slight chocolaty note after each sip but nothing with these beans. It was almost like a decaf or spunk free coffee. I won't order these again and I always do my best to order the equal exchange goods.
“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.”

Colombian coffee has earned a global reputation because of its well-balanced flavor that is sure to tickle your taste buds. It has an exquisite flavor that comes from 100% Arabica beans. To add, the fact that it is organic, like the others mentioned in this post, will provide an assurance that it comes with a clean flavor. The beans have been hand-picked by experts and were sun-dried to provide the exquisite flavor that you will surely like.
The main benefit of organically grown coffee is that, because it is not subjected to commercial fertilizer or insecticide, its beans would be free of chemical residue. For this reason, some people claim that Organic Coffee has a fuller, richer flavor than non-organically grown coffee. Aside from the taste of the coffee, growing coffee using Organic farming methods benefits the environment and the health of the consumer and the farmer. The production of Organic Coffee uses no chemical fertilizers to feed the plants and no chemical pesticides to keep insects at bay. Pesticides and other non-organic farming chemicals accumulate in human body fat, causing damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. While Organic Coffee may cost more, most would say the benefits outweigh the added cost.
Café Altura is a regular roast organic decaf coffee that will thrill your senses without you worrying one single second about caffeine. It’s both organic and Kosher. You can drink it any time of the day you choose and, more importantly, it’s so good that you can enjoy it both hot and cold. It also has a very low acidic level, which will do wonders for your gastro-intestinal system.
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”.
The organic rainforest blend coming in on swift winds from San Francisco Bay Coffee represents a tasteful mixture of medium roasted Arabica coffee beans. The lush taste here is thanks to enriched citrus notes. This is a certified organic coffee produced in Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico, and Indonesia. Made from carefully selected beans and sealed fresh in K-cups, to provide the exclusive quality taste.

I was pretty disappointed in this local coffee spot, unfortunately. I walked in and the staff seemed in disarray. I waited 15 minutes for a coffee, watching other people who ordered after me get their drinks filled. They had forgotten my order as it turned out, and when I asked about it, they were not too friendly in understanding what happened. After I finally pushed about needing to go, they finally made my drink, but I only had a couple minutes to finish it. Needless to say, I wasn't happy with their service at all. And my coffee was nothing impressive. Not worth the price in my opinion.


When Four Barrel veterans Tim & Elisha Griffin opted out of San Francisco, they landed in Fargo, where their small shop (handed over from a previous owner) quickly rose through the ranks in a city already mindful of the benefits of a solid cup of coffee. Right now, they're working with Heart, out of Portland, but rumor has it they'll be roasting their own soon, not to mention moving to a larger location in Fargo's happening downtown.
Yoo-hoo. Our aprons vendor, @ziyada_bemore, is in town from Patna, India, and they’re popping up at the coffee bar tomorrow, Saturday, March 10, from 11a-3p. Come check out all their handmade goods, and support a great cause — cup of coffee in hand. Ziyada creates opportunity and well-paying jobs for women in the impoverished Indian state of Bihar. *** Stop by their pop-up for a belated #internationalwomensday celebration. 📷: @jrwade_photo
Wouldn't it be amazing if a coffee actually boosted your metabolism? Fit brew incorporates several metabolism-boosting ingredients into their coffee, blending organic coffee with extracts of green tea, guarana, and inositol to provide antioxidants and boost energy and focus. Fit Brew also has blends of vitamin-infused coffee to support calmness, clarity, flexibility, immunity, and energy.
Nevertheless, pesticides and herbicides are widely used, sometimes abused, in the coffee fields of the world. Many consumers seek organically grown coffees out of concern for the health of the earth itself and those who live on it. According to a report from Technavio Research, the Compound Annual Growth Rated (CAGR) for organic coffee is expected to increase by 13% between now and 2021. This research attributes this projected growth, in part, to millennials, who, as a demographic, are said to be concerned with the environment and a healthy lifestyle, and to have a willingness to spend money for specialty or niche products like organic coffee. So it appears that, while the driving force behind the demand for organic coffee may be changing from health concerns to environmental concerns, the demand itself is on the rise. According to a World of Organic Agriculture 2016 report quoted by ecologist Julie Craves, coffee is the world’s largest single organic crop.
This is similar to the coffee that has been mentioned above, but the main difference is that it is a darker roast. Because of this, the flavor tends to be more pronounced. Still, you can expect that there is no extreme bitterness. It should also be noted that it has up to seven times more antioxidants compared to what you can find in green tea. It has been through a unique roasting process that has been developed exclusively by the manufacturer to reduce its bitterness by as much as 70%.
Another thing worth mentioning ‘while concluding’ this article is the (way of storing) coffee beans, the most appropriate and best way of storing coffee beans is to keep them in an air tight jar or seal your packet after using the required amount of coffee beans; these are probably the best way to store coffee beans, it’ll help you in storing coffee beans for a “longer period of time”.
Now that we have a better understanding of how complex coffee is, we had to find the best coffee maker to ensure quality control for each brew. We chose the award winning and Speciality Coffee Association of America’s Certified (SCAA) Home Brewer: the OXO – On Barista Brain nine cup coffee maker. This was also the winning machine in our review of the best drip coffee makers.
First time trying this brand. We've been rotating through various organic whole beans, looking for our "go to". We purchased this one and the "Mind, Body, Soul" whole bean blend and we love them both! The breakfast blend is more robust and the mind, body soul is a bit sweeter. We also use filtered water which we have found allows for better coffee flavor and less tap water (aka, chemical) flavor. We will definitely be buying both again. It's only a 12 oz bag so if you do daily coffee for multiple coffee drinkers, you'll burn through it pretty fast. Need bigger bags!
With all of these wonderful coffee subscription services to choose from, how exactly are you supposed to pick the best one? It all comes down to your personal preferences. If, for example, you know exactly what you like, then one of the more limited services may be right for you. But if you like to experiment, you may want to choose services that send you different coffee every month or have many different roasters to choose from.
Organic Coffee is grown with organic fertilizers, which mimic natural growth and decay processes of the environment. Growing coffee under the shade of trees using organic mulch requires less irrigation, conserves water and encourages forest preservation. Following these organic practices stimulates the environment's ability to defend against disease and encourages sustainability. Organic Coffee products available include Organic Coffee that is caffeinated, decaffeinated, flavored and instant.

The question remains, once a bag is open, how long does it last? There are a few factors to consider. The first usually depends on the roast date, the closer to the roast date the fresher your coffee is going to to taste. Next is the coffee bean type, ground coffee doesn’t maintain its fresh taste very long. Seattle Coffee Gear says that ground coffee sealed in a cool, dark place will stay fresh for about two weeks, while properly stored whole coffee beans will stay at best quality for about four weeks after opening at room temperature. Oxygen is your biggest enemy here.


We couldn’t have a cheap coffee article without mentioning McCafe coffee! Rounding the top three, McCafe medium roast scored well among known coffee brands, but ranked seventh in our overall tasting list. Homebrewing this cup of coffee will only set you back $.50 per ounce, very reasonable and below average in cost. Our testers were split if this was either a medium or dark coffee, but either way it ranked well on quality. Our tasters also liked the balanced nature of this brew and included comments such as “bitter, but smooth” and “acidic, but fruity.”

People who prefer dark/deep roast coffees might not appreciate this one as much as I do. Does this taste better than Folgers or Maxwell House? Good heavens, yes. Is the superior character and flavor(s) worth the extra cost? I would say no, for that reason alone. What makes this coffee more than worth the money is that it's organic. The Coffee industry produces one of the most sprayed plants of all. Everyone wants to know if coffee is good for them, well I'd prefer a pesticide-free cup of coffee if I'm going to believe that it's good for me.

With a lot of coffees in the market today, it is good to have the name that you can recognize. First Colony organic fair trade whole bean coffee is certainly all that and will remain to be a superb purchase. This coffee is cost effective and widely recommended. It is also the most popular choice among most individuals. It is packed in warm and self-merchandizing bags that facilitate value, freshness and quality.
On a personal level, I am a die hard black tea drinker and have had trouble not only finding organic black tea where I live... but also a company that is not green washed. Not only have I found an organic black tea that I love the taste of but also there is a variety of black teas I can choose from! Doing my research I have also found that this company has integrity in addition to simply having great products. On a professional level I started in a catering/food services posi...tion which I switched over to Equal Exchange coffee and I am constantly and consistently getting compliments on my coffee service being the best they have had, and have had customers that choose me over the local competitor for breakfast events. I am sold on the quality of this product, which is a game changer in my business, and the model is great for my conscious at the same time.

Our research was then directed towards the price point and determining what classifies as a “cheap” cup of coffee. If you are heading to Starbucks to grab a grande cup of regular coffee, it will put you back $2.10. McDonald’s premium roast coffee will cost $1.29. Dunkin’ Donuts medium coffee is $1.89. Frappuccinos, lattes and mochas will double your coffee cost.
To reduce their footprint, Subtle Earth does a number of things, like growing at a high altitude to reduce the need for any pesticides. Higher altitude makes for better coffee anyway, so it’s definitely a win-win, without question. They’re big recyclers too — all of the fruit that’s separated from the precious coffee bean, the cherry, is composted into a fertilizer.

Subtle Earth Organic Gourmet Coffee was started by Don Pablo coffee growers and roasters, an arm of the Burke Brands LL.C. It is certified organic and Non-GMO by CCOF. This coffee is made from special Honduran beans from the Marcala region. No chemicals were used on said coffee beans. The coffee cherries were used as fertilizer in lieu of insecticides. Additionally, the farmers also practice vermiculture. In this process, worms are used to break down organic food wastes to become fertilizer, and plant peppers are used as repellents. The Marcala region in Honduras is a known producer of excellent beans. 
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.
Like the others, this coffee is certified both Organic and Fair Trade. But it was the only one among the 52 varieties that is also Rainforest Alliance Certified (RAC). This set them apart and gave them extra points in our Eco-Friendliness category. RAC is a credible certifying body that aims to protect our rain forests, soil, and other ecosystems from the devastation caused by coffee production.
Our OneCup coffee pods are compatible with most Keurig K-Cup 1.0 and 2.0 brewers, as well as Cuisinart, Bunn, iCoffee and other single serve brewers. Our OneCups are the better choice of coffee for your single serve brewer, and the environment, all at a lower cost. Our OneCups are made from plant-based renewable resources, designed to offer a French Press experience to your single serve coffee, maximizing flavor and providing a richer and more full-bodied taste you will love to the last drop.

These K-cups worked great and made a good cup of coffee. I generally prefer a lighter roast. The flavor was very bold and for a dark roast was very good. There were no grounds or oils on the top of the coffee. It was best as the first cup of coffee in the morning as it was not decaffeinated. The cups functioned in the coffee maker well and removed most of the water in the cup after brewing so you don't drip coffee on the counter. Since this is Paul Newmans's brand I do fee like I am helping because they donate most of the profits to charity so I feel better when I use their products. Overall a good product for people that like a dark roast coffee.


As you’ve already guessed, this organic decaf coffee was made for Keurig Single Cup Brewers. Therefore, you need to own one prior to buying this coffee. Once you do, you will be able to enjoy this amazingly bold, refined, and smooth dark brew that will sooth your heart and your senses. The blend is a medium and dark roast, and the coffee itself has been decaffeinated by the water process.
HI Benji! Happy New Year! I enjoy reading your articles. I get most of my whole bean single origin specialty coffees from Lakota Coffee Co in Columbia, MO. The roastmaster does an exceptional job with all of his coffees. I was curious …. do you like Indian Monsooned Malabar? Three of my other favorites are Papua New Guinea, Guatemala Antigua, and Tanzania Peaberry.
"I never thought I’d be so obsessed with such a simple product, but I am! It all started when I got tired of spending so much money on buying coffee and wanted a cost-effective alternative. I needed my own coffee pot, and I needed something small enough to fit at my desk at work. Enter the Mr. Coffee! It’s small, easy to use, but makes a solid cup of coffee (with the right beans, of course). 
This is loosely on the quality of storing your beans: if you’re a coffee connoisseur, and you’re grinding away every day, be sure to leave your grinders clean. Coffee oil will gather and taint any new beans that enter the grinder—no matter how fresh, no matter how exquisite—and essentially ruin your experience. When preparing your beans, be sure to keep your machines clean.
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