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.
After roughly thirty years of experience in the business—this is a guy who roasted something like 70 million pounds of coffee for Peet's, which is a lot—Paul Gallegos is back home and in business for himself with this much-anticipated roaster/café in Albuquerque's atmospheric Old Town. Expect this to be a complete game changer in a town that's been waiting for someone to take things to the next level for quite some time now.
In order to determine the best coffee beans in the world we will have to journey to where in the world coffee grows. South America dominates coffee plantations. Brazil alone contributes to more than 40 percent of all coffee production worldwide. Optimally, coffee grows between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, in an area known as the coffee belt. Virtually all the coffee beans you purchase will be grown in this region. Even though the coffee beans are harvested in this region, they may be roasted elsewhere. We will cover roasting in the next section.
Back before the nation's capital had a whole lot going on in the way of local coffee, Chris Vigilante was roasting for local restaurants in the basement of a District row home. These days, his product is a firm D.C. favorite, even if home base is a somewhat sprawling roastery, café and social hub, just over the line in Prince George's County. The company's adopted home seems to be agreeing with them—a second, also rather impressive space has now opened doors near the University of Maryland campus in College Park.
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.
Over the course of the year, we reviewed fewer than a dozen darker roasts. Most were medium-dark at best; some barely that. The majority of darker roasts we reviewed were sent by roasters in Taiwan and most were espressos, reflecting both the time-honored espresso practice of emphasizing chocolate and sweetness through moderate dark roasting, as well as, perhaps, a preference in Taiwan for more traditional styles of espresso as opposed to the lighter-roasted, brighter style of espresso now popular with the leading edge of North American roasters.