The coffee bean is technically a seed, and it is tucked inside the fruit of the coffee plant; much like the stone pit of a cherry. It is called a bean simply because of the physical resemblance. While many varieties of coffee beans exist, the two most common types are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans dominate the market. They lend to a smoother, slightly acidic taste and they are usually, although not always, deemed the higher quality bean. Robusta beans, as the name suggests, tout a bolder and more bitter taste. They contain at least twice the amount of caffeine as their Arabica counterparts.
Many reviewers pick up notes of honey, almonds, and dried fruit in the flavor profile with zero bitterness and low acidity. Ideally, this blend would be finely ground, brewed as a traditional espresso, and served in a smaller format, but many reviewers coarse-grind this blend and brew it using their drip coffee maker or French press with great success. Most reviewers actually claim that they've switched to Lavazza for their everyday morning coffee from other more well-known American brands.
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.
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.
Our coffee testers do love a strong and bold cup of coffee, so though we expected it to rank highly, Death Wish sat in the middle of the pack due to its low marks in aroma and taste. It did gain major points for its finish though, where tasters noted that it was smooth, but had some overpowering bitterness to it. If you need a large jolt of energy with intense flavor, look no further than Death Wish coffee.
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.
The best dark roast was Koffee Kult dark roast. This 100% arabica coffee blend, sourced from Colombia, Guatemala and Sumatra offers a full body and rich option for your coffee palate. Our testers knew that this was a dark coffee roast by its strong aroma, but were pleasantly surprised by the woodfired taste. Most testers did call out the bitterness of this coffee, but pointed out that it didn’t linger and the acidity was enjoyable. Again, this winner is one of the most expensive coffees we tested at $.88 per ounce, but if you love the bold coffee taste, this is for you.
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.
ChesterVKeurig is probably the most expensive crap on the market, as far as non-gourmet goes. I've had plenty of their flavored coffees and I have never tasted anything from them except PLAIN coffee. I even got a box of Gloria Jean (not knowing Keurig bought them out) Butter Toffee, and although it has a SLIGHT toffee smell, it tastes like plain coffee. I am ashamed that Dr Pepper lowered the quality of Gloria Jean coffee when they bought them, because I love Dr Pepper and I loved Gloria Jean. And Keurig is a waste of money, plain and simple. I've had a lot of "generic" and "no-name" brands that have more taste and are more fragrant that these big brand names. I've found that the Victor Allen brand of coffee from Big Lots is probably the best I've had so far, for plain and flavored coffee pods. And depending on the time of year and the sales they have, I can get a 24 count pod box for about $12.00-$15.00. Which is a heck of a lot cheaper than the $20.00-$40.00 boxes of 12-16 pods that the big names have. Better flavor, better aroma, better taste, and a lot less expensive..........guess which one I buy?
This is made by the same manufacturer as the coffee that has been mentioned above. However, this is not decaf. It is a dark French roast, which uses premium beans from South and Central America. It has an intense and smoky flavor, which may not be appreciated by all. This is for those people who like their coffee to have a strong character. It is made only with the ripest red cherries that have been roasted by experts to extract the maximum flavor in every cup.
Coffee blends are exactly that; a blend of two or more roasted beans to create a unique flavor profile. Think of it in terms of wine: a red blend versus a Cabernet Sauvignon. The experienced coffee roaster will match beans to balance bitterness and take the harsh edge of off unrefined beans. A blend could contain several varieties of beans from all over the coffee belt.
A popular, professional blend combining the best of Indonesian and African Robusta and Brazilian Arabica coffees, the Lavazza is simply extraordinary by any standard. It provides an intense aroma and a rich aftertaste with unique chocolaty notes. It is an ideal ground coffee for making espresso-based beverages, yet also appropriate for people who enjoy a standard cup of coffee.
Run a water cycle. Unless you've just finished using the Keurig, the water in the deposit is likely going to be tepid, meaning lower brewing temperatures (a common problem with the Keurig). Before you brew, run a water cycle to heat up the water and the machine. Follow it quickly with a brew, and the water will be slightly hotter—ergo, a better brewing temperature.
The best medium roast coffee we tested was Marley Coffee, which came in third overall in our test. Marley is an organic, ethically-farmed and 100% Ethiopian blend with herbal tastes including fruity wine undertones. Our testers loved the taste and finish of this coffee and guessed it was either a light or medium blend. One tester loved the “watermelon or green tea” undertones and most mentioned the unique taste that was a welcome change in the morning. Marley Coffee ranked as the most expensive coffee we tested at $.87 per ounce. Money well spent according to our testers.
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.