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.
Lake Winnipesaukee might be next door, but the historic center of Laconia, an old mill town, isn't exactly a thriving tourist destination—at least not yet. This cheerful micro-roaster and café, across from the shuttered (apparently, not forever) Colonial Theatre, is one in a small group of businesses—including a proper butcher shop, just next door—helping to invigorate the old town center.
When I moved away from a grocery store that carried Equal Exchange three or four years ago, I remember checking, and you had to order it directly from Equal Exchange, and wait for standard shipping. I guess thanks to the Whole Foods merger, now you can get this right on Amazon. I was excited to discover this, but the mislabeling is a bummer! Amazon, please fix!
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.
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”.

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.
This organic breakfast blend coffee is quite good, but it has a slight bitterness. I am having difficulty finding my usual brand, so decided to give Equal Exchange a try. I am not unhappy with this product, but the bitterness which happens at the trailing end of a sip, is noticeable. Having said this, I will not hesitate (when the need arises) to order it again.
One of the best things about this product is the fact that it went through the Techno Roasting process. The latter is an FDA-approved procedure, which has the benefit of eliminating the acid in the coffee that causes heartburn. This also preserves the qualities of the coffee, such as the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. To add, it also removes the bitterness of the coffee while retaining its rich body and flavor. This means that you can enjoy unadulterated coffee with the purest flavor and aroma.
The deity-level status of a coffee roaster hailing from Kansas' snoozy capital used to take the less-informed by surprise; nowadays, it seems less unusual that an operation as world-class as this should be found in such a place. No brash upstart, this—direct trading, single origin-loving PT's has been around since the early 1990's, and is still considered one of the finest source-erers in the land, last year snapping up another roaster with a similar reputation for quality, San Diego's Bird Rock Coffee. Lately, the company has given its retail operation a modern makeover, adding more modern shops in the college town of Lawrence, as well as Kansas City, Missouri.
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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