We asked Josh Taves, a 12-year coffee industry vet (who has spent time working as a barista as well as training them) and the director of business development for Denver’s Novo Coffee -- one of the finest coffee shops in the country -- for help. He did a blind tasting of 20 of the most popular K-Cups like a true (and highly caffeinated) hero. In the end, one brand stood out above all else, snagging three of the top four spots, while a few proved to be not worth drinking, no matter how badly you need a caffeine kick.
Ethiopia coffees, whether certified organic or not, are produced from tree varieties native to Ethiopia and grown virtually nowhere else. These varieties tend to produce coffees with typically striking cup character: bright, lively and balanced in structure and intricately engaging in aroma and flavor. Furthermore, the best mills in Ethiopia are also ingenious and meticulous in their processing methods. Classic wet-processed or “washed” Ethiopia coffees (in which fruit skin and pulp are removed before drying) tend to highlight floral and citrus notes, while “natural”-processed Ethiopias (beans are dried inside the fruit rather than after the fruit has been removed) lean toward lusher fruit and deeper flowers. Fine examples of organic coffees prepared by both processing methods appear in this month’s reviews.
Promising review for their Original Black blend: "You can always tell when a company cares deeply about the quality of their products, and RISE is one of those companies. When you pop their tops, these bad boys literally GROWL at you, which I've since learned is an indication of a proper nitrogen-infused beverage (not to mention being just plain cool). I poured mine over ice and watched as a beautiful froth formed on top (the 'cascade,' as they call it). It's delightful, and definitely my new after-lunch pick-me-up!." —Marc
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.
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.
Two roasting companies placed three coffees each on this year’s Top-30 list: Barrington Coffee Roasters (Massachusetts) and Dragonfly Coffee Roasters (Colorado). Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (California), JBC Coffee Roasters (Wisconsin), and PT’s Coffee Roasting (Kansas) each placed two. This concentration of coffees from certain roasters was definitely not by design. In fact, we did our best to reduce the number of coffees from any one roaster on the list—we would prefer to have more roasters appear on the list rather than fewer.
Organic. Awaken your consciousness. Balanced with full body, rich flavor & sweet overtones. From small farmer co-ops in Latin America. A product of Equal Exchange. Certified organic by Oregon Tilth. Our Commitment: To pay a fair price to the farmer; To trade directly with democratic cooperatives; To offer pre-harvested credit to aid farmers throughout their growing season; To develop long-term trade partnerships; To support sustainable and shade grown farming practices. We are committed to these principles on 100% of our coffees, teas, cocoas & chocolate. Farmer as Equals: Equal Exchanges is much more to us than just a buyer of our coffee. We see you as a partner who treats farmers as equals. You share our commitment to growers and to the land, and are helping us create a better future. Our Quality: Equal Exchange, a worker-owned Fair Trade organization, has been offering gourmet sustainably grown coffees since 1986. Because of our close relationships with farmers, we get their best beans. We then roast our coffees in small batches to bring out their best characteristics. But our commitment to quality extends beyond the beans to include the quality of life of the farmers with whom we work. We hope you will enjoy this coffee brought to you pride by Equal Exchange and our small farmer partners in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Fair Trade at Work: Much of the world's coffee is grown by small farmers, purchased at negligible prices by middlemen, and then brought and sold on a commodities market thousands of miles away. Equal Exchange provides an alternative by working directly with small farmer cooperatives, helping to build pride, independence and community empowerment. With the added income and stability provided by this relationship, farmers can make improvements in their own lives. Women's leadership development in Guatemala, eco-tourism projects in Nicaragua, savings and loan projects in Mexico - these are some of the most vivid examples of the benefits of Fair Trade.
Equal Exchange organic coffee is terrific. While for some, the taste is lacking a little, many still enjoy it. Not to mention everything behind this coffee is absolutely awesome. Organic certified, Fairtrade, more than we have seen ever before. Even certified Kosher! In addition, the company is just great. Worker-owned, fair pay to all of their workers and farmers, job security, and so much more. Equal Exchange definitely lives up to their name.
The soul of this coffee is in the high-altitude region of Latin America, which is the one responsible for making the coffee naturally bright and sweet. To be specific, the beans are sourced all the way from Colombia and Guatemala. The premium beans that are used in the production of the coffee provides a medium and smooth body with notes of sweet citrus and chocolate. The company is also known for its programs that help its local farmers as a way of giving back to the community.