Although only one producing country is represented in this month’s reviews, the range of coffees styles and pleasures these reviews describe is wide and engaging. Consumers seeking an exceptional cup carrying the reassurance of a third-party-verified certification will find a wide range of sensory options here, all distinctive and all deeply attractive.
However, Haden Polseno-Hensley, co-owner of Red Rooster Coffee Roaster, whose Ethiopia Kayon Mountain scored 93, pursues a business model committed to organic certification. He observed that organic-certified coffees are often of higher quality than those not certified. He says, “When we started in 2010, we were 100% organic. This was based on philosophical choice, but also marketing strategy. Large grocery store chains, especially ‘lifestyle’ chains, want organics. They want to press the ‘easy’ button when it comes to showing their customers that they have quality goods. Ethiopia is a strange bird, though. While it may be true that most Ethiopian coffees are de facto organic, we’ve actually come to find that the certified coffees are often of a higher quality. Is this because the producers are more attentive to cultivation and processing since they are paying for certificates?”
K-cups are the ultimate in convenience – ideal for those who only want to brew one cup at a time, or for offices and large households where everyone wants something different or doesn’t want to assign anyone the duty of cleaning, prepping, and brewing for the masses. K-cups come in just about any kind of coffee, from dark to light roasts, organic, flavored, extremely caffeinated to decaf. You can also buy latte or cappuccino K-cups with the sweetener already mixed in. Other choices include tea, cider, and cocoa. And since they cost about 40 cents each, you can stock up on your favorites and treat yourself to something else with all the money you’d spend at a cafe for an almost identical beverage.
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.

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