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.


I love this coffee but the bag that I received was mislabeled. The barcode sticker was indeed for the EE Love Buzz, but the bag itself was a different Equal Exchange blend (e.g. the right brand, but not Love Buzz). I kept it because coffee is coffee and in terms of flavor profile wasn't so far off (although according to the packaging it was clearly not what I ordered), and it seemed like a warehouse error - then it happened a second time! Anyway, it's still a great deal for a good more ethical coffee choice...
A weekend morning, or at least part of one, spent in the lobby of the Dean Hotel, which is where you will find the very best coffee shop in the coolest big city in New England right now, is always time well spent. Look for these guys at the RISD Museum, too, where they've recently partnered with the school on the excellent Café Pearl. Easily one of the most memorable multi-roaster operations between New York and Boston.

I was pretty disappointed in this local coffee spot, unfortunately. I walked in and the staff seemed in disarray. I waited 15 minutes for a coffee, watching other people who ordered after me get their drinks filled. They had forgotten my order as it turned out, and when I asked about it, they were not too friendly in understanding what happened. After I finally pushed about needing to go, they finally made my drink, but I only had a couple minutes to finish it. Needless to say, I wasn't happy with their service at all. And my coffee was nothing impressive. Not worth the price in my opinion.


“My wife and I have tried most of the higher-end, mail-order, and micro-roasters and finally found our go-to coffee. Really a great cup of coffee. We have always liked to freshly grind and brew our coffee, and prefer to use a French press. This coffee is not burned, bitter, or acidic. Not really a dark, dark roast. More of a medium-dark roast. Perfect. Has a slightly nutty, chocolaty, and full-body taste. For overall quality, I would give it four-and-a-half stars — but with this price point, quality, and [the fact that it] is organic, this coffee is a no-brainer.”
Also try Portland is all about the bean, and roaster Tandem Coffee rests rather comfortably toward the top of the pile. Blue Bottle-trained, their two shops (with excellent baked goods) are among New England's finest, if a little snobbish about it. For something a little different, stop by Speckled Ax, which brews up its own wood-roasted organic coffees.
I was craving Rooibos tea but still wanted a kick, so the barista suggested I mix two up and didn't charge me extra for it.  She was super friendly and had a giant smile on her face the whole time - truly delightful. I like that their ingredients are sustainably sources and that all they do is geared to a good cause as a whole. I'll be sure to stop by again soon!
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.
Born in the mountains of Indonesia, Green Mountain Coffee Sumatran Reserve is an exotic brew that delivers the character of deliciously dark roast with organic farming standards. If you’ve been searching for a full-bodied coffee that still fits the organic guidelines then this is an option that’s available in relative mass and won’t break the bank. Grown over 12,000 feet in elevation, it’s likely helpful in discouraging pests and promoting a proper fruiting of the coffee.
Camano Island Coffee Roasters takes pride in being an ethical and fairly traded coffee brand. The beans are grown organically, ensuring farmer and product safety. It is also grown in such a way that protects animal habitats and soil preservation. The Papua New Guinea Medium Roast blend, as its name suggests, is sourced from the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Said beans were imported from the Jamaica Blue Mountain region and first planted in Wau in the 1930s. Aside from the aforementioned, it is also USDA Certified Organic and shade grown.
Providing a perfect mixture of high-quality medium roasted coffee from Indonesia and Latin America, Caza Trail K-Cups will take your coffee routine to the next level. The smooth, moderately acid taste with a well-rounded finish is what makes these K-Cups so special. In addition to its great flavor, Caza Trail Coffee also has Fair Trade and USDA organic certification.

There’s actually a precise way you should grind your coffee. It’s not about the finer the better—that’s called coffee-like powder. You don’t want your grinds to be too coarse, because you’ll sacrifice coffee flavor when you could be siphoning it from the beans. It’s a tricky bit of business, but it’s what all the major players in the retail coffee world do. They not only weight their grinds, etc., but they actually check the quality of the grind and match it with measured samples. We’re not expecting you to go crazy with your grinds and their coarseness or size, but it is something you should pay attention to once or twice per month. Only a premier coffee bean grinder can handle your excellent batch of beans. It’s all about preparing your beans from storage all the way to your cup—you need a grinder that can match your requirements.
If the original Death Wish Coffee is too strong for you, this is one that will be worth a try. The main difference between the two is that the Valhalla has a lower caffeine content and it also has a lighter roast. To be specific, it has a medium dark roast. It is a blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans, which have been sourced from India, Sumatra, Guatemala, Peru, and Honduras.
Wrapping your head around just how many roasters are doing good work in booming Denver right now could take a while—there's Middle State, Corvus, Huckleberry, Commonwealth; Boulder's got Ozo, and Boxcar, too. Andy Sprenger's operation, however, an unlikely gem in the relatively unglamorous suburb of Lakewood, feels like the truest find, right now—Sprenger traveled the world, did time with Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis, and snagged his share of industry awards before returning home to start the business. Besides being a sought-after roaster, Sweet Bloom's café serves as a much-welcomed third place for the neighborhood.
Finally, coffee production is being affected by global climate change. Coffee requires extremely stable temperature conditions in order to thrive. In its natural habitat, elevation and forest would provide additional temperature stability. But today, we are seeing that the “coffee belt” we relied upon for so long is changing, and the regions where coffee can be grown are also changing, with a huge effect on local farmers and economies that rely on coffee exports to survive.
Formerly a multi-roaster subscription, Moustache is now roasting everything in-house to maximize freshness. In fact, they go from beans in the roaster to a box in the mail within about 5 hours – which is pretty darn impressive. Another thing we like about Moustache is that they are working top-notch importers and sourcing over 70 different kinds of coffee so you could join the weekly plan and never get the same coffee twice in a year. That’s a sampler’s paradise!
Up next, we have Jo Espresso. It is a USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified coffee brand. It is made using the top 2% of all Arabica coffee in the world. It is produced by Jo Coffee Inc. and is one of the top coffee brands in Amazon. This brand has over 5,000 positive reviews and comments to date. The company is a member of several international coffee organizations such as The Roaster’s Guild, Specialty Coffee Association of America, Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance and Slow Food USA.
Formerly a multi-roaster subscription, Moustache is now roasting everything in-house to maximize freshness. In fact, they go from beans in the roaster to a box in the mail within about 5 hours – which is pretty darn impressive. Another thing we like about Moustache is that they are working top-notch importers and sourcing over 70 different kinds of coffee so you could join the weekly plan and never get the same coffee twice in a year. That’s a sampler’s paradise!
For the first time we allowed ready-to-drink, cold-brewed, pure black coffees into consideration for the Top 30. Two superb cold-brewed, bottled coffees made the list, the Bird Rock Red Bourbon Honey-Processed Cold Brew at No. 17 (94 points) and the States Coffee Reserve Cold Brew (from a Tanzania single-origin coffee) at No. 21 (also 94 points). For more on the cold coffee trend see our report Cold-Brewed Black Coffees: Quality in a Can.
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!
Most coffee consumed in the continental United States (in QSR restaurants and most cafes,) are arabica bean-originated. Arabica coffee is what you’ll often hear or read as “mountain-grown” coffee, due to its necessity for being grown at elevations of 18,000 feet or higher. It’s the ideal climate to grow these perfect beans, package them, and maintain their environment, or “perfect coffee eco system,” until consumption.
A relatively sunny town standing sentry on the divide between California and the Pacific Northwest, artistically-inclined Ashland isn't quite so well-known as certain other cities in Oregon, but when it comes to coffee, Ashland has become something of a giant, thanks in part to this oft-awarded roasting operation, the first notable to crop up here, about a decade ago.
Coffee grown in the sun in fertilized fields produces more seeds (coffee beans) more quickly than coffee grown in the shade, but coffee grown in the shade produces a higher quality coffee with a better flavor. Growing coffee in the sun not only requires the use of fertilizers, but has led to wide-scale deforestation and habitat loss for wildlife species. Coffee grown in its traditional forested setting creates valuable habitat for many bird species. 
Shifting, original, startling in its giddy intricacy. Winey pine (think retsina wine), cocoa powder, green apple, Concord grape, ginger blossom, much more in aroma and cup. Sweetly and delicately pungent in structure. Lightly syrupy and almost effervescently buoyant in mouthfeel. The winey pine character and a floral sweetness carry persuasively into a crisp finish.
I found an interesting study from the Japanese which showed that 99.8% of the pesticides used in farming coffee beans, was burned off in the roasting process. So even though it is almost as clean as organic and not as harmful as one might think, it still lacks the quality in terms of organic fertilizers and culitivation not to mention the storing and shipping which greatly effects quality! I prefer organic all the way but it was an interesting informative article about that study. Here’s the link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23154763
The second best organic decaf coffee on our list is Caza Trail Coffee. The dark imperial flavors inside actually come from a blend of coffees from Indonesia and Latin America. It has moderate acidity and a well-rounded finish. Caza Trail offers both classic and flavored coffee. Therefore, you can either have a traditional pick me up or take a break and reward yourself with a spiced coffee.
Providing low acidity and deep, rich flavor of milk chocolate with extraordinary notes of cocoa, caramel, and honey, Don Pablo K-Cups are made of high quality, 100% Arabica coffee. Produced with no artificial substances, with a beautifully designed package, these K-Cups are certified organic by CCOF. What makes Don Pablo coffee famous is the mentioned natural flavor character, based on the caramelization of the natural sugars, that provides an incredibly pleasant aftertaste.
The first time I conducted my coffee taste test, I left Peet's out, and commenters were outraged. It turns out, they were right: this is a solid supermarket coffee contender, especially for people who might tend toward a darker roast. Social Media Manager Andrew Spena and I particularly liked this coffee. "I know it's not true, but I feel like this has a neutral pH balance," said Andrew. "A little nuttiness comes through once it's cooled a bit. I could see myself drinking too much of this on accident." If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is. The nuttiness and round body of this coffee set it apart. It had a chocolatey richness and some nice toasty notes. While the Thrive coffee is well-suited to those who like a lighter, fruitier roast, Peet's is perfect for people who like a rounder, nuttier, creamier, toastier flavor profile in their coffee.
Wrapping your head around just how many roasters are doing good work in booming Denver right now could take a while—there's Middle State, Corvus, Huckleberry, Commonwealth; Boulder's got Ozo, and Boxcar, too. Andy Sprenger's operation, however, an unlikely gem in the relatively unglamorous suburb of Lakewood, feels like the truest find, right now—Sprenger traveled the world, did time with Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis, and snagged his share of industry awards before returning home to start the business. Besides being a sought-after roaster, Sweet Bloom's café serves as a much-welcomed third place for the neighborhood.
Keurig produces this certified, high-grade coffee from Colombian Supremo Arabica coffee beans, using an FDA-approved roasting process. The result is a low acid coffee that’s free from harshness and bitterness while retaining essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Also, the coffee is kosher-certified, and it’s produced in a nut-free facility.
Also try Long content with convenience coffee (rhymes with Schmunkin up north, and Schwawa down south), New Jersey is suddenly fascinated with the good stuff. In downtown Newark, friendly Black Swan Espresso is just one of many new arrivals along once-blighted Halsey Street, while in the rough-and-tumble state capital, micro-roaster Trenton Coffee House & Records began life as a coffee bike. The product here is thoroughly modern, but the vibe is nearly mid-1990's punk. (Don't miss this place.)
It really does make for the best coffee in the world if you grind it right, brew it right and use wholesome ingredients. My husband threw out his old coffee pot and went from being a die hard pot of Folgers a day to simply drinking four shots of this in the morning. We both feel like we are drinking delicious coffee from Vienna every morning. We tried this flavor first, but we are going to try the Equal Exchange Coffee, Organic Colombian, Whole Bean,12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 3) next by the same brand. We prefer light roasts instead of darker roasts like French. Incidently, most people don't know this, but the lighter the roast - the more caffeine in it and in our opinion, the better the flavor. Darker roasts seem to really kill the flavor of coffee and you run the risk of more oils and higher acid and bitter flavor. I don't really know why people like dark roasts and I think it is more the sound of it than the actual flavor that they fall for. We both discovered at one point that lighter roasts such as breakfast blends and Columbian has better flavor, more caffeine, less acid, etc and ever since stay away from darker roasts. We might also try the Equal Exchange Organic Coffee, Breakfast Blend, Ground, 12-Ounce Bag (Pack of 3) at some point as well along with the decaf so we can enjoy an afternoon drink. I notice this particular blend seems to have two colors of coffee beans in it, one is light and one is medium. No darks which we love!
The main benefit of organically grown coffee is that, because it is not subjected to commercial fertilizer or insecticide, its beans would be free of chemical residue. For this reason, some people claim that Organic Coffee has a fuller, richer flavor than non-organically grown coffee. Aside from the taste of the coffee, growing coffee using Organic farming methods benefits the environment and the health of the consumer and the farmer. The production of Organic Coffee uses no chemical fertilizers to feed the plants and no chemical pesticides to keep insects at bay. Pesticides and other non-organic farming chemicals accumulate in human body fat, causing damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. While Organic Coffee may cost more, most would say the benefits outweigh the added cost.

“My wife and I have tried most of the higher-end, mail-order, and micro-roasters and finally found our go-to coffee. Really a great cup of coffee. We have always liked to freshly grind and brew our coffee, and prefer to use a French press. This coffee is not burned, bitter, or acidic. Not really a dark, dark roast. More of a medium-dark roast. Perfect. Has a slightly nutty, chocolaty, and full-body taste. For overall quality, I would give it four-and-a-half stars — but with this price point, quality, and [the fact that it] is organic, this coffee is a no-brainer.”
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