Kim Westerman is a licensed Q-grader, a longtime food, wine and travel writer and a certified sommelier. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, Bay Area Bites, and many other publications. She happily brings her sensory training in wine to the evaluation of coffee in Coffee Review’s Berkeley lab. She also handles communication with roasters and review logistics.
HI Benji! Happy New Year! I enjoy reading your articles. I get most of my whole bean single origin specialty coffees from Lakota Coffee Co in Columbia, MO. The roastmaster does an exceptional job with all of his coffees. I was curious …. do you like Indian Monsooned Malabar? Three of my other favorites are Papua New Guinea, Guatemala Antigua, and Tanzania Peaberry.
A startup from Vermont, our friends at Brothers Coffee Company select a new roaster each month that has found a new and innovative way of facing a challenge the coffee industry faces. Not only will you get fresh, top-tier specialty coffee, you’ll also help enact real change around the world. Along with the coffee, subscribers receive information on the roasters, their coffee, and why they were selected for the month, making every month a new story. They also donate $1 per subscription to Grounds for Health, a non-profit that screens and treats women for cervical cancer. If you love coffee and want to make sure your money is being used well, Brothers Coffee is the subscription for you.
Nescafe is a huge multinational brand of coffee owned by Nestle. We commend Nescafe partnering with for the Rainforest Alliance, the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) to be sure they are following internationally recognized sustainability standards but they do not offer organic certified coffees. Therefore, their coffee’s may contain chemicals and mold. They only offer instant coffees, ground coffee, or pods so again, freshness is a concern.
The most exciting thing here is the fact that the beans are air roasted. Not many coffee brands do this because the process is complicated and takes quite a while. As a matter of fact, less than 1% of all coffee is roasted this way. However, for Kona, it provided unique taste as well as ease of use in different type of coffee makers, French press coffee makers, and cold brew machines.
Although this is from the same manufacturer as the product that has been mentioned above, they have slightly different flavor profiles. This blend comes with a fuller body, which makes it the perfect option for those who like their coffee strong. At first sip, you will already notice how bold the flavor is. Nonetheless, you will end up being surprised that despite this boldness, it is actually a smooth blend.
The Caza Trail Coffee is a perfect blend of selected coffees from Indonesia and Latin America. This coffee is USDA certified organic and Fair Trade Certified and Kosher. It’s free from chemicals and artificial additives. The coffee is bold yet smooth, fine finish that is full-bodied with moderate acidity. You will find this organic coffee great for busy mornings or when you just require an on-the-go treat.
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.
No study we have seen links prepared or brewed coffee, including espresso, with significant levels of contaminants. Typical is a 2008 Australian study which meticulously tested a wide range of coffee beverages purchased randomly in the Australian food service market and found that “there were no detectable levels in any of the coffee [beverages] sampled. This included all 98 pesticide residues, 18 PAHs, beryllium, mercury and ochratoxin A.” The key findings summary concluded that “The overall levels of chemical contaminants identified in this survey are generally considered to be low and are consistent with those reported in other comparable surveys both in Australia and overseas.”
Chock Full o’ Nuts styles itself as the quintessential New York City coffee. The quintessential New York City Coffee has less to do with brand than with point of sale—a nameless coffee cart on a Manhattan corner—but it is the only coffee brand I know of to offer three distinct varieties of half-caf. Its per-pound cost approaches bagged coffee, making it a questionable deal among canned brands. Chock Full o’ Nuts has the teeth-sticking effect of good chicory coffee without, I believe, containing chicory. Its flavor has a tinge of burnt bread and an aftertaste that causes the corners of my mouth to turn down involuntarily. It is undrinkable cold, but do not attempt to drink reheated Chock Full o’ Nuts. This is the fire extinguisher of coffees—in the event of catastrophe you’ll be glad you have it, but it’s not for blowing out a candle.
We try to eat/drink as healthy as possible even down to the creamer in our coffee. Was skeptical when I first ordered this coffee as I buy whole bean organic coffee at my grocery store and wondered if this would be really any different. We grind and brew our coffee. At first I tried the Medium-Dark Roast but found it a little too bitter to my liking even with making adjustments to our brewing process. Then I saw the Light Roast and decided to give it a try. It is the PERFECT all-around coffee. Smooth and delicious. We are on our third or fourth 2 lb bag, and I love that it is not only organic, but also fair-trade associated. It is the perfect complement to our "healthy" creamer which we buy online at Amazon as well, nutpods Dairy-free Coffee Creamer, 12-pack (Unsweetened French ... full review
These are our top choices for the best organic decaf coffee. If we had to choose one, although it’s very hard, we would have to go with Nespresso’s Hardy Coffee, simply because of its almost 50-year-old history. We were also impressed by the fact that it is the preferred coffee in Italy, the country that actually gave the world the espresso. Still, we say you try all these coffees. What do you think?
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is unusual among the grocery store coffee set in that it references neither the coffee-growing regions of the equator nor any city associated with coffee culture—New York, Vienna, etc.—instead staring wistfully off in the direction of the Green Mountains of Vermont. This is a thoroughly pleasant coffee, light-roasted and gentle on an empty stomach, as mine often is at the coffee hour. Green Mountain has an impressive thermal shift, remaining drinkable even as it cools—even to an avowed hater of iced coffee. It microwaves decently, too, buoyed gently back to drinking temperature without darkening into bottom-of-the-pot creosote, making it a solid choice for even the coldest of kitchens.
To be honest, my expectations were low for whatever “affordable” coffee Whole Foods might offer, and I was a bit reluctant even to include it under the umbrella of regular grocery stores (despite the company’s recent “Yes, we have sales!” ad campaign), but here I stand both corrected and impressed. 365 Everyday Value is the Whole Foods Market store brand, which markets products fitting the Whole Foods ethos, at least aesthetically—don’t assume it’s organic!—at regular grocery prices. A 10-ounce bag of ground coffee costs $5.99 at the Gowanus Whole Foods in Brooklyn, making it the cheapest bagged coffee here per-unit and decidedly on the cheap end per-pound. Pleasant Morning Buzz is a Vienna roast-style coffee, a dark roast just shy of a French roast style, which gives the coffee a heavy, bittersweet flavor that’s easy to sip on for a black coffee drinker. As a rule, darker roasts do not microwave as well as lighter roasts, and this coffee is no exception—get it while it’s hot or pour yourself a new one.
You are in a town that loves coffee, and it is everywhere, has been for a long time now, with the most successful operations long ago spun out into regional mini-chains, of sorts. May we (ever so gently) suggest that you begin your explorings at this relatively new addition—and by new, we mean they've been around for roughly a decade, already—now featuring five cafes, three of them right here in town.
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.