A. “Fair Trade Certified” means the farmers were paid a fair wage, no forced or child labor was involved in the growing or picking of the beans, the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals was limited, and the coffee plantation practiced sustainable farming methods. You’ll find many brands of coffee certified as Fair Trade, particularly specialty brands. The Fair Trade Certified program is an international program run by TransFair USA.

To find the best grocery store coffee, we tasted 11 brands commonly found at grocery stores around the country or online. I first conducted this test in July of 2017, but re-tested recently, incorporating a few new coffees that we hadn't tasted in the first round—for example, the coffee from Thrive, which is an online-only grocery store. Epicurious staffers rated the coffees and provided tasting notes. (I myself can be a little forgiving when it comes to bad coffee, so we needed outside opinions.) For every brand, we ordered a medium roast, which was usually "Breakfast Blend" or something equivalent.


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.)
This is the world’s strongest coffee by most standards, which explains why it enjoys such a tremendous popularity. Death Wish is ground from beans that are masterfully selected and meticulously roasted to perfection, so as to provide a smooth tasting but also bold cup of coffee. Moreover, you get the extra kick of quality caffeine that surely gets your day going every morning. It isn’t just its strength that recommends it, mind you, but its powerful flavor as well. In fact, we should point out that Death Wish is by far one of the most flavorful coffees out there.
All these processes take more time and care, and therefore more labor, and therefore increase the price of the coffee. But these coffees also simply taste better, and provide a more satisfying experience. The fact that these methods tend to be organic and socially responsible is a byproduct of the care and attention to quality that these specialty coffees require.
If you want a sampling from multiple independent coffee roasters all at once, this is the coffee subscription for you. There are many small roasters that have popped up all over the country and many are too small to operate their own subscription service. So they’ve partnered with companies that offer coffee subscriptions and pull from this pool of smaller roasters.
Java Planet is owned and operated by a family, producing certified USDA Organic coffee which is 100% free of chemicals and pesticides. The company roasts their Columbian coffee beans in small batches and put the date right on each bag. It is Fair Trade specialty coffee with a smooth, full flavor, and as some customers noted, a heavenly aroma. It’s a popular favorite with many coffee lovers.
As more and more coffee companies cave to the temptation to adulterate with soy beans sprayed with chemical flavors and questionable trade practices, Equal Exchange may be the last coffee company standing to offer organic whole beans sourced from small producer coops, and roasted at a worker owned facility stateside. The company maintains its commitment to fair trade and supports many worthy causes. I recently had cause to engage in a lengthy discussion with reps at Equal Exchange and consider their inteigrity (and really great tasting coffee!) unsurpassed.
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Nevertheless, pesticides and herbicides are widely used, sometimes abused, in the coffee fields of the world. Many consumers seek organically grown coffees out of concern for the health of the earth itself and those who live on it. According to a report from Technavio Research, the Compound Annual Growth Rated (CAGR) for organic coffee is expected to increase by 13% between now and 2021. This research attributes this projected growth, in part, to millennials, who, as a demographic, are said to be concerned with the environment and a healthy lifestyle, and to have a willingness to spend money for specialty or niche products like organic coffee. So it appears that, while the driving force behind the demand for organic coffee may be changing from health concerns to environmental concerns, the demand itself is on the rise. According to a World of Organic Agriculture 2016 report quoted by ecologist Julie Craves, coffee is the world’s largest single organic crop.
I've been using this for years. I can't get a better cup of coffee than the one I make at home. It's very difficult to find organic decaf in whole beans. I'd found a small organic mercantile near my house and purchased it there for a long time. Then I moved away and the only place I could find it was that store, but now it's an hour to drive there. I searched the closer stores and could not find it. Finally it occurred to me that Amazon has EVERYTHING and of course there it was. So much nice to order this and have it show up at my door. It's cheaper here too. Thanks Amazon !
Here's the truth: K-Cups are packed with the same coffee ground you would buy in your grocery store or supermarket. Flavored coffees are made by spraying propylene glycol on the coffee beans/ground, then adding the flavoring oils or liquids afterward. The propylene glycol helps the beans/ground to hold the flavor, and it acts as a preservative. Every time you drink flavored coffee—whether it's in a K-Cup or a regular coffee machine—you're ingesting propylene glycol and natural and artificial flavorings.
Of the two at-home iterations of Big Coffee, Dunkin’ Donutsand Starbucks, I prefer Dunkin’. It’s more drinkable black—lighter without being bitter, roasty without being burnt, and far easier on a pre-bagel empty stomach on my way out the door. Home-brewed Dunkin’ is nearly indistinguishable from takeout Dunkin’, and even aside from being cheaper per cup, drinking it at home saves styrofoam. Dunkin’ Donuts Original has a gentler thermal shift than most coffees in its price range, continuing to be enjoyable all the way down to room temperature, but if you’d like to freshen the heat it is admirably microwaveable.
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.
Use your own grounds. Reusable K-Cups are a gift from the coffee gods! They're only compatible with the original Keurig machines (though this YouTube tutorial will show you how to reuse a K-Cup with a 2.0), but a reusable K-Cup allows you to refill the cups with your own coffee grounds. You can use an extra-strength ground to make your coffee delicious as well as quick-brewed. The finer the ground, the stronger the flavor.
Whether we're testing our favorite cold-brew brands, comparing coffee grinders, or finding the absolute best-tasting coffee beans on the planet, we're full-blown coffee experts over here at the BestProducts.com office. So when it comes to narrowing down the best coffee makers — let's just say we are totally qualified. Below, seven of our caffeine-addicted coffee-loving editors provided feedback on their absolute favorite coffee maker and why they love it so much.
Kicking Horse Coffee is the #1 best-selling whole bean coffee in Canada, known for their passion for the highest quality beans. Not only are they the best-selling organic, fair trade coffee in Canada, but they are also consistently rated as one of the best workplaces, with exceptional values and 20 years of doing the right thing for their customers and for the planet.
The Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee Medium-Dark Roast Whole Bean comes from Honduras, more specifically from the Marcala region. Since this is located at a very high altitude, the producers don’t need to worry about insects that tend to affect other coffee production areas. Besides, whenever there is a bug problem, producers plant peppers near to act as a natural repellent. So, no fertilizers are ever used when producing the Cafe Don Pablo Gourmet Coffee Medium-Dark Roast Whole Bean.
The best dark roast was Koffee Kult dark roast. This 100% arabica coffee blend, sourced from Colombia, Guatemala and Sumatra offers a full body and rich option for your coffee palate. Our testers knew that this was a dark coffee roast by its strong aroma, but were pleasantly surprised by the woodfired taste. Most testers did call out the bitterness of this coffee, but pointed out that it didn’t linger and the acidity was enjoyable. Again, this winner is one of the most expensive coffees we tested at $.88 per ounce, but if you love the bold coffee taste, this is for you.

Whether you call it joe, java, cuppa, liquid energy, or brew, if you are part of the 62% of Americans who drink coffee on a daily basis, that first morning cup sets the tone for the rest of your day. A good cup of coffee is a thing of beauty – hot but not scalding, slightly bitter without pucker, and wafting an aroma that draws even the deepest sleeper from his bed.
Promising review for their OneCups: "San Francisco Bay produces the most superior coffee on the market, and their varieties will satisfy a wide array of tastes. They are also environmentally conscientious, because their pods are 97% biodegradable (but that doesn't compromises the quality of the coffee, or the quality of the pod itself). Some reviewers have complained about beans pouring into their cup, or receiving damaged pods, but I've never had an issue like that and I've been drinking San Francisco Bay for about seven years. When I rate a product with five stars, it means I won't look anywhere else, if I need it again. I've tried dozens of different brands and different coffees over the years, and no one comes close to San Francisco Bay. Pick a flavor profile you like and you won't be let down." —Michael J. McKenzie
Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.
After taste-testing thirteen different varieties of ground coffee widely available for purchase at a chain grocery store, the winner for a solid cup were Maxwell House. In terms of flavor and cost, it ranked highest overall, though it did lose points for not being very good to microwave. Still, at $5.83/lb, it's cost efficient enough to just make another cup of coffee.
This coffee has done an exquisite job of marketing. Fair trade, organic, ethical in every sense of the word. And whole bean at that so you’re bound to expect the best flavor- right? This particular flavor ‘Mind, Body, and Soul’ is one that my fiance and I enjoy but don’t necessarily swoon over. It’s a medium blend that isn’t necessarily extremely robust. Both of us prefer a darker stout flavor, but love trying new coffees (especially organic fair trade options), so picked this one up on a whim during an Amazon Pantry order.
New England Coffee was the dining hall coffee at my New England college—a bit on the nose, but a strong choice. Like Green Mountain coffee, New England Coffee locates its mythology north of Connecticut; its packaging includes a covered bridge, horse-drawn carriage, red barn, mill race, and church steeple in a landscape painted à la Grandma Moses. I hardly noticed I was drinking my pour-over cup until it was half gone, which is, unexpectedly, high praise for a cup of coffee. Like inexpensive wine, inexpensive coffee is best when its flavor is innocuous. A hint of sour coffee stomach waits in the wings, but with a hearty breakfast alongside, New England Coffee is a safe and delightful option.
Four espressos appear on this year’s list, three of them single-origin coffees. The fourth is a distinguished blend of coffees from a mix of origins—the impressive 96-point Twenty Five by Barrington Coffee Roasters, at No. 6, the only blend on the list. Numerous blends, both espresso and non-espresso, earned 90-94 points but did not ultimately make our Top 30; we recognize some of the best on our list of the Top Coffees by Category.

On the other side of the caffeinated spectrum, the Canadian brand, Kicking Horse Coffee has been creating organic, Fair Trade coffee for several decades now. Proud of their place of business, they roast these premium beans to perfection, three-thousand feet above sea level, near the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River. Whether it’s the fresh air of the Rocky Mountains or the altitude, something about their process delivers incredible flavors.
Whether you call it joe, java, cuppa, liquid energy, or brew, if you are part of the 62% of Americans who drink coffee on a daily basis, that first morning cup sets the tone for the rest of your day. A good cup of coffee is a thing of beauty – hot but not scalding, slightly bitter without pucker, and wafting an aroma that draws even the deepest sleeper from his bed.
This is my first purchase of this brand I couldn't be happier. The coffee is bold, smooth, and delicious! I love the ethical practices and committment to fair trade and organic production- the primary reason I purchased it. I will buy this again! However- noticed that EE did not have the 3 pack in stock recently. I had to go with another brand, but I am skeptical that it will taste as good. EE is pricier than most, but I think it's worth it. I may not buy it every time I need coffee, but it's certainly top of my list in the rotation.
Alfred Peet has been shaping the craft coffee movement for decades. He’s helped transform what Americans have come to expect from their cup of coffee, as he mentored the founders of Starbucks at one time, but continually worked to seek better coffee for humanity. Created for Peet’s 50th anniversary this signature blend celebrates Mr. Peet’s legacy, obviously it has quite the name to live up to.

Coming in 5th on the list overall and 2nd on the known brands list, Dunkin’ Donuts medium roast scored major points as a great coffee choice. Testers were all over the place wondering what kind of roast this was due to its strong aroma and bold taste. Our office testers who enjoy a bold cup of coffee ranked this very highly in taste and finish, but others listed it as harsh and acidic. One tester noted that they enjoyed the coffee more when they let it cool down and added ice to it. We loved that idea! Another wallet friendly choice, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee will only cost you $.44 per ounce.
Whether you call it joe, java, cuppa, liquid energy, or brew, if you are part of the 62% of Americans who drink coffee on a daily basis, that first morning cup sets the tone for the rest of your day. A good cup of coffee is a thing of beauty – hot but not scalding, slightly bitter without pucker, and wafting an aroma that draws even the deepest sleeper from his bed.

The coffee comes well-packaged in a traditional foil-lined bag that seals in freshness. It’s easy to peel open and can nicely be folded shut and secured with clamps that are a part of the package. Great for convenience and storage. The whole beans are nicely roasted and ready to be ground. This particular 12 ounce bag lasted the two of us about 9 days- but we are avid (almost alarmingly so) coffee drinkers. For a typical household I’d assume this bag would easily last 2 to 3 weeks. We tried this coffee with a drip coffee maker, French press, and electric coffee maker. It wasn’t quite dark enough to work with the drip coffee maker and the flavor was very mild and watery when paired with that method. The French press got the best flavor from this coffee and really allowed you to taste the mild nutty flavor. It almost has an almondy undertone. It’s not a sweet coffee and it certainly lacks a ‘punch’ that I appreciate. But it wasn’t bad and I’d highly recommend it for people who want something gentle but flavorful to wake up with.
“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.”
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
Something that kept coming up in our research was “conscious consumerism,” or awareness of the impact your coffee makes on the community, environment and overall quality of life of those who harvest and grow it. Campaigns for products free from animal testing, bee friendly pesticides, compostable packaging and sustainable farming are all part of conscious consumerism.
Evaluated as espresso. Complex, juicy, richly tart. Almond, dark chocolate, guava, tangerine zest, star jasmine in aroma and small cup. Light, very silky mouthfeel; chocolate, fruit and flowers all carry into a cleanly sweet, delicately drying finish. Flavor-saturated in three parts milk: almond, chocolate, guava, flowers all resonate in rich, custardy balance.
This flavor of coffee is pretty common and can be found at just about any store. While not unique the flavor stands up among most of donut shop and other brands. It has a rich, bold, smooth taste that goes well in the morning or even after dinner. While not as intense as some other extra bold, dark coffees it's definitely flavorful and never watery tasting like I find some other "popular" brands to be. Newman makes a good coffee.
First time trying this brand. We've been rotating through various organic whole beans, looking for our "go to". We purchased this one and the "Mind, Body, Soul" whole bean blend and we love them both! The breakfast blend is more robust and the mind, body soul is a bit sweeter. We also use filtered water which we have found allows for better coffee flavor and less tap water (aka, chemical) flavor. We will definitely be buying both again. It's only a 12 oz bag so if you do daily coffee for multiple coffee drinkers, you'll burn through it pretty fast. Need bigger bags!
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.

For a mild roast that is something on the wild side, try out their Super Crema Blend, which is great for drip coffee or espresso. It’s packed with atypical notes of honey, fruit, and dried almonds, making it fall on the medium side of the spectrum but with more taste than a typical Folgers pack, by far. Over 120 years of dedication to the art of coffee can’t take coffee lightly.
I am very fussy about coffee. This trait had relegated me to all coffee buying responsibilities for our small office. These beans are mellow but full bodied (crowd pleaser and snob pleaser, all in one bag). We haven't poured a bad cup and have been using these beens for months. Stocking my office with acceptable beans is no longer a chore. This is a simple one-click, 2 days later (prime)we get our fresh beans. Saves a lot of hassle and I really enjoy the coffee. You can get a 5 star bag by searching and scouring local roasters, but I'm very happy with these beans for their price and convenience.
Very sweetly tart, floral-prominent and rich-toned. Lemon custard, red currant jam, tea rose, maple syrup and dried coconut in aroma and cup. Delightfully crisp and tart, though cohesively resonant in structure; very lightly though buoyantly syrupy in mouthfeel. The finish is pert and satisfying, with a lingering sweet crispness and a long aromatic trajectory.
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.
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