When Four Barrel veterans Tim & Elisha Griffin opted out of San Francisco, they landed in Fargo, where their small shop (handed over from a previous owner) quickly rose through the ranks in a city already mindful of the benefits of a solid cup of coffee. Right now, they're working with Heart, out of Portland, but rumor has it they'll be roasting their own soon, not to mention moving to a larger location in Fargo's happening downtown.
“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.”
If you’re just entering the home-coffee world, and you truly want the best coffee beans you can possibly get, you’re going to need to know what type of coffee beans you want. There are a total of two origins: arabica beans, and Robusta coffee tree beans. There are distinct differences that will most definitely play into how you enjoy your cup in the morning.
In the test, I took into consideration that people have a variety of coffee preferences. Some like a classic French Roast, meaning lots of dark, toasty notes with a full body and robust (slightly burnt, IMO) flavor. More recently, coffee trends have tended toward the lighter, brighter, fruity end of the tasting spectrum, with a fair amount of acid and berry notes. We aimed for a medium roast, which would theoretically appease a variety of tastes and hit in the middle of this spectrum. Still, we picked three different coffees as our favorites so we could cover the spectrum of coffee flavor preferences. In general, we were looking for coffees that tasted nuanced in flavor, not simply burnt or watery. Hints of chocolate, berries, nuttiness, and round, creamy mouthfeel were ideal. We wanted a coffee that would taste good black—and also hold up to added milk.
Newman’s Own is a feel-good coffee—it’s organic, all company profits go to charity, and Paul Newman’s little dad-hot cartoon face on the bag grins approvingly at your choices. Its flavor is uncomplicated, and it tastes like the last coffee of the day should taste—a 3 p.m. pick-me-up that tows you calmly to the end of the workday rather than punching you in the eye-bags like a morning coffee needs to. This is the most expensive in the bunch, at $16.46 per pound, and isn’t so far ahead of Green Mountain ($13.32/lb) that it’s worth the splurge on anything but ethical or aesthetic grounds. Moreover, it falls short of Green Mountain in thermal shift and microwaveability: flavor deteriorates in proportion with temperature, and after microwaving dries out the inside of one’s mouth—not a problem if you’re a quick drinker, but sippers beware.
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.