You can make iced coffee/tea as well, plus hot chocolate and a range of different brews in different sizes. There’s a permanent micro-filter basket that you can replace with paper filters. Of course, we could not resist and quickly swapped the filters for some testing. But, the paper filter did not yield any noticeable difference in the quality of the brew when compared to the permanent filter.
There were two surprises at the bottom of our list, Starbucks and Maxwell, which ranked lowest for brands you know, as well as our overall list. These two coffee giants both received bad scores in taste and finish categories. Comments included “overly acidic,” “slightly burnt” and “basic.” Both costs were below average per ounce. Maxwell was the least expensive coffee that we tested at $.23 and Starbucks ranked in the middle at $.55.
Unless you're a total geek, keeping up with the very latest in coffee tech can be a bit difficult, but we can't talk about Fort Wayne—perhaps the last place you were expecting to be talking about, right now—without talking about the fact that the city, better known as the birthplace of the Frigidaire, is also home of the Modbar, currently one of the hottest names in espresso extraction—so hot, in fact, that the company managed to attract La Marzocco as an investor and distribution partner. These days, Modbar founding partner Corey Waldron has gone back to his barista roots with this roaster/café operation, located just above the confluence of the three rivers that meet here at the heart of the city. (It's not just a thing that happens in Pittsburgh, you know.)
After training under coffee royalty across the pond (at Colonna & Small's in Bath), local native Jason Gonzalez, along with British-born wife and business partner Tiffany, are giving Vermont's long-running scene a swift kick in the backside with this smart multi-roaster operation, a very-21st century shrine to one of the state's favorite beverages (after beer, of course).
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.
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.
It feels disingenuous to make pour-over coffee with Folger’s from a plastic tub, but I have done it, and the results are quite drinkable. Canned coffee has a heftiness to it that only the darkest-roast bagged coffee achieves, and often at the expense of flavor. Folger’s is dark enough to mask distracting flavors, thin enough not to coat the esophagus with silty grounds, and so, so cheap. The label estimates it contains 60 servings—I make my coffee fairly strong, so I might not quite hit 60, but I bet it’d last me two weeks or so, which at $8 a month is cheaper than Netflix. Much like deli coffee, Folger’s has a flavor that depends greatly on proper drinking temperature—it is punishing when tepid. A microwave brings it almost back to where it needs to be, almost, but with such a large tub there’s no reason not to fix yourself another pour-over.
A popular, professional blend combining the best of Indonesian and African Robusta and Brazilian Arabica coffees, the Lavazza is simply extraordinary by any standard. It provides an intense aroma and a rich aftertaste with unique chocolaty notes. It is an ideal ground coffee for making espresso-based beverages, yet also appropriate for people who enjoy a standard cup of coffee.
Cost per Pound: From High (Very) to Reasonable. One can’t directly compare the price of Top 30 coffees from year to year because the mix of coffees varies too dramatically. In 2018, for example, two coffees on the list were priced as part of a bundle, and, for the first time in 2018, we recognized two bottled cold brew coffees, which are not priced in the same way as coffee beans.
Coffee snobs are the sort of people who know the difference between an Arabica and Robusta, have attended their fair share of "cuppings", and shun Starbucks as a place that sells "commercial swill". They prefer to brew their own coffee, which they've usually roasted themselves after importing free-trade beans from a country like Guatemala or Indonesia.
Subtle Earth whole bean light roast is one of the only coffees that made our list, boasting both certified organic and GMO free ingredients. You can tell the care that is taken from farming to finish when looking at the story of Don Pablo’s Subtle Earth coffee. Our tasters picked out a number of fruity and herbal flavors, but what won everyone over was the sweet finish with no added flavor in the beans. Costing you only $.53 per ounce, this flavorful cup provides more than just a boost of caffeine, it can also boost your savings.
One of those towns that got lucky, relatively early on, Arizona's second city still knows coffee best, at least around these parts. Right now, the city is all about this super-mod operation, featuring two high-design hangouts—one at Presta's roasting plant, the other inside the quite chic Mercado San Agustin, these days one of Tucson's favorite gathering places, and for good reason.
Professional coffee roasters roast green organic coffee beans by heating them in a large rotating drum. After about 5 to 7 minutes of intense heat, much of their moisture evaporates and the beans turn a yellow color and smell a little like popcorn. After about 8 minutes in the roaster, the "first pop" occurs. At this point the organic beans have doubled in size, crackling as they continue to expand. Many roasters stop the roasting process after the "first pop". Not Starbucks! After 10 to 11 minutes in the roaster, the organic coffee beans reach an even brown color and oil starts to appear on the surface of the bean. At somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes of roasting, the signature Starbucks flavor develops in the organic beans. The "second pop" signals that the organic coffee is ready to sell under the Starbucks label.
What is interesting about this blend is the fact that it uses premium coffee beans from all the major regions in the world. So you will get a bit of American, African and Asian flavors in this blend. And they have also managed to harmonize and balance all the flavors well, resulting in a rich and dark roast. We like the fact that Peet’s provides the roast date on the package.
There is no beating around the bush with this brand. When you buy Death Wish, you know exactly what you are getting: a higher dose of caffeine than your body should need, like ever. There is a market for robust coffee out there, and these guys are there to cater to those caffeine-heads. The brand has all the right certifications, including FairTrade. And despite using robusta beans, they have managed to keep the taste at least tolerable, which is quite an achievement.
Caribou gets several things right with this rich blend. The mix of premium Indonesian and American arabica beans results in a very complex yet smooth flavor profile. It has everything from woody, to sweet, spicy, and fruity notes. The overall flavor is bittersweet, but with enough acidity to make it lively. This is a 100% Arabica coffee, sourced from Rainforest Alliance certified growers in Asia, South, and Central America.
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.