First, the Valhalla Java Blend, a dark chocolate and smooth coffee. This coffee is certified organic and arguably some of the most potent on earth. That’s the company mission anyway. They’re proud of the high caffeination that the brews will deliver. Yes, this blend is incredibly potent and highly caffeinated but you’ll be surprised at the well-balanced and flavorful taste the comes along with it, quite a coffee roasting feat.
Propylene glycol is a potentially harmful ingredient, with side effects that include skin irritations and allergies, respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems, neurological symptoms, and potential organ toxicity. While it is recognized by the FDA as "generally safe", those trying to live a clean life may want to avoid anything that contains the chemical.
Equal Exchange organic coffee is terrific. While for some, the taste is lacking a little, many still enjoy it. Not to mention everything behind this coffee is absolutely awesome. Organic certified, Fairtrade, more than we have seen ever before. Even certified Kosher! In addition, the company is just great. Worker-owned, fair pay to all of their workers and farmers, job security, and so much more. Equal Exchange definitely lives up to their name.
This might seem like an elaborate set-up, but we actually came about all this after struggling for a couple of years drinking coffee and getting sick from it. I finally discovered that I am sensitive to the acids in coffee. This put me on a lot of research on coffee, the acids in it, how it is made and the best ways to grind and brew it. Both my husband and I are fairly frugal but after reading that coffee is the worst sprayed crop in the world except for Christmas trees (ever notice how Christmas tree farms have nothing but dead ground around the trees.... yeah, exactly like that!), we made the decision to do this. Also, I now can enjoy and drink coffee every morning without any abdominal pain.
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.
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.
I got a toasted multiseed bagel + cream cheese, as well as a chai latte with soy milk. They have plenty of pastry and coffee options, and they support a great cause, i.e., economically just and environmentally sound trade partnerships (paraphrased from their website just FYI). The toasted bagel was perfect for the slightly rainy and chilly day, and I appreciated how the chai latte wasn't too sweet.
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.