As a mildly employed freelance writer, I have little disposable income, a lot of time on my hands, and strictly rationed vices. One such vice is coffee, which I drink more of than most people I know—even other freelance writers. But, despite my quantity-over-quality brewing habits, I’m capable of mustering some taste, and of standing by preference with reasoned conviction. So, with limited resources for fanciness and a desperate addiction in mind, I set out to determine which basic, widely available coffee brand should stand out from the rest on the grocery store shelf. I enjoy a Blue Bottle pour-over as much as the next fiend, but a $3 morning coffee is above my pay grade. I drink most of my coffee at home, from a bag of grounds that costs around $8, reupped on a bi-weekly grocery run. My choice of bag is usually determined by habit, or price, or shelf height, with less care than I take choosing a bar of soap, though I use both daily. When it comes to choosing a regular coffee—travel-mug, after-dinner, Sunday-morning coffee—which is best?
Promising review for their Original Black blend: "You can always tell when a company cares deeply about the quality of their products, and RISE is one of those companies. When you pop their tops, these bad boys literally GROWL at you, which I've since learned is an indication of a proper nitrogen-infused beverage (not to mention being just plain cool). I poured mine over ice and watched as a beautiful froth formed on top (the 'cascade,' as they call it). It's delightful, and definitely my new after-lunch pick-me-up!." —Marc
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.)
The first time I conducted my coffee taste test, I left Peet's out, and commenters were outraged. It turns out, they were right: this is a solid supermarket coffee contender, especially for people who might tend toward a darker roast. Social Media Manager Andrew Spena and I particularly liked this coffee. "I know it's not true, but I feel like this has a neutral pH balance," said Andrew. "A little nuttiness comes through once it's cooled a bit. I could see myself drinking too much of this on accident." If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is. The nuttiness and round body of this coffee set it apart. It had a chocolatey richness and some nice toasty notes. While the Thrive coffee is well-suited to those who like a lighter, fruitier roast, Peet's is perfect for people who like a rounder, nuttier, creamier, toastier flavor profile in their coffee.
The Koffee Kult from Hollywood, Florida is a true artisanal passion, roasted in small batches, by hand, to ensure quality. Thunder Bolt Whole Bean Coffee creates an exceptional cup of gourmet coffee that has inspired a cult-like following. The company prides themselves on delivering pure Arabica coffee beans, for a strong, not bitter taste. There’s no filler robusta coffee being used here.
This best-selling medium roast blend from The Original Donut Shop is smooth, well-balanced, and downright delicious paired with your favorite donut. Reviewers love this blend's pastry-shop-sweet aroma and nutty flavor that hits just the right spot in the morning. Dunking is encouraged! These coffee pods are compatible with Keurig single-serve coffee machines.
Gevaliamay have the prettiest packaging of all the assembled coffees, with a distinctive yellow bag and stylized illustrations fit for an IKEA. Despite its apparent fanciness, Gevalia is widely available in pharmacies and grocery stores, and usually for fairly cheap. A 12-ounce. bag of House Blend was $6.99 at Stop & Shop, making it the cheapest of the non-canned coffees I tested. Perhaps consequently, heat is an essential component to an enjoyable cup of Gevalia, and the taste becomes flat and headachy as it cools. However, Gevalia is the rare coffee that performs well in a microwave, and tastes as good reheated as it does freshly brewed.
When it comes to buying coffee to brew at home, I often feel lost. In an ideal world, I buy Stumptown or other great regional roasters. But that habit can get expensive—and that coffee isn't always widely available in a pinch. We all need a good—or, at least, drinkable—widely available go-to coffee brand, if for nothing else than storing for emergency situations when the good coffee has run out.
The term Organic indicates that no chemicals were used in the cultivation of the coffee. In order to proclaim that a coffee is Certified Organic, a recognized third party certifier must document the cultivation of the coffee for three years running and issue an Organic Certificate. Without the certification, the term Organic carries little weight, as there is no way to prove the producer's claim. After passing the stringent, expensive tests conducted by a certifier, the symbol of that organization can (and will) be printed prominently on the coffee's packaging. Be sure to look for this symbol when shopping.
Consider how you take your coffee. If you drink your coffee black, then you might want to lean towards the brands on our list with the highest reviews for taste. On the other hand, if you take your coffee with milk and sugar, concentrate on the prices. Additives and flavorings can mask the taste of the coffee a bit, so you don’t necessarily need the higher quality beans.
A consistent best-seller on Amazon with thousands of positive reviews, many consider this particular blend their go-to mild roast to start their busy work day or low-key weekend morning. Clean and bright with just enough sweetness and a rich, nutty flavor, Green Mountain's Breakfast Blend gets points for its consistent and balanced flavor. These pods are compatible with Keurig single-serve coffee machines.
What discussion of organic (fair-trade, vegan, gluten free) coffee beans without Portland’s own Stumptown coffee making an appearance. Stumptown Holler Mountain Coffee is the signature organic blend that lends to their popularity since the roasters humble beginnings. This popular organic offering uses peak conditioned Latin American and East African coffees to maintain a balanced, elegant and consistent profile throughout the seasons.
When we compared different machines, we looked at the availability of ordering discounted capsules. This usually happens when the manufacturers choose to sell the pods in larger packs. So, instead of buying a pack of 10 capsules at a cost of $.70 per unit, you can buy 30 at a cost of $.50 per unit. At the end of the day, this can make a significant difference in the overall operating cost of the machine.
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.
Coming from the manufacturer who’s well known for its environmentally friendly practices based on organic, sustainable, and ethical production, One Love K-Cups represent the medium roasted gourmet coffee produced using 100% Ethiopia Yirgacheffe coffee beans. With its balanced, smooth, floral notes, it provides an amazing taste that beautifully combines with brown sugar, vanilla, and exotic spices.
With a lot of coffees in the market today, it is good to have the name that you can recognize. First Colony organic fair trade whole bean coffee is certainly all that and will remain to be a superb purchase. This coffee is cost effective and widely recommended. It is also the most popular choice among most individuals. It is packed in warm and self-merchandizing bags that facilitate value, freshness and quality.
When you want full-bodied, exceptional flavor, your best bet is to go 100% Colombian. Kirkland’s signature top rated coffee beans promise to give you that even grind you’re after, seamlessly blending through your premier coffee maker or pour over coffee maker, pouring into your cup like strands of velvet. You’re really hunting down the best coffee beans for one reason, and one reason only: flavor. You want the best coffee beans to meld into your Sunday morning cup, allowing you to lean back, relax, and enjoy that earthy, fantastic cup of coffee. Dark roast lovers will get the most out of Camerons Specialty Coffee, and unanimous coffee enthusiasts will love the insanely inexpensive cost of a whole three pounds of this delicious roast.
Contrary to popular opinion, lighter roasted beans actually contain more caffeine. For some coffee consumers, the caffeine content is the most important factor to consider when purchasing beans. A light roast Robusta bean will contain the most caffeine of all. Is the purpose of your cup of coffee an after dinner digestif, or a bullhorn to wake you up? Those requiring more caffeine may benefit from an espresso instead of a regular drip brew.
In addition, it contains a full, sweet finish with a hint of chocolate overtones that is distinctive of the natural properties of mocha. Just like all coffees from the bean coffee company, this one hundred percent arabica organic coffee was hand roasted in small batches and packaged at the peak of its cycle in order to preserve its natural flavors and fresh-roasted quality.
In the kitchen of my studio apartment I have a Mr. Coffee automatic drip coffee machine, two French presses, a combination travel mug–French press, a Mr. Coffee espresso machine I bought in college, a black plastic pour-over coffee cone, and an emergency jar of Nescafé Clasico instant coffee, used twice. I am nothing if not prepared for the inevitability of coffee. In the course of a typical morning at home, I drink an eight-cup pot of auto-drip coffee—primarily for convenience. Excepting instant (which I reserve for true coffee emergencies), auto-drip coffee requires the least amount of work, and because my machine is a steal-a-cup (meaning the pot can be removed while brewing), my gratification is nearly immediate.
According to set standard requirements of organic coffee in different countries such as USA, organic coffee should be free of chemical contaminants and all those firms that grow coffee beans use some practices to minimize most of the side effects to workers and environment. Organic coffee is actually one of the largest and most useful crops in the world. The highest consumers of coffee are the United States of America. And also USA is the largest, market for organic coffee, even though organic coffee accounts for 6.6 % of the world’s harvested coffee. There are many brands of organic coffee in the market today where you can choose the best for your breakfast.
While there are some places you can find the best coffee, there are many places that you should definitely not buy coffee from.Where To AVOID:The Grocery store - They often sell low-quality coffee beans with a long shelf life. (The exception here is Whole Foods and other artisan stores, which carry coffee from reputable roasters.)Amazon - Again, it’s the question of freshness. It is often roasted ahead of time so it could be packaged, shipped and stocked in the warehouse. PRO TIP: Even if the Amazon listing says “Fresh Roasted,” it might be 6 months old, as that is fresh in comparison with many of the other store bought beans. Yikes!HOW to Choose The Best Coffee BeansWhat type of coffee should you choose? Sometimes coffee bags are covered in words that don’t mean anything to us.Let’s decipher some of those for you.Arabica beans vs Robusta beansArabica beans are far superior to Robusta in terms of flavor and quality. They can be grown at higher elevations, giving the beans more time to develop their favor.Robusta beans contain more caffeine than Arabica. They are also much more disease resistant and produce a higher yield. That is why farmers still like to grow robusta, even though they sell for a much lower price.Robusta is grown for companies that produce instant coffee and other lower quality, grocery store blends. You probably won’t see a roaster advertising their Robusta coffee. Stay away from it if you love great coffee.Acidity and BitternessDifferent coffees will have different amounts of acid content.Acidity is not a bad thing, as that is what gives coffee its natural flavor. Some people like more, some like less. The acidity present in coffee has more to do with taste as opposed to pH, though many claim acidity in coffee to cause digestive issues.Coffees from Africa are typically characterized by a higher acidity, with fruity or floral tasting notes.Coffees from places like Brazil or Sumatra tend to have a much lower acidity with cocoa and nutty notes.PRO TIP: A big part of it has to do with growing altitude. Coffee's grown at lower altitudes generally have lower acidity level. Read this article if you want to learn more about low acid coffee.
There are some very compelling reasons to buy organic coffee. Fans of this modern-day morning fuel are aware of most of them. Organic coffee is grown using farming methods which are environmentally friendly. These methods include using natural ways to control pests without chemicals, growing coffee plants in healthy soil, and managing weeds naturally. Coffee which is grown using conventional methods is often heavily sprayed with pesticides which eventually run off into the drinking water for nearby communities.
Don Pablo, a family business, has provided dedication to the organic process for several decades now, delivering robust coffees from the source. Subtle Earth Organics is an exceptional Honduran coffee from the family’s specific farming region. The growing process is very important to this product as the fruit of the coffee bean go back into the soil as compost and fertilizer. High altitudes provide that no insecticides are necessary.
With this Colombian grown organic coffee in a K-cup, this is the perfect caffeine fix that can stimulate the senses. Similar to other dark roasts, you can expect notes of dark chocolate in this coffee. The beans have been through a long roasting process, which also means that the acidity is reduced. There are also toasted notes with the aftertaste of this coffee, but you do not have to worry since it does not have a pronounced bitterness.
My daughter bought this coffee and gave it to me. She liked the idea that it was organic & free trade and so did I. This coffee is really good. I ran out so I bought a similar brand fair trade, Colombian and organic from a local store and could really tell the difference. The other coffee was bitter, no matter how I much I used, whereas with this coffee even when I make it stronger it is very smooth and tastes great the only problem I have is that I drink more of it than I should. I have ordered it again and set it up on Subscribe & Save, may as well save where I can.
With all of that indoor weather, and one of the country's top coffee importers right in town, the depth and breadth of Twin Cities café culture will come as no surprise, but in a town where so many spots—right on up to the best ones—are either too stiff or too much into the business of bells and whistles, this recent entry from two talents in their early twenties, a small-batch roasting operation stripped down to the essentials, is an enthusiastic vote for simplicity, not to mention good customer service, and it feels like a winner.
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.
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.
The main feature of the “FlexBrew” is the removable single-serve pack holder which allows you to choose between pre-packaged coffee pods or freshly ground coffee. While it does make a decent coffee on both settings, if you know you’re only making freshly ground coffee you’ll be happier with a single cup coffee maker that’s designed solely for that, and vice versa.
This blend is made from a mix of beans ethically sourced from Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico, and is named after the ancient Mediterranean island. The Corsica blend has deep, dark, chocolatey notes and a robust flavor, making it a bold roast many love to drink first thing in the morning. Many reviewers specifically note that this is their "go-to morning blend" since it's both strong and versatile. The cocoa notes in this blend make it pair especially nicely with milk or cream, although it can certainly stand alone and be sipped black.
Described by taste-testers as "nutty, earthy, smooth, and bold," these Sumatra Dark Roast pods from Starbucks are so bold in flavor that some reviewers claim they can actually be brewed twice to cut back on waste. Herbal and earthy, this single-origin coffee blend is not to be missed. These coffee pods are compatible with Keurig single-serve coffee machines.
Up next, we have Jo Espresso. It is a USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified coffee brand. It is made using the top 2% of all Arabica coffee in the world. It is produced by Jo Coffee Inc. and is one of the top coffee brands in Amazon. This brand has over 5,000 positive reviews and comments to date. The company is a member of several international coffee organizations such as The Roaster’s Guild, Specialty Coffee Association of America, Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance and Slow Food USA.
Colombian coffee has earned a global reputation because of its well-balanced flavor that is sure to tickle your taste buds. It has an exquisite flavor that comes from 100% Arabica beans. To add, the fact that it is organic, like the others mentioned in this post, will provide an assurance that it comes with a clean flavor. The beans have been hand-picked by experts and were sun-dried to provide the exquisite flavor that you will surely like.
“This is the best fair-trade medium roast I’ve found that can be ordered online. I used to live where I could go to a local importer and roaster of beans, and this product almost rivals those beans in quality. The beans come super fresh inside the package and are evenly roasted. The flavor is smooth and deep, with a nice velvety mouthfeel that is normally reserved for darker roasts. My favorite way to enjoy these are with a French press, but they are also delicious from a drip coffee maker and make great stove-top espresso in a Moka pot. When I run out of locally roasted beans I always order these to hold me over.”
For the first time we allowed ready-to-drink, cold-brewed, pure black coffees into consideration for the Top 30. Two superb cold-brewed, bottled coffees made the list, the Bird Rock Red Bourbon Honey-Processed Cold Brew at No. 17 (94 points) and the States Coffee Reserve Cold Brew (from a Tanzania single-origin coffee) at No. 21 (also 94 points). For more on the cold coffee trend see our report Cold-Brewed Black Coffees: Quality in a Can.
Since finding a reliable brand of coffee can be difficult we’ve taken the leg work out and found the best options for getting that organic goodness into your cup. First, know that organic coffee is coffee produced without the aid of artificial chemical substances, such as certain additives or some pesticides and herbicides. Second, know that you’re in for some seriously impressive coffee.
Approaches ranged from commitment to organic as a core value in a business model to mere coincidence or afterthought. Furthermore, several of the top-scoring coffees came from roasters who don’t label their coffees as organic, even when these coffees are farmed organically. The reason? They don’t have USDA certification as organic roasters, making it illegal for them to do so.
The pleasures of a fine traditional Sumatra are not quite conventional coffee pleasures. The characteristic layering of chocolate, pungent fruit and earth notes in an exceptional wet-hulled Sumatra may mildly turn off coffee drinkers who enjoy more orthodox coffee pleasures: juicier, sweeter fruit, say, or more citrus and flowers, or a suave balance with no […]
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.