Born in the mountains of Indonesia, Green Mountain Coffee Sumatran Reserve is an exotic brew that delivers the character of deliciously dark roast with organic farming standards. If you’ve been searching for a full-bodied coffee that still fits the organic guidelines then this is an option that’s available in relative mass and won’t break the bank. Grown over 12,000 feet in elevation, it’s likely helpful in discouraging pests and promoting a proper fruiting of the coffee.
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.
Years in the making, this inspired (and inspiring) flagship location for an established local roaster features an in-house bakery (Ibis, their own), a roasting plant, along with three levels of hangout space, including a rooftop deck. Kansas City coffee is pretty top drawer, and has been for a while now (Thou Mayest, Quay, Magnolia, Oddly Correct), but this happy spot in the city's Crossroads district has pretty much blown the doors off. Nobody's complaining.
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.
The idea of a K-Cup is definitely going to turn off a coffee snob. They like to have total control over the coffee—from the roasting to the grinding to the brewing to the preparing (God forbid you add milk!). They may consider using their own beans in a reusable K-Cup, but the fact that they can't control the brewing temperature and duration of the Keurig machine means they will look at the K-Cups the way they would a cup of convenience store coffee.
This equal exchange coffee not only makes you feel good about buying organic and fair trade products, but it tastes great too! I typically purchase Starbucks coffee, and was a very loyal customer. After reading the reviews, I thought it was worth a try, especially considering I could get three bags less than the cost of two Starbucks. This coffee has little to no acidity or aftertaste and is suprisingly smooth. I think I found a new favorite!
If you're a no-frills coffee drinker, this simple but flavorful Colombian Peaks pod from ubiquitous coffee brand Eight O'Clock Coffee is for you. It has a well-balanced flavor with a straightforward coffee taste that shines through. Reviewers claim that these pods quickly replaced their morning trip to the coffee house after one taste. These coffee pods are compatible with Keurig single-serve coffee machines.

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.
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.
And while you could certainly buy an expensive cup of coffee on your way to work, it’s far more economical – and often, far tastier – to brew your own. But how do you know which beans make for the best cup of brew? Should you buy whole beans or pre-ground coffee? What’s the difference between robusta and arabica? And does the degree of roasting affect the flavor?
We couldn’t have a cheap coffee article without mentioning McCafe coffee! Rounding the top three, McCafe medium roast scored well among known coffee brands, but ranked seventh in our overall tasting list. Homebrewing this cup of coffee will only set you back $.50 per ounce, very reasonable and below average in cost. Our testers were split if this was either a medium or dark coffee, but either way it ranked well on quality. Our tasters also liked the balanced nature of this brew and included comments such as “bitter, but smooth” and “acidic, but fruity.”
Bagged coffee is standard, from grocery stores to coffee roasters (most of them), but subtle variations make for significant differences among these coffees, particularly in price. This is complicated by the fact that a bag of coffee is often referred to as a “pound,” when in fact most bags only hold between 10 and 12 ounces of coffee. A bag of Newman’s Own Organic coffeecosts $10.29, only $0.10 more than a bag of Starbucks coffee, but Newman’s is only a 10-ounce bag to Starbucks’ 12 ounce. Brewer beware!
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.
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.
I personally prefer an Espresso machine, which is ideal for me as they can create Lattes, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Espresso and so many more. Espresso machines pressurize hot water which extracts the coffee from a pod. They can be used at home and there are also bigger versions that are used in cafés. Generally, they’re quick and efficient and require minimum maintenance.
According to researchers, regular or conventional coffee is steeped in pesticides and other chemicals. The result of a study conducted by CS Monitor found that over 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers are being used to grow regular coffee. It suggests that in one cup of coffee, there could be over 1,000 chemicals present that can be linked to illnesses and health issues.
Café du Monde, like Chock Full o’ Nuts, is as much a stylistic choice as a gastronomic one, and both require a deep well of cultural identification to stomach on a regular basis. Chicory has historically been used as a coffee substitute as well as a flavoring agent, and chicory coffee in the US is closely associated with New Orleans coffee culture. Café du Monde is named for an actual coffee stand in New Orleans that has been in operation since the 1860s, and may be the best-known domestic producer of chicory coffee, if not the only one. The iconic marigold can includes a recipe for café au lait, the traditional chicory coffee drink sold at the IRL Café du Monde; given the parameters of this coffee taste-test, and the practical concerns of an at-home coffee drinker without the ability or desire to boil milk every morning just to stomach their coffee, I drank it black. This may have been a mistake. The flavor of chicory is interesting, and even initially enjoyable, but the romance was gone for me after about two minutes. I had a similar physical reaction to Chock Full o’ Nuts, my face contorting involuntarily into what I feel compelled to call a Chicory Frown. This worsened as it cooled, but cold black chicory coffee is nothing compared to microwaved chicory coffee. After a single sip I poured it out in the sink. Chicory has its devotees, but I fear the taste is not one I can acquire.
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.

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