Promising review for their Quarter Caf blend: "Finally, coffee I can drink! I came across this product by accident and I'm so thankful I did. I have a very energized baby (who I'm currently breastfeeding) and normal coffee gets to my baby. I didn't have coffee for quite a while, but this came in yesterday so I had my morning cup of coffee without any guilt. It tastes great and it's exactly what I need to start my day." —Kristina Hunter
Although the largest volume of organically grown coffee is produced in Latin America, particularly in Peru and Mexico, Africa also produces significant volumes. We have tested and enjoyed many engaging and distinctive organically grown coffees from Africa over the past couple of years, hence the subject of this report. Our hope was that we would source a range of organically certified coffees from several producing countries on the African continent.
In general, arabica beans make the best cup of coffee. They are more expensive, however, as the Coffea arabica plant is hard to grow and susceptible to pests and disease. What’s more, it needs several years to mature before it will produce cherries. Most arabica beans are grown in South America, particularly Brazil and Columbia, but Africa also produces crops of these valuable beans.
The K475 is one of the most expensive K-Cup Pod Single Coffee Makers from Keurig. Coming in a bit more expensive than the K250 model (which is slimmer and doesn’t have a digital screen) and quite a lot more than the K55 model, which is currently a best seller on Amazon. So, while we were testing the K475, we were always asking ourselves: is it worth the money?
Kenneth Davids is a coffee expert, author and co-founder of Coffee Review. He has been involved with coffee since the early 1970s and has published three books on coffee, including the influential Home Roasting: Romance and Revival, now in its second edition, and Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying, which has sold nearly 250,000 copies over five editions. His workshops and seminars on coffee sourcing, evaluation and communication have been featured at professional coffee meetings on six continents.
I bought this because they replaced the office coffee-maker with a Keurig machine and it was every employee for himself! I do like the kick that this medium roast blend gives, but the flavor is lacking. The machine brews the coarsely-ground coffee so quickly, that it's not a particularly bold cup. My big issue is that with these products, the cost of the coffee is several times that of buying the beans and grinding them (or having them ground), even at a Starbucks, and the packaging is ridiculous. The amount of non-recycled waste that my usual 3-4 cups/day creates weighs on my conscience. At work, I have gone back to drinking tea.
Featuring 100% Arabica Beans for high quality taste, and having USDA Organic credentials, First Colony Coffee is packed in 24 ounce bags of dark roasted beans. Many customers enjoyed the rich dark flavor they found in this rainforest blend. A few experts felt that their cup was average in taste. Some recommended cold brewing the beans, while others recommended grinding the beans at the last minute before brewing to enhance the flavor, using double the amount recommended per every six- ounce cup of coffee. Most appreciated that the coffee is advertised as Fair Trade.
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
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.
K-Cups were created by Keurig to be used with their specialized Keurig machines. Shortly after the original line of Keurig machines was released, coffee makers began to release their own generic-brand K-Cups. Over time, Keurig began to lose market share to these other coffee makers. They released the Keurig 2.0 machines that were ONLY compatible with K-Cups manufactured by Keurig.
What we love about this coffee is its blend of economy and flavor. This is one of the most affordable coffees out there, ounce for ounce. And despite being so cheap, it doesn’t compromise too far on flavor. Being a medium roast, it does have a bitter yet slight acidic aftertaste. The packaging is large and generous, and it uses Mountain Grown beans for superior aroma. The brand also sports UTZ Certification for Sustainability.
Available online in five-pound bags or at various locations in bulk bins, this organically grown Guatemalan coffee is produced by mainly Mayan farmers in the Department of El Quiché. Equal Exchange is a co-operatively owned business founded in 1986 focused on sustainability and social responsibility. Visit www.equalexchange.coop or call 774-776-7389 for more information.
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.
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.
Colombian coffee is renowned for its unique, well-tempered taste. The Signature 100% Supremo is full of the flavor and aroma of fresh roasted single-origin coffee beans. Blended with all-Columbian coffee, it contains a specially crafted formula with dark roasted beans, a formula that also makes it stand out as one of the most flavorful. It is finely ground, smooth, and delivered ready to brew by just pouring it in hot milk or water.
Bright. Lemon. Red Honey. If any of those cupping notes sound like your preference, perhaps you’ll enjoy the Dark Costa Rica Tarrazu K-cup. Grown in the rugged mountains of the “Land of Saints” in Southeastern Costa Rica at over 1200 meters, this is a coffee that lends heavily to those ins search of intense flavor. Costa Rican coffees are often prized for their high notes and their smooth body.
The Hawaiian Islands are known the world over for beautiful beaches, diverse microclimates, and both active and dormant volcanoes — pretty much paradise, as the cliché goes. Hawaiian culture is both uniquely American and, in many ways, happily incongruous with mainstream American culture. One island in particular, Hawai’i Island (often called the Big Island), produces […]
If you are looking for a coffee with an exotic flavor that is also organic, this is one option that should be on your radar. It is a popular option because of the complexity it delivers. It is a dark roast, which means that you should expect a heavy body from your drink. Despite the latter, however, it will be sultry and sweet, unlike other dark roasts that can be overly bitter. This is basically because it is blended with warm spices and brown sugar to perfectly balance the flavor.
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.
Subtle Earth Organic Gourmet Coffee was started by Don Pablo coffee growers and roasters, an arm of the Burke Brands LL.C. It is certified organic and Non-GMO by CCOF. This coffee is made from special Honduran beans from the Marcala region. No chemicals were used on said coffee beans. The coffee cherries were used as fertilizer in lieu of insecticides. Additionally, the farmers also practice vermiculture. In this process, worms are used to break down organic food wastes to become fertilizer, and plant peppers are used as repellents. The Marcala region in Honduras is a known producer of excellent beans.
This is a subject of intense debate among caffeine junkies, but there are organic coffee drinkers who swear that they can taste the difference between natural and unnatural beans. Since organic coffee is naturally higher in antioxidants, who's to say that they're wrong? Their palette might be responding to the unique nutrients and compounds in their 100 percent arabica blends.
Heat, as always, is an essential factor in coffee drinkability, so my taste tests have included an assessment of the flavor at brew temperature, at room temperature, and after microwaving to return the coffee to brew temperature. Anyone who’s left a fresh, full cup sitting out just a little too long—while changing over a load of laundry, say, or tackling a pet barf emergency—knows the tragic dilemma of the cold cup, too full to top off with hot-from-the-pot coffee, too cold to drink. I am a staunch proponent of microwaving coffee rather than wasting it, though I know many people (my own boyfriend included) might call this the line between cheapness and frugality. After all, if the coffee’s cheap to begin with, what’s the waste? Still, I believe microwaveability is essential to any home coffee, and can indicate whether coffee left on the burner will deteriorate or stay more or less stable, flavor-wise.
Coffees are to people's taste, so you get ones you like and you get ones you don't. BUT some of the "K" cups don't work in a Keurig because there are indentations on the bottom of some of the brands. This was disappointing. But I like the variety pack theory overall. And with a little manipulation you can get the cups to work but for people who are coming and going and don't understand this they won't know how to make them work.
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.
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.
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.
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.