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?
Who would have guessed that one of the most impressive coffee roasters in the West would have come up in the land of hot drinks abstainers? No doubt the pioneering team behind this single estate-only operation were slightly surprised, too—at a time when Salt Lake had very little good coffee to speak of, they took the plunge; now it's hard to imagine Utah's impressive artisan scene without them.
This is loosely on the quality of storing your beans: if you’re a coffee connoisseur, and you’re grinding away every day, be sure to leave your grinders clean. Coffee oil will gather and taint any new beans that enter the grinder—no matter how fresh, no matter how exquisite—and essentially ruin your experience. When preparing your beans, be sure to keep your machines clean.
“Organic certification,” says Aaron Jordan of Roast House Coffee, whose Ethiopia Suke Quto scored 92, “is the bedrock of Roast House’s green coffee purchasing values. Seven years ago when the company started, we made a commitment to exclusively purchasing organically grown coffees, and one of the ways we prove that commitment is through certifications. It’s very important to the core of our business values and ethics.” So, Roast House has essentially built its business on organic certification as a fundamental value, and has drawn customers who share that priority, rather than picking and choosing coffees to market to various customer sectors. However, the Suke Quto bag doesn’t include the USDA organic seal, simply because Jordan reserves bags with the seal for his year-round offerings. (The Suke Quto is a limited reserve).
On the other hand, from our inception Coffee Review has been committed to starting with what we actually experience in the cup, not with product categories or marketing considerations or fashion. It is true that we took into account some extrinsic factors like value, rarity and sustainable intentions into account when we narrowed the number of very high-rated coffees from about 100 to 30, but ultimately, sensory quality and distinction in the cup, as determined by blind-tasting and as reflected in rating, was the entry point to consideration for the list and the primary influence on where coffees landed on it.
Enjoying the right cup of joe is paramount to starting your day off on the right foot so, naturally, choosing which brand to enjoy isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Whether you’re concerned about ethical sourcing, sustaining the environment, or you simply want the best taste nature has to offer, organic coffee can be the perfect way to start your day. In addition to hosting fewer (or no) synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides, the soil where organic coffee is grown also tends to be richer in nutrients.
We tried the light roast. It was light, but with just the right amount of flavor for us. It would be best to drink it straight. Other customers found it too bland and preferred mixing it with other roasts to give it more body. This coffee also has low acidity. Another pro is that it is very affordable. Because of this, we rate Subtle Earth Organic Gourmet Coffee with four out of five stars.
“Is it the strongest coffee I’ve had? Probably not. Is it one of the best-tasting? Yes. The flavor transports me to some random and sinful island in Indonesia (a story for another day). Oddly, Death Wish brands its coffee as almost dangerously strong, and strong it is. However, the organic coffee maker should be shouting from the roof about the taste and quality. Yes, caffeine sells, but this is one incredibly great-tasting coffee. I would easily say second best I’ve ever had and certainly the best I’ve purchased at a store.”
I try to eat & drink all-organic whenever possible, including my coffee, in order to avoid ingesting toxins. Certified organic coffee (in this case, certified by QAI--Quality Assurance Intl.) is grown & processed w/o pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, & other potentially harmful chemicals. So, Newman's Own 'Organics' Coffee is my daily 'go-to' coffee. I like the flavor of this 'Newman's Special Blend Medium Roast - Extra Bold' organic Arabica coffee. It's smooth, rich, hearty, & full-bodied, not bitter & not too acidic. It produces a pleasing aroma every morning from my Keurig B70 Platinum coffeemaker. I don't use any sweeteners, but I do stir in some Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Crème. Mmmm! You do sacrifice some freshness & flavor for the convenience of K-Cups vs. grinding your own beans. But the extra time & mess of coffee grinding are luxuries I can't afford in the rush of weekday mornings. One negative, & the reason for just 4 stars instead of 5: I do find that I sometimes get a stale box of K-Cups, even when the future 'best buy' date on the bottom of the 18-pod box is up to 20 months away, as was the case just last month w/a carton stamped w/an April 2019 'best buy' date. The distributor is Keurig Green Mountain. One wonders just how this coffee is initially stored, then transported, & then finally stored again after it arrives at Best Buy's facilities. For my part, I always keep the K-Cups stored in a cool, dry place, as recommended.
Coffee Bean Direct comes in a package well-above the average size of the others in our review. Offered in a 5lb bag only, Coffee Bean Direct is able to sell high-quality beans at a lower price. No wonder it was neck-and-neck with our number one pick when it came to Cost. While it’s an extremely popular choice on Amazon, it fell behind the others on Performance due to a lower Amazon rating.
Randy Lint, of Big Creek Coffee Roasters in Hamilton, Montana sent us an Ethiopia Gedeb Halo Beriti (94) that is certified organic at origin, but is not labeled organic. While Lint has been a certified organic handler in the past, he has found the cumbersome process of certifying his roastery not worth the cost, though he is still committed to the associated practices. He says his local customers trust his sourcing, and his business is successful without offering the added reassurance of certification. Nevertheless, Lint acknowledges that this might change as his roastery grows.
The Sunshine State has its share of interesting new cafes, but this extremely good roaster transcends not only its peers, but also bests the top offerings in many other states in the Southeast, and perhaps beyond. And here we are, still just talking about the coffee—the energy of Panther's cafes, which function as life hubs in a growing number of neighborhoods, from Coconut Grove to Little Haiti, is typically something approaching electric, and never to be missed. Don’t start a South Florida day without a visit to Panther.
Regardless, Kicking Horse makes sure to bring properly roasted beans to whomever is searching for them. What you’ll find with their signature blend, Kick Ass, is mainly Arabica beans sourced from top growers in South America and Indonesia, and roasted to a light perfection. Lighter on the spectrum than others on this list, if you’ve been disappointed at the darkness on the list thus far, search no further.
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.
Brought to you by the Death Wish Company, Valhalla Java Odinforce Blend is a top-ranking ground coffee made from beans sourced from Indonesian and Central and South America’s very best. It is a masterful artisan roast, carefully processed to yield maximum rich flavor along with a reinvigorating caffeine content. Its coffee beans are expertly selected and carefully roasted for an ultra-strong, bold, yet at the same time, surprisingly smooth cup of coffee.
Eight O’Clock Coffee is a sleeper in this set, brand-wise, but a surprisingly enjoyable cuppa. It’s the only brand I tasted about which I had no preconceptions, and it turned out to be one of my favorites. It’s dark without being bitter, and is solidly microwaveable. It’s slightly ahead of the median bagged coffee price in this set but streets ahead in flavor, making it a solid value buy.
French press - French press coffee involves "pressing" your coffee grounds to the bottom of a container instead of filtering them the traditional way. While you can use any type of bean to make your grounds, there are certain roasts and coarseness levels that work best with a French press, so you'll want to do some research before you start experimenting.
Of the 14 samples we received of organic-certified coffees produced in Africa origins outside Ethiopia, nine were from the Democratic Republic of Congo and two were from Uganda. Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda contributed one sample each. These 14 coffees ranged in scored from 84-91, with five scoring 90 or above, a good showing, and encouragement for those who may want to consider buying organic coffees from these origins. The vast Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which contributed nine samples, has established itself as a source of fine specialty coffee through the development of the SOPACDI cooperative in the far eastern part of the DRC, just across Lake Kivu from Rwanda. This rapidly growing cooperative now has 5,600 members and is apparently succeeding its goal to help heal wounds left by the latest in eastern Congo’s seemingly endless string of horrific civil wars. The cooperative’s coffees typically carry both organic and Fair Trade certification and can be quite attractive in the style of the pungently spicy, sweet-savory coffees that often come out of the African Great Lakes region.
No study we have seen links prepared or brewed coffee, including espresso, with significant levels of contaminants. Typical is a 2008 Australian study which meticulously tested a wide range of coffee beverages purchased randomly in the Australian food service market and found that “there were no detectable levels in any of the coffee [beverages] sampled. This included all 98 pesticide residues, 18 PAHs, beryllium, mercury and ochratoxin A.” The key findings summary concluded that “The overall levels of chemical contaminants identified in this survey are generally considered to be low and are consistent with those reported in other comparable surveys both in Australia and overseas.”
Your favorite coffee connoisseur might have an argument for single origin vs blended origin beans, but the average coffee drinker will not taste the difference. Each origin has a unique attribute that is added to the bean, but the taste is not the main reason to look into blended or single origin. There are very few regulations that mandate disclosure of type, or percentages, of the blends in your bag of coffee. As a result some expensive blends may be a low percentage of a desirable origin and the majority could be from a less desirable origin.
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.
The taste and quality of the coffee bean depends largely on the environment in which it grows. Coffee plants require ample rainfall in the early months as fruit blooms, and less so afterwards after the fruit begins to ripen. For this reason, rainforests prove to be the ideal location for coffee production. As the fruit of the coffee plant is hand-picked, the seeds need to be dismantled from the fruit. The first method of doing so is called wet processing. The seeds are fermented in water for two or three days to get rid off the excess flesh or pulp which may be sticking to the seed. The second method is dry processing, the fruit is picked from seeds and laid out in sun for two to three weeks, turned regularly. The latter is the cheaper and lower quality method of processing beans.
Our research was then directed towards the price point and determining what classifies as a “cheap” cup of coffee. If you are heading to Starbucks to grab a grande cup of regular coffee, it will put you back $2.10. McDonald’s premium roast coffee will cost $1.29. Dunkin’ Donuts medium coffee is $1.89. Frappuccinos, lattes and mochas will double your coffee cost.
A double shot of modernity for the capital city's handsome but still sleepy downtown, this up-to-speed café from Auburn's Prevail Coffee Roasters plants a flag for the future, just down Dexter Avenue from the seat of state government. Housed in temporary digs just now, the café will ultimately land inside an impressive (and almost completed) mixed-use complex just over Court Square, carved from Montgomery's iconic Kress building.
Another early top player in the coffee game—think Alterra, Ancora, others—Wisconsin had one hell of a head start, so it shouldn't be any surprise that one of the country's top roasters (Intelligentsia-trained) can be found in a village of 200 people way up in the mostly rural center of the state. Their tasting room keeps very limited hours, but it's worth the effort to get here. If that's out of the question, not to worry—you'll find them carried all over the state, not to mention well beyond.
Vancouver-based Doi Chaang Coffee is a unique partnership between the Akha Hill Tribe of coffee growers in Thailand, and the roasters and sellers in British Columbia, who split company profits equally. They call this practice “Beyond Fair Trade” and the partnership produces economic growth in the mountain villages of Thailand and the highest quality coffee for consumers in North America.
This is one of the blends that is almost available at any local warehouse and can be purchased at cash and carry price. The company works with farmers intensively to supply housing, health care, meal programs and education to workers and their respective families. They normally visit families to ensure that the coffee quality and continuance of a community aid programs. The cup of this coffee contains 345 flavor elements and it is the work of the roaster to extract all these flavors in a perfect balance. San Francisco bay has developed its own roasting system which meshes a art of roasting coffee with a science of producing consistency and perfection. You will find an organic that is roasted into fullest flavor, fresh and with quality in San Francisco.
One of the best things about this product is the fact that it went through the Techno Roasting process. The latter is an FDA-approved procedure, which has the benefit of eliminating the acid in the coffee that causes heartburn. This also preserves the qualities of the coffee, such as the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. To add, it also removes the bitterness of the coffee while retaining its rich body and flavor. This means that you can enjoy unadulterated coffee with the purest flavor and aroma.
Do you want to know what passion tastes like? How about passion mixed with coffee? Caffe Appassionato can answer that for you in a single cup of organic decaf coffee. This lively blend comes to you straight from South and Central America and has been shade grown. This allows its producers to protect all the migratory bird populations of the area at the same time as growing their delicious beans.
In addition to that, this java has about 59 mg caffeine in every fluid-ounce of coffee. In fact, its single serving will comprise up to 708 mg caffeine if the serving is of 112 fluid-ounce. It is fairly more than many people could bear for a single day. Despite the coffee being of French roast and of high caffeine content it tastes astonishingly sweet.
The first thing you need to know about this organic decaf coffee is that it comes in whole beans. Therefore, this means that you will have to ground it yourself at home. The amazing thing about this, if you ground just enough beans for one cup every morning, you will be able to taste freshly ground coffee every single day. It doesn’t get better than this! The Decaf Hurricane Espresso is a dark and robust roast that will win your heart in no time!
This year, roughly 100 coffees scored 94 points or higher, a tribute in large part to the ever-intensifying innovation and dedication of the world’s leading coffee producers and roasters. Obviously, all of these 94+ coffees are worthy of celebration, as are the exceptional coffees hovering just behind them at 93 and 92. We couldn’t squeeze them all into our Top 30. We forced ourselves to select the 30 that we felt were worthy of particular recognition.
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.
It was about time for a café au Parisienne on our list. Say hello to Bulletproof, a whole bean coffee that strives to find the absolute perfection as far as a cup of Joe can go. Every single bean that you will find in your own pack or this organic decaf coffee has been handpicked by a skilled person in the deep of Central America when it was ripe and ready to be enjoyed. Therefore, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy.
Here at the Strategist, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy (like knife sharpeners), but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star reviews and lots of ’em) products and single out the most convincing. While we’ve written about the best coffee machines, found the best pour-over coffee setups and French presses in every material, and even asked baristas and coffee roasters about their favorite coffee grinders and coffee makers, here we’re rounding up the best organic coffee beans you can find on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)