The goal is to get the beans to the cup, in whatever way you prefer. When it comes to the actual brewing process, you can take your own path—French press, standard type of coffee makers, or whatever you’d like, but it all starts and ends with the beans and how they’re handled. You need to prepare your beans properly to ensure that rich, smooth flavor you’re after.
Cost per Pound: From High (Very) to Reasonable. One can’t directly compare the price of Top 30 coffees from year to year because the mix of coffees varies too dramatically. In 2018, for example, two coffees on the list were priced as part of a bundle, and, for the first time in 2018, we recognized two bottled cold brew coffees, which are not priced in the same way as coffee beans.
Also try As you might expect in a city that’s been at it for some time now, coffee is for everyone in Chicago, not just the cool kids. Back of the Yards Coffeehouse, for example, is a true oasis in a tough neighborhood, while down in impoverished Englewood, the non-profit Kusanya Café & Roastery has been holding down the fort since 2013. Up on the North Side, the still-scarred (but fast-gentrifying) Uptown neighborhood has Everybody's Coffee, a passion project from a group of fun-loving coffee snobs, living in a local commune. (Author disclosure: These same coffee snobs got me addicted to the stuff, back in the mid-'90's.)
Next on our list is Jungle Costa Rican Coffee. This brand of coffee blend is made from pure Arabica beans. It is made and distributed by its namesake company, which is located in Doral, Florida. The beans are mainly sourced from local growers in Costa Rica. The beans are grown in fertile volcanic soil which gives the beans a light and mild acidic taste. Each batch of beans are roasted in the right temperature and in the right amount of time and are packed in heat-sealed high barrier stand-up foil bags.

Coffee is grown in several places around the world. All of these locations share proximity to the equator, a cool-to-moderate tropical climate, rich soil, and, in the case of arabica beans, a high altitude. And while you might assume that a coffee bean from Brazil is really no different from a coffee bean from Kenya, there actually are subtle taste differences depending on where the beans were grown.

Ethiopia coffees, whether certified organic or not, are produced from tree varieties native to Ethiopia and grown virtually nowhere else. These varieties tend to produce coffees with typically striking cup character: bright, lively and balanced in structure and intricately engaging in aroma and flavor. Furthermore, the best mills in Ethiopia are also ingenious and meticulous in their processing methods. Classic wet-processed or “washed” Ethiopia coffees (in which fruit skin and pulp are removed before drying) tend to highlight floral and citrus notes, while “natural”-processed Ethiopias (beans are dried inside the fruit rather than after the fruit has been removed) lean toward lusher fruit and deeper flowers. Fine examples of organic coffees prepared by both processing methods appear in this month’s reviews.


There is no beating around the bush with this brand. When you buy Death Wish, you know exactly what you are getting: a higher dose of caffeine than your body should need, like ever. There is a market for robust coffee out there, and these guys are there to cater to those caffeine-heads. The brand has all the right certifications, including FairTrade. And despite using robusta beans, they have managed to keep the taste at least tolerable, which is quite an achievement.
Produced by Equal Exchange, this coffee is a blend of French Roasted and Full City coffees. The content is gourmet Arabica beans. The beans are fairly traded in Latin American from small farmer cooperatives. The resulting coffee is said to have flavors of chocolate brownie, toffee, malt, and caramel corn. It is a deep and rich blend which customers enjoy because it is not bitter, has a wonderful aroma, and is fresh when it arrives.
Most coffee consumed in the continental United States (in QSR restaurants and most cafes,) are arabica bean-originated. Arabica coffee is what you’ll often hear or read as “mountain-grown” coffee, due to its necessity for being grown at elevations of 18,000 feet or higher. It’s the ideal climate to grow these perfect beans, package them, and maintain their environment, or “perfect coffee eco system,” until consumption.
The process known as wet milling uses water to extract and separate the seeds from the cherries. This method uses a lot of water, so some have deemed it as not environmentally friendly. Despite this, wet milling is still in extensive use as it produces coffee that has a fruity and bright character. It is a pricy and gruesome process, but it gives the highest quality beans.
It is a nice smooth mild and non-acidic coffee *BUT* it does not have the distinctive taste of Ethiopian, or any African coffee I have tried. I love African coffee. In fact, the only reason I am ordering coffee is that noone brings African coffees into Hawaii :( :( For many years I had Single Origin Coffees Tanzanian Gombe Reserve - Whole Bean 10 oz on subscription, but then they raised shipping to $30 making it impractical. I first tried Coffee Bean Direct Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Whole Bean Coffee, 16-Ounce Bags (Pack of 3) which was either burned, or poor quality beans; tasted burned and left a bitter aftertaste. I had a similar experience with their Kenya reserve, and so with 10 pounds of bad coffee in my freezer tentatively tried a sampler Coffee Masters Around The World In Twelve Coffees Variety Pack, 1.5-Ounce Packets (Pack of 12) and was very impressed with the quality and roast, and so ordered several of their single origin whole bean. All of them were very nice and it has been my roaster of choice here (I have several of their ocffees on subscription) until the price hike.
This year, for the first time, a coffee from Hawaii earned top honors, the 96-point Kona Mocca™, grown and roasted in Holualoa, Hawaii by Hula Daddy Kona Coffee. In the review published in November, it was described in part as “A marvel of a coffee, inviting and esoteric, chimerical and grounded, all at once.  Enchantingly rich, intensely floral, unique. Dried black cherry, tea rose, Cognac, chocolate fudge, gently scorched almond wood in aroma and cup.” This rare coffee with its tiny beans and striking cup is available only on the Hula Daddy website through their allocation list.
I was craving Rooibos tea but still wanted a kick, so the barista suggested I mix two up and didn't charge me extra for it.  She was super friendly and had a giant smile on her face the whole time - truly delightful. I like that their ingredients are sustainably sources and that all they do is geared to a good cause as a whole. I'll be sure to stop by again soon!
Coffee nirvana! I bought this for my son who has trouble with very acidic coffee, and we both have been looking for an organic coffee that would really taste good and meet the low acid criteria. The first pot we brewed we brewed weak. Yet, it was surprisingly delicious. It had a mild vanilla after taste and while weak, (our fault not the coffee's), it was quite nice and palatable, both black and with added cream and sugar. The next pot was brewed by my husband who prefers his coffee so strong it doesn't just stand a spoon up, but actually might melt a stainless steel spoon. So, it was brewed VERY strong. Again, delicious! More robust flavor, of course, but did not taste at all overly strong so it suited both his taste and mine. You cannot make a bad ... full review
Our trusty testers rated this coffee a 7.55 out of 10 on our overall testing scale. In the aroma category the coffee scored a 7.60 and received the most 10’s out of any coffee we tested. Those who like strong black coffee rated the aroma low with the thought it was going to be “fruity” or “weak,” but were pleasantly surprised with the taste. The coffee finish rated highly as well at 7.80 out of 10. Tasters specifically noted the caramel finish. Most guessed incorrectly that this was a Medium coffee roast.

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.

We've featured a few wet-processed brands on this list, but tossing coffee beans into water tanks isn't the only way to treat them! With dry-processed beans, they're set out in the sun to bake until they're ready to be roasted. They can be slightly acidic since they don't go through a fermentation process, but a little kick just adds to the thrill of drinking something so raw and wild.
The coffee beans are roasted to French Roast equivalence to tap deeper into the flavor characteristics. The roasting also ensures to retain the soft, wonderful aroma of this authentic coffee.The subtle fruity taste is improved by the darker roast, with a moderate to heavy acidity and a full body. The packaging ensures optimal freshness for a quality cup of coffee every time. The coffee beans are slowly roasted before packaging to bring out the rich, full flavor.

Organic coffees are produced without the use of chemicals including fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. These coffees are healthy and let you enjoy full-bodied flavors and tastes. While some organic coffees are instant, others require the use of coffee makers. Instant organic coffees are perfect for busy mornings or when you want to skip the brewing process.
Jungle Coffee Costa Rican whole bean arabica gourmet coffee is GMO, and pesticide-free for your health. This single-origin coffee is sourced from local growers who are fairly paid for their crop. Immediately after roasting, Jungle Coffee is vacuum-packed in high-barrier foil bags that maintain premium freshness. A one-way valve on each stand-up bag allows you to keep air out, and preserve your coffee.
Like the others, this coffee is certified both Organic and Fair Trade. But it was the only one among the 52 varieties that is also Rainforest Alliance Certified (RAC). This set them apart and gave them extra points in our Eco-Friendliness category. RAC is a credible certifying body that aims to protect our rain forests, soil, and other ecosystems from the devastation caused by coffee production.
Cameron’s 32-ounce pack of dark roast specialty coffee offers delicious flavor with organic benefits. Customers who drink Cameron’s appreciate what they describe as aromatic, with a full, deep and smooth flavor. Some appreciate the shiny beans, which indicate that they have a nice oil balance and some notice that the brand has a hint of chocolate flavor. But, there are long-time customers who feel that the overall quality of this coffee has been suffering from a lack of freshness due to roasting the beans and then not packing them in vacuum packed bags.
My favorite coffee of the year is Kickapoo Roasters Supernova Blend. I found it and decided I need look no further for a rich, mouth-filling cup. They say it is for people who like chocolate, which many people who like coffee do, and I am decidedly less interested in beans that come from Central America-type terrains, so it probably wouldn’t align with your tastes. But it is so good.
As in past years, we selected and ranked our Top 30 coffees and espressos based on quality (represented by overall rating), value (reflected by most affordable price per pound), and consideration of other factors that include distinctiveness of style, uniqueness of origin or tree variety, certifications such as Fair Trade and organic, and general rarity.
This isn’t a particular brand of coffee apart from their parent company Green Mountain (which, by the way, is a pretty good coffee according to the brand qualifiers we used here) but a brewing method. While convenient for the consumer, this method has created a huge amount of waste sent to landfills each year. The plastic pods cannot be recycled easily by most cities and therefore have to be disposed of. Here’s a good video that further explores the issue. The traditional way to make coffee produces very little waste since coffee grounds are compostable and readily biodegradable.
Strength control is understood to be regulated by the ratio of coffee to water. For example, more ground coffee and less water would result in a stronger brew. But, how does that work with a single serve machine, when you cannot regulate the amount of coffee and yet you can regulate the strength and volume of water simultaneously? In other words, you can select an 8-ounce drink to be strong or weak, but without changing the amount of coffee.
“Let me start off by saying, I FREAKING LOVE COFFEE! And I love trying any new beans I can get my hands on. Usually, I don’t really care for the Colombian beans. They’re among my least favorite. However, these were really darn good. A rich and bold roast-y flavor with dark-chocolate notes. Dark chocolate happens to be another of my vices, and I’ve always liked a good bean that pairs well with it. Upon opening the bag, the smell of the beans permeated our household, and both my wife and I kept saying, ‘I can’t wait to try that coffee!’ … If you like dark roasts that have a bit of a dark-chocolaty flavor, give this a try. I already bought a second bag, and now I really want to try some of Stone Street’s other coffee.”
This is the world’s strongest coffee by most standards, which explains why it enjoys such a tremendous popularity. Death Wish is ground from beans that are masterfully selected and meticulously roasted to perfection, so as to provide a smooth tasting but also bold cup of coffee. Moreover, you get the extra kick of quality caffeine that surely gets your day going every morning. It isn’t just its strength that recommends it, mind you, but its powerful flavor as well. In fact, we should point out that Death Wish is by far one of the most flavorful coffees out there.

My favorite coffee of the year is Kickapoo Roasters Supernova Blend. I found it and decided I need look no further for a rich, mouth-filling cup. They say it is for people who like chocolate, which many people who like coffee do, and I am decidedly less interested in beans that come from Central America-type terrains, so it probably wouldn’t align with your tastes. But it is so good.


I'm drinking this as I write the review. It doesn't seem to have the same distinctive flavor that Colombian coffees are known for. However, this may be attributed to it's organic state. This is the first organic Colombian that I've ever tried. I've found that you have to use more coffee than normal to get any real flavor from it. Not bad, but not one that I'll order again.
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.
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.
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“My wife and I have tried most of the higher-end, mail-order, and micro-roasters and finally found our go-to coffee. Really a great cup of coffee. We have always liked to freshly grind and brew our coffee, and prefer to use a French press. This coffee is not burned, bitter, or acidic. Not really a dark, dark roast. More of a medium-dark roast. Perfect. Has a slightly nutty, chocolaty, and full-body taste. For overall quality, I would give it four-and-a-half stars — but with this price point, quality, and [the fact that it] is organic, this coffee is a no-brainer.”
If you want to savor some unique coffee flavors, the smaller artisanal brands are a great option. And Jo Coffee doesn’t disappoint in that regard with this premium blend of certified 100% pure Arabica coffee. The brand only sources from the top 2% of arabica growers in the world. And they do have some impressive certifications, including FairTrade and Organic. The flavor is very bittersweet, reminiscent of cocoa and brown sugar.
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.
For the last 35 years our mission has been to find the world's finest Arabica varieties, roast them for the richest, most flavorful coffees available anywhere, at the lowest possible price, all while making the world a better place. Our coffee is grown responsibly, Fairly Traded and Grown For Good (see details about our Community Aid Programs below), we strive to improve the lives of each person we work with including the farmers, retailers, our employees, and you, our customers.
On the flip side, if you suffer from headaches, stomachaches or toothaches after drinking your morning cup of joe, you might want to switch to a low-acid coffee. It's much easier on your body, and it won't damage your teeth enamel or irritate your stomach lining. Just remember that the pH scale goes backwards, so lower pH levels mean higher amounts of acid. This means that a low-acid coffee would actually have a higher pH level than other brands.
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