We asked Josh Taves, a 12-year coffee industry vet (who has spent time working as a barista as well as training them) and the director of business development for Denver’s Novo Coffee -- one of the finest coffee shops in the country -- for help. He did a blind tasting of 20 of the most popular K-Cups like a true (and highly caffeinated) hero. In the end, one brand stood out above all else, snagging three of the top four spots, while a few proved to be not worth drinking, no matter how badly you need a caffeine kick.
Organic. Awaken your consciousness. Dark & delicious with full body and a smooth finish. From small farmer co-ops in Latin America. A product of Equal Exchange. Certified organic by Oregon Tilth. Our Commitment: To pay a fair price to the farmer; To trade directly with democratic cooperatives; To offer pre-harvested credit to aid farmers throughout their growing season; To develop long-term trade partnerships; To support sustainable and shade grown farming practices. We are committed to these principles on 100% of our coffees, teas, cocoas & chocolate. Farmer as Equals: Equal Exchanges is much more to us than just a buyer of our coffee. We see you as a partner who treats farmers as equals. You share our commitment to growers and to the land, and are helping us create a better future. Our Quality: Equal Exchange, a worker-owned Fair Trade organization, has been offering gourmet sustainably grown coffees since 1986. Because of our close relationships with farmers, we get their best beans. We then roast our coffees in small batches to bring out their best characteristics. But our commitment to quality extends beyond the beans to include the quality of life of the farmers with whom we work. We hope you will enjoy this coffee brought to you pride by Equal Exchange and our small farmer partners in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Fair Trade at Work: Much of the world's coffee is grown by small farmers, purchased at negligible prices by middlemen, and then brought and sold on a commodities market thousands of miles away. Equal Exchange provides an alternative by working directly with small farmer cooperatives, helping to build pride, independence and community empowerment. With the added income and stability provided by this relationship, farmers can make improvements in their own lives. Women's leadership development in Guatemala, eco-tourism projects in Nicaragua, savings and loan projects in Mexico - these are some of the most vivid examples of the benefits of Fair Trade.
Kicking Horse Coffee is the #1 best-selling whole bean coffee in Canada, known for their passion for the highest quality beans. Not only are they the best-selling organic, fair trade coffee in Canada, but they are also consistently rated as one of the best workplaces, with exceptional values and 20 years of doing the right thing for their customers and for the planet.
Folgers brand topped the Harris Poll Coffee of the Year list. The classic brand has an array of highly ranked flavors which cost about 32 cents an ounce. But if you like your coffee dark, this might be the brand for you. Their French Roast blend ranked #1 on the Huffington Post’s list of best store-bought French roast coffee, mainly because of it’s “pleasant flavors.” The Black Silk blend is also a deal, at $7.64 for 27.8 ounces, which has been praised for it’s great flavor without the burnt aftertaste that plagues so many other dark roasts.
Bryan is our cooking and kitchen expert, with more than 15 years of experience of cooking and testing kitchen products. When outside of the kitchen, he enjoys woodworking, photography, videography and figuring out how to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. He thoroughly enjoys discovering the best, whether it’s ingredients or equipment, and finding products that can stand the rigors of daily use.
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.
Once a self-described stoner kid who did a stint with Intelligentsia in Los Angeles, Andrew Heppner came home to open what's quietly become one of the state's most compelling roasters, one that's only recently made the decisive move into the retail game, after an early (and failed) attempt at opening their own shop. That's in the past, now—not only have they made it work with a fine cafe in Bay City, Populace also joins the much-hyped collection of outlets now opening along with Detroit's hotly-anticipated Siren Hotel.
You have the option to enjoy this organic coffee from Honduras. It produces deep rich chocolaty flavor with a clean finish. This coffee impresses you with smooth milk chocolate, with tones of caramel, honey, and cocoa. The roasting is done keenly to bring out the natural flavor aspects and lovely sweetness. It’s Organic certified by CCOF so you can be sure it’s grown without the use of chemicals. The coffee is 100% Arabica, and it’s GMO-free. The pack contains 2 pounds of coffee for several servings.
The same holds true for Kickapoo Coffee, whose Ethiopia Kirite also scored 93. Caleb Nicholas says, “About 97 percent of the coffee we roast is certified organic, and we would not have purchased the Kirite if it were conventional. The USDA seal is optional, and we designed the bags to accommodate both organic and non-organic. If we put the seal on it, it would be just another sticker. Instead, we just label the coffee as organic and list our certifier, MOSA.”
Willoughby’s Coffee & Tea is represented here with an Ethiopia Gelgelu Natural (93). Owner Barry Levine regards organic certification as important because many consumers prefer it. But, as a company, he says Willoughby’s is “quality-centric.” He goes on to say that, “We would have purchased this coffee had it been conventional, but have a preference, when the quality is really there, to have an organic offering, too. We have, in fact, had other excellent Ethiopia Naturals this season that were not organic, but were just too good to pass up. This coffee offered it all.” Because of logistical considerations, some Willoughby bags include the USDA organic seal and others do not. For this particular coffee, Willoughby’s prints the organic certifier on their bags in lieu of the USDA stamp.

It makes this coffee even more attractive because it delivers the energy rush at its best without side effects. It is a great choice for a product who are morning people. Because they do not require a sucker punch from any heavy caffeinated coffee but a delightful push. In fact, the sweet and fruity notes of this coffee will even tempt the hardback palate people.

I really have no major complaints about this coffee, just the particular flavor didn’t suit my fancy. Because it was advertised as having a chocolate undertone I figured it may be a more robust flavor for a medium blend- but that wasn’t really the case. The nutty malt flavor is much more noticeable. But, if that suits your fancy, this option is certainly the right one for you.

If you want a smooth coffee with a clean taste, this is one product that you should not miss. It is made by a company that has been in the business for more than three decades, which can speak a lot about its quality. Meanwhile, with a medium roast, this is for those who want the best of both light and dark roasts. It also just ahs the right burst of acidity that won’t make your stomach upset.
Kicking Horse Coffee is the #1 best-selling whole bean coffee in Canada, known for their passion for the highest quality beans. Not only are they the best-selling organic, fair trade coffee in Canada, but they are also consistently rated as one of the best workplaces, with exceptional values and 20 years of doing the right thing for their customers and for the planet.

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.
Help me choose, please. l like dark 62% chocolate. I don’t like astringent tastes or bitter coffee. I drink my coffee black, for pleasure, rather than being more awake. Currently drinking Kroger’s Supreme medium roast, which tastes good but bland… Just learning about ‘real’ coffee, so anything you suggest will guide me to what’s better than grocery store coffee.. Like Olive Oil, took me weeks to learn what a good olive oil is.. and now I know. Thanks. Frances

As for authoritative seals, Equal Exchange Organic Coffee cuts no corners. Their coffee is USDA Organic certified. Also they are of course Fair Trade certified because that it literally what they have built their company on. They are the most Fair Trade coffee company that we have featured here.  Beyond that, they also have Arabica coffee beans, however there is no seal to cover that claim. But in their ingredients, they do have Arabica listed. Their website says that most of their coffee is shade grown. And just by looking at the company's practices it is hard to doubt that claim. Overall, it does not look like they have any claims that do not have something to back them up. 


If you are looking for an eco-friendly way of having your coffee using a K-Cup, you should not only choose the organic coffee but also pay attention to the characteristics of its package. Pay attention to find a K-Cup which is recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable (you’ll be able to see this mark on the package). Not all of the producers provide this type of cups but if you have the possibility of choosing a completely environmentally friendly option, don’t hesitate to do it. The coffee cultivation soil will appreciate it.
For most individuals, waking up with fresh cup of coffee is definitely one of the best ways to get out of bed. And we can only find very few brands having a rich taste and health benefits which can be offered in a best organic coffee brands. These brands are normally harvested from different locations including Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama. The organic coffee contains some of the most intense flavors in the market today. In addition to offering you the kick start in the morning, organic coffee can reduce the risk of chronic disease, improve your lifespan and make your life better.

This blend is a combination of Central American and Indonesian coffee blends. Because of this, you can expect a rich body that comes with a well-balanced flavor. It is bold but refined. The strength of the coffee, meanwhile, does not mean that it won’t be smooth. It is also a medium roast, so it is in the middle ground. With this coffee, you will have the caffeine boost that you need to wake you up in the morning or perk you up any time of the day.
The Valhalla from Deathwish is nothing different in terms of maintaining the quality and certifying their products. This product too has earned the Fairtrade certification which you will find on the packet. Additionally, this product maintains its level of quality by earning the organic USDA certification. Despite using a blend of Arabica and Robusta.

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.


But that isn't the only good thing about Monsooned Malabar Coffee. Its beans also create a light, smooth roast that can be enjoyed at any time of day. It doesn't taste bitter at all, and it won't sit heavily in your stomach. You can drink it in the mornings without fear that it'll make you feel sick by lunchtime; you can drink it in the evenings without worry that it'll keep you awake.


“I was never into coffee until I tried Death Wish. It makes drinking coffee an amazingly fun experience. You had me at organic, but the caffeine content is the icing on the cake or the froth on your cappuccino … The flavor, the aroma, the freshness, the caffeine content, the smoothness, and being organic all make drinking this coffee a truly fun-filled experience. I am happy to report that all five members of this household are all now hooked on Death Wish Coffee. It is absolutely superior to all other coffees! We drink it at all times of the day and night. It makes you feel alert and focused without feeling jittery or nauseous, which is amazing since I was always sensitive to caffeine, which is why I never really drank coffee. The roasting process makes this coffee absolutely wonderful … Once you try it, I guarantee you, too, will be hooked.”
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.
On a personal level, I am a die hard black tea drinker and have had trouble not only finding organic black tea where I live... but also a company that is not green washed. Not only have I found an organic black tea that I love the taste of but also there is a variety of black teas I can choose from! Doing my research I have also found that this company has integrity in addition to simply having great products. On a professional level I started in a catering/food services posi...tion which I switched over to Equal Exchange coffee and I am constantly and consistently getting compliments on my coffee service being the best they have had, and have had customers that choose me over the local competitor for breakfast events. I am sold on the quality of this product, which is a game changer in my business, and the model is great for my conscious at the same time.
Their unique business model is one of the main advantages of Equal Exchange. They are one of the most ethical and environment-friendly brands around. They source high-quality arabica beans almost exclusively from small organic farmers who practice sustainable farming methods. As for the coffee, it is a smooth blend of medium and dark roasts. The final effect is a very mellow, not too strong or harsh coffee with a rich feel.
To be honest, my expectations were low for whatever “affordable” coffee Whole Foods might offer, and I was a bit reluctant even to include it under the umbrella of regular grocery stores (despite the company’s recent “Yes, we have sales!” ad campaign), but here I stand both corrected and impressed. 365 Everyday Value is the Whole Foods Market store brand, which markets products fitting the Whole Foods ethos, at least aesthetically—don’t assume it’s organic!—at regular grocery prices. A 10-ounce bag of ground coffee costs $5.99 at the Gowanus Whole Foods in Brooklyn, making it the cheapest bagged coffee here per-unit and decidedly on the cheap end per-pound. Pleasant Morning Buzz is a Vienna roast-style coffee, a dark roast just shy of a French roast style, which gives the coffee a heavy, bittersweet flavor that’s easy to sip on for a black coffee drinker. As a rule, darker roasts do not microwave as well as lighter roasts, and this coffee is no exception—get it while it’s hot or pour yourself a new one.
A rich and quality combination of spicy, sweet, and berry notes, the Caribou Coffee Blend is an expertly balanced product for your harmoniously relaxing and tasty cup. Caribou Coffee ensures that you get a premium-grade coffee cup, roasting just the world’s top 1% of select coffee beans in small amounts. The product is 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified and responsibly chosen for a healthier and more vibrant you.
Cafe Don Pablo has been working tirelessly for some time now, to deliver a bold and natural coffee experience that lends itself to the lands it was created in. Providing low acidity and deep, rich flavor of milk chocolate with extraordinary notes of cocoa, caramel, and honey, Don Pablo Subtle Earth K-Cups are made of high quality, 100% Arabica coffee. Produced with no artificial substances, and grown at a high altitude where pests won’t disturb the crop, these K-Cups are certified organic by the CCOF.
This is my favorite coffee! It's better than coffee I get at local coffee shops that sells for 20 dollars a pound. It's not too strong or too weak. I like to add milk, but this coffee is good black as well. I've tried a couple other Equal Exchange flavors, and I've enjoyed all of them, but Love Buzz is the one I keep returning to. I had originally tried it at a food co-op, and I just got a small amount to try, but as soon as I finished it I had to buy a whole bag of it. It's great that it's also fair traded, meaning people are paid fairly for the work that went into making this coffee.
After roughly thirty years of experience in the business—this is a guy who roasted something like 70 million pounds of coffee for Peet's, which is a lot—Paul Gallegos is back home and in business for himself with this much-anticipated roaster/café in Albuquerque's atmospheric Old Town. Expect this to be a complete game changer in a town that's been waiting for someone to take things to the next level for quite some time now.
Packed in 8 ounce bags of ground coffee, this is one of the products in the Marley Coffee line. It contains 100% Arabica coffee beans, which have been roasted in the United State of America. It is USDA approved as 100% organic and Kosher. Once the bag is opened it is recommended that it be consumed within three weeks. It is an excellent choice for making smooth, non-acidic coffee. Some consumers enjoy it as espresso, cappuccino, Mochas and Lattes.
Folgers brand topped the Harris Poll Coffee of the Year list. The classic brand has an array of highly ranked flavors which cost about 32 cents an ounce. But if you like your coffee dark, this might be the brand for you. Their French Roast blend ranked #1 on the Huffington Post’s list of best store-bought French roast coffee, mainly because of it’s “pleasant flavors.” The Black Silk blend is also a deal, at $7.64 for 27.8 ounces, which has been praised for it’s great flavor without the burnt aftertaste that plagues so many other dark roasts.
Chock Full o’ Nuts styles itself as the quintessential New York City coffee. The quintessential New York City Coffee has less to do with brand than with point of sale—a nameless coffee cart on a Manhattan corner—but it is the only coffee brand I know of to offer three distinct varieties of half-caf. Its per-pound cost approaches bagged coffee, making it a questionable deal among canned brands. Chock Full o’ Nuts has the teeth-sticking effect of good chicory coffee without, I believe, containing chicory. Its flavor has a tinge of burnt bread and an aftertaste that causes the corners of my mouth to turn down involuntarily. It is undrinkable cold, but do not attempt to drink reheated Chock Full o’ Nuts. This is the fire extinguisher of coffees—in the event of catastrophe you’ll be glad you have it, but it’s not for blowing out a candle. 
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.
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