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.
Two roasting companies placed three coffees each on this year’s Top-30 list: Barrington Coffee Roasters (Massachusetts) and Dragonfly Coffee Roasters (Colorado). Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (California), JBC Coffee Roasters (Wisconsin), and PT’s Coffee Roasting (Kansas) each placed two. This concentration of coffees from certain roasters was definitely not by design. In fact, we did our best to reduce the number of coffees from any one roaster on the list—we would prefer to have more roasters appear on the list rather than fewer.
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!
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Another great thing about organic coffee is that it helps the environment. When coffee beans are grown in fields that have been chemically treated for mass production, the soil is poisoned and the local ecosystem suffers for it. Meanwhile, organic coffee doesn't damage the earth, and it's harvested in a way that emits less carbon into the air. It's often grown in the shade, too, so it encourages and utilizes tree growth. You'll battle deforestation, climate change and environmental pollution all at once!
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Seattle got most of the attention, but the '90's were very good to the Windy City, coffee-wise—let's start with Intelligentsia, beginning life as a relatively modest café and roastery in the Lakeview section of town, back in 1995. Like Seattle today, Chicago's scene is wonderfully layered, offering up everything from the unabashedly traditional to the cutting-edge. For the best of the latter, look way, way west—steps from where the notorious Horner projects stood crumbling thirty years ago—to a block shared with another celebrated coffee roaster (Sparrow) and a very good brandy distillery (Rhine Hall). Metric, something of a power partnership between the owner of a popular local café and a talented Intelligentsia vet, roasts its prized beans on a restored 1961 Probat, keeping relatively limited hours in an on-site café and tasting room, where public cuppings are held every Friday morning.
Now you can have the highest quality coffee through the convenience of your singe serve brewer. OneCups mesh bottoms allow us to package the freshest product possible, just open up one of these bags and smell it for yourself! The OneCup pods are comprised of wood pulp lidding, a corn ring and mesh coffee filter. The end result? A more environmentally friendly, certified kosher, single serve coffee option with a great taste, allowing you to taste the difference, while you make a difference.
Coffee blends are exactly that; a blend of two or more roasted beans to create a unique flavor profile. Think of it in terms of wine: a red blend versus a Cabernet Sauvignon. The experienced coffee roaster will match beans to balance bitterness and take the harsh edge of off unrefined beans. A blend could contain several varieties of beans from all over the coffee belt.
What is interesting about this blend is the fact that it uses premium coffee beans from all the major regions in the world. So you will get a bit of American, African and Asian flavors in this blend. And they have also managed to harmonize and balance all the flavors well, resulting in a rich and dark roast. We like the fact that Peet’s provides the roast date on the package.
In two pound bags, the coffee from Honduras is made from 100% Arabic beans and certified organic by CCOF. It is free of GMO. These are whole beans roasted to a medium dark for chocolatey and rich flavor, with low acidity. The body is described as like velvet. Many customers enjoy the full bodied flavor of this coffee and consider it to be excellent, and in one case “insanely good”.
A startup from Vermont, our friends at Brothers Coffee Company select a new roaster each month that has found a new and innovative way of facing a challenge the coffee industry faces. Not only will you get fresh, top-tier specialty coffee, you’ll also help enact real change around the world. Along with the coffee, subscribers receive information on the roasters, their coffee, and why they were selected for the month, making every month a new story. They also donate $1 per subscription to Grounds for Health, a non-profit that screens and treats women for cervical cancer. If you love coffee and want to make sure your money is being used well, Brothers Coffee is the subscription for you.
I found an interesting study from the Japanese which showed that 99.8% of the pesticides used in farming coffee beans, was burned off in the roasting process. So even though it is almost as clean as organic and not as harmful as one might think, it still lacks the quality in terms of organic fertilizers and culitivation not to mention the storing and shipping which greatly effects quality! I prefer organic all the way but it was an interesting informative article about that study. Here’s the link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23154763
I think I would try other coffees from this brand and would probably really like their darker flavors. For people who really want a lot of kick to their coffee I wouldn’t suggest this particular one though. Great things about this particular brand include the fact they are fair trade and organic. They source their coffee beans from small locally owned farmers who practice natural farming. Although my coffee connoisseur attitude does inspire me to occasionally indulge in a new Starbucks option, I always feel much better when I’m conscious about what I buy and opt for brands that seem more aware of their farmers practices and wellbeing. Fair Trade is a great option for the ‘ethically aware’ coffee shoppers out there.
The second best organic decaf coffee on our list is Caza Trail Coffee. The dark imperial flavors inside actually come from a blend of coffees from Indonesia and Latin America. It has moderate acidity and a well-rounded finish. Caza Trail offers both classic and flavored coffee. Therefore, you can either have a traditional pick me up or take a break and reward yourself with a spiced coffee.
Most organic coffee brands purchase their beans from "fair trade" farms. These farms don't use child or slave labor, and they pay their workers a fairer wage than others in the industry. When you shop organic, you can be proud that you're supporting good business practices instead of shady, cost-cutting measures from companies that are only concerned about their bottom line.
Finally, the timing of this report perhaps favored coffees produced north of the equator, where the main coffee harvest takes place earlier in the year, rather than south of the equator, in countries like Tanzania and Uganda, where the harvest starts near the end of the year. When choosing the optimum time to organize a tasting report, we often struggle at Coffee Review with these sorts of timing trade-offs.
Early on one of the best places in the country for a really good cup of coffee, New Orleans enjoyed a nice, long rest on its laurels, but that's all over now—today, the city is well served by new shops and roasters, some of them quite good. The opening of this Algiers Point roaster/café, however, feels like a real leveling-up for the local scene—a joint effort between local boy Ian Barrileaux and Seattle native Eliot Guthrie, the two met while working at Donald Link's Cochon Butcher. (They now supply all of Donald Link's restaurants.)
We used our favorite drip coffee maker, the Bonavita 8-Cup Brewer, to brew all of the beans. We used coffee and water measurements recommended by the Bonavita brewing instructions: 70 grams of ground coffee for the 8-cup machine. We drank each coffee hot, at first black, then with milk added if that's how the taster preferred their coffee. When possible, I bought whole beans and ground them (we wouldn't recommend buying pre-ground coffee), but a few of these coffees only come—or are much more commonly found—ground. It's worth noting, however, that all of our winners were whole bean coffees in this second round of tasting.
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.
The Organic Coffee Co. produces this light and flavorful blend of the south and central American beans. The company comes directly from the source, where it is grown without herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. It is Fair Trade and responsibly grown, plus USDA certified as organic. The coffee is grown only on shade grown, bio-diverse farms in Panama. The company also has a community aid program which has worked to restore thousands of rainforest acres.