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.
While there are some places you can find the best coffee, there are many places that you should definitely not buy coffee from.Where To AVOID:The Grocery store - They often sell low-quality coffee beans with a long shelf life. (The exception here is Whole Foods and other artisan stores, which carry coffee from reputable roasters.)Amazon - Again, it’s the question of freshness. It is often roasted ahead of time so it could be packaged, shipped and stocked in the warehouse. PRO TIP: Even if the Amazon listing says “Fresh Roasted,” it might be 6 months old, as that is fresh in comparison with many of the other store bought beans. Yikes!HOW to Choose The Best Coffee BeansWhat type of coffee should you choose? Sometimes coffee bags are covered in words that don’t mean anything to us.Let’s decipher some of those for you.Arabica beans vs Robusta beansArabica beans are far superior to Robusta in terms of flavor and quality. They can be grown at higher elevations, giving the beans more time to develop their favor.Robusta beans contain more caffeine than Arabica. They are also much more disease resistant and produce a higher yield. That is why farmers still like to grow robusta, even though they sell for a much lower price.Robusta is grown for companies that produce instant coffee and other lower quality, grocery store blends. You probably won’t see a roaster advertising their Robusta coffee. Stay away from it if you love great coffee.Acidity and BitternessDifferent coffees will have different amounts of acid content.Acidity is not a bad thing, as that is what gives coffee its natural flavor. Some people like more, some like less. The acidity present in coffee has more to do with taste as opposed to pH, though many claim acidity in coffee to cause digestive issues.Coffees from Africa are typically characterized by a higher acidity, with fruity or floral tasting notes.Coffees from places like Brazil or Sumatra tend to have a much lower acidity with cocoa and nutty notes.PRO TIP: A big part of it has to do with growing altitude. Coffee's grown at lower altitudes generally have lower acidity level. Read this article if you want to learn more about low acid coffee.
The best light roast and whole bean coffee was our top pick, Verena Street – Mississippi Grogg. The office chatter surrounding this taste test made it a staple on the office shopping list and is now in the rotation of coffee blends brewed. Receiving the most eight, nine and tens across the scoring board, people loved the natural hazelnut flavor found in the roast.
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 relatively sunny town standing sentry on the divide between California and the Pacific Northwest, artistically-inclined Ashland isn't quite so well-known as certain other cities in Oregon, but when it comes to coffee, Ashland has become something of a giant, thanks in part to this oft-awarded roasting operation, the first notable to crop up here, about a decade ago.
Also try The Portland hype may be leveling off (now it's just expensive, like everywhere else), but the coffee remains some of the best on the continent—if you haven't yet, make tracks for Coava, which managed to impress noted stickler Jerry Seinfeld, who filmed an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee here. Over in Old Town, meanwhile, there's something utterly appealing about the self-described "snob free" ethic behind the very good Deadstock, opened by a former designer at Nike.
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.

In the test, I took into consideration that people have a variety of coffee preferences. Some like a classic French Roast, meaning lots of dark, toasty notes with a full body and robust (slightly burnt, IMO) flavor. More recently, coffee trends have tended toward the lighter, brighter, fruity end of the tasting spectrum, with a fair amount of acid and berry notes. We aimed for a medium roast, which would theoretically appease a variety of tastes and hit in the middle of this spectrum. Still, we picked three different coffees as our favorites so we could cover the spectrum of coffee flavor preferences. In general, we were looking for coffees that tasted nuanced in flavor, not simply burnt or watery. Hints of chocolate, berries, nuttiness, and round, creamy mouthfeel were ideal. We wanted a coffee that would taste good black—and also hold up to added milk.


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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.

Over the course of the year, we reviewed fewer than a dozen darker roasts. Most were medium-dark at best; some barely that. The majority of darker roasts we reviewed were sent by roasters in Taiwan and most were espressos, reflecting both the time-honored espresso practice of emphasizing chocolate and sweetness through moderate dark roasting, as well as, perhaps, a preference in Taiwan for more traditional styles of espresso as opposed to the lighter-roasted, brighter style of espresso now popular with the leading edge of North American roasters.

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