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.
Relatively late to the good coffee game, it's hard to tell just where New York excels most—convincing the world it knows what it's doing when it comes to coffee, or actually setting a damn trend. Amid so much noise and a whole lot of colonization, here is a very good roaster, created by a Blue Bottle and Stumptown grad. (Remember when those beardy West Coasters had to come to town to teach us how coffee was done, just a few short years ago? We sure do.) Not the newest game in town, and slightly off the beaten path, over near Brooklyn's Navy Yard, Parlor, which began life as a pop-up bar in the back of a Williamsburg barber shop, is in every way a gem, and it knows it—their tasting room keeps catch-them-if-you-can, Sunday-only opening hours.
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 ground coffee was New England medium roast. This coffee tricked our bold coffee lovers into thinking it would be a weaker or lighter coffee, but it won everyone over with the taste and overall quality. Our tasters noted the sweet smell and smooth taste of the New England Coffee’s medium roast. An added benefit of New England’s medium roast is the price, costing a very cool $.45 per ounce, this will please both your taste buds, and your wallet.
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.
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.
Coffee Kult ground coffee is a nice blend of choice Colombian-Brazilian coffee beans. The blend has 100% premium-grade Arabica beans which are smooth, rich, and medium bodied. Such high-grade beans are expertly roasted and blended to make the Coffee Kult Medium a must-try for any coffee enthusiasts. Coffee gourmets happily appreciate a cup of coffee made with this choice beans blend and so should you.
“I’ve tried many coffee products in the organic, shade-grown genre, and this is by far the smoothest, most well-balanced bean yet. The beans arrived perfectly roasted, fresh, nicely oily, with an awesome aroma. Every cup has been perfect. I love dark-roast coffee but hate over-roasted darks … I use only French press and pour-over methods, by the way. Tiny Footprint really seem to have their techniques dialed in, and I’m a fan of the environmental stewardship they stand for. I’ll be a repeat customer and highly recommend this coffee.”
“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.”
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.
“My husband is a coffee addict, and I’m a bit of a fanatic about chemical additives and such. When I saw organic coffee offered for review, I knew I had to get this for him. Here is his review on the coffee: ‘I typically like bolder, dark-roast coffees. Once in a while I’ll mix it up when I’m out, and I’ll order a medium-roast brand. As far as buying an entire bag for home, I’ve grown tired of most medium roasts and do not want to waste money on tinny flavored coffee. This medium roast, however, is at the top of the bracket. I had to look at the bag a second time to make sure it was actually a medium roast. Very impressive full flavor.’”
If we’re discussing organic, attention-to-detail coffee producers, this discussion wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Koffee Kult and their process. The dedication starts with direct trade relationships with their coffee farmers around the world, support for micro-lot farms, and finishes in house when they apply the iconic Koffee Kult label. Don’t forget the impressive roasting process.
Start their day with a cup of coffee that’s ultra-smooth and has a delicately sweet fragrance. Because these cups brew a single-serving cup of coffee, it’s ready in just seconds, which is great for anyone who finds themselves short on time during hectic weekday mornings. Unlike dark roasts, this light roast offers a delicate blend of distinct flavors. It’s roasted for a shorter amount of time, which helps it retain a higher caffeine count. The crisp flavor of this light roast coffee makes it the perfect starting point for the perfect blend coffee. Add sugar or sweetener, creamer or coconut milk. No matter how you like to dress up your coffee, this morning blend coffee makes a perfect canvas.
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.
The next organic coffee brand is the Two Volcanoes Espresso Coffee Beans. This brand is made from Guatemalan coffee beans grown right at the base of Tajumulco and Tajana, two important volcanoes in Guatemala. Volcanic soil is full of minerals and nutrients which results in premier coffee beans. The blend is a combination of Robusta and Arabica beans.
Also try The recent transformation of Los Angeles café culture has been an absolute pleasure to observe—from the just-right Civil Coffee in Highland Park to the cutting-edge Coffee Hall in Chinatown (look for local roaster Compelling Coffee in the rotation) to local legend Tyler Wells' downtown kiosk, Nice Coffee, to the initially controversial (but really, very good) Weird Wave Coffee in Boyle Heights, for the most exciting developments, look east.
“This is a very good-tasting coffee and seems quite fresh. For a dark roast, it has a milder taste, which has grown on me to the point that I know I will continue buying this bean. Having a milder taste might also have something to do with the way it is roasted, as there is no bitter flavor at all. I love this coffee, and you cannot beat the price for a two-pound bag.”
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.