That is a lot to ask for a cup of coffee, and not all coffee brands will be able to meet all three criteria. This doesn't necessarily mean the company isn't socially responsible: it is often the case that these designations are difficult to achieve all at once and still produce coffee at the volume and price necessary to satisfy the market. But they are good things to watch for when you compare brands and taste organic coffee.
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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.
The best medium roast coffee we tested was Marley Coffee, which came in third overall in our test. Marley is an organic, ethically-farmed and 100% Ethiopian blend with herbal tastes including fruity wine undertones. Our testers loved the taste and finish of this coffee and guessed it was either a light or medium blend. One tester loved the “watermelon or green tea” undertones and most mentioned the unique taste that was a welcome change in the morning. Marley Coffee ranked as the most expensive coffee we tested at $.87 per ounce. Money well spent according to our testers.

Ben and Jessica Schellack bootstrapped their way to building one of the best roasting operations in the state, this year bringing home a Good Food Award—not their first, either. That's quite the climb from their early days in the rented basement of a New Brunswick non-profit. Today, a lively café, just across the river from Rutgers' Old Queens campus, hence the name, is a hub of creativity.
Eight O’Clock Coffee is a sleeper in this set, brand-wise, but a surprisingly enjoyable cuppa. It’s the only brand I tasted about which I had no preconceptions, and it turned out to be one of my favorites. It’s dark without being bitter, and is solidly microwaveable. It’s slightly ahead of the median bagged coffee price in this set but streets ahead in flavor, making it a solid value buy.
Randy Lint, of Big Creek Coffee Roasters in Hamilton, Montana sent us an Ethiopia Gedeb Halo Beriti (94) that is certified organic at origin, but is not labeled organic. While Lint has been a certified organic handler in the past, he has found the cumbersome process of certifying his roastery not worth the cost, though he is still committed to the associated practices. He says his local customers trust his sourcing, and his business is successful without offering the added reassurance of certification. Nevertheless, Lint acknowledges that this might change as his roastery grows.
This coffee was not only organic, delicious and full bodied, it also is fairly traded. This ensures that the small growers of the coffee beans get a fair price for the coffee and are not exploited by large companies who make all of the profit. I have been a big fan of fairly traded coffee for many years now. Equal Exchange is a great product and a great concept.
“This is the best fair-trade medium roast I’ve found that can be ordered online. I used to live where I could go to a local importer and roaster of beans, and this product almost rivals those beans in quality. The beans come super fresh inside the package and are evenly roasted. The flavor is smooth and deep, with a nice velvety mouthfeel that is normally reserved for darker roasts. My favorite way to enjoy these are with a French press, but they are also delicious from a drip coffee maker and make great stove-top espresso in a Moka pot. When I run out of locally roasted beans I always order these to hold me over.”
A trio of talented locals, passionate in equal measures about coffee and their city, joined up last year to create one of New England's most modern multi-roaster cafes, on an appealing block at the heart of Connecticut's struggling state capital. Success was far from assured, and the sailing hasn't always been entirely smooth, but at least in this corner of town, things are looking up.

K-cups are the ultimate in convenience – ideal for those who only want to brew one cup at a time, or for offices and large households where everyone wants something different or doesn’t want to assign anyone the duty of cleaning, prepping, and brewing for the masses. K-cups come in just about any kind of coffee, from dark to light roasts, organic, flavored, extremely caffeinated to decaf. You can also buy latte or cappuccino K-cups with the sweetener already mixed in. Other choices include tea, cider, and cocoa. And since they cost about 40 cents each, you can stock up on your favorites and treat yourself to something else with all the money you’d spend at a cafe for an almost identical beverage.
The idea of a K-Cup is definitely going to turn off a coffee snob. They like to have total control over the coffee—from the roasting to the grinding to the brewing to the preparing (God forbid you add milk!). They may consider using their own beans in a reusable K-Cup, but the fact that they can't control the brewing temperature and duration of the Keurig machine means they will look at the K-Cups the way they would a cup of convenience store coffee.
According to researchers, regular or conventional coffee is steeped in pesticides and other chemicals. The result of a study conducted by CS Monitor found that over 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers are being used to grow regular coffee. It suggests that in one cup of coffee, there could be over 1,000 chemicals present that can be linked to illnesses and health issues.
If you’re just entering the home-coffee world, and you truly want the best coffee beans you can possibly get, you’re going to need to know what type of coffee beans you want. There are a total of two origins: arabica beans, and Robusta coffee tree beans. There are distinct differences that will most definitely play into how you enjoy your cup in the morning.

Café Bustelo is technically the cheapest coffee on this list because it’s sold in both a can and a vacuum-packed brick, but in a can it’s only third-cheapest, after Maxwell House and Folger’s. Unlike the other coffees under consideration, Café Bustelo is espresso ground, which is much finer than drip ground. This, in addition to the dark roast of the coffee beans, makes it a robust sipping coffee. I double-filtered my pour-over to avoid too much coffee silt, but the flavor was undiminished. It tastes like any other coffee made with double the grounds, and is complexly awful reheated. Café Bustelo is truly motor oil coffee, which is not necessarily a mark against it—it’s likely to burn a hole through even the most memorable hangover, and will propel you forcefully into the next two to three hours of your life. This is not for the faint of heart (seriously, I’m having palpitations as I type this) but ultimately is quite drinkable.
ChesterVKeurig is probably the most expensive crap on the market, as far as non-gourmet goes. I've had plenty of their flavored coffees and I have never tasted anything from them except PLAIN coffee. I even got a box of Gloria Jean (not knowing Keurig bought them out) Butter Toffee, and although it has a SLIGHT toffee smell, it tastes like plain coffee. I am ashamed that Dr Pepper lowered the quality of Gloria Jean coffee when they bought them, because I love Dr Pepper and I loved Gloria Jean. And Keurig is a waste of money, plain and simple. I've had a lot of "generic" and "no-name" brands that have more taste and are more fragrant that these big brand names. I've found that the Victor Allen brand of coffee from Big Lots is probably the best I've had so far, for plain and flavored coffee pods. And depending on the time of year and the sales they have, I can get a 24 count pod box for about $12.00-$15.00. Which is a heck of a lot cheaper than the $20.00-$40.00 boxes of 12-16 pods that the big names have. Better flavor, better aroma, better taste, and a lot less expensive..........guess which one I buy?
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 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.”
Café Britt produces 12-ounce bags of dark roasted coffee and sells them in 2 bag sets. The company uses 100% organic fertilizers and grows its bushes underneath native tree species, preserving the agro-ecosystem of the region. This single origin variety is preferred by chefs from around the world. Since 1991, the company has produced this rich coffee with its hint of apple aroma. It is medium dark and not acidic.
Also reviewed here are Black Oak’s Ethiopia Hambela Alaka (93) and Noble Coffee’s Ethiopia Bishan Fugu (93), both of which are certified USDA organic, and labeled as such on the bags. Red E Café’s Homacho Waeno Natural (93; one of two coffees on this list imported by Sustainable Harvest), is in the same category as the Big Creek and Revel coffees noted above: certified organic at the farm level, but with no certification indicated on the bags.
Overwhelmingly, the lesser known brands ranked higher and received more detailed tasting notes. When searching the description of these brands, you will find more information on specific origin, details in roasting and care in the small batches. The attention to detail made from the farming to the roasting will set you back a few more dollars, but know that along with a more satisfying cup of coffee you are also doing your part to better the world.
Ben and Jessica Schellack bootstrapped their way to building one of the best roasting operations in the state, this year bringing home a Good Food Award—not their first, either. That's quite the climb from their early days in the rented basement of a New Brunswick non-profit. Today, a lively café, just across the river from Rutgers' Old Queens campus, hence the name, is a hub of creativity.
This is made by the same manufacturer as the coffee that has been mentioned above. However, this is not decaf. It is a dark French roast, which uses premium beans from South and Central America. It has an intense and smoky flavor, which may not be appreciated by all. This is for those people who like their coffee to have a strong character. It is made only with the ripest red cherries that have been roasted by experts to extract the maximum flavor in every cup.
Also try Portland is all about the bean, and roaster Tandem Coffee rests rather comfortably toward the top of the pile. Blue Bottle-trained, their two shops (with excellent baked goods) are among New England's finest, if a little snobbish about it. For something a little different, stop by Speckled Ax, which brews up its own wood-roasted organic coffees.
Meet our head roaster & competitor in this weekends US Coffee Champs qualifying event held in New Orleans, Franklin Ventura @rookiedrumer ——————————————— Franklin on why he’s competing: “It’s an opportunity for me to learn more about coffee, learn how our industry is growing in knowledge, and a chance to put us out there as a company and myself out there as a roaster in this industry.”
“This is the best fair-trade medium roast I’ve found that can be ordered online. I used to live where I could go to a local importer and roaster of beans, and this product almost rivals those beans in quality. The beans come super fresh inside the package and are evenly roasted. The flavor is smooth and deep, with a nice velvety mouthfeel that is normally reserved for darker roasts. My favorite way to enjoy these are with a French press, but they are also delicious from a drip coffee maker and make great stove-top espresso in a Moka pot. When I run out of locally roasted beans I always order these to hold me over.”
Promising review for the Medium Roast Original blend: "After drinking one cup of this, I became Canadian, eh. It gave me the confidence to finally try ice skating; before I knew it, I was stopping on a dime and blasting snow chips at tiny children. If you can't take the ice, get out of the rink. Also, I was a lot nicer to people. Pretty sure this is a drug that's making all Canadians pleasant and good at ice sports. My optimum pot is 10 cups of water and seven scoops of this magic stuff." —Amazon Customer
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
Newman’s Own Special Blend is organic, fair-trade certified coffee that provides a strong taste characteristic for the mixture of medium and dark roasted coffees. At the same time, it offers a soft and refined taste with interesting ashy and woody notes that give this coffee a special, bold taste that you may enjoy even if you are not a fan of strong coffee. In addition, this freshly roasted coffee has an amazing, pure smell that will take your favorite daily routine to a higher level.
A coffee crop also requires a great deal of water, particularly when it is being grown quickly. It takes 37 gallons of water to produce enough beans for just one cup of coffee. Coffee is often produced in countries with a shortage of water, such as Ethiopia, and the combination of high water consumption and high fertilizer and pesticide use can lead to water degradation and pollution in water runoff.
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