Belfast native Michael McCrory met Lauren Crabbe behind an espresso machine in San Diego, her hometown. A move up north for school brought the pair to the relatively quiet Outer Sunset section of the city, to the opening of this café, to considerable success (and acclaim) on the roasting front, and then another café, just up the road. All of this good fortune aside, the cafes maintain the feeling of a treasured neighborhood hangout—that is, on days when lines aren't out the door.
My parents drank Hazelnut Maxwell House for as long as I can remember, and used the empty metal canisters to store Ajax sponges and toolshed sundries. As a result I’ve always had a soft spot for canned coffee, and Maxwell House in particular, but of the canned coffees I tasted, it’s the best. Maxwell House is thoroughly uncomplicated, and it’s a difficult coffee to describe with much specificity. It is a perfectly reasonable (and quite cheap) starter coffee—that is, a coffee to start the day with—and one that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for affordability. It turns a bit as it cools, taking on a bitter aftertaste, but a quick drinker with a small mug should get by OK. A single caveat: Don’t microwave Maxwell House and expect to enjoy what comes out; it tastes unmistakably like airplane coffee, which in the grand hierarchy of complimentary coffee ranks just below single-serving hotel room coffee. For the price, even a coffee Scrooge like me would say you ought to just make a new pot.
This might seem like an elaborate set-up, but we actually came about all this after struggling for a couple of years drinking coffee and getting sick from it. I finally discovered that I am sensitive to the acids in coffee. This put me on a lot of research on coffee, the acids in it, how it is made and the best ways to grind and brew it. Both my husband and I are fairly frugal but after reading that coffee is the worst sprayed crop in the world except for Christmas trees (ever notice how Christmas tree farms have nothing but dead ground around the trees.... yeah, exactly like that!), we made the decision to do this. Also, I now can enjoy and drink coffee every morning without any abdominal pain.
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.
Café du Monde, like Chock Full o’ Nuts, is as much a stylistic choice as a gastronomic one, and both require a deep well of cultural identification to stomach on a regular basis. Chicory has historically been used as a coffee substitute as well as a flavoring agent, and chicory coffee in the US is closely associated with New Orleans coffee culture. Café du Monde is named for an actual coffee stand in New Orleans that has been in operation since the 1860s, and may be the best-known domestic producer of chicory coffee, if not the only one. The iconic marigold can includes a recipe for café au lait, the traditional chicory coffee drink sold at the IRL Café du Monde; given the parameters of this coffee taste-test, and the practical concerns of an at-home coffee drinker without the ability or desire to boil milk every morning just to stomach their coffee, I drank it black. This may have been a mistake. The flavor of chicory is interesting, and even initially enjoyable, but the romance was gone for me after about two minutes. I had a similar physical reaction to Chock Full o’ Nuts, my face contorting involuntarily into what I feel compelled to call a Chicory Frown. This worsened as it cooled, but cold black chicory coffee is nothing compared to microwaved chicory coffee. After a single sip I poured it out in the sink. Chicory has its devotees, but I fear the taste is not one I can acquire.
People who prefer dark/deep roast coffees might not appreciate this one as much as I do. Does this taste better than Folgers or Maxwell House? Good heavens, yes. Is the superior character and flavor(s) worth the extra cost? I would say no, for that reason alone. What makes this coffee more than worth the money is that it's organic. The Coffee industry produces one of the most sprayed plants of all. Everyone wants to know if coffee is good for them, well I'd prefer a pesticide-free cup of coffee if I'm going to believe that it's good for me.
Furthermore, the cultivators or the producers and manufacturer of the organic products are obligated to pay IOIA and become members. Only after that their products and production house will get the ‘Organic’ certification from IOIA. However, the USDA has the preceding duty to evaluate and certify the yield prior selling or auctioning(in the case of organic coffee).
Dunkin Donuts is a popular coffee shop chain and they serve whole bean and ground coffee at retail locations and online. All of Dunkin’s restaurant made espresso beverages are now Rainforest Alliance certified and about 30% of their dark roast coffee beans. As for the rest of their coffee, it seems like it could be sourced from anywhere. They do not offer organic varieties so their coffee may contain chemicals and molds. The grocery store Dunkin Donuts coffee is produced by J.M. Smucker which is the same as Folgers.
When it comes to buying coffee to brew at home, I often feel lost. In an ideal world, I buy Stumptown or other great regional roasters. But that habit can get expensive—and that coffee isn't always widely available in a pinch. We all need a good—or, at least, drinkable—widely available go-to coffee brand, if for nothing else than storing for emergency situations when the good coffee has run out.
Up next, we have Jo Espresso. It is a USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified coffee brand. It is made using the top 2% of all Arabica coffee in the world. It is produced by Jo Coffee Inc. and is one of the top coffee brands in Amazon. This brand has over 5,000 positive reviews and comments to date. The company is a member of several international coffee organizations such as The Roaster’s Guild, Specialty Coffee Association of America, Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance and Slow Food USA.
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
You might be familiar with one of La Colombe's brick-and-mortar cafés across the country or even their canned Draft Latte line, but we bet you didn’t realize that you can purchase their full line of coffee beans online. What started as a flagship café and bakery in Philadelphia is now an award-winning nationwide coffee brand, and we think La Colombe's Corsica Blend is the best expression of the brand's deliciousness.
Archer Farms is Target's in-house brand. This coffee is organic and fair trade, and I will say that it was one of the more memorable, flavorful coffees. It tasted fruity, floral, and a little acidic. It has a kind of funkiness to it. There were also some notes of bitterness at the end, however, that made me think it was slightly over-roasted, and just a hint of that dirty-water aroma coffees can sometimes have. This is a solid, flavorful option, though, with plenty of nuanced flavor that makes it worth buying when you're at Target.
Need further proof that great coffee can (and does) happen just about anywhere, nowadays? At least a couple of hours from the nearest big city and convenient mostly to nature—beautiful Blackwater Canyon, for example—this multi-roaster and unofficial community center anchors an array of independent businesses on an old coal town's handsome and very historic main drag.
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.”
Offering 100% Ethiopian Yirgacheffe in 8- ounce vacuum packed bags, Marley Coffee is sustainably grown in Jamaica. Customers enjoy it for its fruity, medium bodied flavor. It is said to have berry and floral notes with no bitter after taste. Some noted that it has a smooth flavor that is worth trying for its low acid and good taste. It is one of many popular coffees in the Marley Coffee brand.