In many ways, coffee is like wine. Depending on the area of origin, the degree of roast and grind levels, the taste of a particular coffee can vary drastically. Plus there is also the added layer of mixing different coffee beans to create unique blends. So, finding the best ground coffee brand for you depends entirely on your tastes and preferences. This brings us to the first section of our guide:

It feels disingenuous to make pour-over coffee with Folger’s from a plastic tub, but I have done it, and the results are quite drinkable. Canned coffee has a heftiness to it that only the darkest-roast bagged coffee achieves, and often at the expense of flavor. Folger’s is dark enough to mask distracting flavors, thin enough not to coat the esophagus with silty grounds, and so, so cheap. The label  estimates it contains 60 servings—I make my coffee fairly strong, so I might not quite hit 60, but I bet it’d last me two weeks or so, which at $8 a month is cheaper than Netflix. Much like deli coffee, Folger’s has a flavor that depends greatly on proper drinking temperature—it is punishing when tepid. A microwave brings it almost back to where it needs to be, almost, but with such a large tub there’s no reason not to fix yourself another pour-over.


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.


Also try One of New York's (we're talking about the state now) closely guarded secrets: its less sought-after cities can be pretty great, and certainly for coffee. The gorgeous Tipico would be the envy of any town, but it belongs to an up-and-coming Buffalo neighborhood; in Rochester, the pop-up gone brick and mortar Ugly Duck is just one bright star on that city's long-running scene. Meanwhile, in Utica, perhaps the last place you'd expect to find something so up to date, Character Coffee is a multi-roasting outfit with a whole lot of appeal.

I work right by Equal Exchange and like to go on walks mid morning to grab my coffee. Working in this area, there's a lot of options for coffee. I tried Equal Exchange because I wanted to be more ethical in my purchasing decisions despite paying more. I heard good things about Equal Exchange from my coworkers but I experienced really bad service which is really unusual in places like this (I think). The cashier was SO rude to me especially when I asked if they had any flavors to put in the coffee. It was a bummer because normally my walks at work to coffee shops are one of the best parts of my day! The coffee is really good here though, so I may come back in hopes to interact with more friendly employees.
Are you ready to treat yourself? Buckle up and sit down for Italy’s favorite espresso-blend coffee: Lavazza. If you’re going to go with espresso-blend coffee, you need to go for the best of the best. You get a blend of Central American mild coffee beans and velvety Brazilian coffee beans, mixing precisely and perfectly to extend your early mornings in the most pleasant way possible. With a cup of Lavazza by your side, you’ll feel awake, energized, and ready to tackle anything that comes your way. Espresso-blend coffee is either an excellent hit, or a really bad miss. It’s not something that novice roasters and companies should take upon themselves. Lavazza hits it out of the park on this one.

Don Pablo, que rico! Yes, the Don Pablo gourmet organic decaf coffee is definitely one you have to try if you are a true coffee lover. This Colombian Supremo light roast prides itself in tasting exactly like traditional coffee, only without the caffeine you are trying to avoid. Apart from that, it also has slight hints of cocoa, natural caramel, and just a touch of citrus. Yumm!

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.


Tucked into one of Maine's most idyllic coastal destinations, Melissa Raftery and Megan Wood's sophisticated, certified organic roasting operation has brought them acclaim far beyond Deer Isle—not a bad day's work for what was originally dreamed up as a straightforward coffee shop. Self-funding their way in, the woman-powered operation now includes two very good cafes, one seasonal, one year-round, both turning out some of the most memorable coffee in the state.
Iowa's capital ranked as the fastest growing city in the Midwest last year, a trend being driven by the likes of Brad Penna and Nam Ho, young Southern Californians who moved here in search of a lower cost of living and a different pace of life. Their ambitious roaster/café, opened just last summer around the corner from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, is shaking up the city's coffee culture, and the locals—new and old—appear to be loving it. We certainly are.

Organically farmed and sustainably produced, this blend comes from the southern part of Costa Rica. This region boasts abundant vegetation and rich volcanic soils that makes ideals conditions for coffee plantation. Coffee beans are only purchased from 100 percent USDA organic certified farms in Brunca region. It produces coffee blend which has a medium roast that has flavor hints of laurel and apple and an aroma of freshly coffee. The coffee is dense and has got a pleasant lingering aftertaste.
Promising review for their Original Black blend: "You can always tell when a company cares deeply about the quality of their products, and RISE is one of those companies. When you pop their tops, these bad boys literally GROWL at you, which I've since learned is an indication of a proper nitrogen-infused beverage (not to mention being just plain cool). I poured mine over ice and watched as a beautiful froth formed on top (the 'cascade,' as they call it). It's delightful, and definitely my new after-lunch pick-me-up!." —Marc
Promising review for the Protein & Real Coffee All-In-One Meal Replacement: "I bought this based on the good reviews, but was skeptical about the taste; coffee-flavored protein sounded too good to be true! BUT, I just got done shaking up my first drink and was blown away by how great the Vanilla Latte flavor tastes! I'm definitely adding this to my daily regimen and will get around to trying the other flavors. If you’re a coffee fan, this is definitely for you." —Cheyenne

Coffee Review’s goal is to celebrate coffee roasters, farmers and mill-owners who make an extra effort to produce coffees that are not only superb in quality but also distinctive in character. In particular, we aim to honor the dedication of coffee producers large and small who, with the support of their roaster and importer partners, are crafting a range of sensory excellence and diversity that has never existed before in the history of the beverage.
Wrapping your head around just how many roasters are doing good work in booming Denver right now could take a while—there's Middle State, Corvus, Huckleberry, Commonwealth; Boulder's got Ozo, and Boxcar, too. Andy Sprenger's operation, however, an unlikely gem in the relatively unglamorous suburb of Lakewood, feels like the truest find, right now—Sprenger traveled the world, did time with Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis, and snagged his share of industry awards before returning home to start the business. Besides being a sought-after roaster, Sweet Bloom's café serves as a much-welcomed third place for the neighborhood.
We prefer to buy organic coffee because pesticides can become magnified in the drying process. So, we try to get the best quality we can for the best available price. We enjoy the Equal Exchange Breakfast Blend because it is mellow and not bitter, it is strong but not acidic, and we can enjoy it iced or hot. We typically brew an entire pot and drink it over the course of a couple of hours. We have found the quality and flavor to be consistent from one batch to the next. Though we often try other brands, this is a part of our regular monthly order.

Kenneth Davids is a coffee expert, author and co-founder of Coffee Review. He has been involved with coffee since the early 1970s and has published three books on coffee, including the influential Home Roasting: Romance and Revival, now in its second edition, and Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying, which has sold nearly 250,000 copies over five editions. His workshops and seminars on coffee sourcing, evaluation and communication have been featured at professional coffee meetings on six continents.


This box contains 100 cups of organic breakfast blend coffee, grown in Columbia and made with 100% Arabica beans. Breakfast blend is popular with many coffee drinkers as it has a mellow and smooth flavor with a touch of citrus brightness and a light, nutty finish. This coffee is also Fair Trade-certified and organically grown, making it a smart choice for those who value naturally-grown coffee beans and want to support the farmers who harvest it. Enjoy these cups at home in your single-serve brewer or bring a few to work for an afternoon lift if your breakroom has a single-serve machine.
As more and more coffee companies cave to the temptation to adulterate with soy beans sprayed with chemical flavors and questionable trade practices, Equal Exchange may be the last coffee company standing to offer organic whole beans sourced from small producer coops, and roasted at a worker owned facility stateside. The company maintains its commitment to fair trade and supports many worthy causes. I recently had cause to engage in a lengthy discussion with reps at Equal Exchange and consider their inteigrity (and really great tasting coffee!) unsurpassed.
If you're a no-frills coffee drinker, this simple but flavorful Colombian Peaks pod from ubiquitous coffee brand Eight O'Clock Coffee is for you. It has a well-balanced flavor with a straightforward coffee taste that shines through. Reviewers claim that these pods quickly replaced their morning trip to the coffee house after one taste. These coffee pods are compatible with Keurig single-serve coffee machines.
In fact, coffee fans who find the acidic flavors of some coffees too bitter and unpleasant have begun routinely drinking low acid coffee. The acid content of these brews is minimal, and the other flavors of the bean are more refined and “brighter.” In particular, notes such as fruit, nuts, and chocolate are said to be much more readily detectable in low acid coffees.
Who would have guessed that one of the most impressive coffee roasters in the West would have come up in the land of hot drinks abstainers? No doubt the pioneering team behind this single estate-only operation were slightly surprised, too—at a time when Salt Lake had very little good coffee to speak of, they took the plunge; now it's hard to imagine Utah's impressive artisan scene without them.
Ethiopia coffees, whether certified organic or not, are produced from tree varieties native to Ethiopia and grown virtually nowhere else. These varieties tend to produce coffees with typically striking cup character: bright, lively and balanced in structure and intricately engaging in aroma and flavor. Furthermore, the best mills in Ethiopia are also ingenious and meticulous in their processing methods. Classic wet-processed or “washed” Ethiopia coffees (in which fruit skin and pulp are removed before drying) tend to highlight floral and citrus notes, while “natural”-processed Ethiopias (beans are dried inside the fruit rather than after the fruit has been removed) lean toward lusher fruit and deeper flowers. Fine examples of organic coffees prepared by both processing methods appear in this month’s reviews.

This is my new favorite coffee. I love it in the way that makes me ache for morning so I can justify another cup. It is dark and rich. It smells divine. No after taste, no heavy acidity. I also appreciate that it doesn't have any overreaching flavors or sweetness, it's simply coffee. Added bonus is that Equal Exchange coffees are fair trade from small farmers. They do cooperative work with their growers and I have so much respect for them. This will be the first item I do an Amazon subscription service for. Yeah, it's that good.
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.

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.
Mushroom coffee is widely praised for its health benefits, and Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee with Lion's Mane and Chaga is among the best of them. This certified organic coffee is brewed to support creativity and focus, as well as boosting the immune system. Even though each cup contains two mushrooms, the brew tastes just like ordinary coffee and has garnered rave reviews all over the web.
Update: I have discovered since my original comments, a simple way to completely remove the slight bitterness of this coffee. A nice local health food store owner, told me to add a "pinch" of Bob's Red Mill Baking Soda to my cup of coffee. Wow, it made Equal Exchange Breakfast Blend Coffee taste as good as the finest organic coffee I have ever tasted! With that said, I will continue purchasing this great organic coffee.
Kenneth Davids is a coffee expert, author and co-founder of Coffee Review. He has been involved with coffee since the early 1970s and has published three books on coffee, including the influential Home Roasting: Romance and Revival, now in its second edition, and Coffee: A Guide to Buying, Brewing and Enjoying, which has sold nearly 250,000 copies over five editions. His workshops and seminars on coffee sourcing, evaluation and communication have been featured at professional coffee meetings on six continents.
Their unique business model is one of the main advantages of Equal Exchange. They are one of the most ethical and environment-friendly brands around. They source high-quality arabica beans almost exclusively from small organic farmers who practice sustainable farming methods. As for the coffee, it is a smooth blend of medium and dark roasts. The final effect is a very mellow, not too strong or harsh coffee with a rich feel.
Newman's Own Organics Extra Bold K-Cups are by far the best-tasting and highest quality K-Cups available. I either use these or the refillable My K-Cup with locally sourced coffees. For the price and the speed of brewing, it's hard to beat the strength and flavor of Newman's Own. Take it from a coffee-snob who owns more than half a dozen coffee brewers (pour-over, espresso machine, moka pot, high-end drip brewer, etc.) these are the best trade-off of a fast cup of coffee that still tastes great. Also: contrary to popular belief, K-Cups are completely recyclable. They consist of plastic, aluminium and paper and take minimal effort if you are already accustomed to recycling.
Already no stranger to a good cup of coffee, Bellingham, a lively college town closer to Vancouver, BC than Seattle, reached top tier status with the addition of this very fine roaster, an extraordinary collective of expertise that has more than a few baristas and café owners around the country just a little bit excited. A very nearly elegant, all-day café—Camber's first foray on to the retail side—in downtown Bellingham is pilgrimage-worthy.
Compatible with all Keurig machines, the brand prides themselves on their authentically organic products. Conventional coffee free of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides, the coffee is even grown at high altitude to increase the quality. Creating denser beans at higher altitudes, the coffee is filled with antioxidants and a rich, flavorful taste. And best of all, they have a 100 percent happiness guarantee. 
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.)
Promising review for their Original Black blend: "You can always tell when a company cares deeply about the quality of their products, and RISE is one of those companies. When you pop their tops, these bad boys literally GROWL at you, which I've since learned is an indication of a proper nitrogen-infused beverage (not to mention being just plain cool). I poured mine over ice and watched as a beautiful froth formed on top (the 'cascade,' as they call it). It's delightful, and definitely my new after-lunch pick-me-up!." —Marc
Lake Winnipesaukee might be next door, but the historic center of Laconia, an old mill town, isn't exactly a thriving tourist destination—at least not yet. This cheerful micro-roaster and café, across from the shuttered (apparently, not forever) Colonial Theatre, is one in a small group of businesses—including a proper butcher shop, just next door—helping to invigorate the old town center.
You are in a town that loves coffee, and it is everywhere, has been for a long time now, with the most successful operations long ago spun out into regional mini-chains, of sorts. May we (ever so gently) suggest that you begin your explorings at this relatively new addition—and by new, we mean they've been around for roughly a decade, already—now featuring five cafes, three of them right here in town.
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.
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