Verena Street sells both whole and ground coffee beans, decaf, espresso and three other roasting options that can please even the pickiest coffee drinker. We found this brand had a cost point that was right in the middle of all the brands we tested, making it a smart budgeting choice. Testers loved the sweet hazelnut aroma, the surprisingly bold flavor and the caramel finish that shot this coffee to first place in whole bean coffee, light roasted coffee and best overall taste.
To return to geography, 26 of the 30 coffees on the list were roasted by companies in the United States. Roasters from 12 U.S. states are represented. California roasters lead the rankings, with six representatives overall. Five coffees were roasted in Colorado, three in Taiwan.  One coffee—the Gorilla Conservation Kanyoni—was roasted by a company in Uganda.
Now, to muddy the waters, when coffee experts talk about a coffee’s “acidity,” they are actually referring to the flavor notes of the brew, not the acid content. A coffee’s acidity is generally used as a term that indicates the quality of the bean. For example, beans grown at high altitude are often described as being acidic due to the bright, vibrant flavor notes they give.
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Arabica is the more desirable bean and you will find it in nearly all your daily coffee blends. Arabica beans are more popular because they are grown in richer soil that allows the bean to become naturally mild and aromatic. Arabica is a fragile, oval-shaped bean that needs to be grown in cool and subtropical climates. Arabica beans contain about 60% more sugar content than Robusta, adding to their delicious taste.

When we compared different machines, we looked at the availability of ordering discounted capsules. This usually happens when the manufacturers choose to sell the pods in larger packs. So, instead of buying a pack of 10 capsules at a cost of $.70 per unit, you can buy 30 at a cost of $.50 per unit. At the end of the day, this can make a significant difference in the overall operating cost of the machine.
The important factor to consider with your coffee source is the processing procedure in the location from which it came. For example, coffee beans that are sourced from Ethiopia or Brazil are processed naturally and result in bold and fruity flavors. Africa processes their beans in a washed process that produces more well-balanced and complex flavors with noticeable acidity when roasted. On the other hand, coffee that is sourced from Central and South America tends to be more expensive due to the processing method that reduces mold on the beans.
For the first time we allowed ready-to-drink, cold-brewed, pure black coffees into consideration for the Top 30. Two superb cold-brewed, bottled coffees made the list, the Bird Rock Red Bourbon Honey-Processed Cold Brew at No. 17 (94 points) and the States Coffee Reserve Cold Brew (from a Tanzania single-origin coffee) at No. 21 (also 94 points). For more on the cold coffee trend see our report Cold-Brewed Black Coffees: Quality in a Can.
However, one of the selection criteria for the Top 30 coffees is value or affordability, measured by price per pound. Many of the coffees on our list are priced in line with similar, though usually less distinguished, single-origin specialty coffees in the marketplace. Half (15) of the coffees on the list cost $25 or less per pound. Four were priced at $20 or less per pound, namely: No. 4 Lexington Coffee Tarime Tanzania (95 points; $14.75/12 ounces), No. 6 Barrington Coffee Twenty Five (96 points; $14.25/12 ounces), No. 23 Big Shoulders Coffee Roasters Burundi Buhorwa  (94 points; 15.00/12 ounces), and No. 28 Paradise Roasters Ecuador Pichincha Typica (94 points; 13.95/12 ounces).
We couldn’t have a cheap coffee article without mentioning McCafe coffee! Rounding the top three, McCafe medium roast scored well among known coffee brands, but ranked seventh in our overall tasting list. Homebrewing this cup of coffee will only set you back $.50 per ounce, very reasonable and below average in cost. Our testers were split if this was either a medium or dark coffee, but either way it ranked well on quality. Our tasters also liked the balanced nature of this brew and included comments such as “bitter, but smooth” and “acidic, but fruity.”
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.
All of these questions are enough enough to make you want to reach for … well, a cup of coffee. Luckily, we’ve performed the coffee research for you. We reviewed the best advice from top experts as well as feedback from coffee drinkers in general. The recommendations above and buying guide below will help simplify your quest for the best-tasting cup of home-brewed coffee.
One very interesting thing that this coffee advertises, that I have not seen a lot of, is kosher. All of their coffee is certified OU (OrthodoxUnion) Kosher. For those who do not know, Kosher means that it was prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary law. This is something totally unseen in the coffee world. The fact that Equal Exchange Organic coffee has this under their belt is a huge deal. 

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.


Equal Exchange is another strong boost of caffeine that is lesser than the Deathwish but stronger for many people. In addition to that, the brand also engages in paying the cultivators a fair amount for the quality of their yield. On the contrary, they do not earn the Fair-Trade certification. However, this company is under the ownership of the worker based group that engages in coffee producing.
Stumptowns Mountain Coffee is of course, an organic blend but really shines through the pack with an offering of blended fruit and chocolate flavor notes. This brand is very serious about their coffee, it’s reported that they once held the record for paying the most for a batch of coffee beans and often pay their farmers three to four times the value for coffee beans. They truly appreciate the farms that produce for them, and that’s a huge part of what the organic initiatives are trying to accomplish, beyond just labeling a package of beans.

Known best for proximity to the Wind River Mountains, this small town about an hour and a half down the road from the rarified air of Jackson got lucky when a father and son team with Wyoming roots came home after accruing years of experience to open one of the most forward-looking multi-roaster operations in the state. Check out the shop's suddenly-must-have Mavam Espresso set-up.  

Verena Street sells both whole and ground coffee beans, decaf, espresso and three other roasting options that can please even the pickiest coffee drinker. We found this brand had a cost point that was right in the middle of all the brands we tested, making it a smart budgeting choice. Testers loved the sweet hazelnut aroma, the surprisingly bold flavor and the caramel finish that shot this coffee to first place in whole bean coffee, light roasted coffee and best overall taste.
One of the country’s most popular coffee shops can be sipped at home for a much less expensive price. While it might not be quite the experience you would get if you walked in, it is still delectable at $8.99 for a 16 ounce bag. Yes, it is a little pricey, but the flavor has gotten almost unanimous reviews, possibly because it is a light-medium roast with an agreeable and familiar taste.
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.
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.
But supermarket-available coffee can be so, so bad. As someone who has purchased bitter, sewage-evoking coffee more than once, I wanted to find the most affordable, best grocery store coffee options so I could avoid ever making that mistake again. And I found it. The best supermarket-available coffees are Thrive Market, Peet's Coffee, and Archer Farm's, depending on your coffee taste–profile preferences.
Professional coffee roasters roast green organic coffee beans by heating them in a large rotating drum. After about 5 to 7 minutes of intense heat, much of their moisture evaporates and the beans turn a yellow color and smell a little like popcorn. After about 8 minutes in the roaster, the "first pop" occurs. At this point the organic beans have doubled in size, crackling as they continue to expand. Many roasters stop the roasting process after the "first pop". Not Starbucks! After 10 to 11 minutes in the roaster, the organic coffee beans reach an even brown color and oil starts to appear on the surface of the bean. At somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes of roasting, the signature Starbucks flavor develops in the organic beans. The "second pop" signals that the organic coffee is ready to sell under the Starbucks label.
On the flip side, if you suffer from headaches, stomachaches or toothaches after drinking your morning cup of joe, you might want to switch to a low-acid coffee. It's much easier on your body, and it won't damage your teeth enamel or irritate your stomach lining. Just remember that the pH scale goes backwards, so lower pH levels mean higher amounts of acid. This means that a low-acid coffee would actually have a higher pH level than other brands.
Two roasting companies placed three coffees each on this year’s Top-30 list: Barrington Coffee Roasters (Massachusetts) and Dragonfly Coffee Roasters (Colorado). Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (California), JBC Coffee Roasters (Wisconsin), and PT’s Coffee Roasting (Kansas) each placed two. This concentration of coffees from certain roasters was definitely not by design. In fact, we did our best to reduce the number of coffees from any one roaster on the list—we would prefer to have more roasters appear on the list rather than fewer.
The next step in the quest for a quality cup of coffee is roasting. The roasting process heats up the beans at temperatures of 230 degrees Celsius; neutralizing the extreme unpleasant flavor profiles of the bean. The newly roasted bean offers nutty, smoky, or spicy flavors. The length of time that the bean is roasted determines the flavor profile and caffeine content. Beans roasted longer have a shiny black appearance and they boast a bitter and bold taste. Also, they are noted by an oily feel. Light roasted beans, which are roasted for a shorter length of time, tend to be sweeter, smoother, and even floral in flavor. If you prefer a lighter smooth taste, you will defer from bolder, darker roasts of equal of even better quality.
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