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.
What discussion of organic (fair-trade, vegan, gluten free) coffee beans without Portland’s own Stumptown coffee making an appearance. Stumptown Holler Mountain Coffee is the signature organic blend that lends to their popularity since the roasters humble beginnings. This popular organic offering uses peak conditioned Latin American and East African coffees to maintain a balanced, elegant and consistent profile throughout the seasons.
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.
Occupying a vintage Quonset hut on an out-of-the-way block in the state's coolest town right now, this all-organic, sustainable, small-batch setup brings a lot of passion to the table; Montana has more than a couple of great roasters (see below) and an outsized number of destinations for a great cup coffee, but coming up on nearly a decade in business, this is the place that feels like the whole package, the all-in-one.
Promising review for their Quarter Caf blend: "Finally, coffee I can drink! I came across this product by accident and I'm so thankful I did. I have a very energized baby (who I'm currently breastfeeding) and normal coffee gets to my baby. I didn't have coffee for quite a while, but this came in yesterday so I had my morning cup of coffee without any guilt. It tastes great and it's exactly what I need to start my day." —Kristina Hunter
Coffee grown in the sun in fertilized fields produces more seeds (coffee beans) more quickly than coffee grown in the shade, but coffee grown in the shade produces a higher quality coffee with a better flavor. Growing coffee in the sun not only requires the use of fertilizers, but has led to wide-scale deforestation and habitat loss for wildlife species. Coffee grown in its traditional forested setting creates valuable habitat for many bird species. 

Processing method also appears to play a significant role in qualifying for the Top 30. On this year’s list, for example, of the 20 coffees for which processing method is clearly identified, seven (vs. six in 2017) were dry- or “natural”-processed, meaning the beans were dried inside the fruit rather than after the fruit has been removed, as is the case with wet-processed or “washed” coffees. Until the last ten years or so, dry-processing was seldom applied to high-end specialty coffees like those that appear on our Top 30 list. This showing is evidence of the continuing trend toward use of alternative processing methods as creative tools for crafting distinctive cup profiles.
So as to control the taste tests, as so as not to die of over-caffeination on assignment, I have developed a strict testing methodology. Over two days, I prepared an 8-ounce mug of coffee from each of 13 different coffee brands widely available in U.S. grocery stores. I have tried to select the most basic variety of each brand—i.e., blends labeled as “house,” ”original,” or “breakfast.” Each mug has been brewed using a ceramic pour-over cone with an unbleached paper filter, allowing for portion and strength control as well as the potential for a more flavorful, less bitter brew than an auto-drip. Each coffee was consumed black, without milk or sugar. 
The Marley Organic is a full-bodied organic decaf coffee that is so good you will actually want to get off your regular caffeinated one. It is also mildly acidic and a medium dark roast, as well as Kosher. What you will love most about it is the fact that it has very subtle hints of vanilla, nutmeg, cocoa, and soft spices, making it a true gourmet coffee.

We asked Josh Taves, a 12-year coffee industry vet (who has spent time working as a barista as well as training them) and the director of business development for Denver’s Novo Coffee -- one of the finest coffee shops in the country -- for help. He did a blind tasting of 20 of the most popular K-Cups like a true (and highly caffeinated) hero. In the end, one brand stood out above all else, snagging three of the top four spots, while a few proved to be not worth drinking, no matter how badly you need a caffeine kick.

The term Organic indicates that no chemicals were used in the cultivation of the coffee. In order to proclaim that a coffee is Certified Organic, a recognized third party certifier must document the cultivation of the coffee for three years running and issue an Organic Certificate. Without the certification, the term Organic carries little weight, as there is no way to prove the producer's claim. After passing the stringent, expensive tests conducted by a certifier, the symbol of that organization can (and will) be printed prominently on the coffee's packaging. Be sure to look for this symbol when shopping.


The best dark roast was Koffee Kult dark roast. This 100% arabica coffee blend, sourced from Colombia, Guatemala and Sumatra offers a full body and rich option for your coffee palate. Our testers knew that this was a dark coffee roast by its strong aroma, but were pleasantly surprised by the woodfired taste. Most testers did call out the bitterness of this coffee, but pointed out that it didn’t linger and the acidity was enjoyable. Again, this winner is one of the most expensive coffees we tested at $.88 per ounce, but if you love the bold coffee taste, this is for you.
Now you can have the highest quality coffee through the convenience of your singe serve brewer. OneCups mesh bottoms allow us to package the freshest product possible, just open up one of these bags and smell it for yourself! The OneCup pods are comprised of wood pulp lidding, a corn ring and mesh coffee filter. The end result? A more environmentally friendly, certified kosher, single serve coffee option with a great taste, allowing you to taste the difference, while you make a difference.
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At Equal Exchange, we only use the finest Fair Trade and organic coffee beans available, but we want our Fair Trade coffees to do more than please the palate. It’s our mission to provide Fair Trade coffees that empower small-scale farmers and their communities. Our certified Fair Trade coffees go beyond the cup, supporting women’s leadership at producer co-ops, environmental preservation through crop diversity, improved yields through soil analysis, and much more. When you purchase Equal Exchange Fair Trade coffee, you’re supporting an equitable trade system for small-scale farmers. Learn more about the farmers who provide our Fair Trade coffee, and let us know what you think of the results.
All these processes take more time and care, and therefore more labor, and therefore increase the price of the coffee. But these coffees also simply taste better, and provide a more satisfying experience. The fact that these methods tend to be organic and socially responsible is a byproduct of the care and attention to quality that these specialty coffees require.
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.
You won't be disappointed with these Newman's Own Organic Extra Bold K cups! They definitely deliver on bold flavor as well as an intoxicating aroma. I looked forward every morning to brewing that first cup of Newman's Own and drinking it in, in both taste and appearance. Perfect for those that take it black and holds up wonderfully to splashes of cream for when a more comforting indulgence is called for. Highly recommend.
Having one of the East Coast's best roasters representing your state is very nice, and we're super happy for North Carolina and everything, but it's fascinating to see that decades on, Counter Culture, now every bit a national brand, still pretty much dominates the regional scene. Apart from Friday cuppings—always open to the public—at training centers in Durham and Asheville, you won't find Counter Culture coffee bars, which is okay, because it turns out that some of the state's top shops—for instance, the twin locations of Jubala Coffee, next door in Raleigh—act as terrific brand ambassadors.
Newman’s Own is a feel-good coffee—it’s organic, all company profits go to charity, and Paul Newman’s little dad-hot cartoon face on the bag grins approvingly at your choices. Its flavor is uncomplicated, and it tastes like the last coffee of the day should taste—a 3 p.m. pick-me-up that tows you calmly to the end of the workday rather than punching you in the eye-bags like a morning coffee needs to. This is the most expensive in the bunch, at $16.46 per pound, and isn’t so far ahead of Green Mountain ($13.32/lb) that it’s worth the splurge on anything but ethical or aesthetic grounds. Moreover, it falls short of Green Mountain in thermal shift and microwaveability: flavor deteriorates in proportion with temperature, and after microwaving dries out the inside of one’s mouth—not a problem if you’re a quick drinker, but sippers beware.
As for authoritative seals, Equal Exchange Organic Coffee cuts no corners. Their coffee is USDA Organic certified. Also they are of course Fair Trade certified because that it literally what they have built their company on. They are the most Fair Trade coffee company that we have featured here.  Beyond that, they also have Arabica coffee beans, however there is no seal to cover that claim. But in their ingredients, they do have Arabica listed. Their website says that most of their coffee is shade grown. And just by looking at the company's practices it is hard to doubt that claim. Overall, it does not look like they have any claims that do not have something to back them up. 
Bagged coffee is standard, from grocery stores to coffee roasters (most of them), but subtle variations make for significant differences among these coffees, particularly in price. This is complicated by the fact that a bag of coffee is often referred to as a “pound,” when in fact most bags only hold between 10 and 12 ounces of coffee. A bag of Newman’s Own Organic coffeecosts $10.29, only $0.10 more than a bag of Starbucks coffee, but Newman’s is only a 10-ounce bag to Starbucks’ 12 ounce. Brewer beware!
All these processes take more time and care, and therefore more labor, and therefore increase the price of the coffee. But these coffees also simply taste better, and provide a more satisfying experience. The fact that these methods tend to be organic and socially responsible is a byproduct of the care and attention to quality that these specialty coffees require.
Ethiopia’s Yirgacheffe is the town where the cultivators grow coffee beans that are popular for its dense, rich taste. Also, the acidity of this Arabica beans is quite great which its rivals find hard to deliver. Additionally, there are the many fruity notes along with the hints of dark chocolate. Apart from that, the Yirgacheffe organic coffee has a major amount of caffeine that a back palate person would cherish.
Our unknown brands overwhelmingly ranked high in all of the categories we tested. Our runner up for best overall coffee and unknown brands was Cameron’s whole bean light roast. Cameron’s offers drinkers another option in the sustainable and small batch category, but comes in as one of the most expensive options at $.71 per ounce. Tasters commented over and over that this was a smooth coffee and that taste wasn’t overpowering. The finish of the coffee ranked higher than any other we tested.
Alfred Peet has been shaping the craft coffee movement for decades. He’s helped transform what Americans have come to expect from their cup of coffee, as he mentored the founders of Starbucks at one time, but continually worked to seek better coffee for humanity. Created for Peet’s 50th anniversary this signature blend celebrates Mr. Peet’s legacy, obviously it has quite the name to live up to.
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.

If you want a smooth coffee with a clean taste, this is one product that you should not miss. It is made by a company that has been in the business for more than three decades, which can speak a lot about its quality. Meanwhile, with a medium roast, this is for those who want the best of both light and dark roasts. It also just ahs the right burst of acidity that won’t make your stomach upset.
In addition, it contains a full, sweet finish with a hint of chocolate overtones that is distinctive of the natural properties of mocha. Just like all coffees from the bean coffee company, this one hundred percent arabica organic coffee was hand roasted in small batches and packaged at the peak of its cycle in order to preserve its natural flavors and fresh-roasted quality.
Counter Culture was originally founded in 1995 and was one of the early leaders in the specialty coffee movement. Today, they focus on sustainability and quality and offer several different roasts that you can choose from. They have several different subscription plans available, but their most popular is the single-origin subscription, which gets you two 12 oz. bags of coffee with each shipment. With this coffee subscription you can have your coffee delivered to your door every one, two, three or four weeks.

If you want to try a variety of coffee that’s customized to your taste, you can’t go wrong with Craft Coffee. When you sign up, you’ll be asked how much coffee you drink at home, what type of coffee you drink and who your favorite roasters are. Based on these choices, you’ll be matched up three different roasters each month that will deliver their coffee to your door. Some roasters may be familiar to you, while others won’t. If you love to experiment and broaden your horizons, Craft Coffee is a great option.
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.
I try to eat & drink all-organic whenever possible, including my coffee, in order to avoid ingesting toxins. Certified organic coffee (in this case, certified by QAI--Quality Assurance Intl.) is grown & processed w/o pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, & other potentially harmful chemicals. So, Newman's Own 'Organics' Coffee is my daily 'go-to' coffee. I like the flavor of this 'Newman's Special Blend Medium Roast - Extra Bold' organic Arabica coffee. It's smooth, rich, hearty, & full-bodied, not bitter & not too acidic. It produces a pleasing aroma every morning from my Keurig B70 Platinum coffeemaker. I don't use any sweeteners, but I do stir in some Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Crème. Mmmm! You do sacrifice some freshness & flavor for the convenience of K-Cups vs. grinding your own beans. But the extra time & mess of coffee grinding are luxuries I can't afford in the rush of weekday mornings. One negative, & the reason for just 4 stars instead of 5: I do find that I sometimes get a stale box of K-Cups, even when the future 'best buy' date on the bottom of the 18-pod box is up to 20 months away, as was the case just last month w/a carton stamped w/an April 2019 'best buy' date. The distributor is Keurig Green Mountain. One wonders just how this coffee is initially stored, then transported, & then finally stored again after it arrives at Best Buy's facilities. For my part, I always keep the K-Cups stored in a cool, dry place, as recommended.
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