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This year, roughly 100 coffees scored 94 points or higher, a tribute in large part to the ever-intensifying innovation and dedication of the world’s leading coffee producers and roasters. Obviously, all of these 94+ coffees are worthy of celebration, as are the exceptional coffees hovering just behind them at 93 and 92. We couldn’t squeeze them all into our Top 30. We forced ourselves to select the 30 that we felt were worthy of particular recognition.
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.
Promising review for their Dark Roast blend: "I've always been wary of cults: the blind loyalty, bad punch, separation from family, etc. However, after going through about 40 pounds of Koffee Kult Dark Roast in the last year, I'm now a well-informed and dedicated drinker of exceptional koffee with my whole family. Yes, even my 9-year-old loves this stuff." —Ben V
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.
When I moved away from a grocery store that carried Equal Exchange three or four years ago, I remember checking, and you had to order it directly from Equal Exchange, and wait for standard shipping. I guess thanks to the Whole Foods merger, now you can get this right on Amazon. I was excited to discover this, but the mislabeling is a bummer! Amazon, please fix!
The process known as wet milling uses water to extract and separate the seeds from the cherries. This method uses a lot of water, so some have deemed it as not environmentally friendly. Despite this, wet milling is still in extensive use as it produces coffee that has a fruity and bright character. It is a pricy and gruesome process, but it gives the highest quality beans.
Real Good Coffee Co. brings USDA Certified Organic K Cups to the masses. It’s a dark roast that’s bold and comes from a single origin. The Sumatra beans bring unique notes of bell pepper, cedar, and a lemony finish. Real Good Coffee Co prides themselves on creating where other competitors are lacking. Think of a taste similar to Green Mountain or Pike Place roasts.
As coffee consumption increased, and the value of coffee beans as an agricultural export grew, many farmers moved coffee off of hard-to-reach forested hillsides and grew it at lower elevations, in dedicated coffee fields, for ease of cultivation and harvesting. This transition from coffee as a plant grown in forested mountains to a plant grown on plantations has had an array of far-reaching effects.
In the case of over half of the Top 30 coffees, distinctive tree variety appears to play an important role in generating an exceptional cup worthy of a high rating. There are stars and superstars among the hundreds of varieties of Arabica grown in the world today, and, whether we want them to or not, coffees from these distinguished varieties frequently dominate the very highest ratings at Coffee Review. They include the still rare and expensive Geisha/Gesha variety (three examples on the 2018 list), the various mainly indigenous varieties grown in Ethiopia (three on the 2018 list), the great SL28 and SL34 varieties of Kenya, and (slightly less distinctive but still likely to impress) the big-beaned varieties Maracaturra (one), Maragogipe (one) and the ancient heirloom Bourbon (four on the 2018 list).
The question remains, once a bag is open, how long does it last? There are a few factors to consider. The first usually depends on the roast date, the closer to the roast date the fresher your coffee is going to to taste. Next is the coffee bean type, ground coffee doesn’t maintain its fresh taste very long. Seattle Coffee Gear says that ground coffee sealed in a cool, dark place will stay fresh for about two weeks, while properly stored whole coffee beans will stay at best quality for about four weeks after opening at room temperature. Oxygen is your biggest enemy here.
Kim Westerman is a licensed Q-grader, a longtime food, wine and travel writer and a certified sommelier. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, Bay Area Bites, and many other publications. She happily brings her sensory training in wine to the evaluation of coffee in Coffee Review’s Berkeley lab. She also handles communication with roasters and review logistics.
We have a Saeco machine, my husband drinks espresso and I like regular coffee. We're used to darker roasts but this one was nice, smooth, flavorful. I thought a medium roast would be too light for an espresso, but my husband said, "this is a tasty coffee." If you eat it with fresh homemade cream scones, it'll tastes even more delicious! Someone said the oiliness of the beans interfered with the burr grinder in their machine, but my husband does regular maintenance on our Saeco and it's been functioning great for over 5 years now (previously he used Lavzza for 2-3 years, then we switched to Costco Sumatra roast coffee, which was awesome, and a few other trial brands here and there.)
In addition to that, this java has about 59 mg caffeine in every fluid-ounce of coffee. In fact, its single serving will comprise up to 708 mg caffeine if the serving is of 112 fluid-ounce. It is fairly more than many people could bear for a single day. Despite the coffee being of French roast and of high caffeine content it tastes astonishingly sweet.
“What’s the worst thing about coffee? Bitter. Bitter is bad. Bizzy has conquered bitter with this cold-brew blend. I brew for 24 hours, in the fridge, leaving a smooth, sweet concentrate available when needed. I just pour over ice, add a splash of sweet cream, and abracadabra, magic. The blend is organic, a huge plus [with] a mix of light to dark roasts, perfectly course ground for cold brewing. I’m in love. Thank you, Bizzy!”
The deity-level status of a coffee roaster hailing from Kansas' snoozy capital used to take the less-informed by surprise; nowadays, it seems less unusual that an operation as world-class as this should be found in such a place. No brash upstart, this—direct trading, single origin-loving PT's has been around since the early 1990's, and is still considered one of the finest source-erers in the land, last year snapping up another roaster with a similar reputation for quality, San Diego's Bird Rock Coffee. Lately, the company has given its retail operation a modern makeover, adding more modern shops in the college town of Lawrence, as well as Kansas City, Missouri.
Approaches ranged from commitment to organic as a core value in a business model to mere coincidence or afterthought. Furthermore, several of the top-scoring coffees came from roasters who don’t label their coffees as organic, even when these coffees are farmed organically. The reason? They don’t have USDA certification as organic roasters, making it illegal for them to do so.
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.
This year, for the first time, a coffee from Hawaii earned top honors, the 96-point Kona Mocca™, grown and roasted in Holualoa, Hawaii by Hula Daddy Kona Coffee. In the review published in November, it was described in part as “A marvel of a coffee, inviting and esoteric, chimerical and grounded, all at once. Enchantingly rich, intensely floral, unique. Dried black cherry, tea rose, Cognac, chocolate fudge, gently scorched almond wood in aroma and cup.” This rare coffee with its tiny beans and striking cup is available only on the Hula Daddy website through their allocation list.