Most organic coffee brands purchase their beans from "fair trade" farms. These farms don't use child or slave labor, and they pay their workers a fairer wage than others in the industry. When you shop organic, you can be proud that you're supporting good business practices instead of shady, cost-cutting measures from companies that are only concerned about their bottom line.
In a nutshell, organic coffee is made from beans that are grown in uncontaminated soil without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Standards may differ from country to country but the difference is usually on how much of the final product came from organic sources. In the U.S.A. for example, the FDA requires 95% of the coffee to come from organic sources to be classified as “Organic Coffee” regardless of where it came from.
There are many different roasters out there that will send you their coffee directly without having to go through a middleman. Single Roaster Coffee Subscriptions means you get your coffee directly from the roaster of your choice and in many cases you can decide how often you receive deliveries from them. Here are a few of our favorite Single Roasters:
As in past years, we selected and ranked our Top 30 coffees and espressos based on quality (represented by overall rating), value (reflected by most affordable price per pound), and consideration of other factors that include distinctiveness of style, uniqueness of origin or tree variety, certifications such as Fair Trade and organic, and general rarity.
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.
We are using a Fair Trade certified green coffee, but we do not participate in the Fair Trade system. We have our own program called "Sharing Certified." Check it out here. We are a family of coffee growers ourselves, and we only purchase specialty-grade coffee at a premium over the market from other growers whom we've had decades-long relationships with.
Black Oak Coffee Roasters from (Ukiah, CA) was my personal favorite and I’m glad to see it made your list as well! I do find it odd that it was on your list as it seems that you favor the lighter roasts and I’m opposite in my flavors. There are only 2 coffees that are not roasted in the U.S., is this because you haven’t tried too many outsides of the U.S. or do you find that they are just better in the US? Also thanks for taking one for the team and trying out the Black Rum Espresso because there is no way I would pay that price!
While there are some places you can find the best coffee, there are many places that you should definitely not buy coffee from.Where To AVOID:The Grocery store - They often sell low-quality coffee beans with a long shelf life. (The exception here is Whole Foods and other artisan stores, which carry coffee from reputable roasters.)Amazon - Again, it’s the question of freshness. It is often roasted ahead of time so it could be packaged, shipped and stocked in the warehouse. PRO TIP: Even if the Amazon listing says “Fresh Roasted,” it might be 6 months old, as that is fresh in comparison with many of the other store bought beans. Yikes!HOW to Choose The Best Coffee BeansWhat type of coffee should you choose? Sometimes coffee bags are covered in words that don’t mean anything to us.Let’s decipher some of those for you.Arabica beans vs Robusta beansArabica beans are far superior to Robusta in terms of flavor and quality. They can be grown at higher elevations, giving the beans more time to develop their favor.Robusta beans contain more caffeine than Arabica. They are also much more disease resistant and produce a higher yield. That is why farmers still like to grow robusta, even though they sell for a much lower price.Robusta is grown for companies that produce instant coffee and other lower quality, grocery store blends. You probably won’t see a roaster advertising their Robusta coffee. Stay away from it if you love great coffee.Acidity and BitternessDifferent coffees will have different amounts of acid content.Acidity is not a bad thing, as that is what gives coffee its natural flavor. Some people like more, some like less. The acidity present in coffee has more to do with taste as opposed to pH, though many claim acidity in coffee to cause digestive issues.Coffees from Africa are typically characterized by a higher acidity, with fruity or floral tasting notes.Coffees from places like Brazil or Sumatra tend to have a much lower acidity with cocoa and nutty notes.PRO TIP: A big part of it has to do with growing altitude. Coffee's grown at lower altitudes generally have lower acidity level. Read this article if you want to learn more about low acid coffee.
Thanks to the wonderful conveniences of online shopping, once you start regularly receiving your online coffee subscription, it’s hard to imagine life without coffee delivered instantly to your doorstep. So the challenge becomes selecting the right company and subscription that fits your tastes. Luckily, we put together a list of our favorite coffee subscription services that’ll be sure to help you spice up your daily coffee routine.