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.
Africa and Indonesia grow the world’s supply of robusta beans. These harsher and more caffeinated coffee beans cost less than arabica beans, as the Coffea canephora plant is hardier than the arabica bush and produces far more cherries at a younger age. Supermarket brands, instant coffee, and inexpensive coffee is almost always ground from this type of bean.
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Promising review for their Cold Brew Cold Press Elixir blend: "I have ordered a few bags of this and it's become my favorite coffee for cold brew. The grind is nice and coarse; it's been fresh every time I have open a bag, unlike a few more-expensive brands I've purchased on Amazon (that came fancifully packaged, but whose aroma fell short when the sealed bag was opened). The taste is complex and the caffeine level is potent. After a big serving of this, a hummingbird can't keep up with me." —Mr. BBQ guy
Many roasters queried us to ask if they could submit coffees they felt confident were farmed without use of synthetic inputs because of their familiarity with the producers. Nevertheless, for this report, we concluded that we needed to stick to reviewing coffees that consumers could be assured were produced under organic conditions using organic protocols. We went so far as to check the organic documentation at the farm level provided by importers for all the coffees we review here.
This coffee has done an exquisite job of marketing. Fair trade, organic, ethical in every sense of the word. And whole bean at that so you’re bound to expect the best flavor- right? This particular flavor ‘Mind, Body, and Soul’ is one that my fiance and I enjoy but don’t necessarily swoon over. It’s a medium blend that isn’t necessarily extremely robust. Both of us prefer a darker stout flavor, but love trying new coffees (especially organic fair trade options), so picked this one up on a whim during an Amazon Pantry order.
This might seem like an elaborate set-up, but we actually came about all this after struggling for a couple of years drinking coffee and getting sick from it. I finally discovered that I am sensitive to the acids in coffee. This put me on a lot of research on coffee, the acids in it, how it is made and the best ways to grind and brew it. Both my husband and I are fairly frugal but after reading that coffee is the worst sprayed crop in the world except for Christmas trees (ever notice how Christmas tree farms have nothing but dead ground around the trees.... yeah, exactly like that!), we made the decision to do this. Also, I now can enjoy and drink coffee every morning without any abdominal pain.
Here's the truth: K-Cups are packed with the same coffee ground you would buy in your grocery store or supermarket. Flavored coffees are made by spraying propylene glycol on the coffee beans/ground, then adding the flavoring oils or liquids afterward. The propylene glycol helps the beans/ground to hold the flavor, and it acts as a preservative. Every time you drink flavored coffee—whether it's in a K-Cup or a regular coffee machine—you're ingesting propylene glycol and natural and artificial flavorings.
Lastly, we’ve got Ethical Bean Coffee Sweet Espresso. Guilt-free coffee at its finest. This company was found in Guatemala back in 1999 and it's main focus has been investing into local farmers and their communities so those farmers produce the best product out of sheer joy and happiness. As they say, fair trade is not only a marketing slogan for this company, it is an integral part of its entity.
The biggest draw of organic coffee is that it's grown and harvested without chemical assistance. There are no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or insecticides used in the agricultural process. If fertilizer is needed to help the beans grow, farmers use natural things like compost and coffee pulp. This means that organic coffee shoppers are getting home-grown beans without nasty additives of any kind.
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.
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.
The Gorilla Decaf Coffee is a better choice for single serve coffee. It features a full-city roasted taste that is large, strong yet mellow.This coffee is decaffeinated through the use of natural water process. So the final product is ideal for all day brewing. It’s USDA certified organic and fairly traded. Hence, it’s free from chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
Folgers brand topped the Harris Poll Coffee of the Year list. The classic brand has an array of highly ranked flavors which cost about 32 cents an ounce. But if you like your coffee dark, this might be the brand for you. Their French Roast blend ranked #1 on the Huffington Post’s list of best store-bought French roast coffee, mainly because of it’s “pleasant flavors.” The Black Silk blend is also a deal, at $7.64 for 27.8 ounces, which has been praised for it’s great flavor without the burnt aftertaste that plagues so many other dark roasts.
Once purchased, the most important factor for brewing your own coffee is the freshness. It’s not a question of if your coffee will go bad, but when. When making your first cup of coffee in the morning most people would agree that making it quickly and easily is the key, which is the biggest benefit for ground coffee, but you may be sacrificing freshness and taste for convenience.
If we’re discussing organic, attention-to-detail coffee producers, this discussion wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Koffee Kult and their process. The dedication starts with direct trade relationships with their coffee farmers around the world, support for micro-lot farms, and finishes in house when they apply the iconic Koffee Kult label. Don’t forget the impressive roasting process.
Coffee Bean Direct comes in a package well-above the average size of the others in our review. Offered in a 5lb bag only, Coffee Bean Direct is able to sell high-quality beans at a lower price. No wonder it was neck-and-neck with our number one pick when it came to Cost. While it’s an extremely popular choice on Amazon, it fell behind the others on Performance due to a lower Amazon rating.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your favorite coffee connoisseur might have an argument for single origin vs blended origin beans, but the average coffee drinker will not taste the difference. Each origin has a unique attribute that is added to the bean, but the taste is not the main reason to look into blended or single origin. There are very few regulations that mandate disclosure of type, or percentages, of the blends in your bag of coffee. As a result some expensive blends may be a low percentage of a desirable origin and the majority could be from a less desirable origin.
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.
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On the other hand, from our inception Coffee Review has been committed to starting with what we actually experience in the cup, not with product categories or marketing considerations or fashion. It is true that we took into account some extrinsic factors like value, rarity and sustainable intentions into account when we narrowed the number of very high-rated coffees from about 100 to 30, but ultimately, sensory quality and distinction in the cup, as determined by blind-tasting and as reflected in rating, was the entry point to consideration for the list and the primary influence on where coffees landed on it.
Am now on my second or third Kilo of Kick Ass...... After first finding Kick Ass, I continued to try other coffees and roasts in a search for "my preferred coffee". I still have other coffees yet to try, but have tried quite a few different high rated coffees... Some were good and some I gave away.... I do know what I want now in a coffee and roast... I want it all !!!! Now is that too much to ask ????? I grind my own beans and use a good brewer with no burner to scorch my coffee.... Kicking Horse is the only coffee that I keep coming back to.... I will tell you that so far I am torn between two favorites...... And they are both Kicking Horse Coffees !!! .... 454 Horsepower and Kick Ass...... The Kick Ass has a far superior body, while the 454 ... full review