Four espressos appear on this year’s list, three of them single-origin coffees. The fourth is a distinguished blend of coffees from a mix of origins—the impressive 96-point Twenty Five by Barrington Coffee Roasters, at No. 6, the only blend on the list. Numerous blends, both espresso and non-espresso, earned 90-94 points but did not ultimately make our Top 30; we recognize some of the best on our list of the Top Coffees by Category.
There's never been a better time to be a coffee drinker here in the United States. After decades of sporadic gains, the years surrounding the turn of the century saw this country enter into something like a Golden Age of caffeine consumption. Today, the effects of this seismic transformation are being felt not only in each of the 50 states, but around the globe, as well. And we're not done yet. With the elder statesmen of the bean-fueled revolution now all but household brands, and with the idea of a true American café culture no longer limited to a select handful of fortunate cities, the marketplace appears hungry for further exploration and experimentation. We are, once again, ready for the next level.
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.
I found an interesting study from the Japanese which showed that 99.8% of the pesticides used in farming coffee beans, was burned off in the roasting process. So even though it is almost as clean as organic and not as harmful as one might think, it still lacks the quality in terms of organic fertilizers and culitivation not to mention the storing and shipping which greatly effects quality! I prefer organic all the way but it was an interesting informative article about that study. Here’s the link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23154763
A. “Fair Trade Certified” means the farmers were paid a fair wage, no forced or child labor was involved in the growing or picking of the beans, the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals was limited, and the coffee plantation practiced sustainable farming methods. You’ll find many brands of coffee certified as Fair Trade, particularly specialty brands. The Fair Trade Certified program is an international program run by TransFair USA.
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I sat down in their amazing coffee shop and met Justin and his team, and decided to partner up with them on a different subscription plans. The beans are roasted in their shop and shipped straight to your door – and I can attest firsthand to how incredible the coffee is. Click here to learn more about their story and try Carabello Coffee for yourself.
One of those towns that got lucky, relatively early on, Arizona's second city still knows coffee best, at least around these parts. Right now, the city is all about this super-mod operation, featuring two high-design hangouts—one at Presta's roasting plant, the other inside the quite chic Mercado San Agustin, these days one of Tucson's favorite gathering places, and for good reason.