Although only one producing country is represented in this month’s reviews, the range of coffees styles and pleasures these reviews describe is wide and engaging. Consumers seeking an exceptional cup carrying the reassurance of a third-party-verified certification will find a wide range of sensory options here, all distinctive and all deeply attractive.
If you are looking for a coffee with an exotic flavor that is also organic, this is one option that should be on your radar. It is a popular option because of the complexity it delivers. It is a dark roast, which means that you should expect a heavy body from your drink. Despite the latter, however, it will be sultry and sweet, unlike other dark roasts that can be overly bitter. This is basically because it is blended with warm spices and brown sugar to perfectly balance the flavor.

French press - French press coffee involves "pressing" your coffee grounds to the bottom of a container instead of filtering them the traditional way. While you can use any type of bean to make your grounds, there are certain roasts and coarseness levels that work best with a French press, so you'll want to do some research before you start experimenting.

“Organic certification,” says Aaron Jordan of Roast House Coffee, whose Ethiopia Suke Quto scored 92, “is the bedrock of Roast House’s green coffee purchasing values. Seven years ago when the company started, we made a commitment to exclusively purchasing organically grown coffees, and one of the ways we prove that commitment is through certifications. It’s very important to the core of our business values and ethics.” So, Roast House has essentially built its business on organic certification as a fundamental value, and has drawn customers who share that priority, rather than picking and choosing coffees to market to various customer sectors. However, the Suke Quto bag doesn’t include the USDA organic seal, simply because Jordan reserves bags with the seal for his year-round offerings. (The Suke Quto is a limited reserve).


In terms of flavor, arabica beans win the prize. They brew a more delicate cup of coffee with slight overtones of berry and a high level of acidity. Robustas have a lot more caffeine – nearly twice as much as arabica beans – but they also have a stronger, more bitter taste that can be a bit harsh. Still, there are high-quality robustas available, and these beans do make a good cup of espresso.
Caribou gets several things right with this rich blend. The mix of premium Indonesian and American arabica beans results in a very complex yet smooth flavor profile. It has everything from woody, to sweet, spicy, and fruity notes. The overall flavor is bittersweet, but with enough acidity to make it lively. This is a 100% Arabica coffee, sourced from Rainforest Alliance certified growers in Asia, South, and Central America.
I drink one cup of coffee to start my day, using a Keurig and refillable K-cup. This can sometimes be less than ideal because the coffee can taste off (usually too weak). I was worried the same would be true about this Breakfast Blend, since those can generally be on the weaker side, but was pleasantly surprised at how bold and flavorful this was. It smells great, too - just opening the bag in the morning helped wake me up!
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).
Born in the mountains of Indonesia, Green Mountain Coffee Sumatran Reserve is an exotic brew that delivers the character of deliciously dark roast with organic farming standards. If you’ve been searching for a full-bodied coffee that still fits the organic guidelines then this is an option that’s available in relative mass and won’t break the bank. Grown over 12,000 feet in elevation, it’s likely helpful in discouraging pests and promoting a proper fruiting of the coffee.
“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!”

Unless you're a total geek, keeping up with the very latest in coffee tech can be a bit difficult, but we can't talk about Fort Wayne—perhaps the last place you were expecting to be talking about, right now—without talking about the fact that the city, better known as the birthplace of the Frigidaire, is also home of the Modbar, currently one of the hottest names in espresso extraction—so hot, in fact, that the company managed to attract La Marzocco as an investor and distribution partner. These days, Modbar founding partner Corey Waldron has gone back to his barista roots with this roaster/café operation, located just above the confluence of the three rivers that meet here at the heart of the city. (It's not just a thing that happens in Pittsburgh, you know.)


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.

If you are a coffee purist, there’s no argument; buying whole beans and grinding them yourself is the way to go. You’ll get the freshest cup of coffee this way; once ground, coffee beans start to oxidize, reducing and altering the flavor. Grinding your own beans also lets you tailor the grind to your preferred coffee-making method. You’ll need a coffee grinder to do your own grinding, however.

Jared Karr's dream of becoming an FBI agent ended up with him living in Indonesia (long story, ask him), where he developed a fascination with coffee, as you do. These days, Karr is back home, busily growing one of the Southeast's most promising roasters—East Pole's bright and light café in the Armour Yards development is all but brand new, but this already feels like one of Atlanta's great coffee shops.


Enjoying the right cup of joe is paramount to starting your day off on the right foot so, naturally, choosing which brand to enjoy isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. Whether you’re concerned about ethical sourcing, sustaining the environment, or you simply want the best taste nature has to offer, organic coffee can be the perfect way to start your day. In addition to hosting fewer (or no) synthetic chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides, the soil where organic coffee is grown also tends to be richer in nutrients.
You can make iced coffee/tea as well, plus hot chocolate and a range of different brews in different sizes. There’s a permanent micro-filter basket that you can replace with paper filters. Of course, we could not resist and quickly swapped the filters for some testing. But, the paper filter did not yield any noticeable difference in the quality of the brew when compared to the permanent filter.

Now that we have a better understanding of how complex coffee is, we had to find the best coffee maker to ensure quality control for each brew. We chose the award winning and Speciality Coffee Association of America’s Certified (SCAA) Home Brewer: the OXO – On Barista Brain nine cup coffee maker. This was also the winning machine in our review of the best drip coffee makers.
The Technivorm Moccamaster KBT is handmade, individually tested in the Netherlands, very simple, elegant, workhorse which will last a lifetime [20+ years], precise pure electric drip coffee brewer. The maintenance is cheap, easy and minimal. Certified by SCA, the Technivorm Moccamaster KBT makes exceptional coffee with perfect temperature [196 to 205 deg F], crema, and taste.
For the last 35 years our mission has been to find the world's finest Arabica varieties, roast them for the richest, most flavorful coffees available anywhere, at the lowest possible price, all while making the world a better place. Our coffee is grown responsibly, Fairly Traded and Grown For Good (see details about our Community Aid Programs below), we strive to improve the lives of each person we work with including the farmers, retailers, our employees, and you, our customers.
For a mild roast that is something on the wild side, try out their Super Crema Blend, which is great for drip coffee or espresso. It’s packed with atypical notes of honey, fruit, and dried almonds, making it fall on the medium side of the spectrum but with more taste than a typical Folgers pack, by far. Over 120 years of dedication to the art of coffee can’t take coffee lightly.
All of these coffee services give you plenty of choices and regularly deliver high-quality coffee to your door. While a coffee subscription may not completely replace your coffee supply, it’s a fantastic way to branch out and try new roasts and beans. And coffee subscriptions are a great way to supplement your supply so you never run out ever again.
Cost per Pound: From High (Very) to Reasonable. One can’t directly compare the price of Top 30 coffees from year to year because the mix of coffees varies too dramatically. In 2018, for example, two coffees on the list were priced as part of a bundle, and, for the first time in 2018, we recognized two bottled cold brew coffees, which are not priced in the same way as coffee beans.
"I know this is the most basic version of a coffee maker, but I love it. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and isn’t too complicated for someone who isn’t picky about their coffee. I make two of the large options, let them cool, and then pour them over ice for iced coffee. Plus, you can get K-Cups in practically every brand of coffee. My regular pick is Starbucks' K-Cups."
Cafe Don Pablo has been working tirelessly for some time now, to deliver a bold and natural coffee experience that lends itself to the lands it was created in. Providing low acidity and deep, rich flavor of milk chocolate with extraordinary notes of cocoa, caramel, and honey, Don Pablo Subtle Earth K-Cups are made of high quality, 100% Arabica coffee. Produced with no artificial substances, and grown at a high altitude where pests won’t disturb the crop, these K-Cups are certified organic by the CCOF.
Arabica is the more desirable bean and you will find it in nearly all your daily coffee blends. Arabica beans are more popular because they are grown in richer soil that allows the bean to become naturally mild and aromatic. Arabica is a fragile, oval-shaped bean that needs to be grown in cool and subtropical climates. Arabica beans contain about 60% more sugar content than Robusta, adding to their delicious taste.

The San Francisco Bay One Cup is a blend of rainforest-grown coffee that delivers a smooth, full-bodied taste with lively acidic notes. The coffee is grown sensibly and fairly trade to ensure quality and consistency.It undergoes inspection before, during and even after roasting to ensure quality is observed. The total volume of this coffee is equivalent to 80 single serve coffees.
Nebraska's most impressive roaster at the moment occupies a deceptively simple (but also pleasingly modern) storefront on a block shared with a brewery, a wine bar and Omaha's most talked about ice cream shop—it's clearly a new day for the once-forlorn Blackstone District. There's a lot of this sort of positive change happening around Omaha lately, some of it down to young and talented entrepreneurs like Isaiah Sheese, who moved here to roast coffee, just a few years ago. Things appear to be working out okay—Archetype is now opening a second shop, in another up-and-coming area of town.
To further our research, we asked all of our coffee testers if they would spend an extra $1.00 on a product if it was proven that the company directly benefited the community or environment. Each tester said yes. In addition, when looking at overall ratings online, organically and sustainably-sourced coffee rated higher overall compared to your typical Arabica coffee.

This coffee was pleasantly surprising. I usually like extra bold coffees, and they comprise the majority of my K-Cup purchases. But this coffee is a medium roast. Under normal circumstances, I probably would not have purchased it. But the store was out of my usual brand/flavor so I decided to try it. Wow! This is a great coffee! Rich flavor without any bitterness. I will happily add it to my favorites list. I will definitely purchase this again, and again and again!

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.


After tasting many coffees that were either completely bland or singed to bitter oblivion, Thrive Market's coffee was a welcome relief, as it offered flavor that was actually nuanced. "Aroma!" wrote my colleague Joe (note the exclamation point). "Woodsy, dark chocolate. Bright! Finished fruity, with a flavor of raspberry and copper." Other tasters also noted that this coffee was brighter than the rest, and offered nice fruitiness. The coffee has a relatively thin body, so those who like a rounder, creamier texture might find it lacking It was not so light and thin, however, that it didn't hold up nicely to a bit of milk—and you could still taste the chocolatey, woody notes through the milk, whereas many coffees lost all distinct flavor when dairy was added. Another bonus: this coffee comes in a huge 24-ounce bag, and at $12.99 for that size, it's an incredible deal.
This coffee can range from being too dense for the front palate people whereas the back palate people will love the blend of Arabica and Robusta. This coffee is suitable for every kind of coffee for people who are willing to go past their regular coffees. Also, if you consume the Two Volcanoes on regular basis then you will be able to know more about this vibrant coffee.
It depicts the source of organic coffee to be from the place called Yemen and Indonesia. However, there is a blend of Arabica in this pack which many of the coffee fanatics cherish. In fact, there are some regular Mocha Java consumers who hardly seem to switch to another brand because of the sweet bitter taste. It is the energy rush of this coffee that will leave you mesmerizing about the roasting methods.
Also try One of New York's (we're talking about the state now) closely guarded secrets: its less sought-after cities can be pretty great, and certainly for coffee. The gorgeous Tipico would be the envy of any town, but it belongs to an up-and-coming Buffalo neighborhood; in Rochester, the pop-up gone brick and mortar Ugly Duck is just one bright star on that city's long-running scene. Meanwhile, in Utica, perhaps the last place you'd expect to find something so up to date, Character Coffee is a multi-roasting outfit with a whole lot of appeal.
For the first time we allowed ready-to-drink, cold-brewed, pure black coffees into consideration for the Top 30. Two superb cold-brewed, bottled coffees made the list, the Bird Rock Red Bourbon Honey-Processed Cold Brew at No. 17 (94 points) and the States Coffee Reserve Cold Brew (from a Tanzania single-origin coffee) at No. 21 (also 94 points). For more on the cold coffee trend see our report Cold-Brewed Black Coffees: Quality in a Can.
Iowa's capital ranked as the fastest growing city in the Midwest last year, a trend being driven by the likes of Brad Penna and Nam Ho, young Southern Californians who moved here in search of a lower cost of living and a different pace of life. Their ambitious roaster/café, opened just last summer around the corner from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, is shaking up the city's coffee culture, and the locals—new and old—appear to be loving it. We certainly are.
Contrary to popular opinion, lighter roasted beans actually contain more caffeine. For some coffee consumers, the caffeine content is the most important factor to consider when purchasing beans. A light roast Robusta bean will contain the most caffeine of all. Is the purpose of your cup of coffee an after dinner digestif, or a bullhorn to wake you up? Those requiring more caffeine may benefit from an espresso instead of a regular drip brew.
On the other hand, the appearance of certain coffees on our list also suggests the value of continuity and tradition in processing. All four Kenya coffees in the Top 30 were subject to the meticulous Kenya variant on wet-processing that has been helping produce consistently great coffees in Kenya for decades. The two Sumatra coffees owe their distinction in great part to refined application of the decades-old “wet-hulling” process still largely unique to Indonesia, particularly to Sumatra. See our 2016 report Learning from Sumatras for more on wet-hulling and sensory distinction.
Many attribute Alfred Peet and his small coffee shop established in Berkeley, California in 1966 as the beginning of the craft-coffee movement in the United States. Peet’s Big Bang was introduced in 2016 as a special blend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the coffee shop, but it has since garnered quite a loyal following and become one of the brand's most popular varieties.
With this Colombian grown organic coffee in a K-cup, this is the perfect caffeine fix that can stimulate the senses. Similar to other dark roasts, you can expect notes of dark chocolate in this coffee. The beans have been through a long roasting process, which also means that the acidity is reduced. There are also toasted notes with the aftertaste of this coffee, but you do not have to worry since it does not have a pronounced bitterness.

With this Colombian grown organic coffee in a K-cup, this is the perfect caffeine fix that can stimulate the senses. Similar to other dark roasts, you can expect notes of dark chocolate in this coffee. The beans have been through a long roasting process, which also means that the acidity is reduced. There are also toasted notes with the aftertaste of this coffee, but you do not have to worry since it does not have a pronounced bitterness.
×