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Here is the absolute best kind of roaster—relentlessly focused, but also accommodating to the curious public. Working from an industrial section of the city's northern fringe, one of the state's top operations offers Friday public cuppings, and tries to keep its door open as much as possible. Should you prefer more traditional café surroundings, that's fine—Blanchard's supplies shops around town, including a sparkling café counter in the lobby at Richmond's stylish new Quirk Hotel.
To find the best grocery store coffee, we tasted 11 brands commonly found at grocery stores around the country or online. I first conducted this test in July of 2017, but re-tested recently, incorporating a few new coffees that we hadn't tasted in the first round—for example, the coffee from Thrive, which is an online-only grocery store. Epicurious staffers rated the coffees and provided tasting notes. (I myself can be a little forgiving when it comes to bad coffee, so we needed outside opinions.) For every brand, we ordered a medium roast, which was usually "Breakfast Blend" or something equivalent.
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!
A weekend morning, or at least part of one, spent in the lobby of the Dean Hotel, which is where you will find the very best coffee shop in the coolest big city in New England right now, is always time well spent. Look for these guys at the RISD Museum, too, where they've recently partnered with the school on the excellent Café Pearl. Easily one of the most memorable multi-roaster operations between New York and Boston.
Overwhelmingly, the lesser known brands ranked higher and received more detailed tasting notes. When searching the description of these brands, you will find more information on specific origin, details in roasting and care in the small batches. The attention to detail made from the farming to the roasting will set you back a few more dollars, but know that along with a more satisfying cup of coffee you are also doing your part to better the world.
Eight O’Clock Coffee is a sleeper in this set, brand-wise, but a surprisingly enjoyable cuppa. It’s the only brand I tasted about which I had no preconceptions, and it turned out to be one of my favorites. It’s dark without being bitter, and is solidly microwaveable. It’s slightly ahead of the median bagged coffee price in this set but streets ahead in flavor, making it a solid value buy.
A consistent best-seller on Amazon with thousands of positive reviews, many consider this particular blend their go-to mild roast to start their busy work day or low-key weekend morning. Clean and bright with just enough sweetness and a rich, nutty flavor, Green Mountain's Breakfast Blend gets points for its consistent and balanced flavor. These pods are compatible with Keurig single-serve coffee machines.
I am very fussy about coffee. This trait had relegated me to all coffee buying responsibilities for our small office. These beans are mellow but full bodied (crowd pleaser and snob pleaser, all in one bag). We haven't poured a bad cup and have been using these beens for months. Stocking my office with acceptable beans is no longer a chore. This is a simple one-click, 2 days later (prime)we get our fresh beans. Saves a lot of hassle and I really enjoy the coffee. You can get a 5 star bag by searching and scouring local roasters, but I'm very happy with these beans for their price and convenience.
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 saw a review for AmazonFresh that said it wasn't the greatest grind for a French Press (not fine enough for full flavor) which made me wonder how it would fair in my AeroPress. And I have to say, it does make a weaker cup of coffee for me than Peets. I use 1 1/2 AeroPress scoops of Peets, but with AmazonFresh, I need at least 2 full scoops to get a similar strength. Therefore the "affordability" factor is tainted. (This is likely not an issue with other coffee making options, but I can't say.)
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.
This K-cup is compatible with all Keurig coffee machines. It is made using beans that have been grown in lands at high altitude. This means that the coffee is denser, and it is also more potent in terms of the antioxidants that it contains. Best of all, there is a satisfaction guarantee from the manufacturer. If you are unhappy in any way with this coffee, you can have it returned and you will be given an unconditional refund.
There is no beating around the bush with this brand. When you buy Death Wish, you know exactly what you are getting: a higher dose of caffeine than your body should need, like ever. There is a market for robust coffee out there, and these guys are there to cater to those caffeine-heads. The brand has all the right certifications, including FairTrade. And despite using robusta beans, they have managed to keep the taste at least tolerable, which is quite an achievement.