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.
The Big Bang is a Latin American and East African blend, that celebrates Peets innovative spirit. Coming from a time when ‘Americans drank WWII rationed coffee’ well after the wars, he made sure to change that. Revel in this blend of greatness, and decide for yourself if the tribute to Alfred Peet is enough, or should you seek your own coffee path.
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.
In order to save energy (it is the right thing to do), look for a unit that comes with an auto-off timer. Leaving the internal tank heated and ready to brew will continue to drain some energy, even though minimal. If you are making 7-8 cups of coffee a day, this could make sense. It takes around 300 watts of power for a Keurig machine to brew a K cup if it has been preheated.
Whether you call it joe, java, cuppa, liquid energy, or brew, if you are part of the 62% of Americans who drink coffee on a daily basis, that first morning cup sets the tone for the rest of your day. A good cup of coffee is a thing of beauty – hot but not scalding, slightly bitter without pucker, and wafting an aroma that draws even the deepest sleeper from his bed.
Update: I figured I’d best ‘figure’ it out for myself. Purchased a) (Nicaragua) Granges Cosechas, 100% Arabica, Med.Roast b) (Hawaiian) Peaberry, 100% Arabica, Med Roast c) (Ethiopian) Yirgacheffee , Mild Roast. I make coffee 16 oz at 7-8 a.m. and, again, Cookie-time 2:30 pm. So far, the Yirgacheffe is my preferred, but , honestly, they are all beginning to taste the same. I make all exactly the same way in grind & brewing time. All are very pleasant. The only thing missing from the bag information is the estimated strength of caffeine within. Perhaps that is not measurable, but I can definitely feel the rush after consumption. Had to stop the leftover, very pleasant, iced coffee sipping between 6-8 p.m. because my sleeping hours dropped from 6-7 to 5-6. Not enough sleep. Just thought I’d share this information.
Occupying a vintage Quonset hut on an out-of-the-way block in the state's coolest town right now, this all-organic, sustainable, small-batch setup brings a lot of passion to the table; Montana has more than a couple of great roasters (see below) and an outsized number of destinations for a great cup coffee, but coming up on nearly a decade in business, this is the place that feels like the whole package, the all-in-one.
I've been using this for years. I can't get a better cup of coffee than the one I make at home. It's very difficult to find organic decaf in whole beans. I'd found a small organic mercantile near my house and purchased it there for a long time. Then I moved away and the only place I could find it was that store, but now it's an hour to drive there. I searched the closer stores and could not find it. Finally it occurred to me that Amazon has EVERYTHING and of course there it was. So much nice to order this and have it show up at my door. It's cheaper here too. Thanks Amazon !
There are a lot of positive words associated with this 2 lb. bag, including grown responsibly, sourced responsibly, roasted responsibly, packaged responsibly… And, while the writer in me groans at the repeated usage of the word “responsibly,” I logically know that all of those things are good. So, ya know, good job, Real Good Coffee Co. You’re good.
The first time I conducted my coffee taste test, I left Peet's out, and commenters were outraged. It turns out, they were right: this is a solid supermarket coffee contender, especially for people who might tend toward a darker roast. Social Media Manager Andrew Spena and I particularly liked this coffee. "I know it's not true, but I feel like this has a neutral pH balance," said Andrew. "A little nuttiness comes through once it's cooled a bit. I could see myself drinking too much of this on accident." If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is. The nuttiness and round body of this coffee set it apart. It had a chocolatey richness and some nice toasty notes. While the Thrive coffee is well-suited to those who like a lighter, fruitier roast, Peet's is perfect for people who like a rounder, nuttier, creamier, toastier flavor profile in their coffee.
Also try The folks at Louisville's Good Folks Coffee prefer to spend their days behind the roaster, and that's fine, because they're doing great work back there—look for their beans at Please & Thank You, a very popular café, bakery and record shop combo with three locations. Up near Cincinnati, in the very old city of Newport, Carabello Coffee is a highlight—check out their Analog Bar, a reservation-only spot for guided coffee tasting.
As mentioned earlier, the beans are grown and sourced in Peru. They are planted at an altitude of 1,550 meters. The coffee bean varieties currently available are: Typica, Caturra, Catimor, Catuai and Bourbon. All are grown in clay mineral soil. After harvest, the beans are fully washed and dried in the sun. These are then roasted in an organic certified roasting facility located in Ventura, California before being packed into carefully sealed packages.
Like the others, this coffee is certified both Organic and Fair Trade. But it was the only one among the 52 varieties that is also Rainforest Alliance Certified (RAC). This set them apart and gave them extra points in our Eco-Friendliness category. RAC is a credible certifying body that aims to protect our rain forests, soil, and other ecosystems from the devastation caused by coffee production.
Our research was then directed towards the price point and determining what classifies as a “cheap” cup of coffee. If you are heading to Starbucks to grab a grande cup of regular coffee, it will put you back $2.10. McDonald’s premium roast coffee will cost $1.29. Dunkin’ Donuts medium coffee is $1.89. Frappuccinos, lattes and mochas will double your coffee cost.
The top-rated Reunion Island Sidama (94) is Fair Trade as well as organic-certified. Anne Wiseman, marketing coordinator for Reunion Island, says that it’s important for the company to offer organic-certified coffees, and that their organic selection is growing with consumer demand. Reunion Island has committed to carry this same organically-certified Sidama, from the same importer and producers, on an ongoing basis.
Our trusty testers rated this coffee a 7.55 out of 10 on our overall testing scale. In the aroma category the coffee scored a 7.60 and received the most 10’s out of any coffee we tested. Those who like strong black coffee rated the aroma low with the thought it was going to be “fruity” or “weak,” but were pleasantly surprised with the taste. The coffee finish rated highly as well at 7.80 out of 10. Tasters specifically noted the caramel finish. Most guessed incorrectly that this was a Medium coffee roast.
The next step in the quest for a quality cup of coffee is roasting. The roasting process heats up the beans at temperatures of 230 degrees Celsius; neutralizing the extreme unpleasant flavor profiles of the bean. The newly roasted bean offers nutty, smoky, or spicy flavors. The length of time that the bean is roasted determines the flavor profile and caffeine content. Beans roasted longer have a shiny black appearance and they boast a bitter and bold taste. Also, they are noted by an oily feel. Light roasted beans, which are roasted for a shorter length of time, tend to be sweeter, smoother, and even floral in flavor. If you prefer a lighter smooth taste, you will defer from bolder, darker roasts of equal of even better quality.
Over the course of the year, we reviewed fewer than a dozen darker roasts. Most were medium-dark at best; some barely that. The majority of darker roasts we reviewed were sent by roasters in Taiwan and most were espressos, reflecting both the time-honored espresso practice of emphasizing chocolate and sweetness through moderate dark roasting, as well as, perhaps, a preference in Taiwan for more traditional styles of espresso as opposed to the lighter-roasted, brighter style of espresso now popular with the leading edge of North American roasters.