Approaches ranged from commitment to organic as a core value in a business model to mere coincidence or afterthought. Furthermore, several of the top-scoring coffees came from roasters who don’t label their coffees as organic, even when these coffees are farmed organically. The reason? They don’t have USDA certification as organic roasters, making it illegal for them to do so.
Café Bustelo is technically the cheapest coffee on this list because it’s sold in both a can and a vacuum-packed brick, but in a can it’s only third-cheapest, after Maxwell House and Folger’s. Unlike the other coffees under consideration, Café Bustelo is espresso ground, which is much finer than drip ground. This, in addition to the dark roast of the coffee beans, makes it a robust sipping coffee. I double-filtered my pour-over to avoid too much coffee silt, but the flavor was undiminished. It tastes like any other coffee made with double the grounds, and is complexly awful reheated. Café Bustelo is truly motor oil coffee, which is not necessarily a mark against it—it’s likely to burn a hole through even the most memorable hangover, and will propel you forcefully into the next two to three hours of your life. This is not for the faint of heart (seriously, I’m having palpitations as I type this) but ultimately is quite drinkable.
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.
A startup from Vermont, our friends at Brothers Coffee Company select a new roaster each month that has found a new and innovative way of facing a challenge the coffee industry faces. Not only will you get fresh, top-tier specialty coffee, you’ll also help enact real change around the world. Along with the coffee, subscribers receive information on the roasters, their coffee, and why they were selected for the month, making every month a new story. They also donate $1 per subscription to Grounds for Health, a non-profit that screens and treats women for cervical cancer. If you love coffee and want to make sure your money is being used well, Brothers Coffee is the subscription for you.
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.
This equal exchange coffee not only makes you feel good about buying organic and fair trade products, but it tastes great too! I typically purchase Starbucks coffee, and was a very loyal customer. After reading the reviews, I thought it was worth a try, especially considering I could get three bags less than the cost of two Starbucks. This coffee has little to no acidity or aftertaste and is suprisingly smooth. I think I found a new favorite!
Wrapping your head around just how many roasters are doing good work in booming Denver right now could take a while—there's Middle State, Corvus, Huckleberry, Commonwealth; Boulder's got Ozo, and Boxcar, too. Andy Sprenger's operation, however, an unlikely gem in the relatively unglamorous suburb of Lakewood, feels like the truest find, right now—Sprenger traveled the world, did time with Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis, and snagged his share of industry awards before returning home to start the business. Besides being a sought-after roaster, Sweet Bloom's café serves as a much-welcomed third place for the neighborhood.
As coffee consumption increased, and the value of coffee beans as an agricultural export grew, many farmers moved coffee off of hard-to-reach forested hillsides and grew it at lower elevations, in dedicated coffee fields, for ease of cultivation and harvesting. This transition from coffee as a plant grown in forested mountains to a plant grown on plantations has had an array of far-reaching effects.
In two pound bags, the coffee from Honduras is made from 100% Arabic beans and certified organic by CCOF. It is free of GMO. These are whole beans roasted to a medium dark for chocolatey and rich flavor, with low acidity. The body is described as like velvet. Many customers enjoy the full bodied flavor of this coffee and consider it to be excellent, and in one case “insanely good”.
Promising review for the Original blend: "Every so often, you come across a company that builds their products for the right reasons: 1) to make money (of course), 2) to make the best possible product on the planet without taking shortcuts, proving that quality is their priority, 3) to make the world a better place by enhancing the lives of others. Most companies stop at the first reason, but Bulletproof embodies all three. Everything I have tried from Bulletproof is top notch, and some of the best possible products on the planet." —Storm
We asked Josh Taves, a 12-year coffee industry vet (who has spent time working as a barista as well as training them) and the director of business development for Denver’s Novo Coffee -- one of the finest coffee shops in the country -- for help. He did a blind tasting of 20 of the most popular K-Cups like a true (and highly caffeinated) hero. In the end, one brand stood out above all else, snagging three of the top four spots, while a few proved to be not worth drinking, no matter how badly you need a caffeine kick.
Promising review for their OneCups: "San Francisco Bay produces the most superior coffee on the market, and their varieties will satisfy a wide array of tastes. They are also environmentally conscientious, because their pods are 97% biodegradable (but that doesn't compromises the quality of the coffee, or the quality of the pod itself). Some reviewers have complained about beans pouring into their cup, or receiving damaged pods, but I've never had an issue like that and I've been drinking San Francisco Bay for about seven years. When I rate a product with five stars, it means I won't look anywhere else, if I need it again. I've tried dozens of different brands and different coffees over the years, and no one comes close to San Francisco Bay. Pick a flavor profile you like and you won't be let down." —Michael J. McKenzie
The Hawaiian Islands are known the world over for beautiful beaches, diverse microclimates, and both active and dormant volcanoes — pretty much paradise, as the cliché goes. Hawaiian culture is both uniquely American and, in many ways, happily incongruous with mainstream American culture. One island in particular, Hawai’i Island (often called the Big Island), produces […]
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.
Coffee snobs are the sort of people who know the difference between an Arabica and Robusta, have attended their fair share of "cuppings", and shun Starbucks as a place that sells "commercial swill". They prefer to brew their own coffee, which they've usually roasted themselves after importing free-trade beans from a country like Guatemala or Indonesia.
Organic certification at the farm level is overseen by various regional agencies, but, unlike sellers of organic vegetables, who don’t need further certification to sell organic produce, coffee roasters must also be certified in order to legally sell coffee that is labeled “organic.” Roasters must supply the certifying agency (different in each state) with certification paperwork from the farm and importer, as well as undergo annual inspection to ensure that organic coffees are handled in areas separate from non-organic, in much the way Kosher food is certified. This process involves both a one-time application fee and an annual inspection fee, fees that many small-scale roasters complain they cannot afford.
The second best organic decaf coffee on our list is Caza Trail Coffee. The dark imperial flavors inside actually come from a blend of coffees from Indonesia and Latin America. It has moderate acidity and a well-rounded finish. Caza Trail offers both classic and flavored coffee. Therefore, you can either have a traditional pick me up or take a break and reward yourself with a spiced coffee.
Coffee can be compared to wine in terms of flavor because it is also affected by soil, altitude and the region in which it’s grown. The two types of coffee bean options are Arabica and Robusta, but what does this mean? The easiest way to categorize the two is by the altitude in which they grew. Arabica beans are grown in the mountains at an altitude above 2000 feet, while Robusta coffee is found below that, typically on flat plantations.
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.)
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.
However, one of the selection criteria for the Top 30 coffees is value or affordability, measured by price per pound. Many of the coffees on our list are priced in line with similar, though usually less distinguished, single-origin specialty coffees in the marketplace. Half (15) of the coffees on the list cost $25 or less per pound. Four were priced at $20 or less per pound, namely: No. 4 Lexington Coffee Tarime Tanzania (95 points; $14.75/12 ounces), No. 6 Barrington Coffee Twenty Five (96 points; $14.25/12 ounces), No. 23 Big Shoulders Coffee Roasters Burundi Buhorwa (94 points; 15.00/12 ounces), and No. 28 Paradise Roasters Ecuador Pichincha Typica (94 points; 13.95/12 ounces).
I was craving Rooibos tea but still wanted a kick, so the barista suggested I mix two up and didn't charge me extra for it. She was super friendly and had a giant smile on her face the whole time - truly delightful. I like that their ingredients are sustainably sources and that all they do is geared to a good cause as a whole. I'll be sure to stop by again soon!
This coffee, as I have stated above is delicious. The problem is, that out of the 18 cups, only two didnt fail. The Keurig would start to brew and be about half done, then the foil top of the cup would simply detach from cup in a spot, and the grounds would come spilling out. Almost as if whatever adhesive was used melted. Never had a problem with other cups. So, perhaps this was simply this batch of the product, but a co-worker had expressed a similar issue with Newman's Own cups months prior, but I had just figured that THAT was a bad batch of cups....