Lake Winnipesaukee might be next door, but the historic center of Laconia, an old mill town, isn't exactly a thriving tourist destination—at least not yet. This cheerful micro-roaster and café, across from the shuttered (apparently, not forever) Colonial Theatre, is one in a small group of businesses—including a proper butcher shop, just next door—helping to invigorate the old town center.
In many ways, coffee is like wine. Depending on the area of origin, the degree of roast and grind levels, the taste of a particular coffee can vary drastically. Plus there is also the added layer of mixing different coffee beans to create unique blends. So, finding the best ground coffee brand for you depends entirely on your tastes and preferences. This brings us to the first section of our guide:
As in past years, we selected and ranked our Top 30 coffees and espressos based on quality (represented by overall rating), value (reflected by most affordable price per pound), and consideration of other factors that include distinctiveness of style, uniqueness of origin or tree variety, certifications such as Fair Trade and organic, and general rarity.
The Organic Coffee Co. produces this light and flavorful blend of the south and central American beans. The company comes directly from the source, where it is grown without herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. It is Fair Trade and responsibly grown, plus USDA certified as organic. The coffee is grown only on shade grown, bio-diverse farms in Panama. The company also has a community aid program which has worked to restore thousands of rainforest acres.
Promising review for the Dark Italian Espresso blend: "Over the past 30 years, I've spent a small fortune on exotic brews. But, when the last of my protected-rain-forest coffee bean was harvested in South America, I was flustered. The vendor claimed it was too expensive to continue harvesting (despite how much they charged for importing those beans), and a friend suggested I try Eight O'Clock. I love strong and bold coffee, and this reasonably-priced coffee foots the bill; I've been a fan since my first cup. It's amazing that after spending thousands the past 30 years to chase a rain-forest bean in South America, and what I wanted was in my local market all along. What a dufus snob I was!" —AMG
To be honest, my expectations were low for whatever “affordable” coffee Whole Foods might offer, and I was a bit reluctant even to include it under the umbrella of regular grocery stores (despite the company’s recent “Yes, we have sales!” ad campaign), but here I stand both corrected and impressed. 365 Everyday Value is the Whole Foods Market store brand, which markets products fitting the Whole Foods ethos, at least aesthetically—don’t assume it’s organic!—at regular grocery prices. A 10-ounce bag of ground coffee costs $5.99 at the Gowanus Whole Foods in Brooklyn, making it the cheapest bagged coffee here per-unit and decidedly on the cheap end per-pound. Pleasant Morning Buzz is a Vienna roast-style coffee, a dark roast just shy of a French roast style, which gives the coffee a heavy, bittersweet flavor that’s easy to sip on for a black coffee drinker. As a rule, darker roasts do not microwave as well as lighter roasts, and this coffee is no exception—get it while it’s hot or pour yourself a new one.
Many reviewers pick up notes of honey, almonds, and dried fruit in the flavor profile with zero bitterness and low acidity. Ideally, this blend would be finely ground, brewed as a traditional espresso, and served in a smaller format, but many reviewers coarse-grind this blend and brew it using their drip coffee maker or French press with great success. Most reviewers actually claim that they've switched to Lavazza for their everyday morning coffee from other more well-known American brands.
Lastly, we’ve got Ethical Bean Coffee Sweet Espresso. Guilt-free coffee at its finest. This company was found in Guatemala back in 1999 and it's main focus has been investing into local farmers and their communities so those farmers produce the best product out of sheer joy and happiness. As they say, fair trade is not only a marketing slogan for this company, it is an integral part of its entity.
The same holds true for Kickapoo Coffee, whose Ethiopia Kirite also scored 93. Caleb Nicholas says, “About 97 percent of the coffee we roast is certified organic, and we would not have purchased the Kirite if it were conventional. The USDA seal is optional, and we designed the bags to accommodate both organic and non-organic. If we put the seal on it, it would be just another sticker. Instead, we just label the coffee as organic and list our certifier, MOSA.”
This bean is so versatile that it makes the perfect first cup in the morning, the last cup before bed, and every cup in between. Everyone that enjoys a great cup of coffee will love the Camano Island Coffee Roasters, Organic Papua New Guinea Medium Roast Whole Bean coffee. This incredible organic coffee has been growing in the Papua New Guinea Highlands since it was first planted in 1930.
Coming in 5th on the list overall and 2nd on the known brands list, Dunkin’ Donuts medium roast scored major points as a great coffee choice. Testers were all over the place wondering what kind of roast this was due to its strong aroma and bold taste. Our office testers who enjoy a bold cup of coffee ranked this very highly in taste and finish, but others listed it as harsh and acidic. One tester noted that they enjoyed the coffee more when they let it cool down and added ice to it. We loved that idea! Another wallet friendly choice, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee will only cost you $.44 per ounce.
The first thing you need to know about this organic decaf coffee is that it comes in whole beans. Therefore, this means that you will have to ground it yourself at home. The amazing thing about this, if you ground just enough beans for one cup every morning, you will be able to taste freshly ground coffee every single day. It doesn’t get better than this! The Decaf Hurricane Espresso is a dark and robust roast that will win your heart in no time!