As a mildly employed freelance writer, I have little disposable income, a lot of time on my hands, and strictly rationed vices. One such vice is coffee, which I drink more of than most people I know—even other freelance writers. But, despite my quantity-over-quality brewing habits, I’m capable of mustering some taste, and of standing by preference with reasoned conviction. So, with limited resources for fanciness and a desperate addiction in mind, I set out to determine which basic, widely available coffee brand should stand out from the rest on the grocery store shelf. I enjoy a Blue Bottle pour-over as much as the next fiend, but a $3 morning coffee is above my pay grade. I drink most of my coffee at home, from a bag of grounds that costs around $8, reupped on a bi-weekly grocery run. My choice of bag is usually determined by habit, or price, or shelf height, with less care than I take choosing a bar of soap, though I use both daily. When it comes to choosing a regular coffee—travel-mug, after-dinner, Sunday-morning coffee—which is best?
A. While instant coffee does start off as regular brewed coffee, it goes through a process – either freeze-drying or spray-drying – to remove all liquid from the beverage, leaving behind just the powdery remains. While instant coffee is convenient, it’s generally made from inferior-quality beans, and the drying process tends to leave the coffee with a bitter taste.

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.


What is interesting about this blend is the fact that it uses premium coffee beans from all the major regions in the world. So you will get a bit of American, African and Asian flavors in this blend. And they have also managed to harmonize and balance all the flavors well, resulting in a rich and dark roast. We like the fact that Peet’s provides the roast date on the package.

Café Britt produces 12-ounce bags of dark roasted coffee and sells them in 2 bag sets. The company uses 100% organic fertilizers and grows its bushes underneath native tree species, preserving the agro-ecosystem of the region. This single origin variety is preferred by chefs from around the world. Since 1991, the company has produced this rich coffee with its hint of apple aroma. It is medium dark and not acidic.

You are in a town that loves coffee, and it is everywhere, has been for a long time now, with the most successful operations long ago spun out into regional mini-chains, of sorts. May we (ever so gently) suggest that you begin your explorings at this relatively new addition—and by new, we mean they've been around for roughly a decade, already—now featuring five cafes, three of them right here in town.

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.

The best light roast and whole bean coffee was our top pick, Verena Street – Mississippi Grogg. The office chatter surrounding this taste test made it a staple on the office shopping list and is now in the rotation of coffee blends brewed. Receiving the most eight, nine and tens across the scoring board, people loved the natural hazelnut flavor found in the roast.
Shifting, original, startling in its giddy intricacy. Winey pine (think retsina wine), cocoa powder, green apple, Concord grape, ginger blossom, much more in aroma and cup. Sweetly and delicately pungent in structure. Lightly syrupy and almost effervescently buoyant in mouthfeel. The winey pine character and a floral sweetness carry persuasively into a crisp finish.
A. “Fair Trade Certified” means the farmers were paid a fair wage, no forced or child labor was involved in the growing or picking of the beans, the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals was limited, and the coffee plantation practiced sustainable farming methods. You’ll find many brands of coffee certified as Fair Trade, particularly specialty brands. The Fair Trade Certified program is an international program run by TransFair USA.

Café Altura is a regular roast organic decaf coffee that will thrill your senses without you worrying one single second about caffeine. It’s both organic and Kosher. You can drink it any time of the day you choose and, more importantly, it’s so good that you can enjoy it both hot and cold. It also has a very low acidic level, which will do wonders for your gastro-intestinal system.


Amazon went for the bold, and they got it. This full-bodied roast is undeniably bold. We found it comparable to an Italian roast, with less acidity. There is a pleasant fragrance while brewing. The coffee stays strong even at the 12 oz. setting. Even cream and sugar won't take away too much from the boldness. The quality build of the cups stays consistent, as does the taste. Sits at a lower price point than most.
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.
Professional coffee roasters roast green organic coffee beans by heating them in a large rotating drum. After about 5 to 7 minutes of intense heat, much of their moisture evaporates and the beans turn a yellow color and smell a little like popcorn. After about 8 minutes in the roaster, the "first pop" occurs. At this point the organic beans have doubled in size, crackling as they continue to expand. Many roasters stop the roasting process after the "first pop". Not Starbucks! After 10 to 11 minutes in the roaster, the organic coffee beans reach an even brown color and oil starts to appear on the surface of the bean. At somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes of roasting, the signature Starbucks flavor develops in the organic beans. The "second pop" signals that the organic coffee is ready to sell under the Starbucks label.
But that isn't the only good thing about Monsooned Malabar Coffee. Its beans also create a light, smooth roast that can be enjoyed at any time of day. It doesn't taste bitter at all, and it won't sit heavily in your stomach. You can drink it in the mornings without fear that it'll make you feel sick by lunchtime; you can drink it in the evenings without worry that it'll keep you awake.
In the test, I took into consideration that people have a variety of coffee preferences. Some like a classic French Roast, meaning lots of dark, toasty notes with a full body and robust (slightly burnt, IMO) flavor. More recently, coffee trends have tended toward the lighter, brighter, fruity end of the tasting spectrum, with a fair amount of acid and berry notes. We aimed for a medium roast, which would theoretically appease a variety of tastes and hit in the middle of this spectrum. Still, we picked three different coffees as our favorites so we could cover the spectrum of coffee flavor preferences. In general, we were looking for coffees that tasted nuanced in flavor, not simply burnt or watery. Hints of chocolate, berries, nuttiness, and round, creamy mouthfeel were ideal. We wanted a coffee that would taste good black—and also hold up to added milk.
New England Coffee was the dining hall coffee at my New England college—a bit on the nose, but a strong choice. Like Green Mountain coffee, New England Coffee locates its mythology north of Connecticut; its packaging includes a covered bridge, horse-drawn carriage, red barn, mill race, and church steeple in a landscape painted à la Grandma Moses. I hardly noticed I was drinking my pour-over cup until it was half gone, which is, unexpectedly, high praise for a cup of coffee. Like inexpensive wine, inexpensive coffee is best when its flavor is innocuous. A hint of sour coffee stomach waits in the wings, but with a hearty breakfast alongside, New England Coffee is a safe and delightful option.
The best light roast and whole bean coffee was our top pick, Verena Street – Mississippi Grogg. The office chatter surrounding this taste test made it a staple on the office shopping list and is now in the rotation of coffee blends brewed. Receiving the most eight, nine and tens across the scoring board, people loved the natural hazelnut flavor found in the roast.
You won’t find local Robusta coffee in the United States. This coffee variety is exclusively grown in the Eastern Hemisphere, primarily in Africa. While some countries are able to grow both arabica and Robusta coffee, the climate needed is very specific and curated for Robusta coffee. If you like strong, rich coffee with nothing but coffee flavor and caffeine for days, you’re looking for Robusta.
Propylene glycol is a potentially harmful ingredient, with side effects that include skin irritations and allergies, respiratory issues, cardiovascular problems, neurological symptoms, and potential organ toxicity. While it is recognized by the FDA as "generally safe", those trying to live a clean life may want to avoid anything that contains the chemical.
Most coffee consumed in the continental United States (in QSR restaurants and most cafes,) are arabica bean-originated. Arabica coffee is what you’ll often hear or read as “mountain-grown” coffee, due to its necessity for being grown at elevations of 18,000 feet or higher. It’s the ideal climate to grow these perfect beans, package them, and maintain their environment, or “perfect coffee eco system,” until consumption.
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.
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