For the first time we allowed ready-to-drink, cold-brewed, pure black coffees into consideration for the Top 30. Two superb cold-brewed, bottled coffees made the list, the Bird Rock Red Bourbon Honey-Processed Cold Brew at No. 17 (94 points) and the States Coffee Reserve Cold Brew (from a Tanzania single-origin coffee) at No. 21 (also 94 points). For more on the cold coffee trend see our report Cold-Brewed Black Coffees: Quality in a Can.
Hawai’i: A New Wave of Coffee Innovation 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 […] May 15, 2019 | 0 Comments
Something that kept coming up in our research was “conscious consumerism,” or awareness of the impact your coffee makes on the community, environment and overall quality of life of those who harvest and grow it. Campaigns for products free from animal testing, bee friendly pesticides, compostable packaging and sustainable farming are all part of conscious consumerism.
The goal is to get the beans to the cup, in whatever way you prefer. When it comes to the actual brewing process, you can take your own path—French press, standard type of coffee makers, or whatever you’d like, but it all starts and ends with the beans and how they’re handled. You need to prepare your beans properly to ensure that rich, smooth flavor you’re after.

We prefer to buy organic coffee because pesticides can become magnified in the drying process. So, we try to get the best quality we can for the best available price. We enjoy the Equal Exchange Breakfast Blend because it is mellow and not bitter, it is strong but not acidic, and we can enjoy it iced or hot. We typically brew an entire pot and drink it over the course of a couple of hours. We have found the quality and flavor to be consistent from one batch to the next. Though we often try other brands, this is a part of our regular monthly order.
We have a Saeco machine, my husband drinks espresso and I like regular coffee. We're used to darker roasts but this one was nice, smooth, flavorful. I thought a medium roast would be too light for an espresso, but my husband said, "this is a tasty coffee." If you eat it with fresh homemade cream scones, it'll tastes even more delicious! Someone said the oiliness of the beans interfered with the burr grinder in their machine, but my husband does regular maintenance on our Saeco and it's been functioning great for over 5 years now (previously he used Lavzza for 2-3 years, then we switched to Costco Sumatra roast coffee, which was awesome, and a few other trial brands here and there.)

We tried the light roast. It was light, but with just the right amount of flavor for us. It would be best to drink it straight. Other customers found it too bland and preferred mixing it with other roasts to give it more body. This coffee also has low acidity. Another pro is that it is very affordable. Because of this, we rate Subtle Earth Organic Gourmet Coffee with four out of five stars.
Yo, products made specifically for mothers are the type of products I get the most hype about. Mommee Coffee was dreamed up during their founder's second pregnancy, because she was tired of having to settle for tasteless decaf and equally tired of feeling guilty when she drank full-caf brews. They design their blends to be safe-to-consume during every stage of motherhood, so they're low acid, chemical-free, fair trade blends that are as caffeinated (or non-caffeinated) as a mom requires: decaf, quarter caf, half caf, and full caf.
This is my favorite coffee! It's better than coffee I get at local coffee shops that sells for 20 dollars a pound. It's not too strong or too weak. I like to add milk, but this coffee is good black as well. I've tried a couple other Equal Exchange flavors, and I've enjoyed all of them, but Love Buzz is the one I keep returning to. I had originally tried it at a food co-op, and I just got a small amount to try, but as soon as I finished it I had to buy a whole bag of it. It's great that it's also fair traded, meaning people are paid fairly for the work that went into making this coffee.

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Café Altura was established in 1980 in Ventura, California. The beans are sourced from the district of Villa Rica – Pasco, Peru. Aside from fresh ground coffee, said company is also known for their whole bean coffee, canned coffee, instant coffee and mountain water decaf. The Café Altura Ground Organic Coffee is sold in eight flavors namely: dark roast, dark roast decaf, fair trade dark blend, fair trade classic roast, house blend, French roast, regular roast and regular roast decaf. Café Altura brands their coffee as a biodynamic coffee. It is called biodynamic because the coffee farmers take into account the biodiversity surrounding the farm.
Colombian coffee has earned a global reputation because of its well-balanced flavor that is sure to tickle your taste buds. It has an exquisite flavor that comes from 100% Arabica beans. To add, the fact that it is organic, like the others mentioned in this post, will provide an assurance that it comes with a clean flavor. The beans have been hand-picked by experts and were sun-dried to provide the exquisite flavor that you will surely like.
In addition, it contains a full, sweet finish with a hint of chocolate overtones that is distinctive of the natural properties of mocha. Just like all coffees from the bean coffee company, this one hundred percent arabica organic coffee was hand roasted in small batches and packaged at the peak of its cycle in order to preserve its natural flavors and fresh-roasted quality.
Cost per Pound: From High (Very) to Reasonable. One can’t directly compare the price of Top 30 coffees from year to year because the mix of coffees varies too dramatically. In 2018, for example, two coffees on the list were priced as part of a bundle, and, for the first time in 2018, we recognized two bottled cold brew coffees, which are not priced in the same way as coffee beans.
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.
Black Oak Coffee Roasters from (Ukiah, CA) was my personal favorite and I’m glad to see it made your list as well! I do find it odd that it was on your list as it seems that you favor the lighter roasts and I’m opposite in my flavors. There are only 2 coffees that are not roasted in the U.S., is this because you haven’t tried too many outsides of the U.S. or do you find that they are just better in the US? Also thanks for taking one for the team and trying out the Black Rum Espresso because there is no way I would pay that price!

My husband and I decided that if we are going to be drinking something everything morning for the next 50 years of our life, we want it to be organic. Fair trade just happens to be another bonus. Both coffee and sugar are the highest sprayed crops in the world. Coffee especially so we first made the switch over this brand and tried this flavor first. We grind it at home and brew it with an AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker with Bonus 350 Micro Filters. The combination of grinding it fresh every morning and brewing it with the aeropress makes for the best cup of morning coffee EVER. We use a simple Krups 203-42 Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder with Stainless-Steel blades, Black and simply grind it for 15-18 seconds. We also switched sugars and now use organic and fair trade sugar as well along with locally bought raw milk. The best sugar for this is Rapunzel Pure Organic Whole Cane Sugar, 24-Ounce Packages (Pack of 6).
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.
Africa and Indonesia grow the world’s supply of robusta beans. These harsher and more caffeinated coffee beans cost less than arabica beans, as the Coffea canephora plant is hardier than the arabica bush and produces far more cherries at a younger age. Supermarket brands, instant coffee, and inexpensive coffee is almost always ground from this type of bean.
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.
This is one of the blends that is almost available at any local warehouse and can be purchased at cash and carry price. The company works with farmers intensively to supply housing, health care, meal programs and education to workers and their respective families. They normally visit families to ensure that the coffee quality and continuance of a community aid programs. The cup of this coffee contains 345 flavor elements and it is the work of the roaster to extract all these flavors in a perfect balance. San Francisco bay has developed its own roasting system which meshes a art of roasting coffee with a science of producing consistency and perfection. You will find an organic that is roasted into fullest flavor, fresh and with quality in San Francisco.
We are using a Fair Trade certified green coffee, but we do not participate in the Fair Trade system. We have our own program called "Sharing Certified." Check it out here. We are a family of coffee growers ourselves, and we only purchase specialty-grade coffee at a premium over the market from other growers whom we've had decades-long relationships with.
Years in the making, this inspired (and inspiring) flagship location for an established local roaster features an in-house bakery (Ibis, their own), a roasting plant, along with three levels of hangout space, including a rooftop deck. Kansas City coffee is pretty top drawer, and has been for a while now (Thou Mayest, Quay, Magnolia, Oddly Correct), but this happy spot in the city's Crossroads district has pretty much blown the doors off. Nobody's complaining.
This aptly-named company doesn’t just have a unique platform—they use unique equipment, as well. They roast in a vintage 90 kilo German-built Probat drum roaster retrofitted with modern fuel-efficient ribbon burners. If you have no idea what that is/looks like, join the club. It’s just a cool set of words when you string them all together, and they sound authoritative enough that I believe them.
There’s actually a precise way you should grind your coffee. It’s not about the finer the better—that’s called coffee-like powder. You don’t want your grinds to be too coarse, because you’ll sacrifice coffee flavor when you could be siphoning it from the beans. It’s a tricky bit of business, but it’s what all the major players in the retail coffee world do. They not only weight their grinds, etc., but they actually check the quality of the grind and match it with measured samples. We’re not expecting you to go crazy with your grinds and their coarseness or size, but it is something you should pay attention to once or twice per month. Only a premier coffee bean grinder can handle your excellent batch of beans. It’s all about preparing your beans from storage all the way to your cup—you need a grinder that can match your requirements.

My husband thought this blend was okay, though not as good as the Breakfast Blend (he gives 3 stars). I did not like it at all (1 star). It left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth long after the coffee was gone. I tried it both hot and iced, and experienced the same bitterness. We tried making it weaker and stronger than suggested, brewed from different bags, alternated with the Breakfast Blend, and used fresh water - every pot tasted bitter to me and just okay to my husband. Can't recommend.


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!
This year, for the first time, a coffee from Hawaii earned top honors, the 96-point Kona Mocca™, grown and roasted in Holualoa, Hawaii by Hula Daddy Kona Coffee. In the review published in November, it was described in part as “A marvel of a coffee, inviting and esoteric, chimerical and grounded, all at once.  Enchantingly rich, intensely floral, unique. Dried black cherry, tea rose, Cognac, chocolate fudge, gently scorched almond wood in aroma and cup.” This rare coffee with its tiny beans and striking cup is available only on the Hula Daddy website through their allocation list.
A double shot of modernity for the capital city's handsome but still sleepy downtown, this up-to-speed café from Auburn's Prevail Coffee Roasters plants a flag for the future, just down Dexter Avenue from the seat of state government. Housed in temporary digs just now, the café will ultimately land inside an impressive (and almost completed) mixed-use complex just over Court Square, carved from Montgomery's iconic Kress building.
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.
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