No study we have seen links prepared or brewed coffee, including espresso, with significant levels of contaminants. Typical is a 2008 Australian study which meticulously tested a wide range of coffee beverages purchased randomly in the Australian food service market and found that “there were no detectable levels in any of the coffee [beverages] sampled. This included all 98 pesticide residues, 18 PAHs, beryllium, mercury and ochratoxin A.” The key findings summary concluded that “The overall levels of chemical contaminants identified in this survey are generally considered to be low and are consistent with those reported in other comparable surveys both in Australia and overseas.”
This brand should be called Starbucks’ “dirty little secret”. Although Starbucks prides itself on ensuring ethical and environmentally friendly practices are used in their coffee production and even offers organic varieties, their Seattle’s Best brand doesn’t hold to the same standards. It is basically Starbucks way of competing with cheap brands like Folgers and Maxwell House. They do offer a couple organic varieties.
The not-so-big city at the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Lancaster already had Square One Roasters—apparently, there's room for yet another great. Founded by a Blue Bottle/Parlor vet with local roots, this roaster's sensitively-mod retail operation sits just off Penn Square, across a very charming alleyway from the city's historic market hall. Carefully sourced coffees are fascinating, sometimes quite unusual, service can be downright gracious—this is one of those places everyone ought to come to take notes, to see how it's done.
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.
Are you ready to treat yourself? Buckle up and sit down for Italy’s favorite espresso-blend coffee: Lavazza. If you’re going to go with espresso-blend coffee, you need to go for the best of the best. You get a blend of Central American mild coffee beans and velvety Brazilian coffee beans, mixing precisely and perfectly to extend your early mornings in the most pleasant way possible. With a cup of Lavazza by your side, you’ll feel awake, energized, and ready to tackle anything that comes your way. Espresso-blend coffee is either an excellent hit, or a really bad miss. It’s not something that novice roasters and companies should take upon themselves. Lavazza hits it out of the park on this one.
Although this is from the same manufacturer as the product that has been mentioned above, they have slightly different flavor profiles. This blend comes with a fuller body, which makes it the perfect option for those who like their coffee strong. At first sip, you will already notice how bold the flavor is. Nonetheless, you will end up being surprised that despite this boldness, it is actually a smooth blend.
A coffee crop also requires a great deal of water, particularly when it is being grown quickly. It takes 37 gallons of water to produce enough beans for just one cup of coffee. Coffee is often produced in countries with a shortage of water, such as Ethiopia, and the combination of high water consumption and high fertilizer and pesticide use can lead to water degradation and pollution in water runoff.
There is a bewildering array of choice when it comes modern ground coffee blends. You can opt for a selection of different roasts, grinds, and beans sourced from all over the world. One prime concern is sustainable and ethical production and sourcing of coffee. You should try to stick with brands that have FairTrade and Rainforest Alliance or similar certification or follow explicitly sustainable practices as much as possible. Brands are coming out with more potent and more innovative blends all the time. This is a great time be alive as a coffee lover!
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
At the absolute most, if you’re looking to preserve beans in their original packaging, you can refrigerate your beans, but never freeze them. Coffee beans are naturally oily, even the dryer roasts. It’s part of what keeps the flavor going strong. When the oils freeze to the beans, they become stale-tasting, even though you’ll be defrosting them. It changes the beans entirely.
The Koffee Kult from Hollywood, Florida is a true artisanal passion, roasted in small batches, by hand, to ensure quality. Thunder Bolt Whole Bean Coffee creates an exceptional cup of gourmet coffee that has inspired a cult-like following. The company prides themselves on delivering pure Arabica coffee beans, for a strong, not bitter taste. There’s no filler robusta coffee being used here.
I got a toasted multiseed bagel + cream cheese, as well as a chai latte with soy milk. They have plenty of pastry and coffee options, and they support a great cause, i.e., economically just and environmentally sound trade partnerships (paraphrased from their website just FYI). The toasted bagel was perfect for the slightly rainy and chilly day, and I appreciated how the chai latte wasn't too sweet.
Newman’s Own Special Blend is organic, fair-trade certified coffee that provides a strong taste characteristic for the mixture of medium and dark roasted coffees. At the same time, it offers a soft and refined taste with interesting ashy and woody notes that give this coffee a special, bold taste that you may enjoy even if you are not a fan of strong coffee. In addition, this freshly roasted coffee has an amazing, pure smell that will take your favorite daily routine to a higher level.
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.
This is similar to the coffee that has been mentioned above, but the main difference is that it is a darker roast. Because of this, the flavor tends to be more pronounced. Still, you can expect that there is no extreme bitterness. It should also be noted that it has up to seven times more antioxidants compared to what you can find in green tea. It has been through a unique roasting process that has been developed exclusively by the manufacturer to reduce its bitterness by as much as 70%.
This is the world’s strongest coffee by most standards, which explains why it enjoys such a tremendous popularity. Death Wish is ground from beans that are masterfully selected and meticulously roasted to perfection, so as to provide a smooth tasting but also bold cup of coffee. Moreover, you get the extra kick of quality caffeine that surely gets your day going every morning. It isn’t just its strength that recommends it, mind you, but its powerful flavor as well. In fact, we should point out that Death Wish is by far one of the most flavorful coffees out there.
Real Good Coffee Co. brings USDA Certified Organic K Cups to the masses. It’s a dark roast that’s bold and comes from a single origin. The Sumatra beans bring unique notes of bell pepper, cedar, and a lemony finish. Real Good Coffee Co prides themselves on creating where other competitors are lacking. Think of a taste similar to Green Mountain or Pike Place roasts.
This five-pack comes with a variety of delicious color-coded espresso flavors, including full-bodied and balanced Roma, intense and creamy Arpeggio, rich and distinctive Capriccio, round and easy-going Livanto, and — our personal favorite — powerful and clean Ristretto (which we believe can cure any case of the Mondays). These pods are compatible with all OriginalLine Nespresso machines.
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.
Already no stranger to a good cup of coffee, Bellingham, a lively college town closer to Vancouver, BC than Seattle, reached top tier status with the addition of this very fine roaster, an extraordinary collective of expertise that has more than a few baristas and café owners around the country just a little bit excited. A very nearly elegant, all-day café—Camber's first foray on to the retail side—in downtown Bellingham is pilgrimage-worthy.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is unusual among the grocery store coffee set in that it references neither the coffee-growing regions of the equator nor any city associated with coffee culture—New York, Vienna, etc.—instead staring wistfully off in the direction of the Green Mountains of Vermont. This is a thoroughly pleasant coffee, light-roasted and gentle on an empty stomach, as mine often is at the coffee hour. Green Mountain has an impressive thermal shift, remaining drinkable even as it cools—even to an avowed hater of iced coffee. It microwaves decently, too, buoyed gently back to drinking temperature without darkening into bottom-of-the-pot creosote, making it a solid choice for even the coldest of kitchens.
To further our research, we asked all of our coffee testers if they would spend an extra $1.00 on a product if it was proven that the company directly benefited the community or environment. Each tester said yes. In addition, when looking at overall ratings online, organically and sustainably-sourced coffee rated higher overall compared to your typical Arabica coffee.
Gregg Parker is a writer and puppy enthusiast who divides his time between Los Angeles and the rest of the world. A graduate of the University of Southern California, his eclectic career has involved positions in education, health care, entertainment, nonprofit fundraising, technology, and literature. A points and miles expert, he's well-versed in all topics related to travel, including luggage and travel accessories. Other areas of expertise include pet care products, teaching resources, kitchen appliances, and anything related to coffee or barbecue.
Coffee grown in the sun in fertilized fields produces more seeds (coffee beans) more quickly than coffee grown in the shade, but coffee grown in the shade produces a higher quality coffee with a better flavor. Growing coffee in the sun not only requires the use of fertilizers, but has led to wide-scale deforestation and habitat loss for wildlife species. Coffee grown in its traditional forested setting creates valuable habitat for many bird species.
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.
Eight O’Clock Coffee is a sleeper in this set, brand-wise, but a surprisingly enjoyable cuppa. It’s the only brand I tasted about which I had no preconceptions, and it turned out to be one of my favorites. It’s dark without being bitter, and is solidly microwaveable. It’s slightly ahead of the median bagged coffee price in this set but streets ahead in flavor, making it a solid value buy.
If you want a smooth coffee with a clean taste, this is one product that you should not miss. It is made by a company that has been in the business for more than three decades, which can speak a lot about its quality. Meanwhile, with a medium roast, this is for those who want the best of both light and dark roasts. It also just ahs the right burst of acidity that won’t make your stomach upset.
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.
There are many different roasters out there that will send you their coffee directly without having to go through a middleman. Single Roaster Coffee Subscriptions means you get your coffee directly from the roaster of your choice and in many cases you can decide how often you receive deliveries from them. Here are a few of our favorite Single Roasters:
This blend is made from a mix of beans ethically sourced from Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico, and is named after the ancient Mediterranean island. The Corsica blend has deep, dark, chocolatey notes and a robust flavor, making it a bold roast many love to drink first thing in the morning. Many reviewers specifically note that this is their "go-to morning blend" since it's both strong and versatile. The cocoa notes in this blend make it pair especially nicely with milk or cream, although it can certainly stand alone and be sipped black.
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.