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Belfast native Michael McCrory met Lauren Crabbe behind an espresso machine in San Diego, her hometown. A move up north for school brought the pair to the relatively quiet Outer Sunset section of the city, to the opening of this café, to considerable success (and acclaim) on the roasting front, and then another café, just up the road. All of this good fortune aside, the cafes maintain the feeling of a treasured neighborhood hangout—that is, on days when lines aren't out the door.
Whether you call it joe, java, cuppa, liquid energy, or brew, if you are part of the 62% of Americans who drink coffee on a daily basis, that first morning cup sets the tone for the rest of your day. A good cup of coffee is a thing of beauty – hot but not scalding, slightly bitter without pucker, and wafting an aroma that draws even the deepest sleeper from his bed.
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.
But supermarket-available coffee can be so, so bad. As someone who has purchased bitter, sewage-evoking coffee more than once, I wanted to find the most affordable, best grocery store coffee options so I could avoid ever making that mistake again. And I found it. The best supermarket-available coffees are Thrive Market, Peet's Coffee, and Archer Farm's, depending on your coffee taste–profile preferences.
Most organic coffee brands purchase their beans from "fair trade" farms. These farms don't use child or slave labor, and they pay their workers a fairer wage than others in the industry. When you shop organic, you can be proud that you're supporting good business practices instead of shady, cost-cutting measures from companies that are only concerned about their bottom line.
Iowa's capital ranked as the fastest growing city in the Midwest last year, a trend being driven by the likes of Brad Penna and Nam Ho, young Southern Californians who moved here in search of a lower cost of living and a different pace of life. Their ambitious roaster/café, opened just last summer around the corner from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park, is shaking up the city's coffee culture, and the locals—new and old—appear to be loving it. We certainly are.
Many roasters queried us to ask if they could submit coffees they felt confident were farmed without use of synthetic inputs because of their familiarity with the producers. Nevertheless, for this report, we concluded that we needed to stick to reviewing coffees that consumers could be assured were produced under organic conditions using organic protocols. We went so far as to check the organic documentation at the farm level provided by importers for all the coffees we review here.
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.
Contrary to popular opinion, lighter roasted beans actually contain more caffeine. For some coffee consumers, the caffeine content is the most important factor to consider when purchasing beans. A light roast Robusta bean will contain the most caffeine of all. Is the purpose of your cup of coffee an after dinner digestif, or a bullhorn to wake you up? Those requiring more caffeine may benefit from an espresso instead of a regular drip brew.
Heat, as always, is an essential factor in coffee drinkability, so my taste tests have included an assessment of the flavor at brew temperature, at room temperature, and after microwaving to return the coffee to brew temperature. Anyone who’s left a fresh, full cup sitting out just a little too long—while changing over a load of laundry, say, or tackling a pet barf emergency—knows the tragic dilemma of the cold cup, too full to top off with hot-from-the-pot coffee, too cold to drink. I am a staunch proponent of microwaving coffee rather than wasting it, though I know many people (my own boyfriend included) might call this the line between cheapness and frugality. After all, if the coffee’s cheap to begin with, what’s the waste? Still, I believe microwaveability is essential to any home coffee, and can indicate whether coffee left on the burner will deteriorate or stay more or less stable, flavor-wise.
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.
The coffee comes well-packaged in a traditional foil-lined bag that seals in freshness. It’s easy to peel open and can nicely be folded shut and secured with clamps that are a part of the package. Great for convenience and storage. The whole beans are nicely roasted and ready to be ground. This particular 12 ounce bag lasted the two of us about 9 days- but we are avid (almost alarmingly so) coffee drinkers. For a typical household I’d assume this bag would easily last 2 to 3 weeks. We tried this coffee with a drip coffee maker, French press, and electric coffee maker. It wasn’t quite dark enough to work with the drip coffee maker and the flavor was very mild and watery when paired with that method. The French press got the best flavor from this coffee and really allowed you to taste the mild nutty flavor. It almost has an almondy undertone. It’s not a sweet coffee and it certainly lacks a ‘punch’ that I appreciate. But it wasn’t bad and I’d highly recommend it for people who want something gentle but flavorful to wake up with.
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.
Evaluated as espresso. Complex, juicy, richly tart. Almond, dark chocolate, guava, tangerine zest, star jasmine in aroma and small cup. Light, very silky mouthfeel; chocolate, fruit and flowers all carry into a cleanly sweet, delicately drying finish. Flavor-saturated in three parts milk: almond, chocolate, guava, flowers all resonate in rich, custardy balance.
One of the best things about this product is the fact that it went through the Techno Roasting process. The latter is an FDA-approved procedure, which has the benefit of eliminating the acid in the coffee that causes heartburn. This also preserves the qualities of the coffee, such as the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. To add, it also removes the bitterness of the coffee while retaining its rich body and flavor. This means that you can enjoy unadulterated coffee with the purest flavor and aroma.
K-Cups were created by Keurig to be used with their specialized Keurig machines. Shortly after the original line of Keurig machines was released, coffee makers began to release their own generic-brand K-Cups. Over time, Keurig began to lose market share to these other coffee makers. They released the Keurig 2.0 machines that were ONLY compatible with K-Cups manufactured by Keurig.
All these processes take more time and care, and therefore more labor, and therefore increase the price of the coffee. But these coffees also simply taste better, and provide a more satisfying experience. The fact that these methods tend to be organic and socially responsible is a byproduct of the care and attention to quality that these specialty coffees require.
Do you know what the best way of enjoying a truly great cup of organic decaf coffee is? Knowing exactly what it is you’re drinking. Decaf coffee is special, in the sense that, having no caffeine, people generally drink it for the taste, flavor, and that longing feeling of enjoying coffee without the harmful effects caffeine has on the human body. Therefore, there is no better idea than to inform yourself.
All of these coffee services give you plenty of choices and regularly deliver high-quality coffee to your door. While a coffee subscription may not completely replace your coffee supply, it’s a fantastic way to branch out and try new roasts and beans. And coffee subscriptions are a great way to supplement your supply so you never run out ever again.
The K475 is one of the most expensive K-Cup Pod Single Coffee Makers from Keurig. Coming in a bit more expensive than the K250 model (which is slimmer and doesn’t have a digital screen) and quite a lot more than the K55 model, which is currently a best seller on Amazon. So, while we were testing the K475, we were always asking ourselves: is it worth the money?
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.
The Hunt Brothers Coffee Beans | Blue Honduras Specialty Coffee | Certified Organic comes from Marcala, a region in Central America that is recognized with a DOP (Protected Origin Denomination). These 100% Arabica beans are grown on a fertile volcanic soil, which is enriched by volcanic lava. The growth process of the coffee is marked by the SHG – strictly high growth. This means that the fruits will mature slowly to make sure they create a full-bodied and deeper flavor as well as a premium taste.
This K-cup is compatible with all Keurig coffee machines. It is made using beans that have been grown in lands at high altitude. This means that the coffee is denser, and it is also more potent in terms of the antioxidants that it contains. Best of all, there is a satisfaction guarantee from the manufacturer. If you are unhappy in any way with this coffee, you can have it returned and you will be given an unconditional refund.
Overwhelmingly, the lesser known brands ranked higher and received more detailed tasting notes. When searching the description of these brands, you will find more information on specific origin, details in roasting and care in the small batches. The attention to detail made from the farming to the roasting will set you back a few more dollars, but know that along with a more satisfying cup of coffee you are also doing your part to better the world.
Healthy Coffee Rule #2) Coffee Grown At High Altitude Is Better. Why? Because the higher the altitude the coffee is grown at, the denser the bean. You may have heard the term "Strictly Hard Bean" (SHB) which denotes an especially dense, high-altitude coffee. This Peak Performance Organic Coffee grown in the Guatemalan Highlands is a perfect example of this. This higher elevation bean is more dense and thus of a higher quality grade. High Altitude Coffee also tends to have more antioxidants!
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.
Most of the beans touted on this list are whole bean; you must grind them yourself or go to a coffee grinder. While inconvenient for some, the benefits of buying whole bean are plentiful. When you grind the beans daily it releases oils, keeps them fresh, and it allows you to chose the coarseness of the grind. A coarse grind will not capture as much flavor profile as a fine grind. The difference in the grind denotes an espresso from a Turkish coffee or latte for example.
Meet our head roaster & competitor in this weekends US Coffee Champs qualifying event held in New Orleans, Franklin Ventura @rookiedrumer ——————————————— Franklin on why he’s competing: “It’s an opportunity for me to learn more about coffee, learn how our industry is growing in knowledge, and a chance to put us out there as a company and myself out there as a roaster in this industry.”
Alfred Peet has been shaping the craft coffee movement for decades. He’s helped transform what Americans have come to expect from their cup of coffee, as he mentored the founders of Starbucks at one time, but continually worked to seek better coffee for humanity. Created for Peet’s 50th anniversary this signature blend celebrates Mr. Peet’s legacy, obviously it has quite the name to live up to.
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.
This best-selling medium roast blend from The Original Donut Shop is smooth, well-balanced, and downright delicious paired with your favorite donut. Reviewers love this blend's pastry-shop-sweet aroma and nutty flavor that hits just the right spot in the morning. Dunking is encouraged! These coffee pods are compatible with Keurig single-serve coffee machines.
Do you want to know what passion tastes like? How about passion mixed with coffee? Caffe Appassionato can answer that for you in a single cup of organic decaf coffee. This lively blend comes to you straight from South and Central America and has been shade grown. This allows its producers to protect all the migratory bird populations of the area at the same time as growing their delicious beans.
In order to save energy (it is the right thing to do), look for a unit that comes with an auto-off timer. Leaving the internal tank heated and ready to brew will continue to drain some energy, even though minimal. If you are making 7-8 cups of coffee a day, this could make sense. It takes around 300 watts of power for a Keurig machine to brew a K cup if it has been preheated.
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.)
Our search began at the local grocery stores to see what was widely available to shoppers. We noted the ubiquitous blends and recorded their price per ounce. We then went to the reviewers on Amazon.com where coffee was available in all varieties. We considered options on Amazon, Prime Pantry and Amazon Fresh to find the best-rated cheap coffee options.
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.
I have always purchased Equal Exchange whole bean decaffeinated coffee, but decided to try the ground Equal Exchange just to save me time in the morning grinding it and then having to clean the grinder and my husband and I are thrilled with it. It has wonderful full flavor and actually tastes better than the beans I was grinding. I definitely recommend this product.
The next organic coffee brand is the Two Volcanoes Espresso Coffee Beans. This brand is made from Guatemalan coffee beans grown right at the base of Tajumulco and Tajana, two important volcanoes in Guatemala. Volcanic soil is full of minerals and nutrients which results in premier coffee beans. The blend is a combination of Robusta and Arabica beans.
A talented roaster first, but also on top of their café game (their in-house baker does some very good work), look for one of three beautiful shops scattered around South Dakota's largest city to sustain you through those long, Upper Great Plains winters. Fun fact—head roaster Andrew Fritz started out as a curious customer, slowly working his way up through the ranks at this relatively underrated operation.
Kim Westerman is a licensed Q-grader, a longtime food, wine and travel writer and a certified sommelier. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, Bay Area Bites, and many other publications. She happily brings her sensory training in wine to the evaluation of coffee in Coffee Review’s Berkeley lab. She also handles communication with roasters and review logistics.