At Equal Exchange, we only use the finest Fair Trade and organic coffee beans available, but we want our Fair Trade coffees to do more than please the palate. It’s our mission to provide Fair Trade coffees that empower small-scale farmers and their communities. Our certified Fair Trade coffees go beyond the cup, supporting women’s leadership at producer co-ops, environmental preservation through crop diversity, improved yields through soil analysis, and much more. When you purchase Equal Exchange Fair Trade coffee, you’re supporting an equitable trade system for small-scale farmers. Learn more about the farmers who provide our Fair Trade coffee, and let us know what you think of the results.
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.
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?

As for authoritative seals, Equal Exchange Organic Coffee cuts no corners. Their coffee is USDA Organic certified. Also they are of course Fair Trade certified because that it literally what they have built their company on. They are the most Fair Trade coffee company that we have featured here.  Beyond that, they also have Arabica coffee beans, however there is no seal to cover that claim. But in their ingredients, they do have Arabica listed. Their website says that most of their coffee is shade grown. And just by looking at the company's practices it is hard to doubt that claim. Overall, it does not look like they have any claims that do not have something to back them up. 
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.
Dunkin Donuts is a popular coffee shop chain and they serve whole bean and ground coffee at retail locations and online. All of Dunkin’s restaurant made espresso beverages are now Rainforest Alliance certified and about 30% of their dark roast coffee beans. As for the rest of their coffee, it seems like it could be sourced from anywhere. They do not offer organic varieties so their coffee may contain chemicals and molds. The grocery store Dunkin Donuts coffee is produced by J.M. Smucker which is the same as Folgers.

Equal Exchange organic coffee is terrific. While for some, the taste is lacking a little, many still enjoy it. Not to mention everything behind this coffee is absolutely awesome. Organic certified, Fairtrade, more than we have seen ever before. Even certified Kosher! In addition, the company is just great. Worker-owned, fair pay to all of their workers and farmers, job security, and so much more. Equal Exchange definitely lives up to their name. 


Promising review for their OneCups: "San Francisco Bay produces the most superior coffee on the market, and their varieties will satisfy a wide array of tastes. They are also environmentally conscientious, because their pods are 97% biodegradable (but that doesn't compromises the quality of the coffee, or the quality of the pod itself). Some reviewers have complained about beans pouring into their cup, or receiving damaged pods, but I've never had an issue like that and I've been drinking San Francisco Bay for about seven years. When I rate a product with five stars, it means I won't look anywhere else, if I need it again. I've tried dozens of different brands and different coffees over the years, and no one comes close to San Francisco Bay. Pick a flavor profile you like and you won't be let down." —Michael J. McKenzie
The second best organic decaf coffee on our list is Caza Trail Coffee. The dark imperial flavors inside actually come from a blend of coffees from Indonesia and Latin America. It has moderate acidity and a well-rounded finish. Caza Trail offers both classic and flavored coffee. Therefore, you can either have a traditional pick me up or take a break and reward yourself with a spiced coffee.
Early on one of the best places in the country for a really good cup of coffee, New Orleans enjoyed a nice, long rest on its laurels, but that's all over now—today, the city is well served by new shops and roasters, some of them quite good. The opening of this Algiers Point roaster/café, however, feels like a real leveling-up for the local scene—a joint effort between local boy Ian Barrileaux and Seattle native Eliot Guthrie, the two met while working at Donald Link's Cochon Butcher. (They now supply all of Donald Link's restaurants.)
Equal Exchange organic coffee is terrific. While for some, the taste is lacking a little, many still enjoy it. Not to mention everything behind this coffee is absolutely awesome. Organic certified, Fairtrade, more than we have seen ever before. Even certified Kosher! In addition, the company is just great. Worker-owned, fair pay to all of their workers and farmers, job security, and so much more. Equal Exchange definitely lives up to their name. 
This might seem like an elaborate set-up, but we actually came about all this after struggling for a couple of years drinking coffee and getting sick from it. I finally discovered that I am sensitive to the acids in coffee. This put me on a lot of research on coffee, the acids in it, how it is made and the best ways to grind and brew it. Both my husband and I are fairly frugal but after reading that coffee is the worst sprayed crop in the world except for Christmas trees (ever notice how Christmas tree farms have nothing but dead ground around the trees.... yeah, exactly like that!), we made the decision to do this. Also, I now can enjoy and drink coffee every morning without any abdominal pain.
The top-rated Reunion Island Sidama (94) is Fair Trade as well as organic-certified. Anne Wiseman, marketing coordinator for Reunion Island, says that it’s important for the company to offer organic-certified coffees, and that their organic selection is growing with consumer demand. Reunion Island has committed to carry this same organically-certified Sidama, from the same importer and producers, on an ongoing basis.

I bought this because they replaced the office coffee-maker with a Keurig machine and it was every employee for himself! I do like the kick that this medium roast blend gives, but the flavor is lacking. The machine brews the coarsely-ground coffee so quickly, that it's not a particularly bold cup. My big issue is that with these products, the cost of the coffee is several times that of buying the beans and grinding them (or having them ground), even at a Starbucks, and the packaging is ridiculous. The amount of non-recycled waste that my usual 3-4 cups/day creates weighs on my conscience. At work, I have gone back to drinking tea.


Valhalla Java prides itself on providing a strong cup of coffee that’s both organic and fair trade. Plus, if you don’t like it, Death Wish Coffee Company does the total opposite of what their name implies. Rather than having employees sitting around sending endless vibes of ill-fortune and destruction your way, they give you back your money — no harm, no foul. 

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.
One of those towns that got lucky, relatively early on, Arizona's second city still knows coffee best, at least around these parts. Right now, the city is all about this super-mod operation, featuring two high-design hangouts—one at Presta's roasting plant, the other inside the quite chic Mercado San Agustin, these days one of Tucson's favorite gathering places, and for good reason.

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