If you are a coffee purist, there’s no argument; buying whole beans and grinding them yourself is the way to go. You’ll get the freshest cup of coffee this way; once ground, coffee beans start to oxidize, reducing and altering the flavor. Grinding your own beans also lets you tailor the grind to your preferred coffee-making method. You’ll need a coffee grinder to do your own grinding, however.
Nescafe is a huge multinational brand of coffee owned by Nestle. We commend Nescafe partnering with for the Rainforest Alliance, the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), and the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) to be sure they are following internationally recognized sustainability standards but they do not offer organic certified coffees. Therefore, their coffee’s may contain chemicals and mold. They only offer instant coffees, ground coffee, or pods so again, freshness is a concern.
I try to eat & drink all-organic whenever possible, including my coffee, in order to avoid ingesting toxins. Certified organic coffee (in this case, certified by QAI--Quality Assurance Intl.) is grown & processed w/o pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, & other potentially harmful chemicals. So, Newman's Own 'Organics' Coffee is my daily 'go-to' coffee. I like the flavor of this 'Newman's Special Blend Medium Roast - Extra Bold' organic Arabica coffee. It's smooth, rich, hearty, & full-bodied, not bitter & not too acidic. It produces a pleasing aroma every morning from my Keurig B70 Platinum coffeemaker. I don't use any sweeteners, but I do stir in some Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Crème. Mmmm! You do sacrifice some freshness & flavor for the convenience of K-Cups vs. grinding your own beans. But the extra time & mess of coffee grinding are luxuries I can't afford in the rush of weekday mornings. One negative, & the reason for just 4 stars instead of 5: I do find that I sometimes get a stale box of K-Cups, even when the future 'best buy' date on the bottom of the 18-pod box is up to 20 months away, as was the case just last month w/a carton stamped w/an April 2019 'best buy' date. The distributor is Keurig Green Mountain. One wonders just how this coffee is initially stored, then transported, & then finally stored again after it arrives at Best Buy's facilities. For my part, I always keep the K-Cups stored in a cool, dry place, as recommended.
Also, to be purely selfish and not think about the planet for a moment, organic coffee often simply tastes better. Grown in their natural environment, the beans take longer to mature, and develop a deep, complex flavor without as much acidity. Of course, the finished taste of a cup of coffee has as much to do with the roasting and brewing as it does the origin of the beans, but organic coffees generally come out far ahead in taste tests.
Coffee blends are exactly that; a blend of two or more roasted beans to create a unique flavor profile. Think of it in terms of wine: a red blend versus a Cabernet Sauvignon. The experienced coffee roaster will match beans to balance bitterness and take the harsh edge of off unrefined beans. A blend could contain several varieties of beans from all over the coffee belt.
“I’m quite pleasantly surprised by the taste and quality of this instant coffee! While it will never be fresh brewed, this is one of the few brands I’ve tried that I would actually drink on it’s own. It tastes like a solid cup of joe. Nothing fancy, not too bitter, middle of the road. I generally use a bit of cream and sweetener, and that made the mug. Normally, instant coffee needs A LOT added to it to essentially hide the weird medley of flavors that often permeate them, which is why I reserve them for baking or making my super-quick mochas or coffee smoothies on the go. But it’s really nice to have found a great instant coffee that can stand on its own; it will be great for cool-weather camping trips! To sweeten the deal, this coffee is organic and fair trade, so I don’t have to add any more guilt to my mornings. I highly recommend this for both blended coffee drinks and a superfast pick-me-up on frigid mornings.”
The best dark roast was Koffee Kult dark roast. This 100% arabica coffee blend, sourced from Colombia, Guatemala and Sumatra offers a full body and rich option for your coffee palate. Our testers knew that this was a dark coffee roast by its strong aroma, but were pleasantly surprised by the woodfired taste. Most testers did call out the bitterness of this coffee, but pointed out that it didn’t linger and the acidity was enjoyable. Again, this winner is one of the most expensive coffees we tested at $.88 per ounce, but if you love the bold coffee taste, this is for you.
Familiarity breeds contempt—for proof, look no further than the way Hawaii treats one of its most prized exports. Not too kindly, that's for sure. Not that you can't find a proper cup of the local coffee here—you just have to be a little bit careful. A pleasant morning stroll from most Waikiki hotels, this sparkling, relatively recent entry doubles as an outpost of San Francisco's stellar b. Patisserie, home of some of the most gorgeous kouign amann you will find outside of Brittany.
Bagged coffee is standard, from grocery stores to coffee roasters (most of them), but subtle variations make for significant differences among these coffees, particularly in price. This is complicated by the fact that a bag of coffee is often referred to as a “pound,” when in fact most bags only hold between 10 and 12 ounces of coffee. A bag of Newman’s Own Organic coffeecosts $10.29, only $0.10 more than a bag of Starbucks coffee, but Newman’s is only a 10-ounce bag to Starbucks’ 12 ounce. Brewer beware!
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.
Our unknown brands overwhelmingly ranked high in all of the categories we tested. Our runner up for best overall coffee and unknown brands was Cameron’s whole bean light roast. Cameron’s offers drinkers another option in the sustainable and small batch category, but comes in as one of the most expensive options at $.71 per ounce. Tasters commented over and over that this was a smooth coffee and that taste wasn’t overpowering. The finish of the coffee ranked higher than any other we tested.
There were two surprises at the bottom of our list, Starbucks and Maxwell, which ranked lowest for brands you know, as well as our overall list. These two coffee giants both received bad scores in taste and finish categories. Comments included “overly acidic,” “slightly burnt” and “basic.” Both costs were below average per ounce. Maxwell was the least expensive coffee that we tested at $.23 and Starbucks ranked in the middle at $.55.
The price is the exact average price of all the coffees we tested. The name Mississippi Grogg might throw you off, but this family owned and operated processing center is based in Iowa along the Mississippi river valley. Verena Street is 100% sustainably sourced from Rainforest Alliance certified coffee farms, is fairly traded and kosher. If you are a conscious consumer and look at where your money is being spent, we recommend checking out some other unknown brands we tested as well.
Back in the day, preparing coffee is a time-consuming and complicated task. Today, it has become a lot easier, especially with the introduction of innovative coffeemakers, including the one from Keurig. With the latter, you can use revolutionary K-cups to prepare your coffee quickly and without guesswork, guaranteeing consistent and delicious taste.
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.
Thanks to the wonderful conveniences of online shopping, once you start regularly receiving your online coffee subscription, it’s hard to imagine life without coffee delivered instantly to your doorstep. So the challenge becomes selecting the right company and subscription that fits your tastes. Luckily, we put together a list of our favorite coffee subscription services that’ll be sure to help you spice up your daily coffee routine.
The best ground coffee was New England medium roast. This coffee tricked our bold coffee lovers into thinking it would be a weaker or lighter coffee, but it won everyone over with the taste and overall quality. Our tasters noted the sweet smell and smooth taste of the New England Coffee’s medium roast. An added benefit of New England’s medium roast is the price, costing a very cool $.45 per ounce, this will please both your taste buds, and your wallet.
Other coffees appearing on the list were grown in 16 different countries. The most frequently appearing origins were Ethiopia and Kenya, with four coffees each. Origins with two coffees each on the list included Burundi, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Sumatra, and Tanzania. Origins appearing on the list with one coffee each included the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Peru, Rwanda, Uganda, Hawaii (United States), and Yemen.
Breville BES870XL – a high-quality espresso maker, 100% comparable to the fully-automatic machines! The barista-quality coffee takes less than one minute to make from bean to espresso. This machine is more for people who appreciate the great coffee, if you are looking for a simple machine that prepares a coffee with one push, look elsewhere, like the Nespresso machines.
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.
The San Francisco Bay One Cup is a blend of rainforest-grown coffee that delivers a smooth, full-bodied taste with lively acidic notes. The coffee is grown sensibly and fairly trade to ensure quality and consistency.It undergoes inspection before, during and even after roasting to ensure quality is observed. The total volume of this coffee is equivalent to 80 single serve coffees.
After taste-testing thirteen different varieties of ground coffee widely available for purchase at a chain grocery store, the winner for a solid cup were Maxwell House. In terms of flavor and cost, it ranked highest overall, though it did lose points for not being very good to microwave. Still, at $5.83/lb, it's cost efficient enough to just make another cup of coffee.
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.
Certified organic coffees must be propagated, grown, processed, transported, stored, and roasted without contact with synthetic chemicals—particularly without contact with pesticides and herbicides. The certification process (carried out by a variety of organizations operating inside a common framework) is lengthy, thorough, rather expensive, but apparently reliable and free of abuse. The use of the term organic is built into the law in many countries, including the U.S.
On the flip side, if you suffer from headaches, stomachaches or toothaches after drinking your morning cup of joe, you might want to switch to a low-acid coffee. It's much easier on your body, and it won't damage your teeth enamel or irritate your stomach lining. Just remember that the pH scale goes backwards, so lower pH levels mean higher amounts of acid. This means that a low-acid coffee would actually have a higher pH level than other brands.
The term Organic indicates that no chemicals were used in the cultivation of the coffee. In order to proclaim that a coffee is Certified Organic, a recognized third party certifier must document the cultivation of the coffee for three years running and issue an Organic Certificate. Without the certification, the term Organic carries little weight, as there is no way to prove the producer's claim. After passing the stringent, expensive tests conducted by a certifier, the symbol of that organization can (and will) be printed prominently on the coffee's packaging. Be sure to look for this symbol when shopping.