I was pretty disappointed in this local coffee spot, unfortunately. I walked in and the staff seemed in disarray. I waited 15 minutes for a coffee, watching other people who ordered after me get their drinks filled. They had forgotten my order as it turned out, and when I asked about it, they were not too friendly in understanding what happened. After I finally pushed about needing to go, they finally made my drink, but I only had a couple minutes to finish it. Needless to say, I wasn't happy with their service at all. And my coffee was nothing impressive. Not worth the price in my opinion.
Newman's Own Organics Extra Bold K-Cups are by far the best-tasting and highest quality K-Cups available. I either use these or the refillable My K-Cup with locally sourced coffees. For the price and the speed of brewing, it's hard to beat the strength and flavor of Newman's Own. Take it from a coffee-snob who owns more than half a dozen coffee brewers (pour-over, espresso machine, moka pot, high-end drip brewer, etc.) these are the best trade-off of a fast cup of coffee that still tastes great. Also: contrary to popular belief, K-Cups are completely recyclable. They consist of plastic, aluminium and paper and take minimal effort if you are already accustomed to recycling.
Their unique business model is one of the main advantages of Equal Exchange. They are one of the most ethical and environment-friendly brands around. They source high-quality arabica beans almost exclusively from small organic farmers who practice sustainable farming methods. As for the coffee, it is a smooth blend of medium and dark roasts. The final effect is a very mellow, not too strong or harsh coffee with a rich feel.
Finally, the timing of this report perhaps favored coffees produced north of the equator, where the main coffee harvest takes place earlier in the year, rather than south of the equator, in countries like Tanzania and Uganda, where the harvest starts near the end of the year. When choosing the optimum time to organize a tasting report, we often struggle at Coffee Review with these sorts of timing trade-offs.
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.
Over the course of the year, we reviewed fewer than a dozen darker roasts. Most were medium-dark at best; some barely that. The majority of darker roasts we reviewed were sent by roasters in Taiwan and most were espressos, reflecting both the time-honored espresso practice of emphasizing chocolate and sweetness through moderate dark roasting, as well as, perhaps, a preference in Taiwan for more traditional styles of espresso as opposed to the lighter-roasted, brighter style of espresso now popular with the leading edge of North American roasters.