Cost per Pound: From High (Very) to Reasonable. One can’t directly compare the price of Top 30 coffees from year to year because the mix of coffees varies too dramatically. In 2018, for example, two coffees on the list were priced as part of a bundle, and, for the first time in 2018, we recognized two bottled cold brew coffees, which are not priced in the same way as coffee beans.
On the other hand, from our inception Coffee Review has been committed to starting with what we actually experience in the cup, not with product categories or marketing considerations or fashion. It is true that we took into account some extrinsic factors like value, rarity and sustainable intentions into account when we narrowed the number of very high-rated coffees from about 100 to 30, but ultimately, sensory quality and distinction in the cup, as determined by blind-tasting and as reflected in rating, was the entry point to consideration for the list and the primary influence on where coffees landed on it.
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.
For the first time we allowed ready-to-drink, cold-brewed, pure black coffees into consideration for the Top 30. Two superb cold-brewed, bottled coffees made the list, the Bird Rock Red Bourbon Honey-Processed Cold Brew at No. 17 (94 points) and the States Coffee Reserve Cold Brew (from a Tanzania single-origin coffee) at No. 21 (also 94 points). For more on the cold coffee trend see our report Cold-Brewed Black Coffees: Quality in a Can.
Coffee is grown in several places around the world. All of these locations share proximity to the equator, a cool-to-moderate tropical climate, rich soil, and, in the case of arabica beans, a high altitude. And while you might assume that a coffee bean from Brazil is really no different from a coffee bean from Kenya, there actually are subtle taste differences depending on where the beans were grown.