Like the others, this coffee is certified both Organic and Fair Trade. But it was the only one among the 52 varieties that is also Rainforest Alliance Certified (RAC). This set them apart and gave them extra points in our Eco-Friendliness category. RAC is a credible certifying body that aims to protect our rain forests, soil, and other ecosystems from the devastation caused by coffee production.
To find the best grocery store coffee, we tasted 11 brands commonly found at grocery stores around the country or online. I first conducted this test in July of 2017, but re-tested recently, incorporating a few new coffees that we hadn't tasted in the first round—for example, the coffee from Thrive, which is an online-only grocery store. Epicurious staffers rated the coffees and provided tasting notes. (I myself can be a little forgiving when it comes to bad coffee, so we needed outside opinions.) For every brand, we ordered a medium roast, which was usually "Breakfast Blend" or something equivalent.
As more and more coffee companies cave to the temptation to adulterate with soy beans sprayed with chemical flavors and questionable trade practices, Equal Exchange may be the last coffee company standing to offer organic whole beans sourced from small producer coops, and roasted at a worker owned facility stateside. The company maintains its commitment to fair trade and supports many worthy causes. I recently had cause to engage in a lengthy discussion with reps at Equal Exchange and consider their inteigrity (and really great tasting coffee!) unsurpassed.
If you want to try a variety of coffee that’s customized to your taste, you can’t go wrong with Craft Coffee. When you sign up, you’ll be asked how much coffee you drink at home, what type of coffee you drink and who your favorite roasters are. Based on these choices, you’ll be matched up three different roasters each month that will deliver their coffee to your door. Some roasters may be familiar to you, while others won’t. If you love to experiment and broaden your horizons, Craft Coffee is a great option.
It feels disingenuous to make pour-over coffee with Folger’s from a plastic tub, but I have done it, and the results are quite drinkable. Canned coffee has a heftiness to it that only the darkest-roast bagged coffee achieves, and often at the expense of flavor. Folger’s is dark enough to mask distracting flavors, thin enough not to coat the esophagus with silty grounds, and so, so cheap. The label estimates it contains 60 servings—I make my coffee fairly strong, so I might not quite hit 60, but I bet it’d last me two weeks or so, which at $8 a month is cheaper than Netflix. Much like deli coffee, Folger’s has a flavor that depends greatly on proper drinking temperature—it is punishing when tepid. A microwave brings it almost back to where it needs to be, almost, but with such a large tub there’s no reason not to fix yourself another pour-over.
To reduce their footprint, Subtle Earth does a number of things, like growing at a high altitude to reduce the need for any pesticides. Higher altitude makes for better coffee anyway, so it’s definitely a win-win, without question. They’re big recyclers too — all of the fruit that’s separated from the precious coffee bean, the cherry, is composted into a fertilizer.
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.)
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.