Here is the absolute best kind of roaster—relentlessly focused, but also accommodating to the curious public. Working from an industrial section of the city's northern fringe, one of the state's top operations offers Friday public cuppings, and tries to keep its door open as much as possible. Should you prefer more traditional café surroundings, that's fine—Blanchard's supplies shops around town, including a sparkling café counter in the lobby at Richmond's stylish new Quirk Hotel.


Eight O’Clock Coffee is a sleeper in this set, brand-wise, but a surprisingly enjoyable cuppa. It’s the only brand I tasted about which I had no preconceptions, and it turned out to be one of my favorites. It’s dark without being bitter, and is solidly microwaveable. It’s slightly ahead of the median bagged coffee price in this set but streets ahead in flavor, making it a solid value buy.


Professional coffee roasters roast green organic coffee beans by heating them in a large rotating drum. After about 5 to 7 minutes of intense heat, much of their moisture evaporates and the beans turn a yellow color and smell a little like popcorn. After about 8 minutes in the roaster, the "first pop" occurs. At this point the organic beans have doubled in size, crackling as they continue to expand. Many roasters stop the roasting process after the "first pop". Not Starbucks! After 10 to 11 minutes in the roaster, the organic coffee beans reach an even brown color and oil starts to appear on the surface of the bean. At somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes of roasting, the signature Starbucks flavor develops in the organic beans. The "second pop" signals that the organic coffee is ready to sell under the Starbucks label.
It really does make for the best coffee in the world if you grind it right, brew it right and use wholesome ingredients. My husband threw out his old coffee pot and went from being a die hard pot of Folgers a day to simply drinking four shots of this in the morning. We both feel like we are drinking delicious coffee from Vienna every morning. We tried this flavor first, but we are going to try the Equal Exchange Coffee, Organic Colombian, Whole Bean,12-Ounce Bags (Pack of 3) next by the same brand. We prefer light roasts instead of darker roasts like French. Incidently, most people don't know this, but the lighter the roast - the more caffeine in it and in our opinion, the better the flavor. Darker roasts seem to really kill the flavor of coffee and you run the risk of more oils and higher acid and bitter flavor. I don't really know why people like dark roasts and I think it is more the sound of it than the actual flavor that they fall for. We both discovered at one point that lighter roasts such as breakfast blends and Columbian has better flavor, more caffeine, less acid, etc and ever since stay away from darker roasts. We might also try the Equal Exchange Organic Coffee, Breakfast Blend, Ground, 12-Ounce Bag (Pack of 3) at some point as well along with the decaf so we can enjoy an afternoon drink. I notice this particular blend seems to have two colors of coffee beans in it, one is light and one is medium. No darks which we love!
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.
You have the option to enjoy this organic coffee from Honduras. It produces deep rich chocolaty flavor with a clean finish. This coffee impresses you with smooth milk chocolate, with tones of caramel, honey, and cocoa. The roasting is done keenly to bring out the natural flavor aspects and lovely sweetness. It’s Organic certified by CCOF so you can be sure it’s grown without the use of chemicals. The coffee is 100% Arabica, and it’s GMO-free. The pack contains 2 pounds of coffee for several servings.
This five-pack comes with a variety of delicious color-coded espresso flavors, including full-bodied and balanced Roma, intense and creamy Arpeggio, rich and distinctive Capriccio, round and easy-going Livanto, and — our personal favorite — powerful and clean Ristretto (which we believe can cure any case of the Mondays). These pods are compatible with all OriginalLine Nespresso machines.
"I know this is the most basic version of a coffee maker, but I love it. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and isn’t too complicated for someone who isn’t picky about their coffee. I make two of the large options, let them cool, and then pour them over ice for iced coffee. Plus, you can get K-Cups in practically every brand of coffee. My regular pick is Starbucks' K-Cups."
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
We prefer to buy organic coffee because pesticides can become magnified in the drying process. So, we try to get the best quality we can for the best available price. We enjoy the Equal Exchange Breakfast Blend because it is mellow and not bitter, it is strong but not acidic, and we can enjoy it iced or hot. We typically brew an entire pot and drink it over the course of a couple of hours. We have found the quality and flavor to be consistent from one batch to the next. Though we often try other brands, this is a part of our regular monthly order.

To further our research, we asked all of our coffee testers if they would spend an extra $1.00 on a product if it was proven that the company directly benefited the community or environment. Each tester said yes. In addition, when looking at overall ratings online, organically and sustainably-sourced coffee rated higher overall compared to your typical Arabica coffee.


Produced by Equal Exchange, this coffee is a blend of French Roasted and Full City coffees. The content is gourmet Arabica beans. The beans are fairly traded in Latin American from small farmer cooperatives. The resulting coffee is said to have flavors of chocolate brownie, toffee, malt, and caramel corn. It is a deep and rich blend which customers enjoy because it is not bitter, has a wonderful aroma, and is fresh when it arrives.

Run a water cycle. Unless you've just finished using the Keurig, the water in the deposit is likely going to be tepid, meaning lower brewing temperatures (a common problem with the Keurig). Before you brew, run a water cycle to heat up the water and the machine. Follow it quickly with a brew, and the water will be slightly hotter—ergo, a better brewing temperature.


Promising review for their Super Crema Espresso blend: "If you are expecting a dark and oily roast, this is NOT the espresso for you. Espresso does not need to be this black, bitter tar that some expect it to be. Lavazza Super Crema is one of my favorites, with a beautiful, brown bean that (when ground correctly) yields an amazing shot of sweet and creamy espresso topped with thick crema (with notes of mandarin orange). This is soooooooo much better than the over-roasted BS we so often find in the US." —Corey M.

Promising review for the Original blend: "Every so often, you come across a company that builds their products for the right reasons: 1) to make money (of course), 2) to make the best possible product on the planet without taking shortcuts, proving that quality is their priority, 3) to make the world a better place by enhancing the lives of others. Most companies stop at the first reason, but Bulletproof embodies all three. Everything I have tried from Bulletproof is top notch, and some of the best possible products on the planet." —Storm
Seattle got most of the attention, but the '90's were very good to the Windy City, coffee-wise—let's start with Intelligentsia, beginning life as a relatively modest café and roastery in the Lakeview section of town, back in 1995. Like Seattle today, Chicago's scene is wonderfully layered, offering up everything from the unabashedly traditional to the cutting-edge. For the best of the latter, look way, way west—steps from where the notorious Horner projects stood crumbling thirty years ago—to a block shared with another celebrated coffee roaster (Sparrow) and a very good brandy distillery (Rhine Hall). Metric, something of a power partnership between the owner of a popular local café and a talented Intelligentsia vet, roasts its prized beans on a restored 1961 Probat, keeping relatively limited hours in an on-site café and tasting room, where public cuppings are held every Friday morning.

“Let me start off by saying, I FREAKING LOVE COFFEE! And I love trying any new beans I can get my hands on. Usually, I don’t really care for the Colombian beans. They’re among my least favorite. However, these were really darn good. A rich and bold roast-y flavor with dark-chocolate notes. Dark chocolate happens to be another of my vices, and I’ve always liked a good bean that pairs well with it. Upon opening the bag, the smell of the beans permeated our household, and both my wife and I kept saying, ‘I can’t wait to try that coffee!’ … If you like dark roasts that have a bit of a dark-chocolaty flavor, give this a try. I already bought a second bag, and now I really want to try some of Stone Street’s other coffee.”
With this Colombian grown organic coffee in a K-cup, this is the perfect caffeine fix that can stimulate the senses. Similar to other dark roasts, you can expect notes of dark chocolate in this coffee. The beans have been through a long roasting process, which also means that the acidity is reduced. There are also toasted notes with the aftertaste of this coffee, but you do not have to worry since it does not have a pronounced bitterness.
This coffee was not only organic, delicious and full bodied, it also is fairly traded. This ensures that the small growers of the coffee beans get a fair price for the coffee and are not exploited by large companies who make all of the profit. I have been a big fan of fairly traded coffee for many years now. Equal Exchange is a great product and a great concept.
On a personal level, I am a die hard black tea drinker and have had trouble not only finding organic black tea where I live... but also a company that is not green washed. Not only have I found an organic black tea that I love the taste of but also there is a variety of black teas I can choose from! Doing my research I have also found that this company has integrity in addition to simply having great products. On a professional level I started in a catering/food services posi...tion which I switched over to Equal Exchange coffee and I am constantly and consistently getting compliments on my coffee service being the best they have had, and have had customers that choose me over the local competitor for breakfast events. I am sold on the quality of this product, which is a game changer in my business, and the model is great for my conscious at the same time.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
French press - French press coffee involves "pressing" your coffee grounds to the bottom of a container instead of filtering them the traditional way. While you can use any type of bean to make your grounds, there are certain roasts and coarseness levels that work best with a French press, so you'll want to do some research before you start experimenting.
The Hunt Brothers Coffee Beans | Blue Honduras Specialty Coffee | Certified Organic comes from Marcala, a region in Central America that is recognized with a DOP (Protected Origin Denomination). These 100% Arabica beans are grown on a fertile volcanic soil, which is enriched by volcanic lava. The growth process of the coffee is marked by the SHG – strictly high growth. This means that the fruits will mature slowly to make sure they create a full-bodied and deeper flavor as well as a premium taste.
Now you can have the highest quality coffee through the convenience of your singe serve brewer. OneCups mesh bottoms allow us to package the freshest product possible, just open up one of these bags and smell it for yourself! The OneCup pods are comprised of wood pulp lidding, a corn ring and mesh coffee filter. The end result? A more environmentally friendly, certified kosher, single serve coffee option with a great taste, allowing you to taste the difference, while you make a difference.
Our OneCup coffee pods are compatible with most Keurig K-Cup 1.0 and 2.0 brewers, as well as Cuisinart, Bunn, iCoffee and other single serve brewers. Our OneCups are the better choice of coffee for your single serve brewer, and the environment, all at a lower cost. Our OneCups are made from plant-based renewable resources, designed to offer a French Press experience to your single serve coffee, maximizing flavor and providing a richer and more full-bodied taste you will love to the last drop.

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.


Now, to muddy the waters, when coffee experts talk about a coffee’s “acidity,” they are actually referring to the flavor notes of the brew, not the acid content. A coffee’s acidity is generally used as a term that indicates the quality of the bean. For example, beans grown at high altitude are often described as being acidic due to the bright, vibrant flavor notes they give.
Promising review for the Original blend: "Every so often, you come across a company that builds their products for the right reasons: 1) to make money (of course), 2) to make the best possible product on the planet without taking shortcuts, proving that quality is their priority, 3) to make the world a better place by enhancing the lives of others. Most companies stop at the first reason, but Bulletproof embodies all three. Everything I have tried from Bulletproof is top notch, and some of the best possible products on the planet." —Storm

Although this is from the same manufacturer as the product that has been mentioned above, they have slightly different flavor profiles. This blend comes with a fuller body, which makes it the perfect option for those who like their coffee strong. At first sip, you will already notice how bold the flavor is. Nonetheless, you will end up being surprised that despite this boldness, it is actually a smooth blend.

This year, for the first time, a coffee from Hawaii earned top honors, the 96-point Kona Mocca™, grown and roasted in Holualoa, Hawaii by Hula Daddy Kona Coffee. In the review published in November, it was described in part as “A marvel of a coffee, inviting and esoteric, chimerical and grounded, all at once.  Enchantingly rich, intensely floral, unique. Dried black cherry, tea rose, Cognac, chocolate fudge, gently scorched almond wood in aroma and cup.” This rare coffee with its tiny beans and striking cup is available only on the Hula Daddy website through their allocation list.
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