When Four Barrel veterans Tim & Elisha Griffin opted out of San Francisco, they landed in Fargo, where their small shop (handed over from a previous owner) quickly rose through the ranks in a city already mindful of the benefits of a solid cup of coffee. Right now, they're working with Heart, out of Portland, but rumor has it they'll be roasting their own soon, not to mention moving to a larger location in Fargo's happening downtown.
The best light roast and whole bean coffee was our top pick, Verena Street – Mississippi Grogg. The office chatter surrounding this taste test made it a staple on the office shopping list and is now in the rotation of coffee blends brewed. Receiving the most eight, nine and tens across the scoring board, people loved the natural hazelnut flavor found in the roast.
In a nutshell, organic coffee is made from beans that are grown in uncontaminated soil without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Standards may differ from country to country but the difference is usually on how much of the final product came from organic sources. In the U.S.A. for example, the FDA requires 95% of the coffee to come from organic sources to be classified as “Organic Coffee” regardless of where it came from.
Coffee Review’s goal is to celebrate coffee roasters, farmers and mill-owners who make an extra effort to produce coffees that are not only superb in quality but also distinctive in character. In particular, we aim to honor the dedication of coffee producers large and small who, with the support of their roaster and importer partners, are crafting a range of sensory excellence and diversity that has never existed before in the history of the beverage.
Folgers brand topped the Harris Poll Coffee of the Year list. The classic brand has an array of highly ranked flavors which cost about 32 cents an ounce. But if you like your coffee dark, this might be the brand for you. Their French Roast blend ranked #1 on the Huffington Post’s list of best store-bought French roast coffee, mainly because of it’s “pleasant flavors.” The Black Silk blend is also a deal, at $7.64 for 27.8 ounces, which has been praised for it’s great flavor without the burnt aftertaste that plagues so many other dark roasts.
Gregg Parker is a writer and puppy enthusiast who divides his time between Los Angeles and the rest of the world. A graduate of the University of Southern California, his eclectic career has involved positions in education, health care, entertainment, nonprofit fundraising, technology, and literature. A points and miles expert, he's well-versed in all topics related to travel, including luggage and travel accessories. Other areas of expertise include pet care products, teaching resources, kitchen appliances, and anything related to coffee or barbecue.
Nebraska's most impressive roaster at the moment occupies a deceptively simple (but also pleasingly modern) storefront on a block shared with a brewery, a wine bar and Omaha's most talked about ice cream shop—it's clearly a new day for the once-forlorn Blackstone District. There's a lot of this sort of positive change happening around Omaha lately, some of it down to young and talented entrepreneurs like Isaiah Sheese, who moved here to roast coffee, just a few years ago. Things appear to be working out okay—Archetype is now opening a second shop, in another up-and-coming area of town.
I have tried other Newman's Own products and they have all been good. So, I thought the coffee would be too. It was not. I could not even finish the cup and I like all types of coffees, including bold. Thinking it was a fluke with either the K-cup or the coffeemaker, I made another cup. It was the same: bad. In the future, I will stay away from Newman's Own coffee and continue buying the other coffees available for the Keurig.
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.
Our research was then directed towards the price point and determining what classifies as a “cheap” cup of coffee. If you are heading to Starbucks to grab a grande cup of regular coffee, it will put you back $2.10. McDonald’s premium roast coffee will cost $1.29. Dunkin’ Donuts medium coffee is $1.89. Frappuccinos, lattes and mochas will double your coffee cost.
In addition to that, this java has about 59 mg caffeine in every fluid-ounce of coffee. In fact, its single serving will comprise up to 708 mg caffeine if the serving is of 112 fluid-ounce. It is fairly more than many people could bear for a single day. Despite the coffee being of French roast and of high caffeine content it tastes astonishingly sweet.
Newman’s Own is a feel-good coffee—it’s organic, all company profits go to charity, and Paul Newman’s little dad-hot cartoon face on the bag grins approvingly at your choices. Its flavor is uncomplicated, and it tastes like the last coffee of the day should taste—a 3 p.m. pick-me-up that tows you calmly to the end of the workday rather than punching you in the eye-bags like a morning coffee needs to. This is the most expensive in the bunch, at $16.46 per pound, and isn’t so far ahead of Green Mountain ($13.32/lb) that it’s worth the splurge on anything but ethical or aesthetic grounds. Moreover, it falls short of Green Mountain in thermal shift and microwaveability: flavor deteriorates in proportion with temperature, and after microwaving dries out the inside of one’s mouth—not a problem if you’re a quick drinker, but sippers beware.
Coffee Bean Direct comes in a package well-above the average size of the others in our review. Offered in a 5lb bag only, Coffee Bean Direct is able to sell high-quality beans at a lower price. No wonder it was neck-and-neck with our number one pick when it came to Cost. While it’s an extremely popular choice on Amazon, it fell behind the others on Performance due to a lower Amazon rating.
The important factor to consider with your coffee source is the processing procedure in the location from which it came. For example, coffee beans that are sourced from Ethiopia or Brazil are processed naturally and result in bold and fruity flavors. Africa processes their beans in a washed process that produces more well-balanced and complex flavors with noticeable acidity when roasted. On the other hand, coffee that is sourced from Central and South America tends to be more expensive due to the processing method that reduces mold on the beans.
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.
The next step in the quest for a quality cup of coffee is roasting. The roasting process heats up the beans at temperatures of 230 degrees Celsius; neutralizing the extreme unpleasant flavor profiles of the bean. The newly roasted bean offers nutty, smoky, or spicy flavors. The length of time that the bean is roasted determines the flavor profile and caffeine content. Beans roasted longer have a shiny black appearance and they boast a bitter and bold taste. Also, they are noted by an oily feel. Light roasted beans, which are roasted for a shorter length of time, tend to be sweeter, smoother, and even floral in flavor. If you prefer a lighter smooth taste, you will defer from bolder, darker roasts of equal of even better quality.
We spent over four weeks commandeering the office coffee pot, brewing over 50 pots and consuming about 400 cups to find that Verena Street – Mississippi Grogg is the best cheap coffee brand. This light-roast, fair trade and kosher brand out-brewed the competition, pleasing even our pickiest taste tester and receiving complements such as “creamy” and “strong, but not overpowering.” For a bolder flavor profile, we recommend Marley Coffee medium roast or Koffee Kult dark roast.
Promising review for their Quarter Caf blend: "Finally, coffee I can drink! I came across this product by accident and I'm so thankful I did. I have a very energized baby (who I'm currently breastfeeding) and normal coffee gets to my baby. I didn't have coffee for quite a while, but this came in yesterday so I had my morning cup of coffee without any guilt. It tastes great and it's exactly what I need to start my day." —Kristina Hunter