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.

Although only one producing country is represented in this month’s reviews, the range of coffees styles and pleasures these reviews describe is wide and engaging. Consumers seeking an exceptional cup carrying the reassurance of a third-party-verified certification will find a wide range of sensory options here, all distinctive and all deeply attractive.


Of the 14 samples we received of organic-certified coffees produced in Africa origins outside Ethiopia, nine were from the Democratic Republic of Congo and two were from Uganda. Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda contributed one sample each. These 14 coffees ranged in scored from 84-91, with five scoring 90 or above, a good showing, and encouragement for those who may want to consider buying organic coffees from these origins. The vast Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which contributed nine samples, has established itself as a source of fine specialty coffee through the development of the SOPACDI cooperative in the far eastern part of the DRC, just across Lake Kivu from Rwanda. This rapidly growing cooperative now has 5,600 members and is apparently succeeding its goal to help heal wounds left by the latest in eastern Congo’s seemingly endless string of horrific civil wars. The cooperative’s coffees typically carry both organic and Fair Trade certification and can be quite attractive in the style of the pungently spicy, sweet-savory coffees that often come out of the African Great Lakes region.
Sumatran Reserve by Green Mountain is made of 100% Arabica coffee, these single-serve K-Cups are famous for its exotical, lush, sweet taste and complex mixture of heavy aromas typical for Indonesian coffee. Dark roasted coffee used for the production of Sumatran Reserve K-Cups represents an extraordinary mixture of brown sugar taste and delicate spicy notes. These organic K-Cups packed in a beautifully designed box that symbolizes their eco-friendly production, are USDA, Fair Trade, and Orthodox Union Kosher certified.
The process known as wet milling uses water to extract and separate the seeds from the cherries. This method uses a lot of water, so some have deemed it as not environmentally friendly. Despite this, wet milling is still in extensive use as it produces coffee that has a fruity and bright character. It is a pricy and gruesome process, but it gives the highest quality beans.
The Sunshine State has its share of interesting new cafes, but this extremely good roaster transcends not only its peers, but also bests the top offerings in many other states in the Southeast, and perhaps beyond. And here we are, still just talking about the coffee—the energy of Panther's cafes, which function as life hubs in a growing number of neighborhoods, from Coconut Grove to Little Haiti, is typically something approaching electric, and never to be missed. Don’t start a South Florida day without a visit to Panther.

One of those towns that got lucky, relatively early on, Arizona's second city still knows coffee best, at least around these parts. Right now, the city is all about this super-mod operation, featuring two high-design hangouts—one at Presta's roasting plant, the other inside the quite chic Mercado San Agustin, these days one of Tucson's favorite gathering places, and for good reason.
Lake Winnipesaukee might be next door, but the historic center of Laconia, an old mill town, isn't exactly a thriving tourist destination—at least not yet. This cheerful micro-roaster and café, across from the shuttered (apparently, not forever) Colonial Theatre, is one in a small group of businesses—including a proper butcher shop, just next door—helping to invigorate the old town center.

Already no stranger to a good cup of coffee, Bellingham, a lively college town closer to Vancouver, BC than Seattle, reached top tier status with the addition of this very fine roaster, an extraordinary collective of expertise that has more than a few baristas and café owners around the country just a little bit excited. A very nearly elegant, all-day café—Camber's first foray on to the retail side—in downtown Bellingham is pilgrimage-worthy.
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Ethiopia coffees, whether certified organic or not, are produced from tree varieties native to Ethiopia and grown virtually nowhere else. These varieties tend to produce coffees with typically striking cup character: bright, lively and balanced in structure and intricately engaging in aroma and flavor. Furthermore, the best mills in Ethiopia are also ingenious and meticulous in their processing methods. Classic wet-processed or “washed” Ethiopia coffees (in which fruit skin and pulp are removed before drying) tend to highlight floral and citrus notes, while “natural”-processed Ethiopias (beans are dried inside the fruit rather than after the fruit has been removed) lean toward lusher fruit and deeper flowers. Fine examples of organic coffees prepared by both processing methods appear in this month’s reviews.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is unusual among the grocery store coffee set in that it references neither the coffee-growing regions of the equator nor any city associated with coffee culture—New York, Vienna, etc.—instead staring wistfully off in the direction of the Green Mountains of Vermont. This is a thoroughly pleasant coffee, light-roasted and gentle on an empty stomach, as mine often is at the coffee hour. Green Mountain has an impressive thermal shift, remaining drinkable even as it cools—even to an avowed hater of iced coffee. It microwaves decently, too, buoyed gently back to drinking temperature without darkening into bottom-of-the-pot creosote, making it a solid choice for even the coldest of kitchens.
Don Pablo, que rico! Yes, the Don Pablo gourmet organic decaf coffee is definitely one you have to try if you are a true coffee lover. This Colombian Supremo light roast prides itself in tasting exactly like traditional coffee, only without the caffeine you are trying to avoid. Apart from that, it also has slight hints of cocoa, natural caramel, and just a touch of citrus. Yumm!
Described by taste-testers as "nutty, earthy, smooth, and bold," these Sumatra Dark Roast pods from Starbucks are so bold in flavor that some reviewers claim they can actually be brewed twice to cut back on waste. Herbal and earthy, this single-origin coffee blend is not to be missed. These coffee pods are compatible with Keurig single-serve coffee machines.
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.
Amazon went for the bold, and they got it. This full-bodied roast is undeniably bold. We found it comparable to an Italian roast, with less acidity. There is a pleasant fragrance while brewing. The coffee stays strong even at the 12 oz. setting. Even cream and sugar won't take away too much from the boldness. The quality build of the cups stays consistent, as does the taste. Sits at a lower price point than most.
“I was never into coffee until I tried Death Wish. It makes drinking coffee an amazingly fun experience. You had me at organic, but the caffeine content is the icing on the cake or the froth on your cappuccino … The flavor, the aroma, the freshness, the caffeine content, the smoothness, and being organic all make drinking this coffee a truly fun-filled experience. I am happy to report that all five members of this household are all now hooked on Death Wish Coffee. It is absolutely superior to all other coffees! We drink it at all times of the day and night. It makes you feel alert and focused without feeling jittery or nauseous, which is amazing since I was always sensitive to caffeine, which is why I never really drank coffee. The roasting process makes this coffee absolutely wonderful … Once you try it, I guarantee you, too, will be hooked.”
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.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Colombian coffee is that it has to be Robusto coffee. Cameron’s Colombian Supremo is 100% arabica coffee, light roast and perfect for those who want to grind their own coffee at home without getting too much acidity or a shock to the system of coffee flavor. When you want an exceptional tasting coffee, look for small batch roasted coffee beans, the exact roast that Cameron’s is giving to you with this batch. You get balanced coffee flavor without overloading your palette, an average level of acidity, and a smooth, decadent finish. Perfect for any level of coffee drinker, new to the game or seasoned and looking to try every roast under the sun.
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.
The Hawaiian Islands are known the world over for beautiful beaches, diverse microclimates, and both active and dormant volcanoes — pretty much paradise, as the cliché goes. Hawaiian culture is both uniquely American and, in many ways, happily incongruous with mainstream American culture. One island in particular, Hawai’i Island (often called the Big Island), produces […]
“What’s the worst thing about coffee? Bitter. Bitter is bad. Bizzy has conquered bitter with this cold-brew blend. I brew for 24 hours, in the fridge, leaving a smooth, sweet concentrate available when needed. I just pour over ice, add a splash of sweet cream, and abracadabra, magic. The blend is organic, a huge plus [with] a mix of light to dark roasts, perfectly course ground for cold brewing. I’m in love. Thank you, Bizzy!”
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.
I try to eat & drink all-organic whenever possible, including my coffee, in order to avoid ingesting toxins. Certified organic coffee (in this case, certified by QAI--Quality Assurance Intl.) is grown & processed w/o pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, & other potentially harmful chemicals. So, Newman's Own 'Organics' Coffee is my daily 'go-to' coffee. I like the flavor of this 'Newman's Special Blend Medium Roast - Extra Bold' organic Arabica coffee. It's smooth, rich, hearty, & full-bodied, not bitter & not too acidic. It produces a pleasing aroma every morning from my Keurig B70 Platinum coffeemaker. I don't use any sweeteners, but I do stir in some Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Crème. Mmmm! You do sacrifice some freshness & flavor for the convenience of K-Cups vs. grinding your own beans. But the extra time & mess of coffee grinding are luxuries I can't afford in the rush of weekday mornings. One negative, & the reason for just 4 stars instead of 5: I do find that I sometimes get a stale box of K-Cups, even when the future 'best buy' date on the bottom of the 18-pod box is up to 20 months away, as was the case just last month w/a carton stamped w/an April 2019 'best buy' date. The distributor is Keurig Green Mountain. One wonders just how this coffee is initially stored, then transported, & then finally stored again after it arrives at Best Buy's facilities. For my part, I always keep the K-Cups stored in a cool, dry place, as recommended.
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