When it comes to buying coffee to brew at home, I often feel lost. In an ideal world, I buy Stumptown or other great regional roasters. But that habit can get expensive—and that coffee isn't always widely available in a pinch. We all need a good—or, at least, drinkable—widely available go-to coffee brand, if for nothing else than storing for emergency situations when the good coffee has run out.
When I moved away from a grocery store that carried Equal Exchange three or four years ago, I remember checking, and you had to order it directly from Equal Exchange, and wait for standard shipping. I guess thanks to the Whole Foods merger, now you can get this right on Amazon. I was excited to discover this, but the mislabeling is a bummer! Amazon, please fix!
This organic breakfast blend coffee is quite good, but it has a slight bitterness. I am having difficulty finding my usual brand, so decided to give Equal Exchange a try. I am not unhappy with this product, but the bitterness which happens at the trailing end of a sip, is noticeable. Having said this, I will not hesitate (when the need arises) to order it again.
Another early top player in the coffee game—think Alterra, Ancora, others—Wisconsin had one hell of a head start, so it shouldn't be any surprise that one of the country's top roasters (Intelligentsia-trained) can be found in a village of 200 people way up in the mostly rural center of the state. Their tasting room keeps very limited hours, but it's worth the effort to get here. If that's out of the question, not to worry—you'll find them carried all over the state, not to mention well beyond.
As one of the few products we have reviewed, that comes in hermetically sealed pressurized cans; this brand deserves some applause. The package results in an intensely fresh coffee powder. And illy is an excellent option if you want the authentic Italian taste. Their products are certified ethical by DNV. The coffee blend contains 100% pure Arabica beans sourced from growers across the world.
All of these questions are enough enough to make you want to reach for … well, a cup of coffee. Luckily, we’ve performed the coffee research for you. We reviewed the best advice from top experts as well as feedback from coffee drinkers in general. The recommendations above and buying guide below will help simplify your quest for the best-tasting cup of home-brewed coffee.
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.
After taste-testing thirteen different varieties of ground coffee widely available for purchase at a chain grocery store, the winner for a solid cup were Maxwell House. In terms of flavor and cost, it ranked highest overall, though it did lose points for not being very good to microwave. Still, at $5.83/lb, it's cost efficient enough to just make another cup of coffee.
“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.”
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.
Reviews of Maxwell House claim that it has the sweetness of dark chocolate, which earned it a B+ rating on Influenster. It usually costs 27 cents an ounce or $6.29 for an 11 ounce cannister, and it’s worth it. It came in at #2 on the Huffington Post’s rank of dark roasts, and while it is not necessarily distinct in flavor, it is has a stable taste that is sure to please even the occasional coffee drinker.
Relatively late to the good coffee game, it's hard to tell just where New York excels most—convincing the world it knows what it's doing when it comes to coffee, or actually setting a damn trend. Amid so much noise and a whole lot of colonization, here is a very good roaster, created by a Blue Bottle and Stumptown grad. (Remember when those beardy West Coasters had to come to town to teach us how coffee was done, just a few short years ago? We sure do.) Not the newest game in town, and slightly off the beaten path, over near Brooklyn's Navy Yard, Parlor, which began life as a pop-up bar in the back of a Williamsburg barber shop, is in every way a gem, and it knows it—their tasting room keeps catch-them-if-you-can, Sunday-only opening hours.
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.
Certifications: Look for the sign that says the coffee is certified to be organic. Also, Fair Trade Certification is a good thing as it means that the coffee is manufactured while paying attention to the needs of the local farming community. If it is Kosher certified, on the other hand, it means that it complies with the Jewish religious dietary laws.
As a mildly employed freelance writer, I have little disposable income, a lot of time on my hands, and strictly rationed vices. One such vice is coffee, which I drink more of than most people I know—even other freelance writers. But, despite my quantity-over-quality brewing habits, I’m capable of mustering some taste, and of standing by preference with reasoned conviction. So, with limited resources for fanciness and a desperate addiction in mind, I set out to determine which basic, widely available coffee brand should stand out from the rest on the grocery store shelf. I enjoy a Blue Bottle pour-over as much as the next fiend, but a $3 morning coffee is above my pay grade. I drink most of my coffee at home, from a bag of grounds that costs around $8, reupped on a bi-weekly grocery run. My choice of bag is usually determined by habit, or price, or shelf height, with less care than I take choosing a bar of soap, though I use both daily. When it comes to choosing a regular coffee—travel-mug, after-dinner, Sunday-morning coffee—which is best?
Since finding a reliable brand of coffee can be difficult we’ve taken the leg work out and found the best options for getting that organic goodness into your cup. First, know that organic coffee is coffee produced without the aid of artificial chemical substances, such as certain additives or some pesticides and herbicides. Second, know that you’re in for some seriously impressive coffee.
These are our top choices for the best organic decaf coffee. If we had to choose one, although it’s very hard, we would have to go with Nespresso’s Hardy Coffee, simply because of its almost 50-year-old history. We were also impressed by the fact that it is the preferred coffee in Italy, the country that actually gave the world the espresso. Still, we say you try all these coffees. What do you think?
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.
“This is a very good-tasting coffee and seems quite fresh. For a dark roast, it has a milder taste, which has grown on me to the point that I know I will continue buying this bean. Having a milder taste might also have something to do with the way it is roasted, as there is no bitter flavor at all. I love this coffee, and you cannot beat the price for a two-pound bag.”
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