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.

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You might be familiar with one of La Colombe's brick-and-mortar cafés across the country or even their canned Draft Latte line, but we bet you didn’t realize that you can purchase their full line of coffee beans online. What started as a flagship café and bakery in Philadelphia is now an award-winning nationwide coffee brand, and we think La Colombe's Corsica Blend is the best expression of the brand's deliciousness.


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.)

Organic certification at the farm level is overseen by various regional agencies, but, unlike sellers of organic vegetables, who don’t need further certification to sell organic produce, coffee roasters must also be certified in order to legally sell coffee that is labeled “organic.” Roasters must supply the certifying agency (different in each state) with certification paperwork from the farm and importer, as well as undergo annual inspection to ensure that organic coffees are handled in areas separate from non-organic, in much the way Kosher food is certified. This process involves both a one-time application fee and an annual inspection fee, fees that many small-scale roasters complain they cannot afford.

Back in the day, preparing coffee is a time-consuming and complicated task. Today, it has become a lot easier, especially with the introduction of innovative coffeemakers, including the one from Keurig. With the latter, you can use revolutionary K-cups to prepare your coffee quickly and without guesswork, guaranteeing consistent and delicious taste.


There is no beating around the bush with this brand. When you buy Death Wish, you know exactly what you are getting: a higher dose of caffeine than your body should need, like ever. There is a market for robust coffee out there, and these guys are there to cater to those caffeine-heads. The brand has all the right certifications, including FairTrade. And despite using robusta beans, they have managed to keep the taste at least tolerable, which is quite an achievement.
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.
Alfred Peet has been shaping the craft coffee movement for decades. He’s helped transform what Americans have come to expect from their cup of coffee, as he mentored the founders of Starbucks at one time, but continually worked to seek better coffee for humanity. Created for Peet’s 50th anniversary this signature blend celebrates Mr. Peet’s legacy, obviously it has quite the name to live up to.
A popular, professional blend combining the best of Indonesian and African Robusta and Brazilian Arabica coffees, the Lavazza is simply extraordinary by any standard. It provides an intense aroma and a rich aftertaste with unique chocolaty notes. It is an ideal ground coffee for making espresso-based beverages, yet also appropriate for people who enjoy a standard cup of coffee.
If you are looking for a coffee with an exotic flavor that is also organic, this is one option that should be on your radar. It is a popular option because of the complexity it delivers. It is a dark roast, which means that you should expect a heavy body from your drink. Despite the latter, however, it will be sultry and sweet, unlike other dark roasts that can be overly bitter. This is basically because it is blended with warm spices and brown sugar to perfectly balance the flavor.
A. “Fair Trade Certified” means the farmers were paid a fair wage, no forced or child labor was involved in the growing or picking of the beans, the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals was limited, and the coffee plantation practiced sustainable farming methods. You’ll find many brands of coffee certified as Fair Trade, particularly specialty brands. The Fair Trade Certified program is an international program run by TransFair USA.

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.
I was pretty disappointed in this local coffee spot, unfortunately. I walked in and the staff seemed in disarray. I waited 15 minutes for a coffee, watching other people who ordered after me get their drinks filled. They had forgotten my order as it turned out, and when I asked about it, they were not too friendly in understanding what happened. After I finally pushed about needing to go, they finally made my drink, but I only had a couple minutes to finish it. Needless to say, I wasn't happy with their service at all. And my coffee was nothing impressive. Not worth the price in my opinion.
Bagged coffee is standard, from grocery stores to coffee roasters (most of them), but subtle variations make for significant differences among these coffees, particularly in price. This is complicated by the fact that a bag of coffee is often referred to as a “pound,” when in fact most bags only hold between 10 and 12 ounces of coffee. A bag of Newman’s Own Organic coffeecosts $10.29, only $0.10 more than a bag of Starbucks coffee, but Newman’s is only a 10-ounce bag to Starbucks’ 12 ounce. Brewer beware!
There is a bewildering array of choice when it comes modern ground coffee blends. You can opt for a selection of different roasts, grinds, and beans sourced from all over the world. One prime concern is sustainable and ethical production and sourcing of coffee. You should try to stick with brands that have FairTrade and Rainforest Alliance or similar certification or follow explicitly sustainable practices as much as possible. Brands are coming out with more potent and more innovative blends all the time. This is a great time be alive as a coffee lover!
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There is no beating around the bush with this brand. When you buy Death Wish, you know exactly what you are getting: a higher dose of caffeine than your body should need, like ever. There is a market for robust coffee out there, and these guys are there to cater to those caffeine-heads. The brand has all the right certifications, including FairTrade. And despite using robusta beans, they have managed to keep the taste at least tolerable, which is quite an achievement.


Also reviewed here are Black Oak’s Ethiopia Hambela Alaka (93) and Noble Coffee’s Ethiopia Bishan Fugu (93), both of which are certified USDA organic, and labeled as such on the bags. Red E Café’s Homacho Waeno Natural (93; one of two coffees on this list imported by Sustainable Harvest), is in the same category as the Big Creek and Revel coffees noted above: certified organic at the farm level, but with no certification indicated on the bags.
Paul Bonds was never a big coffee drinker—he didn't even like the stuff all that much, and Mississippi, rich in other areas, is just about the final frontier on the American coffee front. None of these disadvantages have held him back from doing incredible work, apparently—BeanFruit has received some very good notices, in the relatively short time since its founding. Apart from public cuppings on Wednesdays at the plant in suburban Jackson, you'll need to look for the product elsewhere, but you'll have no trouble finding it around town—for a sure thing, start at Sneaky Beans, one of Jackson's best coffee shops.
I drink one cup of coffee to start my day, using a Keurig and refillable K-cup. This can sometimes be less than ideal because the coffee can taste off (usually too weak). I was worried the same would be true about this Breakfast Blend, since those can generally be on the weaker side, but was pleasantly surprised at how bold and flavorful this was. It smells great, too - just opening the bag in the morning helped wake me up!
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.
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