Mushroom coffee is widely praised for its health benefits, and Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee with Lion's Mane and Chaga is among the best of them. This certified organic coffee is brewed to support creativity and focus, as well as boosting the immune system. Even though each cup contains two mushrooms, the brew tastes just like ordinary coffee and has garnered rave reviews all over the web.
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.
The organic movement is fueled in large part by consumers’ health concerns. People are understandably wary of consuming agricultural poisons along with their fruits and vegetables. With coffee, however, the health issue is less persuasive than it is with many other agricultural products: apples or strawberries, for example, which we consume whole and often raw. We do not consume the fruit of the coffee tree. Instead, we strip the fruit off and compost it, retaining only the seed, which we then dry, roast at very high temperatures, grind, and soak in hot water. Subsequently we throw away the dried, roasted, ground seeds and drink the water.
Of the two at-home iterations of Big Coffee, Dunkin’ Donutsand Starbucks, I prefer Dunkin’. It’s more drinkable black—lighter without being bitter, roasty without being burnt, and far easier on a pre-bagel empty stomach on my way out the door. Home-brewed Dunkin’ is nearly indistinguishable from takeout Dunkin’, and even aside from being cheaper per cup, drinking it at home saves styrofoam. Dunkin’ Donuts Original has a gentler thermal shift than most coffees in its price range, continuing to be enjoyable all the way down to room temperature, but if you’d like to freshen the heat it is admirably microwaveable.
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.

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