What we love about this coffee is its blend of economy and flavor. This is one of the most affordable coffees out there, ounce for ounce. And despite being so cheap, it doesn’t compromise too far on flavor. Being a medium roast, it does have a bitter yet slight acidic aftertaste. The packaging is large and generous, and it uses Mountain Grown beans for superior aroma. The brand also sports UTZ Certification for Sustainability.
Seattle got most of the attention, but the '90's were very good to the Windy City, coffee-wise—let's start with Intelligentsia, beginning life as a relatively modest café and roastery in the Lakeview section of town, back in 1995. Like Seattle today, Chicago's scene is wonderfully layered, offering up everything from the unabashedly traditional to the cutting-edge. For the best of the latter, look way, way west—steps from where the notorious Horner projects stood crumbling thirty years ago—to a block shared with another celebrated coffee roaster (Sparrow) and a very good brandy distillery (Rhine Hall). Metric, something of a power partnership between the owner of a popular local café and a talented Intelligentsia vet, roasts its prized beans on a restored 1961 Probat, keeping relatively limited hours in an on-site café and tasting room, where public cuppings are held every Friday morning.
If you want to savor some unique coffee flavors, the smaller artisanal brands are a great option. And Jo Coffee doesn’t disappoint in that regard with this premium blend of certified 100% pure Arabica coffee. The brand only sources from the top 2% of arabica growers in the world. And they do have some impressive certifications, including FairTrade and Organic. The flavor is very bittersweet, reminiscent of cocoa and brown sugar.
It costs around $6.28 per pound, or 15 cents per cup, and $4.98 for 12 ounces of unground beans (if you have a coffee grinder in your possession). Their Colombian blend has been highly recommended for it’s smooth, chocolatey flavor with no bitter aftertaste, earning them a 46/55 rating on Coffee Review. They keep their customers happy with frequent coupons, which can be found on their website.
For our search through the sea of delicious coffees available for purchase online, we stuck to mostly whole-bean coffee blends to narrow down the playing field because we find buying whole beans to be most economical for the average consumer. Whether you use a classic drip coffee machine or a pour-over coffee maker at home, these coffee bean brands will make sure you start your morning off on the right foot.
“WE LOVE THIS COFFEE! I’ve been buying this coffee for about eight months now, and I’m finally getting around to writing a review because it’s SO GOOD that I have to share. We have tried other coffees — lots of others — but we like this one the best. The Organic Medium-Dark Roast whole bean is not too dark, not too mild; the beans are just oily and perfect. We drink our coffee black, and its flavor, aroma, and taste are delicious! Not bitter, just tasty black gold.”
Overwhelmingly, the lesser known brands ranked higher and received more detailed tasting notes. When searching the description of these brands, you will find more information on specific origin, details in roasting and care in the small batches. The attention to detail made from the farming to the roasting will set you back a few more dollars, but know that along with a more satisfying cup of coffee you are also doing your part to better the world.
By now, the reputation of this roaster—with its collection of four standout cafes—reaches far beyond Northwest Arkansas (yes, home of Walmart), and while the expertly-sourced beans tend to do most of the talking here, the precision with which you'll typically find an Onyx barista working is most impressive, almost as if they had masses of competition waiting to steal away their customers, out the front door. (They don't. Not for miles.)
I personally prefer an Espresso machine, which is ideal for me as they can create Lattes, Cappuccino, Macchiato, Espresso and so many more. Espresso machines pressurize hot water which extracts the coffee from a pod. They can be used at home and there are also bigger versions that are used in cafés. Generally, they’re quick and efficient and require minimum maintenance.
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.