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Coffee: Anyone know a wonderful brand?
Old 09-14-2010, 08:19 AM   #1
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Coffee: Anyone know a wonderful brand?

I only drink a cup or two a day at most, but I am a coffee lover IF the coffee is good stuff. I've tried lots of brands, but I think Lavazza Tierra is my so far favorite:

Lavazza Tierra! 100% Sustainable Ground Coffee, 8-Ounce Cans (Pack of 3): Amazon.com: Grocery & Gourmet Food


Bustola is supposed to be another really good brand if you read the Amazon reviews, but I get the impression this is an expresso and, I'm guessing, has to be made in an expresso machine? I don't have one, and certainly don't need to lose any more counter space in my kitchen.

So, is there some wonderful brand of coffee I'm missing that is out there? I don't drink much coffee, but, if I'm going to drink it, I'll pay to find some really good stuff. Small indulgences make life worth living.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:35 AM   #2
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I think Green Mountain coffee is the best. You can order direct from them and get extremely freshly roasted beans.
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Old 09-14-2010, 08:44 AM   #3
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I order my coffee from a roaster in Montana Hunter Bay Coffee: Gourmet Coffee, Coffee Gifts & Wholesale Coffee from Missoula, Montana

It's always fresh as they roast your order the day before they ship it. I particularly like their dark blends Expedition and Moose Drool - dark, smooth, rich, chocolaty - the way I like my coffee. I blend these with French Roast Decaf for my half-caf cup.

I've checked out many small local roasters in my travels across the US, and these guys really are exceptional.

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Old 09-14-2010, 08:48 AM   #4
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I've worked as a specialty coffee buyer, roaster and taster for 28 years, so I guess I'll weigh in here.

There are numerous excellent small-to-medium scale roasters and if you happen to live near one buying their coffee fresh each week is always the best idea. Intelligentsia in Chicago and L.A., Stumptown in Portland and Seattle, Counter Culture in North Carollina, and much more. For mail order, the single best source is probably Terroir (note spelling - it means "taste of place" in French) Coffee from the Boston area is the best, run by George Howell, founder of Boston's The Coffee Connection and the quality leader for coffee in America for a very long time:

Terroir Select Coffees

His coffees are to Green Mountain what grand cru Bordeaux is to jug wine.

Anything pre-ground is stale before you open the package. Buy beans, grind just before brewing, and use them up within a week. Coffee has the shelf life of freshly-baked bread.

Have fun!
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:00 AM   #5
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Wow..spoken like a true professional on this board...thanks, kevink!
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:18 AM   #6
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Old Soul Co. (Sacramento, CA) www.oldsoulco.com roasts their own beans - heavenly!! If in the area, stop by for baked goods and fresh coffee!
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Old 09-14-2010, 09:46 AM   #7
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I do not drink coffee.... buy my wife loves the stuff... and we do have an expresso machine as she does not like the 'watered down' coffee from here (she is European)...


The one she likes the best is a dark roast from Kauai Coffee Company...

We buy the 5 lb bag... as mentioned beans only... ground a minute before she brews...

Store -- Kauai Coffee Company Online Store


Hmmm, just noticed they sell sugar.....
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:08 AM   #8
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I'd back up the intelligencia recommendation in Chicago, and add Alterra in Milwaukee (and Alterra has a monthly subscription program - 1 lb each month, different one each time, shipped to you)
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:19 AM   #9
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Of the more available suppliers I like Peets. I didn't used to like it as it was too bitter, now I like it because its bitter. I make the coffee at home with a nice expresso machine, grind the beans just before use with a burr grinder. Good enough for me and my guests seem to like it too.
One of the more interesting coffees I have had was on a trip to Bali this spring, I had come Luwak coffee ( Kopi Luwak - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )
It just seemed like a very good coffee to me. Brought back beans for friends and no one said it was so good that they wouldn't drink anything else.
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by kevink View Post
Anything pre-ground is stale before you open the package. Buy beans, grind just before brewing, and use them up within a week. Coffee has the shelf life of freshly-baked bread.

Have fun!
I have 6 coffee houses within 4 blocks, including a Stumptown and Cafe Vivace. The smallest bag I can get is 1/2 #, and I would rarely use that within a week. Any suggestions about keeping it fresh a bit longer?

Incidentally, 1/2# per week of this stuff would cost me about $350/year, add in a few cups in the stores, a little at McDonalds, occasional post dinner cup at Le Pichet and I am well over $500 on the year.

This stuff, while addictive, is not cheap!

BTW, cool career!

Ha
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:01 AM   #11
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Last time I checked, Tully's was still serving a Spinelli blend which is great if you want to stay awake a few days. Apparently Spinelli's has shops in Singapore now. Today's blend at Tully's is good to grab on the way to work; Peet's in the neighborhoods.

Thanks, KevinK. That explains why I can't make a good cup at home.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:03 AM   #12
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I happened to be flipping through this month's Consumer Reports this morning, and they rate coffees on taste. Here's their top three in two categories:

Kenyan
1. Allegro Grand Cru
2. Green Mountain
3. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf - AA

Sumatran
1. Green Mountain Organic Reserve
2. Seattle's Best - Organic
3. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf - Mandheling

Hmmm. There seems to be a lot more to coffee than I thought.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:20 AM   #13
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I like buying from local roasters, in the region surrounding my small city there are 6 that I know of, and 3 of them are excellent. The local co-op and several grocery stores carry them in bulk so you can buy as little as you can use quickly.

If you're only making a cup at a time, I've discovered a really good coffee maker, the Aeropress. It's similar to a French Press but uses tiny filters (so the cholesterol-producing oils get filtered out) and gives you a really robust cup of coffee. I take it along when I travel for an espresso-like cup when I have a way to get water hot.
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:20 AM   #14
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We order from Gevalia, their Chocolate Raspberry is pretty awesome,
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:34 AM   #15
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Good topic. I drink way too much coffee, so like Audrey, I blend good "regular" with a good dark-roast decaf, for a half-n-half. I imagine this would drive hard-core coffee drinkers crazy, but it works for me.

One thing I don't understand is the idea of talking about a particular "brand" of coffee, rather than a particular blend. That's like saying you like Starbucks coffee. Is this not true of many of the companies recommended here?
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Old 09-14-2010, 11:37 AM   #16
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Quote:
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I have 6 coffee houses within 4 blocks, including a Stumptown and Cafe Vivace. The smallest bag I can get is 1/2 #, and I would rarely use that within a week. Any suggestions about keeping it fresh a bit longer?

Incidentally, 1/2# per week of this stuff would cost me about $350/year, add in a few cups in the stores, a little at McDonalds, occasional post dinner cup at Le Pichet and I am well over $500 on the year.

This stuff, while addictive, is not cheap!

BTW, cool career!

Ha
Vacuum seal in a glass jar. room temperature. keeps the aromatic oils from evaporating. I use a mason jar with a hand pump vacuum sealer. best way way to keep it fresh.

I also grind right before brewing & favor a French press.
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Old 09-14-2010, 12:21 PM   #17
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Fun thread!

haha sounds like you live in downtown Seattle so you're swimming in great (albeit not cheap) coffee options. Stumptown, Zoka (original store in Greenlake plus others), Allegro at Whole Foods and much more.

There really isn't any ideal way to keep coffee fresh, but in all honesty how much that matters depends on what you buy. If you're buying light-to-moderately roasted single farm coffees (the specialty of the roasters I just mentioned) they have lots of subtle aromatics and flavors and so have the most to lose. If you're just as happy, on the other hand, with an earthy Sumatra or anything darkly roasted there aren't any subtleties to lose, so stick the stuff in an airtight jar in the freezer and it will taste fine for a month or more (whole bean, mind you).

I heartily second the recommendation of the Aeropress as the best way to brew coffee at home. $25 from Amazon, and for another $20 you can add an Aerolatte milk frother and for under $50 have a setup that makes better caffe lattes than 90% of your local Charbucks or other places selling you coffee milkshakes for $4-5 a pop. It makes wonderful drip-strength coffee as well: as rich as plunger pot, but no gritty sediment.

I like Peets, too, but you have to be into that quite dark roast style. Their Arabian Mocha and Indonesians are especially good.

For more on brewing methods, check out this great resource:

Brew Methods

Last but not least, if you really get the bug (or want total control of your coffee while saving 50% plus) go to Home Coffee Roasting Supplies - Sweet Maria's and order a sampler pack of green (unroasted) coffee, then get on Ebay and order yourself a used hot air popcorn popper (West Bend Poppery and a couple of other models only - see the Sweet Maria's site). You roast only a pot or two of beans at a time, the green coffee stays fresh for up to a year. Even if you don't have any interest, that web site is the single best source of coffee info on the web.
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Old 09-14-2010, 12:54 PM   #18
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Vacuum seal in a glass jar. room temperature. keeps the aromatic oils from evaporating. I use a mason jar with a hand pump vacuum sealer. best way way to keep it fresh.

I also grind right before brewing & favor a French press.
We keep the beans to use in a few days in a tightly sealed container.

After that - I will show myself as a heretic. We keep the rest of the opened bag in the freezer - argh! This is coffee heresy.

Living in the motorhome, we have had no other options.

Yes, I can tell an improvement in taste when the bag has just been opened. Yes, I can tell an improvement in taste when we get a new shipment. But IMO, the deterioration from our storage methods is very small compared to the overall deliciousness of the coffee. And I am giving up very little for the convenience. I still enjoy the my morning cup. That is what it comes down to - your personal taste.

Unless you live conveniently near a great roaster and can get just the right amount weekly, you have no other options but to keep coffee past what is recommended.

BTW - I used to roast my own coffee beans, creating my own blends on recommendations from Home Coffee Roasting Supplies - Sweet Maria's . And it was the best coffee I have ever had in my life! I got very good at counting time from the second crack and getting just the right level of dark city roast. Now that we have a house, maybe I'll start roasting again.

Audrey
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Old 09-14-2010, 01:50 PM   #19
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BTW - I used to roast my own coffee beans, creating my own blends on recommendations from Home Coffee Roasting Supplies - Sweet Maria's . And it was the best coffee I have ever had in my life! I got very good at counting time from the second crack and getting just the right level of dark city roast.
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I've done a bit of home roasting, using the "dog bowl, industrial heat gun" method. Already had the heat gun and a stainless steel bowl, so start-up cost was zero, versus a hundred or so to get started with a roaster. Google "roast coffee dog bowl" for examples.

It's a bit tedious to hold the gun and stir for 10 minutes or so, but it's kinda neat to be able to see and smell the changes in a way that you can't when it happens inside a roaster. DW doesn't drink coffee anymore, so I'm less motivated to do this for just myself, but with the cooler weather now, it's time to roast some up again.

IIRC, the Kenya beans I had came out a bit too bright and acidic for my tastes with the roast I achieved, the Sumatra beans came closer to my expectations. Only did it a few times, so I need to practice more to get my technique down. I also don't really know how good the beans I got are, my beer brew shop carries beans and roasters, so I can get the green beans w/o shipping charges. Seems the home roasting crowd goes for lighter roasts, which are a bit different for me. I can see where more flavors come across with the light roast, but they seem a bit bright, acidic and maybe a bit vegetal to my palate, which is more accustomed to a bit darker roast. But I do find Starbucks to be terribly burnt - just awful, I understand it's really brewed to stand up to all those non-coffee additives that some people seem to like (which is OK, I just wish they wouldn't call it 'coffee').

I also seem to recall that most roasters recc to let the beans mellow for a day or three after roasting, they off-gas CO2 and some other volatiles.

-ERD50
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Old 09-14-2010, 02:33 PM   #20
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Kirkland-in-a-can for w*rk days, Kirkland whole beans and a <gasp> blade grinder for weekends...
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