Coffee is to morning what candlelight is to romance. You don’t need to have candlelight to spark romance, but it goes a long way to set the proper mood. By that same metric, you’d miss it if it weren’t there. Likewise, savoring a cup of coffee with the sunrise sets the tone for the whole day. The aroma, the rising steam and the intense flavor make sipping coffee a surprisingly sensuous experience.
Like grapes for making wine, coffee beans are grown and harvested around the globe. A bean’s flavor might be faintly nutty, chocolatey, tropical, or pleasantly bitter. The best coffees have a harmonious balance of several tastes.
If you don’t know beans about making great coffee at home, check out this guide to some of the best brews and what makes them distinctive.
Lavazza Super Crema Espresso
Italy’s favorite coffee is a perennial best-seller around the world. Many fans say that this flavorful cup has turned them against all others.
You may associate espresso with intense flavor and a bitter aftertaste, but this Super Crema blend makes a surprisingly smooth cup of coffee with persistent hints of honey and almonds. The blend uses both arabica and robusta beans from Brazil, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Every sip of this brew will feel creamy and velvety in your mouth.
Super Crema is suitable for fine-grinding and drinking as espresso or coarse-grinding and preparing in a drip coffee maker. It’s priced at around $12 per pound.
Koffee Kult 100 Percent Arabica Dark Roast
Koffee Kult gets high marks for consistently good quality. In the process of roasting, the certified organic beans are brought to a second crack before they’re released into the cooling bin. This technique enhances their flavor. Koffee Kult beans are also roasted immediately prior to packaging, so they’re never stale.
This variety doesn’t use robusta beans, which are slightly bitter, so the coffee has a clean, low-acid, earthy flavor with a trace of cinnamon. The texture is smooth and heavy. Many consumers who don’t normally take their coffee black say they enjoy this brand without cream.
Reviewers also rave about its distinctive aroma, and Koffee Kult has a cult following. Many espresso bars, cafes and gourmet markets serve or stock the brand.
It is typically sold in 2-pound bags for about $25. It has consistent flavor and aroma whether it’s brewed in a drip maker, espresso machine or French press. Cold-brewing and the pour-over method will also work.
Kicking Horse Coffee Three Sisters Medium Roast
These top-quality arabica beans from Indonesia and Central America are roasted in Canada. Three Sisters is named after three side-by-side peaks in the Canadian Rockies.
The aroma and flavor are a pleasing blend of fruit, almonds, chocolate malt, cocoa, caramel and even a little tobacco. At approximately $1 per ounce, it’s a little on the pricey side, but satisfied customers don’t seem to mind shelling out for its smooth, seductive undercurrents. Kicking Horse recommends a French press, drip or pour-over method of preparation.
Additionally, this company promotes organic, sustainable farming and fair-trade practices. Three Sisters is even kosher. Who doesn’t like starting the day with guilt-free hints of chocolate?
Death Wish USDA-Certified Organic
The name says it all. This full-bodied brew packs a lethal punch of caffeine that’s double that of the average joe, and the makers proudly tout it as the world’s strongest coffee. If it’s your turn to stock the coffee in the break room, you can count on being the office hero.
Death Wish Coffee Co. was founded in Saratoga Springs, New York. A coffee shop owner, tired of the groggy, grumpy customers who stumbled in first thing in the morning, concocted the perfect combination of flavor and oomph.
Despite the intimidating skull and crossbones on the packaging, many customers express surprise at Death Wish’s smoothness and balance of flavors. There are nice traces of cherry and chocolate with no bitter aftertaste.
You get the caffeine that you pay for in this life; Death Wish sells for about $19 a pound. Dissatisfied customers, presumably those who don’t drop dead after their morning coffee, are entitled to a full refund.
Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC Kenya AA Nyeri Ichamara
It speaks well for this product that homesick Kikuyus who have left Kenya have it shipped from wherever they are in the world.
This cup has a bright, floral, pleasingly sweet flavor with notes of orange zest and peach blossom. The roast level is medium, and the body is bold and full. Kenyan farmers are exceptionally discriminating about the beans that they harvest. Beans are coddled, so to speak, from the time they’re picked to several days later when they’re loaded into sacks and taken to the mills.
Don’t be alarmed by their bluish color. Kenyan beans are wet-processed and dried later in the sun. The beans are carefully watched and turned on drying tables to achieve their distinctive color.
Fresh Roasted Coffee uses 100 percent arabica beans that have a single origin. The company has a reputation for freshness and consistently good flavor. No additives, preservatives or artificial flavors wind up in your morning coffee. A French press is recommended for brewing.
If your friends usually suggest going out for coffee, you may need some tips for brewing a better cup:
- Coffee beans don’t go bad, but they lose flavor over time. Buy smaller amounts to avoid working with stale beans.
- Store beans in their original packaging inside an airtight container. Glass, metal and ceramic are best. Keep the container in a cool, dry place.
- Storing beans in the freezer is not ideal. Moisture extracts the flavor, and the porous beans absorb other flavors from your freezer.
- Grind your beans immediately before brewing.
- Temperature is crucial for bringing out flavor. Be sure that your coffee machine is set to the recommended temperature, or boil the water before you add it for brewing.
- As a rule of thumb, use one part of coffee to 20 parts of water. You can adjust the ratio to your liking.
Everyone has days when the primary concern is convenience, so it never hurts to have a box of coffee pods on hand.
Coffee pods are round, flattish filter papers with coffee for a single cup sealed inside. Pods are designed for optimal coffee extraction when hot water makes contact. Senseo, Melitta, Wolfgang Puck and Baronet are some of the best-sellers. Like K-cups, coffee pods require special brewing equipment designed especially for them.