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Mar 24, 2006 07:42 PM

best coffee brand, period!

  • n

My husband and I are tired of bitter, bland, strong icky coffee.

What do you use and WHY?

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  1. hello, I suggest getting away from "brands", and finding a local small batch roastery--what's the area of your residence? (There are more artisan roasters on the Pacific coast, especially in the northwest). Most stuff in branded packages simply isn't fresh enough to deliver quality, especiall if it's pre-ground. Some small roasters do mail order, and priority mail isn't expensive. I worked in the trade for a "gourmet roaster" that started small and local and once it expanded past a certain scale, it wasn't the same. From holding a lot of tastings with the public, I couldn't do justice to your tastes by recommending any particular type--trial and error with your own palate is best, and a small business will give you personal service in sorting things out. How do you make your coffee? That's a big variable in itself, and something a guide can help you with. cheers

    12 Replies
    1. re: moto

      I agree with everything that "Moto" has said here. Just for my simple input -- and I, too, do not like most of the "big" brands -- if you are on the West Coast, I find Pete's to be quite good consistently, especially their Arabian Mocha Java which is very smooth and has no burnt or bitter taste. I also find their store employees to be very customer-concerned and knowledgeable.

      1. re: liu

        Personally, I don't really understand the Starbuck's phenom. Half of the time, the coffee tastes burnt...not good enough odds at $3 a pop.

        I'd rather hit the Dunkin' Donuts which, I am told, uses Folgers as their house brand.

        I also like the brand that IKEA sells: Lofbergs Lila.

        Lately, I've been buying 8 o'clock andd grinding my own.

        1. re: twodales

          This is so subjective. What I like you may find repulsive. In a blind tasting of off the shelf national brands, Eight O'clock came in first. Best to just experiment. I regularly mix my beans, different kinds at different times. Gives me a change of pace.
          Dunkin' Donuts has excellent coffee, so does Seven Eleven. I find Stardrecks overpriced and awful.


            1. re: byrd

              My husband would wholeheartedly agree with you, fellow Philadelphian:). He's a huge La Colombe fan.
              As a decaf drinker I like Kimberton French Roast the best.

              1. re: byrd

                A friend moved in the neighborhood (Court Street in Brooklyn) and, while visiting from Boston, had a chance to check out D'Amico Foods coffee. Excellent, especially the espresso roast. I've become a regular . . . only downside is their minimum three pound order, but it's worth it.


            2. re: twodales

              Dunkin uses New England Coffee Company with a proprietary medium roast, IIRC.

              1. re: twodales

                "I'd rather hit the Dunkin' Donuts which, I am told, uses Folgers as their house brand."

                DD's store coffee is roasted by Sara Lee. DD's retail (supermarket) coffee is roasted by Smuckers. Smuckers also roasts Folger's but the key difference is that DD is 100% arabica, mostly from Brazil, Colombia and Guatemala regardless of who's roasting it (the espresso blend is also FTO). Most Folger's coffee blends contain high percentages of cheap robusta beans from Vietnam in addition to cheaper low-grown arabica beans.

              2. re: liu

                Peet's is not in any way shape or form a local small-batch roaster.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  Peet's used to be a small batch operation way back when it started in Berkeley, CA, with just 3-4 locations around the university (where I went to college for several degrees, so I knew it well). Peet's was the original coffee house for true coffee mavens, as far as I know. It's also where Schultz (Starbucks) got the idea for his successful company when he worked there as a student at Cal. The story goes that he approached old man Peet and argued to greatly expand and franchise his operation, which already had locals lining up outside the doors. Peet demurred, saying that expanding and franchising would mean roasting the beans too far in advance and then warehousing the product, thereby diminishing the quality of the coffee. Peet believed in roasting one day and brewing the next. Being the coffee purist he was, Peet said no thanks to Schultz. But Schultz was/is a very smart businessman and went up to Seattle where bought out a small local coffee operation called Starbucks...who got their beans from Peet. The rest is history, except for the fact that Peet eventually sold his operations and it's now in the hands of a German company. Now Peet's is sold in many states and through grocery chains. Peet's is still among the best coffees you can get, but order whole beans and grind them yourself right before brewing. I personally like their #1 best selling blend: Major Dickason's. Here's the entire Peet's story if you're curious:

              3. re: moto

                As a purist who likes coffee that tastes like coffee, not the current trend of $4 cups that taste like burnt baked potato skins, my ultimate fave for a drip brewer is the Swedish coffee IKEA sells in their concession stand.

                Uf da! Best I've had (since Bohack's closed. Their Bokar was also close).

                1. re: moto

                  I get much of my coffee from Jessica's Biscuit, a cookbook company that also roasts and delivers coffee. One can join the "club" and there are varying levels of membership or, as I do, simply order as needed. The coffee is fresh, arrives promptly via Fedex, and there are several varieties to choose from. I especially like the Ethiopian Yrgacheffe and the Sumatra.


                  And it tastes nothing like Starbucks although, I happen to be one those who like Starbucks!

                2. French Market Coffee ... the one with the chicory. It takes the edge off of canned coffee.

                  I assume that is what you are asking, or are you looking for whole bean coffee?

                  What brands do you not like and consider bitter, bland, strong and icky? What roasts and beans do you like?

                  To be bland and strong are polar opposites to me. I don't like Colomian coffee beans because I consider them bland. I like roasts like French and espresso because I like strong coffee.

                  Are you looking for a mail order source? How much do you want to spend? What part of the country are you located in?


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: rworange

                    I am looking for a coffee that we'll both decide works for us. I am in California most of the time but can go anywhere. If there is a market that sells a good brand, I can get there or someone can for me. If it's a web site that's fine too and I fully intend to utilize the ones given to me in these posts. I'll do all of them. No concern about that. Many food boards are discussing this very topic right now. Of course I don't want to spend a truckload of cash but for one batch or even a couple, if it produces something hubby and I are both satisfied with, then so be it.

                    We have used Folgers, all their flavor roasts, Maxwell House, which isn't so good to the last drop, Super Markets own brand, I know, don't yell at me, Yuban. These used to be okay brands. Now, they are either too strong, burnt tasting, flavorless or otherwise icky.

                    1. re: nix

                      California is a good state for coffee for the most part. When you get home, post on your local board (SF Bay Area, Los Angeles Board or California depending on your location).

                      Ask for the best place to buy coffee in your area and either link back to this post or repeat the information about what you tried and what you are looking for).

                      Beans fresh ground at your coffee shop are so much better than canned. They don't have that sharp, acrid taste of the canned brands. I tried a can of the Folgers French Roast recently and it was pretty awful compared to what I've been drinking. Coffee shop coffee isn't that much more expensive than that canned stuff.

                      There have been some positive reports on Trader Joe's coffee.

                      At a coffee shop you can usually buy a fresh-brewed cup of one of the many brews.

                      Another idea, is to post on the Home Cooking board asking what to do to make canned coffee more palatable (brewed with egg shells, etc). However, I'd go the coffee shop route. There's a whole world of wonderful flavor out there. Again, start taking notes about the type of beans you like and the way it is roasted so you know what pleases you the best.

                      Well, time for my cup of coffee, not sure where I'm picking it up yet, maybe I'll finally give Cole's coffee shop a try.

                      1. re: nix

                        If they used to be okay but you don't like them now, are you sure it's not your coffeemaker or even the water that you're using, like if you've moved?

                    2. We love Pura Vida coffee and don't use anything else. Organic, shade-grown and fair-trade...and only available by mail, I believe. Website below.


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: wyf4lyf

                        Fair trade is available everywhere. PLEASE look for it & buy it. Most is also organic (I've had trouble finding shade grown though) There is little or no price difference & this is a simple way we can all make life a little better for the family farmers who actually produce one of the most profitable world commodities.

                      2. I like to mix it up and have enjoyed the following:

                        fwiw, most are rather strong, but not bitter, bland or icky

                        Mud (
                        Irving Farms (
                        Gorilla Coffee (
                        Blue Bottle (

                        1. Roast your own Coffee!

                          It's really not as hard or as extreme as you think. It takes me less than an hour a week to have perfectly fresh coffee everyday. The types of roast and beans are totaly up to you. Right now I have an Ethiopian Harrar that has a strong Blueberry taste, amazing. Or how about a nice Brazil Daterra Sunrise that screams COFFEE! It's never bitter or stale and the difference will astound you. Home Roasting information is readily available on the net as well as several green bean suppliers. Check out and go from there. Once you home roast you will never go back.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Swarthog
                            JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                            Oh, how I love home roasted coffee... it is very easy indeed, all you need is a hot air popcorn popper and the raw beans.


                            1. re: JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                              oh you had to say that 'after' I gave my hot air popcorn popper to GoodWill. *)

                            2. re: Swarthog

                              I'll also vote for roasting your own. You can experiment with the darkness of the roast and get exactly what you like. Bean quality matters.

                              My Spousal Unit recently started roasting coffee at home. You'll definitely want to do the roasting outside. It smells really good when it's fresh, but the smell is very strong, lingers forever, and it does not smell good when it's not fresh.

                              Beware, though - if your coffee is coming out bitter, it might not be the roast, it might be the amount that you are using.

                              Happy sipping of the magic coffee to you.



                              1. re: Swarthog

                                Thanks for that link!!! Looks totally cool. I must try it.