Dean's Beans - excellent Massachusetts based coffee roaster.
Sitting here savoring a mug of Dean's Beans delicious French Roast Nicaraguan, I felt it was past time someone tipped off fellow coffee hounds to this fine company. Dean's Beans is a coffee roaster based in Orange, MA., and they market only 100% Fair Trade, 100% Organic beans. The coffee seems to be quite well distributed in the Pioneer Valley area, but not so much in eastern MA.
First, let me say that I am by no means an anti-Starbuck's snob. I enjoy Starbuck's coffee, and until recently purchased most of my whole beans from them. However, given a choice between similar products of equal quality, I tend to favor local or regional producers. A couple of months ago I came across Dean's Beans and tried a couple of their varieties, and they have now become my primary source for coffee beans. Not only do I find Dean's Beans' coffee delicious, but their reasonable prices appeal to my frugality, while their Fair Tade and Organic policy would interest those who may perceive it as supporting more socially responsible consumerism.
The company produces a wide selection of single bean varietals in dark (my preference) and medium roasts, as well as numerous interesting blends. They will even sell you green coffee if you are into roasting it yourself. You do need a grinder, as the coffee is available in whole beans only.
Dean's Beans coffee can be purchased at Whole Foods, as well as at some co-ops and natural foods shops, but I find that the greatest selection and lowest prices can be had by ordering directly from their web site www.deansbeans.com. Almost all the coffee on the web site is priced at $7.00 per pound (not 9 to 12 ounces as many retail packages are these days), plus UPS ground shipping. Factoring in the shipping cost makes ordering one pound counter-productive, but ordering several pounds at a time yields considerable savings over retail (at least at Whole Foods prices). My latest order of 1 pound each of 3 different coffees cost $27.89 including shipping, or $9.30 per full pound, and arrived at my residence in southeastern MA two days after I placed the order.
George Howell (the owner of the long defunct Coffee Connection chain) now owns a top notch roastery in Acton:
Quite possibly the best coffee I've ever had. Unfortunately, it's also quite possibly the priciest.
He also sells green (at about a 40% price reduction) of some, but not all, of his coffees.
They carry his coffes at Clear Flour, and I think also at Whole foods. As a former Coffee Connection employee, I'd love to buy more often than the occasional splurge, but I'm also peeved that you can't buy it in one-pound packages and I wish he had a wider selection of Indonesian coffees. My long-time favorite is Celebes/Sulawesi, which can be hard to find. (Ironically, I was first introduced to it when I worked at the Coffee Connection!)
We prefer a medium roast, and have been buying happily from Armeno Coffee Roasters in Northborough for quite some time - http://www.armeno.com.
Sorry all, but have had Rao's and Terroir, and they do not even come close to Peet's or Graffeo. I spent many days at the Coffee Connection, with the French Press in front of me. George's new beans produce coffee with an acidic, muddled taste, and I have to admit, I prefer coffee that is roasted on the dark side.
It is also a great reason to plan a trip to SF....