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Question for Chowhound - Coffeehounds...Trader Joe's Coffees,if any, which?

For the last several years I've been buying my coffee from a vendor/roaster who sells out of the Fairway store in Plainview (Long Island, NY). His coffee is excellent at a great prices. However, we moved to another part of the NY Metro over a year ago and now it's an hour drive to get there so am seeking other options.

I've been considering trying coffee that's sold in TJ. Can anyone recommend a particular coffee there? We prefer rich, deep, intense and full flavored with not too much acidity. I'd also like one that's "fair trade" if possible and, if it's not too much to ask, a decaf suggestion as well - same or complementary flavor components as I mix to create a half caf/half decaf blend.

Thank you.

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  1. I really like the Sumatra, it's fair trade, full caf. It's not as good as something you'd get from a local roaster who roasts their own beans, but it's much better than most store-bought stuff. I don't particularly like the one with the macaw on the label (I think it's 'Cafe Pajaro'), but the Bolivian one, with the blue label, is good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      Will second you on the macaw-labeled coffee leaving something to be desired. It's on the acidic side a bit too much for my tastes.

      1. re: Buckethead

        Agree on the Sumatra full caf. I usually buy at CoffeeAM.com now, but when I forget to place my order, I'll pick up a canister of the Sumatra to tide me over.

      2. Laylag, try the New Mexico Pinon coffee at Trader's. They roast in small batches which really makes a difference in the final product. It's a medium roast, which I used to pass up for the darker roasts, but I've since switched over. Lately, the darker roasts have tasted burnt to me, totally lacking in actual coffee flavor, but this medium New Mexico coffee if fabulous. I use more coffee to water than is usually called for, the result being a brew that is strong, dark, and flavorful without tasting burnt.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SDgirl

          that's the one in the red foil pkg, right?
          love that stuff - full, mellow and almost chocolatey

          1. re: pitu

            That's the one. It's got an amazing aroma, kind of like hazelnuts, and you're right about the chocolatey flavor. Love it.

        2. "We prefer rich, deep, intense and full flavored with not too much acidity. I'd also like one that's "fair trade" if possible and, if it's not too much to ask, a decaf suggestion as well - same or complementary flavor components as I mix to create a half caf/half decaf blend."

          The Double Dark with Mexican & Costa Rican beans fits your palette's requirements but isn't fair trade. I does come in Decaf as well... otherwise the Really Smooth & Mellow Blend is a nice decaf (as he goes to make another batch).

          1. Just went to TJ for the first time last week, got a kick out of it. Currently drinking the Ethiopean medium dark roast, shade grown, fair trade. Pretty good. Shade grown protects the wild life so it is an important consumer awareness issue.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dijon

              Love the Ethiopian coffee! I think the other one I like was the Guatelmalan.

            2. I do not know why it is, but coffee is the one commodity I've tried from TJ that has never been satisfactory. It's never rich enough, strong enough, aromatic enough - it's like I'd gotten some more Maxwell House "French Roast", a promise of hearty flavor followed by an insipid reality.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Will Owen

                sir owen, I'm with you in my skepticism, though occasionally the stuff they give out in store samples is drinkable. There are a lot of things that need to be done right for that deep rich effect in the mouth and one variable that TJ likely abuses is the time lag between roasting and preparing the drink; another is the initial quality of the unroasted beans, I can't imagine their criteria is as strict taste-wise as the specialty coffee importers/roasters', whereas TJ must put a high priority on cost efficiency. enjoy your '07

                1. re: moto

                  The coffees at TJ have never been one of their strong points. I'll stick by my Costco Kirkland brand coffee beans (roasted by Starbucks, and also Fair Trade). At about $9 for two pounds, it's a great deal.

                  1. re: dpan

                    I'll second the Costco green bag ala Starbucks for the depth of flavor and price point.

                2. re: Will Owen

                  Will, all, I would say and this is my second or third day on the Ethiopean from TJs, it hasn't quite lived up to my expectations or even what I am used to from the grocery store, Beres Brothers Fair trades.

                  I

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    I wholeheartedly agree. I used to drink TJ's coffees about 5 yrs. ago and I'm not sure if my tastebuds have changed or if their coffee has changed, but they don't taste good anymore. I bought a can recently because it was convenient, but it was so bad (flat, insipid, weirdly acidic) that I had to return it. My in-laws buy the Costco coffee which I think tastes better. The best coffee comes from a local roaster IMO. Ask on your local board for a place closer to your new home.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Agreed. Especially when there are so many great small roasters out there who ship right to your door, it no longer matters where you live . . .