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Best place to buy coffee beans? New to this ...

red dragon May 26, 2007 11:53 AM

A few weeks ago, I visited St. Lawrence market for the first time and my husband loved the mexican coffee at this gourmet coffee shop. I returned today and bought him a pound. It cost $13.99/lb. Not a coffee bean buyer (he normally drinks Folgers or Hills or Tim Horton's), I'm not sure if this is an average price or not for mexican organic free trade coffee?

Would Second Cup be a good place to buy beans as well (he doesn't like Starbucks)?

Lastly, the woman at the counter told me the best container to store the beans would be a small ceramic container with a seal and metal hook. I've tried looking at Cayne's, Wal-Mart and Kitchen Stuff Plus, but couldn't find one. Any ideas? I live uptown but don't mind to drive around for great food and food related items!!

TIA(thanks in advance)!

  1. p
    Pincus May 5, 2008 02:46 PM

    I've been buying "La Vereda" beans from Timothy's lately and really enjoying them. But all the other suggestions here are great, I am marking them down for future use!

    1. f
      FlavoursGal May 29, 2007 09:47 AM

      I've been buying Just Us! coffee beans from my local natural foods store. Just Us is a coffee roaster co-op in Nova Scotia which uses only fairly traded coffee beans, and they've just opened up cafes on Queen West and Queen East in Toronto. Their coffee is wonderful; I'm partial to the Italian roast.

      http://www.justuscoffee.com/Cafes.aspx

      2 Replies
      1. re: FlavoursGal
        c
        cheesymama May 29, 2007 12:35 PM

        When did the cafes open? I discovered Just Us! last summer on a trip out east and find their coffee to be one of the best I have tried. I love their Jungle Blend. Last time I was near the beaches location it hadn't opened yet. I'm looking forward to getting down there!

        1. re: cheesymama
          f
          FlavoursGal May 29, 2007 05:31 PM

          I was on Queen West two weeks ago and they were opening that day (they were still scrubbing the floors) - I happened to be shopping at The Healthy Butcher across the street and noticed the store.

          By the way, I don't know what their prices are like in their own stores, but I pay $58 for a 5-lb bag of Just Us! coffee beans at Qi Natural Foods on Eglinton W. It's worth every penny!

      2. y
        yummy_mummy May 28, 2007 09:25 AM

        MoonBean in Kensington Market (St.Andrew's) roast their own beans. Their latte's and pastries are quite good.

        5 Replies
        1. re: yummy_mummy
          red dragon May 28, 2007 01:23 PM

          Wow, alot of great replies and options. Thanks everyone! DH has now decided he doesn't want to drink Folgers or Hills, so ..... we had to spend Sunday looking for the ceramic cansisters and a top of the line coffee grinder. Wish I were a coffee drinker as well :(

          Question: DH doesn't like Starbucks, he finds it very bitter and burnt in taste (that's his opinion), so I'm not sure if I would go with the Kirkland brand at Costco that a poster recommended.

          1. re: red dragon
            m
            mightycheesehead May 28, 2007 02:48 PM

            I would second the recommendation for MoonBean. They have a very good website: http://www.moonbeancoffee.com. They have a very large selection of Fair Trade Organic Coffee for $11.99/lb. They also roast their coffee in small batches. Alan, the owner is very helpful with coffee selection. They also do mail order. There is a description of each of their beans/blends on the website.
            As for storage, I just use Ikea storage containers, with the silicone seal and the hinge. Its pretty cheap, $3.99 for a large container. I think that it is best to store it in a cool and dark place (i.e. cupboard).

            1. re: red dragon
              c
              cheesymama May 28, 2007 04:50 PM

              I also do not like Starbucks brewed coffee, but quite enjoy the Kirkland brand. Starbucks roasts are too dark for me (even their "light" roasts), but the Kirkland is more of a medium roast with a nice full flavour. Not the best coffee I've ever had, but the best for the price!

              1. re: red dragon
                g
                goodcookiedrift May 29, 2007 08:12 AM

                The burnt taste could be an indication that the bean is stale. Whole beans (assuming we are talking about good, organic beans - robusta or arabica) have about a two week shelf life after the vacu sealed package is open. A stale bean will make your coffee taste really burnt and bitter.

                Another note, refrigerating or freezing beans will 'dilute' the flavor of the bean. essentially its the same as refrigerating a tomato as it saps all the flavor and body out of the coffee.

                Gourmet coffee should be consumed between 2 - 3 weeks. After that you're running into stale territory. Your best bet would be to purchase the right amount of beans you'll consume for that time frame as oppose to purchasing more than you need and then storing it.

                IF you are in the downtown area, i would suggest the following cafe's: Cherry Bomb on Roncesvalles (speak to Sam or Johnny. Sam knows wayyyyy too much about coffee like in a Trekie type of way, but is super pleasant, informative and if you are a girl, easy on the eyes). Mercury Organics in Leslieville (Talk to anyone there although Matt or Nick Brown are your best bet - Nick Brown worked as a barista at renowned cafe Artigiano's and founded/edited their blog). They'll be able to suggest some good roasters but i'm very sure they'll point you in the direction of Intelligentsia Beans. Arguably one of the most anticipated beans to hit the Toronto Market.

                ps: starbucks, second cup, etc are all shite.

                1. re: red dragon
                  g
                  goodcookiedrift May 29, 2007 08:16 AM

                  dwelltime.net

                  founded by Vancouver baristas. city with the best coffee in Canada hands down.

              2. m
                Mila May 28, 2007 06:14 AM

                We had some of greatest coffee from Alternative Grounds. I have to say I can be rather sceptical of organic and fair trade coffees because the taste doesn't usually compare. This coffee was amazing.

                http://www.alternativegrounds.com/

                1. mrbozo May 27, 2007 02:19 PM

                  I buy my beans from i-deal coffee. They roast on premises and the handful of blends they sell are all very flavourful. I believe they use only fair trade beans, though I may be wrong on this. My favourite blend is their Red Sea, which is a mix of Ethiopian beans.

                  They have two locations: Nassau just west of Augusta, and Ossington just below Dundas.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mrbozo
                    red dragon May 28, 2007 02:14 PM

                    Hi mrbozo,
                    Thanks for the info. I was just on their website and it seems they only have 5 kinds of blends to choose from, is that right? I tried calling, but they were busy and I was told to call back tomorrow.

                    1. re: red dragon
                      mrbozo May 28, 2007 02:23 PM

                      You're welcome red dragon. As I mentioned the Red Sea blend is presently my favourite. It has a nicely balanced winey/spicey body. My other favourite is Prince of Darkness which is robust and full-bodied.

                  2. chloe103 May 27, 2007 11:30 AM

                    Cherry Bomb, on Roncesvalles, also has a great selection of coffees, many of which are fair trade and organic. I'm a particular fan of their house (i.e. "Cherry Bomb") blend which, though not labeled as such, contains something like 80% fair trade and organic beans (or so the person behind the counter assured me). The people who work there seem generally knowledgeable and friendly, and it's always nice to support the local, independent shops.

                    1. e
                      embee May 26, 2007 08:10 PM

                      Whole Foods and the Coffee Tree (Bloor/Jane) sell good freshly roasted beans.

                      You can also call Dark City (website: www.darkcitycoffee.com), who will discuss your preferences and then custom roast the beans to order. It costs about the same as Starbucks, but is delivered free to your door.

                      I've seen the containers you describe at Crappy Tire. But a ziploc bag with the air sucked out is just fine. The enemy is oxygen, so you can use any non-corrosive container (coffee is acid) that keeps air out.

                      If you aren't going to use up your roasted beans within a week or so, I really think it is okay to freeze them. Be sure to freeze single pot quantities in sealed ziplocs. You will lose flavour nuances, but you'll still get decent coffee. However, do not store coffee beans in the refrigerator.

                      1. Sam Fujisaka May 26, 2007 06:40 PM

                        Buy Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' beans. Their organic, FAIR trade coffees are really trying to benefit small, poor producers and workers.

                        1. s
                          suzspot May 26, 2007 05:51 PM

                          Remarkable bean in the beach is great...they roast their own and it is fair trade..I always get the jet fuel roast, it is very strong. Also Merchants of Green Coffee is great too, they sell the beens green, so you can roast your own, but they sell a daily selection of beans that they roast that day, the difference of having fresh roasted coffee is amazing. They are at 2 Matilda St (Queen E/ DVP) www.merchantsofgreencoffee.com

                          1. t
                            thebutcher May 26, 2007 05:34 PM

                            Our household goes through a LOT of coffee and used to buy from Second Cup but we now buy the Kirkland Brand Espresso Blend from Costco (it's roasted by Starbucks as indicated right on the package). It's $17.99 (maybe less but not more) for a 2 lb bag and is a good dark, rich blend. We stock up during our infrequent trips there. We store the beans in a metal container on the counter - and freeze the balance until we're ready to use - but have heard (and from deelicious too!) that this isn't good for the bean.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: thebutcher
                              y
                              Yongeman May 27, 2007 06:28 AM

                              I also buy my coffee at Costco--right now it's a 2-lb. bag of organic/free trade for $12.99 that I'm working on. I prefer another organic one from Costco at $14.99/2 lbs--neither is the Kirkland/Starbucks brand though. Ideally, I'd roast and grind green beans every day, but in reality, that's not going to happen. I have to grind mine all at once, put a week's supply in a sealed container, and freeze the rest in a ziplock bag. This works for me, although the flavour isn't as good at the end. It sure makes the first cup from the next bag taste good, though. ; )

                              1. re: Yongeman
                                n
                                Nathaniel Siegel May 4, 2008 06:20 PM

                                Costo is a great source. I have used them and will continue to use them.
                                But, having said that, once roasted beans are roasted -and remain whole beans,you have significant deterioration within a week -and, once the beans are gound, you have considerably less than a week before there is real deterioration. There continues to be an argument whether the freezer or refigerator prolong coffee life and, although I used to use the freezer, I suspect it made no difference.

                            2. c
                              cecilia May 26, 2007 04:54 PM

                              There are a few places recommended in the following topic...
                              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/379090

                              $13.99 is average price. I would not go to Second Cup or Starbucks. You want to find a place that roast their own beans.

                              1. n
                                nutrition May 26, 2007 01:00 PM

                                You can store the coffee beans in a regular jar with a screw top, as well. The shorter the storage the better the coffee. So buy smaller amounts from the bulk bins, more often!

                                1. Royaljelly May 26, 2007 12:55 PM

                                  I've also got hooked on gourmet coffee beans lately. Bought about 6 different kinds from Whole foods, who roast their own. I too love their Mexican version (not sure if it's the same as the one you got), also priced @ $13.99/lb. I find that the freshly roasted ones seem to be much more flavourful than the pre-roasted ones.

                                  My next plan is to try the unroasted beans and to roast them myself.

                                  I would also love to find a place uptown, since we only go to Whole Foods once every 2 months or so.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Royaljelly
                                    e
                                    embee May 26, 2007 08:15 PM

                                    If you do decide to roast your own, check out Merchant's of Green Coffee. If you really get into this, you'll want to browse the Sweet Maria's website.

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