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Feb 27, 2009 09:57 AM

Peet's alternative - whole beans for drip coffee

I use a Solis Maestro burr grinder, a Braun drip coffee maker with a thermos carafe, and Trader Joe's brown paper filters. So I'm picky, but not a fanatic.

For the last few years, I've been using a 50-50 mix of Peet's 101 and Sulawesi-Kalossi, which I arrived at after some years of experimentation.

They recently raised their prices a buck a pound, which I found really annoying given the state of the economy, so I experimented and find I like 101 + Garuda just as well. But that's still $13 a pound, and I'd rather pay less if I can find something I like as well.


I don't care for light roasts. For example, Blue Bottle's darkest is way too light for me.

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    1. re: Adamsimpson

      No, but the cheapest beans I can find on their Web site are $15 a pound.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        And Ritual beans are a notoriously light roast. I second the bulk at Rainbow...great selection, including ritual, and fair prices.

    2. It's probably more hassle than you're willing to put up with, but Sweet Maria's in Emeryville sells green beans and roasting equipment. For a Sumatra, you're going to end up paying $6-7 per pound (roasted weight). Plus, you can roast it do your desired degree of darkness, and you'll never have stale beans. It may be tipping from picky toward fanatic, but it's worth a mention, at least.

      5 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        Mmm, good idea. I've been thinking about doing that for quite a while. The ~$100 investment would pay for itself in the long run. I guess they're only open Tuesday through Thursday?

        Sweet Maria's Coffee
        1115 21st Street, Oakland, CA

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          To the extent that they're "open" at all, it's 11-5 on T-W-Th, and they close for lunch. It's a web-oriented business, and customer pickup is kind of an afterthought. No sign out front, no retail displays, no nothin'; you just place your order online and let them know you'll be picking it up.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I tried home roasting for several years. I bought beans from Sweet Maria's and had a variety of roasters. Nothing ever came close to great professionally roasted beans. I could make coffee as good as Starbucks, but that's setting the bar pretty low. I would suggest finding roasted beans you like.

            1. re: realspear

              I spent a week visiting a friend who had a home roaster, and thought that hot-from-the-roaster beans made her just-average Colombian coffee exponentially better.

              Want to sell your roaster?

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Hot from the roaster? She didn't de-gas them?

        2. No specific reccos, but have you checked out the bulk coffees at Rainbow? Also (don't laugh) Costco has some house-branded single origin coffees (an Ethiopian is one I recall seeing) at about half the price of Peets et al.

          1. Food4Less has bins of Peerless beans this week for $5.49 ... I'm joking. I hate Peerless, but it is a good price.

            Anyway, have you tried Catahoula in Richmond yet? My friend who is a serious coffee drinker and like's Peet's a lot amoung others, asks me to bring him Catahoula when I visit. It is best when the owner is around but I don't seem to seem him there much lately. The beans are about $9 - $10 lb. My friend likes Lola's Blend and a lot of people like the Mexican beans.

            Uh ... there's that coffee place up near Lalime's next door to Mama Lan's. I haven't been there in years, but the beans are reasonably priced.

            A vendor at the Saturday Grand Lake farmers market has some strong coffees. My friend liked their Hawaiian coffee but it is out of the lesser price range. They do have one blend for $10 a lb and you can get a sample. The vendor likes to shoot the breeze so will talk coffee.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rworange

              A friend who lives in Richmond just gave me a bag of Lola's blend this weekend. Delicious stuff. Looking forward to trying more from Catahoula.

            2. Cole Coffee (formerly Royal) has a Cole House Roast ($11)that is supposedly Indonesian/Latin American, given your private blend above. They also sell something they call Celebes and subtitle Sulawesi Kalossi ($13). I'm not sure what they mean by that. The roasts are dark. If you end up liking them, it'll save you a couple of bucks a pound. You might also try Max's, which includes African beans in the mix, or so they say.

              I've been meaning to try Sweet Maria's as well. It'd be difficult to top that for price and freshness, assuming you hit on something that you like.