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Not happy with Trader Joe's coffee.

I used to buy Trader Joe's Cafe Feminino, which I loved. The coffee was sweet and bright and deep, and every time I had a cup I was satisfied. Of course, TJ's then discontinued it! I've been drinking the columbian, but I don't really like it that much, allthough the price is right. I just came back from visiting family in California where they buy a sweet coffee in Little Italy, and it was terrific. I suppose it's the contrast between their delicious coffee and my first not-so-good cup back home that's prompted me to write. I don't really like dark roast, and I prefer a less acid to a more acid coffee. Long ago, I would buy my coffee from that little grocery store on Beacon Street in Brookline just where the green line rose above ground., but the store closed years ago.
Any suggestions?

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Trader Joe's
1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

Little Italy
294 Cabot St, Beverly, MA 01915

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  1. try Karma Coffee on Route 20 in Sudbury Mass. They roast right there. Worth the trip.

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    Karma Coffee
    100 Boston Post Rd, Sudbury, MA 01776

    1. I think most TJs coffee is not very good, though in general I am a TJs fan.

      1. I like the New Mexico Piñon Coffee that's often for sale at Trader Joe's. Otherwise I strongly recommend the George Howell Coffee Company.

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        Trader Joe's
        1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

        1 Reply
        1. re: lipoff

          I like George Howell a lot too (usually branded as Terroir, available at many locations, including Crema and Formaggio) as well as Barismo. I have also been very happy with the Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, which I have had at Voltage and Clover. I am not sure who sells it, though I may have seen it at Formaggio. I also had a bad experience with Trader Joe's, in my case with an Ethiopian coffee that was skunky and unpleasant.

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          Crema Cafe
          27 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

          Barismo
          169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

        2. I would suggest the house blend from true grounds in Ball Square. I totally agree with you about the lighter roast coffees, I use the house blend with a french press and it works great. The only problem with it is it is $12.95 for 12 ounces. I would love any other suggestions as this gets expensive :D

          1. Barismo, on Mass. Ave in Arlington, favors the lighter roasts that you prefer. They are true over-the-top coffee geeks who roast on the premises. Their offerings vary with time, but I always find something I like when I drop by. Oh, and you can taste before you buy.

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            Barismo
            169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

            2 Replies
            1. re: PinchOfSalt

              Another vote for Barismo. The only coffee in town that elicited a Blue Bottle-like reaction from us (which, I know, is pretentious-sounding, but DAMN, that is good coffee!).

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              Barismo
              169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

              1. re: digga

                Barismo is hands down my favorite roaster around. Intense, complex flavors, and the folks that run it couldn't be more passionate. I've also never bought a bag that was older than a few days from roasting, which makes an enormous different. That said, it's not cheap - starting at $13-14 per 12 oz bag, with some carrying a premium over that. That price is on par with other high-end roasters that pay a lot for their beans (one bag I had recently specified that the particular grower received 200% of historical fair trade value) such as (locally) George Howell or (nationally) Stumptown.

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                Barismo
                169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

            2. I'm a fan of TJ's Bay Blend and French Roast, the others not so much.

              1. Pleasant Morning Buzz from Whole Foods might fit the bill. Always in stock and beans reliably fresh.

                1 Reply
                1. re: pocketviking

                  Agrees that the Morning Buzz will do the trick, for $6.99/lb.

                2. If you like Colombian you cannot go wrong with Polcari Coffee shop's Colombian.

                  I also adore their House Blend which is 50% Colombian, 50% Italian Roast. Their price is right too @ $8 per lb

                  http://polcariscoffee.com/coffee

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mjg0725

                    I like their French roast. Made right it's a good cup o' joe.

                  2. Great suggestions! It also just occurred to me that I should ask Trader Joe's which coffee is most like the delicious but defunct Cafe Feminino, before I go elsewhere. I'll let you know what transpires. Happy new year, by the way, to all in Chowland.

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                    Trader Joe's
                    1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                    1. Well, I'm back, after a trip to TJ's. I picked up the 100% Kona coffee and the Smooth and Mellow blend. Tried the 100% Kona this morning. Interestingly, the first sip tasted pretty bitter to me but all the other sips were actually pretty good! I'll try the Smooth and Mellow tomorrow to compare. Thoughts?

                      1. I have coffee shipped up from Porto Rico coffee: www.portorico.com/store/index.html.
                        It's about half the price of the fancy labelled stuff at Whole Foods. Even with shipping costs. They have weekly sales and twice a year have mega-sales. The house blends are $5.99-6.99 a pound; they have more expensive stuff, even civet, if you're feeling flush.

                        I love Howell's & Great Barrington, but going through at least a pound a week make those choices pricey. Good value, but pricey.

                        Porto Rico roasts daily.

                        The place is iconic.

                        www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

                        1. Try Beanstock Roasters on the outer Cape in Eastham, they roast themselves locally. I am a huge fan of the Organic Sumatra and anyone I serve it to becomes a huge fan and ends up ordering. There are more than a few choices. I would call John, the owner, and discuss your taste and what he suggests. The website is www.beanstockroasters.com , when you order 5 bags there is a discount. I get it shipped to me. Good luck.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: GirlGrub

                            Another Beanstock fan. I love the Black Fish Creek and my husband is an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe drinker. They ship quickly and as GirlGrub said, they discount at 5 bags.

                            I also like and buy Coffee from the Wired Puppy on Newbury Street. There we both like the Best of Show blend.

                            Penny
                            http://www.bostonzest.com/

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                            Wired Puppy
                            250 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02657

                          2. I'll plug Intelligentsia's coffee, available at Bloc 11 and Diesel with good roast dates (they usually have stuff roasted on Tuesday on the shelf by Friday or Saturday). Not cheap though, at something like $12+ for 12oz, depending on variety. They've also started carrying Stumptown, also very fresh, but I haven't tried their coffee yet. I haven't tried Barismo or George Howell yet (both of which I think you can get from Simon's on Mass Ave).

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                            Bloc 11 Cafe
                            11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                            Barismo
                            169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                            1. Yes the old Beacon Market coffee was very popular. I think you might like Stumptown Coffee. I hear it's available in Boston at a new place on the common, The Thinking cup. Have no idea what the prices are. Anyone tried it?

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: Berheenia

                                Just went this morning, it happens. They made two great espressos with the Stumptown special, called Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Tumticha. The barista couldn't have been nicer or more patient with my nosy questions (about my experiments with my new espresso machine). The space is very elegant, a bit Viennese and quite comfortable.

                                They do have Stumptown in bags but I didn't notice the prices. I think Bloc 11 may also sell Stumptown too, and Formaggio also sells it. It's increasingly available. Clover in Harvard Square has also started brewing with it. I don't think it is better than our local expert roasters (Barismo, Terroir) but is equally excellent.

                                1. re: hckybg

                                  Bloc 11 definitely has it, but I've only seen one or two of their blends there (no single-origin stuff). But this was maybe mid-December, so things may have changed. Price was about $12/12oz bag, +/- $1.

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                                  Bloc 11 Cafe
                                  11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                  1. re: hckybg

                                    Agreed that Stumptown is very good coffee, and I'm eager to check out Thinking Cup. I do find it disappointing, however, that so many local shops are going with Stumptown and Intelligentsia - both fairly big, nationally-known roasters - instead of supporting the really great work that is going on right in our backyard. I guess that Stumptown has the name-recognition, and certainly my tastebuds don't mind it one bit, it just strikes me as the wrong direction...

                                    1. re: celeriac

                                      Had really good cappuccino at Thinking Cup a couple of weeks ago, shortly after it opened. I'll definitely return.

                                      1. re: celeriac

                                        I think it's equal parts cachet and meeting a perceived demand for it--until recently, you couldn't find much Stumptown on the east coast and I presume a lot of new retailers started carrying it at the same time because at once they recognized that people wanted it.

                                        But I do think the local roasters have an equal representation among the Third Wave-type coffee places that I am familiar with. Simon's uses Barismo and Terroir; Voltage uses Barrington; Barismo naturally uses Barismo. George Howell also recently took over a coffee place, Taste Coffee House in Newtonville (I haven't been). Clover uses Barrington as well as Verve and Stumptown, Thinking Cup of course uses Stumptown, and Bloc 11 uses Intelligentsia and now Stumptown too. It will be interesting to see if we start to find more Intelligentsia and Stumptown, etc., or if the local roasters prevail. We are very lucky to have so many choices, it is really a spoil of riches.

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                                        Bloc 11 Cafe
                                        11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                        Taste Coffee House
                                        311 Walnut St, Newtonville, MA 02460

                                        Barismo
                                        169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                        1. re: hckybg

                                          I had never heard of Stumptown until last fall when we went to Portland OR but agree totally that a local roaster would be preferable if available. I was able to buy a pound of coffee from Hingham, http://redeyeroasters.com/, recently but it is really local and I got it at Allandale Farms, which is closed for the winter. I'm not inclined to mail order coffee unless I've sampled it first so I would definitely like to see it in cafes. I might ask the Cafe Fixe guys what their take is on Red Eye Roasters. I think they currently get their coffee from the Berkshires.

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                                          Cafe Fixe
                                          1642 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445

                                        2. re: celeriac

                                          I haven't tried Barismo's coffee yet, and I've only had a George Howell coffee once or so, outside of a couple espressos at Simon's. I normally buy Intelligentsia to make at home, so this comment is from home-coffee-making perspective. I assume that all of the roasters in this category make coffee of equal quality, though with their own unique character.

                                          However, I wish they'd use their local presence to ensure that all of their accounts sell only very fresh coffee. Why should I buy a $16 bag of Terroir that's 2+ weeks old when I can get a $13 bag of Intelligentsia that was roasted this week? Some accounts are better than others (Simon's, it seems, tends to sell out before things get old), but I find it really unacceptable that any local roaster that prides themselves on their coffee would allow anything but the freshest coffee to be sold.

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                                          Barismo
                                          169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                          1. re: emannths

                                            emannths - that is a BIG part of why I stopped buying Terroir and mostly buy Barismo at this point. I have never, ever purchased a bag of coffee from them that was over a week old (from Toscanini's and Simon's) and if I go to their shop, it was usually roasted within 3 days of purchase. Just pristinely fresh. For the record, I don't personally love Terroir as much as a lot of these others, but I recognize that they are fundamentally very solid, and I have had some excellent cups of their stuff.

                                            And yeah, sorry if I sound like a bit of a fanboy, but I guess I am.

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                                            Barismo
                                            169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                            1. re: celeriac

                                              Good enough for me. You won Barismo an audition.

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                                              Barismo
                                              169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                          2. re: celeriac

                                            The spread of Stumptown and Intelligentsia may have a lot more to do with brand recognition and local shops' proprietors' risk aversion than anything they may believe about Barismo (or any other local roaster). WE know about Barismo, but what about the people who may wander into Thinking Cup who do not consider themselves expert but are looking for a great cup of coffee? If they hear or see a brand name they have heard about before (in a good way) that makes them that much more willing to shell out the money to try that cup. Sure the proprietor could take the plunge and sell Barismo and have some very happy customers, but he or she would probably sell fewer cups (at first, and probably for a while). In an economy where people have cut back on non-essentials, this kind of thinking is likely a more significant factor than it would normally be. The best thing that we can do probably is to ask for or suggest local roasters' beans when we go into the coffee shops where we'd like to see them brewed.

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                                            Barismo
                                            169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                      2. For anyone who takes their coffee seriously and needs quantity (min 10 pounds, we buy it for work) this stuff is great and VERY reasonable:

                                        http://www.kaldi.com/fcofeetyp.htm

                                        As good as anything in MA at what is sometimes 1/2 the price.

                                        1. Can't stand TJ's for various reasons, but mostly they sell branded junk food.

                                          Well, I like Ethiopian Yrgacheffe, but it is hard to find consistent sources without a lot of effort. So sometimes I "slum" it and try various WF's or mainstream brands of African coffee, hoping fo find that real Yrgacheffe flavor.

                                          Recently I tried Peet's "Uzuri African Blend" and I have to say, it's pretty good. I prefer medium roasts, not light, which is counter to most boutique roasters. I would say this is solidly medium to dark. I'm drinking a second cup now, and it ranks behind both Barismo and Rao, but it's acceptable for the 9 or 10 dollar a bag cost. That is very cheap for decent Ethiopian non-bulk.

                                          I would obviously prefer Barismo Koke Grand Cru (roasted for espresso, so dark) or Rao's Ethiopian Yrgacheffe (city/medium roast) but those are far more expensive.

                                          I tried Terroir/George Howell and while the beans were obviously in ideal shape, the roast is very very light and I did not like it at all. I tweeted about it and they sort rudely informed me that I my tastes were um, not theirs. They gave me some links and that was informative, I just didn't like the tone of their responses. It's the most expensive of all of them, and I promptly returned it to WF, which I rarely do.

                                          Finally I see on Peet's site that they have a Ethiopian Fancy, but I have not seen that in my local grocery store.

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                                          Barismo
                                          169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                          18 Replies
                                          1. re: tatsu

                                            Bottom line, if you dark/espresso roast any varietal coffee you are burning away any of the volatiles that actually give the coffee it's flavor/character.

                                            Anything beyond City Roast, or Full City, and it's just burnt. I enjoy a good expresso, but you really can't taste much difference between one bean and the next very dark roasts.

                                            http://www.sweetmarias.com/roasting-V...

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              that's what they say but that's just not my findings. i like a city roast +. i find huge variances between the many yrgacheffes i've tasted. but the terroir was a very light roast and i just about spit it out.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                that is so funny that is the exact same link terroir tweeted back to me

                                                1. re: tatsu

                                                  I often roast my own, and for those of us who do, that Sweet Maria's web site is an excellent reference. I will say Howell has always liked a VERY light roast, which is not always my bag.

                                                  Big difference between a lighter roast, and city or full city. That said, unless you are actually making espresso, espresso or French roast are essentially just burnt.

                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                    Weird I liked CC but Terroir I can't drink it. I looked into getting a roaster but it just didn't seem feasible to get a decent city roast at home. What do you use for equipment?

                                                    1. re: tatsu

                                                      I had to chime in to agree - I liked CC but with Terroir something changed. In recent years I have taken to roasting green beans from Sweet Maria's to get coffee that I like, plus, of course, making periodic trips to Barismo for their beans. Either my taste in roasts has gone about a notch darker (but still much lighter than Starbucks) or maybe George has drifted even further to the lighter side of the roasting spectrum. FWIW I use the iRoast2 that Sweet Maria's sells.

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                                                      Barismo
                                                      169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                        iRoast2 eh? I'll check it out. I did get some recos from one of the owners of Barismo in terms of roasters, it gets pricey. There are some people who make them out of recycled popcorn poppers.

                                                        I don't have confidence in doing it in a skillet. I think air should be doing the roasting, not direct heat.

                                                        I dunno having my place stink like freshly roasted coffee wouldn't be so bad.

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                                                        Barismo
                                                        169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                        1. re: tatsu

                                                          The iRoast2 is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the big drum-type roasters. It is quite noisy, however. It can get smoky too. The aroma is sort of a coffee-infused smoky thing, not at all like fresh ground coffee. (Just trying to set expectations here.)

                                                          I originally chose the iRoast2 because its capacity (small) was a good match for a one-coffee-drinker household and because its price was not going to break the bank. You can precisely program it with multiple temperatures/times per roasting cycle. However I find myself using good old preset 2 and watching the beans until it is time to hit the button for the cool-down cycle. Mine has lasted several years and roasted goodness knows how many pounds of coffee beans. All in all I am quite satisfied.

                                                          1. re: tatsu

                                                            Commercial roasters are a big hot drug. No different then using a skillet really. The key is just keeping the beans moving.

                                                            The only thing you risk by trying the skillet method once (it is SOOOOO easy) is $4 worth of green coffee beans.

                                                            The smell of coffee roasting is not what you would think. The classic smell of coffee is when you grind it / brew it. The roasting smell just smells like burnt stuff, not particularly coffee-ish.

                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                              Whoops "commercial roasters are a big hot DRUM".

                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                Oh. I thought that was cool hip lingo. Like a hot mess, a big hot drug. Oh. Okay.

                                                            2. re: tatsu

                                                              Perhaps it is karma of some sort, but my iRoast2 just died on me. It is getting hot but not hot enough to do its thing. Checked back where I bought it (sweet marias) and apparently the manufacturer has not been shipping units or parts in a while. So I am shopping for alternatives. Do try home roasting though. I enjoy dropping by Barismo and drinking their coffee, but there are also times when the variety and control that come from roasting at home are very nice.

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                                                              Barismo
                                                              169 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                That is a bummer! I did look at it and it did seem too much of a compromise. It seems like it would burnout itself out pretty quickly.

                                                                I'm looking at this model, also sold by Maria's.
                                                                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHPZE3...

                                                                It seems to address many annoying issues, smoke, size, and hopefully durability.

                                                                1. re: tatsu

                                                                  Well, my iRoast2 lasted more than 5 years, looking back. That's not awful, but still annoying to see it go.

                                                                  I looked at the Behmoor and while it sounds like a great machine for many people, it may not be the right one for me. Sweetmaria's warns about coffees with a lot of chaff (me in spades) and smaller beans. They do note there have been some improvements to the design, but I am still concerned about things like the chaff fires that others do report.

                                                                  I started a thread about choosing my next home roaster over on the cookware board. It is here:

                                                                  chowhound.chow.com/topics/760337

                                                                  Perhaps you would find it helpful.

                                                                2. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                  I-Roast-2s and i-Roast-2 parts are back in stock at the manufacturer, and new iRoast-2s are starting to show up at the online vendors.

                                                                  https://www.i-roast.com/asp/pro_02_05...

                                                                  It's not clear if Sweet Maria's has decided to restock Hearthware products, given their 14 month or so absence from the market, and failure to honor warranties in that time frame, presumably due to lack of parts.

                                                                  That said, I've got two i-Roast2s, and really like them. I may pick up an extra glass roasting chamber, just in case, while they are available.

                                                            3. re: tatsu

                                                              No need to get some fancy roaster. I do it "cowboy style" in a cast iron pan. Excellent results just on the stove top. I can get pretty much any roast I want...

                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                I'm thinking my apartment and everything I own would smell like freshly-roast coffee if I roasted my own beans at home. No door on my kitchen, not-great venting. I don't care for the odor my clothes absorb in just a brief visit to a Starbucks.

                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                  I only do it in Spring/summer with the windows open... ;-)

                                                    2. You don't like dark roast, and you prefer less acid. Well no wonder why you're hard to please right there -- you're downright incompatible!

                                                      1. Hey, I like to think I'm pretty easy! And I'm liking the TJ's 100% Kona, but I've come to the bottom of the rather small container.

                                                        1. I solved my problem, by hunting down Cafe Feminino and buying it online, for what will end up being about $10/lb or so. Here's the site: http://www.groundsforchange.com/shop/...&
                                                          If this doesn't do it for me, I will certainly check out the sites/places y'all have recommended. Thanks, hounds!

                                                          1. And interestingly, when I ordered the coffee, it says the one I've ordered is a dark roast. Hmmm. I thought I didn't like dark roasts, but maybe I just don't know what the heck I'm talking about!