Top 30 Coffees of 2013
Coffee Review introduced 100-point reviews to the specialty coffee industry in 1997. Since then, we've cupped tens of thousands of coffee samples and published reviews of nearly 4,000 coffees and espressos. In 2013 we introduced our first effort to rank the most exciting coffees we have reviewed over the past year. Coffee Review's Top 30 Coffees of 2013 appear below.
We selected and ranked these 30 outstanding coffees and espressos based on quality (represented by overall rating), value (reflected by most affordable price per pound), and a ranking of other factors that include distinctiveness of style, uniqueness of origin or tree variety, certification, and general rarity.
We hope you will find our list of top coffees interesting, informative, and provocative. You will find outstanding coffees and espressos, great values, emerging origins, and outstanding farmers and roasters who deserve to be recognized and rewarded for their efforts. Use the list as a guide for purchasing the coffees that remain available for sale in the market this season and to seek out the origins, farmers, and roasters that deserve your ongoing attention in 2014 and beyond.
Immense and intricate in flavor and aroma, balanced in structure. Crisp, nut-toned chocolate; lush night-blooming flowers; ripe tangerine; pungent sandalwood in aroma and cup. Sweetly tart acidity; full, syrupy mouthfeel. Quietly but profoundly flavor-saturated finish.
Extraordinarily lush, nectar-like fruit – cherry, black currant, nectarine – balanced by a crisp, roasted cocoa nib and roasted malt notes. Balanced, lively acidity; full, plush mouthfeel. Flavor simplifies but remains resonantly present in a long, rich finish.
Intoxicating, juicy, complete. Dark honey; dark rum; dark chocolate; complex, layered fruit, particularly pineapple and melon; narcissus-like flowers. Intense but juicy acidity; syrupy mouthfeel. Sweetly rich finish turns slightly drying but still flavor-saturated in the long.
Richly and tartly sweet, exotic, complex. Orange, honey and butter in aroma and cup, supported by a crisp backgrounded earth note. Round, gently tart acidity; syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor carries virtually intact into a long, ringing finish.
Powerfully dry yet opulently sweet; deeply complex. Blackberry, black currant, honey, mint, sage, dark chocolate in aroma and cup. Bright but roundly balanced acidity; silky, lively mouthfeel. Flavor rings on far into a deep, sweet finish.
Achieves a fine balance of chocolate-toned coffee notes with deep, resonant wine-associated notes – grapy fruit, oak – that presumably reflect the influence of the wine-barrel conditioning of the green coffee. The sensory depth and complexity achieved by this interaction takes this coffee far beyond novelty to something quite original and authentic. Balanced, rich acidity; syrupy mouthfeel. The complex flavor if anything deepens in a finish that balances sweetness with a pleasantly drying hint.
Deeply but vivaciously expressed complexity. Raspberry-like fruit, roasted cacao nib, honey, narcissus-like flowers, a hint of pungent sandalwood in aroma and cup. Round, juicy acidity; syrupy yet lively mouthfeel. Long, rich, flavor-saturated finish.
Erupts with exhilaratingly intense but delicate flowers and tropical fruit notes: pineapple in particular, mango, papaya. A crisp hint of roasted cacao nib grounds the profile. Gently balanced acidity; soft, plush mouthfeel. The finish is flavor-saturated and almost disconcertingly juicy.
Delicate but lush; piercingly sweet. Honey, jasmine-like flowers, tangelo-like citrus, hints of chocolate and fresh-cut fir in aroma and cup. Lyric, flower-saturated acidity; full but lively mouthfeel. The tangelo note in particular resonates inside immense sweetness in the finish.
Succulent, richly intricate. Wild strawberry, dried blueberry, rich mousse-like chocolate, fresh ginseng, lush flowers in aroma and cup. Complete, exhilarating acidity; full, syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor-saturated finish, crisply drying with a persistent ginseng note.
Intricately sweet, delicately complex. Ripe strawberry, orange, candied nut, vanilla-toned flowers in aroma and cup. Gently crisp acidity; light but smoothly silky mouthfeel. Very sweet, lightly flavor-saturated finish.
Exhilaratingly intense and intricate floral notes, candied citrus, crisp roasted cacao nib, a hint of moist pipe tobacco in aroma and cup. Balanced, gently bright acidity; silky, buoyant mouthfeel. Very sweet, long, juicy finish.
Intense, rich, pungent. Blood orange, black currant, fresh-cut fir, plum blossom in aroma and in cup, where a slight savory, truffle-like edge deepens and complicates flavor. Powerful but opulently balanced acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Resonant, gently drying, flavor-saturated finish.
Savory sweet, deep, carnal. Lush night-blooming flowers, baked mint, molasses, pecan, an enlivening hint of green grape in aroma and cup. Soft, vibrantly rounded acidity; delicate but plush mouthfeel. Flavor settles into a minty chocolate in a long, deep finish.
Explosively bright and juicy. Honey, tangerine, black currant, hints of flowers and spice, mace perhaps, in aroma and cup. Opulently sweet, grandly exhilarating acidity; lightly but distinctly syrupy mouthfeel. Gently dry, flavor-saturated finish.
Dramatic, intense, distinctive. Aroma and flavor are dominated by the unique and unmistakable Kenya note, a pungently cedary, lemony blackberry, very sweet yet dry in the mouthfeel, a note that is often tagged with the simplifying term black currant. This sample displayed deepening complications of musk and malt as well. Crisp yet juicy acidity; silky mouthfeel. Briefly bittersweet in the short finish, then opens into a spectacular long finish, ringing with sweetness and complex layers of flavor.
Crisply sweet, deep. Dark chocolate, hazelnut, cherry, anise, night-blooming flowers in aroma and small cup. Full, velvety mouthfeel; flavor simplifies but carries into a balanced finish. Delicately complex and sweet in three parts milk: chocolate, hints of cherry, nut and flowers.
Spectacular and juicy. The aroma starts quietly: orange, flowers, honey, a crisp hint of juniper. Round, sweet, brilliantly lively acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. In the cup lavish honey, orange, lychee, rose-like flowers, and a smoothing hint of chocolate. Rose and lychee in particular carry into a refreshing, resonant finish.
Elegant flower-bomb. Exhilarating, refreshing meadow flowers, roasted cacao nib, almond in aroma and cup. Delicate, balanced structure. Soft but lively acidity; smooth, plush mouthfeel. Gently but decisively flavor-saturated finish.
Extravagantly complex, crisply lush. Night-blooming flowers, vanilla, guava, roasted cocoa nib in aroma and cup. Brisk but juicy acidity; light, silky mouthfeel. Flavor, particularly the floral notes, lasts far into a deep, sweet finish.
Immense, resonant, shifting aroma and flavor. Rose- and lavender-like flowers, cantaloupe, peppercorn, dark chocolate, rye whisky just as starters. Functional, integrated acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Long, rich, flavor saturated finish with a dry, savory edge.
Juicy, sweetly bright. Blood orange, lily-like flowers, dark chocolate, minty black currant in aroma and cup. Crisply sweet, perfectly balanced acidity; silky, lively mouthfeel. Hints of mint, orange and flowers carry into a richly drying finish.
Crisp, lively, very complex. A wide, shifting range of aromatic and flavor notes suggest roasted cacao nib, walnut, apricot, flowers, baking spices, more. The cup is gently dry but sweet with a savory hint. Bold but balanced acidity; buoyant, lightly syrupy mouthfeel. The finish is sweet, deep, flavor-saturated.
Delicate yet intense; distinctive aromatics. Minty floral notes, sweet chocolate, hints of blueberry and rye whisky in aroma and cup. Gentle but buoyantly vivacious acidity; lively, silky mouthfeel. Flavor consolidates but persists in a slightly drying, whisky-toned finish.
Sweet-toned, svelte, refreshing. Honey, lemon, lilac, a hint of roasted cocoa nib in aroma and, more intensely, in the cup. Tartly sweet, lively acidity; velvety, buoyant mouthfeel. Fades just a bit in the long finish, but the short is resonant and flavor-saturated.
Richly and sweetly tart fruit – suggesting açai perhaps – dominates in aroma and cup, supported by dark chocolate, pungent cedar and rose-like flowers. Deep, sweet-toned acidity; big, syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor rounds and consolidates in a crisply drying finish.
Intricate, richly pungent: chocolate fudge, spicy oak, wild berry, faint mango-like fruit and night-blooming flowers in aroma and cup. Soft, sweetly tart acidity; full velvety mouthfeel. The finish is berry-toned, with a rounded chocolaty sweetness.
Evaluated as espresso. Big, deep, complex. Dark chocolate, lush night-blooming flowers, walnut, tangerine in aroma and small cup. Full, dense mouthfeel; chocolate and flowers dominate in a sweet, richly drying finish. Chocolate fudge, walnut and flowers in three parts milk.
Evaluated as espresso. Richly and rather tartly bright in aroma and small cup: fresh-cut fir and tangerine-like citrus are rounded by a honey- and chocolate-toned sweetness. Impressively full, syrupy mouthfeel. The finish is tartly bright but smooth. Retains character in two- to four-parts milk with a dry chocolate dominating.
Crisp, complex, delicate but intense. Cantaloupe and ripe orange, walnut, roasted cacao nib, rye whisky in aroma and cup. Sweetly brisk acidity; smooth, lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Rich, deep, flavor-saturated finish, gently drying in the long.