Author Archive: Kenneth Davids

Kenneth Davids, coffee expert, author, and co-founder of The Coffee Review, oversees all of our cuppings. He regularly contributes a feature called Cupping with Ken Davids, which reviews roasters' coffees and rates them using the Coffee Review proprietary 100-point rating system.

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Elegant Earth: Wet-Hulled Sumatras and One Sulawesi

Elegant Earth: Wet-Hulled Sumatras and One Sulawesi

Wet-hulling is not an obscure Olympics sailing event nor (at least to my knowledge) a special trick in waterskiing or wakeboarding. It is a fruit removal and drying variation that contributes much of the distinct character of traditional Indonesia coffees, particularly those from Sumatra and Sulawesi. It is also practiced on other Indonesian islands, almost […]

By April 4, 2015 |Reviews Read Article
The Everyday Exceptional: Macro-Lots 2015

The Everyday Exceptional: Macro-Lots 2015

Coffees that attract a high rating on Coffee Review are often produced from very small, or “micro” lots of green coffee, specially selected for quality and distinctiveness, precisely described in regard to botanical variety and other details, and not likely to be available for more than a couple of months before they’re sold out. And […]

By March 6, 2015 |Reviews Read Article
K-Cups and Other Cups: Capsule Single-Serve Coffees

K-Cups and Other Cups: Capsule Single-Serve Coffees

When Coffee Review last visited the single-serve filter-coffee capsule scene in 2013, smaller, high-end roasting companies were eyeing the soaring popularity of Keurig K-Cups with some apprehension and, in a few cases, with interest: Hey, maybe I can get in on the action once the patents start lapsing. However, based on what we encountered during […]

By February 6, 2015 |Reviews Read Article
Top 30 Rankings Expanded for 2015

Top 30 Rankings Expanded for 2015

Our annual “Top 30” ranking of the thirty most noteworthy coffees of the year has attracted considerable attention over the past two years. As several readers have pointed out, however, our rankings have tended to favor high-scoring coffees produced from botanical varieties of Arabica with striking sensory properties: coffees of the Gesha/Geisha variety, coffees from […]

By January 21, 2015 Read Article
Top 30 Coffees of 2014

Top 30 Coffees of 2014

We are pleased to present our Top 30 Coffees of 2014, Coffee Review’s second annual ranking of the most noteworthy coffees we reviewed over the past year. We selected and ranked these exceptional coffees and espressos based on quality (represented by overall rating), value (reflected by most affordable price per pound), and consideration of other […]

By January 3, 2015 Read Article
2015 Tasting Article Calendar

2015 Tasting Article Calendar

The 2015 calendar listing our cupping/tasting articles for the coming year has been finalized. Some highlights from the first half of the year: Our long-delayed survey of recent developments in the race to capitalize on consumer interest in convenience capsule-brewing will appear in February (The New World of K-Cups and Competitors, February 2015). How does […]

By January 3, 2015 Read Article
Holiday Gift Coffees: Blends and Beyond

Holiday Gift Coffees: Blends and Beyond

This holiday season may mark the definitive return of the blend to the high-end specialty coffee scene after years of almost exclusive dedication to ever-more-refined single-origin offerings. The excitement and ingenuity of many of the holiday-themed blends we sampled this past month certainly suggest such a revival. The holiday blend, a long-standing staple of the […]

By December 4, 2014 |Reviews Read Article
Geshas and the Rest: Single-Variety, Single-Lot Coffees

Geshas and the Rest: Single-Variety, Single-Lot Coffees

The variety play – marketing coffee by the botanical variety of the tree that produced the coffee – is one of the latest trends in the high-end specialty world. True, some roasters who submitted samples for this month’s article still confused tree variety (botany) with origin (geography), and sent us coffees from a single growing […]

By November 6, 2014 |Reviews Read Article
Roast, Variety, Sustainability: HarVee Awards Coffees 2014

Roast, Variety, Sustainability: HarVee Awards Coffees 2014

Some of the more interesting trends and issues that surfaced among the thirteen prize-winning coffees reviewed this month from the recent Let’s Talk Coffee/Sustainable Harvest HarVee award competition in Panama range from how (the coffees were roasted), to what (tree varieties produced the coffee) to who (produced the coffee). As far as roast goes, we […]

By October 17, 2014 |Reviews Read Article
October Article: HarVee Award Winners

October Article: HarVee Award Winners

For our October article we will report on the results of a competition among roasters at the interesting Let’s Talk Coffee event coming up in Panama October 9-12. As a result, our October tasting article will be published on Monday, October 20. Let’s Talk Coffee is a long-running annual event sponsored by coffee exporter/importer Sustainable […]

By October 16, 2014 Read Article
HarVee Roaster Awards, Let’s Talk Coffee, Panama

HarVee Roaster Awards, Let’s Talk Coffee, Panama

I’ve been at the Let’s Talk Coffee annual event in Panama over the last few days, and this last Thursday night presented awards to roasters for best retail-roasted presentation of coffees sold (as green coffee) by Sustainable Harvest, a long-established specialty green coffee importer whose business model is built around building sustainability throughout the coffee […]

By October 12, 2014 Read Article
Honey and Natural Process Coffees, Central America 2014

Honey and Natural Process Coffees, Central America 2014

Nine years ago I organized a panel for the Specialty Coffee Association of America called “Using Alternative Processing Methods to Create Product Differentiation: Perspectives and Opportunities.” Presented in Spanish and English, it attracted around five hundred coffee producers and roasters. The overall premise of the panel was simple: coffee is no longer a commodity beverage […]

By September 1, 2014 |Reviews Read Article
Cupping Calendar Changes

Cupping Calendar Changes

The article “Coffees of a Single Variety, from a Single Lot,” originally scheduled for publication in October, has been postponed to November, with cupping occurring in October. Submissions for this article (“Coffees of a Single Variety, from a Single Lot”) should reach Coffee Review between October 14 and October 23. Roasters may not submit more […]

By August 31, 2014 Read Article
Hawaii 2014: The Classics Rule

Hawaii 2014: The Classics Rule

When writing about Hawaii coffees – more specifically, Kona coffees – I invariably feel conflicting impulses about whom to take on. Should I attack the many cynical Kona-bashers among the mainland high-end coffee-roasting community who sneer that Hawaii coffees (Kona in particular) are at best ordinary and always overpriced? On the other hand, should I […]

By August 6, 2014 |Reviews Read Article
Bottled Iced Coffees

Bottled Iced Coffees

North American cafés for some years now have been brewing coffee in advance to refrigerate and serve over ice on warm summer days. The brewed, refrigerated coffee is usually prepared by the cold-brew method: ground coffee is steeped in cool or room temperature water for around ten to twenty-four hours, and after this prolonged extraction, […]

By July 10, 2014 |Reviews Read Article
Home Roaster Competition 2014: A Long Way from Iron Skillets

Home Roaster Competition 2014: A Long Way from Iron Skillets

Recently Henry Chang, a passionate home coffee roaster (when he’s not pursuing his successful career as an obstetrician/gynecologist), sponsored a contest for his home roaster Internet correspondents. He asked Coffee Review to act as judge. As busy as we were, we agreed, since both my co-cupper Jason Sarley and I are strong supporters of the […]

By June 12, 2014 Read Article
Subtle Exoticism: Sulawesi and Papua New Guinea

Subtle Exoticism: Sulawesi and Papua New Guinea

This month’s reviews include coffees from two Indo-Pacific growing regions, the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) and Papua New Guinea. We had planned to include coffees from several other Indo-Pacific islands – Java, Bali, East Timor – but we were not able to source enough samples to justify including them. Never mind; we turned […]

U.K. Coffee Reviews

U.K. Coffee Reviews

In 2013, we reviewed coffees from 12 countries, namely the United States, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, China, Netherlands, Guatemala, Italy, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, and Sweden. The United Kingdom was noticeably absent from the list.  London (and the U.K. in general) has a thriving specialty coffee scene that rivals that of other well known U.S. […]

By May 24, 2014 Read Article
Rwanda and Central Africa: Sweet and a Hint of Savory

Rwanda and Central Africa: Sweet and a Hint of Savory

Perhaps a more accurate geographical descriptor for the coffee origins we focus on this month may be African Great Lakes coffees rather than Central Africa coffees. The growing regions that produced almost all of the thirty coffees we cupped this month are clustered around or near the gigantic lakes that dominate the geography of the […]

Colombia on the Rebound

Colombia on the Rebound

When we last tested Colombias two years ago we turned up several fine coffees, but generally were disappointed by the many samples that arrived bearing fancy names but displaying little distinction in the cup. Back then the trend toward select, precisely identified lots of green coffee (aka “direct trade,”“microlots”) seemed to have been honored more […]

By April 4, 2014 |Reviews Read Article