Author Archive: Kim Westerman

Kim Westerman is a licensed Q-grader, a longtime food, wine and travel writer and a certified sommelier. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, Bay Area Bites, and many other publications. She happily brings her sensory training in wine to the evaluation of coffee in Coffee Review’s Berkeley lab. She also handles communication with roasters and review logistics.

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Organic-Certified Coffees from Africa: Benefits, Challenges, Complexities

Organic-Certified Coffees from Africa: Benefits, Challenges, Complexities

Certified organic coffees must be propagated, grown, processed, transported, stored, and roasted without contact with synthetic chemicals—particularly without contact with pesticides and herbicides. The certification process (carried out by a variety of organizations operating inside a common framework) is lengthy, thorough, rather expensive, but apparently reliable and free of abuse. The use of the term […]

By November 11, 2017 |Reviews Tasting Report
The New Nicaragua: Direct Trade Coffees Rule

The New Nicaragua: Direct Trade Coffees Rule

When we first reported on coffees from Nicaragua, in 2004, the overarching theme was economic development. Specialty coffee was viewed as a way of opening access to economic and social benefits for Nicaragua’s many small- to medium-holding coffee farmers, most of whom had been decimated by the global drop in coffee prices during 1999-2003, and […]

By October 9, 2017 |Reviews Tasting Report
Holding Up (More Than) Half The Sky: Coffees From Women Producers

Holding Up (More Than) Half The Sky: Coffees From Women Producers

Mao Zedong’s famous statement that “women hold up half the sky” became central to the zeitgeist of the Western feminist movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, when identity politics began to foreground the plight of women—economically, socially and politically—both in the U.S. and abroad. Regardless of one’s position on the merits of focusing on gender-based […]

Exploring Roasters in the American Southwest

Exploring Roasters in the American Southwest

For Coffee Review’s monthly tasting reports we typically focus on coffee-producing countries or regions, or certain tree varieties or processing methods, or innovations that arise from the creativity of today’s specialty coffee world. It’s less often that we look at roasters, collectively, by geographical location. But this month we decided to focus on roasters of […]

New Roasting Companies Carry the Third-Wave Torch

New Roasting Companies Carry the Third-Wave Torch

According to Global Exchange, an international human rights organization based in San Francisco, there are more than 1,200 coffee roasters in the U.S. Aside from the consumer who ultimately purchases, brews and drinks coffee, the coffee roaster is the end of the line in a complex supply chain that involves tens of millions of people, […]

By February 7, 2017 |Reviews Tasting Report
Holiday Gift Coffees 2016

Holiday Gift Coffees 2016

At the end of each year, we ask roasters for coffees they are offering consumers as special holiday selections, whether blends they have composed specifically to commemorate the holidays or single-origin coffees considered special in some way — perhaps because of limited availability, relative rarity or unusual quality. This year, we received 35 samples, ranging […]

By December 4, 2016 |Reviews Tasting Report
Q&A With Tony Greatorex of Red Rooster Coffee Roaster

Q&A With Tony Greatorex of Red Rooster Coffee Roaster

How did you end up as a coffee-roaster?  I worked at Starbucks for a few years, then discovered the larger world of independent specialty coffee when I moved to southwest Virginia and started working at a newly opened local shop. There, I met Haden Polseno-Hensley, the co-owner of Red Rooster Coffee Roaster, a small, young […]

By October 20, 2016 Read Article
Costa Rica 2016: Innovation and Success in a Changing Market

Costa Rica 2016: Innovation and Success in a Changing Market

It has been more than a decade since Coffee Review explored Costa Rica coffees in depth, though we cup many individual samples each year from this small, coffee-celebrated Central American country. In the last year alone, we reviewed 26 Costa Rica coffees at ratings of 91 to 96, including one, Temple Coffee’s Costa Rica Alberto […]

By October 10, 2016 |Reviews Tasting Report
Learning from Sumatras

Learning from Sumatras

I’ve been cupping coffee professionally for less than a year. Ken Davids first hired me at Coffee Review last August, given that my background in food and wine writing, as well as in academia, seemed a good enough calling card to dip into the world of coffee. But, of course, in order to properly do […]

April Tasting Report Posts April 7

April Tasting Report Posts April 7

This month’s tasting report looks at how six national coffee brands fare in a cupping of their online whole-bean offerings. First, we look at several small companies that have grown large and national, while still trying to preserve the special standing they established early on among consumers. Then we examine two much larger companies that […]

By April 6, 2016 Read Article
Roasters: Send Us your “Macro-Lot” Samples

Roasters: Send Us your “Macro-Lot” Samples

We review many superb “micro-lots” at Coffee Review, small lots of special, extremely refined green coffees. For next month, however, we are reviewing what we are calling “macro-lot” coffees, coffees produced from large lots of green coffee, coffees that are likely to be sold over weeks or months, and represent the sort of staple offerings […]

By February 16, 2016 Read Article