Tasting Reports

Below you can browse hundreds of Coffee Review tasting articles with reviews. To refine your results, you may use the key word search box at the upper right by selecting the 'Articles' drop-down.

Decafs 2015: The Splendid, The Strange, The Listless

Decafs 2015: The Splendid, The Strange, The Listless

Some observations about decaffeinated coffees prompted by this month’s modest sampling of decafs from twelve American specialty roasters. Observation one: Most decaffeinated coffees continue to be bad, in some cases close to foul. Not only are the sensory profiles flattened and simplified by the brutality of the decaffeination process, but this process often adds mysterious […]

Blends 2015: Quietly Agreeable with Some Fireworks

Blends 2015: Quietly Agreeable with Some Fireworks

Blends (particularly those designed for regular brewed coffee) have been out of fashion at the top end of in American specialty coffee for some time now – say for the last ten to fifteen years. The excitement has been focused on “single-origin” coffees, meaning coffees from a single growing region (the broadest definition), or (a […]

New Starbucks Reserve Coffees

New Starbucks Reserve Coffees

For the past ten years or so smaller, hipper, more nimble roasting companies have dominated the coffee conversation in America, outflanking Starbucks in roast style (lighter than Starbucks), freshness (roast-dated packaging), coffee selection (precisely identified seasonal small lots), brewing (by the cup, often by hand), and even design sensibility (usually blunt, simple and utilitarian, often […]

Open Source Espresso Blends

Open Source Espresso Blends

With this espresso tasting we focus on what appears to be a new trend in espresso blending – the open disclosure to customer and competitor of the identity of the specific green coffees that compose a blend, as opposed to the deliberate secrecy around blending that has prevailed in the coffee industry for decades. The […]

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 […]

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
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
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
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
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 […]

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
Subtle but Not Tame: Brazils 2014

Subtle but Not Tame: Brazils 2014

The various cup profiles associated with the world’s coffee regions are the result of a complex interplay between nature and nurture, between the givens of nature – growing altitude, soil and rainfall patterns – and local traditions that for decades determined the varieties of coffee tree typically grown in a region and how the fruit […]

By March 5, 2014 |Reviews Read Article
State of the Blend 2014

State of the Blend 2014

To say that blends are out of style (at least for drip and French press brewing) in the contemporary high-end world of specialty coffee would be an understatement. Today one seldom sees blends intended for drip brewing featured by cafes and roasting companies with serious upscale coffee aspirations. And any drip blend that does show […]

By February 1, 2014 |Reviews Read Article
Top 30 Coffees of 2013

Top 30 Coffees of 2013

Coffee Review introduced 100-point reviews to the specialty coffee industry in 1997. Over the years since then we’ve cupped tens of thousands of samples and produced reviews for nearly 3,500 coffees. We are often asked, “What is the best coffee?” To which we give the obvious answer: “There is no single ‘best’ coffee.” Of course, […]

By January 6, 2014 |Reviews Read Article
Holiday Blends and Gift Coffees

Holiday Blends and Gift Coffees

This month’s reviews fall neatly into two categories: first, five exceptional holiday blends; second, an assortment of fine single-origin coffees offered only for the holidays that range from versions of familiar names to three holiday splurge coffees likely to satisfy money-is-no-object gift-giving and holiday impulsiveness. Starting with the holiday blends, the most striking finding of […]

By December 9, 2013 |Reviews Read Article