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.

Trolling the Supermarkets for Single-Origin Coffees

Trolling the Supermarkets for Single-Origin Coffees

Every month Coffee Review publishes reviews of exceptional, often extraordinary single-origin coffees: green coffees produced in a single country, from a single crop, from a single farm or cooperative and, often, from a single variety of tree. These coffees are usually roasted and packaged by smaller roasting companies, however, so unless you happen to live […]

Holiday Coffees 2015

Holiday Coffees 2015

Both from the practical goal of generating gift ideas for coffee aficionados and from the wonkier goal of understanding current trends in high-end coffee, this month’s sampling of thirty-five holiday coffees appears productive. The only criterion we imposed on the coffees we reviewed was availability: We asked that they be on sale throughout the holidays. […]

Fair Trade Certified Coffees

Fair Trade Certified Coffees

Consumers who prefer to buy coffees that promise to reconcile pleasure with generosity toward the people and environment responsible for that pleasure, and who want to feel some solid confirmation regarding the generosity part, should find useful recommendations among the ten coffees reviewed this month. Nine of the ten are Fair Trade Certified, meaning that, […]

Traditional Coffees of Central America: Quest for the Classic

Traditional Coffees of Central America: Quest for the Classic

We’ve seen two conflicting, yet overlapping, trends at the growing end of specialty coffee over the past decade. On one hand, greater and greater homogeneity. Traditional coffee tree varieties, varieties that may not taste unique, but do taste subtly different, are being replaced by disease-resistant, higher-yielding varieties that incorporate robusta genes and, well, usually don’t […]

Coffees of Kenya 2015: Still Great, Still Kenya

Coffees of Kenya 2015: Still Great, Still Kenya

One thing that can be said about this month’s survey of 32 Kenya coffees from 26 specialty roasters is that the good samples — and there were many — were not just exceptional, but exceptional in a thoroughly Kenyan way. In fact, the 23 Kenya samples that rated 90 or better often provoked rather repetitive […]

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 […]

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 Tasting Report
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 Tasting Report
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 Tasting Report
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 Tasting Report
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 Tasting Report
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 […]

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, […]

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 […]