Tasting Articles

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.

The Devil’s in the Details: Bird-Friendly and Shade-Grown Coffees

The Devil’s in the Details: Bird-Friendly and Shade-Grown Coffees

Suppose the following: You look out your window and see a suddenly appearing flock of song birds. Or perhaps you hear their familiar, melodic burbling first, then see them. For many of us this is a precious moment, particularly so because we often know that these flitting, vulnerable creatures are only making a brief stopover […]

By August 1, 2009 |Reviews Read Article
Botany and the Cup: The Bourbon Conundrum

Botany and the Cup: The Bourbon Conundrum

We know that the species of the tree that produces our coffee profoundly influences how it tastes. And we know to the point of cliche that the arabica species produces all of the world’s finest coffees. But what about the various botanical varieties of arabica, the coffee equivalents of wine grape varieties like the Cabernets, […]

Alternative Africas: Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania

Alternative Africas: Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania

Coffees from the mountain ranges and plateaus that parallel the east coast of Africa are among the most distinctive in the world. The great coffees of Ethiopia and Kenya are by far the best known, but other African countries also produce distinguished Arabicas. For this month’s article we review twelve coffees, six from Rwanda, four […]

American Espresso Blends: Boutique and Bigger

American Espresso Blends: Boutique and Bigger

Specialty espresso is currently in the throes of a creative explosion. I think of it as “post-Italian” espresso, a dynamic community of baristas, blender/roasters and motivated aficionados remaking espresso as a global connoisseur’s beverage with passionately contested barista competitions, non-traditional brewing innovations, and freshly conceived blend designs. The goal of this month’s tasting reviews was […]

Papua New Guinea: Promise Only Partly Fulfilled

Papua New Guinea: Promise Only Partly Fulfilled

Three or four years ago I was looking out the window of a small airplane banking into a short (very short) grass airstrip serving a coffee-growing village of Papua New Guinea. Everything that makes the highlands of Papua New Guinea one of the most promising coffee growing regions in the world was spread out beneath […]

By April 3, 2009 |Reviews Read Article
San Francisco Bay Area Coffees: Dark and Beyond

San Francisco Bay Area Coffees: Dark and Beyond

Sorry, Seattle and all of those other places, but the American specialty coffee movement started in the San Francisco Bay Area. Of course small artisan coffee roasting companies were long in business before Alfred Peet opened his famous Vine Street store in Berkeley in 1966. Small, roaster-in-the-back-of-the-store coffee companies surviving from the early part of […]

By March 8, 2009 |Reviews Read Article
House Blends: Comfort Coffee and Beyond

House Blends: Comfort Coffee and Beyond

House blend is a slippery term in coffee. It can suggest the straightforward and reliable, as in “house wine,” and it can mean something unusual but local, not to be had elsewhere, as in “only at our house.” Plus over the last decade it has taken on still another meaning. You find this last definition […]

By February 9, 2009 |Reviews Read Article
Convenience First: Espresso Pods and Capsules

Convenience First: Espresso Pods and Capsules

It is no surprise that over the last decade the more moneyed elements of the coffee industry have been trying to figure out how to simplify espresso brewing to the point that a consumer can produce a properly rich, smooth-tasting espresso shot without struggling through a complicated process that can be as daunting as upgrading […]

By January 19, 2009 |Reviews Read Article
Holiday Gift Coffees 2008: The Rare, the Exceptional, the Weird

Holiday Gift Coffees 2008: The Rare, the Exceptional, the Weird

Just to be clear, this is not a “10 best coffees of the year” article (or 50 best, or 150, or whatever number of bests an editor intends to dazzle us with). We’ve reported on many superb coffees over the past year, but by now most of them are a memory. We concentrated on coffees […]

By December 2, 2008 |Reviews Read Article
Unassuming Beauty: Coffees of El Salvador and Honduras

Unassuming Beauty: Coffees of El Salvador and Honduras

Leaders of El Salvador’s growing specialty coffee sector are quick to point out what they feel are the particular strengths of their origin. First, large plantings of coffee varieties particularly respected for their flavor and character, and second, generally impeccable preparation of those varieties. This month’s cupping of nearly thirty El Salvador coffees from twenty-two […]

By November 6, 2008 |Reviews Read Article
The Budget Aficionado: Top Value Single-Origin Coffees

The Budget Aficionado: Top Value Single-Origin Coffees

When we made a decision last year to do an article aimed at finding great coffees at rock-bottom prices, we had no idea that the publication of this article would coincide with one of the most dismal times in recent American economic history. Our intention then was simply to find some bargain coffees to balance […]

By October 6, 2008 |Reviews Read Article
The Rainforest Alternative: Twelve plus One Rainforest-Certified Coffees

The Rainforest Alternative: Twelve plus One Rainforest-Certified Coffees

It has been well over ten years since the Sustainable Agriculture Network launched the Rainforest Alliance Certified program for coffee. Unlike the more widely publicized Fair-Trade certification, which is principally a socio-economically focused certification aimed mainly at helping democratically-run cooperatives of small-holding, peasant growers achieve better prices for their coffees, Rainforest Alliance offers a comprehensive […]

By September 5, 2008 |Reviews Read Article
Coffees of Kenya: Still Struggling, Still Great

Coffees of Kenya: Still Struggling, Still Great

I’m often asked for my opinion on the world’s best coffee. Not a particularly informed question, but once it’s clear that my questioner is asking for the name of a country rather than for the name of a farm or cooperative, I respond that the world’s most reliably good coffee comes from Kenya. I hasten […]

By August 4, 2008 |Reviews Read Article
Readers’ Choice 2008: Hearty Coffee from the Heartlands

Readers’ Choice 2008: Hearty Coffee from the Heartlands

A Readers’ Choice article at Coffee Review always provides an interesting pretext for speculation about specialty coffee drinkers’ latest tastes and preferences. The following would hardly make it through an academic review process, but here are some observations based on our 2008 sampling of reader nominated coffees (this speculation has a margin of error of […]

Single-Origin Espressos 2008

Single-Origin Espressos 2008

Those new to espresso connoisseurship may be surprised to learn that producing this dense, aromatic beverage from coffee of a single origin rather than from a blend of coffees from different origins is a mildly controversial practice. Traditionalists argue that the espresso system extracts flavor-bearing components from coffee so efficiently that a single coffee from […]

“S” as in Sexy: New Specialty Offerings from Brazil

“S” as in Sexy: New Specialty Offerings from Brazil

The fact that at least half of the American roasters submitting coffees for this month’s cupping spelled Brazil with an “s” – the Portuguese-Brazilian spelling – may be symptomatic of what has happened of late to the reputation of high-end coffees from that country. The spelling implies that these are not your old-fashioned, low-grown, stolid […]

Special Reserve is Dead.   Long Live Special Reserve.

Special Reserve is Dead. Long Live Special Reserve.

Two or three years ago, offering small, distinctive lots of coffee on a temporary, seasonal basis and calling them “special reserve” or “limited edition” appeared to be one of the most promising trends in specialty coffee. These offerings proposed to wean coffee drinkers from expecting the same kind of consistency in single-origin coffees as they […]

By April 6, 2008 |Reviews Read Article
Decaffeinated Single-Origins: A Slow Tour with Limited Stops

Decaffeinated Single-Origins: A Slow Tour with Limited Stops

How deep a flavor rut are coffee drinkers stuck in if they give up caffeine? Are they eternally condemned to token decaf blends at the end of the counter, or can they tour the world by cup, or try to save it by cup, like their caffeine-consuming colleagues? Based on this month’s cupping of decaffeinated […]

By March 3, 2008 |Reviews Read Article
Juan Valdez’s Progeny: Micro-Lot and Other Fine Colombias

Juan Valdez’s Progeny: Micro-Lot and Other Fine Colombias

This month’s cupping of coffees from Colombia confirms that this giant among coffee producers has successfully turned at least a portion of its industry from supplier of immense quantities of good-but-not-great generic “100% Colombian” coffee to prized source of smaller (sometimes tiny) lots of subtly distinctive specialty coffees. Handsome symbol Juan Valdez and his photogenic […]

By February 5, 2008 |Reviews Read Article
Big Bags from the Big Boxes: Value All-Arabicas from the Discount Chains

Big Bags from the Big Boxes: Value All-Arabicas from the Discount Chains

Those who read Coffee Review regularly may have noticed the appearance of some rather pricy coffees recently, albeit many of them very highly rated and well worth the money for those willing to pop. This month’s article heads in an entirely different direction. On behalf of those consumers who nose their carts down the cluttered […]

By January 2, 2008 |Reviews Read Article