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.

rss feed

Author's Website →

Exploring “Classic” Espresso Blends: Taiwan Roasters

Exploring “Classic” Espresso Blends: Taiwan Roasters

When we put out our call for classic espresso blends for our June 2019 report, we were not prepared for the overwhelming response: We received 54 samples from roasters based in North America and 46 from roasters based in Asia, all in Taiwan. The magnitude of the response was, perhaps, due to our openness. We […]

Exploring “Classic” Espresso Blends: North American Roasters

Exploring “Classic” Espresso Blends: North American Roasters

Once a year, we ask roasters to submit coffees roasted for espresso for a special tasting with an outside lab partner, always focused around a specific theme. In recent years, we’ve covered natural-process and single-origin espresso from the Americas; in 2015, we reported on “open-source” espresso blends, documenting the growing trend of openly revealing blend […]

Hawai’i: A New Wave of Coffee Innovation

Hawai’i: A New Wave of Coffee Innovation

The Hawaiian Islands are known the world over for beautiful beaches, diverse microclimates, and both active and dormant volcanoes — pretty much paradise, as the cliché goes. Hawaiian culture is both uniquely American and, in many ways, happily incongruous with mainstream American culture. One island in particular, Hawai’i Island (often called the Big Island), produces […]

Revisiting the Andes: Coffees From Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia

Revisiting the Andes: Coffees From Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia

The three coffee-growing countries that range along the Andes south of Colombia — Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia — have rich and storied coffee histories. When Coffee Review last dove in to this region, with reports in 2010 and 2013, we found many impressively solid, softly balanced coffees in the Latin-American tradition — all produced from […]

New England Coffee Roasters: Embracing (and Reinventing) Tradition

New England Coffee Roasters: Embracing (and Reinventing) Tradition

The very day we spoke with several roasters in New England whose coffees are featured in this month’s tasting report, Dunkin’ Brands, parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts (now rebranding simply as Dunkin’) and headquartered in Massachusetts, announced plans for expansion. And the company’s “Blueprint for Growth” centers not on doughnuts, but coffee, including the relaunch […]

By February 14, 2019 |Reviews Tasting Report
2018 Holiday Gift Coffees

2018 Holiday Gift Coffees

Every year in November, we put out a call for special coffees that roasters around the world are featuring for the holidays. It’s always a surprise and a delight to discover what surfaces during this weeks-long cupping. And what we learn never fails to be compelling in multi-faceted ways. Some roasters approach seasonal offerings by […]

By December 6, 2018 |Reviews Tasting Report
“Big-Bean” Coffee Varieties: Novelty, Scarcity, and Atypical Sensory Pleasures

“Big-Bean” Coffee Varieties: Novelty, Scarcity, and Atypical Sensory Pleasures

Among the hundreds of coffees we review each year at Coffee Review, a very small percentage represent what we’ve come to affectionately call “big-bean” varieties, coffee from tree varieties that produce beans that are dramatically larger than average. The most common of these are Pacamara, Maragogipe and Maracaturra, though there are some even more obscure […]

By November 13, 2018 |Reviews Tasting Report
Mountain States Coffee Roasters: High Elevations, Classic Coffees

Mountain States Coffee Roasters: High Elevations, Classic Coffees

In 2017, Coffee Review began exploring the vibrant roasting scenes in various regions of the U.S., beginning with last year’s popular tasting report on coffees of the American Southwest. This year we take a look at roasters in the U.S. mountain states: Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. We received samples from all five states. […]

By October 16, 2018 |Reviews Tasting Report
African Great Lakes Coffees: Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Tanzania

African Great Lakes Coffees: Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, Tanzania

The countries whose coffee regions nestle around the Great Lakes of Central Africa—Rwanda, Burundi, and key growing areas of Uganda, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—make appearances in the news cycle more often for conflict than for coffee. But these countries are also longtime coffee-producing lands that have, within the last 10 years […]

Women in Coffee: Why It Matters That “She’s the Roaster”

Women in Coffee: Why It Matters That “She’s the Roaster”

Last summer, we began our exploration of women’s roles in the complex coffee supply chain by looking at the work of farmers—women who work in coffee production as pickers, managers, members of cooperatives, and owners of small farms. In this month’s report, we turn our attention to those women who are crucial in the next […]

Blending Coffees: Craft, Intuition and Thematic Riffs

Blending Coffees: Craft, Intuition and Thematic Riffs

Blending any two or more things together is a curious and complex act. In winemaking, grapes are often blended to combine extremes in character while simultaneously softening each. Foods may be blended for contrast: Lemon and butter combined, for example, make a classic sauce for pasta or fish that is both richly creamy and tart, […]

By February 8, 2018 |Reviews Tasting Report
2017 Holiday Gift Coffees

2017 Holiday Gift Coffees

Each year, we ask roasters to send us exceptional coffees available only during the holidays, coffees that might make particularly gratifying gifts or splurges for coffee-lovers. In past years, approaches have ranged from particularly fine lots of classic coffees that roasters reserved for the holiday season, to rare and often expensive seasonally available micro-lot coffees, […]

By December 5, 2017 |Reviews Tasting Report
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