Top 30 Coffees of 2014
Coffee Review introduced 100-point reviews to the specialty coffee industry in 1997. Since then, we’ve cupped tens of thousands of coffee samples and published reviews of nearly 4,000 coffees and espressos.
Coffee Review’s Top 30 Coffees of 2014 appear below. We selected and ranked these 30 (actually 31) notable coffees and espressos based on quality (represented by overall rating), value (reflected by most affordable price per pound), and other factors that include distinctiveness of style, uniqueness of origin or tree variety, certification, and general rarity.
Beautifully structured and almost impossibly intricate in flavor and aroma. The fruit sensation is so deep and so complex that one could find almost any note in it: we settled on guava, mango and tangerine. Intensely floral – passion fruit, lilac, lily – with crisp cacao nib and sandalwood complication. Rich, lyric acidity; syrupy but buoyant mouthfeel. The aromatic fireworks quiet a bit but still saturate the finish.
Extraordinarily intense and complexly aromatic coffee. Pungent fruit (grapefruit, black currant); moist pipe tobacco and sweet, freshly turned clay; molasses and chocolate fudge. Round, quietly vibrant acidity; full, syrupy mouthfeel. Richly sweet, powerfully flavor-saturated finish.
Price: $19.25/12 ounces
Intense, lush, remarkable. Honey, lilac-like flowers, star fruit, roasted cacao nib, and a deep, grapey, brandy-like note in aroma and cup. Honey and flowers in particular carry into a sweet-toned, resonant finish.
Immensely rich and complex. Blood orange, black currant, dark chocolate, sandalwood, a hint of flowers in aroma and cup. Resonantly balanced, floral-toned acidity. Plush, lively mouthfeel. Deeply flavor-saturated finish.
Immense, intricate. Honey, roasted cacao nib, orchid-like flowers, layers of fruit (banana, mango, mandarin), pungent sandalwood in aroma and cup. Crisply juicy, nuanced acidity; lively, lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Fruit, flowers and cacao linger far into a richly drying finish.
Balanced in structure but extravagant in flavor and aroma. Complex fruit, crisp roasted cacao nib, agave syrup, bourbon whisky, honeysuckle-like flowers in aroma and cup. Round, resonant acidity; silky mouthfeel. Vibrantly deep, flavor-saturated finish, with cacao-nib, bourbon and agave notes particularly prominent.
Big, round, ringingly sweet, vivacious. Caramel, roasted cacao nib, rose-like flowers, tangelo, saucy cranberry, pear in aroma and cup. Deep, nuanced, lively acidity; velvety mouthfeel. Cacao nib, rose and pear in particular saturate a long, sweet-toned, resonant finish.
Price: NT $1000/16 ounces
Immense, complex aromatics. Floral notes stretch from lush narcissus to crisp lavender; fruit from orange to sweet papaya. Honey, pungent sandalwood, roasted cacao nib. Richly tart, cleanly wine-like acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Richly dry, deeply flower-saturated finish with a slight savory edge.
Sweetly and deeply pungent; intense but balanced. Peach, plum, black currant, narcissus-like flowers, fresh-cut elm in aroma and cup. Crisply sweet, nuanced acidity; silky, buoyant mouthfeel. Flowers in particular saturate a rich, resonant finish.
Crisply lush, extravagant. Dark chocolate, jasmine-like flowers, brandy, honey, layered fruit notes: kiwi, mango, banana. Sweetly tart, vivacious acidity; syrupy but lively mouthfeel. Long, resonant, flavor-saturated finish.
Roundly bright, juicy, complex. Orange, mulberry, vanilla, honey, complex night-blooming flowers in aroma and cup. Giddy, buoyantly sweet acidity; plush mouthfeel. Flavor extends deep into a long finish.
Amazingly sweet, lushly fruit-toned. Orangy citrus, blueberry, dark chocolate, apple cider, cherry blossom in aroma and cup. Vibrant, rich acidity; syrupy, buoyant mouthfeel. Deeply flavor-saturated finish.
Price: $16.50/12 ounces
Sweet-toned, gentle, juicy. Pineapple, sweet chocolate, rum, minty flowers, fresh-cut cedar in aroma and cup. Round, richly lively acidity; full, very syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor consolidates in a finish that balances continuing sweetness with a crisp drying edge.
Plush, deep, resonant. Apricot and orange, roasted cacao nib, vanilla, a hint of fresh-cut cedar in aroma and cup. Round, soft, though deeply vibrant acidity; full, syrupy mouthfeel. Very sweet finishing, with continued hints of orange and vanilla.
Dynamic, deeply layered, complex. Pungent suggestions of humus-like, moist fresh-fallen leaves, fragrant pipe tobacco, malted barley layer with fruit (honeydew melon, mango, blood orange) and narcissus-like flowers. Gentle, very sweetly tart acidity; lightish but smooth, silky mouthfeel. Flavor consolidates without losing character in a rich, sweet-toned finish.
Exotic; intricate; grandly and sweetly bright. Honey, loquat, tangerine, blood orange, jasmine, cocoa in aroma and cup. Sweetness envelops tart and bitter sensations in an intense, complex acidity. Plush, silky mouthfeel. Rich, deeply flavor-saturated finish fades very slightly in the long.
Sweet, pungent, with a deep, shifting complexity. Agave syrup, roasted cacao nib, lavender-like flowers, lemon drop and more in aroma and very sweet-toned cup. Richly tart, floral-toned acidity; light but buoyantly lively mouthfeel. Long, deep, flavor-saturated finish.
Crisply sweet, exhilaratingly complex. Peach, mint, lily, roasted cacao nib, a hint of rye whisky in aroma and cup. The acidity is breathtakingly sweet and buoyantly light-footed; the mouthfeel full but lively. Flavor consolidates but rings on in a long, gentle finish.
Intense and unmistakable Kenya character: dry yet sweet synthesis of pungent black currant, blackberry and fresh-cut cedar; backgrounded hints of lush night-blooming flowers, lemon, black sage. Big, sweetly brisk acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. The Kenya flavor complex deeply saturates a long, rich finish.
Richly and deeply pungent. Honey, blood orange, blackberry, roasted cacao nib, lilac-like flowers, a hint of pungent wood (eucalyptus?) in aroma and cup. Big but gently expressed acidity; plush, buoyant mouthfeel. Flavor carries deep into a long, resonant finish.
Opulent, huge, sweet, juicy. Honey, flowers (lavender, lilac), mango, blood orange, roasted cacao nib in aroma and cup. Balanced, juicy acidity; syrupy mouthfeel. Rich, long, deeply flavor-saturated finish.
Price: $12.95/12 ounces
Evaluated as espresso. Opulent, sweet, carnal. Brown sugar, fresh-cut cedar, rich chocolate, apricot, cinnamon, a hint of narcissus-like flowers in aroma and small cup. Full, syrupy mouthfeel. Flowers, chocolate and cinnamon in particular saturate a crisp finish. Flavor softens but carries relatively intact into three parts milk.
Sweetly and lyrically bright. Peach, tangerine, vanilla, rose-like flowers, hints of musk and fir in aroma and cup. Sweetly and richly tart acidity; syrupy, lively mouthfeel. The peach, tangerine and rose notes carry into a pleasingly tart finish.
Price: $30.00/12 ounces
Extravagant, complex; immense sweetness. Honey, cocoa-butter, sweetly tart fruit (loquat, tangerine, strawberry), violet-like flowers, incense-like pungency (saffron, myrrh, sandalwood). Rich, lyrical acidity; smooth, silky mouthfeel. Flavor consolidates but rings on in a long, layered finish.
Intense yet delicate; crisp, graceful. A tightly layered, utterly pleasing fusion of lavender-like flowers, roasted cacao nib and a hint of blood orange carries with clarity and consistency from aroma through finish. Lyrical, animated acidity; light but silky, lively mouthfeel. The finish never seems to stop; the floral-cacao-citrus notes ring on and on.
Deep, sweetly and richly bright. Honeysuckle, mulberry, black sage, a crisp hint of roasted cacao nib in aroma and cup. Brisk, delicately lively acidity; silky/syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor consolidates but persists in a rich, resonant finish.
Price: $27.00/5 ounces
Pungent, deep, sweetly nut-toned. Brown sugar, cashew, orange, cherry, a hint of lily-like flowers in aroma and cup. Quiet, rich acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor consolidates around the cherry-like fruit note in a sweet, resonant finish.
Intensely floral, deeply complex. Rose- and lavender-like flowers, honey, cacao nib, apricot, a delicate hint of cashew in aroma and cup. Gently buoyant, lively acidity, light but very silky mouthfeel. Lavender and cashew in particular persist in a sweet-toned, balanced finish.
Deep, sweetly pungent, intricate. Black currant, jasmine, banana sweetness, minty dark chocolate in aroma and cup. Richly rounded acidity; full, buttery mouthfeel. Flavor, particularly chocolate and black currant, lasts far into the long finish.
Price: $18.00/12 ounces
Exotically pungent, deep, intricate. Strawberry, mint, dark chocolate, banana, musky flowers, a faint hint of brandy in aroma and cup. Deep, backgrounded but vibrant acidity; syrupy, lively mouthfeel. Chocolate in particular carries into a sweet, resonant finish.
Price: HK $178/200 grams
Distinctly brandy-toned, sweet yet briskly pungent. Cleanly expressed brandy, strawberry-like fruit, dark chocolate, night-blooming flowers in aroma and cup. Round, gently vibrant acidity; lightly syrupy, very buoyant and lively mouthfeel. Rich, deep, profoundly flavor-saturated finish.