Top 30 Coffees of 2018
We are pleased to present our list of the Top 30 Coffees of 2018.
Each year, our editors rank the most exciting coffees from the thousands we cupped over the course of the past year. We evaluate these 30 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.
Enchantingly rich, intensely floral, unique. Dried black cherry, tea rose, Cognac, chocolate fudge, gently scorched almond wood in aroma and cup. Deeply sweet-savory in structure with crisp, apple-toned acidity; plump, syrupy mouthfeel. Exceptionally long finish that carries over all the aroma and flavor notes from the cup, plus an umami intrigue akin to candied bacon.
Deeply sweet-savory, energetic. Black currant, roasted cacao nib, star jasmine, almond butter, frankincense in aroma and cup. Richly sweet in structure with savory undertones and bright, lyrical acidity; full, creamy mouthfeel. Flavor-laden finish maintains the integrity of the cup well into the long.
Richly sweet, delicately savory. Lilac, chocolate fudge, pomegranate, frankincense, honey in aroma and cup. Balanced, sweetly savory structure with bright, juicy acidity; buoyant, syrupy mouthfeel. The flavor-saturated finish is resonant with notes of lilac and pomegranate in the short and chocolate-toned frankincense in the long.
Deeply rich, sweet-savory, nuanced and layered. Dried mango, scent of fresh cigar, lemon verbena, pink grapefruit zest, wisteria-like flowers in aroma and cup. Balanced, sweetly savory structure with a crisp yet syrupy mouthfeel. The resonant finish maintains all of the complexity of the cup.
Price: $37.50/8 ounces
Intensely pungent, richly vibrant, deeply sweet, startlingly original. Complex spice (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg), herb (fresh cilantro, parsley), baker’s chocolate, lime zest, sweetly pungent spirits (Brazilian cachaça?) in aroma and cup. Deeply sweet and roundly tart in structure. Full, syrupy mouthfeel. The shifting, layered intrigue in the cup carries far into a long, resonant finish.
Evaluated as espresso. Luminous, complexly layered, impossibly rich. Caramelized pineapple, tamarind, star jasmine, chocolate fudge, myrrh in aroma and small cup. Creamy, vivacious mouthfeel; long, flavor-saturated finish. Close to otherworldly in three parts milk: All the notes from the cup harmonize, and new notes surface: suggestions of lychee, pink grapefruit zest, marjoram.
Delicate, high-toned, richly sweet. Caramelized apple, honeysuckle, baker’s chocolate, tangerine zest, frankincense in aroma and cup. Balanced structure with bright, juicy acidity; buoyant, syrupy mouthfeel. The deeply sweet, flavor-laden finish leads with notes of cacao nib and honeysuckle in the short and rich frankincense with hints of bittersweet citrus zest in the long.
Price: $21.00/12 ounces
Complexly layered with sweet-savory depth. Wisteria, hop flowers, candied grapefruit zest, black cherry, pistachio butter in aroma and cup. Sweetly savory structure with gentle, rounded acidity; viscous, syrupy mouthfeel. The flavor-saturated finish is a mirror of the cup, carrying through on the coffee's savory-sweet resonance.
Deeply, refreshingly pungent and earthy. Grapefruit zest, dark chocolate, candied ginger, graham cracker, moist fresh-fallen leaves in aroma and cup. Structured around complexly layered tart, sweet and savory tastes; plush, syrupy mouthfeel. Sweet, deeply flavor-saturated finish.
Richly sweet-savory, roast-cradled. Toasted coconut, black currant, tamari-roasted almond, myrrh, lavender in aroma and cup. Sweetly savory in structure with balanced, juicy acidity; buoyant, syrupy mouthfeel. The richly drying finish consolidates to notes of lavender and tamari-roasted almond.
Price: $18.00/12 ounces
Richly savory, deeply sweet. Ginger blossom, almond brittle, pear, fresh, moist forest notes, wildflower honey in aroma and cup. Structured balance among sweet, tart and savory tastes; crisp, velvety mouthfeel. The honey-toned finish leads with ginger blossom in the short and notes of pear and almond in the long.
Richly sweet, balanced, intricately layered. Frankincense, almond nougat, honeysuckle, dried black cherry, roasted cacao nib in aroma and cup. Balanced, sweet-savory structure with juicy acidity; plush, syrupy mouthfeel. The resonant, cocoa-toned finish is supported by notes of dried black cherry and honeysuckle.
Lush, vibrant; intricate and balanced. Fine musk, dried jasmine, passionfruit, bergamot, dark chocolate in aroma and cup. Complex, richly sweet structure with bright acidity. Buoyant, silky mouthfeel. The resonant finish fulfills the promise of the cup, carrying all of the flavor notes, including a hint of white sage, well into the long.
Evaluated as espresso. Deeply rich, crisply sweet, fruit- and chocolate-toned. Dried mango, chocolate fudge, narcissus-like flowers, roasted almond, fresh-cut cedar in aroma and small cup. Lively, silky smooth mouthfeel; resonant, flavor-saturated finish. The chocolate-forward presentation in three parts milk is nuanced by notes of mango and fresh-cut cedar.
Evaluated as espresso. Richly sweet, balanced, floral-toned. Dried jasmine, Concord grape, fine musk, mango, tangerine zest in aroma and small cup. Lively, silky-smooth mouthfeel; resonant, flavor-saturated finish. In cappuccino-scaled milk, jasmine and mango notes are further amplified, deepened by pungent musk underneath.
Price: $75.00/8 ounces
Rich-toned, cleanly fruit-forward, intricately balanced. Concord grape, pungent myrrh, roasted cacao nib, honeysuckle, candy cap mushroom in aroma and cup. Deeply sweet-tart structure with bright, juicy acidity; plush, syrupy mouthfeel. The resonant, flavor-saturated finish rings on with all of the notes from the cup.
Price: $4.65/8.4-ounce can
A ready-to-drink bottled black coffee tested over ice. Sweetly brisk yet juicy; original. Flavor notes of crisp, fruit-toned cocoa, fresh-cut cedar, raspberry, passionfruit, violet-like flowers. Satiny, lively mouthfeel. Long finish resonating with cedar, fruit and flowers. Whole milk turns the cedar toward almond, the cocoa toward full-on chocolate, the tart fruit jammy.
Price: NT $1300/16 ounces
Evaluated as espresso. Intensely chocolaty, vivaciously fruit-toned. Dark chocolate, narcissus, pie cherry, molasses, sandalwood in aroma and small cup. Rich, syrupy mouthfeel. A resonant finish leads with cherry and narcissus notes in the short and sandalwood-toned chocolate in the long. In three parts milk, dark chocolate envelopes deeply stated fruit and floral notes.
Elegant, intensely sweet-tart, resonantly floral-toned. Passionflower, lemon drop, roasted cacao nib, apricot, tamarind in aroma and cup. Sweet-tart structure with bright, juicy acidity; silky, viscous mouthfeel. The finish is resonant with all the flavor notes promised by the cup, leading with apricot and tamarind in the short, cocoa nib in the long, and sweet florals throughout.
Spiced toned, richly sweet. Red currant, almond nougat, pipe tobacco, narcissus-like flowers, hickory wood in aroma and cup. In structure, sweet, tart and savory in balance, with juicy acidity; full, velvety-smooth mouthfeel. The finish is crisp, resonant and flavor-saturated.
Price: $12.00/25.4-ounce bottle (seasonal)
A ready-to-drink bottled black coffee tested over ice. Richly sweet with an umami undercurrent. Baker's chocolate, ripe tomato, vanilla, tangerine zest, lavender. Vivacious, sweet-tart structure with a compelling umami anchor. Crisp, full mouthfeel. Notes of ripe tomato, baker's chocolate and lavender carry the long, layered finish. Adding whole milk mediates the umami impression, while amplifying the chocolate and spicy floral notes.
Richly sweet, spice-toned. Mango, clove, lime zest, dark chocolate, fragrant pipe tobacco in aroma and cup. Crisply sweet in structure with bright acidity; lightly creamy mouthfeel. The rich-toned finish leads with notes of lime zest and clove in the short; both mango and pipe tobacco return in the long.
Elegant, bright, very sweetly pungent. Starfruit, frankincense, lime zest, roasted cacao nib, narcissus in aroma and cup. Richly sweet in structure with balanced, vivacious acidity. Delicate, silky mouthfeel. The floral-toned finish starts and ends with notes of narcissus, punctuated by starfruit, cacao nib and bittersweet citrus suggesting lime zest, all enveloped in perfumy aromatic wood redolent of frankincense.
Evaluated as espresso. Rose-like flowers, chocolate fudge, cannabis flower, black cherry, fresh-cut cedar in aroma and small cup. Syrupy, vibrant mouthfeel; richly drying, sweet-savory finish. This coffee levitates in three parts milk, with rich notes of rose-like flowers ensconced in deep chocolate and a cannabis-like muskiness.
Vibrant, rich-toned, sweetly-tart. Tart berry, roasted cacao nib, crisp, bittersweet hop flowers, sandalwood, agave syrup in aroma and cup. Sweetly tart structure with engaging, juicy acidity; syrupy-smooth mouthfeel. The savory-leaning finish is driven by hop flowers, with cocoa nib as another throughline supporting the dried fruit and spicy aromatic wood notes.
Resonant, sweet-savory, original. Baker’s chocolate, fragrant fresh-cut cedar, green grape, almond, wisteria in aroma and cup. Roundly tart, sweetly savory in structure; plushly syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor, particularly green grape and flowers, carries into a drying finish.
Price: $18.00/12 ounces
Evaluated as espresso. Bright, richly sweet, fruit- and cocoa-toned. Pomegranate, dark chocolate, narcissus, hazelnut, vanilla in aroma and small cup. Plush, creamy mouthfeel; sweetly tart finish with notes of pomegranate and hazelnut. Resonant and flavor-saturated in three parts milk; chocolate and tart fruit lead, with narcissus-like flowers ringing into the long finish.
Delicate, intricately sweet. Dried mango, roasted cacao nib, honeysuckle, freesia-like flowers, a hint of cumin in aroma and cup. Deeply rich, balanced structure; crisp, satiny mouthfeel. The finish is animated by lively mango and freesia notes in the short, quieting to cocoa-toned honeysuckle in the long.
Richly sweet, chocolaty. Dark chocolate, caramel, date, gardenia, cedar in aroma and cup. Deeply sweet structure with round, gentle acidity; velvety mouthfeel. The chocolate-toned finish leads with notes of date and caramel in the short and cedar and gardenia in the long.
Price: $16.49/12 ounces
Richly sweet, floral-toned. Wisteria, roasted cacao nib, almond, caramel, hint of musk in aroma and cup. Balanced, sweetly tart structure with juicy acidity; crisply velvety mouthfeel. The finish consolidates to a pretty cocoa-toned musk in the short, with almond and caramel resurfacing in the long.