Top 30 Coffees of 2021
Each year, our editors rank the year’s most exciting coffees from the thousands we cupped over the course of the past 12 months. We rank 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, tree variety, processing method, certification, and general rarity.
We’re pleased to share our list of the 30 most exciting coffees of 2021:
Aromatically other-worldly, resoundingly juicy. Caramelized pineapple, aromatic orchid, pistachio, raw chocolate, oolong tea in aroma and cup. Sweet-savory-tart structure with gently bright acidity; deep, syrupy mouthfeel. Flavor-laden finish with especially impressive fruit and florals.
High-toned, floral-driven, lyrically sweet. Wisteria, Keemun tea, white nectarine, fresh-cut basil, pink peppercorn in aroma and cup. Impeccably crystalline, balanced structure with buoyant acidity; delicately satiny mouthfeel. Very long, integrated, satisfying finish, with fruit and floral notes singing into the long.
Price: ¥1680/100 grams
Savory-sweet, intensely aromatic and flavor-saturated. Dried red plum, amber, teriyaki sauce, cocoa nib, pink peppercorn in aroma and cup. Savory-tart structure with fruit-toned, focused acidity; rich, syrupy mouthfeel. The crisp finish consolidates to notes of teriyaki and cocoa nib.
Price: NT $375/4 ounces
Elegantly fruit-toned, complex, deeply layered. Lychee, macadamia nut, pink grapefruit zest, cocoa nib, plumeria in aroma and cup. Richly sweet-tart structure with bright, juicy acidity; supple, syrupy mouthfeel. The long, nuanced finish retains all of the flavor and aroma notes from the cup and adds a subtle incense-like note suggesting sandalwood.
Lyrically sweet, luxuriously chocolaty. Chocolate fudge, tamarind, sandalwood, narcissus, a hint of wine barrel in aroma and cup. Sweetly tart structure with vibrant, juicy acidity; plush, creamy mouthfeel. The finish resolves around chocolate fudge and tamarind with undertones of rich sandalwood.
Deep-toned, richly sweet-savory. Blackberry jam, toffee, lavender, spearmint, fresh-cut cedar in aroma and cup. Vibrantly sweet-savory structure with lilting acidity; lively, viscous mouthfeel. Blackberry and lavender notes lead in the short finish, which rounds toward toffee in the long.
Evaluated as espresso. Dark chocolate, Concord grape, scorched sugarcane, sandalwood, wisteria in aroma and small cup. Viscous, syrupy mouthfeel; richly chocolaty, sweetly smoky finish with floral depth. In three parts milk, decadent perfection: layers of undulating chocolate, wisteria and scorched sugarcane carry far into the long finish.
Delicately fruit-forward, suave, intricate. Pluot, cocoa nib, Meyer lemon zest, star jasmine, pistachio in aroma and cup. Sweet-toned structure with elegantly bright acidity; silky, vibrant mouthfeel. Long, resonant, flavor-saturated finish.
Evaluated as espresso. Complex, multi-layered, richly deep. Honeysuckle, dark chocolate, dried apricot, perique fermented pipe tobacco, pistachio in aroma and small cup. Viscous, creamy mouthfeel; resonant, long, flavor-saturated finish. The milk shot is floral, chocolaty and stone fruit-driven in equal measure.
Elegantly bright, richly juicy, elaborately complete. Toffee, pomelo, plum marmalade, star jasmine, sandalwood in aroma and cup. Sweetly tart structure with lyrically balanced acidity; syrupy, viscous mouthfeel. Resonant, long, satisfying finish.
Richly sweet-tart, delicately balanced. Lychee, cocoa nib, sandalwood, star jasmine, hot buttered rum in aroma and cup. High-toned structure with juicy-bright acidity; very smooth, syrupy mouthfeel. Resonant, flavor-laden finish.
Rich-toned, juicy, complex. Dried persimmon, wild honey, myrrh, almond butter, star jasmine in aroma and cup. Sweet-tart structure with high-toned, vibrant acidity; very full, syrupy-smooth mouthfeel. Long, lingering, rich finish that honors all of the cup’s aromatics.
Deep yet soaring, vertically complex. Dried black currant, dark chocolate, sandalwood, ginger blossom, tangerine zest in aroma and cup. Richly sweet-savory with deep, vibrant acidity; viscous but buoyant mouthfeel. The long, lingering, multi-layered finish thoroughly honors the promise of the cup.
Evaluated as espresso. Complex, multi-layered, rich-toned. Red plum, dark chocolate, cashew butter, cocoa nib, a hint of rosemary in aroma and small cup. Very syrupy mouthfeel; resonant, flavor-laden finish. In three parts milk, red plum and cashew butter take center stage, supported by gentle cocoa nib and a whisper of a savory, rosemary-like herb.
Price: NT $500/8 ounces
Evaluated as espresso. Richly floral, complex, nuanced. Lilac, dark chocolate, black cherry, myrrh, lemon-thyme in aroma and small cup. Very syrupy-smooth mouthfeel; deep, rich, flavor-laden finish. This coffee particularly impresses in three parts milk, with lyric, lilac top notes, rich, fudge-like bottom notes, and black cherry, myrrh and lemon thyme in the mid-palate.
Deeply, delicately aromatic, high-toned. Strawberry guava, cocoa nib, mandarinquat, brown sugar, hazelnut in aroma in cup. Sweetly tart with bright, balanced acidity; silky, lightly viscous mouthfeel. Flavor-saturated, long, engaging finish.
Price: $18.99/8 ounces
Delicate, deep; complex. Pomegranate, macadamia nut, pink grapefruit zest, agave syrup, a hint of fresh dill in aroma and cup. Sweet-savory structure with gently tart, juicy acidity; supple, syrupy mouthfeel. The multi-layered finish, long and inviting, retains all of the flavor and aroma notes from the cup and adds a subtle tropical fruit note suggesting lychee.
Price: NT $575/4 ounces
Passion fruit, dark chocolate, frankincense, wisteria, sandalwood in aroma and cup. Richly sweet-tart structure with high-toned, juicy acidity; plush, syrupy mouthfeel. Lasting, flavor-saturated finish with nuanced layers of fruit and florals into the long.
Elegantly floral, brightly fruit-driven, deeply intricate. Red plum, lemon verbena, myrrh, cocoa nib, star jasmine in aroma and cup. Juicy-sweet with high-toned, vibrant acidity; very delicate, silky smooth mouthfeel. The resonant, flavor-saturated finish carries on and on, fulfilling everything in the cup in balanced harmony.
Harmoniously balanced, deep-toned, bright. Nectarine, cocoa nib, pink grapefruit zest, star jasmine, marjoram in aroma and cup. Richly sweet-savory structure with malic, apple-toned acidity; plush, syrupy-smooth mouthfeel. The satisfying finish carries over all the flavor notes from the cup.