I love coffee. I truly enjoy the taste of coffee but I don’t consider myself a “coffee snob”. I’ll drink almost anything (although hotel coffees are becoming more and more like muddy water). I’m not fancy. I don’t have a Keurig, in fact I think they’re overpriced and the the K-cups are certainly expensive. Nope, I have a drip coffee maker from Mr. Coffee. Honestly, I usually just get the Folgers Black Silk canisters because they are cheaper, give you more coffee grounds for your buck, and don’t taste like cardboard – they’re ok for the daily grind. Every once in a while though, I just want another variety of coffee so I “splurge” on a package of Gevalia, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks or something else. I just need a little something different sometimes.
I’m realizing that even when I want to splurge, I still just go for what’s on sale without care if it’s something I really like. With this in mind, I’ve decided to do some coffee taste-testing. I went out and purchased 6 different kinds of coffee, all dark roasts because that’s what I like, but all different blends and brands. I’ve decided to review them each and determine what coffee brand I really do like the best. NOTE: I did not purchase any Starbucks blends on purpose – I enjoy it but it really is usually the most expensive in the store. I’d rather find & support a lesser-known brand because (as we all know) I tend to boycott the most popular stuff, determined to support the underdogs.
Here is a list of the kinds I bought and will review:
- Eight O’Clock – Dark Italian Espresso
- Caribou Coffee – Lacuna
- Sam’s Choice – Sumatra Fair Trade
- Gevalia Kaffe – Majestic Dark
- Folgers Gourmet – Deliciously Dark
- Caribou Coffee – Mahogany
First up: Eight O’Clock’s Dark Italian Espresso.
The tagline for it says “Bold, Chocolaty & Full Bodied”. When I first opened the package, I smelled a wonderful aroma and it really did have hints of chocolate in just the fragrance. The grounds were extra fine, which is typical of espressos because it gives a darker and more flavored coffee. Brewing it filled the house with “yummy coffee smell” (that description is scientific). Tasting it proved that it was a very dark roast, it was strong and lovely. However, it gave me the burps. A little indigestion doesn’t hurt anybody, and I don’t get gas very often but it is a little annoying. It was really delicious though.
Next comes Caribou Coffee’s Lacuna.
This one I just found out is no longer available, so I guess this one won’t win for future purposes. Honestly though, I really dislike this one. The description of it says, “Bold and oaky”. I would change that to, “Where’s the coffee?” Upon opening the package, it smelled like stale, poor coffee – like something most hotels serve. There was no distinct aroma to it. Brewing it yielded another lapse in that there was also barely any aroma. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, and poured myself a cup. The taste is so mild that I can barely taste it, perhaps it really is stale? Even though the dates on the package are a couple months away. This is a coffee that can be easily overpowered by anything else that may be added to it. It is nowhere near the “good” cup of coffee that I’m in search of. This surprises me from Caribou Coffee because I actually am a big fan of most of their coffees. I’m glad this one is being discontinuing however. It’s clearly not the winner.
Now we’ve got Sam’s Choice Organic Sumatra Fair Trade.
I love Fair Trade anything. I really like knowing that what I buy is directly impacting a community because they are being paid justly for their hard work. This coffee was delicious, it was rich & flavorful but not overpowering. It has a subtle undertone that I can’t put my finger on and a pleasant aftertaste. There wasn’t anything special about the aroma but the coffee has a sweet quality to it that I enjoyed very much.
Up next is Folgers Gourmet Deliciously Dark.
This has a “normal” aroma, if that makes sense. It smelled just like my Folgers Black Silk and it was also similar in taste. I didn’t notice anything too different, other than a slight bitterness and aftertaste. While the description on the package boasts of a “smooth” flavor, I don’t think it was all that smooth. I’d just stick with my cheaper Black Silk coffee instead of spending any extra money on this one.
Almost done. We’re at #5 now, Gevalia Kaffe’s Majestic Dark (it’s a brand new blend).
I’ve always been a bit partial to Gevalia, I actually used to belong to the Gevalia Coffee Club way back when, perhaps it’s because it was founded in Sweden and I love that. The first thing I noticed about this blend was the almost citrusy aroma, it’s very unique. This coffee boasts of being “smooth, intense & earthy” and it delivered, it is all of those things. It was wonderfully bodied, had a balance to it and was just overall enjoyable.
Lastly, Caribou Coffee’s Mahogany.
I was a teeny hesitant with this one because of the experience with the other Caribou blend but for the honest outcome I wanted to achieve, I went ahead. This blend is pleasant, it’s bold and smooth. The tagline here is, “woody and rich”, while I don’t know what “woody” means for flavor or anything, I really do like this blend & even the faint aftertaste. The house was once again filled with the lovely smell of coffee when I opened the package and brewed it.
Blind Taste Test
Paul decided it would be fun to help me with a blind taste test, to give me small shots of the top running competitors. For the sake of science, and delicious hot beverages to enjoy, I obliged him. The top dogs in the test were: 1. EO Dark Italian Espresso, 2. SC Organic Fair Trade Sumatra, 3. Gevalia Majestic, and 4. CC Mahogany.
AND THE WINNER IS:
Sam’s Choice Organic Sumatra Fair Trade, followed very closely by Gevalia Kaffe Majestic Dark Roast; and to round out the top 3, the bronze medal goes to Eight O’Clock’s Dark Italian Espresso. I may be going through a few days of withdrawal now that this experiment is finished…