DETROIT (WWJ) – Consumer Reports (CR) brewed over 1,000 cups of coffee to find out which brands taste the best, and they crowned two new champs among Colombian varietals.
Gloria Jean’s Colombian Supremo Medium Roast and Newman’s Own Organics Colombian Especial Medium Roast beat CR top pick from the March 2009 report, Eight O’Clock Coffee. The former champ delivered less flavor than in past tests even though their slogan claims, “New Look, Same Great Taste.” While America’s best-selling brands, Folgers and Maxwell House, scored only fair.
“The new Colombian champs offered fairly complex, well-balanced flavors that our experts found stronger and fruitier than the flavors of most others we tasted,” Gayle Williams, deputy health editor of CR, said in a release. “Overall, the Colombian coffees we identified as the tastiest aren’t the highest priced per serving.”
The 23 coffees CR tested included three Colombian K-Cup products. Those products require a coffeemaker that can accommodate a K-Cup container, a type of single-serving coffee packaging. K-Cups were found to be more expensive per 6 fluid ounce serving than traditional packaged coffee and were only good in tests — and may be best enjoyed with milk and sugar to mask the off-notes.
CR also tested four Ethiopian whole-bean coffees, which have a taste that someone accustomed to standard blends might find unusual. CR picked two from that group, Caribou Ethiopia Finjal Organic Medium and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Light Roast.
How to choose. If the cost of morning java matters more than getting the ultimate taste, there’s good news. Walmart’s Great Value 100% Colombian Medium scored on par with the Starbucks Colombia Medium for a fraction of the price. It also had, for the same price per serving, a stronger, fruitier aromatic character than the Folgers and Maxwell House 100% Colombian coffees.
Consider your taste. Colombian, the most common varietal of coffee sold, can be fairly strong in flavor and intensity of aroma, with moderate complexity. Ethiopian tends to be more complex overall, with a fair amount of bitterness, though not enough to detract from enjoyment. The K-Cups tested, all Colombian, were generally not very complex and included more off-notes than the coffees judged very good.
Weigh freshness against convenience. Grinding coffee at home is less convenient but results in a fresher cup. K-Cups are convenient and easy to store, but CR judged those unimpressive.
Choose a good coffeemaker. Not all coffeemakers are one in the same. Some brew at different temperatures and speeds. Coffeemakers that reach between 195 and 205 degrees will get the best from coffee beans and avoid a weak or bitter brew.
Keep up the maintenance. The taste will suffer if the coffee machine is not routinely cleaned, no matter what kinds of beans are used.