Coffee Beans

Best Coffee Brands

 

Imagine sun-dappled mornings, where the aroma of exotic beans paints the air and each sip is a journey across velvet-smooth landscapes. Discover a world beyond the ordinary cup, where coffee transcends a beverage, becoming an experience for the discerning palate. Welcome to a curated collection of the most exquisite coffee brands, where every cup of every brand is an invitation to indulge in a whisper of extravagance.


What coffee bean is best for Espresso ?

Tracing Specialty Coffee's Rise in the Market


By: Alicia Walters  Revised by: Mark Cambell         Last updated: Feb 7, 2024

For exceptional espresso, the type of coffee bean used is extremely important. Espresso beans brewing method relies on finely ground coffee beans, so the espresso bean variety and roast level directly impact flavor. The three most popular types of coffee beans for espresso are:

•Arabica beans: Arabica beans are considered the highest quality coffee beans and produce a smooth, aromatic espresso with notes of sugar, fruit, and berries. Popular Arabica bean varieties for espresso include Bourbon, Typica, and Gesha. Due to their quality and price, many espresso blends contain a high percentage of Arabica beans.

•Robusta beans: Robusta beans contain more caffeine and produce an espresso with a slightly harsher, grittier texture. They are often used in lower-quality commercial espresso blends. However, when combined with Arabica beans, Robusta beans can add body and a chocolatey richness to espresso. Popular varieties include Congo, Vietnam, and India Robusta beans. 

•Blends: Most baristas prefer to use blended coffee beans for espresso to achieve a balance of desirable qualities. Espresso blends may contain just two coffee beans varieties or up to five different beans. Blends that are rich in high-quality Arabica beans tend to produce superior tasting espresso.

What Roast is best for espresso ?

The roast level is also important for espresso beans. Medium roasts, such as a Full City or Viennese roast, produce an optimal balance of body, acidity, and aroma compounds for most espresso beans blends. Dark roasts result in an espresso that is slightly oily in texture with darker molasses or bittersweet chocolate flavors due to the higher oils on the beans. Popular dark roast levels for espresso include French Roast and New Orleans Roast. 

Brands known for high-quality espresso beans and blends include Lavazza, Starbucks, Peets, and Blue Bottle. Freshly roasted coffee beans will produce better crema and maximum flavor, so buy coffee beans from roasters that stamp the roast date and use beans within 14 days of roasting. With the perfect blend of fresh, full-bodied coffee beans, you can craft an exceptional shot of espresso.

And remember; high-quality Arabica beans, especially when blended and at a medium roast level, are ideal for a smooth and flavorful espresso. The specific variety and roast, freshness, and brand of beans used can significantly impact the tasting experience of every shot of espresso. That's why it is so important to pick the perfect brand for your taste.

In the vast ocean of coffee brands available in the market, discovering the ideal brew that satisfies your taste buds can be a fascinating journey. If you find yourself longing for a change from your current coffee brand and seeking a new flavor experience, grab your cup of coffee and let's navigate through the diverse landscape of coffee brands, exploring the nuances of flavors, aromas, and brewing techniques. From well-known industry leaders to lesser-known yet promising options, our aim is to help you find the coffee brand that resonates with your individual preferences.

Starbucks Coffee 

Starbucks has transcended from a single coffee shop into a ubiquitous global coffee empire since being founded in 1971 in Seattle. At their core, Starbucks emphasizes consistency and accessibility above all else. This means sourcing large quantities of coffee beans from major growing regions and roasting them to a medium-dark profile suitable for adaptability across espresso-forward beverages. While criticized by specialty coffee purists, Starbucks’ branding, marketing and omnipresent retail infrastructure has indoctrinated the masses into enjoying coffee as a daily indulgence. Their variety packs and seasonal lattes satisfy recurrent customers, while approachable options like the Iced Vanilla Latte and Pike Place Roast serve as accessible entry points.  

While not known for complex single origins, Starbucks has made progress in recent years addressing more discerning tastes. Their “small batch” Reserve line features limited-availability lighter roasts showcasing unique growing regions, processed through unconventional aging or fermentation methods rarely seen at mass scale. Their Starbucks Rewards loyalty program boasts over 20 million active members in the US alone, demonstrating an unrivaled commitment to customer retention through specialized deals and personalized experiences. 

Peets Coffee 

Founded in 1966, Peet’s Coffee holds the distinction as the first specialty coffee business in the United States. Still privately owned and headquartered in California where it all began, Peets takes immense pride in roasting bespoke smaller batches sourced direct from farms. Their “Big Bang” medium roast has become synonymous with West Coast coffee culture and remains many consumers’ benchmark for quality over half a century later. Peets currently operates over 300 retail locations with a considerable online business as well. Despite enormous growth, they’ve retained an authentic “mom & pop” identity rooted in specialty craft and eschewing the scale and pressure of public markets. 

Master roaster Sandy Gingrich and other coffee geeks ensure Peets consistently delivers complex, balanced flavors through light City roasts showcasing individual estate profiles as well as medium-dark blends like “Major Dickason's” appealing to traditionalist tastes. While Peets helped pioneer the specialty movement, their prices remain more moderate than many boutiques micro-roasters. This encourages a diversity of customers rather than insular aficionados alone. They also helped pioneer the practice of direct trade, traveling farms to establish long-term relationships and ensure sustainable growing practices. Overall, Peets serves as living proof that an independent specialty pioneer can still thrive creatively amid corporate behemoths through timeless expertise, passionate employees, and prioritizing quality over ephemeral trends.

Lavazza Coffee 

As Italy’s most famous global coffee export, Lavazza coffee has represented the pinnacle of espresso culture for over 120 years. Founded in Turin in 1895, Lavazza sources and roasts over 500 million pounds of green coffee per year. With annual revenues exceeding $2 billion, their footprint now spans over 90 countries on five continents. Although less ubiquitous in the US compared to Europe, Lavazza holds distinction as the largest roaster supplying coffee to high-end hotels and restaurants globally. Their mastery of precision Italian roasting is what discerning chefs and coffee connoisseurs admire most. 

While most famous for their iconic “timbre” blend favored in Europe, Lavazza caters skillfully to nuanced American palates as well. Their portfolio includes everything from traditional espresso beans blends to single origins, cold brews, and flavored coffee pods compatible with Nespresso and Dolce Gusto systems. However, discerning buyers still gravitate most towards their artisanal Classico and Crema e Gusto lines reflective of storied Italian traditions. Each undergo a slow 20-day roasting process coaxing rich flavors from high-grown Latin American, African and Asian beans sourced through direct trade relationships Lavazza maintains for decades. Their Crema e Gusto Deciso offers a velvety version for coffee-milk indulgers reminiscent of tiramisu. In the specialty realm, few match Lavazza’s multi-generational expertise commanding both affordable commercial mass and premium craft markets. 

Peet’s, Blue Bottle, and Intelligentsia helped pioneer the specialty coffee trend in America. But Lavazza proves Old World traditions needn’t be left behind, and Italian mastery still inspires new appreciation as tastes evolve ever premium. Their skill converting accessible roasts into ritually satisfying international market leaders is a hard-earned lesson for all specialty players.

Death Wish Coffee Company

In stark contrast to the brands discussed above stands Death Wish Coffee Company; a relative newcomer creating quite a stir since 2012 through audacious viral marketing and claiming “the world’s strongest coffee.” Created by microbiologist Mike Brown, Death Wish Coffee Co. is based in Round Lake, New York and features a creative Dark Arts aesthetic befitting their “evil” coffee persona. Their signature blend comes diluted to around 1.5x the caffeine of typical coffee, with laboratory tests revealing upwards of 1,200mg per 12oz serving compared to 80-100mg for most commercially available varieties. 

Death Wish Coffee sources 100% arabica beans from Africa and Central/South America which are individually selected for maximum caffeine content and roasted quite dark. This combination optimizes extraction during the brewing process, living up to their “just say no to wimpy coffee” rallying cry. While not artfully nuanced, Death Wish Coffee delivers a bracing jolt appreciated by shift workers, gym enthusiasts, and those simply seeking a rush of energy more than complex flavor exploration. Given ever growing obesity and health epidemics, it’s easy to understand their niche appeal. However, one must wonder if their potent blend is intended as a daily driver or a sporadic pick-me-up.  

Regardless of critiques, Death Wish Coffee proves there’s still demand for audacious new players shaking things up with an unorthodox value proposition. With annual triple digit revenue growth showing no signs of slowing, their viral tactics seem a highly potent brew indeed worthy of respect in any enterprising coffee startup’s playbook. Clearly, sheer caffeine alone can pack a powerful marketing punch for certain thrill-seeking markets - just ask any Death Wish loyalist still buzzing through the late hours.

Dunkin

As the world’s largest donut chain, Dunkin is also a major American coffee player in their own right. Founded in 1950 as a donut shop in Quincy, MA, Dunkin now operates over 12,000 locations spanning 36 countries. Their wide array of breakfast sandwiches, pastries, baked goods, and beverages makes them an accessible quick service staple where commuters can reliably grab a morning pick-me-up. While not known for gourmet coffee, Dunkin serves over 3 billion cups annually through consistency and affordability above flashy prestige. 

Dunkin embraces a “high-high” sourcing strategy, buying 100% arabica beans from prestigious growing regions but roasting them quite dark for robustness compatible with sophisticated European-style milk drinks as well as their traditional Americano or dark roast styles. This wider breadth allows Dunkin to play to both old-school tastes and new specialty-curious audiences. Their Signature Blend has served as the benchmark for what’s now considered mainstream coffee for generations. Meanwhile limited small-batch light roasts released from time to time aim to convert new drinkers’ palates upward to premium options. 

All in all, despite a lack of romance or culinary cache, Dunkin’ delivers reliability and value that’s made them synonymous with American workday culture where a morning coffee isn’t a luxury but necessity. Their franchise success stems from executional precision serving billions of consistent cups without pretention, snobbery or superfluous frills. This disciplined focus on operational efficiency making premium options accessible to the masses is a highly sophisticated business achievement in its own right.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Founded in Oakland, California in 2002, Blue Bottle Coffee helped lead the nation’s “third wave” specialty coffee renaissance championing direct trade sourcing practices and nuanced preparation methods still shaping the industry today. Known for their obsessive dedication to quality and experimentation with innovative techniques, Blue Bottle Coffee set the bar for what discerning American palates expect from specialty coffee. They helped pioneer the farm-direct sourcing model, traveling internationally to source unique microlots directly from growers while establishing sustainable relationships. This allows Blue Bottle Coffee tight control over varietals, processing methods and elevates quality far beyond commoditized beans.

Blue Bottle Coffee also helped introduce new manual brewing styles like pour-over filtering to the US market, setting cafes up as galleries where customers could learn optimized flavor extraction techniques. To this day their seasonal and experimental small-batch offerings keep connoisseurs engaged, sourcing rare varieties fermented, naturally processed or aged through creative avenues rarely seen elsewhere. While famous for their widely acclaimed Bay Area cafes and Roasters, over 70% of Blue Bottle’s business now stems from online retail sales supplying whole bean coffee nationwide. This model allows coffee geeks across the country to enjoy perfectly fresh specialty beans shipped directly to their doorsteps within two weeks of roasting.

Artisanal perfectionism combined with nationwide accessibility has earned Blue Bottle numerous awards and accolades as pioneers in the “Third Wave” specialty movement now shaping specialty coffee globally. Their skilled roast profiles coax nuanced complexity from single origins while small signature blends satisfy traditionalists. 20 years after launching as renegades determined to uplift coffee culture, Blue Bottle Coffee continues uplifting standards for quality, ethical sourcing practices and education today. After laying such influential groundwork, Blue Bottle Coffee’s trailblazing spirit leaves an indelible mark on specialty coffee drinkers worldwide.

As consumer sophistication and demand for sustainably sourced specialty options rise globally, these coffee brand pioneers leave guiding lessons on quality, brand-building, and embracing constant reinvention that will shape coffee’s future in the years to come. Overall, the thriving diversity showcased across this cultural caffeine powerhouses proves there is an artisanal cup suited for all tastes under America’s vibrant coffee umbrella.