“What is the best-tasting coffee in the world?” I’ve been asked this question or a similar one more than a few times. And the answer isn’t so straightforward. There may be a best car under $20,000, best restaurant in town or a best man for your wedding, but there is no single best-tasting coffee for everyone.
What Are the Best-Tasting Coffee Brands
According to a 2011 Consumer Reports taste test, Gloria Jean’s and Newman’s Own took the top spots with ratings of “very good.” Eight O’Clock is a more affordable brand that also scores well in taste tests (you can even buy it on Amazon.com). A high price isn’t necessarily indicative of high quality.
You can ask your friends and family for advice, but it’s best not to rely on anecdotal evidence in your quest for the best-tasting coffee. The brew method (Chemex, Percolator, coffee press, etc.) and age of the coffee make a substantial difference. Everyone has their own preferences and some “coffee experts” have more expertise than others.
Choosing the Right Roast
Contrary to popular belief, the roast intensity does not indicate how much caffeine (or “how strong”) the coffee is. The caffeine content is the same all around. Rather, it refers to how long the coffee was roasted. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Light roasts have a high acidity and light body with few discernible flavors. Medium roasts have more aroma and a deeper body– this is what you might get if you just asked for a “cup of Joe” at a coffee shop. Dark roasts have a very intense body and often have somewhat of a burnt taste. They have the least acidity and are the roast of choice for espresso. Medium roasts are preferred for coffee tasting– many laymen would call them the best-tasting coffee.
Tips for Better-Tasting Coffee
As previously stated, the brew process plays a major role in getting the best coffee possible. Always use recently-roasted whole beans and grind the coffee right before brewing. Find out the right grind type for your brewer. Since coffee starts losing flavor as soon as its ground, pre-ground coffee is a no-no. If you have no other choice, then at least store it in an air-tight container away from light.
You should also use filtered water when available and clean your coffee maker regularly. Avoid sweeteners– you shouldn’t need them if you make the coffee properly. Buy from local roasters if possible. They’ll be more than happy to advise you on the right coffee preparation techniques and you know the beans will be fresh.
Here’s some recommended reading to help you on your journey:
- I Love Coffee! Over 100 Easy and Delicious Coffee Drinks
- Coffee Basics: A Quick and Easy Guide
- The Unofficial Starbucks Recipe Book