The team at Coffee Review has for the first time released an ordered list of the year’s top-rated roasted coffees, presented in a 100-point Wine Spectator-style scale and offering roasters a way to promote their coffee quality. The top coffee on the list is a 96-point Ethiopian Yirgacheffe roasted by Temple Coffee and Tea of Sacramento, California.
Founded by Kenneth Davids and Ron Walters in 1997, Coffee Review says the list includes about half of the year’s 94-plus-point coffees. “Every coffee on the list is special. All are outstanding in quality. But each one also displays certain distinctive and unique aroma and flavor characteristics, sometimes subtle, sometimes striking, that set them apart from other coffees,” Davids said in an announcement on Friday.
Criteria for the rankings included overall quality, value (represented by price per pound), and other factors including distinctiveness of style, uniqueness of origin or tree variety, certification, and general rarity, Davids said.
Davids and Walters recognize there were some outstanding coffees from 2013 left off the list, and here Walters discusses the thinking behind a “Top 30” system:
Why did we choose to limit our list to thirty coffees? There is no magic to the number. It just seemed about right. In 2013 we will publish reviews of about four hundred coffees. Roughly sixty of these will score 94 points or higher. Obviously all of these 94+ point coffees are exceptional. But some are more unusual or noteworthy in one way or another than others. We are very fond of Ethiopian coffees, for example, but nearly two dozen coffees from this extraordinary, seminal origin earned 94 points or higher. We couldn’t include them all on the list.
Walters and Davids also point out some interesting stats related to coffee and roastery origins on the admittedly subjective list. From a Coffee Review blog post announcing the list:
Regular Coffee Review readers will recognize many of the roasters and origins on the Top 30 list. Eleven of the coffees were roasted by Coffee Review advertisers, though that played no role in their original scoring or in their selection to the list. The average overall rating of the coffees on the Top 30 list is 94.4. The average price is $35.00 per pound, although many coffees high on the list cost considerably less.
Not surprisingly, the most frequently-appearing origin on the list is Ethiopia, with six appearances. Other origins with multiple coffees on the list are Kenya (4), El Salvador (3), Hawaii (3), Sumatra (2), and Panama (2). Coffees from Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua and Rwanda also made the list, along with four blends.
Roasters from only two countries appeared on the list: United States (28) and Taiwan (2). Canada was noticeably absent. We reviewed many fine coffees from Canadian roasters, most notably Fratello Coffee Roasters, but no single Canada-roasted coffee cracked the Top 30. The same could be said of excellent coffees we’ve reviewed that were roasted in Thailand, Hong Kong and Korea.
Roasters from California and Washington State dominated the rankings, with six and five appearances respectively. Other states with multiple roasters on the list were Hawaii (3), Massachusetts (2) and Wisconsin (2). Ten other states placed one roaster on the list.
Here is the Top 30 list in full, including links to the Coffee Review’s reviews:
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. Feedback and story ideas are welcome at publisher (at) dailycoffeenews.com, or see the "About Us" page for contact information.