Coffee Review, which has been reviewing coffees on a 100-point scale since 1997, has released its second annual list of top roasted coffees. The Coffee Review team noted last year that 30 is kind of an arbitrary number, and this year’s list actually includes 31 names.
Ron Walters, who founded Coffee Review along with Kenneth Davids, writes:
Two coffees share spot No. 29 because their roasters unintentionally sourced the same exceptional green coffee, roasted it to identical agtron readings, and charged the same price. Somewhat remarkably, they earned the same score in separate blind cuppings a month apart.
While the list has many coffees that are no longer available or may be past ideal freshness, it nonetheless celebrates the efforts of a diverse group of roasters committed to sourcing and roasting rare and dynamic coffees that have provoked palates throughout the year.
Here’s more from Coffee Review on what have must have been a painstaking year-end review process:
We selected and ranked these notable coffees and espressos based on quality (represented by overall rating), value (reflected by most affordable price per pound), and consideration of other factors that include distinctiveness of style, uniqueness of origin or tree variety, certification, and general rarity.
Coffees from Kenya and Ethiopia were well-represented on this year’s list, with seven each, while roasters hailed from the United States (27), Taiwan (2), South Korea (1) and Hong Kong (1). Walters writes that 2013 trends, such as fewer blends and the proliferation of natural-process-dried coffees, were intensified in 2014. Coffees on the list were additionally refined by tree variety. Writes Walters:
An impressive number of coffees made the list that were produced exclusively from one variety of tree, including five from the rare Gesha (or Geisha) variety, three from the heirloom Bourbon variety, two from the big-beaned hybrid Pacamara, one from the similarly big-beaned Maracaturra, and one from the Caturra variety.
If we look at tree variety generally as a crucial differentiator in cracking the Top-30 list, then we might add to these Geshas, Bourbons, etc., the seven coffees that appear from Ethiopia, which were almost exclusively produced from trees of very ancient varieties native to Ethiopia, and the seven Kenya coffees on the list, all of which were primarily produced from the heirloom, Bourbon-related SL 28 and SL 34 varieties. Looked at this way, twenty-seven of the top thirty-one coffees had as a likely driving differentiator the variety of tree from which they were produced.
See more of Coffee Review’s analysis of the 2014 list, including geographic representation among U.S. roasters and retail price statistics, here. Without further ado, here are Coffee Review’s top 30 coffees of 2014, with links to each individual review.
Coffee Review’s Top Coffees of 2014
#30 – Return Coffee Roastery (Hong Kong, China), Costa Rica Flor de Santos Bourbon Natural – 94 points.
#29 (tie) – Old Soul Co. (Sacramento, California), Nicaragua Pacamara Reserve Los Congos – 94 points.
#29 (tie) – Dragonfly Coffee Roasters (Boulder, Colorado), Nicaragua Pacamara Reserve Los Congos – 94 points.
#28 – Equator Coffees & Teas (San Rafael, California), Colombia Cerro Azul Enano – 94 points.
#27 – Good Land Organics (Goleta, California), California Grown Caturra – 91 points.
#26 – ChocolaTAY (Taichung City, Taiwan), Kenya Nyeri Tambaya AA – 95 points.
#25 – Tony’s Coffee & Tea (Bellingham, Washington), Colombia Cerro Azul Geisha – 95 points.
#24 – Papa Lin’s Coffee, (Yorktown Heights, New York), Ethiopia Ninety Plus Hachira N2 – 95 points.
#23 – Kickapoo Coffee (Driftless, Wisconsin), Kenya Mathew Mugo – 94 points.
#22 – Paradise Roasters (Ramsey, Minnesota), SO Espresso Brazil Fazenda Rainha Natural – 94 points.
#21 – Geisha Coffee Roaster (Longwood, Florida), Panama Mama Cata Natural – 95 points.
#20 – The WestBean Coffee Roasters (San Diego, California), Kenya Nyeri Giakanja – 95 points.
#19 – Temple Coffee and Tea (Sacramento, California), Kenya Makwa AB – 95 points.
#18 – Namusairo Coffee (Seoul, South Korea), Ethiopia Ninety Plus Pheribo N2 – 95 points.
#17 – CQ Coffee Roasters (Bedford, New Hampshire), Kenya Kabare AB – 95 points.
#16 – Blue Bottle Coffee (Oakland, California), Colombia Granja Esperanza Gesha AAA – 95 points.
#15 – JBC Coffee Roasters (Madison, Wisconsin), Ulos Batak Sumatra Peaberry – 95 points.
#14 – Chromatic Coffee (San Jose, California), Papua New Guinea Kunjin – 94 points.
#13 – Thanksgiving Coffee (Fort Bragg, California), Byron’s Maracaturra Natural Nicaragua – 94 points.
#12 – Old Soul Co. (Sacramento, California), Ethiopia Wenago Natural – 95 points.
#11 – Hula Daddy (Holualoa, Hawaii), High Mountain Red Bourbon – 95 points.
#10 – Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (La Jolla, California), Guji Zone Ethiopia – 95 points
#9 – Lexington Coffee Roasters (Lexington, Virginia), Kenya Kikai – 95 points
#8 – Simon Hsieh’s Aroma Roast Coffee (Taoyuan City, Taiwan), Ethiopia Washed Yirgacheffe “Mini-Me” 2014 – 96 points
#7 – Olympia Coffee Roasting (Olympia, Washington), Holiday Blend – 95 points
#6 – Topeca Coffee Roasters (Tulsa, Oklahoma), Ethiopia FTO Worka – 95 points
#5 – Temple Coffee and Tea (Sacramento, California), Panama Los Lajones Bambu Geisha – 96 points
#4 – Klatch Coffee (Los Angeles, California), Kenya Makwa AB – 96 points
#3 – JBC Coffee Roasters (Madison, Wisconsin), Gelgelu Adame Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Organic Natural Process – 96 points
#2 – Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (La Jolla, California), Sumatra Ulos Batak – 96 points
#1 – Klatch Coffee (Los Angeles, California), Panama Ironman Camilina Geisha – 97 points
Nick Brown is the editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine.