Coffee Comparisons

Comparing coffees from different coffee makers or sellers is a really hard process for the uneducated palate. If you’ve ever had to switch from Coke to Pepsi (or vice versa) and dreaded the thought, only to switch allegiances a week later when you get used to the new product, you know how much habit plays a part in your buying choices.

But that’s not to say we can’t give it a shot.

Before we get to taste, we should look over which companies are the most civically responsible, and in that situation, the answer may surprise. At the bottom of the list sit Coca Cola and Nestle, two companies that are voracious coffee consumers but do the least to help their suppliers financially, socially and environmentally. Phillip Morris (or as they prefer to be known in today’s post-tobacco settlement world, Altria) at least look after the environment, but are dogs when it comes to human rights. Procter and Gamble (Folger’s) have issues at both ends of the candle, but less than the big boys by a considerable amount, as does Sara Lee (Chock Full O’Nuts).

But the king of the bunch, in terms of large companies, is Starbucks. It seems odd to say, but they spend more on their suppliers than any other large coffee user, they take the environment into account, and they make plenty of charitable donations. And here we were, thinking Starbucks was a bunch of evil bastards bent on getting us hooked to fatty drinks!

It turns out, when you try every commercially available brand of coffee out there, that Starbucks has some good options. We particularly like the winterblend, breakfast blend, and the aged Sumatra beans, which always seem to be simply good coffee. The house blend (the stuff they normally pawn off on you) is burnt for effect, and though long time Starbuckers are used to it and thus want nothing less, it really is a trashy, weak way to make coffee.

Chock Full’o’Nuts makes a great New York Decaf, Maxwell House make nothing but crap, and though we enjoy the product from Seattle’s Best a good deal, it’s owned by Starbucks which sours some of the taste (come on, number 1 and number 2 under the same umbrella? Weak stuff).

Godiva does a superb creme brulee blend, which you should really try if you get the chance, but for our money there’s really only one coffee that survives the rest and remains king. Peets.com produces a coffee known as Major Dickason’s Blend, which will show you what a great coffee can be. That’s our pick for the best option out there today.