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Coffee City

Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.

February 3, 2010 at 4:53 PM

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Consumer Reports finds no 'excellent' or 'very good' coffee blends; Guardian of London digs Caffe Vita, Stumptown

Posted by Melissa Allison

What on earth are the people at Consumer Reports drinking (before they tell me which car to buy)? Big names, for the most part. The highest ranked caffeinated blends, receiving "good" ratings, were Starbucks House Blend and Green Mountain Signature Nantucket Blend Medium Roast.

"Both have an earthy, woody taste, but Starbucks was found to be a fairly bitter to very bitter darker roast, while the Green Mountain has green/sharp flavor," the magazine said in a press release.

The best decaf ratings went to Allegro Organic Decaf Blend Medium Dark, Peet's Decaf House Blend, Caribou Daybreak Coffee Morning Blend Decaf, and Bucks County Decaf Breakfast Blend.

"Some coffees from revered companies like Maxwell House and Folgers languish near the bottom of Consumer Reports Ratings," the magazine says. "In rating coffee, Consumer Reports experts look for smoothness and complexity, with no off-flavors. The beans should be neither under-roasted nor charred, and the brew should have at least moderate aroma and flavor, and subtle top notes. Some sourness and bitterness are desirable, too, to keep the coffee from tasting bland."

Being Consumer Reports, it also talks about pricing. Some coffee that costs more by the pound actually costs less in the cup, because of varying densities and the amount you need to get a good cup of coffee. For example, Green Mountain Signature Nantucket Blend Medium Roast costs $11.21 a pound but just 23 cents a cup, while Archer Farms Breakfast Blend Decaf is $9.05 a pound but 34 cents a cup, the magazine found.

"The average coffee drinker consumes 3.3 cups a day, or about 1,200 cups a year, so those pennies can add up," it said.

For coffee drinkers on a budget, it recommends Melitta Classic Blend Road (11 cents a cup) or Seattle's Best Breakfast Blend (15 cents a cup) for caffeinated coffee and Seattle's Best Blend Decaf Light Roast (15 cents a cup) or Sam's Choice Organic Blend Decaffeinated Medium Roast (18 cents a cup) for decaf.

Sam's Choice is from Wal-Mart-owned Sam's Club, just another indication that these experts need a trip to the Northwest, where we have Costco -- and excellent coffee.

The Guardian (of London) figured that out. In an article today about what's cool in Seattle, it named Caffe Vita and Stumptown as two of the best roasters in town.

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