Green Mountain Coffee Roasters – Coffee Review

Green Mountain Coffee RoasterGreen Mountain Coffee Roaster is a New England icon. Their coffee is served in everything from restaurant to gas station here in New England. Founded in 1981, today Green Mountain is the nation’s largest seller of double-certified Fair Trade organic coffee. Recently I had the opportunity to try two of Green Mountain’s Fair Trade Organic offerings.

Green Mountain’s Organic Sumatran Reserve is an appealing coffee with an earthy richness you could expect of an organic coffee from the beverage’s birthplace. This is a pleasant, medium bodied coffee which, while it doesn’t disappoint in the cup somehow left me wanting more. A decent floral nose is the highlight of this coffee and, though the flavor is somewhat earthy the aftertaste is clean and smooth.

The roaster’s PBS Blend is a Mexican coffee with an interesting story (see their site for details.) I found this coffee rather disappointing. While the coffee was smooth with very little acid and no bitterness it also lacked any defining flavor. A hint of caramel was all I could discern from what was otherwise a surprisingly ordinary cup of coffee.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has a large catalog of coffees. Through the gourmet coffee revolution they have become ubiquitous in New England and, while I was not impressed with the PBS Blend, the Organic Sumatran Reserve is a good coffee for those shopping for a Fair Trade organic coffee.

Unfortunately Green Mountain has adopted the all too common industry trend of cutting back their bag size. Currently their coffees are offered in 10oz bags, both of these being between $7 and $8 per bag on their website. This equates to around $12/lb which, while not unreasonable, is a premium price for coffee. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the coffee being Fair Trade, the end result of which is the farmer seeing more of this money.

Conclusions: Despite the premium price, those looking for a good organic coffee should enjoy the Organic Sumatran Reserve but a lack of richness or any defining flavor left me disappointed with the PBS blend.

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Blanchard’s Coffee Co. – Coffee Review

Blanchard's CoffeeBlanchard’s Coffee Co. is a small, relatively young, family owned coffee roaster in Richmond, VA. Started less than two years ago they are already well on their way selling their coffee both mail-order and in area supermarkets.

But the proof is in the cup. I recently got the chance to try several of Blanchard’s coffees. Here’s what I thought.

Blanchard’s Tanzanian Peaberry is an outstanding coffee. Well balanced with a good body, this is my type of coffee! It is rich without any taste of smoke or burn.

Ethiopian Yergacheff was also excellent with a medium-light body. I would recommend this as Blanchard’s best all-around coffee of the ones I tasted. Low acid and hints of florals make for a superb cup.

Brazilian Daterra Sunrise nicely rounds out the roaster’s offerings as a light bodied, very smooth coffee. Many light bodied coffees lack complexity and flavor but this one is a notable exception. With practically no acid the coffee has a very clean finish that will leave you wanting more.

Blanchard does a monthly decaf coffee and the one I got to try was a Columbian Decaf. It is a good representation of Columbian coffee with a medium body and good flavor. While not overly complex this decaf doesn’t sacrifice flavor and I would recommend it to those relegated to decaf.

Unfortunately Blanchard’s House Blend didn’t match the quality of their other coffees. The bean was very dark and oily suggesting it was over roasted and though it was not ovely bitter in the cup it had a smoky, burnt flavor. There was no real depth to the flavor of the house blend and I really thought it was not very good.

Blanchard’s Coffee Co. is turning out some fantastic coffee. Roasting small quantities they roast their coffee within days of shipping and their attention to quality shows through in their product.

With the single exception of their House Blend, this coffee is outstanding, and how can you beat a roaster who says on their about page: “If you are in Richmond, come share a cup of coffee with us and watch us roast!” I love these small roasters.

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Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System

So if you’re a frequent reader you may have noticed that most of my reviews are positive. It’s not because I like everything I get, see, hear and read, just that I’m far more inspired to write about something I like than something I don’t. In the case of the Toddy Cold Brew system I am making an exception to this rule in order to review a truly disappointing brewing method.

The Toddy Cold Brew Coffee System website claims “The Toddy coffee maker extracts the coffee bean’s true delicious flavor and eliminates much of the acidity, producing a bold, super-smooth coffee that can be served one cup at a time.” The site also boasts a long list of positive reviews. The Washington Post has even called it “the ultimate coffee maker” but my experience with it was quite the opposite.

Toddy Coffee MakerThe theory is by brewing coffee with cold water you will extract less acidity and bitterness resulting in a superior cup of coffee. The system makes a concentrate from a full pound of coffee which can then be stored and prepared one cup at a time. With the convenience of working with the concentrate the system is also supposed to save coffee since you can make only as much as you need eliminating leftover coffee.

The allure of more convenient, better tasting coffee got the best of me and, after reading all the reviews I could find I decided to order a Toddy Cold Brew System directly from their website. A few days later it arrived.

The system consists of a large funnel, a carafe, and round, thick filters. To make the coffee concentrate you place a plug in the small hole in the funnel, place a filter in the inside holder and put a full pound of ground coffee in the funnel. You then add nine cups of cold water to the coffee grounds and let the mixture sit for twelve hours. After the brewing time you pull the plug and let the coffee drain into the carafe. To serve the directions recommend diluting the concentrate with three parts water to one part concentrate and heat.

I used the Toddy system for several weeks. I tried quite a few different coffees, a couple different grind sizes and varied the brew time according to the included instructions.

The results

After dozens of cups I was very disappointed with the results from the Toddy system. While the claim of low acidity held true the flavor was bland and the body absent. Hot or cold the only way I could make a nearly acceptable cup of coffee was to mix the concentrate closer to one to one. Mixing the concentrate this strong resulted in less than 10 mugs of coffee per pound of coffee, causing a huge waste compared to drip brewing. All other variables did little to improve the bland flavor.


If you’re hyper-sensitive to acid in your foods the Toddy Cold Brew System may enable you to drink coffee without discomfort. If you’re looking for a better cup of coffee, look elsewhere. Drip, press, espresso, vacuum, even percolator brewing all produce a much more satisfying coffee than the cold brew system.

What this system offers in convenience and simplicity it sacrifices in flavor. The $34.95 spent on this maker would be better put to a good quality drip coffee maker.

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Brotherhood of the Bean

Brotherhood of the BeanFor the sadly misguided reader who wishes to read about coffee that hasn’t passed through the guts of a small mammal I give you Brotherhood of the Bean.

These guys are relatively new on the scene but it’s quite clear from their coffee talk and product reviews that they’re very serious about their bean. Hopefully the Brotherhood will maintain the quality of their content and continue posting frequently.

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