Hawaiian and Jamaican and Sumatran and Kenyan,
But do you recall?
The best cup of coffee of all?
Of course you do.
You’re craving it right now. It’s the one you want to savor over and over.
Which is why we’ve hunted for some of the most note-worthy brews to please your palette and round out your gift giving list this year.
These are are the coffees you want to wake up to each holiday morning. Kick back, relax and relish every drop during the five seconds of bliss you might manage to sneak in before the day starts buzzing!
TONX COFFEE ROASTERS
Located in Los Angeles, California, Tonx is a coffee sourcing, roasting, and delivery subscription service, geared toward coffee enthusiasts looking for unique, freshly roasted beans. Tonx roasts their coffee just hours before they are packed and shipped, and unlike other coffee subscription programs, sends only whole bean, not ground coffee, ensuring each cup is as fresh as the last.
Editor’s Notes: The coffee we received came from the Gikanda Farmers Cooperative in Nyeri, Kenya. Farmers sort the coffee berries, and then pulp, ferment, wash, and soak them before drying, creating a very unique flavor in the cup. At first glance, we thought this was going to be a light, mild coffee, as is typical of Kenyan blends. Boy, were we wrong! Medium in body with notes of caramel, slightly bitter tamarind, and citrusy grapefruit and lime zest, this coffee has a depth of flavor and interest that would please even the most difficult of coffee critics.
Pricing ranges from $12 for a 6 oz half sack, to $34 for 24 oz. We’ve recommend the Standard, which will give you a full 12 oz bag for $19. Business plans are also available, for offices that just can’t get enough of Tonx fresh roasted, globally sourced blends. Want to taste test before you buy? Just go to Tonx.org, and you can get a 2 oz. sample of beans sent to you free of charge.
A&E COFFEE ROASTERY
Located in Amherst, New Hamspire, A&E Custom carries a wide variety of Fair Trade, certified-organic coffees from around the world. The roastery café makes a mean cup, no matter what taste profile or spot on the globe you crave, but A&E also offers a range of coffees for home consumption.
For real coffee wonks who want a special experience, A&E opens the vault and provides access to a few, very special, Special Reserve coffees. Featured this season are Finca Gravileas, Tarrazu from Costa Rica, Seethargundu from India, Huehuetenango from Guatemala and The A&E Holiday Blend.
Writer’s Notes: ‘Tis the season, so I gravitated towards a sample of A&E Holiday Blend, a festive, smooth medium-body coffee with light hints of dried fruit (to my delight, I detected a very subtle trace of dried apricot.) In essence, this is holiday comfort in a cup.
Pricing for A&E Special Reserve coffees range from $12.75 to $14.99 per pound. Additional variety are available at aeroastery.com including an organic Coffee World Tour package that would make an excellent holiday gift.
SANANI, THE ORIGINAL MOCHA COFFEE
Contrary to popular opinion, the original mocha coffee was not flavored with chocolate or cacao beans. The word “Mocha” comes from the port city of Mocha in Yemen, where the history of coffee trading began. Sanani Coffee is a single-origin, original Mocha coffee straight from the arid region of Yemen. Up until the seventeenth century, the Middle East was the only place this coffee varietal was actually grown and cultivated. Tariq Ausaf, a computer programmer turned coffee connoisseur from Dallas, Texas, discovered this fact and recognized the value in re-introducing the original mocha bean to America – and thus, in 2007, Sanani was born.
Editor’s Note: We tried a sample of their ground medium roast Mocha coffee this past week. Flavors of dark chocolate rich and smooth, medium acidity were present. It’s fresh and a bright, with a long finish-certainly a very drinkable cup of coffee.
At $19.95, and packaged in a silver and royal blue 8.8 oz box, we expect to eventually see Sanani at high end retailers like Bloomingdales or Nordstrom’s. In the meantime, you can pick up a box on their website at Sanani.com.
GRACE HIGH TOWER & COFFEES OF RWANDA
Inspired by the spirit of the Rwandan people, Grace Hightower De Niro created ” Grace Hightower Coffees of Rwanda” as a way to celebrate and support the coffee farmers of Rwanda. Through direct sourcing, fair trade, ethical practices and environmental stewardship, the coffee farmers of Rwanda create sustainable businesses that can be passed from one generation to the next.
The coffee is available in 4 blends from dark roast to light, and chocolaty to citrus flavor notes. A special Signature Series collection of small-lot coffees are also available for purchase. Limited in quantity, the current offering features coffee from Epiphanie Mukashyaka, founder of Buf Café. This limited edition offering comes from her washing stations, Nyarusiza and Remera, in Southern Rwanda and directly supports over 6,000 farmers.
Writer’s Notes: Coffee with a sustainable conscience is always high on my “must try” list. I selected the Rwanda Medium Dark Roast to sample and found it to be a robust, full-body coffee with a slightly sweet fruit finish, mildly dry on the long. This is my first experience with a Rwanda coffee and though it arrives already ground, rather than whole bean, I’ll still be back for more.
Typical pricing is $12.50 for a 12 oz sack. Gift sets are also available online at coffeeofgrace.com.
MAUI WOWI HAWAIIAN COFFEES
With a farm to cup island attitude, Maui Wowi Hawaiian handpicks coffee beans from carefully selected plantations and family-owned farms that represent the bold attributes and sheer beauty of Hawaii. They offer a wide variety of blends from Kauai and Molokai, 100% Kona coffee and flavored coffees such as Chocolate Macadamia Nut and Toasted Coconut. All coffee beans are born and raised in Hawaii, and roasted on the Mainland.
Writer’s Notes: The thought of tropical escapes is highly appealing to me this time of year, so though it’s off my normal preference track, I decided to sample Maui Wowi Maui Mountain Roast. It didn’t physically transport me to the island paradise I long for, but it certainly offered a rich flavor profile. Bold, earthy with traces of sweet-tangy fruit and a crisp finish. Likely to be a crowd-pleaser. It will go nicely in a travel coffee mug. It can be a challenge choosing the best travel coffee mug but it is worth it when you find the right travel mug for your fantastic brew.
Pricing ranges from $12.80 to $19.80 per 12 oz sack. 100 percent Kona Coffee is offered at $29.80 per 12 oz sack. Discounts are available when purchasing by the case at shop.mauiwowi.com.
EXOTIC ORIGINS COFFEE
The Exotic Origins Coffee model is designed to be a passport to a new and deeper understanding of coffee. Each limited edition numbered box of Exotic Origins is cultivated, transported, roasted and packaged according to stringent protocols and carries a tamper-proof seal of authenticity. Details about origin, history and proprietary cupping notes are provided with each package. If desired, a unique wine and coffee pairing system is also available to help find coffees based on wine tasting preferences.
Exotic Origins prefers to roast beans to a lighter and milder roasting profile, which “liberates” the beans natural flavors, emphasizes the bright tasting qualities of the beans.
Writer’s Notes: The coffee I received came from Chiriqui Province, Panama, Bambito Estate Reserva. Located near Volcan Baru, Bambito Estate’s coffee is comprised of three coffee varietals: catuai, caturra and typica. I expected a full body, robust Central American coffee and found it to be a surprising medium-dark, rich, sweet blend. Smooth, clean and sweet on the short with chocolate notes carrying through to flavor-saturated on the long. Out of curiosity I check the wine pairing and found Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon to be consistent recommendations.
At $15.99, and packaged in a luxury box, Exotic Coffees provides a rich experience from start to finish. Gift packages are available and discounts are offered with coffee subscriptions at exoticoriginscoffee.com