Trying to find good coffee - please, this is a NEED!

November 4, 2010

The mom-and-pop shopt where I used to buy my coffee closed its doors about 3 months ago. Man, they used to buy green beans and roast them in an antique roaster and their coffee was great! For a time, the roaster was in their shop (an old house), but then it caught fire. They repaired the shop and repaired the roaster and continued roasting at another location. Then, after about 20 years, they closed very suddenly. (Maybe the old house's owner wants to sell the property.)

Alas, I can't find any grocery store coffee I like. Tried Peet's (which I know is supposed to be good) and thought it was just "Eh". Maybe the Peet's at my store was a little old. My sister buys Seattle's Best in the the Midwest, at Kroger, but I haven't found it here. Costco's brand tastes too "dark" to me. By the way, I like Sumatra best.

Anyone with suggestions for an online source of good Sumatra - I would love it! Or another Sumatra-ish brand that you buy at your grocery store?

Comments (55)

  • cloudy_christine

    Target has acceptable whole-bean coffee. Not as good as beans from a good local roaster, but my husband will drink it, and that's saying something.

  • annainpa

    I would buy the Sumatra at Starbucks, whole bean, and grind only the morning's brew at a time in my cheapy Black and Decker electric grinder, taking care not to grind too fine. Put ground coffee in bottom of my French Press Pot. Use my electric kettle to heat the water, and then pour into the French Press Pot. Put lid on, keeping at top. Timer for 4 minutes, then press the filter down. Fabulous coffee.
    I do well with some of the Costco stuff, too,--it varies, though always a certain level of good. If you don't like dark, don't get anything marked French Roast.

  • sonopoly

    You can buy green beans, a roaster, and roast your own. I've done this, but haven't been drinking coffee for a while now. It's pretty easy once you get the hang of it. I was compelled to try this because I read an article saying that as soon as the beans are roasted, they start their decline in flavor. The green beans keep for quite a long time. Here is an excellent resource that should give you all the information you need as well as all the supplies:

  • loves2cook4six

    Millstone Hazelnut gets absolute raves here. All our guests comment when we serve it and they never say anything with any other coffee.

  • sonopoly

    Oh, and it ends up being cheaper in the long run (after your initial investment in a roaster), because the green beans are cheaper than roasted ones. They expand during roasting. I got some good deals on green beans on ebay.

    I have a grind and brew coffee maker which shortened the process (no need to separately grind the beans, now that's a PITA!)

  • iris_gal

    Whenever I see NewmanâÂÂs French Roast at CostCo I stock up.

    Not the best but very good and much better than Starbuck's.

  • lpinkmountain

    Fearlessem gave me this link a while back when I was searching for some good coffee to give friends as a wedding present. I have no idea if any of these coffees are any good. I bought a house brand roast at a little coffee shop in my hometown for their gift and it was pretty darn good.

    I wish I could find a good coffee that I like. I have to now drink decaf due to some health issues. I drink Newman's Own Special Decaf blend but it is Green Mountain coffee. It is just OK. Frankly I find all Green Mountain coffee to be "just OK" which is a shame because I like the idea of free trade, etc. If I were you I'd snoop around until I found another gourmet type coffee place. I have two near me, they are in most places nowdays. I can't be bothered to make a special coffee run though, and can't afford anything special.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Best Boutique Roasters

  • hawk307

    Try Amazon. Search all Departments, Click on Grocery and Gourmet food.
    Then Sumatra coffee.

  • bcskye

    I use good old Folger's Special Roast. My DH who had never acquired a taste for coffee in his life (he's on Soc. Security now) has started drinking a cup of it every morning and says it tastes pretty good.

  • arley_gw

    I grew up on Community Coffee Dark Roast. Once I moved away from Louisiana it was hard to find; now it's online, but some of the local stores here in South Carolina are carrying it as well. The price is quite reasonable; about a dollar more per pound than mass market stuff like Folgers or Maxwell House, but far superior in flavor to either.

    I like the Dark Roast the most('the red bag'--it's as rich as Starbucks, but much smoother--doesn't taste burnt) but their French Roast is very good too. You can get most of their coffees either as whole bean or ground. I haven't tried every variety they offer (and I probably won't simply because I don't like flavored coffees) but I haven't been disappointed in anything I've gotten from them.

    Occasionally the website has some special offers like if you buy $40 worth of stuff, the shipping's free. Place one order with them and they'll email you their specials.

    Here is a link that might be useful: community coffee

  • sienna_98

    Peet's and Starbucks both use very dark roasts, so I don't think you'd like either. I'm not sure where you're located, but if you are ordering on-line, you might want to try

    I roast my own these days, but I really liked intelligentsia coffees.

    If you want to spend hours reading about coffee ;) I'd recommend

  • jojoco

    You need to shout out to Michaelmaxp. He has an amazing depth of coffee knowledge.

  • booberry85

    I agree with Arley. The best cup of coffee I've ever had was in New Orleans at Community Coffee. I love their Medium Roast.

  • annie1992

    Grocery store coffee? The only ones I've found drinkable at all were Eight O'Clock and Millstone Foglifter. I don't really care for flavored coffees, although I'll occasionally get a caramel mocha at the coffee shop.

    I like Paramount's Breakfast Blend and Biggby Coffee's Best Blend the most. Starbucks I don't like at all, it always tastes bitter and burned, I like milder stuff.

    Both Paramount and Biggby are Michigan companies and they are available on line.


  • nancyofnc

    I've had a devil of a time finding good coffee that is decaf. Every place I looked had just one that was questionable as to the location it was harvested from (I don't like flavored, just bean), and could be leftovers from regular coffee roasting for all it says.

    Then my friend told me about Larry's Beans, roasted here in Raleigh NC. Six kinds of decaf beans, whole or choice of six grinds, including Sumatra, Mexican, Peru, and raw green decaf too. My fav is, an oxymoron, Decaf Espresso. They also have a couple three dozen regular coffees and blends, raw green too - all are just great! Beans are fair trade and organic, shade grown, and they even use biodegradable bags! I find I use less in a pot than store-bought and get a very rich, flavorful cup of coffee, even if it is decaf. It can be bought on-line and they offer coupons after you send them your email, free shipping usually, sometimes 25% off. Now I don't feel deprived having to only drink decaf.

    (And, I am not connected in any way with the company - just a satisfied customer.)


    Here is a link that might be useful: Larry's Beans

  • nancylouise5me

    I can recommend Baronets coffee out of Connecticut. They have been around for quite a while(since the 30's or 40's I believe). They import quality beans from around the world and roast their own. They have organic, flavored and regular coffee beans and are fair trade certified. We have been ordering from them for many years and have been very satisfied with their coffee beans. We get the beans and grind them fresh every morning. I love the smell of fresh ground beans(they should make a perfume of that smell, lol). I haven't really tasted any supermarket coffees that taste good. Starbucks taste to acidy to me and Dunkin' Donuts was never even in the running, bleckkkk. NancyLouise

  • annie1992

    nancyLouise, I agree on that smell. I remember when I was a kid, Grandma would go to the A&P and run the coffee beans through the grinder at the store. I loved that smell. I also loved the smell of a can of coffee when it was opened.

    Still do.


  • bunnyman

    I was spoiled by Renee's coffee and now everything tastes second rate.

    Currently drinking Maxwell House South Sea Blend because it is on sale and somewhat has a Sumatra flavor. I've just not had any luck finding decent Sumatra coffee. Tried Starbuck and Meijer's store brand... Meijer's was the better Sumatran.

    I've been stunned by the recent prices on Columbian.

    : )

  • jessicavanderhoff

    Hmm. Start roasting your own? :-P

  • noinwi

    I don't like the dark roasts as much as I used to and I'm originally from Starbucks country...maybe an age thing. I currently buy Eight O'clock Colombian(brown bag)whole bean and grind a few days worth at a time and keep the grounds in a tight-lidded jar. I keep the bag in the freezer...not necessarily for freshness, but the oils from the frozen beans don't build up on my grinder and it's easier to wipe out. I use a melitta drip cone over a single mug for a really good fresh cup-a-joe.

  • doucanoe

    I am not much of a coffe drinker, and Tim likes any old grocery store brand that's on sale! lucky me, huh?

    My daughter and son-in-law in Chicago love French Market brand coffee. They order it online. I've had it many times at their house and it really is good!


    Here is a link that might be useful: French Market Coffee

  • seagrass_gw

    Not much help to the original poster - we use a Senseo machine like LindaC. I don't like the coffee pod selections here as much as I did in Europe. When we go back to the Netherlands, and more recently to France, we load up on dark roast Senseo pods. I keep a lot of extra room in a carry-on bag to bring them home. The Europeans make great coffee. We've tried the "fill-it-yourself" pods but they don't taste as good. I do have some of the Kenya pods ordered from Amazon.

    It seems as though the Keurig coffee makers have cornered that niche of the market - lots more variety of coffees available but I like the Senseo machine better.


  • goldgirl

    Here's a small, local roaster in N.J. that does a very nice job.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Greene's Beans

  • tami_ohio

    DH loves Green Mtn. coffee and you can get it on line. Or duncan donuts. Also can be bought on line. He buys the beans and grinds his own. He buys bulk and freezes the beans until he needs them.

  • John Liu

    I am a Peets devotee since my first stint in Berkeley. Major Dicksons or French Roast. Buy from an actual Peets store, after tasting the coffee that day. We mostly make espresso so I don't buy any medium or light roasts.

  • jessyf

    Good idea jojoco...I emailed michaelmaxp for the OP.

  • ci_lantro

    The best grocery store coffee that I've found is 'Chock Full o'Nuts'. (half the caffeine variety) Had never heard of it & bought a can that I found on the bargain aisle in WalMart. We really liked it--full rich flavor & no bitter taste at all. Naturally, being in the markdown section meant that the store was closing it out. It's available on-line but, ouch, the cost of shipping...

  • michaelmaxp

    Sumatra? Nothing really, what's sumatra with you?

    In my experience, once you discover a coffee you like, and then drink it for a long time, all beans are judged by that flavor and you become a somewhat unhappy camper for ever if that flavor can't be found in another bean.

    Sumatra is a funny coffee in that the producers can be pretty sloppy and inconsistent in their picking, dehulling, and drying, and it's often subject to overroasting which is not necesarily the best treatment for that bean. It's not easy to find a great one.

    If you don't have local roasters who have product to try (some will experiment for you if you ask), there really isn't much choice but to settle for sub par grocery bulk or start the mail order searches. Mail order can be frustrating due to the cost of name recognition and postage and the chance of old coffee. If you find a good one though, from a legitimate vendor, the shipping time can actually be a plus. I prefer beans at two or three days after the roast to allow a little off-gassing to mellow the taste. My roaster, Vivace, in Seattle, ships the day of roasting and i get it the next day or two. Avoiding beans older than 14 days after roasting, I get a delivery every two weeks. It costs more because of the shipping but like I said, once accustomed to a flavor it's hard to move forward. That's not to say I don't sniff around. It's still fun to try new things.

    Roasting beans is not for me. I don't have the time or the energy. If i was retired, it would be a fun topic to take on.

    Another option is to do a little experimenting with brewing methods. You may stumble on something that really does the trick for you plus it might change your focus from trying to match the old flavor, to trying to coax the best flavor out of the bean you have on hand.

    Have fun...


  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m

    In trying to understand what makes a good cup of coffee, I managed to get a visit to a coffee importerâÂÂs coffee tasting facility. I figured that they are the ones who should know.

    I was a little surprised how they taste test coffee. The coffee tasters would take a quick mouth full of coffee forcefully, gurgle the coffee a little in the mouth, and spitted out the coffee in a stainless steel spittoon. Then they would mark on a note book some quick check marks, gurgled the mouth with clean water and went on to test the next sample.

    I asked them how could they tell the quality of aroma of the coffee doing it that way, and they told me, âÂÂAroma is not a quality that is important for coffee, only taste counts.âÂÂ

    They also told me that you canâÂÂt go wrong with Costa Rican beans.


  • annie1992

    dcarch, Ashley would agree with the last statement. She spent a couple of weeks in Costa Rica improving her Spanish and got a tour of Cafe Britt. She said the coffee she had there at the plantation was better than any coffee she'd ever had, and she drank it black, it was "too good to mess up with cream and sugar".

    I did order some from them, but it got held up at the border for a couple of months by Homeland Security. I guess coffee is a popular vehicle for drug smugglers, but they wouldn't get much into my two pounds! by the time I got it, I'm sure it was stale and I didn't find it exceptional. Ashley said it "wasn't the same".


  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m

    Posted by annie1992 "dcarch, Ashley would agree with the last statement. She spent a couple of weeks in Costa Rica improving her Spanish and got a tour of Cafe Britt. She said the coffee she had there at the plantation was better than any coffee she'd ever had, and she drank it black, it was "too good to mess up with cream and sugar".

    Interesting also, when I was in Costa Rica, the cream would be hot cream when you ask for cream for your coffee.

    You can get very good strong coffee in Chinatown coffee shops; however, unless you tell them not to, they will serve you coffee aready with cream and sugar.


  • texasredhead

    If you have a Costco near, I have been buying their Seattle Mountain 100% Arabica whole bean coffees for some time. A 2.5 lb bag is in the $9.00 range. I happen to buy their Columbian Supremo as my wife doesn't care for the stronger varities. They also have French Roast, Costa Rican and Sumatra. These are full body coffees.

  • lpinkmountain

    LOL Michael!! Great post, good to see you again!! Interesting info on the mail order. I can't find a coffee locally that I'm all that crazy about so I'm considering mail ordering from that link that Goldgirl posted. I like that they are at least semi near me so maybe the stuff would arrive in a somewhat timely fashion. Good info on ordering small batches. Coffee is a luxury for me anyway.

  • jessyf

    Hey Michael that was FAST, lol.

    "In my experience, once you discover a coffee you like, and then drink it for a long time, all beans are judged by that flavor and you become a somewhat unhappy camper for ever if that flavor can't be found in another bean."

    Ain't that the truth, for coffee as well as other things in life.

    As much as we are Vivace addicts as well, I wouldn't recommend them for the OP, since Sumatra is a different coffee. We were in Portland in April and DH made sure we sampled Stumptown - Vivace still kept the edge. When we swing through Seattle, I found a hotel within walking distance of one of the Vivaces and DH is in heaven and watches the barristas making foam art. He does keep roasting his own beans on his 'one of these days' lists, though.

    Anyhoo - good to see you, warm fuzzies and all.

    EJ (tm)

  • KatieC

    We mostly drink Costco's house blend (in green bag). I pick up Seattle's Best House Blend once in awhile for work, but the girls like their folgers. The organic cafe near us uses Doma coffee, a local roaster...all fair trade organic beans. It's very good.

    A friend of ours roasts his coffee beans in an air popper, lol. He picks them up at yard sales and thrift stores. DH says his coffee is great.

  • Virginia7074

    Interesting discussion, all! 8-o-clock green bag - hmmm. I don't recall seeing it in a green bag. Will have to check that out.

    I use just a regular old Krups auto-drip coffeemaker. And I should have said right off the bat that I frequently set it up the night before so that it's ready when I get up in the morning. Really should probably not do that, because the coffee is just sitting out there in the air all night. We have Keurig coffeepots at school, but I can't embrace that until the K-cups are recycleable.

    As interesting as home-roasting sounds, I can't picture myself doing that, because I would probably put off the roasting, then be miffed when I had no coffee in the morning. Still, that Whirley Pop stovepot roaster on the Sweet Maria website is pretty affordable. I do sometimes grind my own beans.

    I forgot about Chock Full of Nuts - used to buy that when I was younger. I also used to buy 100% Colombian and French dark roast. Well, I also used to buy Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain, but you can't get those anymore. In the past, my church has sold fair market coffee from Uganda, but they haven't had any for a few months.

    Funny thing about acquiring a taste for Sumatra. I used to buy Jamaican Blue Mountain and Kona from this local roaster, but when they could no longer get those 2 coffees (and probably couldn't have afforded them anymore anyway), I switched to Sumatra.

    My niece has given me coffee from Costa Rica and Guatemala and they were both good. I may swing by World Market & see what they have. I'm really close to 2 Costco's too and while their bags are huge, they're also inexpensive so there's not much to lose if I don't like them.

    Thanks all - I'll report back on my findings and may end up ordering online, if I can get past the shipping shock!

  • cherigw

    See that you are in Zone 7. . . I am too (OK). . .I order from Duncan Coffee out of Houston ( Excellent beans and teas. . .can't recommend them too highly!!

  • gabriell_gw

    There is a group of monks living in Wyoming who roast and make coffee for their fund raiser.It is Mystic Monk and can be ordered on line. I've ordered it several times and have been pleased.

  • bunnyman

    I had to come back and mention I think water has much to do with decent coffee.

    At work I can drink brewed Maxwell House for free or drink instant from the machine for $.50 a cup. I drink the instant. For reasons I've not figured out the brewed coffee at work tastes horrible to me. While I have never thought MH great coffee it is mostly acceptable... I'm not a snob. At home I'm drinking MH but I have well water so it has a different flavor.

    Water is at least half the flavor in your coffee?

    : )

  • michaelmaxp


    Water definitely has some impact in the flavor of coffee. Earthy, musty, chloriney(?), sulphery flavors will definitly contribute to the final flavor in the cup but not by half. To date, 850 compounds have been identified in roasted coffee that contribute to aroma and flavor. Compare that to wine, even with it's many nuances only has about 200. It's no wonder that coffee is so diverse in style and audience.

    Still though i agree with you that water that is "off" in flavor is going to affect the cup. I think the bigger issue with water is that people use too much of it in the brewing process. In other words, not enough coffee in the pot. Light coffee to my sensors is sour and awful. That seems to be the recipe used in so many office pots and restaurants.

    The "official" water to coffee ratio for over a hundred years, has been 2 tablespoons per cup; which is too strong for most people. I believe that the typical dislke of strong coffee is due to poor brewing methods. 2 tablespoons of reasonably fresh roasted beans of good quality, ground to the correct consistency for the method used, steeped in hot 190-204ish degree water for the method-suitable amount of time would change a lot of minds. Over watered, perked and boiled, over/under steeped, poorly ground- you name it will highlight all the potential nastiness that is contained in coffee, while proper handling can create an experience in the cup that can cause one to stop and ponder the beauty and awesome nature of God. (sorry).


  • dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m

    Posted by michaelmaxp "-------The "official" water to coffee ratio for over a hundred years, has been 2 tablespoons per cup;----"

    That's why I don't normally use ice cubes in iced coffee.
    I put regular coffee in the freezer.

    Iced coffee, may be off-topic here? :-)


  • lucypwd

    Has anyone tried ILLY ?- I think it is far superior to Starbucks - rich with no bitterness.

  • noinwi

    "8-o-clock green bag - hmmm. I don't recall seeing it in a green bag."

    Eight O'clock in the green bag is Decaf(which I use for evening iced coffees), red bag is Original, and brown bag is Columbian.

  • hawk307

    I set up the Coffeemaker at night not for any reason but to wash out the Carafe.

    I don't add the Coffee, just the water and Filter.

    Don't want to lose any Aroma.

    I'll put a note in the filter" I put in 6 cups ",
    so I'll know how much coffee to add in the morning.

    I have 3 different notes 6, 8 , 12 cups , according to who is here.

    Did you try Amazon for Sumatra Coffee ??? As in my first thread.
    You asked for an on line source.

  • Terri_PacNW

    I used to get a Sumatran coffee that I loved..switched roasters and didn't like theirs as much as I love their Brazil Dark it's my "standard"...

    Here's the link to where I get mine..And I must say I love the coffee club of the month..You can switch it up, delay shipments, move them up..whatever..Everything I've tried I love...The Sumatran is not as good in dark as it is in medium roast.

    Some of my favorites from them are the Coffee of the Month when they blend roasts or beans.

    It's roasted the morning it's shipped out via Priority.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Camano Island Coffee

  • Terri_PacNW

    Here's their Blog...

    Here is a link that might be useful: CIC Blog

  • Virginia7074

    OK, I could swear that I posted this last night, but maybe not(?) Was just going to say that I have well water, but it's good well water, not like the well water on the farm where I grew up. Loved the farm life, but the water had a lot of sulfur and limestone in it. Lou, the only Sumatra I saw on Amazon was 5-lb bags of whole bean Sumatra. I'll check again. Of course, DH is not on the same page as me. I see he went out today and bought another bag of Peet's. DS is going to Ohio this week. I'll ask him to bring me back some Seattle's Best from Kroger or Meijer.

  • teresa_nc7

    Heard back from Coffee Bean International today and they had two online source to recommend: or

    Both have coffee from Sumatra at varying prices.

    Hope this helps!

  • Terri_PacNW

    CBI is the Sumatra I loved...But I am thrilled with Camano's coffees.

  • 3katz4me

    This is now my favorite coffee - similar to what you described - one guy buys and roasts his own beans in a small operation.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Great coffee

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