Most of us have nowhere to go when we wake up, at least for the time being. But if you’re a true coffee drinker, it doesn’t matter where you need or don’t need to be, or what is or isn’t on the to-do list—coffee is a necessity. It’s comfort in a cup. It’s something to look forward to. You simply can’t go without. To be perfectly honest, I rarely ever brewed my own coffee before finding myself stuck in self-quarantine, and now I’m fully converted. I love the way the smell fills my little apartment. It makes every morning feel cozy, even when I’m alone.
Though I can now appreciate a good home brew, we’re all missing (and hopefully finding ways to support) the local shops we grabbed a cup from on the way into work. Luckily, you can in fact brew coffee that’s just as complex and caffeinated from home. Really good coffee shouldn’t need too much meddling. It doesn’t require fancy sweeteners or milk frothers or latte art to enjoy. Here are some of our favorite beans, from dark roast to cold brew to espresso, that should help lessen the panic you feel now that the coffee shop on your block is temporarily closed. There’s even an instant option, in case you want to experiment with the whipped coffee trend. Most are either organic, sourced from sustainable farms, free-trade, or all three. Every single one tastes delicious.
Think of single origin beans (as opposed to blends) as coffee educators: They’ll show you how to appreciate the coffee grown in a single region, be it Colombia or Rwanda. You can buy Counter Culture’s single origins by the bag, but a subscription will keep you stocked for longer. The brand also happens to be committed to environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability, which makes this deal all the more desirable.
If you like to experiment with your morning brew, this assortment box is ideal. The coffee experts at Blue Bottle curate harmonious blends in each of these three bags, pulling from varying regions, climates, and processing methods. Try each and then order more of your favorite in bulk.
Now that hot weather is here, you may be looking to switch from the usual mug of joe to a colder option. Grady’s chicory-infused cold brew is delicious, and this kit makes it so damn easy to brew (and store). Just add the bean bags and water to the pouch to soak overnight, and you have your coffee supply for up to two weeks. It’s also completely reusable. After living in New Orleans for four years, I can attest that chicory flavor is a delightful addition to any coffee, but especially cold brew.
High Hopes Cold Brew Coffee
If you’ve already fed your cold brew obsession by buying a cold brew maker, then you’ll just need the beans. Variety in Brooklyn roasts remarkably rich and flavorful cold brew beans, with tasting notes of dark chocolate and tropical fruit. It’s too good to dilute with milk. For summertime or anytime, really.
This slightly sweet and full-bodied espresso is a perfect coffee to drink on its own, or dressed up with milk in a latte or cappuccino. It’s definitely strong, but not so overwhelming as to require too much meddling. Intelligentsia is a great all-around outlet for serious coffee appreciators, allowing you to choose a specific type of grind based on your brewing mechanism, or even narrow down your search based on elevation. Get as finicky as you like.
City of Saints
Disclaimer: I prefer a strong brew that’s rich in flavor. If you’re on the same page, I highly recommend this seasonal roast from City of Saints with notes of blackberry, cinnamon, and dark chocolate. It’s an homage to Colombian coffee that’s roasted in Brooklyn, and only roasted based on demand. Place your order before 9 a.m. on Mondays to guarantee that it’s the freshest for their Tuesday shipments.
Kicking Horse Coffee
Lighter roasts are often more complex in flavor, with Kicking Horse being no exception. The Canadian coffee house’s Hola roast has tasting notes of red currant and creamy honey, which do more than enough to answer Kicking Horse’s somewhat aggressive call to “wake up and kick ass.”
Koa is meant for coffee purists. Koa only roasts Kona coffee, a coffee specifically grown on the verdant volcanic slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. No blends or inferior beans will do. This makes Koa an expensive bag, but for good reason. Its Estate coffee is even more elite, grown from Kona coffee beans sourced from one single, high-elevation farm. It has less caffeine than lighter roasts, if that’s your thing.
Café de Monteverde
Café de Monteverde’s coffee is special in two ways. First, it’s honey processed, giving it light sweetness—not from actual honey, but from a layer of the coffee bean that remains attached, allowing its sugar to ferment and flavor. (That layer is technically called mucilage, but, gross. We’ll stick with its nickname, “honey.”) Second, the coffee farm is located in a gorgeous Costa Rican cloud forest. And it’s grown sustainably. Okay, special in three ways. This medium roast has notes of honey, pear, and cinnamon. You’ll have to email the farm to order.
No Fun Jo is for all those who kicked the caffeine habit but couldn’t leave the actual coffee behind for good. Made from Arabica coffee and gently stripped of caffeine, it tastes of sweet blueberry and milk chocolate, and satisfies the craving. Or at least, it helps satisfy the craving.
Instant coffee is crap—usually. Sudden Coffee, the brain child of a techie and a champion barista, is instant coffee that won’t make you spit up what you drink, and that’s who Intelligentsia tapped for help on its Illumination instant. The beans are fully roasted before being dehydrated and packaged in recyclable vials to preserve flavor. You’ll want a handful of them on your desk at work.
This coffee is for the more adventurous caffeinators. The coffee beans (organic, dark) are roasted with mushrooms. Specifically, Lion’s Mane, which is said to improve focus. No, it doesn’t taste like fungi when it’s brewed, although it does have a faint-but-distinct flavor to it. And it might boost your productivity. Worth a shot.
Sträva took one of our long-time favorite substances, caffeine, and roasted it with a new favorite substance, CBD. The CBD used in this bag is at beginner’s strength, and it’s intended to smooth your caffeine buzz, getting rid of jitters and helping you focus. With tasting notes of black cherry and milk chocolate, it might change up your morning routine for the better.
Indecisiveness can be a blessing. By signing up for a Driftaway subscription, you get to try beans responsibly sourced from around the globe, giving you new flavors to contemplate every month. Driftaway is also committed to the coffee bean farmers themselves, and you can connect directly with them to learn about their work, if you so choose. Yes, this is how you become a coffee snob.