For the past few years, I’ve been counting down my favorite coffees of the year. For historical perspective, you can check out my favorite coffees of 2012, 2013, and 2014.
In 2015, I slowed my pace from 2014 and took it easy when it came to writing reviews. Last year, I only cupped around 100 different coffees from around 50 or so roasters. I’ve compiled my 30 favorite coffees and today I present to you, Dear Reader, my Best Coffee of 2015, numbers 10-1!
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Remember, the coffees in this list are only coffees that I had in 2015; it is a highly subjective list and is in no way meant to be authoritative or comprehensive.)
10. Compelling and Rich Coffee // Brown Betty Seasonal Blend
Compelling and Rich Coffee’s Brown Betty is a big, bodacious, full-bodied, bawdy, buxom, beautiful blend that brings a bounty of berries and sugar brownings.
Okay, that’s enough alliteration; but the truth of it is that Brown Betty is an absolutely incredible coffee. Full-bodied, juicy,sweet, fruity, and delicious through and through. Unfortunately, I don’t have the faculties to pull this coffee as an espresso, but I can only imagine what it must be like.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in Los Angeles, though, you won’t have to imagine what it’s like. Compelling and Rich Coffee will very soon be hosting their shop’s soft opening at an undisclosed downtown L.A. location. Do some research, Los Angelenos, and seek out this coffee.
09. Suits and Knives Coffee Roasters // Kenya Kahiriga Peaberry
We in the third wave/specialty coffee community tend to be a bit critical of darker roasts; personally speaking, yeah, I prefer light roasts. Having said that, though, I’m not afraid of coffee that has a darker profile than I typically like if (and only if) that darker profile was an intentional result of the roaster trying to get another dimension out of the coffee.
I can’t speak to the mindset of Suits and Knives’s roastmaster when they put their Kenya Kahiriga Peaberry in the roaster, obviously; but I can tell you that this coffee’s darker profile did not at all detract from the quality of the cup. Sure, it’s a bit roastier than I like but it’s done tastefully; in fact, I want to remove any notion from your mind that this coffee is “over-roasted”—it’s not; it’s “more fully developed.”
I really enjoyed this Kenyan offering; it’s full-bodied, voluptuous, supple, and strikes the perfect balance between sweet and tart. It’s not a perfect coffee, but I think it’s one you’d be fortunate to try.
08. Madcap Coffee Company // Colombia Carmen Patino
If I tell you that this coffee is fantastic (which it absolutely is), you’ll probably roll your eyes at your computer screen and exclaim, “Duh doy!” Because this coffee is obviously fantastic—it’s the 2014 Colombia Cup of Excellence winner and it was roasted by Madcap Coffee. You and I both expected this coffee to be fantastic going into the review.
What you probably really want to know is if the coffee lives up to its $47.50 price tag. To be honest, I can’t really answer that question for you; you just gotta do you. But if you do have that kind of expendable income, and you’re really passionate about trying very exclusive coffees that you can’t get anywhere else at any other time… Well. I certainly wouldn’t attempt talking you out of buying this coffee for yourself.
Madcap Coffee’s Colombia Carmen Patino is a real treat, and I’m really thankful that I got the opportunity to try it.
07. Lineage Roasting // Colombia San Antonio
I have had some really incredible Colombian coffees over the past few years and, I have to say, Lineage Roasting’s Colombia San Antonio ranks near the top.
This coffee was utterly delightful from start to finish; so sweet, so balanced, so clean, and with such dynamite clarity, it provides a refreshing, flavorful, and very unique cupping experience. Loads of fruit, soft sugary sweets, creamy, a little bit of zest and spice, lots of liveliness…
Really, I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
06. PERC Coffee // Kiamariga AA Kenya
Wow, what a wonderfully, delightfully complex coffee. PERC Coffee ‘s Kenya Kiamariga AA absolutely blew me away, dazzling my taste buds from beginning to end. This is a coffee that absolutely belongs in PERC’s “Top Shelf” class; very deserving of that title.
The only disappointment I had with this coffee was the lack of information about it available. I try to include as much and as detailed background information I can find on any particular coffee because I strongly believe that the producers deserve the recognition. That goes for any coffee. But when I review a coffee like this one—one that’s so unbelievably delicious—it irks me even more that it’s so difficult tracking down the coffee’s history.
NOTE: Check out KC Coffee Geek’s thoughts of the Kiamariga.
05. Sunergos Coffee // Panama Hartmann Estate
My, my, my… What a tremendous coffee this was. Sunergos Coffee’s Panama Hartmann Estate was an absolute treat. Very flavorful, vacillating from sweet to tart, deftly balancing the fine line that divides delicious and complex, the Panama Hartmann Estate really has it all. It’s a coffee that’s challenging to dissect while still being pleasurable to just sit back, kick up your feet, and relax with.
Really, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. It may well be the best coffee I’ve had from Sunergos yet.
04. Spotted Cow Coffee Company // Tanzania Shiwanda Estate
There’s no need to beat around the bush here—Spotted Cow Coffee Company’s Tanzania Shiwanda Estate is incredible. In fact, it may well be the best roast of the Tanzania Shiwanda Estate I’ve had yet.
This was a full-bodied, voluminous coffee that had an incredible amount of depth. Even as the cup cooled closer and closer to room temperature, its dynamic profile just kept going and going, maintaining a supple, syrupy texture and dynamic clarity throughout. It’s a very layered coffee, too, densely and tightly packed into the cup.
I can’t say enough about this one; an absolutely brilliant offering from Spotted Cow Coffee Company.
03. Kuma Coffee // Guatemala Finca La Folie
Kuma Coffee’s Guatemala Finca La Folie is a gloriously complex, intricate, exquisite coffee. It’s a coffee that doesn’t quit, revealing something new with layer upon layer.
The thing that really, really impressed/baffled/confounded/pleased me about the Guatemala Finca La Folie was that it was an incredibly citric and acidic coffee, but managed to retain a tremendous balance throughout the cup. At no point was it too citric, too tart, too acidic…
This was an absolutely incredible coffee. One you need to try.
02. Madcap Coffee Company // Ecuador La Perla
For as long as Madcap Coffee Company has been around, it’s really, really surprising to me that until now they’ve never sourced a coffee from Ecuador. After trying this one, I have a conflicted response to this. My initial response is “What took you so long??” Upon further reflection, my response has become “Thank you for holding out for the perfect coffee.”
Madcap’s Ecuador La Perla was an absolutely incredible, brilliant coffee. One that dazzled the palate from sip to shining sip. Besides being an exquisite Ecuadorian offering—standing head and shoulders above its peers—it was one that could stand toe to toe with some of the finest lots from neighboring regions, like Colombia, Peru, and Brazil.
I don’t want to wrap up this review without expressing my thanks to the fine folks at Lemonjello’s Coffee in Holland, Michigan for sharing this one with me. If you’re fortunate enough to be living in the West Michigan area, be sure to head over there to grab a cup as soon as you can; if not, you should definitely order it online.
01. Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee // Ka’u Natural Yellow Caturra
This coffee is absolutely incredible. It is a coffee that just wrecked my palate from beginning to end. The Ka’u Natural Yellow Caturra, from Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee, is an immensely, powerfully, overwhelmingly flavorful coffee that explodes out of the cup with an intensity that both excites and delights from first sip to last drop.
Dynamite coffee; one that reminded me of a South American Gesha, and one that should definitely not be missed.
What was your best coffee of 2015? Feel free to enter a comment below. Also remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.