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 20-11!
(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.)
20. Holy Schmidt Coffee Company // Costa Rica Carrizal
The Costa Rica Carrizal, from Holy Schmidt Coffee Company, was one of those rare, unique coffees that actually got better and better as the cup progressed. There are a lot of ways you can chart a coffee’s flavor intensity, but a linear incline, I’d think, is one of the more atypical chart progressions.
Honestly, throughout the first several sips of this cup I thought it was a plain, average coffee. As the cup started to cool off, though, it got much more interesting; it grabbed my attention a bit more. By the time I took my last few sips the coffee was bright and effervescent and incredibly flavor and it had me clamoring for more!
Holy Schmidt Coffee’s Costa Rica Carizal was a heavenly cup of “Job.” It might not be the godshot you’re looking for, but it’s definitely one hell of a revelation, falling just shy of divine.
(Too many puns…? Nah.)
19. Huckleberry Roasters // Rwanda Kigeyo
I’m just going to say it right up front and get it out of the way: Huckleberry Roasters’s Rwanda Kigeyo is an unbelievably delicious coffee.
From the very first sip, the Kigeyo was absolutely brilliant; a gorgeously supple winy texture and the unbelievably bright sweetness of honeyed tropical fruits delighted and excited the taste buds all the way through.
18. Onyx Coffee Lab // Kenya Murang’a Gondo
Even though I’m posting this review in January 2015, Onyx Coffee Lab’s Kenya Murang’a Gondo was actually the final holdout of the incredible run of African coffees that graced The Table in 2014. And, let me tell you—this one was no exception.
This coffee was absolutely explosive on the palate; intensely flavorful, really bright and lively, and complex…? I’ve rarely come across a
Kenya coffee this complex: sweet, sour, tart, floral, silky, buttery, herbaceous, nutty, spicy, savory… The Murang’a Gondo runs the gamut. What’s more, though, is that it is very drinkable, enjoyable, delicious coffee that pleases the palate as much as it excites and challenges it.
Damn! What a coffee.
17. Compelling and Rich Coffee // Ethiopia Kochere
I built this Table here in the corner of this cafe three years ago and, over the course of those three years, coffees from Ethiopia’s Kochere Cooperative and accompanying washing station have remained a favorite. They’re almost always so clean, classy, and delicious. And, as their name might indicate, Compelling and Rich Coffee’s Ethiopia Kochere was the ultimate expression of how fantastic these coffee are.
This iteration of the Kochere was a classy, elegant, delicious, complex, nuanced, and fine coffee; everything I was hoping it would be and then some.
16. Velo Coffee Roasters // Ethiopia Beriti
I’m not sure why, but it really took me a while to get this coffee dialed in just right. It was really finicky and pretty unforgiving with respect to brewing parameters, but, boy oh boy, when I did get it dialed in, it was a real treat.
Velo Coffee Roasters’s Ethiopia Beriti is a delicious cup that ranges the full spectrum of flavors, from rich and decadent dark chocolate to bright and juicy tropical fruits to savory mint sprig. This was a really wild and complex coffee that deserves a spot on your kitchen counter.
15. Tanager Coffee Roasters // Christmas Island Blend
Of Christmas Island Blend, Tanager Coffee wrote on their site:
When we think of Christmas, snow, sleighbells and sitting beside a warm fire are the furthest thing from our mind. We are thinking about warm sandy beaches, waves crashing and that hot tropical sun beating gloriously down. Exotic fruit drinks, cooling us down and island music greeting our relaxed ears. This blend is meant to take you to another place this holiday season where you can experience the warmth and satisfaction of a hot cup of coffee and the taste will guide you on a tropical taste adventure.
If that’s what Tanager was going for when they created this blend, they absolutely nailed it. Christmas Island Blend is a far cry from the “traditional” holiday blend; hell, it’s a far cry from non-traditional holiday blends! This coffee is so bright, juicy, and tropical; it isn’t even reminiscent of a fruit cake – it’s more reminiscent of a pina colada.
This was an incredible coffee; one that surely would have been Leon Redbone‘s favorite.
14. Sunergos Coffee // Honduras Finca Clave de Sol
Wow, what a crazy coffee. If I were to cup this one blindly, I would not have guessed that it was a Honduran coffee; Honduras would be the furthest coffee from my mind, to be honest. I would have instead guessed that this was a natural Yirg. It was so intensely fruity and floral, and it even had that bit of berry fermentation famous in natural Yirgs.
But it wasn’t a natural Yirgacheffe; Sunergos Coffee sent me their Honduras Finca Clave de Sol. And the fact that this coffee is Honduran really blew my mind.
Even better than it being such a surprise, it was a pretty tasty coffee to boot. Perfect? Not really. Like I said, it did have a bit of that ferment and its body didn’t really hold up as the cup progressed through its stages; but it was pleasantly sweet and refreshing.
13. Coffee Collective // Guatemala Finca Vista Hermosa
The Guatemala Finca Vista Hermosa is an extremely popular coffee, and for very good reason: it’s a wonderful, balanced, nicely-rounded cup of coffee with a great flavor profile that appeals to all coffee lovers.
Its medium body and buttery sweetness will appeal to South American coffee fans and its chocolaty overtones and complex floral aromatics will appeal to African coffee lovers.
Even with its popularity and even with my affinity for it from previous encounters, I still had really high expectations for The Coffee Collective’s take on it. And they certainly didn’t disappoint. While it’s been pretty straightforward in the past, Coffee Collective managed to transform it into a really interesting and complex coffee with a ton of depth and a crisp, clean finish.
12. Mountain Air Roasting // Kenya Giakanja AA
With their Kenya Giakanja, Mountain Air Roasting offered up a really beautiful, elegantly voluptuous and supple cup of coffee that is also nuanced and complex—one that challenges the palate and entices the taste buds; definitely not a straightforward coffee.
What really struck me about this coffee was how immense it was on the palate, but how crisp its flavors were, how cleanly it finished, how it evolved over the course of the cup, and how sudden the transition was from the first to the second half of the cup. I would have been pleased if the coffee retained its red winy profile (supple, honeyed, deep, dark berries) throughout, but I was excited by the turn it took into the bright and juicy tropical fruit punch profile it became.
I can’t recommend this coffee highly enough; it dazzles, it excites, it pleases.
11. PERC Coffee // Kenya Tambaya AA
Wow. This is quite a coffee.
PERC Coffee’s Kenya Tambaya AA is in a league of its own; a coffee completely unto itself. It is an intensely juicy, supple, fruit-forward coffee that explodes out of the cup and floods the palate. Interestingly, for such a bright/lively/tart/tangy/zesty coffee, it is also quite elegant, featuring a soft, curvy, voluptuous body.
I’ve had some exceptional Kenyan coffees in 2015, and I can’t think of a better one with which to close the year. The Kenya Tambaya is divine.
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.