Never let it be said that we at Consumer Reports don’t take our own advice. We might not run right out and replace our lawn tractors, big-screen TVs, or cars, with the winners of each new set of test results, but when it comes to grocery products like packaged coffee, the switch can be much more immediate and satisfying. A case in point is our new coffee Ratings.
Eight O’Clock 100 percent Colombian coffee was a favorite from past taste tests using our expert panel. Due to natural events (such as frosts and drought), a coffee buyer’s leverage in negotiating prices, and even international politics, the taste of a given product may change from year to year. The result in this case? The Eight O’Clock coffee, which we once described as “a complex blend of earthy and fruity, with a bright, pleasing sourness,” now comes across as “a weaker cup than most.” But our testers found two other Colombian coffees you might want to try.
Of the16 packaged Colombian coffees in our new coffee Ratings, two were very good, 12 were good and two were just fair. The Eight O’Clock was bested by Gloria Jean’s Colombian Supremo Medium Roast and Newman’s Own Organics Colombian Especial Medium Roast, among others.
We also tested our first batch of K-Cups, the single servings packaged according to Keurig’s patented technology and brewed in machines that accept “Portion Packs.” None rose to the level of very good, including Wolfgang Puck Chef’s Reserve Colombian Dark Roast. And none of the single-serve coffees is for the bargain-hunter. At an average 65 cents per 6-ounce serving, they cost as much as buying out.
Finally, in a nod to where, by legend, the first cup of joe was brewed, we also tested four Ethiopian coffees. Two had a distinctively complex, fruity, and highly aromatic character with a fair amount of bitterness—necessary to avoid the impression of tasting flat or dull. But none, especially Peet’s Coffee Ethiopian Fancy ($15.95 a pound), come cheap. And per 6-oz. serving, the price of the Ethiopian coffees was comparable to many of the packaged Colombians we tested.