It’s that time again! My annual look back at the best (really, just my favorite) coffees of 2018.
I only published 13 new whole bean coffee reviews this year. By comparison, in 2017 I posted 14 whole bean coffee reviews, so to not have delivered more reviews this year is definitely disappointing.
The good news is that most of the coffee I reviewed in 2018 was really good.
There were even a few coffee reviews I never got around to publishing that you might find on this list.
So let’s get to it, here’s my favorite coffee from 2018!
- Brandywine Coffee Roasters – Cumbres de Poas Red Honey
- Olympia Coffee Roasting – Little Buddy Blend
- Portola Coffee Roasters – Myanmar Lay Ywar
- Higher Grounds Coffee – Congo Kawa Kanzururu
- Noble Coffee Roasting – Ethiopian Buku Sayisa
- Klatch Coffee – Original Christmas Blend
6. Klatch Coffee – Original Christmas Blend
Klatch Coffee’s Original Christmas Blend was a blueberry bombshell that I really enjoyed. I found it to be incredibly forgiving across varying brew parameters and coffee makers.
I’m not exactly sure how its flavor profile fits in with Christmas associations, but it’s definitely a coffee your whole family could get behind during the holiday season, mulling spice flavors be damned!
5. Noble Coffee Roasting – Ethiopian Buku Sayisa
Coming in at #5 on the list is Noble Coffee Roasting’s Ethiopian Buku Sayisa.
Some of you may remember that I ran a giveaway for this coffee in November with my buddy Andrew over at Pull + Pour Coffee. But for those of you who missed it, the Buku Sayisa is currently a 2019 Good Food Awards finalist, which is a testament to its quality.
The Buku Sayisa is a light roast washed coffee that has a prominent citrus flavor. Though it can take a bit of practice to dial-in, this is a special coffee once you get it right.
4. Higher Ground Coffee – Congo Kawa Kanzururu
The Kawa Kanzururu from Higher Grounds Coffee was a special coffee for its complexity alone.
I picked up notes of lime, chocolate, caramel, coconut, and florals across various brew methods and parameters. My favorite results came from my Kalita Wave when brewing drip coffee, with espresso from my MyPressi Twist coming in as a close second.
Aside from the great taste of this coffee, purchasing it had the direct benefit of supporting the Virunga Alliance, which is an organization that was created to protect Virunga National Park and its inhabitant (like the endangered mountain gorilla) from poachers, illegal loggers, and general conflict.
I hope to try more coffee from this region in 2019.
3. Portola Coffee Roasters – Myanmar Lay Ywar
Coming in at #3 on the list is Portola Coffee Roasters’ Myanmar Law Ywar!
Just as the Congo was a new region for me in terms of coffee exploration, so was Myanmar. And this was another coffee that did not disappoint.
It reminded me a lot of a natural Ethiopian coffee with its berry flavors. It also had a very thick body with a red wine aftertaste that added to its overall complexity. As the coffee cooled, more chocolate notes stood out than anything.
This coffee was one of my favorites not only for its complexity, but its overall forgiveness. It was really hard to brew a bad cup of coffee from the Myanmar Lay Ywar, and to me, this is one of the best indications of a truly excellent coffee.
2. Olympia Coffee Roasting – Little Buddy Blend
The Little Buddy Blend from Olympia Coffee Roasting not only took the top-rated coffee spot here at The Coffee Concierge from Case Coffee Roasters’ Kenya Gachatha AA (2015) after a multi-year stint, but it did so as a blend!
I wouldn’t have expected a coffee blend to win my heart like the Little Buddy Blend did, but alas, here we are at the #2 spot.
The coffee itself is balanced like a good blend should be, with plenty of fruity and chocolate notes interspersed through each sip. On top of this, I picked up a lot of distinct flavors, which I’ve personally found to be a rare occurrence in coffee blends.
And like the Lay Ywar at the #3 spot, the Little Buddy Blend was incredibly forgiving across brew methods.
I can’t wait to see what this blend brings us in future years. For now, it is one of my top recommendations for all coffee lovers.
1. Brandywine Coffee Roasters – Cumbres de Poas Red Honey
I didn’t think the Little Buddy Blend would be topped, and technically, it wasn’t. The Cumbres de Poas Red Honey from Brandywine Coffee Roasters came in with the same 9.6 score that I gave the Little Buddy Blend, but I had to choose a winner here.
After all, this isn’t a day camp where 1st and 2nd place tie.
This coffee was produced by Oscar Chacon and Dona Francisca in Costa Rica through the red honey processing method. Honey processing itself is like a hybrid between washed and natural, where some of the coffee cherry’s mucilage is left attached to the beans and then dried over a predetermined amount of time.
The “red” part of the honey processing method means that the coffee is dried with a bit of shade to increase the humidity the beans are exposed to. In contrast, “gold honey” would indicate direct exposure to sunlight (no shade), whereas “black honey” would indicate even more shade (and humidity) than “red honey”.
Ultimately, this coffee was stellar.
It was sweet, fruit forward, and very forgiving and consistent across a variety of different brew methods.
Last I checked, the Red Honey version is not currently available. However, it does look like Brandywine may be selling the Black Honey version in its place.
Grab a bag before it’s too late!
What Was Your Favorite Coffee of 2018?
These “Best Of” lists are always pretty funny to me not only because of the subjectivity of it all, but also because there are simply way too many coffees out there for an individual or even large organization to actually evaluate.
As I mentioned earlier, I only published 13 coffee reviews this year. I probably drank twice as much, or at best three times the amount of coffee that I actually reviewed…and that’s still a tiny sample size.
All of this is to say that the more comments we have below with everybody’s various coffee favorites from 2018, the more credible this “best of” list will actually be since it will no longer just be my opinion on the small pool of coffees I reviewed.
Cheers to more delicious coffee in 2019!