The Year 2020 in Coffee: Challenges, Trends, Surprises & Knockouts

In 2020, COVID-19 devastated lives and businesses, challenging the global specialty coffee community to its core. On the producing side, the pandemic added still another daunting challenge to growers facing endemic low coffee prices and an ongoing battle with leaf rust disease in Latin America. On the consuming side, roasters saw the pandemic shutter their bread-and-butter café businesses while many once-nomadic coffee lovers were forced to become at-home shoppers and brewers.

But growers, importers, roasters and retailers adapted and prevailed, often in remarkable ways. At Coffee Review, exceptional coffees continued to arrive throughout the year from an even greater range of origins than before the pandemic. Farmers and roasters deserve recognition every year, but especially in 2020.

Amplifying the Top 30

As usual, we capped a year of celebrating great coffees and those who produce them with publication of our annual Top 30 list of the most exciting coffees … Read more

Celebrating the Top 30 Coffees of 2020

Coffee Review’s list of the Top 30 Coffees of 2020 represents our eighth annual ranking of the most exciting coffees we tested over the course of the year. The Top 30 celebrates and promotes coffee roasters, farmers, mill operators, importers, and other coffee industry professionals who make an extra effort to produce coffees that are not only superb in quality but also distinctive in character.

Over the past 12 months, we cupped over 2,000 coffee samples and published more than 450 reviews, both significant increases over past years. The coffees we chose to review were primarily high-rated coffees, which are of most interest to our readers. This year, about one in four coffees we tested scored 90 points or higher, and nearly 200, almost 10% of the total, rated 94 or higher, a tribute to the ever-intensifying innovation and dedication of the world’s leading coffee producers and roasters.

(For … Read more

Shop the Top 30 – 2020

Coffee Review‘s mission is to help consumers identify and purchase superior quality coffees and, in the process, help drive demand and increase prices to reward farmers and roasters who invest time, passion, and capital in producing high quality coffee beans.

Many of our readers seek out highly rated coffees for their own enjoyment or as thoughtful gifts for coffee lovers.  Coffees that appear in Coffee Review’s Top 30 are particularly popular.  They often sell out quickly.

We’re pleased to help facilitate your shopping and gift-giving by providing links to roasters’ websites where Top 30 coffees may be available for purchase. As of the morning of Tuesday, December 1, 2020, the Top 30 coffees below were available for purchase, pre-order, allocation, or notifications at roasters’ websites.

No. 3 | Kakalove Cafe (Taiwan), Ethiopia Natural Guji D Minor Special Lot, 97 points – NT $400/8 oz.

No. 5 | JBC Coffee Read more

Holiday Gift Guide for Coffee Lovers

As the number of cups of coffee enjoyed around the world flies north of two billion every day, it’s clear that humanity’s love of the beverage runs as deep as December nights run long. And yet like winter solstice snowflakes, no two coffee lovers are exactly alike in habits and preferences.

Consequently, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to gifting for the coffee lovers in your life, and in these topsy-turvy times, especially, it’s worth a little forethought to achieve a genuine gift-reception smile rather than a merely polite one.

The key may be avoiding both randomness and any presumption that change is always welcome. For many, brewing coffee can be an act of solace in a world gone mad. Our quiet morning rituals are among the few things we can predict and control, so maybe this is not the year to shake things up.

We therefore recommend against giving a … Read more

A High-Quality Grind, One Brew at a Time: The New Fellow Ode Brew Grinder

The new Fellow Ode Brew Grinder, center, flanked by four burr grinders reviewed in Coffee Review’s June 2020 report “Four Mid-Range Burr Coffee Grinders Tested & Reviewed.” Photo by Howard Bryman.

Home kitchen appliances don’t usually enter the market wafting on hype. Yet, when it comes to an ambitious new product from the young and media-savvy California-based coffee equipment manufacturer Fellow, we’ve come to expect nothing less. The hype has been especially intense in the run-up to the debut of the Ode Brew Grinder, the company’s most complex product so far, and one for which the brand has made some lofty claims regarding features and performance.

Through its various media channels, Fellow has been promising a user-friendly machine of compact footprint, exceptional quietness, near-zero grounds retention, stylish appearance and trailblazing particle size consistency, designed specifically for single-dose, non-espresso brewing (which in itself puts the Ode in a category all its … Read more