Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Trader Joe's Coffee

Lately, I don't have much of value to post here. But, this is good, in a hugely minor way...

I'm a big fan of coffee, although I have changed from black only to black or with cream in the last year. Half and half is good stuff. Too good...

Since most Deidrich's Coffee locations closed up shop, I had been buying my coffee at Peet's or Ralphs (still Peet's, though).

But, a couple of months back, I went down the wrong aisle at TJ's was hooked on their cool looking coffee cans. That's the best reason to buy food, right? The way the package looks?

The two up front are the most current cannisters. Breakfast Blend and Smooth and Mellow Blend. They're both pretty good, although the Breakfast Blend has that Columbian taste that I don't really care for as much. So, I will probably pass on this one the next time.

The Smooth and Mellow Blend (which I confess to only buying because of the totally hip and 60s look of the can) is really, really good. This is my fourth or fifth can! The decaf version is equally good.

These three are some of my other favorites. If you squint, you'll see that they are all "Medium Dark Roast." That's what 75% of TJ's varieties seem to be labeled. But, that's just lucky for me. That's my preference.

They do have some very milder and light roasts, but if memory serves, it was Columbian (pass...), Kona (which I think is overrated, but still a good price at TJ's), and the Breakfast Blend.

They also have quite a few dark and very dark roasts; espresso roast, french roast, Bay Blend (1/2 dark and 1/2 medium), Volcano (super, super dark), etc. I'm not a big fan of dark roasts, although I do like it from time to time.

They have many decaf coffees, plus special blends, such as half caf. They've got fair trade, organic, and fair trade organic coffees. They've got weird , rare, and specialty coffees, too. I like the peaberry, for instance.

At Christmas, they had a normal holiday blend AND a Wintry [sic] Blend that had whole spices tossed in. Far better than regular flavored coffee, but now I have half a cannister of peppercorn and clove scented coffee that I really should toss. Next year, I'll make a pot or two myself by tossing some peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and cloves in the grinder along with my own beans.

Wrapping it up...

In my mind, it seems that Starbucks* has us conditioned to think that they've got the best beans. But here's the reality. Their roast is so dark that it actually makes it harder to screw up the pot. While you can't get a mild and subtle cup of coffee from their beans, you also can't make it too weak and watery or too strong and bitter by using a crappy drip machine. The overroasted beans are the great equalizer here.

With their beans, that distinctive Starbucks roast is always present in your home cup, masking the taste of your latest big coffee making screw up (tap water, old beans, bad grinder, water that's too frickin' hot, a badly in need of descaling drip machine, etc.). If that's you, then Starbucks is your friend (but TJ's French Roast or Volcano varieties will also buddy up just fine).

I don't know how great Starbucks actual beans are, but there are others out there that are just as good, but with a less roasted character. Peet's is one. Seattle's Best (I like Henry's Blend the best). I'm glad I realized that TJ's can stack up.

By the way, TJ's prices are really good. Coffee ranges from $4.99 for 12oz of French Roast to $7.99 for 13 or 14oz of my favorites. The Smooth and Mellow is $5.99 for 14oz, I think.

* I'll confess that the missing apostrophe in Starbucks throws me for a loop, so I just leave it out. There's no right, just wrong.

I'm not the only one confused, I guess. Gotta use that apostrophe somewhere!


  1. When Starbucks moved into Redding, my two favorite coffee places soon folded. I've held a grudge against them since. And, while I'm no coffee connoisseur, I've never understood why their coffee is supposed to be so doggone special.

    I've grieved as the big chains have moved into Redding over the years. It's changing the place to Just Another Valley Town. But then I learned that Trader Joe's will be moving into town. Finally, a reason to rejoice. Trader Joe's is one of the big things I've missed about living in Ventura County.

  2. Moka Java is my husbands FAVORITE Trader Joe's coffee.

    Hey Hal - I'm from Ventura County myself. I first encountered Trader Joe's when I was really, really little - like 4 or 5 years old. This was WAY before TJ's became "the" place to shop.

  3. I love Trader Joe's Coffee. The taste is great. I love going there in the morning to take the free samples of coffee granted I have to fill the tiny sample cup a number of times to be satisfied! haha! I just hope the people who work there do not think I am crazy! I wonder what are they thinking about me?? I am a normal person who does buy groceries there sometimes but I am just worried if they feel pissed if I am there enjoying the coffee?

  4. I think they're happy to keep you in the store, even you're buying other things.

    I have a friend who works in my local TJ's and he'd be the first to top off you cup!


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