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Consumer Reports tests coffees to find best

August 16, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Americans spend about $2.5 billion a year on ground coffee every year, but which ones taste the best?

Many of us just can't get going in the morning without a cup of coffee. Before you pluck down $13 or more for a pound of premium coffee beans, a new Consumer Reports taste test found a few that came out on top.

Consumer Reports tested 23 coffees, primarily Colombian. Included were old standards, such as Chock Full o'Nuts and Folgers, and coffeehouse fare, such as Starbucks and Peet's. Testers also looked at celebrity coffees from Paula Deen and Wolfgang Puck.

To test, Consumer Reports enlisted the help of trained coffee experts. They spent weeks sniffing, slurping and tasting the coffees.

"We taste the coffees black so that we can really taste the flavor. We look for defects such as under ripe or excessively bitter notes, for example," said Consumer Reports' Erin Gudeux.

Consumer Reports also tested K-cups made for single-cup coffeemakers - from Folgers, Wolfgang Puck, and Timothy's.

"These would probably be best with milk and sugar to mask the off-notes. And they'll cost you significantly more than most coffees by the pound," Gudeux said.

However, testers did find two very good Colombian coffees to recommend - Colombian Supremo Medium Roast from Gloria Jean's and Newman's Own Organics Colombian Especial Medium Roast. Both have nutty and fruity notes and go for about $13 a pound.

If you prefer decaf, testers named three good choices. The highest rated was New England Coffee Decaffeinated Colombian, which costs a little more than $9 a pound.

Consumer Reports also tested four Ethiopian whole-bean coffees, which are quite bold compared to supermarket blends. One to try is Caribou's Ethiopia Finjal Organic Medium, for about $15 per pound.

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