2021 has been one incredible year for coffee. In total, I reviewed 109 coffees on the site and Instagram and easily tried close to 400 coffees throughout the year. I got to explore a lot of unique and experimental processing methods, discover new (to me) roasters, try varietals I had never had before, and even drink coffee from origins I had never experienced before. After trying so many amazing coffees throughout the year though, it is almost impossible to only pick a few that are on my “top” list. That said, I have done my best to compile a list of 18 of my favorite coffees from 2021. The coffees are ordered in the order I reviewed them this year.
Basha Bekela Ethiopia
This coffee was exactly my style. It was one of the most jammy coffees I had all year and was bursting with sweetness and intense fruit/berry notes.
Yemen Mokha Matari
My Friend’s Coffee
I discovered My Friend’s Coffee in 2020 and my love for their coffee just grew in 2021 with two of their coffees making my top list this year. This coffee from Yemen was likely the most unique & exotic coffee I had all year. It had notes of leather & pipe tobacco, which might sound strange, but were incredibly delicious. It was rustic, complex, and incredibly rich.
Costa Rica Las Lajas Black Honey Micro-Lot
Bean & Bean Coffee Roasters
Country: Costa Rica
Bean & Bean is a mother-daughter Q-Grader team and I had the chance to try their coffee for the first time in 2021. Costa Rica was likely one of my favorite origins this year and this coffee was one of the reasons. It had a rich sweetness, tropical fruit, berries, and citrus flavor notes, and a wonderful depth and complexity.
Ethiopia Wush Wush
My Friend’s Coffee
The Wush Wush variety is one of the most coveted varieties in coffee and I had the privilege to try quite a few throughout this year. All of them were excellent, but this Wush Wush from My Friend’s Coffee stood out as my favorite. It was incredibly complex, uniquely funky, and wonderfully delicious.
Ethiopia Degafe Burka Natural
Red Rooster Coffee
Isolating coffee to a single farm is difficult in Ethiopia, so I was incredibly excited to try this nano-lot coffee from Red Rooster. Not only was it unique in that sense, but it was also incredibly tasty. It was a beautiful expression of a naturally processed Ethiopian coffee and its sweet, berry-forward profile made it an easy pick for my top coffees of the year.
This coffee was my first experience with Manhattan Coffee, a roaster from the Netherlands. I tried the coffee through my Yonder subscription. It had a complex sweetness and intense citrus profile I truly enjoyed.
Sudan Rume Heirloom
Sudan Rume is a rare coffee variety and one I’ve only had a chance to try a few times. This coffee from the reserve lineup of Corvus was vibrant, rich, and incredibly complex. It was an easy addition to my top list for the year.
Rogue Wave Coffee
As can be seen from this list so far, I am a sucker for berry-forward, naturally processed Ethiopian coffees. This one from Rogue Wave Coffee had an incredible berry sweetness and strong, fruit-forward profile. The flavor profile reminded me of blueberry, raspberry & tropical fruit.
Nicaragua Yellow Pacamara Natural
Paradise Coffee Roasters
There are hundreds of coffee varieties with new ones being discovered/created all of the time. Yellow Pacamara is a relatively new variety and this was my first experience drinking it. This coffee had boisterous sweetness, intense fruit notes, and a heavy mouthfeel. It was a true delight to enjoy.
Good Land Organics – Geisha
Country: United States
Coffee from the continental US is extremely rare and Frinj Coffee is one of the only places offering it. This Geisha was grown in California at Good Land Organics farm and had a wonderfully sweet and complex profile.
Potosi – Natural Anaerobic SL34
This natural anaerobic Colombian coffee was part of the June 2021 “Forward Five” from Forward Coffee. It had a lush, silky, and decadent flavor profile with notes that reminded me of pineapple, grapefruit, and rich stone fruit. It was one of the most complex coffees I had this year.
Harmony Geisha – Zorro
This coffee was part of the Reserve series from Corvus. It was a stunning coffee that had a beautiful floral and fruit profile. It was syrupy, sweet, and incredibly complex.
Colombia Mauricio Shattah Red Bourbon Anaerobic
Blue Bottle Coffee
This coffee was from the Exceedingly Rare lineup from Blue Bottle. It was a very special coffee with juicy, fruit-forward sweetness and syrupy body. I couldn’t get over the aroma of this coffee, which was full of raspberry and tropical fruit notes and dominate from the moment you opened the bag for every brew.
Ivan Solis – Candy Natural
Black & White Coffee
Country: Costa Rica
This was the first I’d had of coffee from Ivan Solis, but is now a producer I will look for as an immediate coffee to purchase if I see it available. This coffee from Black & White Coffee was truly incredible with a complex, fruit-toned sweetness and layered, fruity profile.
Kona Geisha Champagne Natural
Paradise Coffee Roasters
Country: Hawaii, United States
This Hawaiian coffee is my second Paradise coffee featured in the list and likely the best coffee from Hawaii I’ve ever had. It had an intensely complex profile, lively sweetness, and tropical fruit notes throughout. It was a shining example of the true potential of coffee from Hawaii.
This coffee came from the Elida Estate in Boquete, Panama, and had a layered floral and fruit profile that was incredibly complex—I easily could have listed 10+ flavor notes I experienced in every brew.
Vista Barú Geisha
The best Geisha coffees are ones that balance the floral and fruit notes in complex harmony. This Geisha from LAMILL did that perfectly. It had a decadent profile that was complex and constantly evolving.
Crowns – Ethiopia Tamiru Tadesse Tesema – COE #1
This was my first opportunity to try a #1 Cup of Excellence coffee—and it was incredibly special. It was likely one of the most floral coffees I had all year with supporting notes of grape, orange citrus, and subtle kiwi/tropical notes.
I could easily have added another 10-20 coffees to this list and trying to keep it to only 18 is a slightly unnecessarily, self-imposed restriction. Looking back over the last year though, it’s clear I’ve had the opportunity to try some truly amazing coffees. I can’t wait to enjoy the incredible coffees that lie ahead in 2022.