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Trader Joe’s Has the Best Cheap Coffee

February 4, 2021
Photo Credit: Jeremy Pawlowski

I live in Brooklyn and I’m obsessed with coffee, so I wouldn’t blame you if you assumed I spent a fortune on beans. But here’s my dirty little secret (one of them, anyway): I buy my coffee beans at Trader Joe’s. Specifically, I buy Trader Joe’s Cafe Pajaro Blend. It’s organic, fair trade, and it tastes fantastic. Not bad for less than $10 per pound.

It’s not that I’ve never bought the pricier beans; I have. Of course I have. And it still happens from time to time: I get suckered into beautiful packaging or I have a good cup somewhere and spring for the beans to the tune of $12, $15, even (gulp) $20 for just 12 ounces. And then I brew a cup. It’s usually fine, even good sometimes. But it’s often not as good and never better than the cheap beans I love from Trader Joe’s.

cafe pajaro

Design by Zoe Burnett

What Makes Cafe Pajaro Coffee Beans the Best Beans

So what makes these beans so good? For starters, they’re organic and this is a must for me. Coffee can be heavily treated with chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. With organic coffee, only natural fertilizers like compost and manure are used, which is healthier for me, better for the environment, and limits the farmers’ exposure to dangerous chemicals.

Speaking of farmers, Cafe Pajaro coffee beans are also fair trade. This means that they are produced according to standards designed to protect the farmers and support local communities. This blend comes from family farms in Nicaragua, Peru and the highlands of Mexico.

The beans are roasted extra dark, so the coffee has a rich and toasty flavor, which I love, even if it isn’t trendy. In fact, one thing my love for these beans has done for me—aside from saving me a ton of cash—is helped me get over caring about the sneer of coffee snobs.

I was once discussing these beans with a barista at an upscale coffee chain and when I described them, she looked straight down her nose at me and said, “If the beans look oily, that means they’re over roasted.”

I actually thought about that a lot, and the conclusion I came to is this: I don’t care. For me, Cafe Pajaro coffee beans are the best coffee beans.

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