It’s the holiday season, friends, and that means one thing around these parts–gift guides aplenty, each more indispensable and authoritative than the last. Up first, here’s our uninhibited guide to 25 of the very best holiday coffee blends around the world. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be moved to e-commerce. This is the Sprudge 2014 Holiday Blend guide.
PT’s Coffee—Holiday Blend—Here’s a great place to start your holiday blend journey, with a combo of Ethiopian and Costa Rican coffees from PT’s. But don’t stop there—we implore you to consider ordering this coffee with at least one other selection from the PT’s offering sheet, among the most impressive in American coffee right now.
Olympia Coffee Roasting Company—Holiday Blend—The folks who founded Sprudge grew up not too far from Olympia, and each year their changing holiday blend feels like a little bit of home. For 2014, owners Sam Schroeder and Oliver Stormshak have worked with their team to develop a two-bean blend of El Salvador Bourbon from El Aguila and Kenya SL-34 (derived from Bourbon) from the Kabonge Estate. Expect flavors of “cranberry, fruitcake, wine, and candied citrus”—sounds pretty gosh darn holiday-tastic to us.
Intelligentsia—Celebration Blend—Celebrate 20 years of Intelligentsia’s Celebration Blend, a three-bean melange of delights from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Costa Rica. It’s a coffee we look forward to every year, with its distinctive all-white bag and Direct Trade bona fides. On the flavor front, look forward to “spiced rum, red fruits and mulling spices, with wild honey aromatics”—like a hot toddy, basically.
49th Parallel—Holiday Celebration Espresso—If you’re getting a home espresso machine for the holidays, this would be an excellent choice. From the volcanic soils of Santa Ana, El Salvador comes this selection from producers Roberto Hill and Aida Batlle, boasting notes of honey, prunes, and candied nuts. This is a pulp natural coffee, and 49P has step-by-step instructions on how to pull a shot of Celebration on their website.
Ceremony Coffee Roasters—Holiday Twenty Fourteen—Ceremony Coffee’s drawn acclaim for its approach to coffee selection, roast profiling, and experimental projects like the shifting Asymmetries espresso series. Living life out on the cutting edge must be exhausting; it’s nice to see Ceremony dial it back a bit with this year’s holiday blend, which pairs a naturally processed Ethiopian coffee with some washed brown sugar goodness from San José Ocaña, Guatemala. Look for “Honey and berry aromatics, butterscotch, and apple pie.”
Gimme! Coffee—Holiday Blend—This annual holiday treat from Gimme! has maybe the best descriptors we’ve come across this year: “Fruitcake, cardamom, cedar lodge, open fire, respite.” Everyone wants those things. Everyone would enjoy this coffee.
Populace Coffee—Joyeux Holiday Blend—Here’s a smart two-bean blend from Populace Coffee in Bay City, Michigan. It’s comprised of 50% Kenya Kicha Tembo, 50% Colombia Los Naranjos, and has been roasted to an accessible profile by Populace so “that it can be shared amongst family and friends without worry.”
Pilot Coffee—Holiday Blend—From Toronto’s Pilot Coffee comes this humble holiday offering, featuring Guatemalan, Ethiopian, and Costa Rican coffees. This is a great introduction to the work being done at Pilot, one of our favorite Canadian roasters.
Sterling Coffee—Holiday Blend—Local PDX favorites are back again with their annual holiday blend, tastefully presented in a classic mistletoe muslin bag. This year’s blend combines Colombian, Ethiopian, and Brazilian coffees. The aesthetics on this packaging really stand out—this would be a lovely stocking stuffer for the coffee lover in your life.
Joe Coffee—The Rockefeller—In keeping with a tradition of naming blends after NYC icons, New York’s own Joe Coffee is brewing up a holiday coffee that evokes ice skating at Rockefeller Center. It’s not a blend, per se, but it comprises multiple varieties of coffee including Bourbon, Pache, Catuai, and Caturra from the Oriente region of Guatemala. The end result? A cup that’s “rich and creamy while displaying elegant fruit tones” perfect for the holidays. Now only if it came bundled with a box from Houston Street appetizer icons Russ and Daughters…
Passion House Coffee Roasters—Winterlude—This charmingly named blend pairs Ethiopian Yirgacheffe with Mexico Santa Martha coffees from the Passion House portfolio. That’s pretty cool, but we’ll do you one better—Passion House also offers the ability to make customized holiday bag labels (!) for giving coffee gifts with a more personal touch. These custom bag orders start at $180, with a 12 bag minimum. Learn more here.
Kuma Coffee—Bear Claus Holiday Blend—Not only does Seattle indie roaster Kuma have arguably the cutest holiday blend name, but this year’s Bear Claus comes sporting the cutest tasting notes in all the coffee land. What varietal is this coffee? “Santa’s Secret Blend.” What region was this coffee grown in? “North Pole.” Whom was the producer? “Saint Nicholas.” How was the coffee processed? “Elf process.” Shout out to all the elves.
Batdorf & Bronson—Holiday Blend—It’s an annual treat from Batdorf & Bronson, and this year’s edition is made up of coffees from Colombia, Nicaragua, Honduras, and a “secret spice” coffee to help round out the blend. Probably something from Africa, right? Who knows! It’s a mystery, similar to how Santa manages to get to every house in America in the same night within the same 3 hour time zone variance. This coffee’s got “a sweet and lingering molasses-like finish” with notes of dehydrated fruit and a “floral bouquet reminiscent of pine.” If your Christmas tree could drink coffee, this would be it. You can also check out this three-pack of Batdorf’s holiday coffee specials, which comes pre-stuffed in a conveniently stocking-shaped tube.
Single Origin Roasters—Sugarplum—It’s bloody hot right now in Sydney, but that won’t stop Single Origin Roasters from getting in on the Christmas blend fun. Sugarplum is a blend of Ethiopian, Colombian, and Kenyan coffees, with notes of “figgy pudding, sweet stewed fruits & christmas cake.” Single O’s tasting notes mention that this coffee is suited to “Elves, ginger fans, chrissy pudding & fruit cake lovers.” Shout out to all the elves.
Kaldi’s Coffee—Tis The Season Roast—Is it the season? Tis! Kaldi’s Coffee are a beloved St. Louis coffee institution, and they’re back this year with a blend featuring Sumatran and Ethiopian coffees, wrapped up in gorgeous packaging in collaboration with Firecracker Press. In the right hands, a holiday blend can also complement the feel of a holiday kitchen or even dining room table, and Kaldi’s gets kudos for their attention to aesthetics this holiday season.
Ruby Coffee Roasters—Cheers Holiday Blend—Rural Wisconsin isn’t too different from the North Pole right about now. There’s snow. There’s reindeer (well, there’s some kind of deer at least). And there’s a lot of holiday cheer as Ruby Roasters celebrates their first-ever Christmas blend. You can look forward to “a rich, harmonious cup of mulled wine and festive holiday spices.” Pair this with a butter burger and a Packers victory and you’ll be set.
Drop Coffee—Jazmin Julkaffe 2014—Stockholm-based Drop Coffee—our 2014 Sprudgie Award winner for “Notable Roaster”—is offering up this “Julkaffe” on a highly limited, boutique basis. So limited, in fact, that supplies are currently sold out. And so boutique, in fact, that it’s really not a blend at all, comprised of one single pacas variety coffee from Honduran producer Neptaly Bautista. If you can get your hands on this stuff, it will truly be a god jul.
Equator Coffees—Holiday Blend 2014 Fair Trade Organic—Three stunning coffees make for one luscious holiday blend from Equator, comprised of washed Ethiopia Biloya, natural Ethiopia Banko Gotiti, and a classic Guatemala Huehuetenango. Flavor notes: “Rich milk chocolate combines with an expressive range of fruit flavors suggesting cherry, berries, pomegranate, and tropical fruit punch.”
Colectivo Coffee—Blends A-Plenty!—Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Colectivo Coffee do blends *pretty much* at the highest level. That means not one, not two, but three distinct holiday blend offerings, with multiple decafs. Ye gods! The Wonderland blend is “full-bodied and smokey” while the Starry Night blend has “floral and honeyed aromas.” Meanwhile, Snow Day continues to be a popular annual tradition in Milwaukee, and is offered in decaf form for the caffeine-averse among us. Truly, it’s an abundance of blended presents beneath the Colectivo tree.
Counter Culture Coffee—Holiday Blend—Consistently delicious, and always honorable, Counter Culture’s annual holiday offering pairs a two-bean blend of Peruvian and Ethiopian coffees with a charitable contribution to Counter Culture’s SEEDS program. The box this blend comes in is charming, and would be right at home on your holiday hearth mantle. Highly recommended!
MadCap Coffee Company—Holiday Fusion—There’s something to be said for holiday pairings, so pay attention when MadCap says their holiday offering pairs with “chocolate, mixed nuts, eggnog, or gingerbread.” Your plan should be to buy this coffee first, and then pair with each of those delicious holiday treats. You’ll really be on a yule roll then, friend! The 2014 edition of Holiday Fusion fuses coffees from Kenya and Costa Rica, sourced by MadCap buyer Ryan Knapp and roasted in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Toby’s Estate—Winter Blend—Ethiopian and Honduran coffees roasted with a medium acidity and an eye towards tasting great with milk. Expect “juniper, mulberry, and baker’s chocolate.” Best if shared with friends!
Tony’s Coffee Backcountry Winter Blend and Summit Winter Blend—It gets cold, windy, and rainy up in Bellingham, Washington, where Tony’s Coffee has been roasting coffee since 1971. To weather the storm, they’ve got not one, but two seasonal blends cooked up: Backcountry, which combines Peruvian and Timorese coffees, and Summit, which fuses a Sulawesi with washed Ethiopians. “Our roast profile is designed to optimize caramelization and body while still highlighting delicate complexity,” Tony’s says, and we think you’ll agree.
Verve Coffee—Holiday Blend—Consistently one of the best holiday blends around, this year’s offering from Verve pulls together coffees from Tarrazu, Costa Rica; Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, and Nyeri, Kenya. It’s a complex and sensorially loaded coffee yielding big notes of “poached pear, toffee, and nutmeg.” Highly recommended!
Coffee Angel—Su Nollag / Christmas Juice—From Dublin, Ireland comes a lovely Colombia/Ethiopia blend from Coffee Angel, one of our favorite roasters in all of Northern Europe right now. Expect notes “of cranberries, pomegranate & dark chocolate… and joy!”