I have been asked that question countless times since we opened in February of 1986. And I always have to qualify my answers. Are we talking about my favorite coffee of all time? Or my favorite coffee this season? My favorite type of process of the coffee? My favorite characteristics? What?
I like complexity in my coffee. Not just one or two characteristics. Not just amazing flavor but no body. Not astounding aroma but no acidity. I like all those things in my coffee. And I am stubborn about finding them all. Even coffees like Sumatra or Sulawesi, with such full body, I like to find ones with some sweetness and acidity for flavor and depth. Or a Kenya that is so winy but I look for ones with a softer fruit note, and nice body to balance the acidity. I am not easy to please.
So, what is my favorite coffee you are still asking? I am not trying to be evasive here. I would say that my favorite of all time, as an origin, is Sulawesi (called Celebes when I started). Nice body, herby flavors, sweet. A great coffee (when it is a good season). But I have had single coffees that were amazing. We once had a brilliant Guatemala (Antigua adjacent) that came in 6th in an international competition for Guatemala coffees, but I had it as number 1. Fabulous fruit flavor, juicy, beautiful balance. It later came in as the number 1 coffee in the world in a different competition that year. Or the first Natural Processed Ethiopia Yirgacheffe that we ever bought (also at auction). For years people would ask about that coffee—especially my staff! At this moment in time, my favorite coffee is our Burundi. Fantastic old growth trees producing some of the sweetest most complex coffee in the world.
My favorite coffee? It depends!