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In our household, we drink only bold — strong — coffee.

We are always in search of a cup of coffee that brings the best in flavour and richness.

Below is a review of my favourite and least favourite cups from around the world.

All are ground coffees, bar one, as mentioned below.

Brazil

Coffee from Brazil as sold in Brazil is arguably the world’s best.

If you have friends or colleagues visiting you from Brazil, ask them to pick up a 500g bag or two for you.

1st place: Cafe Pele Extra Forte from Brasfood in São Paulo. There is no better, bolder taste than this, especially with its mocha overtones. It’s a dark, rich, smooth cup with a wonderfully earthy scent. You can imagine yourself on the coffee plantation as you drink it.

2nd place: Cafe Bom Dia Extra Forte from Cafe Bom Dia Ltda in Rodovia. Bom Dia means ‘Good Morning’. This is nearly as good as Cafe Pele Extra Forte, with all of the same taste and olfactory characteristics.

United Kingdom

It might seem surprising to find the UK so highly placed, but Tesco, based in Welwyn Garden City, have my third and fourth favourites. Well done to my favourite supermarket chain!

3rd place: Tesco French Blend Ground Coffee (strength 5). This is the best in ‘continental’ bold blends, which will remind you of languorous afternoons on a sun-dappled café terrace in France. It has an authentic strength and flavour, like old fashioned French coffees used to have. This is up there on a Nescafe Ristretto scale.

4th place: Tesco Italian Blend Ground Coffee (strength 4). Despite it being a notch lower in strength, you can’t really tell the difference. An excellent substitute for the French Blend, both of which make a delightful breakfast brew.

United States

5th place: French Roast (Dark Roast) from Keurig Green Mountain Inc., in Waterbury, Vermont. The pack I have, from the former Green Mountain Coffee company, says:

Our very darkest roast.

A continental tradition that’s smoky and sweet.

This tastes like a cross between my 1st through 4th place choices, including lovely hints of chocolate that make getting up in the morning worthwhile.

That concludes my list of favourites.

The next section is about coffee disappointments for drinkers of bold coffee. No rankings, no particular order.

United Kingdom

Café Direct Intense Roast (strength 5). This got me excited, because the description reads:

A dark roast for a richer drinking experience.

It did not taste intense, nor was it a rich tasting coffee. Too much robusta and not enough Arabica, perhaps?

Taylor’s of Harrogate Brasilia (strength 4). This is very mild compared with the extra fortes from Brazil. The packet reads:

A lively, lush roast.

Not so for us. It tasted very light, like a medium roast.

France

French coffee seems to be getting weaker. I’ve been drinking it off and on since 1999 and what used to be reliably bold blends seem milder now, especially Café Grand’Mère Dégustation, described as being ‘riche en Arabica‘. Au revoir à Café Grand’Mère!

There are other coffees we’ve bought in France which aren’t nearly as bold as suggested:

Casino’s Michel Troisgros Espresso (Casino Délices, beans only) is hardly espresso strength, despite the packaging’s claim of ‘intense et sauvage‘. I should have looked on the side panel, which shows a medium rating of three coffee cups and medium roasting. Hmm.

Lobodis Éthiopie is 100% Arabica, but it has a very mild flavour. We thought that the ‘8’ on the packet meant it was strong, however, the strongest coffee is 12 (Sumatra).

In France, we now know to look on the side of the packet on our next trip to get the right strength!

In closing, it just goes to show how much coffee tasting one has to do to find a good, bold cup.

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