I’ve complained about it before and I’ll complain about it again: it’s impossible to find cheap coffee that doesn’t taste like garbage on this god-forsaken planet. There’s your delicious $19 bourbon-casket aged Guatemalan bean juice and then there’s your $5 dollar ashes-of-the-fighters-in-the-Boston-Tea-Party, pre-ground and singed-to-oblivion bodega fare. It feels as if there’s nothing in between! Nothing that’s widely available, relatively inexpensive, and great-tasting.
Correction: It did feel that way. And then I met my husband Larry. I met him at a nondescript place (the chain grocery store by my apartment). He told me he was fair-trade and organic and he only cost $12 dollars for 12 ounces. I wanted to give him a shot so I brought him home with me. And just like Hugh Grant after he met Julia Robert’s character in Notting Hill, my life was never the same.
I actually don’t know this man Larry at all (but you can read about him here)—I’m just talking about the coffee named after him. It’s perfectly mid-priced (it’s one to two dollars more expensive online than at a physical local grocery store), but it tastes like something you’d get at a fancy pour-over coffee shop. I like to buy the Ethiopian light roast, which is fruity and bright—you can really taste the red wine, currant, and floral notes the packaging claims it has. It has a rounder, fuller body than a lot of light roasts, and it isn’t intensely acidic. This is a versatile coffee that plays well black or with a dash of milk.
Larry’s offers a variety of beans sourced from different places. I’ve bought the El Salvador Dali and the Cowboy Blend for visiting family members who prefer a medium roast. Both are full, rich, and kind of creamy. (By the way, my family, who usually doesn’t like light roasts, even liked the balance and lack of acidity in the Ethiopian coffee.) Everybody loves Larry’s, even people who are used to a really singed French roast! It’s exciting to try them all, honestly, to get some variety from a company whose product you trust.
We’re definitely never going to save the planet by buying things, but Larry is doing his best, with fair-trade coffees that are organic and sourced from smaller growers in remote areas. According to the website, he’s a founding member of Cooperative Coffees, “the first and still the only U.S. cooperative of independent roasters exploring Fair Trade beans directly from farmers.” Some of the coffees, like the ‘Bad Kitty Blend’, donate proceeds to charities.
Sometimes buying cheap coffee feels like supporting a company that doesn’t pay its workers fairly. But many of us can’t afford to buy a premium-priced coffee! At $12–$15 dollars (for 12 ounces), Larry’s is by no means cheap, but it is more reasonably priced than java beans that I’d argue are of similar quality, and it’s ethically sourced.
Really, I’m just writing to you about Larry’s Coffee because I’m so glad I found an everyday coffee I love, with nuanced flavor that gives me a reason to wake up in the morning without also bankrupting me. I hope you try it and like it too.