TRADER JOE’S MEXICO “La Laja” Small Lot COFFEE


This stuff is my new favorite Trader Joe’s coffee! I saw it in the NEW PRODUCTS area. I tried it and found this to be a really excellent coffee It’s Mexican small lot, shade grown, 100% Arabica originating from the mountains of Huatusco, Mexico which seems to be between Vera Cruz and Puebla.

This is a wonderful high quality coffee. I found it made an outstanding cup. Now the package say “medium roast” which I don’t buy, it’s darker than a medium roast. I would say this is just this side of a (light) dark roast (kind of a “French Roast”?) and the beans are even slightly shiny. I’ve found Trader Joe’s descriptions (light, medium, dark) vary wildly from coffee to coffee and are very inconsistent. The Azmari Bunni is actually a medium roast or even a shade lighter. This lovely Mexican coffee is just into a dark roast which actually seems perfect for these beans. The brewing method I did was using a Moka pot but this coffee will work for any kind of brewing method you prefer (drip, pour-over or even an espresso machine) if you like a coffee a little bit on the dark side (like a French Roast). This is a whole bean coffee of course and ideally you will grind up your beans just before brewing. When freshly ground you will get an incredible deep aroma from these beans. It made a rich dark flavorful cup of Joe that I just love. It’s delicious. I find this coffee excellent and would buy it again gladly. In fact I may stock up a bit as these small lot coffees from Trader Joe’s can go bye-bye easily. TJ’s sells this for $9.99 for a 12 oz bag (whole bean. For this quality I’d say that’s not outrageous and a pretty fair price. PS I also experimented mixing this 50/50 with TJ’s BUUNI coffee, which is a medium roast, and together that was also quite excellent as a blend of a medium and darker roast, Middle American, South America and African coffees!

UPDATE (Dec 1 2022) : Sure enough a few weeks after writing this post, I can’t find any more bags of this LA LAJA coffee in either of my two nearby TJ’s (NYC) ! I really hope more comes in… Please leave a COMMENT if you see it in your local TJ’s (with location)

ILLY Forte Extra Bold Roast Ground Coffee


I was surprised the first time I saw the famous red ILLY logo staring at me from the coffees shelf at Trader Joe’s. Really? Trader Joe’s is now selling ILLY coffee?!? Yes it is and let’s hope it stays that way. ILLY is one of the most famous coffee brands worldwide and in Italy for 80 years on. Their red logo is instantly recognizable around the globe. The ILLY coffee company has a long history. They produce terrific coffee. I think one only finds this premium brand at some special stores and not at the supermarket. So yes I was happily surprised to find I can buy it and TJ’s now and for a decent price too ($9.99 for 8.8 oz). This is a very good coffee, a blend of 9 different Arabica origin beans in a medium dark roast in a medium fine grind. It should be good for most any coffee maker, in an espresso machine, for a Moka pot (which is what I have switched to), doing drip or pour over coffee and great if you like strong dark roasts. I use this for a Cafe Con Leche (with milk) done in a Moka pot and its perfect for that.

Here’s what ILLY says about this FORTE BLEND which was developed about 80 years ago.

https://www.illy.com/en-us/eshop/coffee/drip-coffee/ground-drip-forte-coffee-extra-bold-roast/8834ST

It’s vacuum sealed in this terrific looking metal container which even has a rubber gasket to keep air out once you open break the vacuum. Keep it in the fridge after opening and use within about two weeks when it’s at its freshest.

TJ’s Organic Five Country Espresso blend coffee (whole bean, dark roast)


Trader Joe’s Organic Fair Trade FIVE COUNTRY ESPRESSO blend, whole bean, dark roast coffee

If you want espresso or dark roast coffee the options at Trader Joe’s are a little more limited compared to the light and medium roast coffees. Now don’t get me wrong, light and medium roast coffees are wonderful. They’re a terrific choice for most coffee lovers, especially those who make coffee using a drip, pour-over or French press method. However if you make espresso, either with an espresso machine or even use a Moka pot (as I have started doing recently for Moka Pot “espresso”) then you likely want whole beans in a nice dark roast. You will grind the beans just before you make the coffeefor maximum aroma and flavor…you know, the way any typical coffee geek will do (count me in). I promise you grinding these whole espresso beans fresh will release an intense, heavenly aroma in your kitchen.

TJ’s FIVE COUNTRY ESPRESSO whole bean is a very good coffee for espresso, moka pot and all dark roast coffee lovers. It’s especially terrific when you first open up the can, when you’ll get the maximum aroma and see super shiny beans just glistening with oil, which is what fresh roasted espresso beans looks like. Once the beans get exposed to air they’ll look less shiny, in about 3-5 days however they will still taste pretty good. TIP: you can parcel up the beans in a number of small ziplock bags, freeze them, and take out bags as needed.

These beans are from FIVE different countries….El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Sumatra, Indonesia (wow huh?). Another dark roast coffee option at TJ is the very good CAFE PAJARO (discontinued)!!!

FIVE COUNTRY ESPRESSO WHOLE BEAN COFFEE; $8.99 (13 oz)

MOKA POT – Moka pots may not be “true espresso” but they make a great cup of java. If you are interested in getting one, there’s a link below to one of the more inexpensive Moka Pots (Primula) on Amazon. The original Bialetti Moka Pot is excellent of course but it is a bit pricey. (note: “cups” in this case refer to a tiny espresso cup with just 2-3 oz liquid) I like the “9 cup” Moka Pots for doing Cafe Con Leche for 2 people who love coffee. You can get a “Moka 9” for just over $20, not a bad deal at all. Every Italian kitchen has one or more Moka’s and 60 million Italians can’t be wrong.

https://amzn.to/3p9W2rW

Disclosure: as an Amazon affiliate I may earn a tiny bit from your purchase at no additional cost to you

Trader Joe’s Shade Ground GROUND ESPRESSO COFFEE Blend


If you really, really love the taste of coffee I think the ultimate of that is of course drinking some espresso.

Every day after I wake up, I jump in the shower and start thinking about making my morning “Cap” (cappuccino that is) in my (budget) espresso machine. I might not get out of bed otherwise. If you are one of these “coffee freak” types as well you may own as I do, some kind of Espresso Machine, the manual kind where you put ground coffee into to make your own espresso otherwise known as “pulling a shot”. Just saying the “Keurig or pod” coffee people are not as DIY as us manual espresso owners, who get our hands dirty and grind coffee beans and tamp them into a portafilter to brew and espresso drink. So if you make yourself espresso drinks at home in some type of machine that you put ground coffee in obviously the most important thing is starting with very good coffee for making Espresso, naturally. Generally I buy whole espresso roast beans. I usually buy coffee (here in NYC) at Whole Foods, Fairway or Zabars or Porto Rico Imports, and grind the beans myself every other day or so, so its always pretty freshly ground. This is ideal. If I was less lazy I’d grind coffee every day just before I made every cup, which would be better still. The instant you grind coffee beans up the coffee is at peak flavo. It starts to lose a bit of its flavor and aroma in the next hour or so. So I usually don’t buy ground coffee. Still I saw this bag of ground espresso on the TJ “new product” shelf a few months back and thought I’d try it, even though its already ground into an espresso grind. Its called TRADER JOE’S “SHADE GROWN GROUND ESPRESSO BLEND”. It comes in a vacuum sealed aluminum bag with an attractive hand drawn design and lettering. Nice. Opening the bag, you will get that wonderful “just ground coffee” smell as the vacuum seal is broken!

The bag states, “Our espresso blend comes from shade grown, hand picked,  100% Arabica beans. The coffee beans come from a family owned plantation with farms located Matagalpa, Nicauragua. It is rich in flavor with attractive notes of nuts and cacao”.

It’s pretty good. Frankly this reminds me of the well loved ”Cafe Bustelo” very popular here in NYC especially beloved by our Puerto Rican and Dominican communities. This is a bit darker roast perhaps than Bustelo and it’s probably a bit better coffee, being from one estate in Nicaragua – and don’t get me wrong, I love Cafe Bustelo. Its a classic taste I grew up on.

A 14 oz. bag of TJ’s Ground Espresso Blend sells for $8, at the time of this writing (Fall 2017). Which is not a bad deal for about $9.25/lb for a single estate blend from Nicaragua. If you make your own espresso either in a machine where you tamp the coffee into a porta-filter (I have this exact one called “Cafe Prestige” pictured at right, which is a good basic espresso machine which I bought a few years back for just $100). Or if you make your own “espresso style coffe” perhaps using a “Moka” express type maker for the top of the stove, I think you will really enjoy trying this ground espresso. In fact, if you want to “get into” making your own espresso on the cheap, this little Moka style make I found on Amazon is only $16 for a 2-cup model, which might be a good “starter kit” where maybe later you might get a fancy electric machine – once you get hooked on making espresso at home! Which you probably will.

The bag says: “For Espresso Brewing: This grind is already set up for any type of machine. For a double shot use 1 1/2 tablespoons. Strengh of shots may vary by machine”. If you make your own shots you know there’s a period of trial and error and a little testing till  you get it just right for your taste. For me, I use two slightly rounded standard espresso scoops in my double-shot basket and tamp it lightly but firmly till its completely even on top. This makes me a nice double shot strong enough for the small  amount of foamed milk I use for a “Cap” every morning.

Bottom line, if you like espresso roast coffee, try this. I think you will enjoy it as much as I do.

UPDATE: There is now a really good espresso blend in a whole bean – TJ’s Organic Five Country Espresso Blend