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BEST COFFEE BY THE POUND Minneapolis 2008 - R. Miguel

We might as well be upfront: This year's pick isn't for the faint of heart or light of wallet—it costs $300 a pound. But we're not thinking about value (or mortgage payments), just the sheer superlative, and R. Miguel's "Nectar" is simply the best coffee we've ever tasted. The beans come from a Panamanian farm known for producing some of the world's best coffee. They're natural-processed, exhaustively sorted, then air-freighted to a small, nondescript warehouse in Ramsey, Minnesota, of all places, where Miguel Meza roasts and hand-sorts them himself. The attention to freshness and quality results in a coffee that shows an amazingly wide range of flavors: The brew is sweet and complex with orange, floral, and woodsy notes, and a clean, refreshing finish like no other coffee we've cupped. If you can't spring $6 a serving, Meza's other coffees, sold under the Paradise Roasters brand, are a great value at about $15 a pound. All 32 of Meza's coffees that have been evaluated by Kenneth Davids of Coffee Review (basically the Wine Spectator of coffee) have scored 90 and above, causing Davids to dub Meza "one of the hottest coffee buyers in the industry."

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