The Volcanica Coffee Company offers over 130 different coffees, includes single origin, decaf, flavored, estate and peaberry coffees roasted to demand. The company name of Volcanica comes from the coffee sources – beans grown at higher altitudes on volcanic mountains and you can buy Volcanica coffee online as whole bean or ground for espresso, drip or French press.
In this Volcanica coffee review, I look at the Volcanica Coffee Company and taste test five of their coffees to see if Volcanica coffees are as good as they say they are.
Ease of ordering 4/5
Product choice 5/5
Product sustainability 4/5
Value for money 4/5
Are Volcanica Coffees the Right Coffees for You?
Quite a recent addition to coffee companies; Volcanica Coffee Company started out in 2004 after the founding family, the Contreras, were on one of their regular homeland visits to Costa Rica and realized what flavors American coffee drinkers were missing out on. Along with starting to source, roast and sell the coffees grown at higher volcanic elevations in Costa Rica, the Contreras also realized other great coffees were being grown above 3,000 ft in Jamaica, Hawaii and elsewhere across the globe. This is because the soil (andisoil) found in volcanic ash is very fertile. This nutrient rich soil combined with the moist and cool climate creates ideal growing conditions for coffee.
With its focus on single origin high quality coffees (also known as the third wave of coffee), Volcanica’s beans are sourced directly from cooperatives and coffee farms and roasted on demand in Atlanta. Volcanica coffees are mainly arabica beans so if you enjoy robusta or prefer an arabica/robusta mix for your morning brew, then you may not be as keen on the large selection available.
As well as supporting a water charity, Volcanica Coffee Company also operate with Christian principles which may not suit everyone, and the company also donates profits to Christian charities.
These are certainly more expensive coffees, although the company does aim to price competitively, and so may be best kept as an occasional treat for the more budget-conscious coffee drinker. Also, if you go through a couple of pounds of beans in your office every week, again, Volcanica coffees may not be for you. As single origin coffee, these are also coffees that should be savored and enjoyed, rather than just being gulped down in the five minutes you have spare between meetings!
They also share the independent Volcanica coffee reviews (through Trustpilot) on their website so you can have a look to see what other customers have to say – both good and rarely not so good – about the coffees available and their experiences with the company itself.
Subscription coffee is definitely an ideal way to try out some of the more unusual coffees that you may not have thought of trying, especially those that you may not be able to find in your local store.
How Do You Buy Volcanica Coffee?
Volcanica coffee is available from the volcanicacoffee.com website. The website is laid out in a way that allows you to quickly find what you want if you already know what you like with coffee, but if you are new to premium coffees, the site may be more of a challenge, although you can navigate by options such as organic coffees or dark roast coffees.
If your order is $60 or above, then domestic shipping is free. Otherwise it is a $5.95 flat rate or you can pay for other delivery options such as next day – ideal if you need your beans urgently or really want to maximize the time that the beans stay fresh at home.
Coffee can also be shipped to Canada (although buyers may be liable for additional brokerage fees) and international shipping is available to other parts of the world.
As with buying anything online, there is always a risk of disappointment with your purchase when it arrives, however, if for any reason, you are not happy with an order, coffee can be returned or exchanged within 30 days of receiving it although Volcanica asks that customers contact them first so they have the opportunity to resolve the issue first. Any refunds will be made after return shipping costs have been taken. Refunds or exchanges cannot be made on any special or custom orders.
How Are Volcanica Coffees Packed for Freshness?
As Volcanica coffees are roasted (and ground if required) to order which, unless you roast at home, is about the best you can get for freshness. This means that unlike most coffees in stores, the beans have not been lying around and degrading in quality and flavor.
The coffee bags also contain a one way valve that helps slow down the decline in freshness and quality once roasted and bagged. Standard size is 16 oz and you can choose whole bean, or pre-ground for espresso, drip or French press.
If you want to buy bigger packs, some of the coffees are available as multibuys or even 5 lbs. bags – which also offer some discount.
The side of the bag gives the measure recommendations for the coffee and the back of the pack also shows the important information – the date that the coffee was roasted and its expiry date.
The Taste Test!
As part of this Volcanica coffee review, I received a selection of five whole bean coffees; Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Costa Rica Natural; Kona Peaberry; Papua New Guinea Peaberry and Komodo Dragon.
Overall, the quality of the roasting was one of the first things I noticed with all of them - the roast was as expected which allowed the complex flavors of the beans to come through. I would not like to say how consistent this would be across batches, especially with it being small batch and to order roasting, but I would hope that Volcanica customer services would resolve any issues quickly.
The first coffee I tried out in the French Press was the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, which is mainly gathered from wild coffee trees. This is an organic coffee which is medium roasted to give a complex flavor with fruit and some floral notes. Personally, I found this a little on the light side, but I still enjoyed trying it out.
As expected, I found the medium roast Costa Rica Natural to have a richer flavor than the Ethiopian although the fruity notes still came through. Apparently, these beans are dried inside the cherry so that the sweetness and acidity is brighter. I did try it first in the French Press but decided for the second cup to grind for espresso. As expected, it wasn’t quite right on the first brew through the machine but after some minor adjustments I eventually obtained a decent double espresso from it.
A real treat for me was the Kona Peaberry as this Kona estate coffee is usually way out of my budget. I decided to savor the experience and brewed it as pour over. The aroma was absolutely amazing both when grinding the beans and during brewing. The taste did not disappoint either, although it was slightly on the acidic side, its full bodied flavor really made me wish that I could afford to drink this every day!
The medium roast Papua New Guinea Peaberry was much more within my budget and I have drunk similar before. I opted to brew this in the French Press and found a lovely smooth coffee which still had the complexity of flavor as well as body. I was also pleased to see this was a Fair Trade certified coffee.
Sumatran coffees are also a favorite of mine and I enjoyed the woodiness and chocolate notes of the medium roast Komodo Dragon which I brewed as pour over. As with the other coffees I tried, I thought that the roast was spot on and allowed the flavors of the beans to really come through.
Organic and Ethical Supplier
Coffees from Volcanica may carry one or more certifications. There is a wide range of certified organic coffees available from various regions grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Rainforest Alliances Certified coffees are those which are grown sustainably while conserving biodiversity and promoting better business practices and consumer behaviors while Shade Grown coffees from Kona and Costa Rica are verified that they are shade grown.
When coffees are shade grown, it means they are grown traditionally under trees. Because the coffee takes longer to mature there is an increase of natural sugars in the beans which enhance flavor. Shade grown is also a more sustainable way of growing coffee. Not only does it reduce the risk of soil erosion, but the plants rarely require the use of pesticides or fertilizers and it helps improve the wildlife habitat.
A number of Volcanica coffees are certified as Fair Trade coffees and the company pays premium price – one comparison showed five to ten times above acceptable fair trade prices – for its coffee. This means that farers receive payment which is more than the cost of production of the coffee. True Jamaican Blue Mountain coffees are also certified by the Jamaican Agricultural Board as being 100% Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.
Volcanica also visits the farms and estates that it buys beans from to ensure best quality and coffees from Volcanica are also kosher certified.
Volcanica Coffee Company gives 1% of its website sales to charity: water which raises money for many community-owned sustainable and clean water projects in developing countries. It also donates some of its profits to Christian charities.
What Types of Coffee Does Volcanica Offer?
Here is a summary of just some of the 130+ coffees that Volcanica currently has available.
There are a variety of blends available from dark and French roasts to Jamaican Blue Mountain blends and house blends. There are also decaf and half caff blends along with a low acid blend – ideal for those who struggle with the acidity of some coffees.
Sourced from a single estate or farm, the estate coffees are unadulterated by beans from other sources. Volcanica offers estate coffees from all of its growing regions, including favorites such as Hawaiian Kona and Jamaica Blue Mountain as well as coffees from Nepal, Central and South America, the Yemen, Pacific islands, Indonesia (including the rare White Eagle coffee), India and Africa.
Dark Roast Coffees
Including espresso and French roasts, other dark roasts available from Volcanica available include Sumatran and Guatemalan reserves and Costa Rican dark roasts. There is also a small number of decaf dark roasts on offer.
Peaberry coffee is made from coffee beans that have a natural genetic mutation when they grow. Rather than each coffee cherry containing two seeds (or beans) a peaberry only contains one seed as the other has failed to develop. This one seed can grow in the extra space available, making a larger and rounder seed or bean.
Peaberry beans make up only 5% to 10% of a coffee harvest and are valued because they are thought to have a superior flavor profile compared to normal beans. As well as the limited quantity making peaberry coffees more desirable and expensive there is also extra processing involved because the peaberry beans are larger and more rounded than regular coffee beans.
Volcanica offers a selection of peaberry coffees from growing regions such as Costa Rica, Columbia, Guatemala, Kenya, Jamaica and Indonesia.
The decaf coffees available from Volcanica are decaffeinated by the Swiss Water Process. This is a chemical free decaffeination which adds water and green coffee extract (GCE) to the fresh beans. With time and temperature control, the caffeine moves out from the coffee beans and into the green coffee extract. The green coffee extract flows through carbon fibers where the caffeine molecules are removed from the GCE so the GCE can be reused to remove caffeine from the next batch of beans.
Taking around 10 hours or so, this decaf process leaves coffee beans 99.9% caffeine free and once decaffeinated, they are ready to roast.
Volcanica offers a range of decaf coffees, including espresso, French roast, Kenyan, Ethiopian, Peruvian and Guatemalan.
A range of flavored coffees such as island breeze, caramel chocolate, eggnog, crème brulee and gingerbread means there is a flavored coffee available for any time of year. These flavored coffees are sugar free, calorie free and free from allergens. They are also available as caffeine free options.
Low Acid Coffee
Low acid coffees are made with beans that often grow at lower elevations and from regions where they are naturally lower in acid. The beans are then processed in a way that also minimizes acid producing coffees that cause minimal stomach disruption.
Some of the low acid coffees on offer include Sumatran, Peruvian, Indonesian, Indian and Kona, as well as low acid cold brew and espresso.
What Else Does Volcanica Offer?
There is a range of coffee gift sets available, such as peaberry or flavored coffee sets and these come boxed, making them ideal for gifting. There is also a small selection of accessories available – including reusable K Cup filter pods so you can brew Volcanica coffee in your K Cup machine.
I also like that the website offers lots of tips for getting the most out of your coffee, including coffee recipes, as well as providing lots of information on coffee growing and the differences between the coffees.
For me, the best reason for buying from Volcanica Coffee Company is that the beans are roasted to order and certainly with the coffees I tried, I thought the roasts were exactly right. Although I can buy freshly roasted beans locally, the selection is usually limited.
I also like that there is a wide variety of single origin high altitude coffees available and it would tempt me to try out coffees from regions which I would not usually buy and in fact, the choices of coffees available means that any coffee drinker should be able to find something that they fancy. I definitely think I will continue to order from Volcanica coffee as what I have tried so far has certainly been worth it.
Perhaps the main negative is that of course, a good cup of coffee does not come cheap which means that unfortunately Volcanica coffees will not be in everyone’s budget and although many of the coffees are certified, I would like to see more – if not all of the coffees available being certified as Fair Trade, organic or Rainforest Alliance Certified.
To conclude this Volcanica coffee review, I think that Volcanica coffees are as good as they say and if you have yet to try them out, then go ahead and do so – I very much doubt you will be disappointed!