There's not too many sections at Trader Joe's that give me much pause, but the coffee section is one that always does. Compared to all the other products except maybe the salsa, there's just such a wide variety of selections that it's tough to pick which bundle of brewin' beans to bring on home. I don't claim to be any sort of coffee snob, but I know what good coffee tastes like, and I like something with some character to it. A canister lasts a little while and is usually among the more expensive items in the cart, so I want to make sure I'm making a worthwhile selection.
TJ's New Orleans Style Coffee with Chicory definitely is exactly that. It's a darker roast of Arabica goodness, but not overly burnt tasting like some other more famous chain store brands. The chicory definitely adds an extra element of bittersweet essence that adds some tasty uniqueness that makes one satisfying sip with a little cream and sugar mixed in (take it easy on the sugar, though). Apparently, the tradition of adding chicory to coffee comes from the French who, in poorer times, wanted to stretch out their coffee supply and couldn't think of a better filler. Well, France, aside from the bikini, this just might be the best idea you've ever had. It's one delicious blend that, though I've never been to 'Nawlins, I can imagine sipping a Cafe Au Lait while being washed over by live jazz and grazing on beignets at a night club. Or, if you prefer a bolder flavor with less cream, the smell of the grounds remind me of good smoky pipe tobacco, so imagine an early morning on a dock in the bayou waiting for a nibble on your line. Delicious, delicious stuff.
It must be partially because the images that the city and region conjures up that TJ's claims, right on the side of the can, that they love New Orleans. Heck, I haven't been there, but I think I'd love it there whenever I'd make it. Well, I know love can be defined in many different ways, but...guess where the nearest Trader Joe's to New Orleans is. That's right, you can't pick up a can of TJ's New Orleans Style Coffee in New Orleans. Nor anywhere else in the great state of Louisiana. Maybe a quick trip to Mississippi then? Alabama perhaps? Nope and nope. Try 468-freakin' miles away to Atlanta. Seven hours 26 minutes according to Google maps, but hey, no tolls. That's not any type of love I'm aware of, and as far as I'm concerned, that's not right. 'Nawlins, stand up for your right for a TJ's! While we're at it, for a cool city I've been to, rise up Asheville, NC! And I'm not absolutely certain, but I think my aunt who lives in Austin, TX would appreciate one, too. I mean, if my square-as-a-shoebox suburban sprawl of a hometown of Hatfield, PA can have a TJ's within reasonable driving distance (Mom, it's just on the other side of Montgomeryville, it's not that far), why not these vibrant Southern cities? Trying to instigate another Civil War? With all the good things you offer, Trader Joe, you won't be viewed as a carpetbagger, methinks.
Anyways, I'm glad to have a TJ's two miles from my house, and glad I gave the chicory coffee a try. It's the first can of coffee I've picked up twice there, and I've thoroughly enjoyed each mugfull as it amps me up for a daylong battle against insurance companies trying to screw their customers (note: I almost always win). With my French press full of this delicious brew, I feel like I can take on anything that comes my way. That's worth a four to me. Sandy, who's a little bit more of a coffee snoot (err, I mean, discerning palate) than I am, enjoyed relaxing with a cup tonight as I putzed around making dinner. She usually prefers lighter, milder blends and has said in the past that some of TJ's darker roasts taste like they were stirred with a burnt stick, but said she "wouldn't not not drink it again." When I pointed out that was a triple negative which, in fact, makes that a non-affirmative statement, she quickly corrected herself and said "I'd definitely drink it again" and gave it a three.
Bottom line: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons