Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Trader Joe's New Orleans Style Coffee with Chicory

So, not to bore you too much with the details of my day job, but I work in a cubicle farm for a rather large pharmacy where I work to fix what I like to delicately call insurance "fusterclucks" for folks who need their medication. It's actually kind of a cool position where I get to help out some folks who really need it. This is a fairly recent promotion for me (within the past couple months, anyways) and aside from that, one of the things I really truly enjoy about it is, I have my own cubicle there every single day. In my previous position, depending on what my job function was, I could sit in any number of different desks, which necessitated not having too much stuff to move around. It stunk. I don't think I'm all that territorial, but I definitely like having my own sense of space and having, finally, some of my own stuff to bling out my work space. As a promotion gift to myself, I settled on buying myself a French press to make my own coffee every day, because probably like yours, my workplace coffee is tepid, bland, brownish water brewed with monotony and flavored with, well, nothing. I survived on a couple cups of that every day for over a year, and since I had finally hit the big leagues (*coughcough*), it was time to finally get myself some coffee worthy of my newly attained status.

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


  1. Hey Nathan, nice blog.
    you say "…I'm glad to have a TJ's two miles from my house"

    I've got you beat, I live in Chicago and within 5 miles of my apartment, I have 3, yep, 3 TJs!!

  2. Not only that, Bob, but at least one of them probably sells cheap booze too. Stupid PA laws...

  3. Thanks for doing your homework on the hypocrisy of this coffee! I've missed my TJ's since I moved to New Orleans a few years ago.....I've signed more petitions than I can count and there's a Facebook group dedicated to the cause.

    1. Anything I can do for the good people of Louisiana. Hope your day is coming!

    2. Apparently three stores are opening Houston, making TJ's a mere 350 miles away....getting closer!!!

  4. They are discontinuing this coffee! It's my favorite. Please help to get them to bring it back by commenting on their website and Facebook Page.

    Cheers . . . Vive New Orleans Style Coffee with Chicory

  5. I cannot describe well enough what a delightful coffee this is, and I was shocked to see it had been discontinued this spring. Customer service gave me the usual "Thank you for your comment" when I tried to find out more. I can only hope a few well placed comments might bring it back.

  6. I just found out its discontinued. I love it. Its one more thing they have changed making me search for another product. I'm not sure I want to trade at Trader Joe's anymore.

  7. UPDATE! Just found out we are getting a TJ's in Baton Rouge! It's an hour away but I go though BR to get to Lafayette frequently (my daughter is a student at University of Louisiana) so I can't wait! I've been to the TJ's in Nashville and get my relatives who live there to bring me things when they come to visit. I am so looking forward to being able to go myself!

  8. I, too, was very disappointed when this went bye-bye. But, as a former TJs crew member, I know how these things work. Look for it to come back as a seasonal item in Feb/March for Mardi Gras. I plan to stock up if I see it again. Also, Cafe Du Mond coffe with chicory is a good replacement and available mail-order.

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  10. Some Walmarts carry the Community chicory coffee if anyone is still looking for a replacement.