Whole Foods Market is a leading retailer of fresh, natural and organic foods, with over 265 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. And if you haven’t already discovered, Whole Foods Stores are a natural choice for premium fresh roasted coffee beans.
Whole Foods Market features Allegro Coffee, a prominent national specialty coffee importer, roaster and distributor. The Allegro Coffee Company, of Boulder Colorado, was founded by Jeffrey Cohn in 1985. Whole Foods was one of Allegro’s early customers, and in 1995, Whole Foods acquired the company.
Allegro continues to provide specialty premium coffee through wholesale distribution to many national accounts including coffeehouses, cafés and fine dining establishments. For retail to the consumer, Allegro coffee is now exclusively distributed through Whole Foods Markets, the parent company.
Allegro sources the highest quality coffee beans from around the world. As you would expect of Whole Foods, with a reputation for the best in natural and organic food products, Allegro partners with coffee growers who practice environmentally friendly and sustainable growing, harvesting and processing methods.
Allegro roasts the coffee beans in small batches to bring out the finest characteristics and flavors. At roast completion, coffees are vacuum packed in oxygen-impermeable bags. To preserve freshness, the residual oxygen is removed and replaced with nitrogen prior to heat sealing the bag.
These techniques maintain freshness for distribution to the Whole Foods Stores where the fresh roasted coffee is placed in bins for convenient display. Shoppers can easily choose from an enticing variety of single origin coffees and blends. The roasting date is clearly marked and displayed on each bin. Typically, in the stores that I visit, the roasted coffee beans in the bins are not older than one week.
Customers help themselves scooping the beans they wish to buy into the provided coffee bags, marking on the bag the PLU (product look up code), and other information such as description and roast date if desired.
Some of the Whole Foods Stores offer in-store roasted Allegro coffee. While perhaps enticing and a bit high-tech, in my experience, these smaller hot air roasting machines don’t produce a result that compares in taste and flavor to the coffees roasted by Allegro and packaged for distribution to the stores.
One of the conveniences I enjoy when buying coffee at Whole Foods is the opportunity to sample the variety. It’s easy to pickup a small quantity, say an 1/8 pound of beans. I take the sample home and if I like the coffee and favor the roast, I can pickup a full 1/2 pound or more the next time I’m in the store. We shop at Whole Foods frequently enough for other items, and it’s quick and easy to stop by the Allegro coffee section and see if there is something new to try, or pickup a recently roasted coffee that we already prefer.
For espresso, we’ve been enjoying the Organic Espresso Sierra. A medium-dark roast blend with origins from Latin America and the Pacific Rim. A nice, rich, full-bodied coffee with some chocolate and caramel tones. With the fresh beans, I get a nice and consistent crema most of the time.
For drip, the Sulawesi Toraja is a favorite Indonesian that we particularly enjoy. In my opinion, Indonesian coffees including Sulawesi and Sumatra are often over roasted. I prefer the lighter medium roast for this coffee to bring out the best inherant characteristics. A nice well-balanced acidity, rich body, and unique earthy overtones. And hints of a sweet, caramel finish lingers nicely on the pallete.
See if there are any Whole Foods Stores located in your area. Stop by and try some of the fresh roasted coffee. I think you’ll be pleased.