Counter Culture Coffee Review
Table of Contents
About Counter Culture Coffee
Counter Culture Coffee is a roasting company dedicated to crafting your next favorite brew. With more than 26 years of experience in the coffee industry, the brand helped usher in the third-wave coffee movement in the United States.
Counter Culture Coffee has received attention from LA Weekly, Kinfolk, and ArchDaily. It’s also incredibly popular across social media, with 143k followers on Instagram and nearly 40k likes on Facebook. Clearly, this classic coffee company shows no signs of slowing down.
The brand has long been a mainstay in the coffee world, but is it worth your coin? This Counter Culture Coffee review will dive into the company and its roasts, provide customer recommendations, and answer important FAQs so you can decide if its coffee is worth becoming your new morning cuppa.
Overview of Counter Culture Coffee
Counter Culture Coffee got its start in Durham, North Carolina. Friends Brett Smith and Fred Houk wanted to create custom coffee blends for local restaurants in the local area. They sold their first bag to a small regional restaurant in 1995, and thus, the company was born.
Since then, the brand has pioneered different practices in the coffee industry. In 1997, Counter Culture launched a bird-friendly coffee line called Sanctuary Coffee and was one of the first roasters to sell shade-grown coffee.
In 2002, it became the first certified organic roaster in North Carolina, something that was still very new at the time. The following year, the company released a Counter Culture vision statement detailing its dedication to fundamental social, environmental, and fiscal sustainability.
Driven by this credo to be an ethical company, Counter Culture formalized its Direct Trade policy in 2008, outlining its commitment to forming first-hand relationships with the coffee farmers. The company also started releasing annual transparency reports for the public to help its dedication to social and environmental fairness.
Throughout all of this social justice, the company maintained a trajectory of growth. It opened a new roastery and training center in the San Francisco Bay area in 2015 to better serve its West Coast partners.
These days, Counter Culture coffee currently operates thirteen regional training locations across the US. The company offers courses at these training centers for its consumers, employees, and wholesale partners who want to learn more about coffee.
Before we put the coffee on, this Counter Culture Coffee review will first go over some advantages of the brand.
- Wide variety of light to dark roasts and fruity to classic profiles
- High ethical and sustainable operating standards with complete transparency
- Reasonable prices considering the quality of coffee
- Unique limited release brews, such as the Counter Culture Coffee Finca El Puente
- Subscribe to save 10%
Not sure where to begin? This Counter Culture Coffee review is here to help! In the next section, we’ll go over the brand’s best-selling coffees. From origin to price points, you’ll find all of the need-to-know details here.
The brand knows that one of the worst feelings in the world is waking up and going to brew your morning cuppa just to realize you’re all out of coffee. To make sure you start every day off right, Counter Culture offers a subscription—you’ll even save 10% on each order.
Counter Culture Coffee Review
The brand’s bread and butter is coffee. From single-origins to blends, the company’s 26-year expertise definitely shows in its products. Let’s begin this Counter Culture Coffee review by taking a look at some of its best-sellers.
Counter Culture Coffee Equilibrium Review
Equilibrium means balance, and that’s exactly what you’re getting in the Counter Culture Coffee Equilibrium blend. The coffee that compromises this blend is sourced from East African and Central America. It has a light, fruity profile with delicious tasting notes of tangerine and mixed berries.
The company is dedicated to traceability, so it shares a breakdown of the exact origins of the blend. We learned that three equal parts form this coffee:
- 33% comes from Idido, Ethiopia, a region famous for crafting complex floral coffee
- 33% stems from Ngaratua, Kenya, which brings fruity, citrusy qualities to the cup
- 33% comes from San Miguel, Guatemala, a region renowned for sweetness and acidity
Each blend component is roasted separately in order to maximize its unique flavor profile. The roasted coffees are then color sorted before being blended together, making for a more consistently sweet cup.
This limited-release blend is available through late October 2021. Grab a 12 oz box while you can for $19.
Counter Culture Coffee Apollo Review
Apollo is Counter Culture’s love letter to Ethiopian coffee. When the brand launched the first version of this blend in 2010, it wanted to give its customers the best of what coffee could offer.
Washed Ethiopian coffee soon became the anchoring component of this roast. Though Counter Culture notes that “specific lots may change with the seasons,” Apollo will always feature a complex flavor profile that is floral and citrusy.
The current iteration of Apollo stems from Jabanto, Ethiopia. This silky cup pays homage to the birthplace of coffee and is available year-round.
You can buy the Counter Culture Coffee Apollo in various sizes, and prices range from $16 for a 12 oz bag to $95 for 5 lbs.
Counter Culture Coffee Big Trouble Review
Here comes trouble! The Counter Culture Big Trouble roast offers a delicious profile of caramel, nuts, and chocolate. It’s one of the most approachable, crowd-pleasing coffees that the company offers.
For an easy-going profile, you might be wondering how it got the name “Big Trouble”? Well, sourcing clean, low-acidity coffees from small producers can be a tricky task. Because the brew is so well-loved, Counter Culture works hard to source the coffees needed to offer it year-round.
Currently, the blend is created from two Guatemalan coffees from different farms. It’s a medium roast that is described as nutty and absolutely delicious. This incredibly versatile blend can be prepared however you love to enjoy your coffee.
Big Trouble is available in three sizes and is listed at $15/12 oz, $30/24 oz, and $95/5 lb.
Counter Culture Coffee Concepción Huista Review
This single-origin Concepción Huista stems from the towering mountains of western Guatemala. The high-growing altitude gives this coffee a powerful complexity—higher altitudes mean lower temps, making the coffee plant grow slower
We all know low-and-slow is the best way to barbecue, but it also applies to coffee. Slower growth allows the coffee cherry to develop more complexity, which creates distinctive, sweet flavors.
The Counter Culture Coffee Concepción Huista is a lighter roast with delicious tasting notes of cherry and apple. The farm that exports it has a history as long as Counter Culture—it was founded in 1995.
This seasonal single-origin is available through late October 2021 and comes in a 12 oz bag listed for $17, on sale from $18.
Counter Culture Coffee Decaf Urcunina Review
Death-before-decaf readers, please skip ahead. This Counter Culture Coffee Decaf Urcunina gives you everything you love about specialty coffee, minus the jitters.
This single-origin decaf originated in Nariño, Colombia—another area celebrated for its soaring mountain ranges and high elevations. Counter Culture is a repeat customer of the farming region, buying Nariño since 2012. This coffee is a lighter roast with silky notes of maple syrup and green grapes.
Part of the reason why this coffee shines is due to the sugarcane decaffeination process it goes through. This process uses ethyl acetate, a derivative of sugar cane, to remove all the caffeine from the coffee. The result is a super sweet brew that tastes fantastic and, best of all, won’t keep you up at night.
A 12 oz box of the delicious Decaf Urcunina is available for $19.
Counter Culture Coffee Faith Estates Review
Counter Culture Coffee Faith Estates is a single-origin coffee from Kirinyaga, Kenya, with an inspiring story behind it. The farmer, Cecilia Wanjiku Haniel, chose to name this coffee herself after experiencing hardship early on in her coffee career. She held faith that her farm would flourish through hard work and be widely known for its superior taste.
Decades later, Faith Estates is a multi-generational farm with a loyal customer base. Faith Estates is now one of the lightest roasts that Counter Culture offers. It features the fruity notes of currant and grapefruit that Kenya is known for.
This coffee is offered through late October 2021. Grab a 12 oz box while you can for $22.
Who Is Counter Culture Coffee For?
Counter Culture is for anyone who wants to up their coffee game. If you want to make your morning cuppa shine, then this brand’s unique and thoughtful brews are for you.
Plus, the company puts ethical and sustainable practices first. If you want high-quality brews and to support a business that does good, consider paying the extra couple bucks to buy into a movement—with the added bonus of delicious coffee!
Is Counter Culture Coffee Sustainable?
Counter Culture operates with sustainability at the forefront. The company strives for measurable environmental, social, and fiscal sustainability in everything it does. It works directly with coffee producers to tackle issues like climate change and education starting from the supply chain.
At the brand’s production facilities, its sustainability doctrine is carried out by reducing its carbon footprint, using fewer resources, and reducing waste. As part of Counter Culture’s education at its training centers, its team discusses sustainability issues directly with consumers.
Additionally, the company partners with various organizations such as World Coffee Research to take a collaborative approach to these issues. As part of its mission to strive for measurable success, the company releases a yearly transparency report.
This Counter Culture Coffee review has to hand it to the brand for maintaining high-quality coffees alongside sustainable practices.
Counter Culture Coffee Reviews: What Do Customers Think?
This wouldn’t be a thorough Counter Culture Coffee review without hearing from customers, so let’s see what at-home coffee connoisseurs had to say. Below, we’ve sourced testimonials from Amazon, Facebook, and Trustpilot that shed light on the brand and its products.
We first turned to Amazon, where the company has received hundreds of ratings. Most coffees earned an impressive score of 4.5/5 stars or higher. Check it out:
- Holigram: an average of 4.5/5 stars out of 551 reviews
- Big Trouble: an average of 4.5/5 stars out of 551 reviews
- Apollo: an average of 4.5/5 stars out of 295 reviews
- Forty-Six: an average of 4.5/5 stars out of 147 reviews
- Gradient Blend: an average of 5/5 stars out of 32 reviews
We first dove into Amazon reviews for Apollo because we were intrigued by this unique brew. Customers rave about the tastiness, intoxicating smell, and how smooth yet strong it is.
One customer also gushed about the fruity notes: “This was a surprise find for us and makes an excellent espresso. Superb aroma (fruit, citrus, floral) and body, good crema, excellent finish.“
Meanwhile, another customer echoed the love for this fruity coffee: “This is one of my fave coffees from one of my fave coffee roasters. I love Ethiopian coffee and am very particular, and this one has the bright, fruity zing I’m looking for. Smells so, so good. Huge fan!“
Next, we moved on to Big Trouble—and we’re not just talking about the coffee. We were shocked to discover a couple of negative Amazon reviews but soon learned the feedback was against Amazon and not Counter Culture. Take this example:
“This review is nothing against Counter Culture, their coffee is truly amazing. The reason for the low rating is Amazon’s fault. The coffee’s roast date shows that it’s 60 days old. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but for coffee snobs, that’s very expired…Amazon should realize that anyone who spends $20 for 12 ounces of coffee expects reasonably fresh beans.“
Despite Amazon’s mix-up, this coffee is loved by almost everyone who tries it. It seems as though buying directly from Counter Culture is the safest choice if you’re after the freshest roast.
We were interested in seeing how well these glowing testimonials held up on other sites, so we turned to Facebook. Here, the company earned an impressive 4.9/5-star rating from 134 people. One customer echoed the previous reviews about Big Trouble‘s big taste:
“I just tried Counter Culture’s Big Trouble coffee and it’s the best coffee I’ve had. I brewed it on a drip coffee maker as well as an AeroPress. It’s a perfect cup of coffee either way.”
We also took a quick look at the brand’s Trustpilot page. Here, we only found one review—it praised the brand for its tasty and ethical brew:
“I like Counter Culture Coffee, they offer some really tasty coffee. I am very fussy about the coffee I drink and they do a great job of catering for that! I like the fact they care about sustainability; that’s also important to me. I will order from them again.“
We had a hard time finding any negative feedback in this Counter Culture Coffee review, so we have to toast the brand for providing high-quality coffee that’s worth the cost. Customers across the web rave about its delicious and unique brews, high-quality taste, and ethical practices.
Is Counter Culture Coffee Worth It?
Considering everything we’ve covered in this Counter Culture Coffee review, we definitely think the brand is worth it. The company works hard to enact sustainable and ethical standards, and the fact that it has direct trade relationships with coffee producers definitely sweetens the deal.
Aside from being a globally-conscious company, it also makes darn good coffee! Each brew comes with its own story that is as unique as its tasting profile. No matter how you like your morning cuppa, Counter Culture surely has something for you, with its wide variety of beans and various roast levels.
Counter Culture Coffee Promotions & Discounts
This Counter Culture Coffee review couldn’t find any active promotions or discounts on its site. Be sure to keep tabs on the company’s website and social media pages, or sign up for its newsletter to stay up-to-date on deals.
Where to Buy Counter Culture Coffee
Ready to upgrade your morning routine with unique brews sourced from around the world? Head to CounterCultureCoffee.com to shop for the brand’s collection. Some products are also available through partnered retailers, such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods.
Who owns Counter Culture Coffee?
Brett Smith founded Counter Culture with Fred Houk and currently presides as the CEO of the company.
Where is Counter Culture Coffee from?
Counter Culture sources coffee from many different origins and offers different brews based on seasonality. Its most popular selections are from Guatemala, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
What is Counter Culture Coffee’s Shipping Policy?
Right now, the brand only ships to the US and Canada, but it’s hoping to expand to international locations in the future. All costs are based on the weight of your order and your location, so the specifics will be calculated at checkout.
Counter Culture offers the following shipping options:
- UPS SurePost: 1-9 business days
- UPS Ground: 1-8 business days
- UPS 2-Day Select: 2 business days
- UPS Next Day Air: 1 business day
If you live in the US and place a single order, your order will be shipped via UPS SurePost for free.
What is Canada Counter Culture Coffee’s Return Policy?
Counter Culture Coffee doesn’t accept returns on coffee due to its perishable nature. However, if there are any issues with your order, shoot an email to [email protected] within four weeks to work out a solution.
How to Contact Counter Culture Coffee
Have any questions that weren’t answered in this Counter Culture Coffee review? Reach out to the brand through one of the following methods:
- Phone: 888-238-5282 or 919-361-5282 (available Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm EST)
- Website contact form
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