Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Dark & Intense Coffee Seattle’s Best Should Be Promoting (Instead Of The One It Did!): Level 5!

The Good: Appropriately caffeinated, Great Taste!
The Bad: Expensive
The Basics: Seattle’s Best reminds me that products are not so much expensive as they are worth it when they deliver on their promises as their Level 5 Dark & Intense Coffee does!

Late last year, my wife – who is always on the lookout for freebies and deals – did an awesome thing for me. She took an online survey about flavor preferences for coffee from Seattle’s Best and they advised her that, based upon my flavor preferences, their Level 3 coffee (reviewed here!) was the appropriate choice for me. It was not, as it turns out. Recently, the local grocery store had the Seattle’s Best Dark & Intense Level 5 coffee in the clearance area and I discovered that I had a coupon for it. So, because Level 3 was not an entirely disappointing experience and because I like getting coffee inexpensively anyway, I picked up a bag of the Level 5 coffee.

Level 5 Dark & Intense is where the flavor is at for those who love flavorful, rich, coffees.

Level Five is a standard-line (year round availability) coffee from Seattle’s Best where the name tells one nothing about its flavor, but it is truly dark and thoroughly satisfying to those who like bold coffee. That said, at full price, Seattle’s Best makes one pay for that quality! For the Level 5 blend it is truly worth it (in fact, trying to go back not to prior positively-reviewed dark blends has been problematic in my household!).


Seattle’s Best is a premium coffee company that tries to meet the specific tastes of each coffee drinker. The standard size for Level Five is a 12 oz. bag.

The Level Five Blend is a strong blend that is heavily caffeinated and bold in its flavor. The 12 oz. bag has the beans ground and one of the surprising aspects of Level Five was that the grounds were not much smaller than the other blends I have reviewed. That means that Seattle’s Best actually delivers on the flavor based on the beans, not simply by grinding the same beans finer and letting the coffee maker do the job!

Ease Of Preparation

Level Five Coffee is remarkably easy to prepare, no advanced culinary degrees necessary! First, open the bag. Seattle’s Best Level Five Coffee is vacuum sealed when first purchased, so when it is opened, the bag will likely plump up a little. Then, measure out one heaping tablespoon for every two cups of water in your coffee maker. Level Five Coffee is intended for automatic (drip or percolating) coffee makers. This is NOT an instant coffee. As a result, it needs to be brewed and I use a Hamilton Beach machine (reviewed here!) with Melitta coffee filters (reviewed here!).

Consult your coffee maker's instructions for how to brew the coffee. However, as far as the basics go, you'll need a coffee filter, which you put the Level Five Coffee in and then brew through your coffee maker. The directions recommend making a pot at a time and serving it within twenty minutes and brewing complete pots does seem to net a more unified taste to the coffee (nothing too weak or too strong - as if the latter is possible!).


For such a strong coffee, Level 5 has a surprisingly underwhelming aroma. The coffee scent that comes from a mug of brewed Level 5 is more subtle than forceful. It smells like a very average cup of coffee. In fact, it does not effervesce a dark coffee blended scent at all. By smell alone, one might think Level 5 was just another cup of coffee and a lighter or more medium blend at that!

The taste of Level 5, however, changes that perception instantly. Level 5 is so concentrated in its flavor that it tastes like one is drinking the essence of five cups of coffee in a single mug. The flavor is that potent! The blend is rich and dark, embodying a perfect coffee flavor. For such a strong coffee flavor, it is odd that there is nothing woody to the taste of the Level 5 coffee and the typical bitterness from dark coffee lasts only as a faint aftertaste, like the finishing flavor from the primary taste. The bitterness from Level 5 is not terribly bitter and it only endures about a second or two after the beverage is consumed!

Creamer is able to express its flavor in the Level 5 coffee, without making the beverage taste like something other than a cup of coffee. This is a very flavorful drink that refuses to be diluted by creamer or sugar, though a good creamer can complement the flavor nicely.

There is no lingering aftertaste from the Level 5 coffee!


This is coffee, not something that appears on the nutrition pyramid! Seattle’s Best Level Five Coffee does not contribute anything to one's daily recommended allowance of anything. In fact, the bag does not have any ingredients, so I am forced to assume all that is in this blend is coffee beans, which would fit what it tastes like.

This is a caffeinated blend and it feels like it! This has enough caffeine to pop one's eyes open between the taste and caffeine. Because it is a caffeinated coffee, it appears to not have undergone any of the chemical processes that sometimes cause complications in decaffeinated coffees.


Level Five Coffee ought to be stored sealed in its container with the top firmly closed. Coffee is known to absorb flavors of food nearby it, so keeping the top tightly closed is highly recommended. There are different schools of thought on refrigerating open coffee and I have a very clean refrigerator with a lot of ways to segregate coffee, so I tend to come down on the side of refrigerate it. The container makes no recommendations on that front, though the bag of Level Five Coffee I purchased on clearance had a very limited shelf life – I bought it on May 11 and it expired on May 31 - so this is not a great coffee for stocking up on.

After brewing, coffee grounds ought to be disposed of. These grounds may be thrown in the trash when used or put in a compost pile, if available. Coffee grounds make great compost.


Seattle’s Best Level Five Coffee might well be the best Seattle’s Best produces for those who love rich, flavorful coffee and if it is then they have a real winner worth picking up!

For other coffee reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Folgers Gourmet Supreme Coffee
Starbucks Cafe Estima Coffee
Kahlua Coffee


For other food or drink reviews, please check out my Food Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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