Product Review: Fire Dept. Coffee
By Ellen Rubin
This review is the opinion of the author. While coffee was provided by the company, there was no payment received for my honest assessment.
An Introduction to Fire Dept. Coffee
Coffee is appropriate every season and any time of day. After all, there’s a coffee for every taste and method of preparation. For many, it’s at the top of their must-have list.
With the holidays approaching (and even if they weren’t), I wanted to add one more name to your list of favorite coffee providers – Fire Department Coffee (Fire Dept. Coffee).
You might wonder why I mentioned the holidays. It’s because I think that Fire Department Coffee would be a great gift resource for the coffee lovers in your life and for those who support first responders and firefighters. The company offers numerous coffee blends from standard to unique, supports a worthy cause, and falls into the sustainable/ethical category of companies.
About the Company, Coffee & Causes
Fire Department Coffee was founded, and is run by, active and retired firefighters. Navy veteran and firefighter Luke Schneider, who not only appreciates great-tasting coffee but knows its importance to keeping alert, started the company in 2016 in Rockford, Illinois.
It all starts with the beans. Fire Department Coffee sources their beans from around the world. There are even single origin coffees if you have a favorite country for your beans. They have a strict testing and evaluation process to make sure that source farms are environmentally and socially responsible and workers are treated fairly. Some of the beans may be organic, but the company doesn’t advertise themselves as organic. Similarly, they don’t claim to be certified vegan, but they don’t use milk, egg, or dairy products.
The beans are shipped to Rockford, where they are processed separately in small batches and shipped within days of roasting for freshness.
There seems to be a coffee for every taste. They offer ground or whole bean light, medium, or dark roast, and donut shop coffee in 3 different size bags or in pods.
If you’re looking for something more unique, they feature spirit infused coffee. They take green beans and infuse them with bourbon, rum, tequila, or Irish whiskey through a proprietary Spirit Infusion process. The coffee is then roasted, during which the alcohol is roasted off, but leaving a distinct aroma and flavor.
You can also choose from 3 flavored espressos, coffee with extra caffeine, or decaf coffee. If you aren’t near a coffee maker, you can try their Ready to Drink 7oz cans of cold brew. Like I said, there’s a coffee for every taste.
First responders and military personnel receive a discount and there’s also a discount for buying wholesale.
Your coffee purchase does more than just fuel you. As firefighters, the company champions other firefighters. Fire Department Coffee has a non-profit foundation that supports first responders and fire fighters who have been injured on the job or are facing other serious health challenges, whether mental or physical. You can nominate someone who needs help at Coffee For a Cause – Fire Dept. Coffee – Fire Department Coffee.
What happens if you want to support the company but don’t like coffee? Luckily, they have a whole range of gear – stickers, shirts, mugs, tumblers, hats, etc. – that promote the company or firefighting. The stickers are heavy-duty and even have a tab so you can easily peel them from the backing. The thermos is very well made, holds 20oz. of coffee, has a built-in bottle opener on the base, and is perfect for those on the go.
Getting back to gift giving…the package they sent me was put together really well. It came in a very nice, sturdy box that was beautifully assembled. You can put together favorites of coffees and gear and have it sent. If you want to do something more than a one-time package, they offer gift bundles, a coffee of the month club, a subscription program, and even a sticker club.
If you don’t want to order online, their coffees are sold in local stores near you—check out the store locator on their site.
It’s All About the Taste
I’ve talked about why you would want to support Fire Department Coffee, but none of it would make a difference if they didn’t have a good-tasting product. I gathered some taste testers and we tried the Donut Shop pods, ground Irish Whiskey Spirit-Infused Medium Roast, and the ground Medium Roast coffees.
Compared to other brands we’ve used, the loose grounds here were a bit larger. The advantage was that there was a significantly reduced amount of ultra-fine particles left as sediment at the bottom of the cup. (We use very fine mesh reusable pods with our Keurig machine.) The Irish whisky infused grounds made an all-around mild and delicious cup of coffee: the scent was the trademark “coffee” smell but toned down with almost caramelized notes, leading to a smooth taste with a similar finish. The addition of milk ended up enriching the flavor, almost edging toward a coffee-flavored buttercream.
The Donut Shop and classic Medium Roast were similar in taste; the Donut Shop tasting a bit more acidic than the classic, which had a deeper flavor, both with and without milk. The Donut Shop is a bestseller for Fire Department Coffee and the staff characterized it as “a slightly sweeter roast that’s perfect for everyday drinking (or dunking).”
I always think that the winning trifecta is finding good quality products that I need or want that are also ethically and sustainably made from companies that give back to their communities.
You can’t really beat that combination! I think that buying directly from the company puts more money in their pocket. In this case, it also means that you can pick and choose which coffees you want and get them at their freshest. It also saves you from having to run out to the store to get them, and if you like their coffees, you can consider their subscription services.
They’ve really covered all the bases: cold brews, high octane caffeinated, decaf; ground, whole bean, or pods, and for the non-coffee drinkers, great gear.