My favorite coffee beans have disappeared. Trader Joe’s has discontinued Bay Blend, which has been my go-to coffee for two decades, and I’m really disappointed.

Yes, it’s a bit silly to be worrying about coffee in an environment when Russia is invading Ukraine, Covid is killing millions of people around the world, and the US Supreme Court has gone off the tracks, but coffee is on my mind this morning. If you are not a coffee person, I won’t blame you if you stop reading right here and return to more important topics. The rest of this post has to do with why Bay Blend is so good and how I am coping.

I arrived at Bay Blend after trying many, many different kinds of beans. Bay Blend came the closest to recreating my recollection of my first coffee-drinking experiences, as a teenager in East Africa.

What made Bay Blend so special? The selection of beans was important, of course. (Trader Joe’s described them as a “blend of Colombian Excelso and Mexican High Grown coffee beans”.) But I think an even more important factor was the manner of roasting. Here’s what I’ve learned from reading about roasting. When coffee beans are roasted, they gradually darken. Eventually, once they are really dark, the oils in them start to appear on the surface. When beans are roasted even further (becoming a “French roast”), the oil is lost and the beans become dry (and sometimes even burnt).

Bay Blend had that “oily” character. In my experience, it is rare to find beans that have been roasted to that perfect point: oils at the surface, but not dried out. If you only use pre-ground coffee, this feature of the beans will not be noticeable. I like to grind my own coffee, so the surface character of the beans is always apparent.

For the moment, I am back to using Major Dickason Blend from Peet’s Coffee, now readily available at grocery stores. I used to buy it before discovering Bay Blend. It features a blend of “best origin coffees from the world’s premier growing regions” (whatever that means). It’s a dark roast, but slightly lighter than Bay Blend and without most of the surface oils.

But I’m not committed to Major Dickason. It’s good, but my Bay Blend experience has shown me that coffee can be even better. I’ll be trying other dark roasts. On a visit to Hawaii years ago, I had some wonderful dark roast Kona coffee. Maybe I can find a source for those beans.

If I get really desperate, I might try to roast some beans myself.

As a quick Google search will confirm, there are a great many Bay Blend drinkers who are upset with Trader Joe’s and are searching for a comparable replacement. Many report that Bay Blend was the main reason they went out of their way to get to a distant Trader Joe’s to shop.

I put in an inquiry to Trader Joe’s and got this response: “We discontinued the Bay Blend coffee because it was not selling strongly enough to earn its spot on the shelf. We introduce new products every week. In turn, we have to eliminate items as a matter of space. We believe that customers “vote” on what they love-and what they want to see more of-with their dollars. If a product isn’t selling well, we’ll discontinue it to make room for something new that we hope our customers will love—and the attributes of said new products are determined by customer feedback. Hopefully, coffee drinkers will find a new coffee to love. Crew Members in our store can help them discover a new coffee to love.”

For the record, I have tried several other Trader Joe’s dark-roast beans, and I don’t like any of them enough to drink regularly.

If I come up with a good substitute for Bay Blend (or if Trader Joe’s brings it back), I’ll report it here. And if you are a Bay Blend drinker with a good candidate as an alternative, please let me know in the comments. I know it’s a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but it sure would be nice to have that coffee again.