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.
Misery loves company, and I am/was a Bay Blend loyalist, and saddened to see it go. I could not brew a bad cup of it! My quest continues to find a suitable replacement, and so far not so good. If you find something suitable, will you let me know?
The best widely-available substitute I have found so far is Starbucks Cafe Verona. But it is a step down (and much more expensive). Surely, Trader Joe’s didn’t roast Bay Blend themselves. Does anyone know who did?
In my quest to find more on Bay Blend, I saw the name of the commercial roaster, but they don’t sell retail. There’s some other brands I found listed on other sites too that I may try, and will revisit Verona – thanks.
Let me know if you find something promising!
I stopped going to Trader Joe’s after discontinuing Bay Blend. The “excuse” they gave about not selling well is complete and total BS. Whenever I had gone in to buy some – it was always the one brand that was sold out. So they’re full of it and they seem to forget- they need us customers and not the other way around. Businesses go under- I’ll still be here long after. Food for thought
I completely agree with you. TJ Bay Blend Ultra Dark was the best coffee I have ever found. Like you, I searched the internet looking for an alternative.
I always ask Trader Joes to bring it back.
I found a coffee review of Trader Joes coffees that ranked Bay Blend last with treble snide comments where flavored coffees were listed on top.
Clearly this coffee reviewer didn’t like coffee.
I would Grind the Bay Blend extra fine using auto drip, drink it black. I never had a complaint only comments on how good.
I could make it very strong and it took a lot to make a fresh pot bitter or burnt.
Back in the day TJ did have a very good dark Sumatran that I would rotate with but it was discontinued years ago.
I currently have eight different bags coffee looking for a replacement. So far TJ organic Five County Expresso blend may be the best but still not close.
I drank the Bay Blend for so long I feel I know it even after trying so many others. So I tried the Major Dickason yesterday, not bad but still not close.
The Dickason beans were not as black and oily like the bay blend.
I have a bag of the Cafe Verona and still not close.
I think what I am missing is an unburnt taste, sweetness, low acidity and the crazy good aromatic smell of pure coffee.
I think I should investigate some of the Mexican coffees next.
Sounds like you and I are on the same page when it comes to coffee. When you find the right beans, please let me know. I am currently using dark-roast Sumatra beans from Turks Head in West Chester, PA (turksheadcoffee.com). Very good, but not equal to Bay Blend.
We love TJ Bay Blend. Very sad to see it disappear! Drove 250 miles to stock up every few months or had the kids mule it on their trips to visit! Have not found anything comparable. Following to see if anyone does!
really not happy about this move from TJ. I go to TJ for all my groceries, but the dark beens was the number 1 item for me. it really sucks.
We just went to TJ to stock up and found out this travesty. I’m gutted, we’ve been drinking Bay Blend for 15 years, nothing has ever come close in the home (at any price point ). I don’t know what to do, this absolutely sucks. Like one person mentioned above, Bay Blend was often the only coffee sold out at our local TJ. Sad.
Bay Blend loyalist as well. I’ve been searching for a substitute for months, I’m on my last can of my reserves, and getting nervous to find a replacement. I just discovered San Francisco Bay Coffee (A Rogers Family Company) Extra Dark Italian Roast and it’s awesome. The beans are dark and oily and absolutely lovely. I’m thrilled to have found it on Amazon. Give it try. I also ordered their French Roast but it hasn’t arrived yet.
We have found some decent coffees but no true replacement for Bay Blend. Safeway’s Signature Italian and French Roast are good. The Italian especially. I also drink Dunkin’ Donuts Midnight, which is more difficult to find in whole beans.
Any thoughts on how we can find out who manufactured the Bay Blend for TJ? That might be a way to get the coffee…from the source! We just ordered from San Francisco Bay Coffee (Roger’s Family) Extra Dark Italian Roast Whole Bean. We’ll see!
I discovered a new coffee company that I love, After Dark Roasting. Their coffee is pure, single origin, and delicious. It’s the only coffee I love as much as Bay Blend
My wife and I were Bay Blend fans for years. Like others, we were disappointed when it was discontinued. After a lot of taste testing, we found San Francisco Bay Coffee Extra Dark Italian Roast, which is almost exactly the same—dark but not bitter roast with the oils still present. We’ve joined their subscription program and are happy coffee drinkers again!
I thought we were the only ones that loved Bay Blend so much… my husband and I still can’t get over, the fact at they discontinued it about a year ago. This coffee was the only reason why we drove so far to TJ. Discovered this coffee 9 years ago at my bosses brunch party, fell in love with it. Still looking for an alternative
Same here! Bay Blend was my go-to for many years!
i’ve been very bent out of shape since they discontinued our bay blend. i’ve also stopped shopping at tj’s, its a very very long drive for me to get to one (2.5 hours one way). i havent found a decent replacement yet, and i hope i do. but i have a nice fyi for all of you! contact info for the douchebag that is responsible for this travesty!
email@example.com – Matt Sloan, VP of Marketing – Product
Like everyone else here, I loved Bay Blend. Been drinking it for years! Dark, strong, not bitter Satisfying! I’ve ‘copied and pasted’ San Francisco Bay Coffee Extra Dark Italian Roast and will give it a go. Appreciate the tip!
I have not found a better blend and I have really been looking. I think TJ excuse is BS.