Over Christmas I finally got low enough on my supply of green bean samples that I needed to re-order. But Sweet Maria's was closed for the holidays, so I started looking around for other sources of beans. Here are my notes on a few:
G2 Coffee Merchants - This site confused me. Apparently they don't offer sample packs, but since they're in New Zealand the point was moot. I can't imagine what the shipping charges would be. New Zealand folx will be happy to know they can buy green from this site, and they'll roast it for you if you don't want to roast your own.
Coffee Storehouse - This site offers half-pound sample packs, a 6-pack and a 10-pack, but the price was a higher than Sweet Maria's. Bookmarked for possible purchase later.
Burman Coffee Traders - No small sample packs, but they do offer special bundles. The bundles are 3 different kinds of green beans, one-pound packs.
Coffee Bean Corral - This site offers sample 1/2-pound sample packs, but you have to buy them separately, so the price varies. Some coffees are more expensive then others.
I went ahead and placed an order for 6 coffee sample packs from the Coffee Bean Corral. I really liked being able to select which ones I wanted! Ordering was easy and they shipped pretty fast.
The only thing I like better about Sweet Maria's (other than the price) is that Sweet Maria's prints descriptions of flavors and recommendations for roasting times right on the packs. For dummies like me, it's nice to have that information handy. I would roast half the bag using their recommendations, and then do the other half by eye-nose, and see which I liked better. Coffee Bean Corral has something they call "the matrix" on their website, which tries to catalog the different characteristics of each coffee, but I couldn't find roasting recommendations anywhere. To savvy roasters it probably doesn't matter, but for newbies like me, it's helpful to have something to guage by.