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Kicking Horse Coffee Review

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Sasha Pavlovich

04/09/2021 · 6 min reading

Coffee should be “deep, dark, and delicious.” At least that’s what Kicking Horse Coffee believes. This friendly and socially conscious coffee company is a Canadian-based favorite.

With a focus on tasty and accessible coffee blends, they source their beans from around the world and roast them at their facility in British Columbia. Their slogan is “wake up and kick ass.” So, you can bet they sell nothing but kick ass coffee.

Even though they’re based in Canada, those of us living in the United States can still enjoy their coffee. They sell their beans online as well as in some grocery stores. Buying coffee online can feel risky though. How do you know if this coffee is right for you? Well, we’ve done the research for you. We’ll give you all the details in this Kicking Horse Coffee review so you can decide if you need to try these beans.

Decaf Coffee

Coffee for Espresso

Light Roasts

Medium Roasts

Dark Roasts

The Kicking Horse Company Story

Kicking Horse Coffee started out in a garage in 1996. The two founders, Elana Rosenfeld and Leo Johnson, got their start by roasting small batches of coffee out of their garage. Their goal was simply to roast the freshest and best-tasting coffee.

Since then, they’ve grown into a much larger roasting facility and in 2008 opened an adjoining café. But they’re still based in the small Canadian tourist town of Invermere, British Columbia.

Kicking Horse Coffee Company

With the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop, they’re dedicated to values of sustainability and environmental protection. Since 2007, all their coffee has been both organic and Fair Trade. For 13 years in a row, they’ve ranked as Canada’s #1 selling organic and Fair Trade coffee.

That’s not the only distinction they’ve won. In 2018, they ranked as the #1 best workplace in Canada. They’re a company run by values like authenticity, inclusion, community, and social responsibility.

Kicking Horse Coffee Review

1 DECAF Swiss Water Process Coffee

DECAF Swiss Water Process Coffee
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Kicking Horse believes decaf coffee should taste delicious, like all their other beans. To preserve the best flavor, they use the Swiss Water Process to decaffeinate their coffee. This process removes the caffeine without any chemicals. It's the industry standard for the ultimate cup of decaf.

If you’re a dark roast fan who wants a caffeine-free brew, this one is for you. This decaf coffee is a blend of beans from Central and South America, giving it a well-rounded flavor. With each sip, you’ll taste notes of roasted hazelnuts, dark chocolate, and brown sugar. This coffee has a mellow but long-lasting finish and a balanced body.

Kicking Horse’s decaf coffee works great with all your favorite brewing methods. Try it as French press, drip, pour-over, espresso, or cold brew. You’ll just need to grind it yourself because this coffee is only available as a whole bean.

2 Cliff Hanger Espresso Coffee

Cliff Hanger Espresso Coffee
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If you prefer to drink your coffee as a latte or cappuccino, you’ll want to try the Cliff Hanger Espresso. Kicking Horse describes these beans as “heavenly.” By combining beans from many different growing regions, they’ve created a unique and balanced flavor profile. It’s a bright and fruity blend from Africa, Indonesia, Central America, and South America. With aromas of black currant, milk chocolate, and brown sugar, it’s a standout addition to any espresso-based drink.

This blend is also great if you prefer to drink your espresso straight. You won’t taste any bitterness here. Just a bold and smooth cup of coffee with mild acidity and notes of berries and cocoa.

This medium roast is only available in the whole bean, so make sure you have a coffee grinder available. It makes a fantastic espresso, but Kicking Horse also suggests brewing it as French press, drip, pour-over, or cold brew.

3 Hola Coffee (Ground)

Hola Coffee (Ground)
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While Kicking Horse is well known for their deep, dark roasts, they do stock one light roast coffee. Their Hola roast comes from Central and South America. Fans of light roast coffee will appreciate the bright and fruity acidity of this blend. Kicking Horse describes it as “wild, awake, spirited.” This coffee is a great option to start your day with. Light roast coffee beans have a higher caffeine content than darker roasts, so this blend will definitely wake you up.

When you brew the Hola roast, you’ll notice aromas of berries, nougat, and brown sugar. You’ll taste a pleasantly sweet combination of fruit and honey with a rich and creamy body.

For the optimal cup of coffee, Kicking Horse recommends you try this roast as drip, pour-over, or cold brew. It’s available as a whole bean or ground so you can brew it just how you like it.

4 Smart Ass Coffee

Smart Ass Coffee
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“Cheeky, bright, precocious” is how Kicking Horse describes their Smart Ass blend. This is their signature medium roast for good reason. By combining beans from Africa, Central America, and South America, they’ve created a delicious and well-balanced brew. These regions give it an excellent combination of sweet, tart, and rich flavors. You’ll notice notes of red currant, sugar cane, milk chocolate, and berries. On top of that, are aromas of sweet syrup, vanilla bean, and stone fruit.

With a great flavor and mild body, this coffee is super drinkable. It’s a great choice to start off your morning or to pair with a dessert at the end of the day.

This blend will taste great no matter your preferred brewing method. Give it a try as French press, drip, pour-over, espresso, or cold brew. It’s available as ground or whole bean if you prefer to do the grinding yourself.

5 Three Sisters Coffee

Three Sisters Coffee
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Three Sisters is a blend of light, medium, and dark roast beans. It's named for a trio of peaks in the nearby Canadian Rocky Mountains. The overall profile ends up tasting like a medium roast.

This coffee is particularly special for Kicking Horse since they’re located alongside these peaks. It’s their way of paying homage to the mountains. They’ve characterized the Three Sisters blend as “smooth, savory, seductive.” It’s a well-rounded and complex cup of coffee.

A mixture of beans from Indonesia, Central America, and South America makes this a wonderfully flavorful brew. You’ll taste notes of tobacco, stone fruit, and cocoa. Brewing this coffee will give off aromas of dried fruit, toasted coconut, and chocolate malt.

Kicking Horse’s recommended brewing methods for these beans include French press, drip, pour-over, and cold brew. It’s available in whole bean or ground so you’re free to create your ideal brew.

6 Kick Ass Coffee

Kick Ass Coffee
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Kick Ass is the quintessential Kicking Horse blend. This boldly dark roast takes their motto of “wake up and kick ass” to heart. Described on the packaging as “sweet, smoky, audacious,” this one is a favorite among Kicking Horse fans.

These beans come from Indonesia and South America to create a bold, complex, and earthy flavor. Kicking Horse takes the roast on these beans extra dark. It exemplifies their commitment to coffee that’s “deep, dark, and delicious.” While darker roasts can sometimes mute the distinct flavors in coffee beans, that’s not the case here. Brewing a cup of Kick Ass starts with aromas of vanilla and dark chocolate. With each sip, you’ll taste notes of chocolate malt, molasses, and licorice. It ends with an enjoyable, lingering finish.

This blend is best served up as French press, drip, pour over, or cold brew. You can buy it as a whole bean or pre-ground.

7 Grizzly Claw Coffee

Grizzly Claw Coffee
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Grizzly Claw is another favorite among Kicking Horse’s dark roasts. Anyone who’s a fan of rich flavors and dark chocolate should try this blend. On the bag, Kicking Horse aptly describes these beans as “decadent.”

Coming from Central America and South America means these coffee beans are well balanced, full-bodied, and free of bitterness. The dark roasting profile creates a very low acid level. Even those with stomach sensitivities can enjoy this flavorful blend without issue.

Brewing these beans brings out enticing aromas of sugar cane and cocoa powder. When sipping this blend, you’ll taste notes of dark chocolate, cacao nibs, brown sugar, and roasted hazelnut. This coffee is practically a dessert on its own.

Kicking Horse recommends brewing Grizzly Claw as French press, drip, pour over, or cold brew. It’s available as either whole bean or pre-ground. So even those without an at-home coffee grinder can enjoy this coffee.

8 454 Horse Power Coffee

454 Horse Power Coffee
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454 Horse Power is another great choice for lovers of dark roast beans. Kicking Horse calls this coffee “the champion of taste.”

The beans for this blend come from Indonesia, Central America, and South America. Coffee beans are grown in Indonesia often have a more intense, spicy, and earthy flavor. Central and South American beans tend to be more balanced and well-rounded in flavor. It makes sense that this blend, sourced from those three regions, would create a great and uniquely flavored coffee.

These beans have bold aromas like cacao nibs, peat, and nutmeg. Tasting this brew reveals notes of tobacco and black licorice. The heavy body and velvety smooth finish make this a coffee you won’t forget.

You should brew these beans as French press, drip, pour over, or cold brew. Luckily, it’s available as a whole bean or pre-ground, so you can brew it any way you like.

Kicking Horse Pre-Ground Coffee

Pre-Ground Coffee

Kicking Horse offers a pre-ground option for many of their coffees. These include their Hola Light Roast, Smart Ass Medium Roast, Three Sister Medium Roast, 454 Horse Power Dark Roast, Grizzly Claw Dark Roast, and Kick Ass Dark Roast.

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What is so special about Kicking Horse?

We already know that Kicking Horse blends and roasts a great cup of coffee. But that’s not the only factor in choosing where to buy your beans. So much goes into the process of sourcing and selling coffee, so it’s important to do some research before you buy. Check out this list of pros and cons to help you decide if you’re going to love or pass on Kicking Horse Coffee.

Pros

  • All their coffee is organic, Fair Trade, and shade-grown
  • They have great workplace policies, especially for women, and inclusivity
  • They support a lot of regional environmental and cultural organizations

Cons

  • No single origins
  • Some of their blends are only available in Canada

Organic, Fair Trade, and shade grown

If sustainability and ethical growing practices are important to you, Kicking Horse might be your new favorite brand. Since 2007, they’ve only sold coffee that’s organic, Fair Trade, and shade-grown. If you’re unfamiliar with what these terms mean, here’s a quick breakdown.

Organic coffee beans are produced without the use of pesticides and other chemicals.

Fair Trade coffee supports better prices and working conditions for coffee bean farmers.

Shade grown coffee is a more natural growing process than planting coffee in the sun. It’s more environmentally sustainable and provides natural pest control and fertilization.

Great workplace

Kicking Horse has been repeatedly recognized for supporting a great work environment. The organization Great Place to Work ranked them as the #1 best workplace in Canada in 2018. They were also listed among the best on the 2017 ranking. They’ve received recognition as a great workplace for women, inclusion, and manufacturing. If it’s important to you to buy from a business that treats its workers well, you’ll want to check out Kicking Horse.

Kicking Horse Coffee Team

Supports environmental and cultural organizations

This coffee brand leads with their ethics in all regards. Along with a commitment to sustainability and a positive workplace, they support lots of other cultural and environmental initiatives.

They have a particular connection to environmental organizations in Canada. That’s likely because of their location along the Canadian Rocky Mountains. On their website, they list several initiatives they support. Some of these include the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival. On a smaller scale, they also offer a fundraising program for local schools and nonprofits.

No single origins

If you’re looking for single-origin coffee beans, Kicking Horse won’t be for you. While they have a great selection of coffees, they’re all blends. Single origin coffees have recently gained a lot in popularity. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with a coffee blend. It’s really a matter of your personal taste and preference.

Some of their blends are only available in Canada

While shopping Kicking Horse’s selection, you might be slightly disappointed if you live in the United States. A handful of their blends are only available in Canada. In spite of that, they have a great selection for their fans in the United States. Each of their coffees that we reviewed here is available in the United States.

The Café

In 2008, Kicking Horse opened their café at the same location as their roasting facility.

At the moment, the café is temporarily closed. This is due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They’re working to ensure the safety of their staff and customers before reopening.

In normal times, the café is a bustling community favorite. It’s a full-service café with all your favorite coffee beverages and snacks. They offer a variety of hot and cold coffee drinks, brewed with all their different blends. You can drink your coffee inside the shop or on their scenic patio. You could also take it to go and explore the town of Invermere. If you need a snack to pair with your coffee, they have you covered. You can choose from plenty of locally made baked goods, sandwiches, and breakfast items.

If you’re a true Kicking Horse fan, you can also buy some merch at their adjoining retail store. They’ve got shirts, mugs, coffee equipment, and all their different coffee beans for sale.

Kicking Horse Café

Time to brew some Kicking Horse?

Kicking Horse is a great option if you want delicious coffee with an ethical background. They have a long-standing commitment to using only organic, Fair Trade, and shade-grown coffee beans. Plus, their ethical focus even extends to the workplace. They’re well known for providing a great working environment for their employees. For multiple years, they’ve ranked among the top employers in Canada.

Go to Store

While some people are picky about only buying single-origin beans, that shouldn’t stop you from trying Kicking Horse. The quality of their blends is undeniable. Each coffee is carefully sourced, expertly blended, and finely roasted. Catering to all types of coffee lovers, you can buy their beans either whole or pre-ground.

While you may not have access to their full stock if you live in the United States, there are still a good number of coffees to choose from. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you might even take a trip out to their café in British Columbia, Canada. It’s perfectly located in an idyllic small tourist town among the Canadian Rocky Mountains. You can shop their full stock of coffees and enjoy a super fresh cup in their friendly shop.

Kicking Horse Coffee Review - coffeehow.co

Sasha Pavlovich

Hi, I'm Sasha, and this blog is about coffee!

I'm myself an experienced barista with a high passion for coffee. Love brewing, cupping, and talking coffee non-stop. I hope you enjoy my blog and feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

View all posts by Sasha Pavlovich

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