An open letter to Red Diamond


Dear Red Diamond,

This was meant to be a review, but I found your coffee unreviewable. I chose to reframe my efforts as an open letter to your company instead, which claims to be one of the three oldest coffee companies in the US. If this is true, I must know, how can you be so terrible at what you do?

Maybe you’ve grown content over all these years and swept aside all concerns of quality and reputation. Maybe you built your company on unbreakable contracts with diners, drive-ins and dives that continue to generate revenue, despite the poor quality of your product. Or maybe in light of the current economic conditions, you’ve cut back on expenses by collecting your beans from the remnants strewn among the putrid floors of international shipping warehouses. I could speculate all day.

The size and shape of your 100% Arabica beans can’t even maintain the illusion of consistency and their leather brown skins are speckled with leprosy. I should have known that paying the price of a medium coffee for an entire 12oz bag of beans would yield mediocre results; but I never imagined coffee could leave the same taste in my mouth as the morning after vomit from a night of heavy drinking.

I will however give you credit for infusing your roast with an aroma that could convince a child they had a mug of Swiss Miss hot cocoa in front of them. The sweet smell of caramel coated s’mores is endearing—enticing even—but as soon as said child takes his first unsuspecting gulp of nostalgic winter comfort, he’d be kicked in the mouth with a carbon footprint flavored beverage unworthy of the shadiest gas stations.

While you offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee of your product, for $2.99, it’s not worth the check you’d print my refund on. The only thing that would satisfy me is never having to taste your coffee again. I also exhort you to remove the distinction of “the south’s finest” from your bags; this title belongs to one of the other fine Birmingham based coffee roasters.

Thank you for ensuring that I truly appreciate every cup of coffee I have after yours.

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  • Reply adam 01/15/2010 at 11:28 am

    Yowza! You tell it B. I’ll never get anywhere close to that stuff.

  • Reply Mike Crimmins 01/17/2010 at 6:39 am

    Oh man! Your brave! I try a lot of different coffees, but that one has red warning lights all over it!

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  • Reply Lisa Rotenberg 01/18/2010 at 9:01 am

    Great review. Bummer they probably own the name too.

  • Reply bwj 01/18/2010 at 9:40 am

    Well, to be honest it wasn’t on my list of “must try” coffee. But I ran out of beans, and the small town I’m currently living in has a very small selection of coffee and these were the only ones offered as whole bean.

    There was also a customer who came into PieLab saying he didn’t like our coffee (we brew Higher Ground) and that we should make Red Diamond. So my curiosity got the best of me…safe to say I don’t think we’ll be switching anytime soon.

  • Reply jodee 03/22/2010 at 1:33 am

    Certainly sounds like a sales-dick for a competitor! I’m currently conducting a Can-cutting of different coffee’s for my EXTREMELY busy restaurant, in order to replace our 35 year marriage to Maxwell House. Of the five coffee’s/services cut, Red Diamond is one of the two finalists. My discriminating customers will unknowingly make the final decision. True, I found the cloying flavor slightly obtrusive, but to liken it to vomit is definitely over the top. I’ll bet you didn’t know they produce other labels as well…I was surprised that they produce my favorite Keurig K-Cup!

  • Reply bwj 03/22/2010 at 3:04 pm


    Red Diamond is a large commodity based food company, so it doesn’t surprise me that they mask their poor quality product with various brand names to doop customers who don’t know any better. As for K-cups, I personally consider them to be coffee as much as I consider Tang to be orange juice.

    Best of luck with your coffee switch, but you should do your customers a favor and offer them something they can truly enjoy and not just tolerate!

  • Reply fred bailey 08/01/2010 at 11:42 pm

    Hello Big City. You wouldn’t know quality if it slapped you in the face. Ever think that you may have gotten a bad bag of beans for whatever reason? I can see you sitting there in your local Starbucks downing the most bitter crap ever served up under the ‘coffee’ sign.
    I just returned from Alabama with 12 48 oz bricks. I’m already scheming to get my next shipment.
    You know, a lot of people think Elvis was a joke. But 50 million people can’t be wrong, as John Prine so famously mused in one of his songs.
    Sometimes, it might be best to sit and think before putting words to computer screen. 106 years don’t lie.
    fred bailey

    • Reply bwj 08/04/2010 at 3:44 pm

      Dear Fred,

      I live in a town of 5000, so if that constitutes “Big City” I’d love to visit whatever small village you’re from.

      You ask, “Did I ever consider that I got a bad bag of beans?,” I think I made it very clear that my bag was very very bad. And if it were a fluke, well, that just brings to question the entire quality control of a place thats been around for 106 years. I’d like to think in that amount of time, they’d know how to keep something so terrible from reaching their customer. Also, if you’ve ever read anything else I’ve written, it’s pretty obvious that I don’t drink Starbuck’s, but that deflates the ill considered jab you were trying to make, so I’m sure you purposely ignored that detail.

      Apparently Sir, 106 years do lie. I’m not sure how the company’s age is proof they sell good coffee. That’s like saying McDonalds makes the best hamburger you will ever eat because they’ve served billions and billions. So not only can 50 million people be wrong, but billions and billions can be. Nothing you’ve said has an ounce of grind in it. You sound like a grumpy employee of a shitty commodity coffee company trying to defend a product not worth defending.

      I’d also never take advice on coffee from someone who drives to Alabama to buy 3lb bricks of something you can find dust covered on the bottom shelf of any Piggly Wiggly.

      As John Prine so famously mused in one of his songs, “Sometimes, it might be best to sit and think before putting words to computer screen.”

  • Reply Jeff 11/01/2010 at 11:07 am

    My wife and I have both tried many, many brands of coffee and several of the coffeehouse coffees.

    RED DIAMOND Original, is the only brand we buy for our home. We have had no problems with it, and have found it to be the most consistent and best tasting coffee around. We have tried the Colombian Red Diamond but found the Original to best it as far as flavor.

    Just one man’s opinion :)

  • Reply Ronnie Jones 11/07/2010 at 8:30 am

    Red Diamond is great coffee. I love starbucks but I also enjoy a fresh brewed cup of “red diamond” when I cqn find it. It’s hard to find in the grocery stores.

  • Reply joanL 12/03/2010 at 1:40 pm

    I love Red Diamond coffee!

    I’m from California, but recently moved to Alabama. I asked a restaurant what their coffee was (because it was sooo good), and they told me, Red Diamond. After leaving the restaurant, I headed over to the grocery store and bought a bunch. Love it!

  • Reply Elvis 12/03/2010 at 1:58 pm

    {insert raving review of said coffee with eye-for-and-eye-push-back to open letter}

    RD..ahemm… i mean… elvis.

  • Reply John A. 12/06/2010 at 2:25 am

    My wife and I love Red Diamond Whole Bean. We’ve switched to a Keurig so we don’t drink it that much anymore. It’s not a strong roast, but always had a good fresh flavor.

  • Reply donna 03/01/2011 at 4:19 pm

    personally, my husband and i believe in supporting as many US companies as possible. for us to be able to support a company from within our own city limits such as Red Diamond, only furthers our support. unless you’re related to juan valdez and grow your own beans – pick – roast and make your own coffee fresh from the oven, so to speak, then we are perfectly happy and proud to support Red Diamond.

    to each his own i guess. i do believe the orig author was tooooooo harsh. there again, he/she is entitled to their opinion as well.

    God bless all

    • Reply bwj 03/01/2011 at 4:50 pm


      There are other options in the city limits of Birmingham that are not only supporting US companies, but small companies who truly care about the quality of their product. Primavera Coffee and Higher Ground both work with farmers to ensure they are getting paid fair prices and the quality of the coffee is superb.

      Large companies like Red Diamond purchase commodity coffee that can’t be traced to country, let alone specific origins or farms. Buy a bag from one of the roasters listed above and I’m positive it will change your outlook on what good coffee can taste like. (Unless of course you’re another employee of Red Diamond trying to redeem their reputation)

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