If you love Trader Joe's — the colorful shirts, the nametags, the friendly atmosphere, all the quirky products — then you've probably done product recon on What's Good at Trader Joe's?, the four-member team-review site that has been rating the store's best and worst products since August of 2010. Nathan Rodgers, his wife, Sonia, their friend Russ Shelly, and his wife, Sandy, set out almost five years ago to review the cult grocer's 4,500 or so products. They’ve been working their way through all of the offbeat supermarket’s offerings, and five categories are up for review today.
While the reviewers are unabashed fans of Trader Joe's, they take their mission seriously, and aren’t afraid to post negative reviews when they don’t like a product. Here's their process:
• They rate products on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the highest.
• For any post, two people rate the product.
• Reviewers give their overall impressions.
In previous installments on The Daily Meal (find Volume 1 here, Volume 2 here, Volume 3 here, and Volume 4 here, and all Trader Joe's reviews here), the good folks at What's Good at Trader Joe's reviewed at least four or five products in each category. Best breakfast, best appetizers, best vegetarian, best frozen treats — there's as wide a range of categories as you'd expect.
But Nathan, Sonia, Russ, and Sandy have had some fun with the categories, too, including things like "Spousal Discrepancy" (when couples disagree) "Biggest Winner Versus Expectation," and "Worst. Stuff. Ever."
For our fifth installment, we’re showcasing the team’s opinions on five new categories: the best hot beverages, condiments, gluten-free goodies, and frozen desserts, and the worst (you knew there would be a worst) sweets. Each product was graded on a scale of one to 10, and the top (or bottom, as the case may be) five products in each category are highlighted. So read on to learn what to buy, and what not to buy, the next time you visit Trader Joe’s.
Hot Beverages #5: Trader Joe's Gingerbread Coffee
Ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg make this coffee a great way to start a cold winter morning. It's like a gingerbread man took a little dip in your java.
Final rating: 7 out of 10
Hot Beverages #4: Trader Joe's Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Although it's primarily a baking ingredient, it also makes a decent base for deep, dark hot cocoa. Add a good amount of sugar if you're averse to a bit of bitterness.
Final rating: 7.5 out of 10