Kicking Horse Coffee Review | A Fair Trade Product

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Kicking Horse Coffee Review

The year was 1996. The setting was a garage in the quaint little community of Invermere, British Columbia. The two heroes of our story; Elana Rosenfeld and Leo Johnson, decide to take on a quest. One that would change the landscape of coffee in Canada and the world. The road was by no means easy. It was filled with tough choices and compromises. Though competition was fierce, and doubt was plenty, the company managed to stay true to their value and beliefs. 

The result today is Canada’s number #1 selling coffee that promises to ‘Kick your Ass’.

The Brand – Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse was born from a dream and born to serve dreamers. Seven years after they began, the company made the conscious shift to 100% organic produce. Four years after that, they ensured they were receiving nothing less than fair trade green coffee. In 2017 the Kicking Horse was adopted by the enormous talented Italian coffee family and became an official member of the Lavazza group.

Whatever they faced and might have to overcome in the future, they have vowed to stick to their foundations and remain awake, authentic, and inclusive and march into the future staying curious and courageous.


The Kicking Horse started small. It was a home science experiment gone right. 

The first sale of their product was at a fruit stand on the side of the road. The first opportunity to transport their product was achieved towards the end of the ’90s. Kicking Horse coffee beans were filled into used boxes. They got to grocery stores on the seats of Greyhound Buses. 

What followed was a lot of trial and error. 

The result; what started off as a two-person dream team today can boast of composing a team of over a hundred and twenty people today. For the last thirteen years, Kicking Horse has held on to the mantle of Canada’s #1 Organic, Fairtrade coffee. 

They even have their very own Kicking Ass Cafe since 2008 standing proud in front of the company’s headquarters. You can head down there and treat yourself to some of the freshest coffee you will encounter along with a few snacks on the side. You can even buy some Kicking Horse merchandise at the quaint shop they have there. 

A testament to the type of people working behind the scenes is the trophies on their shelves. In 2018 the Brand was named the Best Workplace in Canada, along with the title of  Best Workplace for Women, for Inclusion, and for Manufacturing.

The Beans

So what is the secret behind the Kicking Horse coffee. The magic lies in the beans.  

Kicking Horse Coffee Variety

Kicking Horse was one of the first coffee companies in Canada to sign with Transfair Canada in 1998 in their quest to work towards ensuring Fair Trade coffee in the whole country. You are ensured that the workers growing and picking your coffee are in no way taken advantage of or exploited. It also means a part of the profits that Horse Kicking coffee collects each year is invested into the communities that the company sources its beans from.

The beans used are shade-grown and organic, free of any artificial harm in the face of pesticides. There are random tests conducted by outside auditors to measure and monitor the quality of products, and the presence of pesticides and herbicides in the fields. 

The Horse Kicking coffee beans were, are and in all probability will continue to be roasted in the Rocky Mountains. 

The concept of single-serve packaging is extremely enticing. Coffee brands all over the world have adapted their brands to offer their beans in a single pod or K cup formant.

Kicking Horse however refuses to conform. The reason; they do not want to leave a harmful and wasteful impact on the environment.

Acid Levels

Have you ever been warned off from drinking coffee? Have somber-faced people told you of the harmful effects coffee can have on your teeth and stomach? 

It is a fact that a number of coffee brands come with a warning on their label. People with sensitive digestive tracts are advised to stay away. 

The reason; the acidic content in the beans can at times have an impact on your tummy. 

If you’re one of the unfortunate few who’ve stayed away from coffee either by self-choice or someone else’s command, we’ve got some good news for you. Kicking Horse Coffee has very mild acidity in their coffee beans. The reason for this is their dedication to organic and fair-trade beans. The Kick-Ass variety in particular is known for being light on the stomach. So if you’ve decided to take the plunge into the comforting world of coffee, Kickass is a great safe first step.

Caffeine Content

Logic might dictate to a few, that the simplest way to increase caffeine content in your caffeinated beverage is simply by increasing the quantity of coffee. Others might argue that the darker the roast of the coffee bean, the higher the caffeine content  While these facts do stand true to some extent, they are not the only factors. The simple truth is we can find caffeine in a number of items we innocently consume every day. Everything from sodas, green teas, and energy drinks, to dark chocolate and alcohol, contain a percentage of caffeine in them.

On avenge you will find close to 0.0168% caffeine in a cup of Kicking Horse coffee.

While the cold brew is less acidic to taste compared to its hotter partners, it also holds a higher caffeine content comparison to them. A can of cold brew Kick Ass coffee can hold up to 205 mg of caffeine in it while a Smart Ass Can cold brew can hold up to 230 mg. 

How They Are Available

Kicking Horse coffee is available to suit any and all of your demands. If you prefer to get your coffee beans whole, you can bring home between twelve tempting treats. 

The beans range from light, medium to dark roasts, and even a decaf option if that is what you prefer. If you don’t have the ability or appliances to grind your coffee fresh at home, you can also opt for bags of ground coffee. These cover the six flavor profiles encompassing light, medium and dark roast.

Kicking Horse Coffee Blends

For those who prefer a more chilled out experience, you can opt to get your hands on one of their cold brew concoctions

The Best Horse Kicking Coffee

A true testament to what a dreamer can do with a pocket full of passion, lots of love, and little bit of luck. 

The Kicking Horse coffee brand has been galloping forwards ever since it was created. 

Today the brand offers a dozen choices of whole bean coffee you can take home and six variations of the ground coffee option along with a range of cold brew options. 

While they each have their own unique profiles that offer up new and exciting experiences, right now all we can do is take you through the top four that have been on everyone’s radar.

Kick Ass

Kicking Horse Coffee, Kick Ass, Dark Roast,...
  • Kicking Horse Coffee Kick Ass Whole Bean
  • Aroma: Smoky, sweet vanilla and dark chocolate
  • Tasting notes: Chocolate malt, molasses, licorice and an...

A bold choice to begin with. This dark roast coffee promises to Kick your Ass with its deep smoky texture combined with sweetness melded within. The nutty undertone is a result of roasted hazelnut and cacao nibs with a touch of licorice. The beans for this blend are sourced from the fields of Indonesia and South America. The coffee is both shade-grown, organic, and kosher. Like all the variants of Kicking Horse coffee, it is roasted at its home base in the rocky mountains. Don’t let the dark roast scare you off, Kick-Ass avoids the reputation of other dark roasts. It does not possess the burnt aftertaste that many people find unpalatable. 

This particular option poses a good starting point for any coffee novices out there. It has been known to leave a negligible impact on the digestive tract. 

A treat for all the senses, you cannot ignore the enticing fragrance of sweet vanilla and dark chocolate. Enjoy a steaming cup either rich strong and black or with the comfort of creamers and some sweetener added in. You can brew it yourself in french, use a machine or even enjoy the cold brew version if that is your preference. 

Cliff Hanger

Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso,...
  • One Bag of Cliff Hanger Espresso Whole Bean Blend
  • Roast: Medium
  • Certifications: Certified Organic, Fairtrade, Kosher Coffee

If a steaming cup of flawless espresso is what you need first thing in the morning to kick your ass into gear, Kicking Horse’s Cliff Hanger coffee ticks all the right boxes.

The blend gains its unique flavor courtesy of the mix of beans that grow in three separate continents. That slight hint of acidity is imported from the beans born in Central America, the fruity punch is down to the wild berries syrup from the Ethiopian produce in your drink. The end result is a melting pot of culture and flavor. 

The best part, you don’t get that burnt aftertaste a lot of people have come to connect to and expect from an espresso. Instead enjoy the comforting scent of chocolate, brown sugar, and blackcurrant.

A word of caution. This blend of beans does tend to have a slightly oily feel which might be a point of concern for people who prefer to grind their beans at home.

You can choose to use this blend for an exciting espresso, or even brew yourself a relaxing cup using a French Press. If it’s a particularly hot day, you can even enjoy the cold brew version if the wind blows that way.

You might like to read: Best Coffee Beans for Espresso

Three Sisters

Kicking Horse Coffee, Three Sisters, Medium...
  • MEDIUM ROAST, WHOLE BEAN: Smooth, savory, seductive. The 3...
  • Tasting notes, brew method: Well rounded and complex with...
  • Origin Indonesia, Central & South America: Grown in a...
  • Organic, Fairtrade, Kosher, Shade Grown, Arabica coffee:...

A medium roast, is a combination of dark, medium, and lightly roasted beans. This variety is named as an ode to the beautiful and intimidating Canadian rocky mountain range where the dream of Kicking Horse Coffee was born. 

It is the lightest roast of the four on our list. The highlight of it is the touch of cocoa, sweet tobacco, dried fruit, and toasted coconut flavor with just a hint of stone fruit that seeps through your drink. The Arabica beans used for this blend are from fields in South and Central America and Indonesia. Like the other blends in the Kicking Horse family, the beans are grown keeping the environmental impact in check. 

You can brew a beautiful pot of pour-over coffee with this blend whether you choose to buy a bag of the ground variety, or prefer to grind the beans at home for yourself. Like the others on the list, a cold brew version of three sisters is also available to battle summer blues. While Three Sisters stands on the milder margin of Kicking Horse varieties, the benefit that brings is you can enjoy the cup as it is. There is no need for any additional sweeteners or creamers of any sort. Allow the pure flavor pulled out of the beans alone to take you on a journey.

454 Horse Power

Kicking Horse Coffee, 454 Horse Power, Dark...
  • One Bag of 454 Horse Power Whole Bean Blend
  • Roast: Dark
  • Certifications: Certified Organic, Fairtrade, Kosher Coffee

The last option on our list heavily draws out the earthy flavors tempting us with its rich intoxicating flavor. The number in the name of this particular blend is an ode to the temperature at which these particular beans are roasted. The beans are brought in from Indonesia, Central, and South America.

Sourced under the company’s strict guidelines of fair trade, they are 100 % Arabica organic beans free of any harmful chemicals or pesticides. 

This variant is low on acidity and combines the enticing flavors of black licorice and sweet tobacco to offer a rich smooth finish that packs a punch as it goes down. One whiff of the alluring mix of nutmeg, peat, and cacao, and you’re going to be momentarily transported into a blissful paradise.

You can brew yourself some 454 Horse Power coffee in either a French Press or using any other of the many pour-over techniques. If you choose to grind the beans for yourself at home, just remember to aim for a coarser grind. There is also of course the faithful 454 Horse Power cold brew option in a can that you can opt for when in the mood to cool down. 

The Story Continues

You’re going to have to admit; the thought of getting a kick from a horse doesn’t bring out the most positive of emotions. In the case of this coffee brand, however, we have to admit, we’ve been won over. One one of the biggest attractions of the brand is the quirky names and descriptions of the various flavors offered. The inspiration for the company’s name comes from its location near Kicking Horse Pass in the Rocky Mountains. 

Kicking Horse Coffee is a brand that has remained true to its roots no matter how far it has reached. This is by no means the story’s end. After conquering Canada and campaigning in the US; The next item on the brand’s agenda is World Domination. And frankly, we can’t wait.