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Kitchen & Cooking

Level up your pantry with these gorgeous spices

These small spice businesses changed the way I cook.

These three spices companies helped me level up my kitchen pantry. Credit: Diaspora Co. / Spicewalla Brand

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Picture this: It's Sunday afternoon and you're sitting on your couch planning next week's dinners. You walk over to the fridge and you're greeted by the pungent scent of the block of cheese you abandoned the week prior, half a lemon and some wilted herbs kicking around in your crisper drawer, and a general lack of recipe inspiration. But then, just as you're about to give up on another week of cooking, your spice rack catches your eye and suddenly you're stuck with inspiration! Excitement! Hunger!

This triumphant scene will be impossible unless you up your spice game ASAP. And lucky for you, we've rounded up three top-notch, sustainability-minded spice companies that are offering the tastiest, most vibrant spices on the market.

Spicewalla Brand

An assortment of spice tins arranged in a cardboard box against a bright yellow background.
Credit: Spicewalla Brand

This Asheville, North Carolina-based spice brand stocks everything from allspice to za'atar.

If you're looking for a spice company that will curate your spice collection for you, look no further than Spicewalla Brand. Spicewalla was founded in 2017 by Meherwan Irani, the chef and owner of one of my favorite Indian restaurants in Atlanta, Georgia, Chai Pani. And since its inception, this direct-to-consumer spice company has built up the widest variety of spices, rubs, herbs, and salts out of all the brands on this list.

This chef-loved brand is known for its themed spice boxes (like this weather appropriate grill seasoning set) and curated cookbook collaborations, including this spice collection inspired by Jennifer Lapidus's Southern Ground, a great option for bakers looking to expand their bread-making abilities.

Get Spicewalla Brand's spices on Amazon starting at $10.48

Diaspora Co.

Left: A person hold turmeric that was just harvested. Right: Two jars of bright orange turmeric against a pink background.
Credit: Diaspora Co.

Pragati Turmeric is what Diaspora Co. is best known for, and it's a total recipe game changer.

Diaspora Co. was the first direct-to-consumer spice company I ever tried. Founded by Sana Javeri Kadri in 2016, Diaspora Co.'s mission is as tenacious as its spices: "Building a better spice trade, equitably and deliciously."

These spices are the kind that inspire entire dishes rather than serving as mere ingredients thrown in for added seasoning. Diaspora Co.'s Aranya Pepper has been called "an epiphany" by the Los Angeles Times and I couldn't agree more—I grind this stuff on everything from fried eggs to fresh fruit (That's right, y'all! This stuff tastes wild with citrus!). I find myself craving the deep, floral earthiness of the Pragati Turmeric at least once a week, in which case I'll whip up a batch of this one-pot turmeric coconut rice or a simple bowl of popcorn, covered in butter and heavily sprinkled with this golden spice.

If you're looking for yet another way to consume Diaspora Co. turmeric, check out the sippable collaboration known as It's Haldi, Doodh! We tried this turmeric latte blend, featuring Diaspora Co. Pragati Turmeric, alongside other One Stripe Chai Co. tea latte blends and it was love at first sip.

Diaspora Co. is also perfect if you're in the market for high-quality basics for your spice collection, like pepper, turmeric, and chili powder.

Get Diaspora Co. Pragati Turmeric starting at $12

Get Diaspora Co. Aranya Pepper starting at $12

Burlap & Barrel

Left: A person harvests cinnamon. Right: A jar of cinnamon against a warm cinnamon-colored background.
Credit: Burlap & Barrel

My favorite Burlap & Barrel spice is the beautifully aromatic Royal Cinnamon.

This single-origin, direct-to-consumer spice company was co-founded by so-called "spice sommelier" Ethan Frisch and social entrepreneur Ori Zohar in 2016. Like Diaspora Co., Burlap & Barrel works directly with farmers to ensure the profits go directly to them, instead of sharing with some middle man. This also means the brand's impressive customer list (including Alice Waters' lauded Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkley, California) get access to higher-quality spices. Oh, and we get access to those quality spices, too!

It's tough to pick a favorite Burlap & Barrel spice, but two of my top picks are the best-selling Vietnam-grown Royal Cinnamon and Afghanistan-grown Wild Mountain Cumin. This cinnamon is the real deal—it's complex with notes of honey and citrus. Add it to your favorite French toast recipe or use this rich spice to add depth to a savory, tomato-based sauce. On the other hand, Burlap & Barrel's cumin is the highlight of almost every pan of shakshuka I cook.

Burlap & Barrel is great for folks looking to build on existing pantry basics, plus pick up a few zany wild cards while they're at it—Wild Icelandic Kelp, anyone?

Get Burlap & Barrel Royal Cinnamon starting at $8.99

Get Burlap & Barrel Wild Mountain Cumin starting at $9.99

Loisa

Credit: Loisa

Looking to amp up your Latin spice game? Loisa is an organic, filler-free brand of Latin seasonings named after the Loisaida barrio on the lower east side of New York. It was founded in 2017—but it really blew up in 2020, after folks started looking for an alternative to Goya Foods following the Trump-era controversy.

Today, it remains powerful as ever after gaining recognition from publications like Bon Appétit, not only for providing an additive-free alternative to a megacorporation, but mainly for its high-quality flavors.

The brand's first blends were the popular Sázon and Adobo, which combine organic versions of traditional savory Latin seasonings (think achiote, cumin, and turmeric) to add to any traditional dishes, from chicken to plantains to cremas. (They're also great in everyday scrambled eggs and rice, too.)

Recently, Loisa added Sofrito to its lineup, a base traditionally used to cook flavorful rice, beans, and meat—but can also just be enjoyed straight-up as a dip or dressing.

Shop Loisa Latin flavors starting at $9.50

Rumi

Credit: Rumi

This Afghanistan-based spice brand was founded by three war veterans back in 2014 to source one of the world's most valuable spices: saffron. Since then, the brand has expanded to selling other spices and blends—like Herati Coriander and Wild Black Cumin—after growing in popularity during the pandemic, despite the challenges they faced due to political unrest and climate change.

Now, in addition to all things saffron, consumers can shop for organic, flavorful blends like Afghan Curry Braise (great with meat and fish) and Kabul Piquant (just as good with chicken as it is mixed into dessert) to get out of their palate comfort zones.

Best of all, at the heart of Rumi is community. The business is kept afloat by providing jobs to Afghan women and farmers who harvest and process these high-quality spices. Then, Rumi sells them to consumers directly, all while protecting Afghan land and boosting the country's economy.

Shop Rumi spices starting at $8.99

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