To find the best grocery store coffee, we tasted 11 brands commonly found at grocery stores around the country or online. I first conducted this test in July of 2017, but re-tested recently, incorporating a few new coffees that we hadn't tasted in the first round—for example, the coffee from Thrive, which is an online-only grocery store. Epicurious staffers rated the coffees and provided tasting notes. (I myself can be a little forgiving when it comes to bad coffee, so we needed outside opinions.) For every brand, we ordered a medium roast, which was usually "Breakfast Blend" or something equivalent.
“Is it the strongest coffee I’ve had? Probably not. Is it one of the best-tasting? Yes. The flavor transports me to some random and sinful island in Indonesia (a story for another day). Oddly, Death Wish brands its coffee as almost dangerously strong, and strong it is. However, the organic coffee maker should be shouting from the roof about the taste and quality. Yes, caffeine sells, but this is one incredibly great-tasting coffee. I would easily say second best I’ve ever had and certainly the best I’ve purchased at a store.”
In the search to find the best K-Cup® coffee, a common question is, "Are Organic K-Cup® pods available?" We are happy to say yes; organic K-Cup® coffee does exist, made by two very reputable roasters; Green Mountain and Newman's Own. I will admit the sheer lack of choice is a bit disheartening, however, when the choices are superior, maybe it is all we need!
Counter Culture was originally founded in 1995 and was one of the early leaders in the specialty coffee movement. Today, they focus on sustainability and quality and offer several different roasts that you can choose from. They have several different subscription plans available, but their most popular is the single-origin subscription, which gets you two 12 oz. bags of coffee with each shipment. With this coffee subscription you can have your coffee delivered to your door every one, two, three or four weeks.
Chock Full o’ Nuts styles itself as the quintessential New York City coffee. The quintessential New York City Coffee has less to do with brand than with point of sale—a nameless coffee cart on a Manhattan corner—but it is the only coffee brand I know of to offer three distinct varieties of half-caf. Its per-pound cost approaches bagged coffee, making it a questionable deal among canned brands. Chock Full o’ Nuts has the teeth-sticking effect of good chicory coffee without, I believe, containing chicory. Its flavor has a tinge of burnt bread and an aftertaste that causes the corners of my mouth to turn down involuntarily. It is undrinkable cold, but do not attempt to drink reheated Chock Full o’ Nuts. This is the fire extinguisher of coffees—in the event of catastrophe you’ll be glad you have it, but it’s not for blowing out a candle.
Promising review for their Super Crema Espresso blend: "If you are expecting a dark and oily roast, this is NOT the espresso for you. Espresso does not need to be this black, bitter tar that some expect it to be. Lavazza Super Crema is one of my favorites, with a beautiful, brown bean that (when ground correctly) yields an amazing shot of sweet and creamy espresso topped with thick crema (with notes of mandarin orange). This is soooooooo much better than the over-roasted BS we so often find in the US." —Corey M.
Gevaliamay have the prettiest packaging of all the assembled coffees, with a distinctive yellow bag and stylized illustrations fit for an IKEA. Despite its apparent fanciness, Gevalia is widely available in pharmacies and grocery stores, and usually for fairly cheap. A 12-ounce. bag of House Blend was $6.99 at Stop & Shop, making it the cheapest of the non-canned coffees I tested. Perhaps consequently, heat is an essential component to an enjoyable cup of Gevalia, and the taste becomes flat and headachy as it cools. However, Gevalia is the rare coffee that performs well in a microwave, and tastes as good reheated as it does freshly brewed.
The Hunt Brothers Coffee Beans | Blue Honduras Specialty Coffee | Certified Organic comes from Marcala, a region in Central America that is recognized with a DOP (Protected Origin Denomination). These 100% Arabica beans are grown on a fertile volcanic soil, which is enriched by volcanic lava. The growth process of the coffee is marked by the SHG – strictly high growth. This means that the fruits will mature slowly to make sure they create a full-bodied and deeper flavor as well as a premium taste.
Equal Exchange is another strong boost of caffeine that is lesser than the Deathwish but stronger for many people. In addition to that, the brand also engages in paying the cultivators a fair amount for the quality of their yield. On the contrary, they do not earn the Fair-Trade certification. However, this company is under the ownership of the worker based group that engages in coffee producing.
This is an exceptional Honduran coffee from Marcala region. Because of the altitude where café don Pablo gourment is grown, there are no insecticides used to prevent insects from interfering with the crop and damaging it. In case you find any bug problem, the farmers will definitely plant peppers as the natural form of the bug repellent. This guarantees that the coffee beans are not tainted by many chemicals. This coffee is very dense and has a depth of flavors that are roasted correctly to give out the natural flavor characteristics and a wonderful sweetness. Their coffees are roasted fresh so that they can order in a multiple small batch. They focus on quality hence providing an excellent organic coffee to consumers.
Bagged coffee is standard, from grocery stores to coffee roasters (most of them), but subtle variations make for significant differences among these coffees, particularly in price. This is complicated by the fact that a bag of coffee is often referred to as a “pound,” when in fact most bags only hold between 10 and 12 ounces of coffee. A bag of Newman’s Own Organic coffeecosts $10.29, only $0.10 more than a bag of Starbucks coffee, but Newman’s is only a 10-ounce bag to Starbucks’ 12 ounce. Brewer beware!
Also reviewed here are Black Oak’s Ethiopia Hambela Alaka (93) and Noble Coffee’s Ethiopia Bishan Fugu (93), both of which are certified USDA organic, and labeled as such on the bags. Red E Café’s Homacho Waeno Natural (93; one of two coffees on this list imported by Sustainable Harvest), is in the same category as the Big Creek and Revel coffees noted above: certified organic at the farm level, but with no certification indicated on the bags.
This is a subject of intense debate among caffeine junkies, but there are organic coffee drinkers who swear that they can taste the difference between natural and unnatural beans. Since organic coffee is naturally higher in antioxidants, who's to say that they're wrong? Their palette might be responding to the unique nutrients and compounds in their 100 percent arabica blends.