In many ways, coffee is like wine. Depending on the area of origin, the degree of roast and grind levels, the taste of a particular coffee can vary drastically. Plus there is also the added layer of mixing different coffee beans to create unique blends. So, finding the best ground coffee brand for you depends entirely on your tastes and preferences. This brings us to the first section of our guide:
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Update: I figured I’d best ‘figure’ it out for myself. Purchased a) (Nicaragua) Granges Cosechas, 100% Arabica, Med.Roast b) (Hawaiian) Peaberry, 100% Arabica, Med Roast c) (Ethiopian) Yirgacheffee , Mild Roast. I make coffee 16 oz at 7-8 a.m. and, again, Cookie-time 2:30 pm. So far, the Yirgacheffe is my preferred, but , honestly, they are all beginning to taste the same. I make all exactly the same way in grind & brewing time. All are very pleasant. The only thing missing from the bag information is the estimated strength of caffeine within. Perhaps that is not measurable, but I can definitely feel the rush after consumption. Had to stop the leftover, very pleasant, iced coffee sipping between 6-8 p.m. because my sleeping hours dropped from 6-7 to 5-6. Not enough sleep. Just thought I’d share this information.
Yoo-hoo. Our aprons vendor, @ziyada_bemore, is in town from Patna, India, and they’re popping up at the coffee bar tomorrow, Saturday, March 10, from 11a-3p. Come check out all their handmade goods, and support a great cause — cup of coffee in hand. Ziyada creates opportunity and well-paying jobs for women in the impoverished Indian state of Bihar. *** Stop by their pop-up for a belated #internationalwomensday celebration. 📷: @jrwade_photo
This weekend at the tasting room you can find some rad new @apolis market bags that we collaborated with @shopassembly and @themaingrainbakery to commission. Thanks for coordinating, @juneandjae! Drop us a message if you’d like to buy one online and have us ship it (we have pretty limited quantity). Come check them out! #centralwisconsin 📷 @juneandjae

Professional coffee roasters roast green organic coffee beans by heating them in a large rotating drum. After about 5 to 7 minutes of intense heat, much of their moisture evaporates and the beans turn a yellow color and smell a little like popcorn. After about 8 minutes in the roaster, the "first pop" occurs. At this point the organic beans have doubled in size, crackling as they continue to expand. Many roasters stop the roasting process after the "first pop". Not Starbucks! After 10 to 11 minutes in the roaster, the organic coffee beans reach an even brown color and oil starts to appear on the surface of the bean. At somewhere between 11 and 15 minutes of roasting, the signature Starbucks flavor develops in the organic beans. The "second pop" signals that the organic coffee is ready to sell under the Starbucks label.
I have been buying the Breakfast Blend ground coffee at my local Market Basket and I love this coffee so much! I have tried many organic and non-organic brands in my drip coffee maker. This brand, by far, tastes the freshest and most palatable. When brewed it doesn't leave a bitter aftertaste. I can drink it straight black if I preferred. So happy to have finally found a brand i can count on with every purchase!
There are many different roasters out there that will send you their coffee directly without having to go through a middleman. Single Roaster Coffee Subscriptions means you get your coffee directly from the roaster of your choice and in many cases you can decide how often you receive deliveries from them. Here are a few of our favorite Single Roasters:
My parents drank Hazelnut Maxwell House for as long as I can remember, and used the empty metal canisters to store Ajax sponges and toolshed sundries. As a result I’ve always had a soft spot for canned coffee, and Maxwell House in particular, but of the canned coffees I tasted, it’s the best. Maxwell House is thoroughly uncomplicated, and it’s a difficult coffee to describe with much specificity. It is a perfectly reasonable (and quite cheap) starter coffee—that is, a coffee to start the day with—and one that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for affordability. It turns a bit as it cools, taking on a bitter aftertaste, but a quick drinker with a small mug should get by OK. A single caveat: Don’t microwave Maxwell House and expect to enjoy what comes out; it tastes unmistakably like airplane coffee, which in the grand hierarchy of complimentary coffee ranks just below single-serving hotel room coffee. For the price, even a coffee Scrooge like me would say you ought to just make a new pot. 
According to researchers, regular or conventional coffee is steeped in pesticides and other chemicals. The result of a study conducted by CS Monitor found that over 250 pounds of chemical fertilizers are being used to grow regular coffee. It suggests that in one cup of coffee, there could be over 1,000 chemicals present that can be linked to illnesses and health issues.
We've featured a few wet-processed brands on this list, but tossing coffee beans into water tanks isn't the only way to treat them! With dry-processed beans, they're set out in the sun to bake until they're ready to be roasted. They can be slightly acidic since they don't go through a fermentation process, but a little kick just adds to the thrill of drinking something so raw and wild.

For a mild roast that is something on the wild side, try out their Super Crema Blend, which is great for drip coffee or espresso. It’s packed with atypical notes of honey, fruit, and dried almonds, making it fall on the medium side of the spectrum but with more taste than a typical Folgers pack, by far. Over 120 years of dedication to the art of coffee can’t take coffee lightly.
When Four Barrel veterans Tim & Elisha Griffin opted out of San Francisco, they landed in Fargo, where their small shop (handed over from a previous owner) quickly rose through the ranks in a city already mindful of the benefits of a solid cup of coffee. Right now, they're working with Heart, out of Portland, but rumor has it they'll be roasting their own soon, not to mention moving to a larger location in Fargo's happening downtown.
Regardless, Kicking Horse makes sure to bring properly roasted beans to whomever is searching for them. What you’ll find with their signature blend, Kick Ass, is mainly Arabica beans sourced from top growers in South America and Indonesia, and roasted to a light perfection. Lighter on the spectrum than others on this list, if you’ve been disappointed at the darkness on the list thus far, search no further.
When we compared different machines, we looked at the availability of ordering discounted capsules. This usually happens when the manufacturers choose to sell the pods in larger packs. So, instead of buying a pack of 10 capsules at a cost of $.70 per unit, you can buy 30 at a cost of $.50 per unit. At the end of the day, this can make a significant difference in the overall operating cost of the machine.

So of course they cost more than mass-produced, mass-roasted, mass-distributed coffees that you can buy on supermarket shelves. They are a completely different class of product, with a different cost analysis. Coffee doesn't cost more just because it's organic. It costs more because more human time, care, and attention went into it. And that time and care shows up in every cup, and is worth every penny. 
The next step in the quest for a quality cup of coffee is roasting. The roasting process heats up the beans at temperatures of 230 degrees Celsius; neutralizing the extreme unpleasant flavor profiles of the bean. The newly roasted bean offers nutty, smoky, or spicy flavors. The length of time that the bean is roasted determines the flavor profile and caffeine content. Beans roasted longer have a shiny black appearance and they boast a bitter and bold taste. Also, they are noted by an oily feel. Light roasted beans, which are roasted for a shorter length of time, tend to be sweeter, smoother, and even floral in flavor. If you prefer a lighter smooth taste, you will defer from bolder, darker roasts of equal of even better quality.
The deity-level status of a coffee roaster hailing from Kansas' snoozy capital used to take the less-informed by surprise; nowadays, it seems less unusual that an operation as world-class as this should be found in such a place. No brash upstart, this—direct trading, single origin-loving PT's has been around since the early 1990's, and is still considered one of the finest source-erers in the land, last year snapping up another roaster with a similar reputation for quality, San Diego's Bird Rock Coffee. Lately, the company has given its retail operation a modern makeover, adding more modern shops in the college town of Lawrence, as well as Kansas City, Missouri.
Promising review for their Original Black blend: "You can always tell when a company cares deeply about the quality of their products, and RISE is one of those companies. When you pop their tops, these bad boys literally GROWL at you, which I've since learned is an indication of a proper nitrogen-infused beverage (not to mention being just plain cool). I poured mine over ice and watched as a beautiful froth formed on top (the 'cascade,' as they call it). It's delightful, and definitely my new after-lunch pick-me-up!." —Marc
To return to geography, 26 of the 30 coffees on the list were roasted by companies in the United States. Roasters from 12 U.S. states are represented. California roasters lead the rankings, with six representatives overall. Five coffees were roasted in Colorado, three in Taiwan.  One coffee—the Gorilla Conservation Kanyoni—was roasted by a company in Uganda.
Don't forget to account for the amount of coffee in the pod. Get your kitchen scale out and weigh them. Barista Prima Italian Roast and Pete's Major Dickasons both boast impressive weights (about 18g). Generally speaking, the more coffee in the pod, the stronger the brew. If you look at the box, they will disclose the amount of coffee. The weight I mention is the total weight of coffee and the pod.

Made from hearty Indonesian beans, these medium-roast coffee pods have deep and woodsy notes that are nicely balanced out by a fruity berry flavor and nice bright acidity. Reviewers describe this blend as their go-to single-serve morning roast because of its smooth, rich, "down-to-earth" flavor without any bitterness. These pods are compatible with any Keurig single-serve coffee machine. 

Promising review for their Dark Roast blend: "I've always been wary of cults: the blind loyalty, bad punch, separation from family, etc. However, after going through about 40 pounds of Koffee Kult Dark Roast in the last year, I'm now a well-informed and dedicated drinker of exceptional koffee with my whole family. Yes, even my 9-year-old loves this stuff." —Ben V
Auto brew features are cool because they allow you to set the exact time you would like to have your brew ready. It is another option that we like, but would not consider seriously enough as a deciding factor. This is not a standard feature on low to mid-range coffee machines, which means that you need to be ready to drop $200 or more if you would like to have it.
I was pretty disappointed in this local coffee spot, unfortunately. I walked in and the staff seemed in disarray. I waited 15 minutes for a coffee, watching other people who ordered after me get their drinks filled. They had forgotten my order as it turned out, and when I asked about it, they were not too friendly in understanding what happened. After I finally pushed about needing to go, they finally made my drink, but I only had a couple minutes to finish it. Needless to say, I wasn't happy with their service at all. And my coffee was nothing impressive. Not worth the price in my opinion.
Home roaster and New England native Chris Gatti moved back from Seattle with the goal of turning his hobby into a full-time job. Fast-forward a couple of years, and here you have one of the most worthy additions to an already sizeable regional scene. Operating out of an elegantly minimal space, Gatti's micro-roasting operation and café adds quite handsomely to the area's culinary cred—the other thing Ipswich is famous for is fried clams.
This equal exchange coffee not only makes you feel good about buying organic and fair trade products, but it tastes great too! I typically purchase Starbucks coffee, and was a very loyal customer. After reading the reviews, I thought it was worth a try, especially considering I could get three bags less than the cost of two Starbucks. This coffee has little to no acidity or aftertaste and is suprisingly smooth. I think I found a new favorite!

“I’m quite pleasantly surprised by the taste and quality of this instant coffee! While it will never be fresh brewed, this is one of the few brands I’ve tried that I would actually drink on it’s own. It tastes like a solid cup of joe. Nothing fancy, not too bitter, middle of the road. I generally use a bit of cream and sweetener, and that made the mug. Normally, instant coffee needs A LOT added to it to essentially hide the weird medley of flavors that often permeate them, which is why I reserve them for baking or making my super-quick mochas or coffee smoothies on the go. But it’s really nice to have found a great instant coffee that can stand on its own; it will be great for cool-weather camping trips! To sweeten the deal, this coffee is organic and fair trade, so I don’t have to add any more guilt to my mornings. I highly recommend this for both blended coffee drinks and a superfast pick-me-up on frigid mornings.”


In general, arabica beans make the best cup of coffee. They are more expensive, however, as the Coffea arabica plant is hard to grow and susceptible to pests and disease. What’s more, it needs several years to mature before it will produce cherries. Most arabica beans are grown in South America, particularly Brazil and Columbia, but Africa also produces crops of these valuable beans.
Their unique business model is one of the main advantages of Equal Exchange. They are one of the most ethical and environment-friendly brands around. They source high-quality arabica beans almost exclusively from small organic farmers who practice sustainable farming methods. As for the coffee, it is a smooth blend of medium and dark roasts. The final effect is a very mellow, not too strong or harsh coffee with a rich feel.
As more and more coffee companies cave to the temptation to adulterate with soy beans sprayed with chemical flavors and questionable trade practices, Equal Exchange may be the last coffee company standing to offer organic whole beans sourced from small producer coops, and roasted at a worker owned facility stateside. The company maintains its commitment to fair trade and supports many worthy causes. I recently had cause to engage in a lengthy discussion with reps at Equal Exchange and consider their inteigrity (and really great tasting coffee!) unsurpassed.
The goal is to get the beans to the cup, in whatever way you prefer. When it comes to the actual brewing process, you can take your own path—French press, standard type of coffee makers, or whatever you’d like, but it all starts and ends with the beans and how they’re handled. You need to prepare your beans properly to ensure that rich, smooth flavor you’re after.
After training under coffee royalty across the pond (at Colonna & Small's in Bath), local native Jason Gonzalez, along with British-born wife and business partner Tiffany, are giving Vermont's long-running scene a swift kick in the backside with this smart multi-roaster operation, a very-21st century shrine to one of the state's favorite beverages (after beer, of course).
“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.”
All of the coffee from Equal Exchange is grown in Latin America. They have small local farms spread throughout Latin America including Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, and many more. It is very rare for coffee to have a single origin. But just because it comes from different areas does not mean it is bad. They process their beans through non-chemical means to eliminate any threat of mold ending up in your coffee. 
Who would have guessed that one of the most impressive coffee roasters in the West would have come up in the land of hot drinks abstainers? No doubt the pioneering team behind this single estate-only operation were slightly surprised, too—at a time when Salt Lake had very little good coffee to speak of, they took the plunge; now it's hard to imagine Utah's impressive artisan scene without them.
What is interesting about this blend is the fact that it uses premium coffee beans from all the major regions in the world. So you will get a bit of American, African and Asian flavors in this blend. And they have also managed to harmonize and balance all the flavors well, resulting in a rich and dark roast. We like the fact that Peet’s provides the roast date on the package. 

Don't forget to account for the amount of coffee in the pod. Get your kitchen scale out and weigh them. Barista Prima Italian Roast and Pete's Major Dickasons both boast impressive weights (about 18g). Generally speaking, the more coffee in the pod, the stronger the brew. If you look at the box, they will disclose the amount of coffee. The weight I mention is the total weight of coffee and the pod.
I have always purchased Equal Exchange whole bean decaffeinated coffee, but decided to try the ground Equal Exchange just to save me time in the morning grinding it and then having to clean the grinder and my husband and I are thrilled with it. It has wonderful full flavor and actually tastes better than the beans I was grinding. I definitely recommend this product.
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