Let’s just be honest with ourselves; we all need coffee. If it were socially acceptable, we might actually walk around with an intravenous coffee drip. Alas, that’s probably considered poor form, so we settle for our daily Starbucks habit at roughly $5 a pop.
There are two obvious hitches here. Not only are local purveyors of coffee sometimes closed, but also, indulging in that java fix every day takes a real bite out of our budget. Fortunately, there’s an equally obvious solution: Make coffee at home!
For coffee aficionados, this may strike fear into your heart. You’ve likely been burned (both figuratively and literally) by bad grocery store coffee brands before. We’re firm believers that everyone deserves to live their best life, which clearly involves a decent cuppa joe that you can afford to imbibe often.
So, whenever you’re ready to give at-home brewing a try, check out our list of the best grocery store coffee brands out there. We’ve ranked them from OK’est to “Wow, I can’t believe this came from a grocery store!” for your convenience.
We should point out that we based our findings on a combination of online reviews, personal preference and input from friends and colleagues. But, hey, we respect the fact that coffee is a highly individualized experience. Just think of this list as a jumping-off point whenever you want to expand your caffeinated horizons.
For an espresso-style coffee, Café Bustelo is pleasantly smooth. When you drink coffee as strong or as black as this, you always run the risk of a bitter aftertaste (particularly with “affordable” brands). Not with this one, though. Coffee lovers gush about how amazing it is when made pour-over style or as a cold brew. In fact, fans pretty much love this any which way they enjoy it. Perk? The punchy yellow container looks cute on any counter.
Café Bustelo espresso coffee, $11.29 at Amazon
There are many coffee lovers who firmly stand by the assertion that the best part of waking up really is Folgers in your cup. Another nostalgic favorite, this brand has been around for a hot minute. Perhaps because it is super-affordable, and perhaps because so many people appreciate the classic taste. However, detractors say Folgers tastes “cheap” and “bitter.”
Folgers Classic Roast ground coffee, $6.91 at Amazon
Caribou Coffee’s claim to fame? You can’t brew a bad cup. It’s so delightfully mellow, claim fans, that you just can’t mess it up. These true believers insist that basically every Caribou Coffee blend is full of flavor, smooth and strong — but not so strong it will leave an undesirable bitterness or burned taste on your tongue.
Caribou Coffee Caribou Blend medium roast ground coffee, $6.99 at Amazon
One of the only complaints reviewers seem to have about Community Coffee? That this brand is so popular grocery stores can’t seem to keep it in stock. Fans — who are particularly enamored with the Breakfast Blend and Signature Blend Dark Roast — praise this coffee’s quality, consistency and low acidity.
Community Coffee Signature Blend dark roast ground coffee, $7.99 at Amazon
Fans of this brand are so passionate about it they surely won’t agree with it not making it higher in the rankings. However, we found that it’s a brand coffee drinkers either love or they hate — there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Still, if you keep an open mind, we suspect you might find it to be pleasantly smooth with a nice roasted flavor.
McCafé Premium Roast Ground Coffee, $8.94 at Amazon
If you ask self-professed coffee snobs their favorite java brands, odds are good Seattle’s Best will be on that list nine times out of 10. Fans rave about blends like Post Alley, which features a luxurious richness with no burned aftertaste. If you like your coffee dark, reviewers swear you can’t find a better brand than this one.
Seattle’s Best Post Alley Blend dark roast ground coffee, $7.48 at Amazon
You’ll find no shortage of coffee drinkers who refuse to so much as look at anything other than Peet’s Coffee. How do they love Peet’s? Let us count the ways: It’s budget-friendly, bold but never bitter, full-bodied and undeniably distinctive.
Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend dark roast ground coffee, $11.95 at Amazon
Death Wish Coffee Co.
In the interest of full disclosure, this brand is both a little pricey and not always easy to find. But if you’re fortunate enough for your local grocer to carry it, it’s well worth shelling out a bit more for — if you like strong coffee. There’s a reason it’s called Death Wish, y’all. It is strong. If that’s your thing, you’ll likely be a big fan of this brew, which fans claim will “put hair on your chest.” (Fun fact: It has nearly 17,000 reviews on Amazon, with over 80 percent positive.)
Death Wish Ground Coffee, $19.99 at Amazon
In the words of one fan, Eight O’Clock beats out many gourmet brands because it’s “always fresh, always affordable.” Some habitual drinkers also boast a sentimental attachment to this nutty and toasty brew since they grew up watching their parents drink it.
Eight O’Clock The Original ground coffee, $10.49 at Amazon
Yuban is one of those brands that don’t seem to have a bad blend. In fact, fans insist any Yuban blend is far superior to its competitors in the same price class, like Maxwell House and Folgers. An older brand, it’s strong but not overpowering. These smooth brews lack the kind of acidity that makes some coffees too harsh.
Yuban dark roast ground coffee, $6.93 at Amazon
Not surprisingly, Starbucks ranks pretty high when it comes to grocery store coffee brands. But it doesn’t take home top honors, which might come as a shock. While coffee drinkers tend to be big fans of hitting their local ‘bux, this brand apparently loses at least a little allure in translation. Still, we’d be remiss not to mention that Starbucks blends do typically boast a full-bodied flavor (we’re big fans of the Veranda Blend light blond).
Starbucks Veranda Blend light blond roast ground coffee, $10.62 at Amazon
Green Mountain pinged on the radar of pretty much everyone we asked, but it’s certainly not as much a household name as many other grocery store brands. What’s also interesting is that the way people praised it varied greatly — some people complimented the fact that it wasn’t strong enough to make them jittery, while others said they loved it because it’s so bold. One thing seems certain, though: You can’t go wrong with their Organic Sumatran Reserve.
Green Mountain Dark Magic K-cup pods (pack of 32), $16.99 at Amazon
It might not be the fanciest brand in the bunch, but Maxwell House — specifically the original blend — consistently earns rave reviews from coffee drinkers. Many cite nostalgia, saying the aroma alone makes them think of their parents or grandparents. Consider this a reliable mild blend to have on standby in your pantry.
Maxwell House original blend medium roast ground coffee, $6.70 at Amazon
New England Coffee
While there doesn’t seem to be a massive fan base for New England Coffee, those who do love it are big fans of its affordability, smoothness and aroma. However, some do recommend adding an extra scoop of grounds if you like your coffee flavorful.
New England Coffee Breakfast Blend ground coffee, $8.24 at Amazon
Get Up, Stand Up, One Love, Buffalo Soldier — with names that serve as nods to Bob Marley himself, these blends never fail to make us smile. This 100 percent arabica coffee brand may not be considered mainstream yet, but we’re positive that will change sooner rather than later. For starters, it’s sustainably and ethically sourced to support communities across the globe. But also, these blends don’t taste bitter or burned, are pleasantly aromatic and offer something for everyone, whether you crave your coffee bold or mellow.
Marley Coffee K-cup variety pack (pack of 36), $26.59 at Amazon
Short on cash but still need a quality coffee in a pinch? Many coffee lovers would eagerly point you in the direction of Dunkin’ Donuts blends. If you asked why, these fans would undoubtedly pontificate about how delicious and smooth the brand’s blends are. In the word of one passionate partaker, “Once you drink Dunkin’, you never go back!”
Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla flavored ground coffee, $5.99 at Amazon
We’re going to level with you — one of the (many) reasons we’re fans of Verena Street is for its fun blend names. From Mississippi Grogg to Cow Tipper, they’re as fun to say as they are to drink. And on the subject of drinking, they sure do go down smooth. Fans like us can’t get enough of the heavenly aroma, lack of bitterness, depth and complexity of flavors.
Verena Street Mississippi Grogg flavored ground coffee, $10.44 at Amazon