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I tried 6 brands of ground coffee from the supermarket — here's the only brand worth buying

Coffee taste test

The INSIDER Summary:

  • We tried six different kinds of ground supermarket coffee to see which one was best (and which ones were undrinkable).
  • Starbucks and Bustelo were essentially motor oil.
  • New England Coffee was best, closely followed by Dunkin' Donuts and Maxwell House.

My name is Sophie and I'm a coffee addict.

Pair that with a coffee snob husband who keeps the house stocked with a burr grinder, scale, and four kinds of coffee makers (French press, espresso, pour over, percolator), and you know I'm the right woman for this taste test.

Every morning, barely conscious, I trot into the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee. But of course I can't just enjoy a nice cup at the press of a button. No, thanks to the aforementioned coffee snob I must weigh my beans with a scale, grind them, boil water, and then wait a full four minutes before the first, eye-opening (literally) sip.

Obviously, you can imagine that the beans we have at home are not your regular supermarket coffee — they are exotic and expensive. But is that really necessary?

Determined to see whether cheap, store-bought, pre-ground coffee actually tastes all that different from the fancy beans our pantry is stocked with, I set out to taste test six of the most common coffees I could find at my local store.

Previous INSIDER taste tests have included everything from iced coffee and chocolate chip cookies to fried chicken.

Coffee taste test

I bought all six coffees at a New York City Keyfood. They cost anywhere between $2.79 (Bustelo) and $10.99 (Starbucks).

The brands I tried included:

  • Folgers
  • Starbucks
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • New England Coffee
  • Café Bustelo
  • Maxwell House

To keep things consistent, I tried to buy the most basic option of each brand available — i.e. breakfast blends or house blends.

SEE ALSO: We tried 4 popular kinds of instant ramen under $1 and the winner was clear

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I brewed them each in my trusty little single-serving French press.

I used 8 grams of coffee to around 6.7 oz of boiling water (a standard cup), and waited four minutes before pushing down the press' plunger and pouring myself a cup.

While I usually like my coffee with a splash of milk, I drank them each black. And by drank I mean sipped — I don't have a death wish — though my heart is racing as I type this anyway. I had another sip once each cup had been out for a while, because forgetting about your coffee or not drinking it right away happens to the best of us.


French press coffee involves boiling water, and pouring it onto the coffee grounds. also involves waiting four minutes before you can push down the plunger.

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