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Best Ground Coffee

Food Network Kitchen:

You can buy coffee in many different forms these days: ground coffee, whole beans, instant coffee, cold brew — you can even get a subscription. Buying ground coffee, as opposed to whole beans, means you’re one step closer to that all-important a.m. ritual. Of course, with so many brands on the market, you want to make sure that your morning brew is just the way you like it. Whether you prefer dark or light roast (or somewhere in between), flavored coffee, decaf, or something else, we brewed pot after pot to find the best ground coffees you can buy.

We tested 27 readily available, popular, well reviewed ground coffees. We brewed 6 6-ounce cups of each in the same Cuisinart drip coffee maker using cool filtered water. In terms of the amount of coffee per pot, we followed each brand’s instructions. If no instructions were given, we used 1½ tablespoons of ground coffee per 6-ounce cup. We sipped each one black, then added a splash of half and half. We evaluated each coffee for flavor, richness, and strength, and noted anything else, such as aroma, aftertaste, acidity, smoothness or bitterness.

The roast level determines the depth and intensity of flavor in your coffee. Light roasts preserve the beans’ original flavors, while medium roasts strike a balance between flavor and body. Dark roasts offer a rich, bold taste with prominent smoky notes. Choose a roast level that aligns with your preferences.

The geographic location where the coffee beans are grown significantly impacts the flavor profile. Different countries and regions produce distinct flavors, influenced by factors like climate, altitude, and soil conditions. Explore various origins such as Ethiopia, Colombia, Brazil, or Costa Rica to experience diverse taste experiences.

Freshness is crucial for a flavorful coffee experience. Look for whole bean coffee with a roast date printed on the packaging. Opt for beans roasted within the last few weeks to ensure you’re enjoying the freshest flavors.

  • BEST LIGHT ROAST: Cameron's Coffee Breakfast Blend
    - Don’t let the term “light roast” fool you. This is a solid brew. Light roasts are roasted for less time and at a lower temperature than dark ones, so they generally have a higher caffeine level and a more complex flavor.
  • BEST MEDIUM ROAST: Kicking Horse Coffee Smart Ass Blend
    - Aside from the fact that this is a delicious medium roast coffee, thanks to its cheeky name, it would also make a fun gift. It’s smooth and rich, with great flavor and no bitterness.
  • BEST DARK ROAST: Bub's Naturals Origin Blend Dark Roast
    - If you love a dark roast but French roast is too much, this one’s your jam. Made with a blend of organic beans sourced from Central America, it’s rich and smooth, bold but not overpowering, and not sour or acidic.
  • BEST FRENCH ROAST: Peet's French Roast
    - French roast is a type of dark roast, but it’s darker than other dark roasts, because it’s roasted longer. Peet’s is everything you want in a French roast–it’s rich, bold and strong, without any sourness.
  • BEST BUDGET: Cafe Bustelo Espresso Dark Roast Ground Coffee
    - It’s easy to see — or rather, taste — why this brand is so beloved. It brews up a strong, rich, smooth cup that is reminiscent of espresso, without a hint of bitterness. It’s a quality, solidly delicious coffee, as good as or better than many more expensive brands.

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