So because most of my friends know I'm such a coffee snob and I get beans from my cafe...they often ask me what is the best coffee to buy in the grocery store? I don't want to waste money on mass produced coffee. Any suggestions?
Consumer Reports ran a study a while back and came to the conclusion that 8 o'clock was the best grocery purchase. (hehe...)
But Seriously...Depending on your area, there may or may not be some local coffee offered in the grocery. This coffee has the best chance of not being 3-6 months old, but it still very well could be. The best option would be to check if they have a roasted on date and buy the freshest. Obviously, your starbucks, DD, and 8 oclocks will not have that on their bag. The Fresh Market in my city actually has Intelli, and a couple other well known roasters. If this isn't an option...you already know, the best place is at your local cafe or roaster.
I have had success buying 8 O'clock, and Sam's Choice Rainforest Alliance Breakfast Blend (Walmart). If you look closely, you will find the sell by date. The further away that date, the fresher the coffee. I don't think either of those is shelved for more than a year (Haaacccckk! =< ) But if it is a year away, or nine months, you can still see evidence of out-gassing. I have ground both and brewed fresh, and it is drinkable. It's not Yirgacheffe, but it'll do in a pinch.
I always give the same answer, good grocery store coffee doesn't exist. Life's Too Short To Drink Bad Coffee. It's not just a saying for me. I didn't start drinking coffee until relatively late in life (age 30) after tasting fresh roasted, fresh ground, fresh brewed coffee for the first time. I'd declined a cup but the smell was unlike any of the smells from the myriad of garbage I'd tried over the years. So when asked a second time after it was done brewing I accepted, drank it black and it was excellent, no bitterness or burnt or stale or any of the other negatives of every single cup I'd tried in the past. Been chasing quality fresh roast coffee ever since.
I don't give a rats ass if someone, anyone, thinks I'm a coffee snob because I refuse to drink bad coffee.
I think we have to clarify "grocery store." Maybe I'm just spoiled here in the Yay Area. I can go to the Oakland WFM and find Ritual, Barefoot, Weaver, Allegro, and Surf City. All local save the WFM house brand.
The Safeways and Lucky's/Albertson's aren't half-bad either. I've found Thanksgiving in Safeway and Green Mountain & Peet's in Lucky's.
So, the good advice:
1) check for geographical proximity of the roaster
2) make sure it's in a bag with a one-way valve (sorry Ritual & Barefoot, this eliminates you...when are you going to become real coffee companies and stop selling your beans in porous paper bags?)
3) check for roast date
If none of those options are available, well...I guess you're SOL. At least in Cali you can grab a can of Don Francisco is nothing else is available.
My point is that if a company is basing its business model on the quality of its coffee it should think twice about having its product stocked on grocery store shelves in bags that have no safeguards against letting in oxygen. Coffee, no matter how good the green was, no matter how carefully roasted, will go south quickly if left exposed to oxygen. A week-old bag of coffee left exposed to oxygen is hardly fresh. If you can get Ritual or Barefoot a day or two after the roast date and take it hope to an airtight container, awesome. I'm just saying that level of coffee doesn't make sense in the grocery aisle.
There are several options with better a seal that are also recyclable. A good example is Taylor Maid's cans. Yes, cans. There is a strong case for specialty reclaiming the can.
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