We Got a Champion Barista to Rank Grocery Store Coffee
Credit: All photos by Dan Gentile
For coffee aficionados, it can be hard to remember the days before fair-trade, adjective-heavy specialty coffee. But before Counter Culture, or even Starbucks, there were first-wave roasters peddling steel cans of grounds (gasp!), the likes of which are now only seen on visits to your parents’ house.
So to see if any of these coffees are actually good to the last drop, we asked Lorenzo Perkins, certified coffee instructor at Cuvée and executive council member of the Barista Guild of America, to put five of the biggest coffee brands through the same rigorous blind-tasting process that his roasting company applies to their own beans.
"This is actually something I think all my colleagues should do. When you’re only drinking specialty coffee, you lose that global perspective."
We pillaged the grocery coffee aisle and came away with five contenders: Folgers Classic Roast, Maxwell House French Roast, Chock full o’Nuts Original, Community Coffee Cafe Special, and Yuban.
Although the Maxwell House and Community beans aren’t their original roast, we ran the grounds through a spectrophotometer to measure the roast level, and Lorenzo assured us that there wasn’t enough deviation to cry apples-to-oranges.
Coffee testing (“cupping”) is an exhausting process. Using a direct pour-over method, five cups of each roast are brewed in order to account for irregularities within a batch of beans.