While there’s no substitute for the sheer convenience of ground coffee, before we get started today, we’d like to slip in a qualification…
If you insist on the very best from your coffee, you should buy and grind your own beans. This does require a little effort and you’ll need to invest in a grinder – check out our guide to that right here – but you’ll be rewarded in terms of freshness and flavor.
With that proviso in place, here at the PrinceLA we’re realists as well as purists. There are many occasions when you simply don’t have the time or inclination to get down and dirty grinding beans. And on those occasions, it pays to have plenty of ground coffee on hand.
If you’re just starting out and you’ve got no idea about roast profiles, we’d recommend trying a medium roast for a balanced cup of coffee. Light roasts tend to lose flavor too quickly while a dark roast can be overpowering and too strong for many.
To this end, we put a huge selection of ground coffee through its paces and kicked aside anything that didn’t meet our rigorous standards. The result is the 20 blends we bring you today from all major brands.
We tried to include a wide diversity of roast profiles along with a range of price-points so there’s truly something for everyone.
Before we get down to our reviews, though, we’ll address one of the most frequently asked questions: which is best, Arabica or Robusta?
Table of Contents
I. Which is Better: Arabica or Robusta Coffee?
Arabica and Robusta are by far the most popular types of coffee beans grown.
Although there are many varieties of bean, these are really the two that count so how do they differ?
Well, they vary in terms of growing conditions, taste and price so we’ll break each type of bean down in turn…
Arabica coffee demands higher altitudes and a cooler climate to grow optimally.
It takes a long time to ripen Arabica berries while the output is lower than the yield from Robusta. This obviously makes it more expensive for you, the consumer. It comes in at roughly twice the cost of Robusta.
Arabica gives coffee beans a delicious taste that’s sweet ands soft with undertones of fruit, berries and sugar. There’s an acidic taste to Arabica and this is considered as a characteristic of this coffee.
How about Robusta, then?
Robusta beans are considered quite easy to grow. These beans prefer warm and drier climatic conditions. Robusta is grown only in the Eastern Hemisphere, mainly in Indonesia and Africa. A few other countries like India and Brazil produce Robusta as well as Arabica.
This coffee has a bitter taste, is rich in caffeine and is more concentrated so it’s ideal for men. Since Arabica coffee is highly fragrant, less bitter, sour and packs less caffeine, it’s much more popular among women.
Combining Arabica and Robusta will create a balanced, rich and unique coffee. The aroma of Arabica blended with the richness of Robusta lends to a sublime coffee with an enticing and powerful taste along with a decadent aroma.
With those basics sketched in, we’ll launch in right now with our reviews summarizing the best blends we found. These are Arabica, Robusta and a combination of the two so dig in and enjoy!
II. Top 20 Best Ground Coffees
1. Best Coffee Ground for Drip Coffee Machine: Death Wish Ground Coffee (Arabica and Robusta)
First up and our best overall choice for drip coffee machines, the ominously named Death Wish Coffee is a mix of Arabica and Robusta.
Dark roasted and perfect for slowly dripping through your machine, you’ll get double the strength of the average coffee without any bitterness or taint to mar the taste sensation. Along with a surprisingly balanced taste for a dark roast undercut with cherry and chocolate, you’ll get a blast of the most magnificent aroma, too.
Made with organic Fair Trade beans, you can buy with a clear conscience and get your mornings kickstarted the right way.
2. Best Coffee Ground for Espresso and Moka: Lavazza Crema e Gusto Espresso Dark Roast (Arabica and Robusta)
If you prefer your coffee short and strong, industry legend Lavazza serves up this delicious dark roast perfect for those powerful shots.
Full bodied yet creamy, you’ll get definite traces of chocolate without feeling overwhelmed. There’s a lingering aftertaste but it’s pleasant and with no hint of cloying bitterness.
While this is highly recommended for use with espresso machines or traditional Moka pots, you can harness other brewing methods, too. This is a versatile blend from a brand you can trust and comes in a 250g pouch. As with all fresh coffee, you’d be well advised to decant this into an airtight container rather than leaving it in the packaging.
For a non-GMO coffee the way the Italians love it, you can’t beat this dark and enticing roast.
3. Best Coffee Ground for French Press and Cold Brew: Stone Street Coffee Cold Brew Reserve Dark Roast (100% Arabica)
When you need some ground coffee for your French press or cold brewer, Stone Street comes up trumps. This dark roast works equally well if you take your coffee hot or over ice.
When you’re cold brewing coffee, it pays to use a specialized blend and you won’t be disappointed with this deep, powerful dark roast. Despite the character and flavor, you’ll find the taste balanced and it’s also sweet and smooth.
We’d advise ignoring the marketing hype since, even though the packaging suggests it’s designed to keep your coffee at its best, you’re still safer shifting it into an airtight container.
Coarsely ground for the optimum extraction, this coffee might not be cheap but the best things in life seldom are.
4. Valhalla Java by Death Wish Coffee (Arabica and Robusta)
If you’re looking for the ideal marriage of Arabica and Robusta, Valhalla Java is manufacturer by Death Wish Coffee and delivers in fine style.
USDA-certified organic and also Fair Trade, you’ll be doing your part for local growing communities as well as your tastebuds.
An artisan roast created specifically for rock guitarist Zakk Wylde, you don’t need to be a world-famous rock star to embrace this awesome Java.
While this blend packs an undeniable punch, you won’t be left with any smoky or bitter aftertaste. You’ll get a clean and aromatic medium-dark with a subtle hint of chocolate and nuts that will have you running back for more.
5. Jacobs Kronung (Arabica)
If you’ve spent any time in Germany, you’ll know you can’t escape Jacobs Kronung. This Teutonic blend has a light yet acidic taste so steer clear if you prefer your coffee without that undertone of acidity.
You’ll be able to pick out a nuttiness and the overall feel of this coffee is a pick-me-up perfect for those bleary eyed morning when you don’t want the sledgehammer blow of an espresso but you want perking up.
Full-bodied yet subtle, this is a delicate balancing act and an acquired taste but one that has legions of fans the world over not just in Germany.
6. Wild Jo Dark French Roast (100% Arabica)
French roasts don’t come much more sultry than Wild Jo. Sweet and chocolatey with a potent influx of cocoa and dark sugar, the first sip will have you cursing yourself for not discovering this ground coffee before.
Using only the finest pure Arabica beans, Wild Jo places quality above all else. No flavorings are added to this blend and none are needed.
Non-GMO and Fair Trade-certified, you won’t have any pangs of conscience when you’re treating yourself to a package of this ground coffee ideal for most brewing methods.
7. illy Classico Espresso (100% Arabica)
If you need some fuel for your espresso machine, you could do far worse than this punchy roast from illy.
The pure Arabica beans coming from 9 distinct sources are medium-roasted to pitch up a caramel and chocolate-driven taste sensation. Despite not being roasted dark, you’ll still get the makings of a powerful espresso to get your days started the right way.
Sustainably and ethically-sourced, you can enjoy this espresso blend to the fullest knowing you’re doing your part for the environment.
As with all illy coffee, the pressurized and air-free can ensures all the oils stay inside where they should do and your coffee remains fresher for longer. While there’s still no substitute for grinding your own beans, this is the next closest thing to it.
8. Caribou Coffee Caribou Blend Medium Roast (100% Arabica)
Rainforest Alliance coffee at its best, Caribou Coffee’s eponymous blend is a light breakfast mix boasting both nuts and caramel in one intoxicating blend.
As with all the best ground coffee, you’ll get a sustainably-sourced roast that doesn’t sacrifice quality in pursuit of ethics.
Pure Arabica beans are handpicked so you’ll get nothing but the most effective coffee in your cup from the world’s best Arabica.
9. Folgers Classic Medium Roast
If you’re looking for maximum value, this bumper 30 ½-oz drum is packed with mountain-grown beans medium roasted.
Taste is subtle yet unmistakable. You’ll get a nicely balanced brew whatever method you employ although we found the Folgers Classic responds particularly well to drip coffee makers.
The airtight container saves you the trouble of decanting your ground coffee and ensures it will stay fresh right to the bottom of the tub.
Since springing up in 1850, Folgers has established a reputation for unerring consistency and this medium roast continue that winning tradition wonderfully. Each and every cup tastes lip-smackingly good and costs far less than you might imagine.
10. Tim Horton’s 100% Arabica
Coffee chain powerhouse Tim Horton’s brings all their expertise to bear on this medium roasted Original Blend packed with nothing but the best Arabica beans.
Even though there’s no better way to enjoy coffee than with freshly ground beans, if you want to settle for pre-ground, there are few finer choices on the market.
Everything about this blend is understated so don’t expect a flurry of flavors. What you will get is just rich and smooth coffee in an uncomplicated blend sure to rev you up in the mornings or give you an after-lunch pick-me-up.
With almost half a century in the business, Tim Horton’s doesn’t disappoint with their trademark blend.
11. Koffee Kult Medium Roast (100% Arabica)
If you like more robust and full-bodied coffee but you don’t want too much acidity in the mix, Koffee Kult has you covered with this versatile medium roast.
You’ll get a delectably smooth finish and a smooth, silky taste of coffee without any taint or bitterness to mar the effect.
Whether you want to pop this ground coffee in your French press, cold brew it or use a specialty machine, it responds well to almost all brewing methods.
The blend is achieved by mixing Colombian and Brazilian Arabica beans then blending them until not too dark but still perfectly and evenly extracted.
12. Peet’s Coffee Major Dickason’s Blend Dark Roast (100% Arabica)
The most loyal customer of the legendary Mr Peet, Major Dickason was rewarded for such fealty with a blend named after him.
If you’re a lovely of dark French roasts, you can also benefit with this complex yet refined blend assailing that will assail you with a barrage of aromas and flavors.
You’ll get a firm and deep body with a distinct aftertaste you’ll either love or hate. If you’re not a fan of complicated coffee and you don’t appreciate smoky and dark roasts, steer clear. If, on the other hand, you enjoy coffee that deviates from the norm, this might be the smartest investment you make this year.
13. Starbucks Breakfast Blend Medium Roast (Arabica)
Something a little more downplayed next in the form of a classic medium roast from the titanic Starbucks.
Available in a broad spread of sizes and also in multipacks, choose the configuration that suits you best.
You won’t find yourself overwhelmed from all angles but you’ll still be left licking your lips and hungry for more.
If you can’t get enough of Starbucks but you’re tired of spending so much in the store on a weekly basis, bring that taste home at a fraction the cost and get brewing up a large pot pronto!
14. Maxwell House Dark Roast (100% Arabica)
Maxwell House are unfairly maligned for producing low quality instant granulated coffee. This dark roast kicks that reputation aside and shows they really do know a thing or two about coffee as it should be drunk.
This is the darkest brew the brand sells and it works especially well with cold brew. You’ll get an intense and reasonably complex symphony of flavors with a delicious aroma to fill your kitchen in the morning.
Certified Kosher and sourced ethically, you’ll get a blend to give you a real shot in the arm if you’re feeling somewhat sluggish in the morning.
15. Kicking Horse Coffee Smart Ass Medium Roast (100% Arabica)
Another pure Arabica up next in the form of Kicking Horse Coffee’s amusingly named Smart Ass.
Medium roasted, you’ll instantly detect chocolate in the mix without being overpowered. You’ll then pick up milky chocolate along with fruit and a trace of sugar cane. If that sounds divine, it is. This was one of our personal favorites from the huge selection of coffee we tested to bring you these 20 fantastic blends.
Coming from central and South America, Smart Ass is well worth popping on your shortlist.
16. Kirkland Signature 100% Colombian Dark Roast (100% Arabica)
Another French roast for fans of dark and decadent coffee, Kirkland Signature makes use of the Colombian Supremo bean.
Produced by the National Federation of Coffee Growers, you benefit from the deep expertise of this consortium while you can be confident that community support programs don’t leave the grower destitute and stiffed on pricing.
Ultimately, what counts is the coffee in your cup when you’ve brewed up. Whether you opt for an espresso machine, a French press or cold brewing, this dark roast works well across the board.
17. Melitta Coffee Colombian Supreme Medium Roast (100% Arabica)
Best known for their classic filters used for pour-over coffee, Melitta is no slouch when it comes to the raw ingredients for brewing, either.
This medium roast has a full body but doesn’t end up unbalanced in search for robustness. Made from pure Arabica beans and medium roasted, this is highly economical. The depth of flavor and complexity means you can use as much as one-third less coffee to return a commanding and mouth-watering drink.
The bulk of the beans used for this blend are sourced from smaller farms and you’ll get a rewarding taste as well as the satisfaction of helping those growers more in need.
18. Equal Exchange Organic Breakfast Blend (100% Arabica)
As the name makes abundantly clear, Equal Exchange coffee ensures a solid deal for growers and also guarantees you get the greatest coffee in your cup.
A breakfast blend, the taste of this completely organic blend is magnificent. You’ll get nut and caramel along with a trace of chocolate brownies delivering a rampant flurry of flavors.
The Arabica beans come from Latin America, Asia and Africa serving up a truly multinational blend.
Roasted French style but stopped just short of dark, you won’t regret going out on a limb and road testing this classic in the making.
19. Kauai Caramel Crunch (100% Arabica)
If you’re looking for something completely different, Kauai caramel crunch steps up to the plate and smashes a home run out of the park.
Nuts and caramel sit alongside coconut in this finely calibrated blend that’s medium roasted to give you plenty of oomph without any sense of overwhelm.
Stripped of acidity and bitterness, you’ll get a truly refreshing coffee that will keep you coming back for more and more.
The 100% Arabica beans are smooth and aromatic and you’ll be delighted you invested in this pre-ground coffee with a tropical twist.
20. Two Volcanoes Dark Roast Espresso Blend (Arabica and Robusta)
Last but absolutely not least, Two Volcanoes is Guatemalan coffee all processed and packed at source to ensure the ultimate in freshness.
If you’ve previously been intimidated by darker roasts, this makes a superb starting point. The fruity and woody taste doesn’t come with the smokiness that puts many off experimenting further with dark roasts.
That said, if you’re a died-in-the-wool fan of French roasts, this central American beauty won’t disappoint either.
Tailor-made to bring out the very best in your espresso machine, we can’t recommend the exotically named Two Volcanoes strongly enough.
With our reviews put to bed, we’ll look now at how to buy ground coffee the easy way.
III. Ground Coffee Buying Guide
The first thing you should do when buying ground coffee is to remind yourself that this will not deliver results as tasty as grinding your own beans directly before brewing. We’re not here to lecture you but it does bear restating that you won’t get such fresh or aromatic drinks when you use pre-ground.
With that in place, you should think closely about the roast profile. You’ve got 3 main options at your disposal:
- Light Roast
- Medium Roast
- Dark Roast
Medium roasts work best with ground coffee. If you go for a light roast, much of the flavor can be lost while dark roasts tend to remain too strong for many. This doesn’t rule out the other roast profiles and your choice should depend on your taste but a medium roast makes a great starting point.
You should also experiment with Arabica, Robusta and a combination of both beans. Again, choice here will be entirely personal so refer to our breakdown of Arabica and Robusta above to help you out.
Here are some other simple pointers to bear in mind. Since there are so many variables, we’ll give you some general advice rather than diving down into specifics.
As with most purchases, sticking to a brand you trust can help guarantee a delicious cup of coffee rather than a bag of a blend you don’t much enjoy.
All major coffee chains from Starbucks to Tim Horton’s sell their own blends pre-ground so invest in some to enjoy that gourmet treat without the hassle or expense of heading to the store each day.
The added advantage of sticking with a brand like this is that you’ll have the chance to try before you buy so use that as an excuse to head to the store and treat yourself! Then look forward to saving money month on month as you’ll need to head there far less often.
We’ll remind you again here that buying ground coffee already puts you on the back foot in terms of freshness.
Make sure you check the dates on the packaging so you be sure you’re maximizing your chances on the freshness front.
You should also take storage into account before you take your coffee out of the package. From the point at which you disassemble the packaging, degradation will begin so give yourself the best chance by storing it correctly. We’ll explore how you can do that directly below.
Type of Brewing Method
Another factor you should bear closely in mind is which type of brewing method you’ll be using.
Are you planning to use the trusty French press or do you prefer the pour-over method?
Do you always start your mornings with a stiff shot of espresso, whether from a machine or a Moka Pot?
Is cold brew your preference?
All different brewing methods respond best to specific types of ground coffee. A coarse grind, for example, works best with a French press while you’ll want the coffee much finer for the most lip-smacking espresso.
Take your time to read into the coffee you’re considering so you can make certain it’s appropriate for your coffee machine or brewing method of choice.
Don’t Overlook The Coffee Maker
Since you’re already slightly handicapped by using pre-ground coffee, you can raise the odds back in your favor by making use of a great coffee maker.
The temperature of water on these machines will come through exactly as required for that perfect golden cup of coffee (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit) which will get the very most from your ground coffee.
This is not to say you can’t get a serviceable cup using manual brewing methods but there’s no substitute for a great espresso machine or drip coffee maker if you want to get the most flavorful coffee in your cup without going to the trouble of grinding beans.
And, before we round out with a guide to storing your coffee the right way, you should bear in mind that you’ll need to make some compromises when you’re using pre-ground. In return, though, you can cut down on equipment in the kitchen and enjoy the utmost in convenience.
IV. Tips to Store Ground Coffee
Once you’ve chosen your ground coffee and got it home, how you store it makes a significant impact on the quality of the drink in your cup.
Storing your coffee in the wrong way is just as damaging as not taking the trouble to take it out the bag it came in so how do you get this right?
Firstly, you should be clear about the one thing that damages coffee most: sustained exposure to oxygen.
Air can spoil coffee in 2 ways:
- Coffee absorbs moisture from the air
- Moisture already in the coffee is lost to the air
Throw an excessively high temperature into the mix and the problem is inflamed further.
Both of these mechanisms upset the balance of your ground coffee and impact taste. It’s for this reason that much of the ground coffee you buy comes vacuum-sealed.
The best method by far of storing your ground coffee is to use a vacuum sealer. These machines are inexpensive as are the bags so you should invest in one if you’re interested in keeping your ground coffee fresher for longer.
An inbuilt advantage of using the vacuum sealing method is that you’ll also be able to freeze your coffee when it’s protected by these bags and a robust vacuum seal. This is only necessary, though, if you plan to store your coffee for an extended period.
For normal purposes, choose a cool food pantry or cupboard, ideally below room temperature.
When you vacuum seal your coffee, you can potentially triple or even quadruple its lifespan. Do this without creating a seal first and you risk impairing the flavor significantly. Moisture from the freezer will end up penetrating the coffee and crystallizing while smells from the freezer will also invade your ground coffee.
If you choose not to vacuum seal or freeze your ground coffee, bear in mind that the expected lifespan will then drop to just 2 or 3 weeks. Don’t get us wrong, it will still be drinkable after that time but flavor and aroma will nosedive.
If you’re planning to consume all your coffee well within a month, you can opt for a regular airtight container. Do not refrigerate the coffee, though. This will cause water molecules from the fridge to condense and permeate your coffee, adversely affecting it. Store it at room temperature instead.
If you’re decanting coffee into an airtight container, stick to glass or ceramic. Metal or plastic can end up imparting an unpleasant taint so avoid these materials at all costs.
Key takeaway: Vacuum sealing keeps coffee freshest for longest while airtight containers stored at room temperature work well if you’ll be consuming the coffee in less than 3 weeks.
We hope you’ve now seen that while it pays to grind your own beans, there’s also plenty of pre-ground coffee capable of making a decent brew.
We won’t pretend you’ll get a taste as fresh and showstopping as you’ll find when you use a grinder to smash up beans directly before brewing but you’ll get remarkable convenience and you won’t sacrifice too much taste or aroma.
Drop us a line and let us know if you try out any of these coffees and how you find them. Take your time and there’s no reason not to find a pre-ground perfectly in line with your tastes.
Don’t forget to bookmark our site and come back any time you want some impartial advice and handy hints on all products to fill your beautiful home and garden. See you soon!