The Best Ground Coffee Brands for 2021
Brewing a fresh, hot, tasty cup of coffee seems so simple, doesn't it? And in theory, it is. But when you factor in our individual preferences, lifestyles, caffeine tolerances, and more...things just got a bit more complicated!
One of the fundamental decisions we all make before brewing our coffee is, what type of coffee will I use? Will it be whole bean or ground? If it's going to be pre-ground coffee, what brand, strength, and label will be our choice?
All that said, searching for the best ground coffee becomes our mission, so to speak. It is ultimately a personal decision, and one that, frankly, may have to evolve over time and tasting. But the journey has to begin somewhere.
And that is precisely what we do at the Coffee Files. Our passion, our mission, is to do the hard work for you, take the journey step-by-step, and save you the time and effort of finding 'the best'.
Knowing how to make a great cup of coffee at home is the ultimate goal, my friend. We want to make that desire a reality for you!
How do we come up with our 'best of' list? Honestly, with time, and attention to detail. We scour the internet world, discover what's available, and filter out the brands that don't make the cut. Then, we study the features and benefits individually for those that look promising, comb through the reviews and actually read them, to identify the pros and cons of each one as identified by real-life users. From there, we identify the top...the best...the most consistently rated higher...and present them to you.
Our findings and recommendations for the best ground coffee brands are presented in two ways:
- Our overall 'best of' list, and
- Our recommendations based on the strength of coffee as well as a few other designations. If you already know that your choice will be a medium strength blend, for example, we'll offer our top recommendation for that.
We also have provided a practical and helpful Coffee Buying and Selection Guide, including a quick checklist of considerations to assist the beginner coffee drinker (and maybe not so new to java consumption!) in narrowing down the type of coffee that might be most enjoyable for them.
Take advantage of the handy table of contents below to guide you through the info!
Here is the quick list of the best ground coffee brands for 2021. We don't rank them in order; all of these recommendations are consistently rated well from consumers. You'll find much more detail for each recommendation below. As you read through the pros, cons, and more, see what appeals to you. Coffee drinking is a very personal experience!
If you happen to click on a link and then make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
THE BEST GROUND COFFEE FOR 2021
Our Recommendations by Category
Best DARK ROAST: Peet's Coffee Major Dickason's Blend
Overall Rating: 4.7/5
Rich, full-bodied, pleasantly complex, robust, smooth and delicious, say the many reviewers of this dark roast ground coffee. May I raise my little hand, too? This is my absolute favorite and I drink it regularly. If you want a full-bodied, rich cup of java, this is it.
Best MEDIUM ROAST: Tim Hortons Original Blend
Overall Rating: 4.8/5
100% arabica coffee is perfectly balanced with a smooth finish, mellow and flavorful, and not acidic.
All around great tasting cup of coffee with hints of cocoa.
Best LIGHT ROAST: Maxwell House Master Blend
Overall Rating: 4.7/5
A very loyal following for this smooth, gentle, mellow light roast blend.
It has an overall appeal and works well for serving a variety of coffee preferences. And, it has a wonderful aroma while brewing!
Best ESPRESSO ROAST: Gavina Extra Fine Espresso Ground Coffee
Overall Rating: 4.6/5
This 100% arabica coffee has been ground extra fine specifically for espresso based drinks. Spicy, dark chocolate notes, full bodied and richly flavored, with a rich history and Spanish origin.
Highly rated for both lack of bitterness (yay) and affordable pricing.
Best FAIR TRADE: Kicking Horse Coffee
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Consistently rated with enthusiasm, the Kicking Horse coffees are organic, fairtrade, shade grown, 100% certified coffee.
The Kick Ass dark roast shown here offers a smoky, sweet vanilla and dark chocolate aroma with tasting notes of chocolate malt, molasses, licorice, and an earthy lingering finish.
Best ORGANIC: Equal Exchange
Overall Rating: 4.6/5
100% Fairly traded ingredients and certified Organic by the USDA, Equal Exchange coffee has many raving fans.
The Mind, Body, Soul blend featured here is a combination of a medium and vienna roast, with hints of almond, malt, and dark chocolate.
If you want to feel good about the ground coffee you purchase, learn more about Equal Exchange.
Our Overall Recommendations for the Best Ground Coffee
The coffee-drinking experience is a very personal one, definitely not a one-size-fits-all type of experience. Because of this all-important fact, our recommendations are not ranked as #1, #2, #3, etc.
All of the best ground coffee brands on this list are highly rated on a consistent basis, and from there it's really up to your individual preferences, taste buds, and caffeine tolerance. So...read on, my friend, and see what brand, roast, and description of coffee speaks to you.
the world's strongest coffee
The vast majority of consumer reviews are very positive and actually quite entertaining as they describe the effect of the highly caffeinated coffee on their daily life (yes, there are some budding comedians in the group). But their point is made: this coffee gives you a kick. A tasty, non-bitter kick, but a kick nonetheless.
If you love a strong and potent cup of coffee and are willing to pay more than average price for it, give Death Wish Coffee a try.
- WORLD’S STRONGEST COFFEE: Our ground coffee beans will transform your basic cup of joe into a delicious, bold, and intense beverage that will revolutionize your morning.
- QUALITY BREW: Hands down, the best coffee grounds in the world. One sip of Death Wish Coffee will have you saying goodbye to store-bought forever. Enjoy the highest quality energy and artisanal flavor with every sip.
- BOLD FLAVOR: Immerse yourself in a smooth, subtle, never bitter cherry and chocolate flavor profile. We've carefully selected and expertly ground premium Arabica and Robusta coffee beans from around the world to deliver you a dark roast ground coffee beverage with a bold taste you’ll instantly fall in love with.
- FAIR AND ORGANIC: Every 16 oz. bag of Death Wish Ground Coffee is bursting with Fair Trade, USDA Certified Organic coffee, giving you a natural caffeine boost you can be proud to support.
- TRY IT RISK-FREE: Death Wish Coffee comes highly rated by thousands of satisfied customers who can't get enough of our coffee. But we'll let you be the judge. If you don't love our dark roast ground coffee, we'll refund your order, no questions asked.
rich, complex, full-bodied
Major Dickason's Blend, named after loyal customer and retired army officer Key Dickason, is the coffee company's all-time bestselling coffee. It is consistently rich, deep, and satisfying. You can always shop the Peet's website directly, and time your order to the roasting schedule that is published on the site: https://www.peets.com/coffee/dark-roast/major-dickason-s-blend. How cool is that?
- MAJOR DICKASON'S BLEND: Conceived by Mr. Peet and his most discerning customer, Major Dickason’s Blend has become the coffee that epitomizes the rich, flavorful taste of Peet’s. Flavor notes: Incomparable world blend, rich, complex, and full-bodied
- OBSESSED WITH FRESH: From the beginning, Peet's Coffee has roasted the best coffee beans we can find with quality in mind. We also care for the communities that grow & harvest those beans, because coffee is better when it is grown & sourced responsibility
- BREW LIKE THE BEST: Brewing the best cup of coffee starts with finding your favorite roast or blend. Whole beans or ground coffee, dark, medium or light, single origin or a blend? Try a variety & find the best brew for the morning mug or afternoon pickup
- LIGHT, MEDIUM & DARK ROAST: Brew a pot of Peet's ground or whole bean coffee in a blend & roast perfect for your tastes. Light roast coffees are mild & smooth, medium roast coffees are smooth & aromatic, while dark roast coffees are smoky & full bodied
a smooth, mellow taste
The Bottom Line:
The most popular light roast that New England Coffee offers.
- New England Donut Shop Blend: Our premium 100% Arabica beans are lightly roasted for a smooth, mellow taste
- Ground Coffee: Made of 100% Arabica coffee Gluten free and Certified Kosher ground coffee Use only fresh water when brewing the coffee grounds for smooth taste and flavor
- Small Batch Roast: Sourced from the finest coffee growing regions, our premium coffees are always 100% Arabica coffee beans, which are small-batch roasted for consistently balanced flavor every time
- Family Tradition: For more than 100 years, New England Coffee has roasted our premium coffee the same time tested way right in New England So you can count on deliciously consistent flavor cup after cup, sip after sip
- Sustainability: With the changing climate in mind, our Sustainable Cup Project is designed to plant a better tomorrow Results provide social, economic and environmental enhancements for farmers and their communities
the smooth taste of a famous blend
The Bottom Line:
Many loyal DD (Dunkin' Donuts) fans stand by this home brew as tasting just as good as the coffee purchased at the official donut shop. Well-rated for a medium roast of moderate price and quality.
- Contains 1 - 12 ounce bag of ground coffee
- Original Blend is the coffee that made Dunkin' famous, featuring a rich, smooth taste unmatched by others
- Medium roast coffee, specially blended and roasted to deliver the same great taste as the brewed Dunkin' coffee available in Dunkin' shops
- Pre-ground, ready to brew at home sweet home
- Enjoy the great taste of Dunkin’ at home
premium coffee since 1964
The Bottom Line:
Canada's favorite coffee is beloved by many lovers of java all over the world, who remain true to the brand. Smooth finish with low acidity.
- Medium Roast: Our original blend coffee is expertly roasted, delivering a perfectly balanced flavor with a smooth finish. Our signature blend has not changed in over 50 years and only three lucky people know the recipe.
- Brew It Your Way: Use your favorite blend in your automatic coffee maker, french press, pourover, and even for cold brew.
- Top-Quality Beans: We only use 100% Arabica beans from the most renowned regions of Central and South America that are carefully selected by our experts to consistently deliver the best blend possible.
- Signature Flavor: Our beans are expertly roasted for the taste and aroma you know and love. We can deliver an amazing cup of coffee, no matter where or how you enjoy it.
- Cup of Canada: Whether you like a dark roast, a classic cup of tea, or the rich flavor of french vanilla, we have a wide variety of coffee, tea, and specialty beverages that feature our signature flavors, ready for you to enjoy any time of day.
satisfying and smooth blend
The Bottom Line:
If you enjoy a medium body roast and prefer a ground coffee, Gevalia is one to try. As with any coffee you purchase, check the expiration date to make sure the coffee is fresh.
- One 20 oz. bag of Gevalia House Blend Medium Roast Ground Coffee
- Crafted in the Swedish tradition, Gevalia House Blend Ground Coffee is rich and never bitter
- Our bag of House Blend medium roast ground coffee releases an aroma that will fill your home
- Each bag is crafted from 100% Arabica coffee beans sourced from around the world
- All of our ground coffee bags use slow roasted, snap cooled beans to lock in flavor and aroma
COFFEE BUYING & SELECTION GUIDE
Whether you're a coffee snob or a beginner in the world of coffee-drinking, having a resource like this Coffee Buying and Selection Guide can come in very handy! Drinking coffee is more than throwing some ground into a filter, adding water, and pushing the 'start' button. And, the more knowledge you have, the better you'll be able to find the best ground coffee brand that will satisfy your taste.
Take a few minutes to learn more about the types of coffee available, the strength of the roast, the characteristics of the java, the variety of grinds, and a very helpful checklist!
Types of Coffee
Coffee is more than just, well..little beans. There are a few major considerations to make when you prepare to brew some java that make quite a difference in the result you'll get.
Whole bean vs. ground coffee
I know...you’re searching for answers regarding the best ground coffee. So why are we discussing whole bean vs. ground? Well, it helps to have all of the information possible at your fingertips, and who knows? Maybe you’ll decide that some whole bean coffee on hand would be beneficial. I know I do. 🙂
Whole bean coffee is fairly self-explanatory: the beans are in their beautifully roasted, natural state. Whole coffee beans are filled with CO2, which emits oils and soluble flavors into the air while brewing (you know...that wondrous aroma that draws you in), giving the coffee drinker the most flavor and mouthfeel.
If you’re curious about the varying methods of creating a delicious cup of coffee and are up for a bit of a learning curve, consider investing in a simple burr grinder and some budget-friendly gear, such as a french press or a ceramic pour over. It affords you the option of creating a distinctly unique brew if you have a few extra minutes to grind the beans and work through the brewing method.
The major plus to using ground coffee is convenience. You don’t need any additional coffee gear other than the coffee maker, it’s readily available at the grocery and market in a wide variety of labels and roasts, and the cost per cup can be quite budget-friendly.
The grind is very consistent, too, with the majority of coffee companies providing the perfect grind for a drip coffee maker or a pour over. However, keep in mind that the typical bag of pre-ground coffee is not going to be appropriately ground for a cup of espresso, for example.
The down side to pre-ground coffee? There are a few, my friend. First, like anything else that is broken down, opened up, peeled, sliced, or ground, freshness becomes an issue. Unlike the whole coffee beans that are ground and immediately brewed, pre-ground coffee has been sitting in a package, waiting patiently for someone to snatch it up, take it home, and brew some java.
Ground coffee is more susceptible to heat and humidity, so storing it in a cool, dry place is always the best way to go to ensure it stays fresh for as long as possible.
You’ll lose that just-ground freshness and aroma, as well as taste, by using ground coffee. Will it still taste good and satisfy your longing for some java? Sure, especially if you’re accustomed to drinking pre-ground coffee. Nothing wrong with that, my friend.
What is instant coffee?
Instant coffee is a type of coffee made from dried coffee extract. The extract is a concentrated type of brewed coffee. After the brewing process, the water is removed from the extract and what is left are dry fragments or powder. The powder dissolves when water is added to it.
You’ll still get flavor and aroma from instant coffee, and, like regular coffee, you’ll receive the benefit of the antioxidants contained in it.
So if you really want to be quick and efficient, instant coffee can be a viable option. This can come in handy when you’re traveling, camping, RVing, etc, and want a really simple method of preparing your morning java.
How about a single serve coffee bag?
Just like steeping a fresh, hot cup of tea, a single serve coffee bag steeps a fresh, hot cup of coffee.
It is another very convenient way to enjoy your java if using a more traditional brewing method isn't practical. Or, you might just prefer the quick and efficient way to make your coffee.
There are a number of options for you, from the well-known names like Folgers and Maxwell House, to subscription service options like Steeped Coffee. I have experimented with this service, and am learning how to properly steep my coffee to a level that I really enjoy. It's interesting for sure.
Here are a few options if you want to check them out:
Do you need to drink decaf?
If you want to drink coffee but don’t want to, or can’t have the caffeine, decaffeinated coffee can be an option.
Decaf coffee is made by removing most of the caffeine before roasting and grinding. How is this accomplished, you ask? The beans are soaked in organic solvents until the caffeine is absorbed by the solvents.
The taste of decaf coffee is generally mellower and milder, and of course, won’t give you the caffeine kick of regular coffee. But if you want to feel like you’re drinking coffee and need to nix the caffeine, it’s an option. Make no mistake, though, my friend. It is not the same as drinking caffeinated coffee. Not even close.
Characteristics of Coffee
Understanding some of the characteristics of coffee can help you find the best ground coffee. How can it do that? Well, there are S-O-O-O many brands and roasts our there in the coffee-buying world, it can seem easier to close your eyes and click.
But fear not. Let’s take a quick and simple look at some things to keep in mind when shopping for your favorite (or soon-to-be) ground coffee.
Take a minute to familiarize yourself with the four main characteristics of coffee, then keep them in mind as you read the details of a ground coffee brand you’re considering. It will help you make a more informed decision.
The 4 Types of Coffee Roasts
Many roasters have created their own names for their particular brand and roast, but in general, there are four types, so we’ll take a look at those.
Light: As you might expect, a light roast results in a light brown coffee bean color. The roasting process is shorter, and doesn’t allow for the oils in the beans to break through to the surface. You might see a light roast referred to as Light City, Half City, or Cinnamon Roast.
Medium: With a non-oily surface, a medium roast will have a darker color than light roast. It’s preference by U.S. residents has given it the name, American Roast. You’ll also see it called a City or Breakfast Roast.
Medium Dark: You’ll find darker, rich color and some oil on the surface of a medium dark roast, as well as a slightly bittersweet aftertaste. It is often called Full City Roast.
Dark: With a pronounced bitterness and a shiny, oily surface, a dark roasted bean will have less acidity in the brewed coffee. The roast can be slightly dark, or at the other end of the spectrum and charred. Reading the description of the coffee would be beneficial for sure when considering a dark roast.
Here are some of the names of dark roast coffee:
- New Orleans
Grind of Coffee
The best ground coffee brand that becomes your choice will most likely have a medium grind to it, as that is the most widely used grind in drip coffee makers and is produced most often in pre-ground coffee. But there are a number of other grinds that are needed for different brewing methods.
Let’s take a quick look at them.
You’ll use this grind if you’re making coffee with a French press. The grind will look like flaky sea salt and feel like small clay particles.
If you’re using the chemex method of coffee brewing, the rocky sand look and feel of this grind will be your choice. It can also work for a standard type coffee maker.
It feels crumbly, looks like peat moss, and works well for a pour over brew as well as a standard drip coffee maker. This is the most common form of coffee grind.
Used for a pour over as well as a vacuum pot brewing method, the grind will feel gritty and look like sand.
It looks like finely milled salt and sticks together when pressed, which is perfect for espresso brew.
Ground to the texture of confectioners sugar, it can be used for espresso or Turkish coffee.
A HANDY "COFFEE SELECTION" CHECKLIST
How do you process all the variables in selecting the best ground coffee brands? Well, you could just close your eyes and point, but how about taking a minute to figure out what YOU prefer, then select the coffee that best fits the bill for you. Here's a quick checklist for you to use as a resource.
How strong do you like your coffee? Do you want it to curl your toes? Select a dark, does a gentle sip with a hint of coffee taste float your boat? Stay with a lighter roast. Otherwise, somewhere in the medium roast range should work well. You can also ramp up the intensity by using more coffee when it's brewed, but it's always a good idea to start with the general strength you desire.
Discovering your preference is usually a process, as the 'flavor' of coffee can be quite subtle. And, it's not the same as 'flavored coffee'! Reading the labels of the coffee brands you're considering can give you some clues as to what you'll experience.
Arabica or Robusta?
Where coffee is grown makes a difference in the overall taste and experience. About 70% of the world's coffee is arabica. It has a mild taste and an intense, intricate aroma. Most gourmet coffees are made with high-quality mild varieties of arabica coffee. Robusta coffee has a more bitter taste, is full-bodied and has a distinctive earthy flavor. You'll find most espresso blends are made from robusta coffee beans.
So...depending upon what you think you want, read the label to learn what type of coffee you're considering. More on that below.
What does the label tell you?
It may seem like stating the obvious, but be sure to take the time to read the front label of the coffee under consideration. You'll most likely learn about the intensity (light, medium, dark roast), the flavor (smooth, well-balanced, smoky, intense, etc). You'll also learn whether it's arabica, robusta, or a combination of the two. There's a small chance it will be a different type of coffee, also.
Here are a few examples: read the front labels (side and back, too) and see how much you learn about the coffee: AmazonFresh Columbia Ground Coffee, Bulletproof The Mentalist Medium Dark Ground Coffee, Caribou Blend Medium Roast Ground Coffee
What is your 'adventure tolerance'?
You know...how willing are you to try something unique? Perhaps bolder than you'd typically select? Or, a description that intrigues you but is a little scary at the same time. If you're up for it and the price fits your budget, give the coffee a try. Who knows? You might have discovered your new favorite blend!
Candi Randolph is a coffee lover, blogger, and content creator who loves to share her knowledge with the coffee-drinking world. You'll often find her tending to her coffee bar at home, deciding which method to use to brew her next cup of java. Life is full of important decisions.