Coffee lovers seeking a standout cup of blended coffee may have a hard time, Consumer Reports coffee experts say.
In fact, none of the 37 caffeinated and decaffeinated varieties CR tested earned an Excellent or Very Good rating. However, java lovers can still find at least a few good cups of coffee. Starbucks House Blend and Green Mountain Signature Nantucket Blend Medium Roast perked to the top of the 14 caffeinated blends that earned a Good rating from Consumer Reports. At 26 and 23 cents per cup respectively, both offer a good combination of taste and price, the experts said. Both have an earthy, woody taste, but Starbucks was found to be a fairly bitter to very bitter darker roast, while the Green Mountain has green/sharp flavor.
There’s slightly better news for decaf drinkers. Although none of the 13 decaf blends CR tested scored higher than Good, several performed at least as well as their caffeinated brand mates, which is quite a feat, because the decaffeination process can harm flavor.
Allegro Organic Decaf Blend Medium Dark, Peet’s Decaf House Blend, Caribou Daybreak Coffee Morning Blend Decaf, and Bucks County Decaf Breakfast Blend were among the better scoring varieties.
Blends, the best-selling type of ground coffee, contain beans from at least two regions or countries All coffees consist of arabica or robusta beans, or a combination. Arabica beans are more expensive and tend to make better coffee.
In rating coffee, CR experts look for smoothness and complexity, with no off-flavors. The beans should be neither under-roasted nor charred, and the brew should have at least moderate aroma and flavor, and subtle top notes. Some sourness and bitterness are desirable, too, to keep the coffee from tasting bland. For a rundown of terms and further explanation of how Consumer Reports tests coffee visit www.ConsumerReports.org
CR advice: Look for the best combination of taste and price. Don’t count on familiar brand names or expensive price tags. Some coffees from revered companies like Maxwell House and Folgers languish near the bottom of Consumer Reports Ratings.
The package price doesn’t accurately reflect the cost per cup because the density of the grind varies and manufacturers recommend using different amounts of coffee for a given amount of water. CR calculated that caffeinated Green Mountain Signature Nantucket Blend Medium Roast ($11.21 a pound) costs 23 cents per cup, while the Archer Farms Breakfast Blend Decaf ($9.05 a pound) costs 34 cents per cup. The average coffee drinker consumes 3.3 cups a day, or about 1,200 cups a year, so those pennies can add up.
For coffee drinkers on a budget looking for a Good cup, Consumer Reports recommends Melitta Classic Blend Road (11cents per cup) and Seattle’s Best Breakfast Blend (15 cents per cup). Decaf drinkers on a budget should consider Seattle’s Best Blend Decaf Light Roast (15 cents per cup) or Sam’s Choice Organic Blend Decaffeinated Medium Roast (18 cents per cup).
To find out how your morning cup of blended roast coffee stacks up, check out the complete ratings on all 37 varieties tested by Consumer Reports available in the March issue of Consumer Reports, on newsstands now, or visit www.ConsumerReports.org.