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We Tried 7 Brands of Coffee—This One Was the Best

National coffee brands huddled together.

For most working folks, starting the day with a cup of coffee is as essential as brushing your teeth or combing your hair. It’s an absolute must before you walk out the door. But when it comes to the coffee itself, everyone has a preference. Some people love the bold taste of a dark roast, while others like the brightness and acidity of a blonde roast. Others (myself included!) love a good Starbucks beverage—like these healthy Starbucks drinks that taste indulgent.

Roasts and caramel drizzles aside, some beans just taste better than others. But which beans are actually best? I grabbed a few java addicts and put seven popular brands to the test—the blind taste test, that is. Putting seven medium-roast ground coffees head-to-head, only a few things were sure: We’d get quite the caffeine buzz and maybe find a new favorite brew.

We sampled Caribou Coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts, Eight O’Clock, Folgers, Maxwell House, Peet’s Coffee, and Starbucks medium roast coffees, and opted to choose our top three (though we knew it would be difficult). Read on to find out which coffees came out on top.

Taste testers taking notes surrounded by pots of coffee and cups

3. Eight O’Clock The Original

Score: 5.3/10. “This coffee has a nice mild flavor but is still a bit bitter.”

Looking at the package of Eight O’Clock medium roast coffee, it promised a sweet, fruity, and well-balanced flavor. Tasting it blindly, though, we had a slightly different experience—though not in a negative way! Instead of that advertised sweetness, we got a flavorful coffee that tasted like it had just came out of the roaster. We’d take that! Learn the truth about what happens if you quit coffee.

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Person in a yellow sweater taking notes behind an empty pot of coffee

2. Peet’s Coffee Cafe Domingo Medium Roast

Score: 6.5/10. “There’s a nice, consistent flavor here.”

After brewing a pot of Peet’s Coffee, testers commented on the nice, roasted aroma coming from the kitchen. This was the coffee smell many wanted to wake up to in the morning. When it came to taste, the coffee was super smooth with no bitter aftertaste. A few of us detected a slight nuttiness rounding out the full-bodied flavor. We’re buzzed about this!

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Person holding a cup of coffee as they take notes

1. Starbucks Pike Place Roast

Score: 6.6/10. “It tastes fancy!”

Edging out Peet’s Coffee by one-tenth of a point was coffee classic Starbucks. Pouring the coffee chain’s popular Pike Place blend, we picked up on the fresh-roasted scent and subtle hint of sweetness. The taste of this brew lived up to its irresistible aroma. We tasted a strong, full-bodied coffee with notes of cocoa and even nuts—all in perfect balance. After the test, a few of us went back for a second cup of our winner. Despite that, though, Starbucks is not America’s favorite coffee shop—find out what is!

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Coffee being poured into a red and white mug

The takeaways:

You get what you pay for

For the most part, this old saying held true. The less expensive brands, like Maxwell House, didn’t break into our top three favorite coffees. On the other hand, pricier brands, like Peet’s and Starbucks (costing $9.79 and $6.99, respectively), got high praise. These blends were smooth, full-bodied, and just plain tasty. Of course, choosing your favorite coffee isn’t just about taste—sometimes you got to go with what you’re comfortable spending.

It depends on what you’re looking for

We realize that not everyone is a coffee connoisseur. Some people drink coffee just for that daily jolt of caffeine, while others brew a pot to savor every single drop. If you’re in the first camp, the specifics might not be incredibly important. In that case, a good, inexpensive coffee like Folger’s or Maxwell House will serve you well. However, if you’re having company over for brunch, you might want to splurge on one of our higher ranking (and higher priced) choices.

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Coffee picks are personal

While our coffee testers generally agreed on our top and bottom picks, many of us also commented that we preferred the bean we already had stocked at home—whether they were locally roasted or national coffee brands. With so many great coffee roasters close to home and a seemingly infinite amount of varieties at our local grocer, we knew that we barely scratched the surface with this test. If you’d rather try out a charming coffee shop in your neighborhood, this is the best coffee shop in your state.

 

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