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where to get coffee (and what brand) if you're on a budget?

Do you buy it online? if so, where?

Grocery store? What brand?

I am a student and drink coffee daily-- while it's cheaper to make my own I still spend a crap ton of money on coffee. So if you're on a budget and manage to get your coffee fix without breaking the bank please share!

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    1. re: viperlush

      awesome--I'll look next time I'm there--actually I usually like TJs coffee but whenever it comes time to purchase one I get overwhelmed by the assortment. Silly I know!

      1. re: chrissy1988

        Costco is where I go - I can get big bags of decent quality coffee beans much cheaper than anywhere else. Going to beans rather than pre-ground gives me better tasting coffee in a given price range, as bulk ground coffee goes stale pretty fast.

        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

          I should have mentioned that we get whole beans as well.

        2. re: chrissy1988

          Get the blue can! It is a nice dark roast and if I can still read my plu's right I think it is organic.

          1. re: chrissy1988

            The Costa Rica Tarrazu from TJs is my favorite, and I'd certainly recommend it if you like darkish roasts. Serious Eats also rated TJs coffees here: http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/06...
            It's not a fantastic bargain, but it's a good balance between price and quality for me.

        3. I buy Walmart "Great Value" bricks of coffee for under $3 a brick, tastes like Maxwell House to me.

          I don't like Maxwell House but I'm mostly interested in getting some caffeine in me in the morning.

          1. Personally, I'd go without sooner than drink supermarket dreck. Gotta be fairly fresh and gotta be high-grown in this house. Ever consider making room in your budget for decent coffee by cutting back elsewhere?

            5 Replies
            1. re: Panini Guy

              It's not a question of budget, I have more than ample funds ... I just don't care what brand of coffee it is. I don't enjoy one type of coffee more than the other, so I might as well buy a cheap one.

              Conversely, with beer I tend to spend a lot and would not drink a Milwaukee's Best if you put a gun to my head.

              1. re: redfish62

                My BF's parents are the same way. They tried custom roasted from a local roaster, ordering beans online, premium grocery store, etc. They realized that once sugar and cream are added that they didn't taste much better than Maxwell House and other pre ground coffee. So for them, they don't see the point in spending the money on "better" coffee.

                1. re: viperlush

                  Of course, there are a number of variables that come into play when your goal is to produce a great cup of coffee. The coffee, itself, is important (including the freshness and type of roast; whether it was ground properly for the brewing method, etc.), but also important are the brewing method employed, the coffee brewer, the temperature of the water as it passes through the grounds, etc. Just as some people don't see the point in spending money on "better" wine, some don't see the point in spending money on "better" coffee. But that's not to say there aren't discernable, and very real differences.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    <But that's not to say there aren't discernable, and very real differences.>

                    Yeah, I don't think anyone is saying that there aren't.

                  2. re: viperlush

                    For starters, if you're drinking "better coffee" as you put it, you don't need to add cream and/or sugar on reflex. It's completely unnecessary as more sweet is in the cup than bitter if the beans were sourced well and roasted correctly. If you were going to add cream, it would be a preference for mouthfeel/texture more than taste.

                    Sorry, this is one area where I can't help but proselytize. I'm a sanctioned coffee competition judge, and if you (or your parents) can't taste the difference, you're either brewing it wrong or you're not really buying "better beans" (freshly roasted, high-grown).

                    Most consumers I've had at coffee tastings and brewing classes don't go back to supermarket. Some do. Those folks typically like earthy Sumatras, which are kinda the red-headed stepchildren of specialty coffee.

                    As you say, it would be like saying a PBR is the equivalent of a Pliny the Younger. For the record, I lean toward hoppy bitterness of IPAs in beer, but sweetness in coffee.

                    I know I come across a bit rough on many coffee threads, but man, supermarket coffee isn't even the Milwaukee's Best of coffee. It's lower than that, although I can't think of a worse beer (maybe Natty Light). It's frustrating to have the conversations on a site that's supposed to be about good food.

                    So sorry if I'm coming off harsh, but ti's a pet peeve.

                    /venting

              2. I look wherever I am.
                If I'm in Costco I check the price there, but all Costco's are not created equal.
                Prices vary.
                Do you have a Grocery Outlet anywhere by you? How about a Trader Joe's?

                1. The best deal I find on whole beans is the grocer's private label. We bought Costco recently, but I don't think it was cheaper per oz than the grocer's brand. The cheapest I found at WF is their private label, 365 Everday.

                  I wonder if Aldi's carries beans?

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: sueatmo

                    This was my best reply 1 year ago. Now, as I have moved cross country, I get my best deals at Costco. I buy both regular and decaf beans there.

                    I have recently noticed that our local Winco carries beans. I haven't given them a look, but if you have a local Winco, you could check them out.

                    Coffee in the PNW seems to be notably more expensive than in St. Louis. Good buys are harder to locate.

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      Sue, have you relocated to the NW? Welcome! Check out the local boards and let us know where you are and we can probably give you some great local tips on where to shop and eat! You'll still probably find some great deals at Costco and TJ's, but there are also some great local places to check out.

                      1. re: acgold7

                        I'm In Vancouver, WA. Any tips are appreciated. I make it to WinCo once a week, and about that often to Whole Foods. TJ isn't convenient.

                        Right now I'm eating a local apple. Love the Washington apples.

                        1. re: sueatmo

                          I visited WinCo for the first time this week in Arizona. I sure wish we had these stores in Minnesota. The prices are really good and I like the bulk foods selection.

                          1. re: John E.

                            The dried beans in the bulk bins are better quality than the broken ones in the plastic packs. I'm lookin' at you HyTop.

                            1. re: sueatmo

                              3 days ago I bought my decaf at the bulk section of WinCo, they're whole beans, not broken, assuming that's what you meant. I haven't gotten into the pkg yet as not needed it yet.
                              interested to see how it faires compared to the whole beans in the vac pac I got at GO 2 days ago.

                              "HyTop" sueatmo, you're funny

                          2. re: sueatmo

                            OK, so the Portland Board is probably best for you, although the general PNW board may have some good info if you haven't already checked that out.

                            If you ever get up to the Greater Seattle area give us a shout too and we can guide you around to some pretty good chow as well.

                            If you can find apples called Junami, Kiku, Opal or Envy, give them a try! Even the Red Delicious are better here if you can find them fresh -- they are actually crisp, sweet and juicy.

                            1. re: acgold7

                              I am really enjoying Washington state apples. Last week I found Pacific Rose apples at Whole Foods for .99/lb. New variety to me, and very enjoyable eating apple. I think that will be the last of the bargain priced apples there though.

                              I eat one apple a day almost every day. I try to buy organic apples because I eat them so often.

                            2. re: sueatmo

                              I buy the Winco dark French Roast beans when Peets is not on sale and it is delicious.Aromatic and rich. I am in California.

                              1. re: Lillipop

                                Hey thanks for the info. I'll check out the Fr. roast beans. Those of us who shop Winco ought to be in our own thread. Its an interesting chain. I buy a lot of stuff there, but have learned to be wary of produce.

                      2. I guess it would help if we knew what your budget limitations are. I usually go for Peets whole bean french roast. I like the taste and it fits in my budget. In CT, it is about $10 a package.

                        1. I used to get almost all of my coffee online from Porto Rico Importing. They roast their beans daily and their prices are unbelievably low -- averaging $9-10 a pound (that's a POUND, not a 12-ounce bag!). They're in New York City and depending on where you live, UPS could easily deliver in a day. No, it's not the best coffee I've ever had, but they have a great selection of different coffees, different roasts and different countries of origin. And for the prices they charge, they're definitely worth a try. http://portorico.com/store/page2.html

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: CindyJ

                            Thank you--just what I was looking for :)

                            1. re: CindyJ

                              If you're shipping from NY, I get D'Amicos Columbian Supremo Dark (about $9.30/lb) sent 5 pounds at a time to spread the shipping charge out, it's excellent stuff, very fresh. damicofoods.com

                            2. Excellent coffee has always been my greatest pleasure. I purchase whole beans, grind them as needed, for my french press and my espresso from a local roaster in small batches.
                              Having said that...I know a few people who buy their coffee, whole bean, from Trader Joes.
                              They buy it in the vacuum packed cans. I've tasted their coffee and it's good. You can experiment with different blends they offer and the price is good.
                              Purchase a small grinder and grind your beans as you need them.

                              1. Any chance there's an Aldi's near you?

                                Aldi's sells both coffee ground and whole bean. If you buy the whole bean bags ($2.99-3.49) you have a better shot at a full, rich tasting brew for well under the price of commercial brands or TJ's or Costco (which involves buying a large bag). Some flavored beans are avail @ Aldi's, too. I tend to mix beans and create my own brew, once ground fresh and prepared-delicious. And I've used the Aldi's variety with no complaints.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: HillJ

                                  I agree. I use to drink a lot of coffee. Then I had a back injury and stopped drinking coffee because I didn't want any caffene to affect my sleep. A while ago I started drinking coffee again, but only one cup in the morning. Since I am cheap, I didn't want to make a daily trip to Starbucks. I started to buy the Aldi whole bean coffee, grind it fresh each morning, and make exactly one cup using a Melitta manual drip coffee maker with a cone filter. Since I'm the only one drinking coffee in the morning, it's easy to make just one cup. If I used the coffee maker, I'd probably make a larger amount and either drink more than one cup, or leave it to reheat the next day and then it would be day old, reheated coffee. (My 81 year old father makes a 12 cup pot of coffee and drinks out of it for several days, blech.)

                                  1. re: John E.

                                    Aldi's coffee has a few fans around Chowhound threads, but honestly, when I tried it, it had absolutely no taste. None. Not good, not bad, not bitter, not... so, I used it up mixing it with brands and flavors I really have enjoyed, and eventually finished the pathetically tasteless stuff. Tastebuds must be fasinating things, in their variety among us!

                                    1. re: Florida Hound

                                      I will agree, the Aldi coffee is not sensational when compared to Starbucks but is a step up from Folgers.

                                      As you can probably tell from my post, I'm no coffee connoisseur. What beans do you buy and where are they available?

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        Well, John, again, if you're asking me personally, I will always recommend Dunkin Donuts whole bean, and they are available all over, I think. The actual DD restaurants periodically have better sales than I have seen in supermarkets or WalMart. But they usually want you to buy 2- 3 bags to get the better price, and if you are the only coffee drinker in the house, storing 2- 3 bags ahead of using them might cut into the freshness factor.
                                        I think Eight O'Clock Columbian Coffee (brown label) whole bean is widely available, but I read on another thread it might be harder to find in stores out west. Some Eight O'Clock fans have mentioned ordering through Amazon.
                                        And my third, whole bean, is Peets Coffee's Major Dickason blend. Around my area, Florida, this west coast brand is available in most supermarkets.
                                        By the way, I might genuinely enjoy and savor a good cup of Folgers now and then, too, so I would not put Aldi's as a step up.
                                        So strange, that Aldi's stuff ("Beaumont Morning Roast"). My sense of taste hit on absolute zero -minus zero- taste of any kind, as I tried a few cups of Aldi's.
                                        And for all my long-winded Chowhound coffee talk here, I'm no coffee connoisseur, either! John, check out lots of the other recc's up and down this thread, and some of the other Chowhound coffee-themed threads!

                                2. Eight O'Clock coffee, which has been around forever, is a great value for a solid, standard cup of coffee. You can get it at pretty much any grocery store nationwide. I buy it for my office, and we all really like it.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: kathleen440

                                    I agree with the 8 o'clock....Market Basket sells it under their name in 2lb bags for 9.99. Very good deal to me. That's whole beans, too.

                                    1. re: kathleen440

                                      I stretch the coffee budget by my newly-discovered mix of grinding whole bean Eight O'Clock Columbian with equal part whole bean Dunkin Donuts.

                                      1. re: Florida Hound

                                        Another way to stretch your beans is to grind them on the finest setting (espresso). You will be able to reduce the amount of grounds needed for the strength you prefer, though it will take longer to drip through the filter.

                                      2. re: kathleen440

                                        I have recently switched from 8 O'Clock brown bag to their French roast. I wasnt sure that I would like the darker roast but now I prefer it.

                                        I like Traders Joes AA Kenyan when I make the trip, but the closest Trader Joes is an hour away, so I don't do that often.

                                      3. I roast my own in a popcorn popper. I pay about $6/lb from Sweet Maria's. Great coffee and it doesn't get any fresher.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: chileheadmike

                                          I've been reading up on the popcorn popper/coffee roaster trend. I'm curious to know about the learning curve -- how long did it take you to learn how to roast your coffee to your liking? Or maybe I should ask, how many pounds of coffee did you go through before you got it just right? Also, did you buy a new popper specifically for this purpose or did you already have one at home that was collecting dust? Which popper are you using?

                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                            I had one that was collecting dust. Sweet Maria's website has a lot of information on home roasting, including the popcorn popper. Took me a couple of tries, less than a 1/2 pound to get it right. It isn't that hard.

                                            Make sure you do this outside as the chaff can create a little bit of a mess and it does smoke some. The smell can be a bit thick too. I roast in the garage during the winter and then air it out and sweep it afterwords.

                                            I removed the top thingie and just went with an open popper.
                                            Add beans to the "Max" line
                                            Turn it on and shake so the beans at the bottom get moved to the top.
                                            The beans will start to get pale, then go to yellow, then start to brown.
                                            A lot of chaff starts coming off at this stage.
                                            You will then get the 1st crack, it sounds a lot like popcorn popping.
                                            At this point the beans loose a lot of density and you don't need to shake as much.
                                            The beans will then go into a 2nd crack, it sound more like a snap. Much less intense than the 1st crack.
                                            At this point I pour them out into a mixing bowl and shake to cool.

                                            That's it. Pretty easy.

                                            1. re: chileheadmike

                                              Sweet Maria's is where I first read about it. I watched a couple of their videos, too. I'm really intrigued; I just don't know whether to look for a used popper, or spring for a new one.

                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                Mine was used previously for popping corn. I think they're about $15 bucks for a new one. Someone pointed out to me that the hot air should enter the chamber through the sides and not from the bottom. I have no idea if this is true, but mine does have the vents on the side.

                                            2. re: chileheadmike

                                              I also buy from Sweet Maria's, the 8lb samples. I roast them in a plan and stir them until the 2nd crack. I roast 1/2lb at a time. I love being able to try all of the different coffees and keeping record on which ones I liked and maybe if I want to roast more or less.

                                            3. Folger's Black Silk, you can buy it in a large 27.8 ounce container for $10.50 or so on sale or online at Walmart. I've experimented with all kinds of coffees and grinding my own, but this gets me the most bang for my buck.

                                              1. Used to go with TJs, but I've noticed a decline in quality, or at least a trend toward bitterness and harshness recently, particularly in their dark Sumatra.

                                                My go to is Whole Foods Pleasant Morning Buzz. Freshly ground each morning. About $12 for a pound and a half bag.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: laststandchili

                                                  Funny, I checked out 365 coffee after I gave up on the TJ's Ultra Dark Sumatra due to quality issues. Pleasant Morning Buzz just wasn't dark or complex enough for me, but Organic Pacific Rim blend was better. However it still pales in comparison to the Peet's Aged Sumatra I've been drinking every day.

                                                  Back to the OP, you didn't specify your preferences in terms of origin, roast level, acidity, body...all of which should impact recommendations for specific beans.

                                                2. McD's still has any size coffee for 1.00. A large coffee for one dollar is a pretty good deal for me if I buy it out.

                                                  1. I thought I didn't like coffee all that much until I got a chance to try 100% Kona. Can't afford that everyday, but Fresh Market (a Whole Foods wannabe) has a Kona blend that's $12 for 12 ounces. We like both the regular and the decaf, and yeah, the whole french press thing really does enhance flavor.

                                                    http://www.thefreshmarket.com/coffeec...

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: beachmouse

                                                      I saw that at our local Fresh Market. I was wondering how much actual Kona is in that. $1/oz doesn't quite cover the cost.

                                                      1. re: chileheadmike

                                                        Probably not a ton of Kona, but enough that it give the blend a little bit something extra compared to their normal house blend.

                                                      2. re: beachmouse

                                                        I'm not sure if you're talking about coffee in the Fresh Market stores or online. Our Fresh Market store generally sells their beans for $10/pound. But the big barrels where they keep the beans are bad for storage and there's no way of knowing when those beans were roasted.

                                                      3. I enjoy Rocket Java from my local Winco for $7 or so a pound. I've been grinding the beans at the store because my last coffee grinder broke and I've not yet replaced it. Once I have the spare money that I can justify using for a grinder, I will start buying whole beans again.

                                                        Related to that, what is now considered the best method for storing whole beans so they stay nice and fresh?

                                                        1. Our standard "house coffee" is 'Chock full o' nuts" I made it our regular brand after noticing that when I served it people consistently complimented the coffee. I do know it's not high-end, but it's reasonably priced and serves us well.

                                                          1. Community Coffee on Amazon.com, cheapest yet excellent!!!

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: JJackster

                                                              JJ, I'm seeing a 3 pkg of ground Community Coffee for $15 and change (plus s&h). I can get excellent ground (I prefer beans) locally for less than that per bag.

                                                              What does the coffee taste like? strong, mild?

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                http://www.coffeereview.com/review.cf... I get free shipping on Amazon through Prime Membership, whatever, it's high-quality and inexpensive....

                                                                1. re: JJackster

                                                                  Oh gosh JJ, no slight was meant. Not everyone has Prime and getting a sense of why you like the taste would have been helpful since you kindly make the recommendation. The reviews on link indicate that not everyone raved.

                                                            2. My advice to you is to get a single serve machine like a Keurig. If your worried about the price of coffee most drip or peculators lead to a lot of wasted product. So having a single serve machine means no wasted coffee. I know the Keurig has a refillable basket so you don't have to buy the over priced "k-cups" you can buy the basket and use exactly one cup of coffee per cup consumed. So once you find your best priced coffee if you use a Keurug (or similar) you won't was a single grain of coffee!! Good luck!!

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                I know a lot of folks love their Keurig-my son included but I have yet to enjoy a HOT cup of Joe using one.

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  Do you only use the k-cups or does your son have the reusable basket? I buy my favorite DD Coffee (french vanilla) and use that in the Keurig and it's perfect. If needed I could add the syrup to the finished product to make it closer to the store version but the flavored coffee is fine with me.

                                                                  I didn't care for most of the blends in the k-cups that's why I stress the reusable basket.

                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                    I believe he's only using it to heat water for other uses (college life). He complained some time back that the k cups can clog up the tube with product over time.

                                                                    But like I said I haven't had enough personal experience with it to be a good judge but in homes where they offer an assortment of kcups to their party guests, it wasn't the flavors per se as much as the coffee didn't stay hot that I found issue with.

                                                                2. re: jrvedivici

                                                                  I can agree with the single serve aspect, but a Keurig is not the best solution. The coffee isn't great, and it's not really budget friendly, even without the k-cups.

                                                                  In my opinion, the ideal set up for a budget conscious college student is a Melitta manual drip cone and a cheap blade grinder. Total cost: $15-$25. The result is significantly better than any automatic drip machine, it's cheap, it's portable, doesn't break easily, and doesn't take up much space. Oh, and there aren't small pieces to get lost.

                                                                  1. re: celesul

                                                                    you're brill cele-
                                                                    I really agree whole heartedly

                                                                    1. re: celesul

                                                                      I just got back from some time with my snowbird father in Arizona. Although I'm not really a coffee snob I have decided that I no longer wish to drink grocery store coffee (think Folger's). I bought a plastic Melitta manual drip cone for three bucks (and we have three at home I could have brought with me if I had thought of it) and a coffee grinder at a thrift store for four bucks. The coffee beans came from Winco. I wish we had Winco stores in
                                                                      Minnesota.

                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                        brill comment JohnE........those Melitta plastic things are great for as much or as little coffee as you require. plus, like you say, a good ole thrift store for finds such as coffee grinder and glass coffee pots sans their matching machines, are always ultra cheap.
                                                                        you may not have a WinCo in Minnesota but you do have ALL my cousins :)

                                                                  2. If there is an Asian market nearby, check them out. I get my Cafe Du Monde there for about three dollars a can less than at regular supermarkets [if the supermarkets even have it at all].

                                                                    1. If you're still interested, it's been a while LOL...anyway, I'm assuming since you're on Chow you aren't necessarily looking for the CHEAPEST coffee to be had, but good AND affordable.
                                                                      For my money, that is Costco beans. I've never been disappointed in them and I'm in Seattle, with TONS of great roasters (no not Starbucks) available.
                                                                      I really think the big deal with coffee is first, store properly (dark, no air) and grind when you make it. Grind the crap out of it. IMO, it should look like espresso, and enough oils in it so it sticks to itself a bit when you try to get it out of the grinder. Second, make it right. I like Melitta drip better than any other method I've tried and I'm assuming you don't have access to a Clover.
                                                                      Melitta will never boil or stew your coffee. You can poke around at the grounds while it percolates down. It isn't pretty, but it'll taste great. And no sediment like French presses.
                                                                      You can always decant it for company.

                                                                      1. yesterday I drove to Bakersfield.
                                                                        there are two stores there that I wanted to go to and the drive seemed worth it.
                                                                        Grocery Outlet was one of them, ours closed years ago.
                                                                        there I found whole bean and ground coffee. decaf and regular, flavored and regular.
                                                                        a sign on a shelf said $1.99 for bagged coffee, including decaf which is what I now drink.
                                                                        but couldn't see the coffee bags. got help as I'm short and he said,
                                                                        "oh there isn't any." "what about the boxed coffee on top of shelf?"
                                                                        I asked, "oh." he brought them down and I bought 3 24oz vac sealed
                                                                        bags of decaf "Eight o'clock" for $1.99. ground one bag so I
                                                                        could drink it this morning, very good and who can beat that price.
                                                                        where are you, what state? far as I know, Grocery Outlets are only in 6 western states.