I just want to preface this post by saying that there are always exceptions to the rules, but in this instance the exceptions seem to be few and far between. The reason why I am writing this is not simply too bad mouth supermarket coffee, but rather to highlight some of the reasons why so many of you have been disappointed by the coffee your brewing at home.
Supermarket coffee rarely delivers on the promise of a good cup of coffee, in short this is because it’s unlikely fresh and almost certainly over-roasted.
Once roasted coffee has around three weeks before it starts to decline in quality, and as it gets older every cup starts to taste a little worse and becomes a little less satisfying. Coffee tends to be at its best within two weeks of roasting. Unfortunately most supermarket coffee is already two-three weeks old, which means in the best case scenario you’ll have a week of just ok coffee, and worst case scenario the coffee stopped tasting it’s best before you even pick it off the shelf.
To really put the nail in the coffin, most supermarket coffee is also pre-ground! I won’t go into the science behind why (we can save that for another post), but this only reduces the time it takes for your coffee to become stale. While it may take three weeks before whole-beans start to decline in quality, it can take only 10min for ground coffee.
One trick supermarket brands use is to print ‘best before’ dates somewhere on the packaging, which leads you to believe coffee has a longer shelf life than it does. What you are looking for is a coffee roaster that clearly displays the date the coffee was roasted, allowing you to make your own informed decision on what its best before date would be.
Finally, you get what you pay for. While I expect that most of you reading this have heard this saying before, I also trust most of you know it to be true. Supermarket coffee brands buy mostly low-grade coffee to avoid the prices that come along with specialty grade coffee. We have mostly become detached from the process of seed to cup. In reality, on the other side of our Flat Whites and Cappuccinos is a farmer who grows and hand picks each cherry one-by-one. If I asked you who is paying these farmers better for the work they do, who do you think?
While there is no denying the convenience of buying your coffee while on the weekly grocery shop, is it really worth the sacrifice? I would say no, not on our side and certainly not on the farmers.