Walmart Coffee vs. Starbucks. Guess Who Wins?

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Who would pay twice the price for the same quality? According to Consumer Reports, if you're buying Starbucks coffee, you are.

Despite a shaky stock market and an uncertain future, Americans still prefer gourmet coffee over any other, according to a new study from the National Coffee Association. And from teenagers to senior citizens, most people still drink coffee daily.

This daily grind can get expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Consumer Reports just released a taste test with the most popular coffee brands. They sampled more than 1,000 cups of joe and came to a startling conclusion: Walmart coffee is as good as Starbucks, and it’s better than Maxwell House and Folgers.

TIME magazine’s financial blog did some price-comparing with a 12 ounce container of 100 percent Colombian ground coffee. It found that the Starbucks brand  ($8.88/bag) goes for more than double the Walmart brand ($3.88/bag) — and they taste the same!

(If you really like Starbucks, though, keep buying their bags at Walmart, since they’re about a buck more expensive in other groceries.)

Regardless of the coffee you buy, Consumer Reports offers this advice for getting the most out of your beans for the money…

  • Consider your taste. “Colombian, the most common varietal of coffee sold, can be fairly strong in flavor and intensity of aroma, with moderate complexity. Ethiopian tends to be more complex overall, with a fair amount of bitterness, though not enough to detract from enjoyment.”
  • Choose a good coffeemaker. “The Cooks CM4221, sold at JCPenny, was among the models from Consumer Reports December 2010 report that reached the 195º F to 205º F required to get the best from coffee beans and avoid a weak or bitter brew. At $40, it was a CR Best Buy.”
  • Keep up the maintenance. “The taste will suffer if the coffee machine is not routinely cleaned, no matter what kinds of beans are used.”

For more about your coffee, check out Secrets Starbucks Doesn’t Want You to Know and Followup — What’s in a (Brand) Name?

Stacy Johnson

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