QUESTION: Is Folgers coffee good quality? I buy coffee at various grocery stores and they always have it, and it has been around for years. So it must be pretty good if everyone drinks it, right? – Earnest F
ANSWER: In our opinion, the simple answer here is no. Despite the rich history and timeless tradition of Folgers, the coffee is mediocre, nothing more and nothing less. A reddit user on a r/coffee thread about Folgers classic roast said it best, “There is a time and a place for Folgers. It’s never and in the trash.” Obviously not a huge fan. It really is not the best part of wakin up.
There are several reasons why Folgers coffee brands are below average at best. Based on the most current information, Folgers uses a product formulation of robusta beans with a high caffeine content and arabica beans which have less caffeine. Classic Folgers is a blend of 60% of the inferior robusta beans, which have a bitter taste, and 40% of the preferred arabica beans known for their smooth flavor, to balance out the bitter coffee taste. The company claims to care about sustainability and humane conditions for their workers, yet make no substantial efforts to make sure that their products are produced in a manner which abides by fair trade guidelines or sustainability regulations. Because of this, there is no way of knowing whether chemicals or mold might be present in their blends. Lastly, Folgers coffee is pre-ground and packaged a long time before their customers get around to brewing their coffee. The result is old, stale coffee made with a blend of mostly low quality beans that were grown in low altitudes.
Despite the harsh truth, the Folgers coffee company is doing something right. That something is advertising. Folgers success in the United States has come through its commercial appeal more than the quality of its product. The precursor of the Folger Coffee Company was founded in 1850 during the gold rush in San Francisco, California, as the Pioneer Steam Coffee and Spice Mills. Before television, the Folgers brand was seen everywhere in print, in magazines, newspapers, and billboards. The brand’s commercials were on the radio for years before the rise of television, and the TV commercials date all the way back to the 50’s.
In America, the big brand names are trusted by the majority of consumers, hence Folgers massive success. Though there has been an awakening in America when it comes to high-quality coffee, Folgers is still the number one selling brand in the country. The other big brands in the United States are Maxwell House coffee and Green Mountain Coffee roasters. Starbucks, though an extremely popular choice, has yet to break into the top three in pre-packaged coffee sales.
Though the numbers pale in comparison to the big corporate coffee companies, small batch roasters have seen a rise in sales as the popularity of the pour over coffee brewing method, french presses, and high-end brewing machines have swept across the nation. The market for a high quality cup of joe among coffee aficionados is growing, but it is still a much smaller market than the mass-market brands, and it will likely stay that way for some time to come.
High quality, good coffee is easy to find if you know what you’re looking for. You want to find the freshest whole bean coffee possible and you want to wait until just before you brew your cup of coffee to grind the beans for the best possible taste. Look for light roasts, single origin beans, and labels like organic, free-trade certified, and sustainability certified. Stay away from blends, and anything pre-ground. Invest in a burr grinder and a pour over device or a french press so that you can start to brew coffee with depth and character. Try different beans from different places around the world. And, coffee drinkers, always remember the time and the place for coffee like Folgers. “It’s never and in the trash.”