QUESTION: Is Folgers coffee good quality? I buy coffee at the grocery store 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. Folgers 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.”
There are several reasons why Folgers coffee is below average at best. Folgers uses a blend of 60% inferior and bitter-tasting robusta beans and 40% of the preferred arabica beans to balance out the flavor. 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 ages 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, Folgers is doing something right. That something is advertising. Folgers success has come through its commercial appeal more than the quality of its product. 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, followed by Maxwell House and Green Mountain Coffee Co. Starbucks, though extremely popular, 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 pour over coffee, french presses, and high-end brewing machines have swept across the nation. The market for high quality coffee 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.
Good quality coffees are easy to find if you know what you’re looking for. You want to find the freshest beans possible and you want to wait until just before you brew your coffee to grind them 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 always remember the time and the place for coffee like Folgers. “It’s never and in the trash.”