QUESTION: What’s wrong with Folgers coffee? I think it’s good and a lot of those fancy coffees are just bitter and disgusting. – Bill B
ANSWER: There is nothing specifically wrong with Folgers coffee. Classic Folgers has a rich history in the United States and is an iconic American brand. It is one of the best selling brands of coffee in the country, and a staple in many households. Many coffee drinkers, especially in America, where Folgers originated and is still popular to this day, have been purchasing, brewing, and enjoying Folgers brand coffee for their entire lives. The brand’s slogan, “the best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup,” is permanently etched into the memory of a large percentage of American families as is the timeless tradition of Folgers.
The original Folgers coffee company founded by James Folger, called Folgers Classic Roast, is said to use the same recipe that they have been using since the company was founded in the 1800’s. The ingredient list on the product package is the same as it has always been since day one: 100% coffee. The kind of coffee Folgers uses, however, is shrouded in mystery. According to the most current information on the company’s website, Folgers is made with a blend of arabica and robusta coffee beans, which are mountain grown for smooth flavor and a rich medium roast coffee.
Though, “mountain grown,” indicates that Folgers coffee beans are produced in a high-altitude climate, though no altitudes are mentioned directly, nor does Folgers indicate any particular places where their coffee is sourced. That’s because Folgers purchases coffee beans from coffee farmers all over the world. Mass-market brands in the coffee industry, like Folgers, typically make their pre-ground coffees as a blend, pairing the cheaper, lower-quality robusta coffee bean with the tastier, more expensive arabica beans. Another big name coffee company, Maxwell House coffee used a blend of robusta and arabica beans as well in the past, but in 2007, they decided to improve their coffee by using 100% arabica coffee beans.
Single-sourced coffee must be made from coffee beans that were all produced from the same country and farm. Blends, however, can be made with a mixture of coffee beans from all over the world, as well as a mixture of both arabica and robusta beans. Arabica beans are harder to grow and prefer very specific climates, but their quality, flavor, and aroma is far superior to robusta beans. Robusta beans are easier to grow and less picky about their growing conditions, which makes them much cheaper.
Arabica beans are used by the best coffee companies in the world. They have more deep, complex, and multi-faceted flavor profiles, while robusta beans have a higher caffeine content, but with a more bitter and overpowering taste. Robusta beans, therefore, need to be blended with arabica beans, in order to tame down the more forward flavors of the robusta beans. The recipe, which obviously has changed since the 1800’s, despite Folgers claims, switched the percentage of arabica to robusta beans used in their classic roast in 2015, changing from 60/40 arabica to robusta, to 40/60 arabica to robusta.
While Maxwell House moved to 100% arabica beans, Folgers decided to double down on their robusta loyalty, increasing the amount of robusta beans they use in their blends. Some loyal Folgers drinkers became very upset when they tasted their beloved classic roast after the ratio change, and complained about the new blend on online product reviews, calling the new Folgers recipe bitter, and even downright bad.
Though there are plenty of positive online reviews since Folgers made the switch, and though positive reviews outweigh the negative reviews, there is still a noticeable shift in opinion in how people view the brand since changing their product formulation in 2015.
So, what’s wrong with Folgers? It seems their decision to sacrifice their coffee’s overall quality for a budget friendly price point is a step in the wrong direction. However, the news of Folgers coffee brand receiving less than stellar reviews should come as no surprise to coffee connoisseurs. Those with a daily habit and a nose for an excellent cup of joe left Folgers behind long ago. Though Folgers is still the top-selling packaged pre-ground coffee in America, opinions of the brand are shifting downwards.