The Best Coffee in America
February 14, 2019
Our readers helped pick the top cup of joe in every category
One thing is for sure and it’s that coffee is incredible. The smell of a fresh cup brewing in the morning is invigorating. Will you enjoy it on the terrace as you watch the sun rise? Will it coax you through the pages of a good book or inspire you to seize the day at work? Just imagine the rush of walking to your local coffee shop — the light that ignites inside us when we see our names written on the side of paper cups.
Here’s where things get tricky… There are so many coffee brands on the market these days and countless places to get them. Which java is the best? Well, we asked — and you answered. Using a reader survey as a guide, we were able to determine which coffees are No. 1 in every category. Below are the results for the best pre-ground, instant, decaf, Keurig, high-end, fast food, cold brew and canned coffees, in addition to the best coffee shop.
Best Pre-Ground Coffee: Starbucks
Slews of caffeine-deprived zombies flock to Starbucks every morning to get their fix, so it’s no surprise the majority of home brewers prefer the chain’s ground coffee over others. Pre-packaged bags come in light, medium and dark styles — plus hazelnut, caramel, vanilla, mocha, cinnamon dolce, toasted graham, toffeenut and creme brulee flavors — and are available in stores or on Amazon. A cup of joe tastes better when you don’t have to leave the house anyway, right?
Best Instant Coffee: Folgers
“It’s my java, and I want it now!” you yell into the abyss, while tearing the tab off an instant coffee packet. Folgers, a popular supermarket brand, makes the best instant coffee. Drinkers can get both classic and decaf “coffee crystals” in a box of single-serve packets or in bulk by the can. Just add hot water or milk and you’re in business! You can even make instant French vanilla or mocha cappuccinos. Quick and easy, but make it fancy.
Best Decaf Coffee: Dunkin’
Believe it or not, some people want the taste of coffee without much of the caffeine, and it looks like those people run on Dunkin’. If you don’t need an energy boost in the morning or want to have a cup at night without wigging out while you’re trying to sleep, look to Dunkin’s medium-roast decaf in stores or online, then proceed to sleep soundly like the angel you are. But be warned: Decaf does contain trace amounts of caffeine. Dunkin's has 10 milligrams per 14 ounces.
Best Keurig Coffee: Green Mountain
Of all the coffee pods on the market today, Green Mountain reigns supreme. Currently, there are 32 different Keurig-compatible varieties. The most popular flavors are the light roast “Breakfast Blend,” the dark roast “Dark Magic,” the medium roast “Nantucket Blend” and the half-caffeine, medium roast “Half-Caff.” The brand also makes single-origin, fair trade and certified organic types, and other exciting flavors like pumpkin spice and brown sugar crumble.
Best High-End Coffee: Hawaiian Kona Coffee
Kona coffee is cultivated on volcanic slopes in Hualalai and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. It’s among the most expensive coffees in the world because growing it is labor intensive (it’s tediously hand-picked by farmers instead of machine) and it’s fairly scarce, accounting for approximately 1 percent of the coffee grown worldwide. Beware of “Kona Blends,” though. These batches contain just 10 percent of this rare coffee mixed with other Arabica beans. You can get the real deal on Amazon if you don’t mind shelling out a little extra moolah. We knew our readers had expensive taste.
Best Fast Food Hot Coffee: McDonald’s
Although Chick-fil-A, Whataburger, Burger King, White Castle, Wendy’s and In-N-Out, among others, all sell hot coffee, McDonald’s takes the cake for this category — and a huge slice at that. An incredible 63 percent of survey participants voted for the Golden Arches here, which sells java under its McCafé brand. It’s silky, smooth, flavorful, fresh and cheap. Drip? Macchiato? Cappuccino? Latte? Whatever it is, we’re lovin’ it.
Best Fast Food Iced Coffee: McDonald’s
McDonald’s is solid on all fronts in the coffee department. Some people love it hot and others love it cold. That’s just a fact of life. Pair it with an Egg McMuffin, a Big Mac, some french fries — who cares. Or disguise it and give it to one of your coffee snob friends. Tell them it’s from some gourmet spot, and then proceed to watch with satisfaction.
Best Cold Brew Coffee: Starbucks
Cold brew is different than iced coffee. It’s made with cold water over several hours instead of being brewed hot quickly and then cooling down afterward. Anyway, people go gaga for Starbucks’ cold brew. It’s super-smooth and has more caffeine than the category’s runner up, Dunkin’. One grande-sized cold brew at Starbucks has 205 milligrams of caffeine. Yeehaw!
Best Pre-Bottled (or Canned) Coffee: La Colombe
La Colombe’s Draft Latte is the bomb diggity. It comes in a can and you don’t even have to add milk because it’s already in there. Flavors on the market now, plus some seasonals, include regular, triple espresso, vanilla, mocha, peppermint mocha, honeysuckle, pumpkin spice, coconut, coconut mocha and chai. The brand also makes three black versions (Brazilian, White and Colombian) and a cold brew shandy. You heard that right — canned cold-pressed coffee with Sicilian lemon juice.
Best Coffee Chain: Starbucks
The entire planet is obsessed with Starbucks. According to a company spokesperson, the chain serves 100 million customers globally every day. What was once a small coffee shop in Seattle, Washington, has grown to nearly 30,000 locations worldwide. Some people turn up their noses at the annual release of the coveted Pumpkin Spice Latte, but haters make you famous, right? Regardless of the ridiculous amount of money we all spend on this stuff, Starbucks will continue dominating the industry with Unicorn Frappuccinos, Puppuccinos, and red cups until the cows come home. All these things and more make it the best coffee chain in America.
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