Food & Drink

What’s the best supermarket coffee?

cafe busteloEven the most committed brokavore has an achilles heel. Schmancy ice cream, farm raised this or that, deep-fried anchovy skeletons. Mine is coffee: oily, aromatic, dark roast, whole bean, utter, hopeless snobbery. I’m so pathetic I recently bought a junky little milk frother to elevate the experience. But after running out of the good stuff for the first time in my adult life this week, it was time to suck it up and embark upon a long-overdue Brokelyn taste test: supermarket coffees.

We hereby kick off a weeks-long tour of all of the brands fit for C-Town shelves. Surely there are some tasty discoveries hiding amid the Folgers cans. Right? Pilones sounds exotic and sumptuous. How about Café Bustelo, with its stylish font and the promising word “Espresso” on the can? Even Chock Full o Nuts (but why nuts?) has an Automat-ish nostalgic appeal, though I’m not personally nostalgic for diners with watery coffee. Do you drink supermarket joe? Which is your favorite? And are there any brewing secrets that can turn a cuppa Maxwell House into a Stumptown sip-alike?


  1. Anonymous

    the bustelo is not too shabby if brewed with a pour-over. but don’t over do it on the grounds. it starts to go all metallic if you make it too strong.

    • Seconded (third…ed?)
      Bustelo is almost always on sale at my local C-Town, too. I learned after a while that less is more. It gets pretty nasty when you go too heavy on the grounds.
      Other than that, I occasionally get the “8 O’Clock Hazelnut” if it’s on sale as well.

  2. I stand by Chock full o Nuts. After all, “better coffee Rockefeller’s money can’t buy.” BTW, it’s nuts because the guy who started it originally opened a nut shop before starting to sell coffee & doughnuts.

  3. Funny, Cafe Bustelo is my backup coffee as well.  I only use for those times when I run out of whole beans (from Brooklyn Fare), so it stays in my fridge.  It’s a not-too-harsh punishment for being dumb enough to run out of beans.

  4. Meredith Olson

    i splurge on other things, so my go-to for good, solid coffee on the cheap is definitely Bustelo. C-Town has deals on it occasionally (just got two tins for $5), and it makes fantastic rocket fuel. especially good if you cut it with some milk as a cortado

  5. We’re Bustelo fans in our house. As soon as we buy a can, we transfer the coffee into a plastic container so it doesn’t taste too metallic. It’s especially good if you sprinkle in some cinnamon before brewing. Yum!


    Martinson’s Colombian Supreme is my top pick for those without a grinder or a car to get to Fairway. It’s dark, aromatic and tastes like fancy cafe coffee.

  7. Socialgraze

    I lived in the Dominican Republic for a few years, and I drank Cafe Bustelo every day while I was there. It has a very authentic taste. I still buy Cafe Bustelo in the grocery store in the States because I haven’t found another coffee that tastes as crisp. 

    Bill Graze

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