February 8, 2023

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Best cheap ground coffee you can buy at the supermarket

Best cheap ground coffee you can buy at the supermarket

Which? has has picked out some cheaper supermarket own-brand coffee that beat established brands such as Illy and Lavazza. Photo: PA/Alamy

The British consume three times as much tea as coffee but for many that first sip in the morning is a ritual to get some much needed caffeine before work.

But do you need to buy expensive brands or make your own instead of going to a café? As the cost of living squeezes consumers, here are some insights from consumer group Which? that could save you money while enjoying some tasty coffee.

How much can homemade coffee save you?

You might be surprised just how much buying coffee to make at home can save, compared to buying it in a café or using a coffee pod machine, especially if it’s a daily habit.

Which? compared the cost of drinking 9g ⁠— the recommended serving size ⁠— of its cheapest recommended “Best Buy” ground coffee, Asda Italian Style Roast & Ground Coffee, made in a Bodum French press every day with the cost of a Lavazza A Moda Mio Voicy coffee pod machine with daily pods and the price of an Americano from Costa Coffee.

Initial equipment cost

£18

£99

£0

Cost per day

10p

31p

£2.20

Total cost (year 1)

£54.50

£212.83

£803

By the end of your first year, you will already have saved hundreds of pounds, even if you only make coffee at home on weekdays.

Reena Sewraz, Which? money and retail editor, said: “Many of us will be relying on coffee to get us through the dark January mornings, and yet again our taste tests have shown that supermarket own-brand products can more than stand their ground against pricier items from big brands.

“Lots of households are looking for ways to cut their spending due to the ongoing cost of living crisis. Opting for supermarket own-label groceries is not only a great way to save money, but often you won’t have to compromise on taste.”

How to make the best homemade coffee

Pre-ground coffee of this type can be used in a filter coffee machine or French press. Always check the packaging when you buy ground coffee as there are different grind levels, some of which are designed for espresso coffee machines, but this should be clear on the pack.

Read more: Money: How to make £1000 in 2023

To make great coffee at home:

  • Use hot, not boiling, water. Around 60-80°C is ideal to heat the ground coffee without spoiling its flavour.

  • Don’t over-brew. If you’re using a French press, then around four minutes should be enough for a strong coffee that’s not too bitter. If you prefer it weaker, leave it to brew for less time.

  • Froth your milk. Once brewed, adding well-frothed milk will help you achieve a coffee shop level creamy texture.

Best Italian-style ground coffee

M&S was Which?’s tasters’ favourite, but two other coffees also impressed them enough to gain a “Best Buy” accolade ⁠— one branded and one supermarket option.

If you want the best value, Lidl’s ground coffee is the consumer body’s “Great Value” pick.

Best Buy: M&S Fairtrade Italian Coffee ⁠— 71%

£3.10 for 227g (£1.37 per 100g)

M&S’s coffee led the pack in Which?’s taste test, winning the panel over with its enticing aroma that’s (almost) worth getting out of bed for in the morning.

Which? tasters were also impressed by its strength of flavour, with most finding it just right. It’s not the cheapest that was tested, but it’s not wildly expensive and is a great buy if you want a top coffee to start your day.

Available from Ocado (OCDO.L).

Best Buy: Taylors of Harrogate Rich Italian Ground Coffee 68%

£3.50 for 227g (£1.54 per 100g)

The best of the branded options, Taylors isn’t as expensive as you might expect from a big name, especially if you buy it from Asda, where it’s currently cheapest thanks to a price rollback.

It scored well across the board, and is best suited to those who don’t want the punchiest coffee first thing, as four in 10 tasters found it a little weak for their palette.

Available from Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) and Tesco (TSCO.L).

Best Buy: Asda Italian Style Roast & Ground Coffee 68%

£2.50 for 227g (£1.10 per 100g)

Asda’s coffee was the third cheapest in the test, and one of the best, so it’s a great option if you’re shopping on a budget and don’t live near an Aldi or Lidl, or just want a good balance of price vs quality.

Several tasters commented on its “smooth” feel, though just over a third thought it veered towards too bitter.

Available from Asda.

Lidl Italian Ground Coffee 67%

£1.79 for 227g (79p per 100g)

This coffee is the best on a budget, costing nearly three times less than the priciest brand tested.

Besides M&S, it was the only brand to really wow Which?’s tasters with the smell of a freshly brewed pot. The only downside is that it didn’t have quite enough of a bitter edge for nearly half the panel.

Available from Lidl.

How Aldi, Tesco, Illy, Lavazza and other supermarket ground coffees compare

There wasn’t a great deal to separate the rest, though pricier big brands came surprisingly far down the rankings.

Wherever you shop, it’s worth trying the own-brand option to see if you can save money.

  • Aldi Alcafé Italian Style Arabica Ground Coffee — 66%. Some would have preferred a stronger taste, but if you want the very cheapest it could be worth picking up. 70p per 100g. Available from Aldi.

  • Tesco Italian Inspired Blend Ground Coffee — 66%. Most tasters rated the level of bitterness as just right for their taste but a third found the strength of flavour lacking. £1.17 per 100g. Available from Tesco.

  • Sainsbury’s Fairtrade Italian Style Coffee — 66%. Scored high marks for appearance, but otherwise Which?’s tasters didn’t find much to shout about. £1.23 per 100g. Available from Sainsbury’s.

  • Waitrose Italian Style Ground Coffee — 66%. This coffee was too bitter and too strong for some so it’s best suited to those who like a punchier coffee. £1.37 per 100g. Available from Waitrose.

  • Morrisons Italian Roast & Ground Coffee — 65%. It wasn’t Which?’s tasters’ favourite, though the majority did find the level of bitterness spot on. £1.17 per 100g. Available from Morrisons.

  • Illy Espresso Medium Roast Ground Coffee — 64%. The most expensive coffee we tested may not be worth it, with four in 10 testers finding it too weak. £2.20 per 100g. Available from Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

  • Coop Italian Blend Fairtrade Roast & Ground Coffee — 64%. Coop’s coffee had a decent aroma and flavour but it’s appearance disappointed. £1.23 per 100g. Available from Coop.

  • Lavazza Qualita Rossa Ground Coffee — 63%. This bottom-of-the-table brand was not bitter enough for a third of Which?’s panel. Nearly half wanted a stronger brew too. £1.52 per 100g. Available from Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

How to buy sustainable coffee

If you want some reassurance that your coffee is grown sustainably and has an ethical supply chain, a starting point is to look for a certification sticker on the bag.

All of the coffees tested besides Illy and Lavazza are either Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified, which both cover environmental, economic and social standards.

  • Fairtrade ⁠— Ensures fair working conditions on farms, bans forced and child labour, requires responsible waste management, water use and minimal use of pesticides and sets minimum market prices for farmers and producers.

  • Rainforest Alliance ⁠— Protects biodiversity on farms (reducing pesticides, deforestation and soil erosion), band child labour and is a part of the Global Living Wage Coalition ⁠— though it doesn’t require a minimum price for people in the supply chain.

None of the ground coffee Which? tested comes in recyclable packaging, so you’ll need to dispose of it in your kitchen bin. Taylors of Harrogate says it’s working on making its coffee packaging recyclable though, and its coffee is also Certified Carbon Neutral.

Watch: What can I drink besides coffee or tea for more energy?