Wegmans has a great reputation as a higher end grocery chain, offering a fantastic selection of wines, cheeses, meats, and pastries. But does Wegmans offer a similarly upscale selection of Coffee? Let’s look at a variety of the options Wegmans stores carry to evaluate their quality and value for the money. Note that the prices below can vary slightly depending on your location, but there shouldn’t be too much variance.
Folgers – Classic Roast (Value 2/5, Quality 1/5 - $0.35/oz)
Available in almost any store, Folgers is one of the most ubiquitous brands of coffee. Wegmans offers an 11.3 ounce canister for $3.99 ($0.35/oz), a tad cheaper than some other retailers.
The Folgers brand, around since 1850, was acquired by Proctor & Gamble in 1963 but was sold to the J.M. Smucker Company in 2008. While they tout their beans as “mountain grown”, it is difficult to trace their supply to a particular country, or even continent- Folgers’ bean suppliers are scattered across the globe in regions such as Nicaragua, Indonesia, Africa, and even North America.
Folgers Classic Roast is actually a split of arabica and robusta beans, which makes its higher cost- compared to similar brands like Maxwell House- a little questionable. Additionally, while Folgers claims that they are fully dedicated to sustainability and paying farmers fairly, they lack Fair Trade Certification.
However, with this in mind, plenty of people love Folgers coffee for different reasons: it is a cheap way to get caffeine and has been around long enough that you may have seen it brewed at your great grandparents’ house. It’s hot and has a flavor- but there’s really no reason to settle for the lower quality, even for the price. We prefer the cheaper Maxwell House (listed below).
A popular organic and sustainable brand, Café Don Pablo, highlights how far your dollar can potentially go- 32 ounces of their beans can be purchased for $17.99, equating to $0.56/oz. While this is a little higher than Folgers, the extra quality is definitely worth the premium.
Maxwell House – Original Roast (Value 3/5, Quality 1.5/5 - $0.31/oz)
Let’s remain in mass market coffee to evaluate one other option: Maxwell House. As of 2019 owned by Kraft Heinz, Maxwell House has been around since 1892, enjoying a popularity explosion in the 1920s.
Wegmans offers an 11.5 ounce canister of ground Maxwell House coffee for $3.95 ($0.31/oz)- likely a similar price to those at other retailers. However, the 11.5 ounce sized canister isn’t carried by every retailer, especially larger supermarkets that tend to favor the larger 30 ounce canisters, or just have a more limited selection to begin with. If this is the case, the larger 24.5 and 30 ounce canisters can be purchased for between 2-4 additional dollars, making it the better buy per ounce.
However, just because the price is decent, Maxwell House might not be for you. The good news: as of 2007, their products are 100% arabica. The bad news: unless you’re buying one of Maxwell House’s origin specific canisters – like their 100% Columbian option – figuring out where their beans came from is almost impossible. In addition, they lack any sustainability, fair trade, or organic certifications.
With all this in mind, do people actually like Maxwell House? Depends on who you ask. The coffee industry has drastically changed in the United States since Maxwell House’s boom, with new third wave roasters and cafes popping up everyday and consumers preferring more premium products. Overall opinion of Maxwell House remains fair- it may be drinkable, but it’s hard to offer a stronger recommendation than that.
Death Wish (Value 2/5, Quality 2.5/5 - $1.49/oz)
If you’ve never heard of Death Wish coffee before, you might be shocked at the price per ounce- multiple times higher than Folgers or Maxwell House. Death Wish’s gimmick is edgy branding and packaging, coupled with a gargantuan amount of caffeine. It is marketed as the “World’s Strongest Coffee” when brewed at the suggested ratio- yielding about 61 milligrams of caffeine per ounce. For comparison, a shot of espresso, one ounce, hovers around 75 milligrams of caffeine.
Despite (or maybe because of!) the marketing, Death Wish carries the price tag of a premium coffee. At Wegmans, one pound of Death Wish will set you back $17.99- two dollars less than the Death Wish website sells it for. Death Wish is USDA Certified Organic, as well as Fair Trade certified and grown in Peru and India. Their blend is composed of arabica and robusta beans; robusta beans are generally thought of as lower quality but do contain a higher level of caffeine.
When it comes down to taste, most people tend to either love it, or hate it. The flavor is described as strong, smooth, and with notes of cherry and chocolate, but many find the mouth feel to be a bit too punchy.
Death Wish does have a market: many view it as a cost effective option to buy a pound of and brew only one cup in the morning. However, you should also consider if you’ll go through the whole pound of beans in a week; after that, the freshness will drastically decrease.
Starbucks – Pike Place (Value 3.5/5, Quality 3.5/5 - $0.59/oz)
Starbucks Coffee, founded in 1971, carries a wide variety of associations: overpriced, hipsters, over-roasted beans; good coffee, nice staff, and welcoming environment. Opinions vary wildly!
In stores, Starbucks offers what they call their “core coffee”– the Pike Place roast, French Roast, Sumatra, etc. – year round, but also offer seasonal and special reserve blends. Because Starbucks offers so many varieties, it is hard to assess their coffee as “good” or “bad” on the whole.
Some of their blends and single origin offerings are Fair Trade and Certified Organic, but not all of their varieties are: Pike Place is neither, but Italian is Fair Trade Certified, and Yukon is Certified Organic. Pike Place blend appears to largely be sourced from Latin America.
Most of Starbucks’ store offerings hover around $12 a pound, but their specialty ones can hit upwards of $40/lb. Wegmans offers a 12 ounce bag of Starbucks Pike Place blend for $7.19 ($0.59/oz)- a good deal compared to other retailers.
The flavor profile of Pike Place, a medium roast, can be described as bold, with a smooth finish, mild acidity, accompanied by a nutty flavor. This blend tries to please everybody, but inevitably won’t; it sits at the uncanny middle ground between a dark roast and a medium roast.
Starbucks will never stop being criticized for over-roasting or “burning” their coffee beans, but plenty prefer the flavor profile to any other brand. Personally, I find their Guatemala Antigua offering to be significantly better than their Pike Place blend.
Counter Culture Coffee – Forty-Six (Value 4/5, Quality 5/5 - $0.99/oz)
Counter Culture Coffee, around since 1995, has made great strides since their inception: not only are nearly all of the beans they buy from farmers organic – meaning that nearly all of their coffee offerings are organic – but pride themselves the “farm to cup” process, ensuring workers are compensated throughout the supply chain. If organic, sustainable, ethically sourced coffee is important to you, make sure to give Counter Culture a look.
Wegmans sells their Forty-Six blend in a 12oz bag for the price of $11.99, which is a few bucks cheaper than the official Counter Culture website offers it or nearly everywhere else. Even at the relatively high price point, Counter Culture is a great value- its one of the more affordable high end coffees available.
The Forty-Six blend is organic and, according to their website, is 70% from San Miguel, Guatemala, 20% Worka Natural, Ethiopia, and 10% Homacho Waeno, Ethiopia. With this in mind, their blends are clearly traceable to specific regions, and potentially specific farms as well.
The tasting notes of this blend are smoky, full-bodied, with a kiss of dark chocolate. General consensus is that Forty-Six is an excellent blend and holds its own versus more premium coffees. Their Apollo coffee is another excellent offering as well. Overall, this is a great coffee at a value price and if you’re looking for something to spice up your morning brew a bit, this could be it.
Keep in mind when purchasing to make sure to buy from a reputable store, as some online stores sell counterfeit products.
Peet’s Coffee – Major Dickason’s Blend (Value 4.5/5, Quality 4/5 - $0.66/oz)
Peet’s Coffee- perhaps most well-known for their brick and mortar cafes- retails a variety of blends in supermarkets. At first glance, Peet’s seems very similar to Starbucks, but without the insane market share. These similarities go even deeper: at one point, Starbucks and Peet’s were co-owned before Starbucks was sold off. While Peet’s generally prides themselves on being responsible when it comes to compensating farmers and using quality beans, it does vary blend to blend; a small amount of their coffee is fully organic. Peet’s seems to strike somewhat of a middle ground with sustainability, and tends to be preferred by most to Starbucks.Q
At Wegmans, you can get a 12 ounce bag of their Major Dickason’s blend for $7.99 ($0.66/oz)- a price that, when broken down by the ounce, is both cheaper than the Peet’s website ($0.99/oz) and that offered by other grocers. It is slightly more expensive than Starbucks, but is, in my opinion, a superior product.
Most people who try this blend tend to like it; it’s dark, spicy, bold, and multi-layered. Overall, Major Dickason’s Blend is a good blend to try if you’re not looking to break the bank.
La Colombe – Corsica (Value 4/5, Quality 4.75/5 - $0.99/oz)
La Colombe makes good coffee. They are Fair Trade, Organic Certified, and heavily market sustainability with their coffee. You may have noticed that their price per ounce, at Wegmans, is identical to that of Counter Culture. Personally, I prefer Counter Culture slightly over La Colombe, but it largely amounts to personal preference and both are excellent coffees.
At Wegmans, you can get a 12 ounce bag of La Colombe for $11.99 and, while this may seem steep compared to Folgers or Maxwell House, the price is definitely worth it. The Wegmans price is also about a dollar cheaper than the La Colombe website, and cheaper than other locations as well.
Their Corsica blend is sourced from Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico. Corsica is a dark roast and has notes of baker’s chocolate, red wine, and spices. This blend is a flagship for La Columbe and is very well liked by consumers. If you have the chance, spoiling yourself with a bag of it every so often, or weekly, is a great treat.
Overall, Wegmans has a fairly good selection of coffee. However, while they do offer some great coffee options, their selection could be broadened to include single origin roasts to produce a coffee selection matching their cheese and wine offerings. Their coffee prices are very competitive, as the brands on offer are often cheaper than buying from retailers or sometimes even from the roaster directly. If you aren’t going to find a retailer to buy single-origin beans from, Wegmans is an excellent choice for finding quality coffee at bargain prices.
(Cover photo from user _BuBBy_ https://www.flickr.com/photos/_bubby_/5867322569/in/photostream/ under CC 2.0)