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Wal-Mart vs. Starbucks: Coffee smackdown

Would you pay twice the price for the same quality? According to Consumer Reports, if you're buying Starbucks' coffee, you are.

By Stacy Johnson Aug 23, 2011 6:56PM

This post comes from Gideon Grudo at partner site Money Talks News.


Despite a shaky stock market and an uncertain future, Americans still prefer gourmet coffee over any other, according to a new study from the National Coffee Association. And, from teenagers to senior citizens, most people still drink coffee daily.


This daily grind can get expensive, but it doesn't have to. Consumer Reports just released a taste test with the most popular coffee brands. They sampled more than 1,000 cups of joe and came to a startling conclusion: Wal-Mart coffee is as good as Starbucks, and it's better than Maxwell House and Folgers.


And they're not the only one. Time magazine's financial blog did some price comparing with a 12-ounce container of 100% Colombian ground coffee. It found that the Starbucks brand  ($8.88 a bag) goes for more than double the Wal-Mart brand ($3.88 a bag) -- and said they taste the same.


(If you really like Starbucks, though, keep buying their bags at Wal-Mart, since they're about a buck more expensive in other grocery stores.) Post continues after video.

Regardless of the coffee you buy, Consumer Reports offers this advice for getting the most out of your beans for the money:

  • Consider your taste. "Colombian, the most common varietal of coffee sold, can be fairly strong in flavor and intensity of aroma, with moderate complexity. Ethiopian tends to be more complex overall, with a fair amount of bitterness, though not enough to detract from enjoyment."
  • Choose a good coffeemaker. "The Cooks CM4221, sold at JC Penny, was among the models from Consumer Reports December 2010 report that reached the 195º F to 205º F required to get the best from coffee beans and avoid a weak or bitter brew. At $40, it was a CR Best Buy."
  • Keep up the maintenance. "The taste will suffer if the coffee machine is not routinely cleaned, no matter what kinds of beans are used."

More on Money Talks News and MSN Money

Aug 23, 2011 11:23PM

I am a retired person and really do not like to drive, use to love to.  I am not an advocate of Wal-Mart but I can drive to Wal-Mart or walk and they have everything I want or need.   Only one stop   I loveit  and I can put gas in my car there also I do eat a burger or breakfast but the coffee is great also   One place to shop and no getting lost looking for bargains that is me.  

Aug 24, 2011 5:44AM
Oh and the Wal-Mart bashers too.  Why are they so bad?  Because they figured out how to do it better than everybody else?  Why is my favorite cereal 90 cents cheaper at Wal Mart than at the grocery store?  And don't give the buying in volume excuse.  Albertsons is a huge company, and the price they pay for product is pretty comparable to what WM does.  I'll tell you what it is. It's efficiency.  I go into Wal Mart and every employee I see is busy doing something.  I go into into the grocery store and see teenagers leaning at their registers when nobody's in line.  Wal Mart shuts that lane down and has that employee actually do some work.  Or 1 person checking and 1 person bagging.  Why does it take 2 people to do what 1 WM employee does? Everybody hates on WM because they're the evil empire.  I say the people in charge are just better at running their business. 
Did you know it only costs Starbuck's about 33 cents to brew that cup of coffee including labor ? The rest goes to their pockets.
Aug 24, 2011 7:12AM
walmarts columbian is far better than starbuck,  starbucks always tastes like old burnt shoe leather and smells like cat box.
Aug 23, 2011 8:58PM
If the coffee is flavorful and robust, I don't care what brand it is.
Aug 23, 2011 10:31PM
I'm from the Seattle area...home of Starbucks.  The worst coffee I have ever tasted; always burnt and bitter.  Beans are overly roasted.  I always considered Seattle's Best to be "by far" a better coffee.  Not sure if that's the case anymore since Starbucks bought them out a few years ago.  Now I just buy Costco's Kirkland brand Columbian Supreme.  For a canned coffee, it's better than any canned coffee I have ever had.  Almost as good as Seattle's Best fresh ground.  Also, if you have to delute your coffee with cream and sugar, you don't know anything about the "REAL" flavor of coffee.  A true coffee connoisseur always drinks it black.
Aug 23, 2011 11:19PM

This article is about coffee you make at home, does anyone read the articles before posting?

Aug 23, 2011 10:38PM
Make your own coffee. It's really easy.

Coffee cupCoffee is for individual  tastes. One persons idea of a perfect cup of coffee is another person's yuck.

Any money over a dollar for a cup of coffee is people being brainwashed buy

greedy marketing.

Aug 23, 2011 9:23PM
FREE coffer at Home depot/lowes is the best FREE
Aug 24, 2011 12:08AM
Starbucks is a joke OVERPRICED burnt garbage and I'm wealthy and still will not purchase their coffee in any form. Consumer Reports has this one correct and anyone who thinks Starbucks should be #1 should have their head examined because that absolutely offends every traditional and fundamental notion out there.
Aug 23, 2011 10:28PM
I have never been a fan of Starfbucks. I am somewhat knowledgeable about coffee, having been involved with the "industry" for a number of years. My biggest complaint is not the appeal to the "Yuppie" generation (which is definitely is aimed at) - My complaint is that their coffee -across their spectrum - is too acidic. I am not certain why, but it has a underlying bitterness (acid) to their coffee. I do know the difference between coffees - from Turkish to Greek to Spanish - and I love them all - but I just cannot get into Starbucks. Personally, I like Peet's Coffee or even Dunkin Donuts coffee (although that is too expensive for the bean they sell/use).
Aug 24, 2011 10:40AM
I'm not really a coffee snob but I don't like the burnt taste of Starbucks coffee.  I prefer to buy my own green beans in bulk then roast and grind them as needed so they are always fresh.  The quality is always top notch and I enjoy the process.  I use a simple pop corn popper to do the roasting so I have not invested very much.  In fact I believe it is very economical doing it this way and provides the ultimate control over your outcome.  I don't own a perk coffee maker.  Never have in the 35+ years I have been drinking coffee.  
Aug 24, 2011 2:47AM
avatar is like wine or meat. Either you are really into the flavor differences (...and I cannot tell the difference between a $10 Merlot and a $100 Merlot) or it something that does a job, - it makes you full, gets you drunk or gives you energy. Most coffee lovers hate Starbucks because it is over-roasted / too processed.  Walmart may have upgraded from freeze-dried coffee (which does not really taste like coffee...) to actual beans. This would account for the comparison, which is the same thing Micky-D did six months ago. But if cheap beans and factory roasting is used, the results will not be flavorful.  Really, it amounts to an in-depth analyzing of different types of turds.

Aug 23, 2011 9:03PM
Did you know that Starbucks signature coffee is burnt. 
Aug 24, 2011 12:01PM
The coffee I drank in Kenya was really good.  The stuff at one home I visit is ungodly bad.  That said all brands of coffee taste about the same to me.  I may have qualms with Wal-mart politics but I have NO problem about running a efficient supply chain and passing cost savings on to consumers.  I do have a sense of social responsibility and spend  a few cents more per cup on Sams Club MM "FAIR TRADE" coffee.
Aug 24, 2011 6:10AM

I live in the philly area I travel a lot and i drink a lot of coffee from all over. we have the WAWA stores I think they have the best coffee and the best price.


Aug 23, 2011 9:25PM

Starbucks java is burnt and horrible!..



Aug 23, 2011 9:15PM

Try brewing your favorite coffee in a French Press coffee maker…..two large scoops of a rough grind coffee + boiling water + 4 minutes steeping time….the perfect cup of coffee….

Aug 24, 2011 8:21AM
I have tried Walmart Colombian coffee in the larger container, and I don't like it. I'm not a coffee snob, or anything like that. I just like a good cup of coffee, because I only drink 2 cups a day. Folgers Colombian is the best that I have tried, but it is so expensive I would switch if I could find something I liked. So, I will try the Walmart in the bag. I have found that I don't usually agree with Consumer's Reports.
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