Supermarket Coffee Confessions

May 07, 2012

Guilty confession time. I still occasionally grab a bag of supermarket coffee when I go shopping. I grew up on Eight O'Clock Coffee -- and I do mean I grew up on it. It was the signature coffee sold by the A&P supermarket, which was the only market where my grandmother would shop. Back in 1963, you could still buy Eight O'clock Coffee in whole bean form and have it ground just before you took it home with you. Not quite as good as roasted at point-of-purchase, but definitely better than tinned coffee. Until I discovered the convenience of ordering coffee from multiple roasters on ROASTe, Eight O'Clock was usually my coffee of choice for one basic reason: aside from Starbucks -- which I never could stomach -- and those horrible flavored coffees in the bins, Eight O'Clock coffee was the only brand that I could regularly get at the supermarket in whole bean form. Well, that and the nostalgia factor.





The nostalgia factor sent me hunting for vintage Eight O'Clock ads and I was delighted to find this:



That grinder is the way I remember it in the A&P at Uphams Corner in Dorchester in 1963. The ad is from the 1940s and it talks about how grinding "breaks" the flavor of the coffee bean and you shouldn't grind until you're ready to buy. Mind you, my grandmother used to just take the whole beans home and grind them just before she made her coffee.

I still have a soft spot for Eight O'Clock coffee -- mostly because of nostalgia. Their recent revamp to position themselves in the "gourmet coffee" market kinda leaves me cold. It didn't go over very well with Consumer Reports either, if I remember right. Back in 2009, CR rated Eight O'Clock Colombian #1 for flavor, beating out some pricey big name beans. In 2011, they got knocked right out of the running. Eight O'Clock says they didn't change anything -- so maybe the other supermarket brands got better? Regardless, these days ordering from ROASTe is even easier than picking up coffee at the supermarket -- and there's obviously no comparison in terms of flavor and variety.

I know that a few people have written about their coffee droughts when they forgot to place an order or an order was delayed, so obviously we've got a coffee crew here that would rather o without than drink substandard coffee. But it's got me wondering -- what did you do for coffee before you discovered ROASTe?



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