McCafé is the name given to an international subsidiary of McDonald’s, with an expanded coffee menu and reformulated espresso beverages, that originated in 1993 in Melbourne, Australia. (The name is also now used across by McDonald’s across the United States for its range of upper-end espresso-based beverages.) In 2014, the chain entered the retail coffee market with a variety of McCafé ground, whole bean, and single-cup coffee offerings in partnership with Kraft. The review site Influenster called the brand’s Premium Roast Ground Coffee “an approachable blend…perfect for sipping throughout the day.”
Dutch coffee merchant Alfred Peet opened his first coffee shop in 1966 in Berkeley, California. Peet liked his coffee dark and strong, and roasted his beans to get that effect. The founders of Starbucks (No. 2) knew Peet and initially bought beans from him, and he was an early influence on that far larger chain. The best-known Peet’s coffee is Major Dickason’s Blend, which reviewers call “a good option for many people looking for a rich, robust flavor” and “by far the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.”
Sold in more than 20 states today, Community Coffee was born out of a grocery store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1919. Still based there, it is the largest family-owned coffee company in the country. The website Coffee Detective calls out the company’s Breakfast Blend as being “defined by its brightness and fruity sweetness…with just enough weight and acidity to kick you into gear at the start of your day.”
James Folger, founder of the brand that now bears his name, got into the coffee business as a teenager in San Francisco back in 1850. Based in New Orleans since 1960, Folgers is now owned by the J.M. Smucker Company of jam fame. It is by far the leading coffee brand in the U.S. today in terms of ground coffee retail sales, which amount to more than twice those of its two nearest rivals, Maxwell House and Starbucks (No. 2). Reviewing a specialty Folgers product, its 100% Colombian, the CoffeeReview website found it “surprisingly full-bodied, sweetly balancedâ¦[and] delicately complex.”
4. Green Mountain
Now owned by the brewing system company Keurig, Inc., with a minority interest belonging to Coca-Cola, Green Mountain started as a small café and coffee roaster in Waitsfield, Vermont, just west of Montpelier. Today one of the leading roasters of Fair Trade beans, the brand markets a range of coffees, including blends, single-origin offerings, and flavored options. According to the coffee retail and review site CoffeeStrong, seven of the company’s best selling coffees are in K-Cup form. Number one is its light roast Breakfast Blend, which the site describes as “bright, vibrant, and engaging.”
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