Whether your preferred coffee is brewed, dripped, cold, or espresso, you need a good quality ground coffee to ensure you get the best tasting drink at the end. While options are fairly restricted with instant coffee, there is a large and seemingly ever-increasing range of ground coffees, from decaffeinated to highly caffeinated and from fine-ground espresso coffee to coarse-ground coffee for use in cafetieres. There are also fairtrade, organic, and single-origin ground coffee makes to consider.
The options can seem bewildering, so, below, we have included reviews of 10 of the best ground coffees in the UK to help you choose the perfect base for your caffeinated (or decaffeinated) beverage.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favourites in 2022
The 10 Best Ground Coffees in the UK
1. Lavazza Qualita Rossa Ground Coffee – Best Overall
|Volume:||12 x 250 grams|
Lavazza Qualita Rossa Ground Coffee is made from a combination of Robusta and Arabica beans. Robusta beans are cheaper than their Arabica counterparts, but they also have more caffeine and a stronger flavour. The combination of the two beans enables Lavazza to keep the price of the coffee down while also offering a reasonably flavoured coffee, ground coarsely enough that it can be used in cafetieres, moka pots, and filter machines.
The coffee has decent crema production and has aromas of chocolate and dried fruits. Qualita Rossa is a very popular coffee and one of the cheapest on the list, making it our best overall ground coffee in the UK. It is a good all-rounder, but it does lack some of the punch and nuanced flavours that more expensive, premium ground coffees have to offer.
To get the best price, you do get 12 packs of coffee, which means that you will need a reasonable amount of cupboard space to store the coffee.
- Very cheap price for good-quality coffee
- Chocolate and dried fruit aromas
- A good, affordable everyday coffee
2. Happy Belly Ground Coffee Caffe Intenso – Best Value
|Volume:||4 x 250 grams|
Happy Belly Ground Coffee Caffe Intenso is Amazon’s own coffee brand. It uses a blend of Arabica and Robusta beans, lightly roasted, and with a medium to coarse grind. It is suitable for use in filter machines and cafetieres, as well as moka pots. Although Amazon doesn’t list exactly where the beans come from, they do source beans from various regions for their other coffees, and they do state that Caffe Intenso is roasted in Italy. The coffee is Rainforest Alliance certified, which means that coffee growers are treated fairly and that you can do your bit to help protect the rainforest.
The coffee is really cheap and while it lacks some of the stronger secondary flavours of more expensive coffees, there are mild flavours of dark chocolate and spice, and Amazon ranks it as having strength of 4 out of 5. Because this is even cheaper than the Lavazza above, and still a decent quality for an everyday drink, it is our best ground coffee in the UK for the money.
- Really cheap
- Flavours of dark chocolate and spice
- Rainforest Alliance certified so good for the farmers and the rainforest
- Very little crema
- No real secondary flavours
3. Brown Bear Black Mamba Robusta High Caffeine Blend – Premium Choice
Brown Bear produces a range of coffees and claim that the Brown Bear Black Mamba Robusta High Caffeine Blend is their most highly caffeinated ground coffee. They have used Brazilian Robusta beans, which have approximately twice as much caffeine as the more commonly used Arabica beans, and the coffee is dark roasted so that it tastes strong, too.
The Brown Bear Black Mamba Robusta High Caffeine Blend is an expensive coffee, but 5% of the sale is donated to the Free the Bears UK charity and the company claims to have rescued nearly 1,000 bears as a result of its donations. Its medium to fine ground means that it is suitable for most coffee makers, and will even work with some espresso machines, although the company says that it is best suited to filter and cafetiere machines.
- Highly caffeinated ground coffee
- 5% of sales go to Free the Bears UK charity
- Nutty flavour and aroma
4. Cafedirect Decaf Machu Picchu Fairtrade Ground Coffee
|Volume:||6 x 227 grams|
Cafedirect Decaf Machu Picchu Fairtrade Ground Coffee is a decaffeinated ground coffee made from Arabica beans sourced from Peru, near the famous Machu Picchu site. It is the equivalent of a medium roast and has dark-chocolate flavours. As well as being Fairtrade registered, Cafedirect has invested half of its profits into Producers Direct, which is a UK-based charity that has similar goals to the Fairtrade scheme and aims to ensure fair prices and practices for farmers, as well as a more sustainable coffee product.
This is a decaffeinated ground coffee, which means that it is naturally lighter in flavour. It uses Arabica beans, and the decaffeinating process removes the majority of the caffeine, which helps give coffee its taste. The chocolate undertones do help beef up the flavour, but this is still quite a mild-tasting drink, suitable for those that are sensitive to caffeine, don’t like too strong a coffee flavour or want something relaxing that they can still drink in the evening without the associated insomnia of caffeinated coffee.
- Decaffeinated so suitable for caffeine sensitive drinks
- Chocolate flavour
- Fairtrade certified, and donate to Producers Direct charity
- Too weak a flavour for some drinkers
5. Grumpy Mule Organic Colombia Café Equidad Ground Coffee
Grumpy Mule Organic Colombia Café Equidad Ground Coffee is a ground coffee made from Arabica beans grown in Colombia. The coffee is roasted in the UK, which means that it should stay fresher for longer than those that are roasted further away before shipping. The coffee has overtones of hazelnut, caramel, and some red fruit. It is certified organic and has Fairtrade certification so gives you the peace of mind that farmers are treated fairly and receive a fair wage for their work.
Grumpy Mule is quite expensive, but this premium coffee has rich flavours and by buying a multipack of six packs of coffee, you can keep the costs down to a more reasonable level.
- Flavours of chocolate, hazelnut, and red fruits
- Organic coffee beans
- Fairtrade certified
6. Illy Blend Decaf Ground Coffee
Illy Blend Decaf Ground Coffee is a blended decaffeinated coffee that contains 0.1% caffeine or less. It uses beans chosen from nine Arabica growing regions around the world, so it isn’t a single source, but the coffee is ground finely, so that you can use it in virtually any type of machine, including espresso machines that benefit from a finer grind and tamped coffee.
Ill’s decaf coffee is made from Arabica beans and has a medium roast. You can taste flavours of caramel, orange blossom, and jasmine, although like a lot of decaffeinated coffees, it does have a mild flavour. The packaging can also be troublesome and if you struggle to pull the seal off, it can result in a cloud of fine coffee powder.
- Decaffeinated coffee suitable for caffeine sensitive drinkers
- Flavours of caramel, orange blossom, and jasmine
- 100% Arabica beans
- Mild flavour may not be enough for some
- Packaging can be challenging
7. Wild Highlands Coffee Modern Single Origin Coarse Ground
Wild Highlands Coffee Modern Single Origin Coarse Ground coffee is a 100% Arabica coffee that is designed for lovers of mild coffee. It has lemon and butterscotch flavours and Wild Highlands says that it has medium levels of acidity. Although this is a single origin coffee, Wild Highlands doesn’t state where it comes from. However, they are Rainforest Alliance Certified, which means that farmers and the environment are treated fairly.
The coffee is roasted in Scotland, in small batches, before being packaged so it is fresher than a lot of mass-produced alternatives. It is average priced, and the coarse grind is ideal for use in cafetieres and also a good choice for cold brew coffee drinks.
- 100% Arabica beans
- Roasted in the UK so fresher than a lot
- Flavours of lemon and butterscotch
- Single origin isn’t specified
- Mild flavour
8. Lichfields Fairtrade Original Ground Coffee
|Origin:||Central America, South America, India|
Lichfields might be better known for its tea, but Lichfields Fairtrade Original Ground Coffee is a reasonably priced blend of Arabica and Robusta beans sourced from Central and South America, as well as India. It is medium roast and has floral flavours with some caramel. It is best described as having a mellow taste, making it a good all-day drinker.
However, if you like coffee with a strong flavour, Lichfields won’t meet your desires. It does come in a 1-kilogram packet, which means that it should last a while without going off. It is recommended that ground coffee be stored in an airtight container once opened and consumed within 2 weeks. Depending on how much coffee you use and the size of your drinks, a 1kg bag will make between 50–100 cups of your favourite beverage.
- 1kg bag should last at least several days
- Fairtrade certified
- Decent price
9. Caffe Nero Ground Coffee Classico Espresso
|Volume:||6 x 200 grams|
Espresso machines benefit from a very finely ground coffee. If it is too coarse, the water quickly passes through the grinds without retaining any of the flavour and without infusing any caffeine. As a result, using coarsely ground coffee in an espresso machine will leave a watery and flavourless drink. A well-tamped fine or espresso grind coffee will infuse the water and impart its flavour.
Caffe Nero Ground Coffee Classico Espresso is the same coffee used in Caffe Nero coffee shops and designed specifically for making strong, robust espressos and espresso-based drinks. It gets a 7 out of 10 strength rating and is reasonably priced. It is medium roasted and has flavours of dark chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel. Caffe Nero doesn’t list the type or origin of the beans used, although we suspect it’s a blend of Arabica and Robusta from various coffee growing regions around the world. This is a good coffee choice if you’re looking to try and replicate the drinks you get at Caffe Nero.
- Finely ground for use in espresso machines
- Reasonably priced
- Flavours of dark chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel
- Bean type and origin not listed
- May be too finely ground for some espresso machines
10. Black Donkey Coffee Roasters Devil’s Roast Ground Coffee
Most commercial coffees are made using Arabica beans. They have a pleasant flavour and reasonable caffeine levels. Robusta beans are the second most widely used variety of coffee. They have a more bitter taste than Arabica and typically contain around twice the caffeine levels, while being cheaper and hardier to grow. Black Donkey Coffee Roasters Devil’s Roast Ground Coffee is made from Robusta beans to give it an extra caffeinated kick. It is dark roast to ensure a strong flavour but low acidity, and it offers flavours of chocolate and nuts.
This is a highly caffeinated ground coffee that is average-priced, but it doesn’t taste as strong as Black Donkey claims, so if you’re after a real kick of caffeine, you may still have to look elsewhere.
- High in caffeine
- Flavours of chocolate and nut
- Not as strong as the name suggests
Buyer’s Guide: Finding the Best Ground Coffee in the UK
Although considered a nation of tea drinkers, we Brits love our coffee, too. And, when we can’t get out to a local coffee shop or we want to enjoy a similarly great tasting cup but without the high costs, we turn to cafetieres, drip coffee machines, and espresso machines to try and recreate the same great tasting beverages.
As well as having a good-quality and efficient coffee machine, it is important that you choose a good coffee to go in it. No matter how good the quality of the coffee machine, if it is filled with sub-standard coffee, it won’t come up with the goods. Read on for more information on what to look for and how to choose the best ground coffee for you.
What Is Ground Coffee?
Coffee trees produce small red berries. Inside these berries are green seeds, which we call green coffee beans. These are dried before being roasted, which gives us roasted coffee beans. Ground coffee is these roasted beans that have been passed through some kind of grinding machine before being packed and shipped for retail.
Ground vs. Beans vs. Instant
There are three primary types of coffee that you can buy for home use:
- Whole Beans – Whole beans have been picked, dried, and roasted before being sold. You will need some method of grinding the beans yourself before they can be turned into a liquid coffee drink, but whole beans offer the freshest coffee experience because as soon as the bean has been ground down, oxidation starts to occur, which means that the coffee loses its freshness. If you grind coffee and then immediately use it in a coffee machine, that is as fresh as it gets.
- Ground Coffee – Ground coffee has already been ground before being sold. As such, it isn’t as fresh as grinding your own, but it also means that you don’t need a grinder or a potentially expensive bean-to-cup coffee machine that grinds for you.
- Instant Coffee – Whatever your opinion of it, instant coffee remains very popular in the UK. The coffee has been picked, dried, roasted, ground, and brewed. The water is then evaporated and the remaining solid coffee broken into granules or powder before being shipped. All you need to do is add water and any additional ingredients in order to enjoy a cup of coffee.
Coffee Bean Type
Although there are four types of coffee beans grown around the world, there are really only two that are used in commercial coffee production: Liberica and Excelsa beans are rarely used in this way.
- Arabica – Arabica are the most commonly grown and widely used coffee They are grown at high altitudes and need a combination of rain and shade. The trees do not grow too high which makes them easy to care for, and the resulting coffee is smooth but full of flavour and a coffee smell.
- Robusta – Robusta beans are not as popular as Arabica, but they are typically seen when coffee companies either want to save money or inject extra caffeine into their coffee. Robusta coffee is very hardy and immune to a lot of diseases. It doesn’t need the same precise growing conditions as Arabica, and this combination means that the beans are cheaper than Arabica. They also contain approximately twice the caffeine of Arabica beans, by weight, and tend to have a chocolate aftertaste to them.
There are three main roast levels: light, medium, and dark. Although, some coffees are also roasted to levels in between this, so you may see medium/dark roasts, for example. The roast level determines how long and at what temperature the beans were roasted before being ground down and packaged, and it makes a big difference to the characteristics of the coffee at the end.
- Light – Light roasted beans are light in colour and because they did not reach a high temperature during the roasting process, they are quite dry and do not have much, if any, oil. Light roasts retain the most caffeine because very little is drawn out during the process, and they have an acidic taste. This method also enables the drinker to experience secondary flavours.
- Medium – Medium roast beans reach slightly higher temperatures. This does draw some of the oil out of the bean and eliminates some of the acidic taste. It also reduces the caffeine level, although not by too much. This is the most common roasting level because it is said to give a better-rounded flavour with some but not too much acidity, and more of the secondary flavours than in a dark roast.
- Dark – Roasted at high temperatures, a dark roast is said to taste of the roasting process itself, rather than the taste of the coffee. You are less likely to get the nutty, fruity, and floral flavours that lighter roasted beans can boast.
Ground coffee can be coarse, medium, or fine ground, although not all companies list the coarseness because it isn’t really a uniform measurement. Coarse grinds are best for cafetieres, where the coffee sits in the water for a long period of time, whereas fine powdered ground coffee is ideal for espresso machines because the water is passed through the coffee and needs to quickly extricate its flavour and caffeine. If you are looking for a fine ground, some manufacturers call this a fine ground or an espresso ground coffee.
Caffeinated vs. Caffeinated vs. Highly Caffeinated
Caffeine levels are determined primarily by the bean type, but this can also be influenced by the roasting level that the bean is subjected to. Robusta beans tend to have the highest caffeine levels, while a light roast or a light/medium roast will retain more of the caffeine. Those coffees with high caffeine levels are usually sold as such, with names like highly caffeinated.
Decaffeinated beans have been through a soaking and treating process that removes most of the caffeine, although there is always some caffeine left after the process. Decaffeinated coffees are usually made from Robusta beans, because these have the lowest natural caffeine content, and may be dark roasted to try and give a stronger flavour while further removing caffeine. They are typically called decaffeinated or decaf.
When coffee manufacturers refer to strength, they aren’t referring to the amount of caffeine but to the strength of flavour of the coffee. There is no universal measurement and different companies not only have their own idea of what is strong and what isn’t, but they use their own scale to highlight the strength. This can make it difficult to compare coffees, because while one company might have a scale out of 10, another might only rank strength out of 6.
How to Store Ground Coffee
Once you’ve chosen your ground coffee, you will want to treat it right to ensure that it retains its flavour and that it continues to taste great for weeks after it has been opened. Generally, it is advised that you keep ground coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, where it won’t get damp and won’t be affected by moisture. Do not place ground coffee in the fridge or the freezer.
How Long Does It Last?
How long ground coffee lasts depends on how well you store it. Typically, when stored in an airtight container in optimal conditions, it should last for 2–3 weeks before it noticeably degrades. However, if the coffee gets damp or is exposed to direct sunlight, it might only last a few days. Try to avoid leaving ground coffee in the coffee machine if the container isn’t protected against the sun.
How Much Ground Coffee Per Cup?
The amount of coffee you use per cup will depend on the type of coffee you drink, how strong you like it, and the coffee you buy, but expect to use between 12–20 grams per cup. Using more coffee will give a richer and more full-bodied flavour. Typically, start by following the instructions on the coffee packet or on the machine you’re using, and then adjust according to whether you want a stronger or milder drink next time.
Getting the right ground coffee is important, if you want to ensure that you get a good-tasting drink for your brewing efforts. There is a wide selection of products available, from decaf to highly caffeinated and including Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance coffee products.
While compiling the reviews above, we found Lavazza Qualita Rossa to be the best overall coffee. It is reasonably priced and, while it doesn’t have the same flavour nuances as more expensive coffees, it is a good all-rounder. Amazon’s Happy Belly Caffe Intenso costs even less than the Lavazza and it too offers a decent flavour for the price.
Featured Image Credit: Andrea Tummons, Unsplash