The key to delicious low-price coffee is to go with a darker roast. The flavor caused by roasting brings out a good taste from less-expensive coffee beans. For a good example, expensive espresso roasts are usually made with inexpensive beans.
The hidden treasure on the bottom shelf of many supermarkets is Seattle’s Best Number 4 Roast. It’s roasted just enough to be delicious, but not enough to get a burnt taste. The No.4 is basically an Italian roast, which is parent company’s Starbucks best-selling roast.
I tried a Number 2 roast, but it tastes like the cheap coffee that it is. The Number 3 was okay, but really, Number 4 is the sweet spot of this line of coffee. The Number 5 roast is for all practicle purposes a French roast, and it smells good. It tastes good too, and this roast is an excellent choice for mixing with hot milk to make a French-style cafe au lait.
Many shoppers have discovered the No.4 Roast, so there is often an empty spot between No.3 and No. 5 on the coffee shelf.
The Other Great Cheap Coffee
For a change of pace dark roast, Café Bustelo is a worthy inexpensive coffee. It’s café espresso molida, which means roasted and ground for espresso, but despite the fine grind, Café Bustelo makes an excellent and reliable cup of dark drip coffee.