Best Ground Coffee in the UK: 9 Great Tasting Brands
You may have been told that buying whole coffee beans to grind right before brewing will yield the most delicious coffee, and that advice is not wrong. But if you lack a high-end grinder at home, buying pre-ground coffee beans can be an excellent option. Here are nine of our top picks for the best-tasting ground coffee in the UK this year.
At A Glance: The Best Ground Coffee
The 9 Best Ground Coffee Brands in 2023
Our picks for the 8 best coffee grounds feature something for everyone. Whether you’re a casual drinker, a caffeine addict, or an espresso enthusiast, we’ve got a great suggestion for you.
|Pact Coffee Brazil Zaroca||
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|Bird & Wild Medium Roast||
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|Balance Coffee Stability Blend||
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|The Roastery Milk Buster Espresso Blend||
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|The Roastery India Araku Organic||
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|Blue Coffee Box||
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|Pact Coffee Remera Tugirekawanziza||
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|Balance Coffee San Lorenzo Colombia||
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|Decadent Decaf Indonesia Sumatra||
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The Pact Coffee brand was founded in 2012 with a mission to address the imbalances in the coffee industry. To do this they’ve cut out the middle man, trading directly with farmers in order to pay them a better price, around 25% above Fair Trade prices. It also means a better deal for the end customer (you), as only the best quality coffees are selected.
The Brazil Zaroca is the result of a partnership with farmer Gilberto Basilio. His farm in Ilicinea has been in the family for generations, but he’s the first to introduce sustainable growing practices, reforesting areas previously stripped for sugar cane.
He’s also introduced new types of coffee to the farm, including this Mundo Novo. When naturally processed and given a dark roast, it develops rich, chocolate notes with an earthy kick. The flavours of Brazil Zaroca make it a good fit with both espresso and cafetière, so it’s great to see that it’s available in four different grind sizes: fine, medium-fine, medium, and coarse.
Skimping on price doesn’t have to mean skimping on quality, or resorting to mass-produced coffee sourced with questionable ethics. Bird & Wild makes doing good things for the planet an affordable option for everyone.
The name refers to the fact that all Bird & Wild coffees are certified Bird Friendly and Shade-Grown by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre. These certifications are only given to farms with a range of native shade trees that provide shelter for birds and other wildlife. They also donate 6% of sales to the RSPB Wildlife Charity.
To ensure these high standards are maintained, the brand has just a few ground coffee beans on offer, including a dark roast, a decaf, and this Medium Roast Seasonal Blend. The origin and variety will depend on the time of year, but skilful sourcing means you can always expect a smooth, easy-drinking blend with chocolate notes and a floral aroma.
The Balance Coffee brand started out with the goal to provide an ethical coffee subscription service, but now thankfully offers its speciality coffee beans to a wider audience. The care behind the coffee remains the same, however – it’s all sustainably sourced and all high-grade.
The best-selling Stability Blend brings together two single-origin Arabicas. 65% of the mix comes from Finca Guadalupe Zaju, a 100-year old farm in the hills of Chiapas, which produces entirely shade-grown coffee. The remaining 35% has been sourced from La Joyeria farm in Antioquia, Colombia.
Both the coffees are given a medium roast before blending. The result is a smooth and creamy cup with tastes of milk chocolate and hazelnuts, made richer by the sweetness of figs. It works both black and with milk. The Stability Blend is available in grinds for espresso, filter, or cafetiere.
Coffee snobs might insist that good coffee should be enjoyed black, but the popularity of the cappuccino and flat white tells a different story. That said, not all coffees go well with the addition of milk. The subtle flavours of lighter roasts are lost, and any acidic flavours tend to clash with the creaminess.
The Milk Buster Espresso Blend has been sourced and prepared with the latte lover in mind. The blend uses beans from Brazil, which are traditionally low acid and often bittersweet, as well as Papua New Guinea coffee, which can be fruity but also has a deep aftertaste.
The beans have been roasted slightly darker than medium to help develop rich flavours that will develop well with milk. It’s a sweet and nutty blend with notes of cocoa, hazelnuts, vanilla, and toffee. As the name suggests it’s designed for espresso, but you can also order grind sizes for Moka pot, filter, AeroPress, and cafetiere.
The Roastery was founded as an offshoot of coffee machine retailer Bella Barista, with the idea of sending their customers home with some great coffee to try in their new machines. The key demographic was of course espresso lovers, but the brand now also stocks a range of interesting single origins and blends designed for filter brewing.
Among these filter coffees is the India Araku. Indian coffees don’t get much time in the spotlight, but in areas like the Araku Valley, there is a coffee-growing culture that goes back more than 100 years. Here the beans are processed in a traditional manner, dried on raised beds and covered with cloths overnight.
These beans have developed a sweet flavour profile with a syrupy body to match. Expect to taste strawberry jam at the front, with softer flavours of stone fruit and hazelnuts developing at the finish. The delightful fruit flavours make this coffee a sure winner as a pour over brew, but if you want to experiment with other brewing methods, you’ll find a grind size to match.
If you’re still figuring out what kind of coffee flavours you enjoy, or just like the idea of shaking up your routine, a coffee subscription could be the best thing for you.
You start by selecting your grind size from cafetière, AeroPress, filter or espresso. You can choose from light, medium or dark roast if you have a preference, or let the Coffee Concierge decide each time. The coffee itself will be a surprise, but Blue Coffee Box guarantees that all beans have scored at least 83 on the SCAA quality score – making them some of the best in the world.
As well as delicious coffee, there are a lot of things to love about Blue Coffee Box. All beans have been ethically sourced using a direct trade model, and all packaging is compostable, making them the only certified plastic-free coffee subscription in the UK.
This Rwandan single-origin coffee was sourced especially for the Platinum Jubilee, with Pact’s head of coffee sent out on a mission to find something worthy of royalty.
The journey took him to the farm of Epiphanie Mukashyaka, who could be considered something of a queen in her own right. After surviving the genocide in Rwanda, she took over her husband’s coffee plantation, turning it into a thriving business. She’s now the biggest employer in the community, as well as heading the local coffee cooperative.
One of her speciality crops became Pact’s Remera Tugirekawanziza, chosen for its luxurious flavour profile. It has rich fruit flavours of blackberry and blackcurrant, and a juicy mouthfeel to match. Enjoy this as a pour over coffee, which will allow you to taste the full range of tastes in the beans.
The town of San Lorenzo is part of the Nariño growing district, one of the main coffee producing areas in Colombia. Farms here can be found at up to 2,000 metres in altitude, warmed by the heat rising from the valleys below.
These unique conditions have resulted in a versatile and crowd-pleasing coffee. It has earthy chocolate base notes, a delicate aroma, and the sticky sweetness of dried fruit. The San Lorenzo Colombia is an excellent choice for both espresso and filter brewing. You also have the choice of a cafetiere grind.
Balance Coffees don’t just taste good, but they’re also good for you and good for the planet. Beans are regularly tested to ensure they’re free of pesticides, harmful moulds and mycotoxins, which can cause serious illness. The company donates 1% to Project Waterfall and plants trees every month to offset its carbon footprint.
As the name suggests, Decadent Decaf is all about decaffeinated coffee. The founders wanted to up the game for decaf coffee everywhere, sourcing speciality coffees to go through the Swiss Water decaffeination process. They roast just a small range of single origins and blends, but the selection has something for everyone.
If you’re a fan of strong coffee, the Decadent Decaf Indonesian Sumatra is the one for you. Sumatran coffees are well-known for their unique wet-hulling process, which leaves a higher moisture content in the beans than other methods. This in turn impacts the flavour, which develops earthy, woody and even mushroomy notes.
These beans have something of the typical earthiness, found here in notes of cocoa powder. They’ve been roasted to develop some brown sugar sweetness and a rich, strong aroma. It’s a bold coffee that would be a good pick for brewing with a cafetiere.
How to Choose Ground Coffee (that doesn’t suck)
Which type of coffee is right for you is a subjective choice that only you can make. There are some important discerning characteristics, however, that make objective differences between the different types of coffee that are available. Let’s go through these now:
Ground Coffee or Whole Beans
Ask any coffee geek and they will be quick to tell you why fresh ground coffee is better. They’re not wrong, but there are times when buying ground coffee is the right choice.
When coffee is ground, it’s surface area is increased, allowing for better extraction. But once the beans are ground, they start to degass, releasing their characteristic flavours and aromas. The larger surface area also makes the grounds more susceptible to degradation from moisture in the air, and the finer the grind, the faster it will go stale.
In the words of the 2018 winner of the U.S. Cup Tasters Competition(1):
The experiential difference that you’re going to find [using pre-ground coffee] is two things. Aroma and acidity will be very minimized compared to if it was ground fresh.
So why buy ground coffee? It comes down to the grinder. Most roasters have access to top-of-the-line burr grinders, as opposed to the cheap blade grinders many home brewers use.
And experts agree that the best pre-ground coffee from a burr grinder is superior to freshly ground beans from a blade grinder.
If you buy pre-ground coffee, follow a few rules to keep it as fresh as possible. Store coffee in an airtight container in a dark, dry cupboard, and don’t keep it in the fridge or freezer. Buy smaller quantities at a time, and look for roasters that grind fresh to order.
If you do have a burr grinder and would prefer to buy whole beans, check out our list of the best coffee beans.
Arabica or Robusta
There are two commercially grown coffee varietals, arabica and robusta, each with unique characteristics (2).
Long regarded as the higher-end bean, arabicas make up about three-quarters of current commercial crops. They tend to have a more pronounced acidity and a sweeter, softer taste, with tones of sugar, fruit, and berries.
Robusta beans have a harsher, grain-like taste, with a nutty finish and contain twice as much caffeine. They are much easier to grow because they can thrive at lower elevations and are more resistant to pests and weather fluctuations.
Most coffee for sale today is arabica, but some robustas are beginning to find favour.
A little touch of Robusta can really round out a fine blend, adding to its quality, its complexity and its depth. (3)
Some ground coffees feature robusta-arabica blends,
with the fruity and acidic arabicas balanced by the rich and dark robustas.
Look for a grind size to match the brewer you plan to use. Our handy chart has everything you need.
If the ground coffee is too coarse, you won’t get enough extraction, and the coffee will be pale and taste weak and watery. If they’re too fine, you’ll end up with over-extracted coffee or grounds in your finished drink.
If you’re planning to use your pre-ground beans in an espresso machine, it’s important to look for ones specifically ground for espresso. Standard medium grounds, prepared for use in a drip coffee maker, will be too coarse and leave you with weak, flavourless espresso.
Roast and Taste Profile
Lighter roasts typically have fragrant floral and fruity notes with a mild body and higher caffeine content. They’re great for exploring the subtleties of single-origin coffee beans.
Medium roasts are the most popular, offering a bit more sweetness due to the caramelization of sugars during the roasting process. They have a lower acidity than light roasts and a slightly bitter undertone.
A good dark roast has a bittersweet taste profile and a bold and rich body. A visibly oily exterior is accompanied by a toasted taste or hints of chocolate flavour.
Speaking of roasting, if you ever decide to try roasting your own beans, watch our video on home roasting first:
Despite what the coffee snobs might insist, there are both good reasons to buy ground coffee and great ground coffees to buy — nine of which can be found in this list.
The Home Grounds top pick is the Pact Coffee Brazil Zaroca. The deep chocolate-on-chocolate flavour profile retains its punch with pre-grinding to deliver you a rich cup of coffee. With a choice of four different grind sizes available, you can take your pick of brewing methods.
Instant coffee is just ground coffee that has already been brewed and dehydrated so that all you need to do is add water (7). Coffee grounds, though they may look similar, require brewing to produce coffee.
Yes, you can use pre-ground coffee for cold brew, but it needs to be quite coarse. Check out our guide to cold brew for everything you need to know.
Fair Trade designations ensure products are made according to a set of strict standards that encourage environmental sustainability, as well as certifying that the people involved in the production were treated and compensated fairly.
The Rainforest Alliance is a non-profit organization based in the United States with a mission to conserve biodiversity by promoting sustainability in many industries, including coffee. It certifies coffee when it is produced under standards intended to protect the environment and the rights of workers.
Espresso beans are just coffee beans that a roaster believes are well-suited to the espresso preparation. Typically, they’re roasted to medium or dark and have a bit more body and lower acidity. Read our espresso beans vs coffee beans article to learn more.
- Marulanda, C. (2018, December 17). Is Pre-Ground Coffee Ever Better Than Freshly Ground? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/12/is-pre-ground-coffee-ever-better-than-freshly-ground/
- Baldwin, J. (2009, June 22). Arabica vs. Robusta: No Contest. Retrived from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2009/06/arabica-vs-robusta-no-contest/19780/
- Why is Robusta such a dirty word? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.greenbeanroasters.com/robusta-coffee-beans/
- Reid, D. (2019, January 17). Forbes Called This Coffee The Best In America. Retrieved from https://www.culinarylibertarian.com/coffee/
- Bennett, J.W., Klich, M. (2003, July). Mycotoxins. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164220/
- The 2020 World’s Most Ethical Companies Honorees List. (2020). Retrived from https://worldsmostethicalcompanies.com/honorees/?__hstc=222959556.c9958a4d22ed5155cf77d905eec20ef1.1584482855432.1584482855432.1584482855432.1&__hssc=222959556.1.1584482855434&__hsfp=1130077880
- Newton, T. (2018, January 22). Coffee Wars: Should You Drink Instant or Whole Bean? Retrived from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2018/01/coffee-wars-should-you-drink-instant-or-whole-bean/