8 O’Clock Coffee

Beans, glorious beansI drink a goodly amount of coffee — between half a pot and a full pot a day. I don’t get headaches if I miss a day, and I can drink a double espresso at night and still fall asleep. It’s a reassuring constant in my otherwise topsy-turvy days.

I’m particular about coffee, prefering to drink only what I’ve made myself or what my brother has made (now that I’ve brow-beaten him into making it exactly the way I make it). Of the critical elements of good coffee — fresh, well roasted beans; filtered water; correct grind; correct ratio of beans to water; not cooking the coffee after it’s made; and on and on — the one that causes me the most trouble is the beans.

My favorite beans come from Peets Coffee & Tea. I came to depend on them when I lived in San Francisco, and since then have gone to lengths to keep myself in supply, including starting a coffee club in grad school to share expenses. Peet’s has a program called “Peetniks” for people who place recurring orders, so I know I’m not alone in this.

But shipping costs raise the price of a pound of Sierra Dorada Blend from $11.95 to $15.95 (plus tax), and if ever I add up what I’ve spent on coffee at the end of a year even I start to feel I’m being extravagent. My usual substitute is a Starbucks blend, which I buy at the grocery store. I resent buying it though, in much the same way I resent having to install Microsoft Office on my lovely Mac. It does what I need it to do, but it makes me feels like I’ve given in to The Man.

Last night at Giant Eagle, on my way down the coffee aisle, I spotted racks of 8 O’Clock Coffee. I remember my mom buying 8 O’Clock Coffee at the A&P when I was a child, grinding it right there at the store. What an awesome smell fresh ground coffee has! (Fun trivia: My grandfather’s family ran an A&P grocery store back when it was called Atlantic & Pacific.) And I seem to recall that Consumer Reports rated the brand highly among grocery store coffees. According to the label it’s “America’s best selling whole bean coffee.” And the price? Merely $4.47, about a third of what a pound of Starbucks would cost.

So into my basket the 8 O’Clock 100% Columbian went. I’m drinking it now. It’s kind of sweet, kind of nutty, but on the edge of bland. Fine in a pinch but not something I’ll look forward to every morning. I may have chosen the wrong roast: the website indicates that Original Roast is more full-bodied, and the Dark Roast is a “dark, Seattle roast.” So the experiment will continue.

Bonus: If you’d like to experiment too, here’s a coupon for $2 off 8 O’Clock Coffee.

12 replies on “8 O’Clock Coffee”

  1. I used to use 8 O’Clock until they got so expensive. Now I drink less coffee and found a fairly decent replacement brand in Hills Brother’s Dark French Roast. I make our coffee strong – always. But the 8 O’Clock I used to buy was the Dark Roast in a cream colored bag and it was usually not stocked. I am not a coffee critic – I just like a decent cup of coffee but to be honest, I didn’t like any of the other 8 O’s except the French Roast until I gotta cup of the Dark Roast.

  2. as a child i too remember the a&p days .mom always let me have a sour dill from the barrel,about .35. the best part of the shop was checkout.aaah the smell of all the grinders. all the moms would have it done at checkout. many years later marriage , kids and working diff. shifts ,budgets made coffee not so important just make it and make it affordable. now that we are older and sound we only make 8 oclock. we have tried them all thru the years and this is the brand that always hits!my sister still on the budget mentality, often bought no name /walmart etc. coffees. i would bring my own in a thermos and refused to drink her ass coffee. well after yrs. of sharing, she and hubby now grind their own 8 oclock and all is good. sometimes i catch her w/ the star b or d-donuts on hand..shame…thanks for the memories a&p!

  3. Nothing like the 8 o’clock dark roast…full-bodied taste (I like my coffee strong) at reasonable prices, BUT now it can not be found. Have they discontinued the dark roast??

    I am truly disappointed. If you anyone knows where I can order the dark roast, please let me know.

  4. I also grew up with the A&P grocery store down the street and my Mom would only drink 8 o’clock from the A & P.

  5. interestingly consumer reports march 2009 says 8 oclock 100% Columbian beats the rest.

  6. I always liked the dark roast in the cream-colored bags as well-but it always seemed to be slightly waxy for some reason. But for a cheap coffee, it was certainly decent. At the worst case, it is great for mixing with better beans, but is always better than the ground coffees from Folgers, Maxwell House, etc.

    Also worth noting for good cheap coffee is Trader Joes (whole bean) and also Aldi’s Beaumont coffee (no whole bean option available).

    Finally, I just found out that 8 o’clock is now a part of the Indian conglomerate Tata; I hope they keep the quality of the coffee as high (or higher) than it was before they bought into the company.

  7. Me too Paul & MM! I found this info on their website.
    A delicious blend of premium 100% Arabica coffee beans at medium roast. Available in 12, 36 and 42 oz. bags of whole bean and ground coffee.

    Decaf Original:
    Unique blend of 100% Arabica decaffeinated coffee beans, medium roasted. Available in 12 or 36 oz. bags of whole bean and 12 oz. bag of ground coffee.

    A select blend of 100% Arabica coffee beans, named for two famous coffee-producing areas in Colombia: Bogota and Cartagena. Available in 12 or 36 oz. bags of whole bean coffee.

    100% Colombian:
    The finest blend of award-winning 100% Colombian coffee beans. Available in 12, 36 and 42 oz. bags of whole bean and 12 or 36 oz. bags of ground coffee.

    Decaf 100% Colombian:
    Award-winning 100% Colombian coffee beans, sans caffeine. Available in 12 oz. bag of whole bean coffee.

    French Roast:
    A premium blend of 100% Arabica coffee beans, fully roasted for a strong, bold taste. Available in 12 or 36 oz. bags of whole bean and ground coffee.

    50% Decaf:
    This special blend of regular and decaffeinated 100% Arabica coffee beans is the best of both worlds. Available in 12 or 36 oz. bags of whole bean and 12 oz. bag of ground coffee.

    Dark Italian Roast:
    A dark Seattle roast of select 100% Arabica coffee beans, perfect for espresso and cappuccino aficionados. Available in 11.5 or 34.5 oz. bags of whole bean and 11.5 oz. bag of ground coffee.

    French Vanilla:
    Sweet flavor infused into our 100% Arabica coffee beans, lightly roasted. Available in 12 or 36 oz. bags of whole bean and 12 oz. bag of ground coffee.

    Supremely rich flavor infused into a distinctive blend of 100% Arabica coffee beans. Available in 12 or 36 oz. bags of whole bean and 12 oz. bag of ground coffee.

    Delicate gourmet cocoa flavor blended with the rich flavor and aroma of 100% Arabica coffee. Available in 12 oz. bag of ground coffee.

  8. I recently purchased 50/50 because consumer report said it was a good grade. I was very disappointed. I almost double what I usually use and it still tasted like water.

  9. Does anyone know what “naturally” decaf means with Beaumont coffee from Aldi’s? Ihope it means decaffeinated without chemicals. Thanks.

  10. I am in Louisiana and I used Community Coffee for decades until about 12 years ago we got the Sav a Center grocery chain that carried eight o clock..It is the only coffee I will drink..better by far over any other. It has become increasingly disappointing to find as no one is carrying it anymore. I am not supposed to have caffeine because of my heart but ABHOR decaf coffee..such weak and no body or taste. But 8 o clock had decaf French Roast that was amazing and full bodied and I am am avid coffee drinker who only drinks the first cup out of a pot and will not drink coffee that is more then a half an hour brewed. But I cannot find that decaf anywhere anymore…so I drink the blue bag, the half and half decaf 50% There is an eight O”clock website where u can purchase coffee, but it seems no longer have the decaf French Roast anymore. Actually the blue bag bean , I only use whole bean…which is 50% is a much better coffee then putting half of their full caff with half of their decaf, I do not know why but the flavor and body of blue bag is so much better. I am drinking a fresh cup now..;Merry Christmas from New Orleans (WHO DAT) everyone..ya’ll enjoy…

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