When you’re a cashier there are always at least a few products that come through your line on any given day that the customers can’t stop praising, but you’ve never tried. For me, one of these products was Café Bustelo ground coffee. So naturally a few weeks ago I decided to buy myself a tin and share my thoughts. One recurring comment was “If you like strong coffee, you’ll love this.”, and while my feelings about this brand are “mixed” to say the least, there is no denying that this is decently strong cup of coffee.
Café Bustelo is listed by Caffeine Informer as having 14 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, and this would put their caffeine content below Starbucks coffee at 20.6 milligrams per ounce and even slightly below Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at 15 milligrams per ounce. Personally though, I think this estimate is too low. Generally I’m not too skeptical of caffeine informer, but in this case they note that their tests yielded results ranging from 7 to 22 milligrams of caffeine per ounce and I believe the real number lies much closer to 22 given how energizing this stuff has been. It should also be noted that the brand itself does not release nutritional information regarding its caffeine content. In general I’d say this stuff packs a punch that is much closer to “death wish lite” than “water dyed brown”.
This coffee definitely has a pretty unique flavor to it. It almost has a spicy aftertaste and is a bit more bitter than most roasts. It’s not my favorite flavor of coffee, but it is definitely different in taste than anything I’ve tried before for this blog. I will say that I could absolutely see someone being absolutely blown away by this kind of coffee, but I’m not that person. The consistency of this brew is also on the smoother side, I’d compare the brew texture most closely to JazzMan’s coffee.
The ethical standards this coffee is held to are… highly questionable at best. Earlier this month I contacted the J.M. Smucker Company regarding their 2016 Corporate Responsibility Report, My message to them and their responses can be viewed here. For the record, yes, they did actually say “Insert Brand® coffee” in the second reply .
They have since also published their 2017 corporate responsibility report which goes into a bit more detail than the previous one regarding the practices and initiatives in action at some of their coffee growing locations, but many of the over-arching statistics regarding their coffee remain troubling. Only 10% of their TOTAL RETAIL COFFEE is from “certified green coffee sources”, meaning UTZ or Rain Forest Alliance (soon to merge) certified. It is worth noting that both of these certifications have been criticized for not meeting the same standards as Fairtrade International or Fair Trade USA. Worse yet the 2017 report removes any and all mention of Fair Trade from the commodity sourcing section. I am by no means saying FTUSA or Fairtrade International are the be-all-end-all for ethical consumption, but all the same I do think that given that only 10% is certified to begin with that this change is quite troubling.
The price of a 10 ounce tin of Café Bustelo ground coffee is $3.99 at the grocery store I work at and $4.49 at the retailer linked from their offical website. That puts it at significantly less per ounce than any other bagged coffee I’ve reviewed so far.
Other factors (ethics, price, etc.): 4.8/10
Unique taste – smooth brew – questionable ethics – absurdly affordable price
All coffee for this review was brewed in a Cuisinart brand electronic coffee maker.