Folgers vs Maxwell House Coffee – Comparison and Review

Are you searching your grocery store shelves for a flavorful cup of affordable coffee? As you examine each brand’s price, you might find yourself reaching for America’s most recognizable budget-friendly coffee providers and long-time rivals: Folgers and Maxwell House.

But which of the two brands has the best taste for its price?

Folgers vs Maxwell House coffee is a debate that has existed since the two brands’ conceptions in the 1800s.

The longevity of these instant coffee providers proves that both Folgers and Maxwell House are coffee giants with a wide variety of popular flavored coffee grounds and other coffee products.

The quality and taste of Folgers and Maxwell House’s arabica and robusta beans are strikingly similar, making choosing a clear winner for your morning cup of coffee as cloudy as a latte with oat milk.

However, suppose public opinion can help sway your decision. In that case, data shows that Folgers currently holds the title of America’s top budget coffee brand after successfully overtaking Maxwell House’s former stronghold on the budget coffee industry.

How Was Maxwell House Dethroned as America’s Top Budget Coffee Brand? — Maxwell House Coffee History

maxwell house coffee

The year is 1873, and Joel Cheek is a traveling salesman on a mission. He has been peddling coffee beans and recommending the most costly option to his customers, only to find out during a personal taste test that some of his cheaper beans have the best flavor. Inspired by his findings, he teamed up with Roger Nolley Smith to create a new perfect blend.

The Maxwell House hotel agrees to offer Joel Cheek’s new coffee blend to its wealthy and notable guests in Nashville, Tennessee.

Word quickly spreads in the upper circles about the Maxwell House hotel’s superb coffee, and Joel Cheek decides to name his blend after the hotel that gave him success and fame. Thus, Maxwell House coffee was born.

“Good to the Last Drop”

One of the famous and noteworthy guests that stayed at the Maxwell House hotel was President Theodore Roosevelt. After draining his coffee cup, he allegedly exclaimed that Maxwell House coffee is “Good to the last drop,” effectively giving Maxwell House coffee its company slogan.

Maxwell House enjoyed being America’s top-selling ground coffee provider until the 1990s when the Folgers vs Maxwell House struggle for dominance over the ground coffee market finally tipped in Folgers’ favor.

How Did Folgers Become America’s Best Selling Ground Coffee Brand? — Folgers Coffee History

folgers coffee

The year is 1850, and James Folger does not want to build a coffee mill. In fact, he would rather risk his livelihood searching for gold in California’s famed gold rush instead. So, he hurriedly finishes his coffee mill build and runs off in search of his golden fortune.

His venture ultimately ends in defeat, and he returns to William Bovee’s coffee mill with a new business idea in mind.

Over the years, coffee mill owner William Bovee noticed how inconvenient it was for the public to grind and roast their coffee themselves.

When James Folger brings up the idea of a coffee business partnership, William Bovee excitedly proposes a pre-ground and pre-roasted coffee alternative. Thus, James Folger and William Bovee create J.A. Folgers Coffee Company in San Francisco, California.

“The Best Part of Waking Up”

But the J.A. Folgers Coffee Company did not strike gold just yet. It was not until 1963, when Proctor & Gamble purchased the company, that Folgers became a household name.

Folgers’ newfound fame was all due to the earworm of a jingle “The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup.

Although both Folgers and Maxwell House use a similar blend of arabica and robusta beans, Folgers effectively stole the crown as America’s top budget coffee brand due to the superior marketing technique of Proctor & Gamble.

The Robusta Bean vs the Arabica Bean

In 2007, Maxwell House refused to go down without a fight and tried to elevate its brand by cutting out robusta beans and selling 100% arabica beans instead.

Arabica beans are rare, taste better than robusta beans, and cost more. In comparison, robusta beans are common, cheap, and bitter. But they do contain more caffeine than arabica beans. Robusta beans are used when making Vietnamese coffee.

Despite the consumers’ approval of arabica beans, Maxwell House’s new tactic was not making enough profit due to cost-effective competition in the marketplace.

Maxwell House could not afford to keep providing only arabica beans. Meanwhile, Folgers continued to dominate the coffee industry with its price-point-friendly blend of arabica and robusta beans.

In the end, Maxwell House had to switch back to utilizing both arabica and robusta beans to save money, effectively losing the Folgers vs Maxwell House coffee quest for market control.

What’s the Difference Between Average Coffee and Great Coffee? Pre-ground Coffee Beans vs Freshly Ground Coffee Beans

The Maxwell vs Folgers debate produces a clear winner in marketing and sales. However, the brands are practically interchangeable in terms of quality and taste.

If you have a sensitive palette, you might report that the Maxwell House original blend has a slightly bolder flavor than the sweet, caffeinated punch of Folgers’ classic roast coffee. But more than likely, if you are a coffee enthusiast, you are not drinking Folgers or Maxwell House coffee.

Both brands use pre-ground coffee mixes from multiple coffee farms worldwide. Pre-ground coffee mixes are considered sub-par compared to freshly ground medium roast coffee beans for various reasons. However, there are some benefits to pre-ground coffee.

The Benefits of Pre-ground Coffee

  • Pre-ground coffee can be made cheaply and thus is more cost-effective for the consumer.
  • You do not need to purchase a grinder or deal with the noise of grinding coffee.
  • Do you ever rely on Keurig machines, single-serve packets, and K-Cup Pods to get you through the workday? Instant coffee is quick and easy to make when you have limited time.

The Benefits of Freshly Ground Beans

  • When coffee beans are pre-ground for instant coffee packets, they rapidly age and result in a loss of flavor. The simply smooth taste of fresh medium roast or dark roast coffee is better than any light roast home cafe pods.
  • When you grind your own beans, you can control the coarseness. If you are brewing with a French press, you need a coarse grind, or else your grounds could be incompatible with your device. A fine grind could also turn your coffee watery and weak.
  • Freshly ground beans contain fewer free radicals than pre-packaged instant coffee grounds.

Your Drink of Choice

When it comes to Maxwell House vs Folgers coffee, both brands focus on consumer convenience while whole bean coffee providers take pride in the quality and taste of their beans.

If visiting your local roaster and purchasing a bag of green beans to roast your own mug of green coffee sounds like your ideal Sunday afternoon, then Folgers and Maxwell House are not the brands for you.

However, if you like late-night diner drip coffee and only have fifteen minutes in the morning to prepare your mug, then both Folgers and Maxwell House have various flavor options for you.

Folgers Gourmet Selections and Classic Complements, including Chocolate Silk, Hazelnut, and Cinnamon, have nice flavor profiles. And you cannot walk into your local grocery stores without finding a Maxwell House original roast that has a classic and enjoyable taste.

No matter which coffee giant you choose, both brands will give you the jolt of energy you need at a price you can afford.

Folgers vs Maxwell House Caffeine

According to Caffeine Informer, here is the amount of caffeine in Folgers and Maxwell House:

  • Folgers Coffee Caffeine: 112 mg per 8 oz. cup
  • Maxwell House Caffeine: 112 mg per 8 oz. cup

Well, how about that? They have the exact same amount of caffeine. This seems fitting.

Folgers vs Maxwell House Reddit

Reddit is a great place to go when you are looking to settle a debate so it should come as no surprise that there has been some discussion on this topic there. Here are some of the different discussions that have taken place:

What is the best bad brand of coffee? from Coffee

I did a blind tasting of Maxwell House and it was pretty good. Is my life a lie? from Coffee

Why do old people like Folgers so much from Coffee

Which Tastes Better, Folgers or Maxwell House?

Maxwell House has a stronger aroma when you are making it. Many people have a strong preference for one over the other. Let’s end it right now and decide a winner between the two long-time coffee rivals. In our humble opinion, Folgers is a slightly better cup of cheap coffee.

Good Coffee at a Reasonable Price

Settling the Folgers vs Maxwell House coffee debate ultimately comes down to your taste preference and personal background with the coffee brands. Is there better coffee out there? Gourmet coffee lovers would unequivocally say yes. They’re considered similar by many. The Folgers water to coffee ratio mirrors that of Maxwell House.

But do overpriced French vanilla lattes evoke the same sense of nostalgia and warmth as America’s favorite budget coffee brands?

When you pop off the top of a Maxwell House coffee container and inhale the pleasant coffee aroma of a breakfast blend, do you remember long road trips and buying cheap dark roast coffee at understocked gas stations in the middle of the night?

When the Folgers jingle plays on a Christmas commercial, do you remember being snuggled up around the tree with your siblings?

Folgers and Maxwell House might be budget brands that serve regular coffee, but as any true coffee connoisseur will tell you, coffee is more than a cup of caffeine; it is a cup of connection.

And if that sip brings you back to the people you love most, maybe a cup of budget coffee grounds is the best coffee in town.

For more great articles on coffee, including reviews of coffee makers, grinders, and coffee shops, visit, a bomb-ass coffee blog for the caffeine-obsessed. No matter where you stand with regards to the Folgers vs Maxwell House coffee rivalry.

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