Is Maxwell House Coffee Really That Bad?

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I have nothing against Maxwell House coffee. I’ll drink whatever’s in front of me. As a coffee blogger with 20 years of hands-on experience, I’ve had a chance to taste a spectrum of coffee varieties and brands. Yet, the one that sparks quite a bit of debate is Maxwell House coffee. The question often pops up: why is Maxwell House coffee seen as less appealing? Let’s find out.

History and Popularity of Maxwell House Coffee

In the coffee business, a name with a legacy often holds weight. Established in 1892, Maxwell House has been around for a while. Serving up their distinctive blend for over a century, they’ve secured a spot in many cupboards and freezers (GASP!).

Vintage Maxwell House Coffee Ad

Nonetheless, reputation and history don’t always translate to quality and flavor. Why is that? What happens in the journey from their storied history to your coffee mug?

Maxwell House has a rich history dating back to 1892. The brand gained popularity in the early 20th century, associated with the luxurious Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville. Its catchy slogan, “Good to the last drop,” still resonates with many. The brand has consistently focused on affordability and availability and has kept its flavor consistency intact over the years.

Why Does Maxwell House Taste “Bad?”

1. Bean Quality

A coffee’s soul is its beans. The quality of the beans used plays a pivotal role in the overall taste and aroma. Many argue Maxwell House uses lower-grade beans.

Robusta beans, usually cheaper and bearing a more bitter taste, are often used in lower-end coffee blends. For many coffee enthusiasts, this can diminish the drinking experience.

Add to that the pre-ground nature of the coffee, which loses freshness faster than whole beans, and you’ve got a recipe for some harsh criticism.1

It is worth mentioning that a considerable number of the brand’s followers actually enjoy the bitter taste, which could be attributed to their fond memories and nostalgia.

Ground Coffee Is Less Fresh Than Whole Bean

2. Brewing Techniques

Brewing techniques are the heart of any coffee experience. Maxwell House coffee is pre-ground and tends towards a dark roast, which is a bit like fast food in the coffee world.

The fine grind often used can result in an over-extracted brew. This makes the coffee taste more bitter, and some say, more burnt. It’s not the kind of thing you’d want in your morning cup.

3. The Role of Packaging

You probably already know this, but the way coffee is stored can significantly impact its flavor. Maxwell House coffee, found in a metal can or plastic container, can lead to a compromised taste over time.

Proper packaging and optimal storage conditions are crucial to maintaining coffee’s freshness. Unfortunately, Maxwell House coffee often falls short in this area, affecting the overall taste and quality.

Maxwell House Coffee
Maxwell House comes in plastic and metal tins

Consumer Opinions on Maxwell House Coffee

Taste varies, and Maxwell House coffee has its admirers. But many prefer more depth and quality in their coffee, something that Maxwell House’s mass production might not provide. Experts have criticized it for lack of flavor complexity, with Coffee Review giving it 2/10 points and Buzzfeed ranking it last for its “burnt” taste.

However, it’s not all negative. On Influenster, it’s rated 4.7/5 stars from over 4,000 reviews, and a Reddit user even loved it in a blind taste test.

Maxwell House Coffee vs. Specialty Coffee

Comparing Maxwell House coffee to specialty coffee, there’s quite a contrast. Specialty coffee focuses on unique flavors, high-quality beans, and mindful brewing methods.

Maxwell House, being a mass-produced product, might lose out on these aspects. The result? A brew that leaves a lot to be desired for those seeking a richer, more nuanced coffee experience.

Spirit Animal Coffee
Spirit Animal Specialty Coffee
  • Spirit Animal Coffee offers single-origin, shade-grown coffee that’s both organic and ethically sourced. I’ve tried their Bourbon blend and while I’m not the biggest fan of light-to-medium roasts, theirs was excellent.
  • Brewpoint Coffee is another well-loved brand, offering a wide array of unique coffee blends, from light to dark roasts. And CBD-infused coffee.

A Healthier Alternative: Organic Coffee Brands

Here’s an easier way to enjoy a more satisfying cup of coffee: organic coffee brands. These brands often focus on quality, offering a better-tasting alternative.

Why Is Maxwell House Coffee So Bad
Daddy loves him some Maxwell House

Which Is the Best Maxwell House Coffee?

When it comes to finding the best Maxwell House Coffee, the easiest route is your grocery store. The brand is so ubiquitous you’d be hard-pressed to not find it. It really depends on what type of coffee experience you are looking for.

According to Amazon customer reviews, Maxwell House The Original Roast is a good mild blend. On the other hand, folks who are looking for an intense, full flavor may prefer the Master Blend roast by Maxwell House.

Coffee BlendDescription
Maxwell House The Original RoastSuitable for those who prefer a milder blend of coffee.
Maxwell House Master Blend RoastA good choice for those who desire a more intense flavor. Offers a full-bodied flavor without a bitter bite.

Is Maxwell House coffee recalled?

Maxwell House Coffee is not currently recalled, but some customers have reported sickness after drinking it. This is only speculation, but various sources have explored possible reasons. Coffee Detective looked at customer complaints and potential causes. suggests the beans might come from an area exposed to Agent Orange, possibly contributing to the issue. There’s even a discussion on Quora speculating about how deforestation could affect the taste and environment, possibly leading to sickness.

Note: While there’s no recall, it might be wise to be aware of these reports.

Key Takeaways

  • Maxwell House Coffee has received mixed reviews from coffee experts and consumers. While some praise its classic, nostalgic flavor, others criticize it as overly bitter and harsh.
  • The main criticisms of Maxwell House seem to focus on its use of lower-quality robusta beans in its blend, which leads to a more bitter and acidic taste compared to 100% arabica coffees. The pre-ground coffee also loses freshness quickly.
  • However, as a mass-market brand, Maxwell House prioritizes broad accessibility and affordability over specialized flavor. It continues to have a loyal customer base who value its signature roasted flavor and vintage brand image.


Why is Maxwell House coffee so bad?

Maxwell House Coffee

The quality of beans, brewing methods, packaging, and storage all contribute to the taste of Maxwell House coffee. Some people find the taste inferior due to these factors.

Does Maxwell House use 100% Arabica beans?

Coffee Beans Cover

No, Maxwell House uses a blend of arabica and robusta beans in its coffee. The inclusion of robusta beans, which are cheaper and more bitter, contributes to the coffee’s distinct flavor.

Is Maxwell House coffee mild?

Maxwell House coffee is known for its robust flavor, which some may find a bit harsh. If you prefer a mild coffee, Maxwell House may not be the best choice for you.

Does Maxwell House use Robusta beans?

Yes, Maxwell House is known to use Robusta beans in their blends. These beans tend to be cheaper and produce a more bitter taste compared to Arabica beans.

Is there a more eco-friendly alternative to Maxwell House coffee?

The Illusionist

Yes, organic coffee brands like Lifeboost Coffee, Spirit Animal Coffee, and Brewpoint Coffee can offer a more conscientious, better-tasting alternative.

Why do some people still buy Maxwell House coffee?

Why Is Maxwell House Coffee So Bad

Some consumers might prefer Maxwell House coffee due to its affordability and accessibility, even if the taste might not be the best for everyone.

What makes specialty coffee different from Maxwell House coffee?

Specialty coffee focuses on unique flavors, high-quality beans, and careful brewing methods. On the other hand, Maxwell House focuses on quantity and accessibility, potentially compromising on taste and quality.

Are there other brands similar to Maxwell House?

Yes, other mass-market coffee brands are similar to Maxwell House, such as Folgers. These brands are widely available and affordable but may lack in taste and quality compared to specialty coffee brands.


πŸ’‘ Please Note: All the insights shared in this article are based on personal experience and widely shared consumer opinions. They’re meant to inform and help you explore the vast world of coffee.

Understanding why Maxwell House coffee is often seen as less appealing requires looking at the coffee’s origin, production, and overall quality. While it has its place in the market, it might not be the first choice for those seeking a rich and satisfying coffee experience.

Until next time, keep brewing and keep exploring!

FYI, here is the Maxwell House official website:

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Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.

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