Coffee bags are like tea bags but with coffee in the bag instead of tea. Most people will have never even tried coffee bags but that may be about to change as more coffee companies start to make them and test if they are potentially a viable alternative to instant coffee.
Tea bags are by far the most popular way in the UK to enjoy a cup of tea but because the supermarkets sell mostly instant coffee becuase that’s what you tend to grab when you go down the coffee aisle.
Why does almost everyone drink tea from a teabag but never coffee in a bag?
Are coffee bags any good or do we already have plenty of choices when it comes to buying coffee so why confuse everyone by adding another option into the mix?
How are coffee bags different from the other types of coffee that you can get in the supermarket?
Are they the same as instant coffee but in a bag?
What’s the quality like compared to instant coffee and whole coffee beans?
Are coffee bags worth the money or are they just another marketing gimmick to make the companies that produce them even more money?
What is a coffee bag?
Coffee bags contain whole coffee beans that have been finely ground before being added to the bag.
Coffee in a coffee bag is different from instant coffee because instant coffee completely dissolves when water is added.
Only 30% of the ground coffee in coffee bags will dissolve to create a cup of coffee and so keeping the other 70% inside the bag makes it easy to get rid of without creating a mess or the hassle of cleaning away the used coffee grounds.
Here is an article that explains in detail why some coffee dissolves completely and other coffee doesn’t:
What’s good about coffee bags?
The best thing about coffee bags is that they are not instant coffee, they are the next level up and closer to a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
If you want the convenience of instant coffee but you want something that tastes better than instant with the same level of convenience then you may want to give coffee bags a try.
It’s important to understand that instant coffee is the lowest quality coffee of all the different types because it has been made into coffee months in advance and then frozen and broken down into the coffee granules you add to your cup.
Mostly, instant coffee also contains the lowest quality coffee beans and that has a huge negative effect on flavour.
There are two main varieties of coffee beans that make up the vast majority of the coffee that is drunk worldwide, Arabica and Robusta.
Arabica coffee beans are generally accepted to be better quality than Robusta and you will find that most instant coffee is made up of a lot of Robusta coffee beans because they are cheaper but much less flavoursome.
If coffee is 100% Arabica, the packaging on the coffee will be quick to tell you but if it’s mainly Robusta coffee then most instant coffee jars will not show what the coffee bean variety is because they don’t want to shout about it.
Find out more about instant coffee in this article:
Coffee bags are better than instant coffee because they contain coffee that has been ground down from whole coffee beans and added straight to the bag without anything being done to them first.
If you live a very busy life, you can’t be bothered with a coffee machine and you want something super quick that tastes pretty decent then coffee bags are an option.
You will, however, pay for the convenience. Coffee bags are a very expensive option when it comes to drinking coffee
What’s bad about coffee bags?
The worst thing about coffee bags compared to all of the other ways you can buy coffee is the price.
They represent really bad value for money compared to buying a bag of pre-ground coffee beans.
The only true way to measure the price is to look at the price per 100 grams.
An average coffee bag will contain about 8g of coffee and you will get about 10 in a packet so you are only getting 80g of coffee but expect to pay between £2-£3 for a packet of 10 coffee bags.
That’s a lot and can work out at £3-£4 per 100g
Ground coffee in a packet, on the other hand, will set you back around £2 per 100g and often less.
It’s difficult to do a direct comparison because all coffee is a different quality but you can expect to pay double for ground coffee in a bag compared to ground coffee in a packet.
Also, you can’t control the amount of coffee that goes into your cup because the coffee is locked away inside the bag.
The bag contains 8g of coffee but what if you want 10g or 6g? You don’t get that option with a bag but if you buy a packet of ground coffee you can add exactly the amount you want.
How are coffee bags different from other types of coffee?
There are four main types of coffee. This is how we would choose to drink coffee in order of worst to best:
Instant – If you want a decent cup of coffee don’t drink instant coffee. It may be cheap but it’s not worth it because the taste is not great compared to the other types of coffee.
Pre-ground coffee bags – Convenient but expensive for the amount of coffee you get in each bag.
Pre-ground loose – Better value for money than coffee bags but you will need to spend 5 minutes making a coffee using pre-ground coffee in a packet. You can also choose pre-ground coffee in the form of a coffee pod to make it quicker.
Whole coffee beans – By far the best way to enjoy coffee. Grind just before brewing for the best taste.
Make your coffee cheaper without compromising on flavour
If you want to combine great tasting coffee and do it the most cost-effective way then here are a few tips on how you can combine quality with value to get the best possible coffee for less.
Try using a coffee maker or coffee machine to make your coffee.
If you are not up for spending hundreds of pounds on an all singing all dancing bean to cup coffee machine that grinds whole coffee beans and will produce a cappuccino with the press of just one button then you can make great tasting coffee by investing as little as £20-£50.
If you are thinking about trying out coffee bags but you don’t really want to spend twice as much money for the same amount of coffee that comes in a bag rather than a packet try using a cafetière.
If you are in a hurry then it’s not the best option because you’ll need about 6 minutes to produce a decent cup of coffee with a cafetière but it will be about half the price of using a coffee bag.
You can make a better cup of coffee with a cafetière as well because you can control the amount of coffee that goes in whereas a coffee bag has a fixed amount of coffee and you have to keep an eye on the strength of your coffee when the bag is in your cup.
It’s going to be difficult to consistently get the same strength of coffee with a bag but with a cafetière, you can add the same amount of coffee and the same amount of water every time to reproduce your coffee the way you like it every single time.
Find out more about the importance of coffee to water ratios in this article:
This article explains how to make a great cup of coffee with a cafetière:
Pod coffee machines are arguably more convenient than a coffee bag because you pop in the coffee capsule, press a button and the coffee is delivered without any further need for you to do anything.
You also pay for the convenience of using coffee pods but they are similarly priced to coffee bags so it’s an option to consider if you want convenience and quality.
Coffee pods also contain pre-ground coffee just like coffee bags so the quality will be similar.
Here are some pod coffee machines worth looking at:
You can spend thousands on a coffee machine if you really want to but as a direct alternative to coffee bags, the last option to consider is an espresso machine.
You grind whole coffee beans and add the ground coffee to a portafilter just like they do in coffee shops and you get a super fresh espresso. Add milk to create a cappuccino or latte.
These machines are cheaper than you may think. Here are some of the best low-cost ones:
What do coffee bags taste like?
Probably the closest comparison is filter coffee.
If you are not familiar with filter coffee, you add ground coffee (just like the ground coffee you find in coffee bags) to a filter coffee machine and the machine pours water over the coffee and it passes through the ground coffee and into a jug below.
Filter coffee machines can make as few as a couple of cups of coffee but they are mainly used to make a jug that can be shared with two or more people whereas coffee bags are perfect for one cup at a time.
To find out more about filter coffee machines take a look at this article:
What are the best coffee bags?
Now that you understand the difference between coffee in a bag and the coffee you currently buy.
If you want to give them a go here are some suggestions of top-rated coffee bags that have already been tried and tested and enjoy overwhelmingly favourable ratings from people that have already tried them.
Instead of a complete lucky dip at the supermarket where you have no idea if they are any good, at least you know that a lot of people think they are worth a try:
Moreish Coffee Bags – pack of 50
Taylor Of Harrogate Rich Italian Coffee Bags
Lyons No.3 Coffee Bags