The Ingredients Used to Economize Ground Coffee

Behind the scenes of the coffee industry lies a world of techniques used by producers to make ground coffee more affordable without sacrificing taste. These practices often involve blending coffee with various additives to reduce costs while still delivering a satisfying cup. In this article, we delve into the fascinating realm of coffee production to uncover the common substances that are blended with ground coffee and shed light on the methods used to economize on this beloved beverage.

Chicory: A Time-Honored Tradition

One of the most time-honored traditions in coffee blending is the addition of chicory. Chicory, a flowering plant with a distinctly bitter flavor, has been used as a coffee additive for centuries. It is valued for its ability to increase the volume of ground coffee, reducing the amount of expensive coffee beans needed. Blending coffee with chicory adds depth and complexity to the brew, resulting in a unique flavor profile. This practice is particularly common in certain regions, such as New Orleans, where chicory infused coffee has become an integral part of the local coffee culture.

Grains and Cereal Grains: Extending the Blend

Another cost-effective approach to saving ground coffee is to add grains and cereals. Producers can add ingredients such as barley, corn, wheat or rice to the coffee blend. These additions not only help stretch the volume, but also contribute to the body and texture of the final product. While the presence of grains can subtly alter the flavor, it provides an opportunity to explore new flavor experiences and makes coffee more accessible to a wider range of consumers.

Roasted Soybeans: A Surprising Twist

In some cases, roasted soybeans find their way into ground coffee blends as a way to reduce costs. Roasted soybeans can be ground to resemble coffee grounds and are often mixed with coffee to create a more economical product. While this practice is less common, it demonstrates the innovative ways in which producers are striving to balance affordability and quality. The addition of roasted soybeans provides a nutty undertone to the brew, adding a unique twist to the flavor profile.

Coffee Husks and Chaff: A Sustainable Solution

An increasingly popular approach to conserving ground coffee is to reuse coffee hulls and chaff. These are the outer layers of the coffee bean that are typically discarded during the production process. Instead of going to waste, they are incorporated into ground coffee blends. While coffee hulls and chaff have minimal impact on flavor, they contribute to the overall volume of the product, allowing for a more sustainable and efficient use of the entire coffee fruit.

Addressing Health Considerations: Potential Impact of Additives in Economized Ground Coffee

While the additives used to economize ground coffee can help reduce costs, it’s important to consider potential health concerns associated with their consumption. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Chicory: While chicory is generally safe for consumption, it contains compounds called fructans, which can be difficult for some people to digest. People with certain digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), may experience gastrointestinal discomfort or symptoms such as bloating and gas when consuming chicory. It’s a good idea for people with these conditions to monitor their reactions and adjust their intake accordingly.
  2. Cereals and grains: The addition of cereals and grains to coffee blends may introduce potential allergens, such as wheat or corn, which may cause adverse reactions in individuals with specific allergies or sensitivities. If you have a known allergy or intolerance, it’s important to check the ingredient list carefully and choose coffee blends that are free of allergens that may affect you.
  3. Roasted soybeans: While roasted soybeans are generally considered safe for consumption, individuals with soy allergies or sensitivities should exercise caution when consuming coffee blends that contain roasted soybeans. Soy allergies can manifest as mild to severe allergic reactions, including breathing difficulties, skin rashes, or digestive problems. If you have a soy allergy, it’s best to avoid coffee blends that contain soy-based additives.
  4. Coffee husks and chaff: Coffee hulls and chaff are byproducts of coffee production and are generally considered safe for consumption. However, they add minimal nutritional value to the coffee blend. If you have specific dietary concerns or restrictions, it’s important to note that coffee blends with these additives may not provide significant nutritional benefits.

It’s important to read product labels, research the specific additives used, and understand your own health considerations when choosing coffee blends. If you have existing medical conditions or concerns, it’s always wise to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Remember that while these additives are used to conserve ground coffee, there are many high-quality coffee options that focus on using pure, unadulterated coffee beans. Exploring specialty coffee offerings or sourcing coffee from reputable producers can be a great way to ensure a pure and enjoyable coffee experience.


Studying the additives used to economize ground coffee provides valuable insights into the coffee production industry. While these practices may alter flavor and aroma to some degree, they also offer opportunities to discover new flavor profiles and experience unique blends. As coffee enthusiasts, it is important to be aware of the ingredients that go into our favorite brews so that we can make informed choices. By embracing the variety of options available and appreciating the ingenuity of coffee producers, we can continue to enjoy our beloved beverage while understanding the intricacies of its creation.


What do manufacturers typically add to ground coffee to make it cheaper?

Manufacturers often mix ground coffee with various additives to reduce costs. Common additives include chicory, cereals and grains, roasted soybeans, and coffee hulls. These additives help increase the volume of the coffee blend while using less expensive ingredients.

Why is ground coffee less expensive?

Ground coffee is typically less expensive than whole bean coffee due to several factors. First, the manufacturing process for ground coffee is more efficient and less labor intensive than packaging whole beans. In addition, ground coffee has a shorter shelf life and can lose its flavor more quickly, making it less desirable to some coffee connoisseurs. Finally, packaging and transportation costs for ground coffee can be lower because it is more compact and lightweight than whole beans.

How can I make cheap coffee taste better?

Making cheap coffee taste better is possible with a few simple strategies:

  • Opt for whole bean coffee: Consider buying whole bean coffee instead of pre-ground. Grinding the beans just before brewing preserves the freshness and aroma, resulting in a more flavorful cup.
  • Adjust your brewing method: Experiment with different brewing methods, such as pour-over, French press, or Aeropress, to enhance the extraction process and bring out more of the coffee’s flavors.
  • Use filtered water: The quality of the water you use can greatly affect the taste of your coffee. Using filtered water can remove impurities and provide a cleaner canvas for the coffee’s flavors to shine.
  • Consider the coffee-to-water ratio: Adjusting the coffee-to-water ratio can affect the strength and flavor of the brew. Experiment with different ratios to find the balance that suits your taste preferences.
  • Store coffee properly: Proper storage is essential to keeping coffee fresh. Keep it in an airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture to preserve its flavor longer.
  • Experiment with additives: Enhance the flavor of cheap coffee by adding a dash of cinnamon, a touch of vanilla extract, or a sprinkle of cocoa powder. These simple additions can elevate the flavor profile and make it more enjoyable.

What is the filler in ground coffee?

The filler in ground coffee can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Common fillers include chicory, cereals, grains, roasted soybeans, and coffee hulls. These additives are mixed with the coffee to increase volume and reduce cost.

Why is whole bean more expensive than ground?

Whole bean coffee is generally more expensive than ground coffee for several reasons. First, the production process for whole bean coffee is more labor intensive, requiring the harvesting, sorting and packaging of intact coffee beans. In addition, whole bean coffee is often associated with higher quality coffee beans, specialty blends or single-origin offerings that command a premium price. The longer shelf life of whole beans also contributes to their higher price, as they retain their freshness and flavor longer than pre-ground coffee.

How to make the best ground coffee?

To make the best ground coffee, follow these tips:

  1. Choose freshly roasted coffee: Choose freshly roasted coffee beans for maximum flavor and aroma. Look for the roasting date on the package and choose beans roasted as close to your brewing date as possible.
  2. Grind just before brewing: If possible, grind your coffee just before brewing to preserve its freshness. Invest in a burr grinder for a consistent grind size.
  3. Use the Right Water Temperature: Brewing at the right water temperature is critical. For most methods, aim for water between 195°F and 205°F (90°C to 96°C) for optimal extraction.
  4. Follow proper brewing techniques: Different brewing methods have specific techniques that can enhance the flavor of ground coffee. Follow recommended brewing guidelines and adjust variables such as brew time, water-to-coffee ratio, and grind size to suit your taste preferences.
  5. Store coffee properly: Proper storage is essential to maintaining the freshness of ground coffee. Store it in an airtight container away from light, heat, and moisture to preserve its flavor.
  6. Experiment with different ratios of coffee to water: Adjusting the coffee-to-water ratio can affect the strength and flavor of the brew. Experiment with different ratios to find the balance that suits your taste preferences.
  7. Clean your equipment: Clean your brewing equipment, such as your coffeemaker or French press, regularly to prevent residual flavors from affecting the taste of your coffee.