Saving money on coffee just like Grandpa: Folgers targets broke coffee drinkers


The best part of waking up hasn't been Folgers for a decade or more. With Starbucks making gourmet coffee ubiquitous and boutique coffee roasters brewing ever-more-delightful java, Folgers is stuck in grandpa's mug. My brother-in-law and I give each other grimaces behind my dad's back when we drink the home brew at his house, and I've been known to bring my own beans when I'm visiting.

But grandpa is getting on now, and consumers looking for ways to save cash turn to their daily coffee beverage so often that saving $4 a day has a name: The Starbucks Factor, or the Latte Factor, depending on your brand loyalty (or lack thereof). But Folgers, Maxwell House and the even lesser-known competitors make their coffee from the ultra-cheap and inferior "Robusta" beans, in contrast to the "Arabica" beans used by upscale coffees. Robusta beans thrive at lower altitudes and produce far more beans per plant, and have twice the caffeine of Arabica beans; but their flavor, according to coffee connoisseurs, is extremely inadequate. How could a discriminating coffee drinker be persuaded to switch to Folgers, without creating a price disadvantage?

Instead of investing in better beans, Folgers invested in technology and marketing.