In eight blind taste tests, eight staffers sampled 34 coffees (house or classic blends) from nationally available brands, prepared according to package instructions via automatic drip and French press.

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Credit: Photo: Randy Mayor

BEST DECAF WHOLE BEAN: Peet's Coffee Decaf House Blend, $13.50 (12 ounces)

Peet's comes alive with a freshly roasted aroma, full body, and a complex, nutty flavor with just the right amount of acidity. It's a bracing pick-me-up even for the caffeine-shy java addict.

BEST GROUND: Peet's Coffee House Blend, $11.95 (12 ounces)

Peet's Freshness Pledge, which ensures their coffee is sold within 90 days of roasting, pays off: rich, earthy notes of roasted nuts, vanilla, and bittersweet chocolate, with a round, well-balanced finish.

BEST WHOLE BEAN: Allegro Coffee Café Blend, $9.99 (12 ounces)

We loved this coffee before we even took the first sip—it has a rich, fragrant aroma, hinting of pumpkin pie spices. Each cup had a welcome edge of bitterness that mellowed into a smooth, toasty finish.

BEST DECAF GROUND: Dunkin' Donuts, $6.49 (12 ounces)

Silky, medium-bodied brew plus budget-friendly price—how far they've come.