The Monday Question
I enjoy a good cup of coffee, as do many folks. I’m not a black coffee guy, not being all that manly, but I’ll drive cattle, rustle sheep, and swap stories around the campfire with any ornery cowpoke this side of the Rio Grande over a nice mocha latte. But there are a lot of different kinds of coffee out there, and a few pretenders too. How to settle the issue? Why the Monday Question of course!
I’ll start. Pictured above is my research, which I will organize into highly scientific and professional reviewery type order. Because I am now a big-shot reviewer I’ll be assigning a one to ten numeric value to the amount of coffee goodness each brought to my taste buds, exemplified by some funny little doo-dad. I know! I’ll use coffee beans!
#1 Starbucks Mocha Latte: Ten Beans!
Okay, I like Starbucks, that’s not really a secret, but for a consistently good, high quality product, this is the cup to beat. The twenty ounce is a hair under $4, which is the highest price as well, at twenty cents an ounce.
#2 Three Layers Mocha Latte: Eight Beans!
Three Layers is a local coffee house here in town, and is pretty representative of the type. The coffee itself is excellent, on par with Starbucks, but they lost beans with their “mocha,” which was just Hershey’s Dark chocolate syrup. (It’s too sweet.) This is very typical of smaller, independent coffee houses everywhere I’ve ever been. Prices are pretty much the same as Starbucks too.
#3 Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King Brewed Coffee: Seven Beans!
I kind of had a revelation when I tried the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I realized that I had been judging “American” (or brewed) coffee by “European” (or steamed) standards. That’s not right. The truth is that they’re really two very different drinks, each with their own strengths. Steamed coffee is rich, full, and complex, lots of depth to the tastes. Brewed coffee is light and clean, high bodied and more refreshing. Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King were indistinguishable to me from each other, but both were very good, and very much something I wouldn’t mind drinking. The twenty ounce was just north of $2, making it half the price of the steamed coffees.
#4 Best Bean Mocha Latte: Six Beans!
This was the surprise hit for me. Best Bean is the coffee brand for sale in Gate Station stores (gas stations with the little grocery stores attached) here in Florida. It’s a machine where you place your cup in the front and punch the buttons for size and type, and it goes to town. Unlike older models the machine doesn’t just mix hot water and powder, but it actually grinds beans from the hopper on top, steams your coffee, and adds whatever flavors you have requested. I was happily shocked to discover that it wasn’t a bit bad! A little sweet, but not too much… lower quality beans, but that seemed to be expected, and a real bargain at $1.89 for a twenty four ounce cup. Finally, it was fast and convenient. It will never replace Starbucks for me, but it’ll do in a pinch!
#5 McDonalds “McCafe” Mocha Latte: One Bean!
This was… awful. I am not certain what was done to this cup of coffee to make it so bad, but whichever pencil-necked vice-president in charge of suck decided this was a good idea needs to have his head examined in a room far from his body where it can’t do any more damage. This was basically old truck-stop coffee with too much milk and artificially flavored chocolate sugar. I made the observation to Lena that if I was driving late at night, with no sleep for the last three days, and the only source of caffeine to be found was this, I’d find a way to drink it. So while it suffers in comparison to every other coffee available, it is better than death. (Which is where it’s one bean came from.) The $3.05 large is smaller than everyone else’s large at sixteen ounces, placing just under the actual premium coffees in price, but in this case that’s a mercy.
So the question… What is your favorite coffee, and why do you like it? Best taste, best price, sweet on the barista? What’s your best bean?