Consumption Reports: Saturday Morning Joe

Last week, when we were flying out of LAX at 7am, all we wanted was some coffee.  Our choices were Starbucks, that had a line 20 people deep, or Burger King, that had 3 people in line.  Scoffing, I jumped in the BK line and thought, “oh hell no, Sbux” and also, “bonus crossanwich!”  Is Starbucks coffee really worth a 10 or 20 minute line, when your plane is boarding in 25?  On Saturday morning (noon) we decided to find out!  Were those people standing in line for Starbucks victims of a good marketing department, or just running-through-an-airport-terminally-dedicated to their superior java.

We picked up a cup of coffee from Starbucks, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.   And since we were conducting a serious scientific study, we required a control group that we knew we would like: Cuban coffee in the form of Caffe Americano (hot water and espresso).

I know what you’re thinking, “Jennie, it’s 40 degrees outside, how are you going to keep the coffee warm while you drive around from location to location without the coffee getting cold?”  Don’t worry, Charlie is a man of many solutions.  He  decided to boil water in a pressure cooker and then bring the pressure cooker along for the ride to pick up the different coffees.

Pressure Cooker in a Blanket

The pressure cooker would then be wrapped in a blanket and seat belted.

Safety First

Then the plan was to pour the different coffees into plastic water bottles, and place those in the pressure cooker. My only contribution to the conservation of heat effort, with my two graduate degrees, was to crank the seat warmer.

Charlie Carefully Pours

Coco, always the micromanager

You can see how the coffees varied in colors.  It seems obvious in hindsight, but it turned out they tasted (and smelled) better the darker they were:

Starbucks, McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts

Before we could taste the street-bought coffees, we had to make our cafe con agua.

Too bad this picture isn't scratch-n-sniff

The only Cuban espresso sold in Virginia grocery stores.

So we poured the coffees into tiny thimbles and proceeded to taste.

Chinese character for "You are going to need a mint for that dragon breath after you drink all of this coffee"

Artsy Fartsy

In the end, the Caffe Americano that we made at home tasted best.  Part of me was sincerely hoping that somehow the McDonald’s coffee would stun me by being the best tasting, but Starbucks won out over the other store-made coffees. McDonald’s coffee did taste good in comparison to the cup of Dunkin’ Donuts, which didn’t even smell good.   The best part of the whole exercise was pouring the remaining Caffe Americano into a mug with warm milk, the left over espresso and sugar… then crashing for a nap.

Big bad Starbucks wins.

One Response to Consumption Reports: Saturday Morning Joe

  1. LauraJ says:

    Awesome comparison study. I’ve often wondered if ‘bucks was worth it.

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