Currently Browsing: Bad Coffee

Ditch the Drip

I don’t know how many cups of coffee have been completely ruined by bad drip coffee makers, but I know one thing for sure — barring some notable exceptions, these awful machines can never heat water to the right temperature for full coffee extraction. The hot plate below the glass carafe only adds to the disaster. It is designed to keep the coffee “hot”, but really evaporates the delicate oils that give coffee its flavor. The final result is an acrid, thin liquid that has none of the nuances of the coffee you so hopefully chose to buy.

Drip coffee makers exploded into the US market as a tool of convenience. No more cleaning out French presses, no more messing with hot water. This was brilliant! Just add cold water, scoop the ground coffee into the paper filter, press a button, and in minutes be rewarded with a pot of piping hot go juice. Who cares how it tastes when it’s Folgers in your cup? It wakes you up — isn’t that good enough, you elitist bastard? What? You still don’t like it? Add some non-dairy creamer, you wuss, and pile on the sugar. Now that there is good coffee.

If you belong to the aforementioned school of thought, I applaud you. In your quest for some extra chest hair, you have just embraced the position that nothing else matters but the buzz. If that makes you happy, carry on! When you’re ready to appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go into each cup of specialty coffee, come by. We’ll be waiting for you. End of screed.

Now there are several top-notch drip brewers in the market. The Technivorm Moccamaster, the Bonavita and the Breville Youbrew come to mind. However, these tend to be a bit on the expensive side — over $100 in most cases — and may take a little more fuss in operation. If you must buy a drip brewer, at least avoid the ones with the hot plate under the carafe, and try to buy one with a stainless steel vacuum carafe that keeps coffee hot without having to be heated itself.

UnPremium Coffee: McDonalds

When it comes to coffee, McDonalds has very questionable quality control. Sounds strange? Hear me out.

I drank coffee with drastically different qualities on two McDonalds on the same street. One of them (near 73rd and Pulaski, Chicago 60652) serves their coffee jacked with robusta, and it shows. I could literally taste the bottom-of-the-barrel foodservice coffee — the acrid taste and pungent aroma were proof positive that I had wasted my money. Down the street at Pulaski and Archer, it wasn’t so bad. Yes, it did taste a little rancid but overall there was less adulteration.

So I drove to my neighborhood Mickey D’s (Touhy Ave & Niles Center Road, Niles, IL), and asked for a steaming cup. Aaaah! Now this was much better. No trace of robusta, and a smooth, medium-acidity, hassle-free flavor that didn’t taste like battery acid. Okay, calling this Premium coffee may be stretching boundaries a bit, but I could drink this without wincing.

This got me wondering why coffee was so inconsistent in a chain that prides itself on its quality control and consistency. I think it’s just a way to cut costs for franchisees. Any other ideas people?