Bengal Traders Coffee

Some of the best gas station coffee in Illinois is available at Mobil stations around the state. Bengal Traders coffee caught my attention when I needed a little caffeination at the O’Hare oasis on I-90. The house roast was robust but not overwhelming, with a controlled bitterness. The blends were a bit dubious, but there was no detectable presence of robusta.

My favorite part, however, were the espresso shots. Need a bit more punch in your cup?
Add one of these.  Available in little cups like the ones used for creamer, these do pack a wallop.

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?

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