The Rise of the Machines

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Where to go? – Coffee shop or a fast food outlet?

The machines rise up – but to make good coffee

It’s a generalisation, but I split my coffee “sources” into three categories:

  1. Coffee houses (including “craft” coffee houses)
  2. Chain coffee shops
  3. Fast food restaurants

I enjoy coffee from all three types of outlet. But, I enjoy some more than others. Of course I do, but we all do. However, let’s me pitch my own perspective.

Coffee, for me, has to tick a number of boxes. It has to taste good if not great. It needs a good crema that doesn’t quickly dissipate. It has to be prepared with some care, and preferably with the passion of an Italian barista. I like to sense those subtle tones and tastes. It needs to be strong enough to hit home yet not too ‘bitey’ to make me wince. I like it hot, but not so hot so that I cannot drink it without cold water (or an ice cube) added. I like my senses flooded. And although the quality of the coffee trumps everything, a little ambience is good too.

So you know, I prefer black coffee – untouched by sugar or milk so these don’t usually influence the experience for me. And I’m fussy. Sorry.

A dual-purpose coffee drinker

When I dink coffee, it’s either because I seeking a new experience and enjoying new tastes; or I just want a good coffee.

I try to experience coffees everywhere and from many outlets. Honestly, I am often disappointed, some examples being:

  • Different branches of a chain coffee shop delivers different results. The one thing I would expect from a chain is consistency. However, in a branch of one chain, I got the worst, most sloppily-prepared long black I have ever had. Yet in a different branch it was excellent – a proper long blank made with care and passion.
  • In a coffee house, I have been served my brew in a “proper cup” but the cup was cold. At least take the chill off! By the time any ordered snack arrived, the coffee was cold and there are no refill…
  • In a fast-food restaurant, the machine sometimes serves the coffee at a very high temperature. It’s not so bad because they brew at that temperature for a reason and they always have a ice cube or two nearby! But if I forget to cool it before taking a sip, I get grumpy.

When I am looking for that new experience, of course its a coffee house for me, seeking that passion, care and quality.

But when I just need a good coffee, that used to be a tricky decision. Chains and fast-foodies are everywhere. Which to choose?

In considering this dilemma, I repeat the point above: the quality of the coffee trumps everything.

Rise of the (coffee) machines

To me, it seems that fast-food outlets have installed high-quality, high-volume, coffee machines – rigorously tested to produce the same coffee over and over and over and over again. – and they seem to have have spent time, money and effort in getting it right. And they go through a massive volume of beans so logic says their beans are fresh. I have reviewed these coffees (and drank gallons!), and I have to say these machines make good coffee and (very importantly) consistently good coffee.

In my experience, and it’s only my experience, Coffee chains are usually just too inconsistent, where I have had both good and not-so-good experiences.

It is with this in mind that I always head for a fast food restaurant rather than a chain. I know – there are other factors at play etc etc. But personally that’s what I do.

Bean to cup

Bean to cup machine – as used in fast food outlets, and a great way to make coffee in our busy lives. We have tested such machines and consistency was the big advantage. But these machines can be expensive.

If you are interested in seeing what bean to cup machines might be readily available – check out the Bean to cup section of our shop.