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:
- Coffee houses (including “craft” coffee houses)
- Chain coffee shops
- 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.