Movable Feast: Cup of Joe



Coffee. It’s the most important liquid on earth.

OK, maybe water is a tad more important. But here at the Current, we think coffee is right up there.

As important as coffee is to us, we figure it’s probably just as important to some of you. So, in an effort to help you, our loyal readers, we recently embarked on an important coffee-related mission: To find the best cup of coffee on campus.

The rules were simple: We bought “small” cups of regular coffee—no cream, no sugar—from six local coffee shops, cafes and other stores. Then we conducted a blind test taste (twice). Below, you can see the results. We list the contenders in order of finish (starting with the best).

Price: $1.61
What you need to know: Starbucks offers all the extras you’ve come to expect. As well as skim or whole milk, you can add vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg to your coffee and every sugary substance yet invented, including Splenda.
Comments: “If you like your coffee on the tannic side, this one’ s for you.” ... “Not acidic, no bitter aftertaste.” ... “Real coffee flavor but not bitter.”

Price: $1.69
What you need to know: This place is a zoo. To avoid the out-the-door throngs waiting to order sandwiches and salads, slip to the right and place your coffee request directly with the cashier.
Comments: “Powerful.” ... “Is that bananas I taste?” ... “A strong cup of coffee.” ... “Smells like actual coffee. Wonderful aroma.” ... “It’s bitter, but good bitter.”

Au Bon Pain
Price: $1.49
What you need to know: You can choose between French Roast (darker) and Café Roast (not so dark). Unlike many of its counterparts, Au Bon Pain offers the middle ground—2 percent milk—as well as skim and light cream.
Comments: “An odd, sweet aroma.” ... “Seems there’s a bit of a chocolate aftertaste.” ... “A strange sweetness about this coffee.”

Bucks County Coffee
Price: $1.61
What you need to know: All sugar preferences are taken care of here—the pink packet, the blue packet, the yellow packet, plus regular old sugar and “sugar in the raw.”
Comments: “Not a fresh taste.” ... “Tastes like stale cinnamon.” ...“Very nondescript.” ... “This has a bad aroma.” ... “Smooth.”W

Price: $1.06
What you need to know: At any given time you’ll find up to 18 pots at the ready at Wawa.
Comments: “Stale smell.” ... “Thin and weak.” ... “Like the coffee they serve on an airplane.”D

Dunkin Donuts
Price: $1.28
What you need to know: Dunkin Donuts has the odd habit of adding your milk for you, so if you don’t like your joe too milky, you’d better let them know.
Comments: “Hard to locate any coffee flavor.” “Very weak. I can see clear to the bottom of the cup.”

Originally published on October 6, 2005