Ahh, coffee. It’s the lifeblood of any postgrad trying to make it in the working world, and the one thing keeping menial, balding, ambitionless pencil-pushers in their mid to late forties from keeling over and dying at their desks. Thank God for those pudgy, middle-management bastards who peaked at their second promotion–without them, we’d have to do their work.
But not all cups of coffee are created equally. Oh, no. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge made of moon-cheese from the planet Glip Glorp to sell you, or something. Where does one go to get the perfect cup of coffee? Which coffee is the best bet to get you through the day? Which brand doesn’t taste like it was filtered through burnt barbershop hair? Finally, we have an answer. Here is our official power-ranking of your morning coffee, from worst to best, based on taste, value, and the actual effort you have to put in to get it.
(Ratings are based on a one to five ranking system, one being worst, five being best, three being average. If you think these ratings are at all empirical and there’s any method to my madness, you’re only fooling yourself.)
The Coffee You Try To Make Yourself
Description: On value alone, you should always try and make your own coffee. A one-pound bag of coffee can cost around $10, which can get you two or three cups of coffee at Starbucks, depending on your drink, and can last you two or three months if stored properly. But you’re not a barista. You’re an idiot. You suck at making coffee. It’ll either be too strong or too watery because you didn’t get enough sleep, and you’ll just pour the thing out. Do yourself a favor and leave this to the pros.
Description: Don’t get me wrong, this tea is fucking delicious. But tea is not coffee. Coffee is coffee. Pretentious tea-peddling douchebags, go back to England. (Note: Argo Tea was actually founded in Chicago, but who gives a shit?)
Office Coffee (Non-Keurig)
Description: Your office’s coffee pot hasn’t changed since the early ’80s, but why build a better mousetrap when you already have one that works? It’s lukewarm and disgusting, but it’s always there and full of coffee…unless some douchenozzle takes the last cup and doesn’t make a new pot, in which case, you have to do it, and you can never find the coffee filters. Then you have to wait. Then you just say, “fuck it,” and you go to Dunkin.
Description: Let me just take a quick poll of our readership: when was the last time you stepped into a Burger King? Do you even know where to find one? Exactly. There’s one near me that advertises that it starts serving lunch and dinner food at 8 a.m., and I’d say that speaks pretty highly to the quality of its breakfast offerings. Also, it serves SEATTLE’S BEST coffee. Until the merger with Tim Horton’s goes through, I’d steer clear of BK coffee.
Homemade French Press Coffee
Description: French presses are wonderful things, but there’s so much effort involved, and it’s really just not fucking worth it to make coffee in one. It takes time and a lot of potchkering* to make good French press coffee, and, frankly, you look like a douchebag when you use it. Just stop.
*Potchkering (Yiddish): A process that requires a lot of steps. A big to-do.
Description: Timmy Ho’s is a tremendous coffee place. I’d actually say that it’s BETTER than Dunkin Donuts. There, I said it, sue me. Tim Horton’s has much better food and coffee than Dunkin’ Donuts, it’s a lot cleaner, the quality is better, and I could probably eat an entire box of Timbits in 10 minutes, subsequently hating myself for weeks. However, it falls so low on this list because it’s, you know, Canadian.
Any Random Diner
Description: I’m of the opinion that there’s no better place than your favorite college diner in the world, and one of the reasons why is because of the coffee. There’s nothing special about it, really. It’s just your average coffee, but, frankly, a diner could essentially serve you brown-colored water, and as long as it’s in one of those little, white, ceramic cups they give you, it’ll taste like the best damn cup of coffee in the world.
Description: Not to be confused with Coffee Bean, this Korean coffee chain is invading the U.S. at a crazy rate, with new locations popping up like weeds. I’d never even heard of Caffe Bene a few years ago, and now I pass three on my way to work. It has a ton of options for food, with varying savory options (specifically sandwiches) and there are tons of sweets, featuring an impressive assortment of waffles. It also has a lot of drinks, including macchiatos and frappes and all that jazz. However, the menu is way too intimidating for me to deal with early in the morning. I just want coffee in my mouth, I don’t want a fucking waffle and a fucking thousand-calorie frappe.
That Hipster Coffee Place Nobody Will Shut Up About
Description: You know the coffee place down the street with a brown edifice that makes it look like a shack? The one where all the beans are fair-trade, roasted arabica for 10 hours by hand, and ground by a dude making $7.50 an hour to sustain himself while he works on his screenplay that nobody will ever read? Yeah, that one. You hate to admit that the coffee is good, even though a cup costs as much, or more, than Starbucks (which places like this refer to as “fascist coffee”) and the barista wearing tight pants and a matching ascot sneers at you when he gives you your drink. Coffee with a side of condescension. Delicious.
The Office Keurig
Description: Having a Keurig machine in your office is basically the closest to God any of us are going to get. It’s the best coffee you can get without actually having to pay for it and it’s idiot proof, so there are really very few ways you can screw it up, unless you somehow fill the tank with urine or get your hand caught where the cup is supposed to go. Put in the flavor, push the button, get coffee. If you’re not a dick, you’ll refill the tank (with water) and take out your cup, but then again, that’s someone else’s problem, and you’re a busy worker with many important things to do. K-Cups are next to godliness.
Description: Not to be confused with Caffe Bene, the Korean coffee shop that ripped off this Los Angeles institution’s name, Coffee Bean has been making one damn fine cup of coffee since 1963, when the Hyman family (LOL) opened a coffee shop in Brentwood, Calif. Family members were inspired by their experiences drinking coffee in Sweden. The iced coffee here is considered to be one of the best in the world; all of Coffee Bean’s coffee beans are hand-roasted at a facility in Camarillo, Calif., and it roasts about seven million pounds a year. Also, all of its products are certified Kosher and Halal. The first location in Brentwood was often frequented by Johnny Carson and Ronald Reagan, so I’m pretty sure that it’s a federal law to love Coffee Bean coffee.
Description: It’s very easy to hate on Starbucks for being commercial, expensive, and, like Visa, everywhere you want to be, but you can’t deny Starbucks makes fantastic drinks. Everything it rolls out, for the most part, is good: caramel macchiatos, those “cool refresher” drinks where I don’t know what’s in them but they’re tasty and inexplicably low-cal, and the lifeblood of the basic bitch, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. The only reason Starbucks doesn’t top this list, other than the usual criticisms of its commercial nature and expensive product, is the fact that many people complain their basic coffee is so strong, it tastes like burnt barbershop hair. I love the iced coffee, but most people need about a gallon of milk in it to cut the strong taste. To each his own, I guess.
Description: Dunkin’ is truly the brass ring of coffee places. It’s just plain good. It’s pretty cheap, you could take a bath in the large cups, and there’s pretty much one on every street, unless you’re in California, in which case, sucks to suck. Just go to Coffee Bean. The only issue with Dunkin’ is that its iced coffee is amazing, its hot coffee is amazing, and that’s about it. Dunkin’ isn’t really good at making other drinks. Its cappuccinos are watery as hell and the white chocolate hot chocolates are the quickest way to get things moving in your digestive system, if you know what I mean. You don’t buy those, you rent them. If you want anything else, stick to Starbucks, but if you want a basic, fantastic cup of iced coffee, Dunkin’ is the place to be. Don’t forget to get a 600-calorie muffin, too!
Description: Ba-da-ba-ba-ba, I’m lovin’ it, bitches! McDonald’s rolled out its McCafé line of products to all of its restaurants around 2008 or 2009, and people were honestly shocked that the coffee was actually really good, rather than just the means for a frivolous lawsuit. Yes, its frappes and other drinks have more calories than a McGangbang sandwich, but its iced coffee is smooth, rich, and tasty, much like Dunkin’ coffee. The reason McDonald’s edges out Dunkin’ is because all of its coffee, regardless of size, costs only $1. One. Freaking. Dollar. No matter the size, iced or hot, it’s $1. That’s the kind of value poor idiots like us can only dream of. Leave it to the people who changed the hamburger game forever to kill it in the coffee game. Just do yourself a favor and don’t order a Fillet O’Fish to go with it.