I like to write reviews and I like coffee, so I’ve decided to share with you my reviews of chain coffee shops I’ve tried. I know a lot of my readers are coffee fans, so I’d be interested to see how everyone else feels about these too. Without further ado, please proceed into a tour of chain coffee shops.
Gloria Jeans Coffee
I’ve had mochas and cappuccinos from here, never flat out coffee. Why’s that? Well, you’ll see when I discuss more coffee shops. I find their mixed coffee drinks are too sweet, and not a natural tasting sweet. That weird packaged sweet taste. They kill coffee in their mixed drinks, overwhelming it with chocolate for their mochas and sugar for their cappuccinos. My disappointment in their mixed coffee drinks has prevented me from trying their coffee. Not only that, but they are on the pricier side. On an up side, it always smells DELICIOUS when you walk in here. I give Gloria Jeans a 3/5.
Seattle’s Best Coffee
I don’t know how much more of this I’ll be seeing around where I live, with the closest Borders out of business. Regardless, I’ve tried it and it is still sold at the grocery store so it’s worth mentioning. Surprisingly, this is one of the better chain coffees, for my taste buds anyway. It’s not too bitter and they don’t put a pile of sugar in it. Though it isn’t anything special, at least it’s decent enough to actually drink the entire cup you ordered. I believe they serve a Breakfast Blend of some sort, which is fine in my book. To top things off, they don’t charge you an arm and a leg for their coffee. I give Seattle’s Best a 5/5.
Since Starbucks’ Coffee tends to be served up pretty bitter and strong, I tend to reach for their cappuccinos. I do like their coffee a lot when I buy bags at the store and make it at home. In fact, I usually do buy their coffee from the store, favoring the Latin American brews (yum!). But, buying coffee at the local Starbucks, they make it too strong and I just can’t drink their coffee. Their cappuccinos are pretty delicious though. It must have something to do with the foam that lightens the flavor. The ultimate downfall of Starbucks, other than their ridiculous sizing system (I don’t use their terminology because I dislike it so much. I simply order a “small”, none of this vente silliness) is their prices. If you want to get your coffee at Starbucks everyday, you better be making some decent money. I’m not kidding! They don’t cut you a break even with the amount they give you in your coffee mug. I’ve given up on getting my cappuccinos there because they serve you 3/4 foam and 1/4 espresso. Not cool. Overall, Starbucks gets a 3/5. I would’ve rated it higher because I do enjoy what I can manage to get out of a cappuccino, but so many other factors mentioned reduced their rating.
Panera Bread Coffee
So, I’m noticing a trend that I tend to get my fancy espresso drinks when I’m at coffee places (I hope I didn’t disappoint you, if you wanted to hear only about regular coffee). This is my ultimate favorite place to get said drinks. If you’re looking for the best of the best cappuccinos, this is the place to go. Panera won’t stiff you on your cappuccino. Yes, you’ll be paying a bit over $3 for it, but they give you a giant mug filled with a good amount of espresso and a nice foamy layer on top. The barista also has nutmeg and cinnamon to top it off for you, and they do a fabulous job putting just the right touch of it on top. I have yet to be disappointed with their cappuccinos. They’re served at the perfect temperature and will fill you up with coffee goodness. If you want a mocha, they’re not too shabby in that department either. A word of caution: you’ll want some water or something with your mocha because they tend to put too much chocolate in their mochas. Yes, they’re good too, but I’d opt for the more coffee/espresso based drinks like cappuccinos and lattes. The downside, aside from their pricey drinks, of getting coffee at Panera is that it’s always crowded with people getting lunch or breakfast. If they had just a coffee shop for Panera, that would be amazing! I give Panera Bread a 5/5 for their cafe.
Every time I see a commercial for Dunkin Donuts and hear their tagline “America Runs on Dunkin,” I cringe. Yes, I saved the worst for last. I don’t see why so many people get their coffee at Dunkin Donuts, aside from their low prices. I don’t even think it’s worth it to try and save money by going to Dunkins for coffee. Sometimes I forget why I don’t get my coffee there and stop by for a cup. I always end up kicking myself afterwards. I hope at this point it’s ingrained in my brain never to get their coffee. Not even when I’m hard up. I don’t generally put sugar in my coffee, and when I do, very little. If I forget to tell them not to put sugar in my coffee, you might as well forget that cup. They use fake sugar, and it tastes terrible. It’s like drinking yourself to a heart attack. If you don’t get sugar and add your own, that coffee still won’t taste good. It’s bitter and burnt tasting. There’s no saving it. Forget trying to spruce it up with their flavored coffees. The flavors make the coffee too sweet, with that after taste of bitterness. I give Dunkins a 2/5.
Overall, my recommendation is to buy coffee at the grocery store and make your own coffee. You know exactly how you like it, and you’ll have a FABULOUS selection of coffees to choose from. My ultimate favorite is Macadamia Nut Coffee straight from Hawaii (the brand has slipped my mind), but I will settle for New England Coffee who occasionally (and I mean OCCASIONALLY) carries it. Since it’s nearly impossible to get my favorite coffee at the grocery store, I am content with Starbucks Latin American coffees. They have a light sweetness to them and leave you ready for the day. Despite the fact that coffee prices are going up, buying a bag at the store and making your own is still the cheapest way to get your coffee fix.
I could go on all day about coffees and espressos. But I think I’ve said enough today. So what are you guys’ favorite places to get coffee?