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McDonald's coffee is a disappointment. Some of you may feel this is an unnecessarily obvious statement, but allow me to explain.
In a dozen years of coffee drinking, including everything from Cup of Excellence espresso to 7-Eleven's "happy hour" beverages, I'd somehow managed to avoid fast-food coffee altogether. It never even presented a problem until McDonald's decided to begin promoting its coffee as the more affordable but comparable alternative to coffee served everywhere else.
I was finally forced to try the McCafe brew last week, after yet another conversation with friends dead-ended in the question "What do you think of McDonald's coffee?" The truth was, although I had a number of thoughts on the topic, I didn't have any experience with which to back up my opinions. I assumed McDonald's coffee would be bitter. I assumed it would be burnt and resinous. I assumed it would be from a preset, push-button machine. And I assumed it would be tepid, due to prior legal tussles over temperature. In short, I assumed it would be a taste-bud-assaulting, miserable experience. These were the basic tenets of a theory in need of field testing. So on Saturday, I trekked into Ballard, dragged myself past the Golden Arches, and stepped into line at the McCafe.
In an effort to fairly explore the full McFlavor spectrum, I ordered both a plain drip coffee and an iced mocha. Coffee orders, logically enough, go into the same queue as food orders, and it should be noted that there is something deeply disturbing about realizing that it takes less time to assemble breakfast burritos than to pour a cup of coffee. (The rapidity of breakfast burrito assembly may, in fact, have been the most distressing element of the entire expedition.)
Like Dunkin' Donuts, another non-coffee shop which has made a name in coffee, McDonald's serves both drip coffee and espresso beverages on a limited and specific menu. You can, for example, order a latte or flavored milk-based beverage, but there is no Americano option. Syrup selection is restricted, with only a few "classic" flavors (vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, chocolate) available.
The iced mocha delivered approximately what one might anticipate: it's extremely sweet, with minimal coffee flavor finding its way through a thick maze of low-quality sugar. No surprises there. So with trepidation, I turned my attention to the drip coffee. And I was surprised.
On several counts. First, because it actually was too hot. But second, because it wasn't particularly bitter. Or particularly burnt. Or really, to be honest, particularly anything at all. It didn't taste much like good coffee. It didn't taste much like bad coffee. It just didn't really taste. I am unable to say it was terrible, or any other adjective of weight. It was bland. Watery. I am left utterly indifferent.
Thus the conclusion: McDonald's coffee is a tremendous disappointment. I'd hoped to emerge with a brilliantly scathing review! Or at the very least, with a stunned and glowing report of an unexpected gem. Instead, the only reason I can say (adamantly) that I will never drink it again is because it was boring.
What a waste of inconsequential monetary investment.