Challenge: Blind Coffee Taste Test


So I have an addiction to BuzzFeed... specifically BuzzFeed videos. Even more specifically the videos where they their staff serves as guinea pigs, trying Japanese/Korean/Australian snack foods and deserts or different foreign alcohols. One of my favorites was a video where different staff members did a blind taste test of the different local low-end coffees. I liked this for 2 reasons: 1) These people clearly do not drink black coffee when they don't have to. One man's pain is my diabolical humor, and 2) If there was ever a BuzzFeed video I could replicate myself, it would be this one. My BuzzFeed video obsession has gotten so bad that I've recently roped my roommate, Ariel, into watching them with me; she was actually the one that suggested we recreate a BuzzFeed taste test. We originally wanted to try Japanese candies, but we're in college and foreign things are expensive. It also doesn't help that I love coffee.

Sunday morning, Ariel, her boyfriend, Mike, and I embarked on our quest to taste every cheap coffee store we could in Ann Arbor. Once we got all the coffees, we were going to blindly taste them all and try to determine what our favorite was and if we could guess any correctly. To keep the playing field even--and cheap--we went with a small cup of the house roast (or whatever closest we could find) from each place. We recruited one of our other roommates, Zoe, to give each brand a number and pour it out into cups so we wouldn't know which one we were trying.

The List (In Order In Which We Picked Them Up)

  1. Bigby Coffee- $2
  2. McDonald's- $1.06
  3. Mighty Good- $2.25
  4. Panera Bread- $1.90
  5. Sweet Water- $1.85
  6. 7/11- $1.22
  7. Espresso Royale- $1.80
  8. Bert's Cafe aka the library- $1.45
  9. Starbucks- $1.86
  10. Tim Hortons- $1.48

My first impression was that Bigby's small was in no way a small. That thing was fucking huge. It was a little hard to wrap our minds around how big their "small" coffee was (easily the size of a Starbuck's medium)... until we looked at the price.

My second impression was that Mighty Good brews coffee for ants who can't do money managing good. Congratulations Mighty Good, you are the proud owner of both the smallest and most expensive cup of black coffee in Ann Arbor! Take a bow, and relish these precious moments that you're in business, because there is no way you will get poor college student's to choose you over the literally 4 other coffee shops around you that are both cheaper and in walking distance.

My (Probably) Poor Attempt At Predicting The Results

I know for a fact I like Starbucks. I don't love it and it's not my favorite, but I won't play the whole "fuck the big business that stampedes on the wet dreams of puppies" shpeal, I like Starbucks.

I love Espresso. Espresso absolutely holds my heart and loyalty 100%. Bert's would probably be second to Espresso in how much I frequent it, not because I think it's super amazing or anything (although the flavor variety doesn't hurt) but because it's in the library and has consistently sponsored every single one of my all-nighters, all-dayers, and all-night-and-dayers-because-finals-are-a-bitch-ers. Also it's tax exempt because I'm a student. High five Bert's.

Other than that, I've tried Panera, Tim Horton's and Bigby once or twice without any bad memories; I've tried 7/11 once and am still scarred by the watered down oil memories; I've never had McDonald's coffee, and I've never heard of Mighty Good or Sweet Water. (Though from the price of Mighty Good I'm expecting this shit to be fan-fucking-tastical. Also Ariel said the store smelled really nice.)

The Moment Of Truth

For the sake of actually being able to keep track of our thoughts of each one, we wrote them down, quite articulately if I must add:

Coffee # 1: armpit

Coffee # 2: weak, not great

Coffee # 3: ew, sweat

Coffee # 4: okay

Coffee # 5: good

Coffee # 6: good, bleh

Coffee # 7: no

Coffee # 8: okay, weird after taste

Coffee # 9: not bad

Coffee # 10: okay

Helpful. The coffee's weren't exactly piping hot, but I definitely wasn't expecting to use bodily fluids to describe them. After a quick retest of each one, I put my list into a preference order.

There's A Reason I Should Never Be A Food Critic (My Coffee Preference)

  1. Bert's aka Coffee # 5
  2. Starbucks aka Coffee # 9
  3. Panera Bread aka Coffee # 6
  4. Tim Horton's aka Coffee # 2
  5. 7/11 aka Coffee # 10
  6. Sweet Water aka Coffee # 8
  7. McDonald's aka Coffee # 4
  8. Mighty Good aka Coffee # 7
  9. Espresso Royale aka Coffee # 3
  10. Bigby Coffee aka Coffee # 1

The funniest part about this is that I chose University of Michigan coffee, a school notorious for just how awful their dining halls are, as my favorite coffee. I was also the only person that didn't put Starbucks first. The biggest shock was that I had my beloved Espresso positioned all the way down at number 9. I mean, I've had black coffee from Espresso before... I've enjoyed black coffee from Espresso before... I'm chalking that one up to it being lukewarm. Numbers 3-6 were kind of a blur. They all belong in that general area, but by the time I got through retesting each one, they were all getting cold and my taste buds were getting overwhelmed. I really hate lukewarm coffee. As for the bottom, Mighty Good, it's been pretty damn awful knowing you. You won't be missed when you eventually go out of business.

As far as scoring goes, this is all over the place. On one hand, my top 4 is pretty accurate, especially considering how unpleasant their temperatures were. On the other, I referred to my beloved Espresso as "sweat" and put 7/11, a coffee I know for sure I have tried and hated, at number 5. For the first time in challenge history, this calls for a draw.

Molly: 5 - Challenges: 2 - Coffee: 1

Liked this challenge? Loved this challenge? Bought out CVS' entire stock of Pop-Tarts before I could because of how much you hated this challenge? Let me know what you thought and what else you want to see!