Java judgments: Comparing coffee at the U of S

By in Opinions

With all-nighters being a staple of university culture, many students will be looking to find that perfect cup of coffee to keep them on the grind in the midst of low amounts of sleep. But with so many places to choose from — where should you start?

With this question in mind, my friend Maggie Johnstone and I set out to taste test a cup of coffee from four of the most prominent coffee places on the University of Saskatchewan campus.

Between us, we had a decent amount of coffee knowledge, with Maggie working at Starbucks and myself being an avid coffee drinker. Equipped with this knowledge, we obtained coffee from Starbucks, Louis’ Loft, Mac’s Convenience Store and Tim Hortons and began taste testing.

Maggie did a blind taste test in order to remove any preconceived notions when it comes to coffee.

It’s important to note that we only tried one coffee from each place, so there may have been better or worse options on the menu that we simply didn’t order. It is also worth mentioning that, to Coffee---Michael-Bergenobtain some sort of consistency, each of the coffees had two creams and two sugars.

To start, Maggie tasted  each coffee and tried to guess its source. Interestingly, the only two she got wrong were the Mac’s and Louis’ Loft coffees, which she had confused for each other.

After this, we set to ranking the coffees from best to worst in overall taste. Maggie rated the Louis’ Loft mild coffee as the worst — describing it as “sawdust tea.” This feeling was mutual between us, as I also ranked it as the worst due to its overall lack of flavour.

We both ranked the Starbucks coffee third. Despite the reputation this coffee giant carries, the Pike Place blend just simply didn’t deliver.

As we looked to our top two coffees, our rankings began to deviate. From Tim Hortons, we had the classic double-double and from Mac’s we comparably had the house blend with two cream and two sugar. While Maggie rated Mac’s at the top, I had to go with the classic double-double as my personal favourite.

Though Maggie and I gave it the lowest ranking by a large margin, Louis’ Loft’s mild coffee is redeemed a little by the fact that the Loft also has the ability to sell alcohol, an attribute none of the other places have going for them. If you don’t enjoy the coffee, you can easily forget the negative experience. It must also be remembered that we only tried one type of coffee and others sold there might be better.

In the case of Starbucks’ Pike Place, I believe it can be redeemed by its atmosphere of warm, overpriced drinks. In all seriousness, my favourite part of Starbucks is sitting down with a friend or book and sipping a coffee. Personally, I find the atmosphere quite relaxing and I believe it’s the reason I continue to go there even though anything above the most basic of coffees easily costs $5 or more.

Mac’s has two advantages — not only does the coffee taste good, but you can get many other items while you’re there — perhaps removing the necessity of more trips to different stores. Another bonus is that they supply flavoured creamer, and you can mix in the cream and sugar yourself.

Then comes the coffee nearly synonymous with being Canadian — the classic Tim Hortons double-double.

Even though it’s overly sweet and almost tastes like dirt without those two creams and sugars, I still believe it to be the best coffee on campus due to it’s simplicity and the fact that if you let it sit for a couple minutes, it is by far the easiest coffee to chug so that you can get back to work on that paper you so desperately need to finish.

After all this, it seems the real question when it comes to picking the best coffee on campus is, “what do you need it for?”

Jack Thompson

Photo: Michael Bergen