Here's how addicted we are to Dunkin' Donuts coffee: we went on a three-day private retreat earlier this week, for which we rented rooms in a tiny lakefront cottage. We left behind many creature comforts -- which was sort of the point, it being a retreat and all -- but we knew they had a coffeemaker in the cottage, so we brought a bag of Dunkin' Donuts coffee grounds with us...because what were we going to do, just drink the coffee they had there? Please. There's asceticism and then there's mortification of the flesh.
So anyway, we like our Dunkin' Donuts. But lately we've been seeing all these ads for their flavored coffees, and they leave us scratching our heads. I mean, hazelnut I can understand, and even caramel, but who wants their coffee to taste like raspberries? Or blueberries? The other day I saw a print ad on the side of a bus shelter with this image: a cup of DD iced coffee covered with a square of red-and-white-checked fabric, like it was a jar of homemade jam. Which was a cute idea, except: who would find that appetizing? I don't want my coffee to be jammy, for heaven's sake. And if you do, you should probably switch to some other beverage.
Given all that personal history, I very much enjoyed Nathan Heller's piece at Slate this week taste-testing and ranking coffee from Starbucks, McDonald's, and Dunkin' Donuts. It validates my own preference (there's no contest, seriously), and I'm pleased to see such a frank and unapologetic acknowledgment that Starbucks coffee is really very bad. But the writeup is also very entertaining.
Dunkin' Donuts' eagerness to put flavor-obscuring agents in its "joe" is ironic, because the chain's drip coffee was our tasters' favorite. (Dunkin' also earned our highest score overall.) Although we found the coffee more watery than we would have liked, it was the least oily of the three samples and—more to the point—the least unsettling to behold. ("This one is all presentation," someone said—an odd observation about something delivered via a paper cup and one that gives a loose sense of our grading curve.)They're right about its being more watery than is ideal. But that's why we brew it at home, where we can get the grounds-to-water ratio just perfect. (Ask the husband for the secret recipe!)
I will say I'm confused about Slate's decision to also sample cappuccinos from each vendor, because does anyone really expect any of these places to serve a decent cappuccino? Why bother?
In other customer advocacy journalism news: David Pogue at the New York Times is on a crusade against needlessly long automatic voice-mail instructions. You know how when you get someone's voice mail, an automatic message comes on after their recorded message to tell you what to do next? The companies put that there to make you spend more time on the phone. Really, that's why! And David Pogue is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. He has some good tips for coping and complaining, but mostly I just enjoyed seeing him vent about something that's been making me crazy for years.
Do we really need to be told to hang up when we’re finished!? Would anyone, ever, want to “send a numeric page?” Who still carries a pager, for heaven’s sake? Or what about “leave a callback number?” We can SEE the callback number right on our phones!Truer words were never spoken. Godspeed, David Pogue. I'm off to write my senator -- because if there's one person we can count on to take this cause to the federal level, it's Chuck Schumer!