Arts & Culture

The Bacchanalian: coffee connoisseurs compare cafes

By Javi Sandoval and Will Holub-Moorman

As the days get colder and shorter, more East students are going to need a little caffeine to make it through the day. But by which coffee shop do you want to drop? Worry no longer. We connoisseurs of café will break down the beans for you, whether you like espresso or plain old joe.

Starbucks (3/5)

We walked in as usual, because Starbucks is usual. The green and gray colors add to the calmness around the place – background scenery to the baristas performing onstage. They smiled as they took orders of coffee and espresso, but they give those same molded grins to everyone. The coffee was as expected: sharp, dark, bitter, and quality. The espresso was the same, but even sharper. Everything was good, but safe and corporate.

Caribou (3/5)

Caribou is Starbucks’ main competitor – bold enough to fight the corporate machine. Same couches, tables, and comfortable colors. Extra points for the large study room in the back. Word to the wise: if you come here for homework show up early – the tables get taken over by SAT books quickly. The coffee tasted the same as Starbucks’ and cost the same. Ditto with the espresso. The only special quality is that we didn’t purchase from the green coffee monster a little further down the street.

Cup-a-Joe (2/5)

When we walked into Cup-a-Joe, we felt self-conscious because we didn’t have laptops with us. Everybody was judging hard. “What, you’re not writing a novel? Leave this place!” However, even as outsiders, we pressed on. It wasn’t worth it. Although it was cheap, the coffee tasted like warm water, devoid of any flavor. The incredibly strong espresso was the only redeeming quality. If you’re not hot on doubleshots, don’t waste your time here.

3Cups (4/5)

Although it’s in a less convenient location than Cup-a-Joe, 3Cups is worth a special trip. The swanky atmosphere filled with people, you know, actually having conversations, is a great place to sip and chat, and the coffee is definitely worth sipping. 3Cups uses a French press that produces pricey yet perfect coffee. The espresso was good, not great, but maybe we were just expecting more excellence after tasting the coffee. If you’re feeling a little constrained in the wallet department, you may want to look elsewhere—two bucks for eight ounces of java is admittedly steep.

Caffé Driade (5/5)

Caffé Driade looks like a logger-man’s cabin on Ol’ Grandfather Mountain. The barista called the customers by name as he prepared their usuals without asking. There was no menu. There wasn’t room on the wall for a menu. The barista asked what we wanted after concluding his Occupy Wall Street discussion with the preceding customer. You should have seen our faces as we sipped the perfectly-roasted coffee and espresso. A tad pricey, but if you ask for milk, they’ll give you the gallon from the fridge. We love it here. Don’t come. It’s ours and we want to keep it secret.

Photo courtesy of healblog.net

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