What are the wars left to be fought on the fast food front? First came the battle for French fry supremacy, then the fight to give extra-value meals extra value, and the control for late-night turf. The latest salvo is a subset of the breakfast skirmish—namely, fast food restaurants hoping to win hearts and mind via their morning cup of coffee.
In March, Burger King announced that they were launching a coffee subscription service. For $5 a month, subscribers are entitled to a daily small cup of coffee (and ideally, you’d pick up a BK breakfast sandwich while you’re there). This has us wondering: How do the fast food chains’ coffee hold up against each other? Last year we looked at the coffee chain specialist: Starbucks, Dunkin’, McDonald’s, and 7-Eleven. For this taste test, we’re focusing on restaurants normally associated with fast food—pitting the coffee offerings at Burger King, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, and returning contestant McDonald’s to the test.
Tasting notes: Of the four coffees tasted, this one features the thinnest aroma, one of watery chocolate. A sip of the coffee (with no cream or sugar) confirmed my suspicion—there’s not much depth, save a back-of-the-tongue sharpness that lingers. I’m sensing a faint burnt toast taste. The taste rounds out slightly once cream and sugar are added, but its sharpness still pokes through.
Tasting notes: If the other coffees sampled here had strengths and weaknesses, McDonald’s resided in that middling-to-fine range in every category. A deep and smoky aroma with a rounded body, and like previous taste-testers, I detected notes of caramel and fruit. But I also agree that there were stronger contenders—both in flavor and performance—out there.
Beans: Colombian (likely Arabica)
Tasting notes: The first thing I detect is a deep roastiness hitting the back of your nose. But this medium-roast coffee has a surprising lightness and good balance to its taste, with hints of chocolate and cherry. It certainly smells the most attractive.
Beans: Provenance unknown, although it claims to be Rainforest Alliance Certified (whatever this means)
Tasting notes: This is like the Chick-fil-A coffee but to the extreme. It’s got the fullest sinuses-permeating aromas, but that belies the thinness on the palate. The addition of cream and sugar smooths this coffee out somewhat, but mostly I’m picking up a roasted taste and light tang on the tip of my tongue.