ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Gilded Good or Gross Coffee? Straight Dope on McDonald's, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Panera

Updated on October 19, 2015
starlightreflex profile image

Starlight is an evil genius whose neither evil nor dominating the world. But he's a good Dad who supports his family working from home.

I won't talk about my first attempt to roast my own coffee.

Well, maybe later. The second time I attempted to roast my own coffee, I burnt the beans practically to ashes. I could have written graffiti with them on any surface, maybe that's one step beyond Italian Roast - Graffiti Roast. Among the carbon and oils, I wasn't sure if it was to be thrown away or not. You know why? It was a close match to Starbuck’s and countless other boutique coffee whole bean coffees. So I referred to a site all about home roasting and coffee roasts in general, I learned all those roast names are bogus, anyone can group different levels of roastings into certain categories, but ultimately you have to go by the standard based on caramelization and color to know different levels look like. The roasting is a super complex and interesting chemical reaction, that results in "beans" with level 1 through level 16, where Starbucks would be 17 and my coffee would be 21.

7 Layers of Coffee Seed... No Beans Anywhere.

Structure of the coffee cherry pit (not a bean! to be technical about it...)
Structure of the coffee cherry pit (not a bean! to be technical about it...) | Source

Artful Cup or Graffiti Roast?

The third time I roasted I didn't roast them enough, but they resembled roast level 1-12, some roasted more than others. The darkest and best-tasting ones were closer to level 12 a.k.a. "Full-City" or Full French” or level 12-13. My rudimentary roasting process makes uneven batches, so I separate the darkest "Italian roast" 14-16 and reserve them for quasi-espresso cups. You know, when you need something to prevent sleep for the next few hours.

Panera is consistently weak by my tastes.

Dunkin Donuts is really great, maybe a bit weak at times.

McDonalds is just as great, if maybe a bit strong at times.

Burger King a.k.a. Seattle’s Best resembles Starbucks and is consistently strong, and always from a roast that was slightly burned to heavily burned. Almost always drinkable, almost.

If you choose a light roast Starbucks or Seattle’s Best you should expect a Full French Roast leaning a little on the dark side, like Anakin Skywalker in the second prequel. Be prepared, sometimes it's just too dark, like Anakin walking in to dispatch the younglings, you just cannot continue what you've started in good conscious anymore.

Nobody really sells a truly “Light” Cafe roast and for good reason. For the same way nobody really likes Jar Jar Binks or the naïve wide-eyed Luke Skywalker. Everything needs a little bite, otherwise coffee is just hot brown liquid.

I once had a cup of maxwell house that was magic. I don't know what went wrong, but somehow they roasted good coffee just right, and it ended up in my cup within two weeks of the roasting. Thus began my journey. Starbucks and other chain coffee brands had lots of flavor, but bad flavor by comparison. I could no longer get an unburnt or weak cup without getting lucky again, I even tried boutique coffee shops until I gave up and started home roasting my own. Thanks to coffeegeek for helping me get started and quickly found out that roasting is an art, a science, and even a way of life for many people. My best roasts ever were better than anything I could buy retail. My average home roast is equivalent to that magical miracle cup of Maxwell House. I bought green beans from Amazon, not too expensive, extremely high quality beans, by the pound. There are a lot of high quality beans out there. Roasting is a smoky process best done in a garage or outdoors. Trust me on this.

What do I buy when I need a cup out on the town? Dunkin Donuts coffee. 7-11 or anyone using Mother Parker brand coffee is worth a go especially at a buck a cup. $1.00 a cup is still a bargain worth having from McDonalds, which comes in as a close third for flavor. Btw, I've never “flavored” coffee, on the advice of my Dad. It’s already a flavored drink, and all that extra flopping around is a waste of time, plus you will get caught having to drink it without any training wheels, so what are you going to do then? Just man up and drink it black. A true coffee man drinks it black every time. Cream-puff sugary drinkers can't judge a good cup of coffee. They are the ones downing the stale, awful coffee from many of the brands offered you’ve never seen me drinking. The one exception being Maxwell house because their blend can be good, even with chicory, I don't care what anyone says about chicory - it can be really good if done right. Choc full o' nuts is almost as good, and may have chicory.

Arabica is a bit weak for me of the 3 species of plant that are grown to make coffee, Coffea arabica, C. canephora (robusta) and C. liberica. Sumatra is good and Columbian is my favorite for home roasted and brewed coffee. It’s just a matter of preference, in many countries coffee isn't made from arabica simply because robusta (and rarely liberica) by tradition and economics. Good luck going to South America and not having wonderful brews of all three with unbelievable characteristics. Good luck having anything as fresh and delicious from a chain restaurant... but it doesn't have to be that way! Mainly, cutting the time from roasting to brewing below 14 days would make all the difference in the world.

All the cops in the donut shops say: Wayo wayo oh-wayooooooooooo.
All the cops in the donut shops say: Wayo wayo oh-wayooooooooooo. | Source


Submit a Comment

  • starlightreflex profile imageAUTHOR

    Doug DeWalt 

    3 years ago from Ohio USA

    Thank you Deb! I've been doing both roasting and buying lately. The roasting is still tricky, I ruined a batch by over cooking it in a matter of one minute... the longer I roasted it, the more I liked it, but dem diminishing returns kicked in with a vengeance! Good, better, better, even better, BURNT.

  • profile image


    3 years ago

    Wow. You take coffee to another level. I've never tried roasting. Probably won't. Didn't even know I could. Will keep my eyes open for Mother Parker.

  • dandelionweeds profile image


    3 years ago from Canada

    Interesting article, although I haven't tried roasting my own yet, I do grind them and use a french press. I still find this better than any coffee place. We do use a filter water to make it.

  • Dressage Husband profile image

    Stephen J Parkin 

    3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

    The best coffee is roast ground and drunk within that 14 days. I was totally spoiled at University as there was a great coffee roaster who had his business in front of the student union building.

    If you can get it blue mountain coffee fresh roasted and made almost immediately is the best. I bought mine daily and loved my time as an undergraduate.

  • sallieannluvslife profile image


    3 years ago from Eastern Shore

    Are you a coffee snob? Just kidding...My humble opinion...I prefer Eight o'clock bean - whole "seed" Columbian, Dunkin Donuts when I'm out, or Chick-Fil-A's new Thrive coffee and I despise most Starbucks' coffee except the Veranda which I buy whole "seed" as well and grind one gets into making their own coffee at home sounds extraordinarily intriguing and something I would LOVE to try, only where to get the raw beans (seeds) to roast myself might be an issue, I think. And then there is the whole roaster thing...and I would probably end up roasting them too long and then they would taste like Starbucks and I would have to throw it all out. Oh...and I prefer black with sugar, sorry...I can only drink it black if I have a nice sweet dessert to go with it... Nice Hub, though! Voted up and Interesting.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)