Coffee taste test: Is expensive really better?

August 6, 2012 3:23:19 PM PDT
Many of us need that extra jolt of caffeine in the morning to get going, especially as the school year draws near.

But have you ever calculated just how much you spend on coffee? In today's Stretch Your Dollar, Patricia Lopez conducted a taste test to see if expensive coffee really tastes better.

Getting coffee on the go gets pricey at coffee shops. That's why we had to find out if coffee connoisseurs could tell the difference in taste from Starbucks to the gas station. It could change your morning habit and save you money.

Whether you are buying your coffee on the go or at the store, it can be an expensive habit. At Starbucks, expect to pay $2 for a plain coffee. Even at the grocery store, we found gourmet coffee as expensive as $13.49 a can, and that's just for 8 ounces. The price of coffee adds up!

"Some people are averaging $100 a month," said Jackie Sanchez.

That's a budget buster, so we decided to conduct an unscientific taste test. We purchased coffee on the go from Starbucks, McDonlads and Valero Corner Store.

At the grocery store, we also picked up Kroger's store brand coffee.

First, we taste tested our three coffees on the go. The cheapest was a large coffee from McDonalds for $1.49, then Valero's large cup for $1.59 and finally a venti coffee from Starbucks priced at $2.25. The testers had no idea which was which.

Our first tester was Marina Smalley. Being a mom, she considers herself somewhat of a coffee expert.

"That one tastes like Starbucks, very strong," she said.

After tasting two others, she found one she liked.

"This one is the best," Smalley said. It's the one from the Valero gas station. "It wasn't watery. It wasn't overly strong."

Our next tester agreed with Smalley and enjoyed the coffee from Valero. Other testers thought the same. But a couple of people liked Starbucks the best.

In fact, they drink it so much, it was an instant favorite.

To change it up, we added another cup of coffee to the taste testing mix: Kroger's Supreme Blend for $4.69 for 11.5 ounces.

"I like this one. I prefer this one," Cyndi Harris said.

Harris loved the Starbucks coffee for its strength.

"It's like, 'hello!'" she said. "That's what I like about it: nice, strong, smooth, bold taste."

But a close second was the Kroger store brand she found to be really smooth.

"I am very surprised," she said. "I have never had their brand coffee ever."

The bottom line is most of our testers preferred the medium roast from the Valero Corner Store. But we found coffee drinkers who love strong coffee and love their Starbucks.

What about the McDonald's coffee? It did not get a lot of votes. Most people felt the coffee was weak.

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