Friday, May 22, 2009


It's been an interesting project, comparing coffees and cafes over the last week. At least it has been for me – judging by the dearth of comments everyone else has grown bored and flicked over to I Can Has Cheezburger. I hope they're LOLing it up as we speak.

However, it occurred to me this morning that I may be losing sight of what really constitutes a quality coffee. In sipping the crème de la crema, it's conceivable that I'm losing track of what the range of coffee truly is. I realised that it was time to establish a baseline, as scientists and characters on 'Lie To Me' say.

So I went to Gloria Jeans in Victoria Park, to reconnect with what truly bad coffee tastes like.

It was busy at around 4pm, filled with undiscerning people and comfortable furniture. I noticed that they had something in the cake cabinet called Yummy Mummy Cupcakes, which made me want to hunt down and murder their entire marketing department. If that wasn't reason enough to excoriate Gloria Jean's, a whole new world of reasons came up as soon as I sipped my flat white.

It's not the worst coffee in the city. The worst coffee in the city comes from an open tin of International Roast that's been sitting under someone's kitchen sink since 1987, slowly absorbing flavour from a neighboring bottle of Domestos. But it's the worst coffee in the city that costs $3.50 and comes out of something claiming to be an espresso machine.

It's an angry, bitter brew, burnt by unscrupulous hands and shoved out into an uncaring world. Once there it can only truly be accepted if it slathers itself in sugary bling. Then people will drink it, but they definitely won't respect it. Gloria Jean's coffee is the downtrodden whore of the caffeinated world.

It's well known that Gloria Jean's is an evangelical Christian creation, just as Sanitarium comes from the Seventh Day Adventists. As such, I can only imagine that it's all part of a grand but misguided conspiracy to turn the world's caffeinistas away from the false god of coffea arabica (or, judging by my jitters, coffea robusta) and toward the one true God. Either that, or it's a diabolical double-cross plan to make Christians look like clueless killjoys who wouldn't know a decent cup of coffee if Jesus himself did the water-into-wine thing again, only this time with ristretto instead of riesling. Either way, it's not an uplifting scenario.

However it does tell us one thing. If you go to Zekka, Cantina, La Gallette de France or even “Meerlidelishass”, you will get a better cup of coffee than you will get at Gloria Jean's. This just goes to show that there is plenty of good coffee out there - I just needed a reminder of how bad it can get to realise how good I usually have it.


Blogger Steve said...

Oh come on, I reckon Gloria Jeans is not bad coffee, although I must admit you probably don't count my favourite (the Very Vanilla Chiller) as real coffee at all?

I think Starbucks is more universally regarded in countries outside of the USA as being bad coffee.

Anyway, what do cows know about coffee?

2:43 PM  
Blogger Blandwagon said...

I admit that Gloria Jean's makes some tasty drinks, usually by slathering their awful coffee in sugar, caramel, chocolate, cream and anything else that'll mask the flavour. It's not so much coffee as a coffee-themed dessert.

Cows know more about coffee that most people suspect. It's just difficult to operate an espresso machine with hooves.

4:23 PM  

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