Coffee bridges the gap

Shannon Kuhfuss

School is back in full swing and students are getting bombarded with papers, homework, projects and tests and looking for a way to get through it all.

Well, students look no further! You have a companion to keep you going during the multiple hours of dry reading and pulling the dreaded all-nighters. That companion is coffee!

With so many options for coffee shops these days, it may seem difficult to find the place for you, one that won’t drain a hole in your pocket, but also won’t compromise the quality of your liquid motivation.

The obvious Starbucks and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf are well-known chain coffee shops that have been around for years and can be found around almost every corner.

For years the two companies competed against each other to win over the love of the public by introducing new drinks, foods and merchandise, but their pricey beverages leave customers looking for other options to satisfy the coffee fix.

Solutions to the price issue have come from some of the most unexpected places and have Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf running scared. Fast food restaurants and convenient stores are releasing new coffee drinks that won’t empty customers’ pockets.

McDonalds now serves iced coffee in a variety of flavors like caramel, hazelnut, regular and vanilla. This iced coffee is also sold in sugar free vanilla syrup as a healthier option. McDonalds also now offers cappuccinos and lattes in caramel, hazelnut and vanilla, as well as mochas and sugar free options.

Once known for their bagels and other breakfast food, Einstein Bros. Bagels has also begun to expand their horizons in the coffee department. The coffee menu now consists of americanos, cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, caramel macchiatos and espresso. Each of these hot drinks is also offered in the iced form.

For comparison purposes, a medium sized iced mocha at McDonalds and Einstein Bros. Bagels both have a price tag of $2.89.

This price is almost a dollar lower than Starbucks grande iced mocha which is $3.85 and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s regular size iced mocha at $3.65.

If cost is not an issue, perhaps quality and nutrition will help narrow down the best choice.

Companies such as the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf pride themselves on the way their coffee and teas are prepared and brewed. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf have always been a completely kosher company that uses all organic ingredients in their drinks.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf also uses a different ingredient than all other stores in comparison, and that is powder. Most other stores use syrups in the drinks which give them their extra sweet flavor, but are made up of artificial flavoring, providing little benefit to health.

In this case, perhaps the price increase is worth it to some because there is great quality and care that goes into the drink being prepared.

Starbucks’ grande iced mocha contains 320 calories per serving with 150 fat calories, 9 grams of saturated fat, making this choice not only slightly more pricey, but fattening.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s regular iced mocha contains 320 calories, 50 fat calories and 5 grams of saturated fat, which is not significantly healthier than Starbucks.

Therefore, does the quality of the coffee really justify the price? I would have to say no. I have worked for one of the major corporations that prepares the pricey beverages and after years of consuming coffee to get through the day, I have found myself branching out to the new restaurants supplying coffee. If I get that extra pep in my step from my coffee, that’s all I need to make my decision.

So whether you prefer to say grande, regular or medium, it really comes down to personal taste. Some prefer drinks that are sweeter and nutrition is not an issue, some look to health factors first and for others, the price is the decision maker.