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Best non-coffeehouse cup o' joe

I love "boutique," hand-crafted coffee, but I also like the cup I'd get at my local griddle in college. What is your opinion on this type of coffee and where do you go to get a cup, if you do.

My choices:
QT - darn solid gas station cup
Sheetz - only been there twice, but oh my, do northeasterners have a blessing.
IHOP - usually a good smooth cup. perfect background to conversation

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  1. Quick Check- In college we had both a QC and a Dunkin' Donuts down the road. Not only did QC have approx. 10 different flavors of coffee and a whole counter of yummy additives, their policy was that they made fresh coffee every 20 min. Dunkin' Donuts coffee just wasn't as fresh at 4 a.m. (even though they gave us free donuts). Still my go to place when I'm on the road in NJ.

    1. Dunkin Donuts for me or 711- surprisingly decent. IHOP isn't bad nor are many of the truckstops.

      1. McDonalds used to have good coffee, and it was always fresh as they made a pot every 15 minutes. The last few times I got their coffee it was burned and bitter. I hate fast food, but when I'm traveling, and need a cup of coffee at 3:00am, its a dependable cup of coffee.

        Bob Evans coffee is good, but it's weaker than I prefer.

        1. I should add that I like Burger King's. It's different. I think they use a cold brewed concentrate. It's very smooth.

          1. Krispy Kreme. I can take or leave the donuts, but the coffee is solid. It tastes like coffee, not burnt resin or icecream or gingerbread or butt.

            1. Interesting. Neverhad KK coffee. Theyre disappearing in Mass as Dunkin donuts is all over. I thinktheres still one in Medford MA Ill try.

              Found Bengal traders (exxon/mobil coffee) awful, but Sunoco's blend good.

              1. 7-11 is a great place to get a cup when you need something quick. There seems to be about a billion 7-11's in the US, so you can usually find one. They are consistent, they all taste the same, and they have about 1000 different ways to make a cup of coffee with all those creamers, syrups, sugars, and spices... and they also usualy brew about 4 different styles of coffe and any given time.

                And they will make a new batch for you if you ask nice if you are worried about how long it might be sitting there. I have asked a few times and never did they say no.

                1. Second KK. Serviceable espresso, even.

                  I remember having amazing coffee at The Original Pancake House. This was the one in Madison, Wisc,

                  1. I'll guess I'll be the first Canadian to mention Tim Hortons coffee. It's a religion for most of the people I work with. Nobody really eats the donuts - but they make a killing on their coffee!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: froddard

                      And I'll be the first Canadian to say that I detest TH coffee. I agree it's a religion, and makes about as little sense as religion. There is SO much better coffee out there but Canucks just keep lining up for that truckstop swill.

                    2. The Original Pancake House has a knockout cup o' joe. The _real_ cream is an added treat.

                      Dunkin' Donuts is _the_ shop I'll hit when visiting relatives back east for my morning ritual.

                      The IHOP near me must have changed coffee vendors because its coffee isn't even colored water that had a single bean dunked in it.

                      1. I agree that IHOP's coffee is useless. They do not brew the coffee there. It is a liquid concentrate. Yuck!

                        Outside of DD and SBux, I think WAWA (NJ PA DE MD) has great coffees. Their Kona coffee is superb and the Macadamia Chocolate is a great late-afternoon treat.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: NJFoodie

                          I must admit an affinity for the prebrewed coffee. I think of it as a complete different beverage really, but i find it very smooth.

                        2. Sheetz brews a pretty good cup of joe, very strong and almost always freshly brewed. Since I moved to NJ, I've been hitting Quick Check and WaWa's a lot, and find their coffees to be good too. They're much better than Dunkin' Donuts, which I've always found to have a bit of a weird taste.

                          1. The KK near me (Daytona, Fla.) doesn't have espresso -- but when I need something cold and strong I get a double chocolate frozen drink with coffee powder added. Nice caffeine kick.

                            For regular joe, I stop at Circle K and get their "house blend." Bonus: The ones near me have the flavored creamers from a dispenser, not the tiny little cups that I have to tear up 8 of. That way I can fill up the cup, an 8-second press of vanilla, an 8-second press of hazelnut, and I'm done! :-D

                            Always tastes fresh, too.

                            1. I'm not much on flavored coffees, especially for my first cup(s) in the am. Once you add the flavored creamers, you can't really taste the original coffee. I like it straight up in the morning.

                              In the afternoon, I'll go for the flavor, but only if I know the underlying coffee is excellent on its own.

                              1. I suppose some might call me a coffee snob -- I drink it brewed and black so it's gotta be good. I can't hide the burnt, the foul, the blah behind cream and sugar. For my tastes, Krispy Kreme's "Bold" coffee is actually very good. Miles beyond Dunkins, which in my book is only marginally better than licking a sewer. KK has got flavor and depth, which is saying something since it's so mass produced.

                                But my go-to coffee when not making it myself or buying from the local cafe is Au Bon Pain. Their French Roast is terrific -- dark, smooth, and 100% reliable. It is always the same. Even in the airport or mall -- unlike some of the local haunts I frequent, where the quality of the coffee depends entirely on how high the barista is.

                                1. Nice Sky Blue or the newer Copper Colored IHOP logo Coffee Caraffes! There ya go. That is what I am talking about. It is what helps get me started. By the way, does anyone on the board know where to buy an IHOP logo coffee caraffe? Leagally, not "5 finger discount" or large purse.

                                  1. Tim Horton's. (period)

                                    1. Sheetz brew is pretty darned good... even those MTO sandwiches are above decent for gas station food - don't know who's in charge of food over there, but they're doing a terrific job.

                                      But as I spend my days at a coffeehouse that serves mostly Intelligentsia, it's tough drinking lesser coffees when we're out. I grew up on DD, but can't drink it anymore - too limp. But it's not just donut shops or gas stations. We also don't enjoy end-of-meal coffee anymore at most restos because it's so bad.

                                      1. I always look for Green Mountain Coffee when on the road. When the make it propperly, it usually is pretty good.

                                        Stewarts (Upstate New York Chain) usually is pretty reliable for coffee when traveling.

                                        I find Dunkin Donuts to be hit or miss. Some have good coffee, some don't. We have a proliferation of them here in Albany now, we skip some and go to others.