Judging Java: New Jersey

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Coffee Columnist

Over the weekend, I had the chance to go to New Jersey (AKA the Garden State) for a music festival. While I was in New Jersey, I had the opportunity to try some coffee.

The first cup of coffee that I had in New Jersey was at Bagels & Beyond, a fantastic bagel shop in Surf City, New Jersey, where I was staying for the festival. I will be completely honest, their coffee was not very good (two globes out of five). However: their bagels were fantastic. I had the best bagel sandwich of my entire life, a bacon, egg and cheese, (four and a half globes out of five), and a really good cinnamon swirl bagel with strawberry cream cheese (four globes out of five). I know that people from New Jersey take their bagels very seriously, and I am really glad that they do—they make very good bagels.

The second coffee I had was at America’s Cup in Asbury Park right before going to the festival. I got an Iced Vanilla Latte which was decent (three globes out of five), but for some reason was served in the type of cup that you would serve a soda in. I’m not sure if that is a Jersey thing or just a thing at America’s Cup, but either way, it was an interesting quirk of my experience in New Jersey.

But both of those cups of coffee were just to get me through the day and to the festival. The festival I was attending was the Shadow of the City festival, a festival started by Jack Antonoff, otherwise known as Bleachers. If you are not familiar with Bleachers, listen to every single song that they have ever recorded and then come back to this article.

Overall, the festival was very good. It began with a demonstration by Evan Smith (the saxophonist for the Bleachers live band) of his hot sauce, Evan’s Rockin’ Hot Sauce. After the festival, I was able to purchase some Evan’s Rockin’ Hot Sauce and it was fantastic, easily some of the best hot sauce I have ever had in my entire life (four and a half globes out of five).

After the hot sauce demonstration, I got a burrito from the festival burrito stand. The festival promised “the best food and sights that New Jersey has to offer,” and I think that the fact that they did not have coffee at the festival is a testament to New Jersey’s coffee quality. The burrito was fantastic (four globes out of five), and the only thing missing was some Evan’s Rockin’ Hot Sauce, but unfortunately it was not available for purchase until after the festival.

Then I stood in the pit for five hours to ensure that my friend and I would have a good spot for Bleachers, who were, obviously, the headlining act. A lot of the other bands were pretty good, but I was not familiar with very many of them. I don’t really feel like talking about each individual band a score so I will just give a vague broad generalization of “they were all pretty good but also I was in a crowded pit for five hours before the band I was actually there to see came out and it was very hot and tiring” (four globes out of five).

Then Bleachers came out and delivered one of the greatest experiences of my entire life (five globes out of five).

That night I got Wawa. I got a decaf coffee from Wawa, which on one hand fundamentally disqualifies my opinion on them, but on the other hand, I clearly do not care at all about the thesis of this column anymore. The coffee was not very good (two globes out of five). I also got a panini. The night before I got the same panini (three globes out of five) but this time I had some Evan’s Rockin’ Hot Sauce which made the sandwich much better (four globes out of five).

The next morning, I got another coffee from Bagels & Beyond. The bagel sandwich was even better because I had some Evan’s Rockin’ Hot Sauce to put on it (four and three-quarters globes out of five). My coffee from them that morning was, unfortunately, even worse (one globe out of five), and also I was trapped in Surf City because there is only one bridge and that bridge was closed due to a bomb threat (zero globes out of five).

Overall, however, my time in New Jersey was fantastic (four and a half globes out of five).