Judging Java: Spring Break

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Coffee Columnist

There’s no better time to be a college student than Spring Break. Every year (except one awful year) of my college experience I have relished the time off that is spring break, and this year was no exception. This year, specifically, I went on a coffee journey, and I guarantee you that this journey has a cohesive narrative that will come full circle, so hold on to your hats.

As true Judging Java heads may remember, last year over winter break United Airlines left me stranded in Denver, Colorado. Because of this, I had an additional flight credit, and my parents, girlfriend, and I traveled to Park City, Utah to hit the slopes.

The coffee journey began in the airport, with one of the worst cups of coffee I have ever had in my entire life combined with one of the best fast food breakfasts I have ever had: McDonald’s. I opted for a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese McGriddle, something that a much younger me would never even think to order.

Combining sweet and savory in one meal is incredibly difficult, especially at breakfast time. Restaurants like Waffles Incaffeinated have the resources to do this well, but fast food places typically don’t. Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, and more have tried to combine sweet and savory and failed consistently.

The McGriddle is the opposite. If you’ve never had a McGriddle, it will change your life. A McGriddle is a sandwich with pancake buns instead of toast. It’s immaculate.

Their coffee, however, is not. McDonald’s coffee is incredibly hollow, it is not offensively bad, but rather so inoffensive, flavorless, and pointless that you will feel like you wasted your time. It also horrifically burned an elderly woman and then McDonald’s corporate smeared her in the press for asking to pay her medical bills and then suing them. She won the lawsuit, deservedly. That’s my soapbox for the day, and if you think that she was being greedy you should educate yourself.

United Airlines, as flawed as they are, serves incredible coffee. They serve Illy, a well-sourced Italian roast. If you’re looking for a quality roast, I’d recommend Illy, which is available at many coffee roasters in the area including the Pittsburgh Macaroni company, and the Allegheny Coffee and Tea exchange.

While in Park City, I mostly just drank lodge coffee and coffee made in the hotel room. My advice to anyone planning a ski trip, especially on a budget, is to make your coffee in the hotel room and to fill up on breakfast and calories in general. The food and coffee on the mountain, while good, is pricy, and you’re going to need as much energy as possible. It is a very demanding physical exercise.

That being said, don’t drink too much coffee. Drinking too much caffeine while skiing, or any exercise can dehydrate you, and when you’re on a mountain, especially a big one, that can be dangerous.

On the flight home, I was hoping to get some sleep. Unfortunately, directly behind me were some very poorly behaved kids and a crying baby, and in front of me were two other crying babies, so that wasn’t an option. Luckily, I had complimentary Illy coffee to drink, so I couldn’t be that mad (I was still a little mad. Please do not bring a baby on an airplane).

Finally, back in Pittsburgh to round out the last few days of Spring Break, my girlfriend and I went for McDonald’s breakfast. This time, though, we skipped the coffee there, and went to the Coffee Tree Roasters instead,

If you’re a Point Park student who wants a McDonald’s breakfast with coffee, I recommend grabbing the breakfast and going to the library and grabbing a cup from the library coffee bar. Their coffee is affordable and delicious, especially given the price range.

It is somewhat bittersweet to be finishing up the last Spring Break, and by bittersweet I mean “thank goodness I am almost done with college but it is pretty crazy.” I think that that’s a feeling a lot of my fellow seniors can relate to.