The Campus Coffee Crawl

The quest for commendable coffee on campus

Coffee: the potentially addictive treat that is the friend of students and labourers everywhere. 

While I wouldn’t consider myself a coffee expert, I do drink it and I do like it. As a coffee enjoyer, I feel I have the necessary credentials to review coffee on campus and to inform you if it is strong, flavourful, smooth or otherwise foul. In short, I’m going to tell you if the coffee is worth drinking.

I take my coffee in a light to medium roast with a small amount of cream and sugar. Naturally, the cream will reduce bitterness and the sugar will sweeten the mixture. For all the coffees reviewed they will be taken with cream, sugar and in a lighter roast. 

I will be reviewing coffee served on campus from five locations: Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Degrees, G.P.A.’s and the Daily Bread Café. 

As for the categories, I will consider flavour, price and the ethics of the companies, then give each coffee a rating out of five.

Tim Hortons – Original Blend

Tim Hortons is decidedly my least favourite coffee on campus and probably in Winnipeg. 

The coffee is serviceable, fresh and relatively cheap to order, coming in at $1.83 for a medium. I cannot say much in the way of flavour as to me, it tastes like hot water with a hint of actual coffee. There is also an unappealing acidity that makes any measure of smoothness redundant.

The fact that Tim Hortons occupies a spot as a Canadian icon is a bit absurd considering the poor quality of its coffee. They also have not treated their workers very well, with at least one local union experiencing a lockout during negotiations. 

The next time you pass by Tim Hortons, do yourself a favour and walk a few feet further to a better coffee shop. 

2/5 – Wouldn’t bother ordering. 

Starbucks –
Pike Place Roast

Now we approach a cup of coffee I actually enjoy. Despite Starbucks’ union busting, the company’s coffee game is up to snuff. While a bit more expensive than Tim Hortons’ coffee at the price point of $2.63, the price is earned. 

The Pike Place Roast is smooth and flavourful, making for a nice sipping experience that does not leave you rinsing out your mouth. After a watery and acidic cup from Tim’s the rich flavour a Pike Place Roast combined with surprising smoothness is welcome. 

The price and ethics of the company will turn many away and that is understandable, but one cannot deny its superior quality roast. 

3.5/5 – A daily drinker if the cost was a bit lower.

Degrees — Instrumental

This is one of my favourite cups on campus and is what got me into hot coffee proper. 

The diner provides an excellent cup of joe with a sweet flavour reminiscent of cocoa. Instrumental is a light roast that provides a great smoothness without sacrificing flavour like other blends. This coffee is routinely served fresh and at a fair price point of $2.00 in-house. 

While having slight bitter notes after the first sip, it fades into a rich flavour that will leave you satisfied. Coming in at a lower cost than Starbucks but with a greater or equal flavour that is closer to artisanal java than fast food dirt.

Instrumental itself is provided by Little Sister Coffee Maker a local business that states its   committed to creating an inclusive and safe environment. As for the diner itself, if you bring your own cup, they’ll give you a discount.

4.5/5 – Cheaper than Starbucks and better than the rest.

G.P.A.’s Campus Convenience — Eagle Medium Roast

Eagle Medium Roast is quite possibly the perfect baseline coffee. Served piping hot, perhaps even too hot, having burnt my mouth more than once, it is an inoffensive and palatable coffee that is sure to please any daily coffee drinker. 

As a slight bonus, it comes in at  a fair price point of $1.99 for a medium. Its taste and smoothness will not blow you away, but it also will not upset or offend you. 

The coffee is pre-brewed which while reducing freshness makes for a faster pick-up and purchase. This is a perfect coffee if you are running late for class and don’t have time to wait in line at Degrees or Tim Hortons. 

While it doesn’t break boundaries, this is a premium daily drinker. G.P.A.’s is also owned and operated by students, and the Eagle Medium Roast, sourced from Spirit Bear Coffee, is fair trade and smudge certified.

Spirit Bear Coffee is also an Indigenous owned and operated business.

3/5 – An ethical and quick cup of java. 

Daily Bread Café — Oso Negro Coffee

If you are looking for a smooth cup of coffee, you have come to the right place. Daily Bread Café quite possibly has the smoothest cup of coffee on campus. Lacking bitterness or the burnt texture that darker roasts have, this cup is a great pick. 

If I can offer any critique, it would be that there is not a great degree of flavour. Striving to create a smooth cup sometimes overrides the flavours and notes of the coffee. If you outright despise the taste of coffee but want caffeine then this is likely the cup for you. 

The Oso Negro comes out to $2.00 for a medium cup. Finding itself in the somewhat claustrophobic tunnels of St John’s College, this is a real diamond in the rough. 

As for the coffee company, Oso Negro themselves claim to be a company that strives to engage in ethical practice along with paying living wage to employees. 

4/5 – Perfectly smooth though lacking in flavour.