When it comes to coffee, a generally accepted principle amongst students is quantity over quality. But there are just some days, weeks, or months when the only joy in life comes from a cup of really good coffee. Here’s how to find the happy medium between cost and quality.
Cheapest: McDonald’s ($1, any size)
While it’s not the absolute worst, the choice to drink McDonald’s coffee boils down to the price and late hours of operation. But be wary of the Conway McDonalds – when I asked for half-and-half, the drive-thru worker said, “So, like half regular and half decaf?” No. One time, they also gave me seventeen individual mini-creamers for the one large coffee I ordered.
Overpriced: Zetêo ($3.50 for free refills)
Not even Starbucks gives free refills – unless you’re a Gold Card member (and then they still costs 55 cents), so Zetêo is really on top of their game in that regard. But if you want anything else, be prepared to overpay: $4 for an 8 oz. cappuccino, $5 for a 12 oz. mocha. Practically every Zetêo offering is more expensive than its Starbucks counterpart, and it’s just not worth it.
Underrated: Chick-fil-a ($1.63 – $2.16, small – large)
Though there’s only two options – hot or iced – Chick-fil-a has the best fast-food restaurant coffee I’ve tasted yet.
Best Ambiance: Round Mountain ($3 for 16 oz; $5 for endless refills)
The shop is cute and cozy enough that most wouldn’t mind sticking around to get their money’s worth of endless refills – but it would cost less at Zeteo. On the flip side, their espresso drinks are slightly cheaper than Zetêo. The best reason to go to Round Mountain is to get one of those stickers that every college student in Conway has on their laptop or car.
Most Mixed Feelings: Blue Sail ($2.00 for any size drip coffee)
The $4 cold brew I had was subjectively terrible. And at the Front street location, any energy one acquires from their coffee is neutralized by the almost-too-dark lighting. But, compared to Zetêo and Round Mountain, Blue Sail actually offers the cheapest options for espresso drinks. It’s still easy to end up paying $5 for a large latte, so proceed with caution.
Absolute Worst: the Caf ($5,786 for one-year supply)
It’s been over a year, and I still can’t get over the acrid taste of Peet’s coffee in the Hendrix cafeteria. Somehow, the exact same brand of coffee sold downstairs in the Burrow is actually enjoyable, but it’s $2.65? At that rate, just go to Starbucks.