As a mildly employed freelance writer, I have little disposable income, a lot of time on my hands, and strictly rationed vices. One such vice is coffee, which I drink more of than most people I know—even other freelance writers. But, despite my quantity-over-quality brewing habits, I’m capable of mustering some taste, and of standing by preference with reasoned conviction. So, with limited resources for fanciness and a desperate addiction in mind, I set out to determine which basic, widely available coffee brand should stand out from the rest on the grocery store shelf. I enjoy a Blue Bottle pour-over as much as the next fiend, but a $3 morning coffee is above my pay grade. I drink most of my coffee at home, from a bag of grounds that costs around $8, reupped on a bi-weekly grocery run. My choice of bag is usually determined by habit, or price, or shelf height, with less care than I take choosing a bar of soap, though I use both daily. When it comes to choosing a regular coffee—travel-mug, after-dinner, Sunday-morning coffee—which is best?
A great thing about this coffee is that it keeps the unique, characteristic flavor no matter how you combine it. It goes amazingly both with milk and sugar, and it doesn’t lose its aroma even when you add whipped cream to it. In accordance with this, you won’t make a wrong decision if you choose Newman’s Own Special Blend for the preparation of iced coffee.
You could always get a nice cup of coffee at Brew HaHa!, Delaware's best-known mini-chain, but with the launch of Brandywine Coffee Roasters a few years back, founder Alisa Morkides, ever passionate about sourcing, took things in-house, and also to a brilliant new place. Quickly garnering heaps of national attention, Brandywine supplies the nine Brew HaHa! stores from its roasting operation in Wilmington's Trolley Square neighborhood, fronted by a visually arresting flagship café, one that feels more like the lobby of a hip (but also fun) hotel, than just another coffee shop.
One of those towns that got lucky, relatively early on, Arizona's second city still knows coffee best, at least around these parts. Right now, the city is all about this super-mod operation, featuring two high-design hangouts—one at Presta's roasting plant, the other inside the quite chic Mercado San Agustin, these days one of Tucson's favorite gathering places, and for good reason.

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