Avid coffee drinkers know: Not all cups are created equally. Of course, personal preference plays a role in an individual’s tier ranking. For example, some brew their own cup first thing in the morning, others make a beeline for the Dunkin’ drive-thru, make a pit stop at Starbucks, or have a regular order at their local coffee house. Coffee from fast-food chains is an option, too, but the fast-food chain you order from can make or break your morning.
See, to some, coffee is a treat. To others, coffee is a lifeline. Knowing this, we took it upon ourselves to taste-test five fast-food chain’s decaf coffees and rank their brews from worst to best. So if you’re among the latter, you wouldn’t have to risk paying for a subpar cup. Read on to find out which cup is worth your cash.
And for more, check out these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.
5 Burger King
Per medium cup: 0 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 sugar), 0 g protein
The rumors are true: Burger King has no reign in the fast-food coffee kingdom.
The best word that comes to mind to describe the taste of BK coffee is “sharp.” It’s extremely bitter and leaves a dry, burnt taste lingering in the back of your mouth long after you’ve taken a sip. It’s brewed using Arabica beans, and a medium cup costs about $1.50. It’s the second most expensive cup of coffee on this list, which is ironic, considering it’s also the worst.
Per medium cup (12 fl oz) of dark roast: 15 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 10 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 sugar), 1 g protein
According to the plaque over the self-serve pot, Panera’s decaffeinated coffee has a “medium body with sweet caramel and citrus notes.” The beans are sourced from Antioquia, Columbia, and a medium cup costs $2.39. My initial thoughts after sipping Panera coffee for the first time were that it was bitter and strong. When it cooled off a bit, though, it tasted less bitter and was still strong, but much more pleasant to drink. It’s also worth noting it ran right through me, which could be a pro or con, depending on how you look at it.
Per medium cup: 0 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 25 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 sugar), 2 g protein
McCafe makes a solid cup of coffee. The Premium Roast is made with 100% Arabica beans, and according to the fast-food chain’s website, fresh pots are brewed every 30 minutes. It’s a stronger brew than Wendy’s and Sonic and tastes better with cream and sugar. But, overall, it’s a tasty to-go cup that pairs well with breakfast and only costs $0.99.
Per small cup: 5 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 10 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 sugar), 0 g protein
According to the Wendy’s website, the fast-food chain’s drip coffee is brewed using “100% Arabica beans from central and south America” and is a medium roast. You can order one of two sizes: small ($0.99) or large ($1.49), but note that the cups run bigger than other chain restaurants’.
The first few sips of Wendy’s coffee were really good. I enjoyed the brew while it was hot but noticed the taste grew increasingly bitter as it cooled. I ended up adding two creamers to take the edge off.
Per regular cup (16 fl oz): 0 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs (0 g fiber, 0 sugar), 0 g protein
We had a feeling Sonic was about to clinch the number one spot on this list as soon as we saw Green Mountain Coffee Roasters listed on the menu (you might recognize the brand for its Keurig pods). Green Mountain Coffee is brewed from specialty grade Fair Trade Certified Arabica beans, and a regular-size cup costs $1.49. It tastes pleasant and goes down smooth, without a trace of bitterness. Of the options, it’s the best cup to start your morning right.