Coffee in Worcester: WPI, part one

posted by Mike on January 14th, 2007

A friend described the espresso at Worcester Polytechnic Institute with one word: “Ew.” So we had to check it out. WPI student “Drew” was our guide.


Pie and Coffee: Alright. We’re here at WPI.

Bruce: Brought to you by the Snow Ghost and Mike Benedetti.

P&C: And we’re also here with Drew. And this was probably the hardest cup of coffee we ever got.

B: I agree. Let me tell you about my experience coming here, this being the first time. I went to get the coffee, and it had no milk with it.

P&C: We got the coffee out of a machine.

B: Yeah, we got the coffee out of a machine.

P&C: It was called Deuwey Jergens or something.

B: And there was no milk! I tried the “hot milk,” but that only made it hotter. And I tried the other one, which says “Coffee With Milk,” and that only made it worse.

I actually found out there’s creamers over there! Next to the napkins and the rest of the stuff for your hot dogs or whatever.

P&C: The coffee was kind of expensive, too.

B: Yeah?

P&C: How much did yours cost?

B: $2.10.

P&C: $2.10 for a cup of coffee. Did you get a large?

B: Yeah, I got a large. Pretty enlarging!

P&C: So there’s a bunch of dining halls here, right?

Drew: Yeah, there are a few. There’s the main dining hall, which is called Morgan Dining Hall. There’s also one called Founders. Those aren’t really coffee-centric, I guess. They have coffee there but it’s really just Starbucks, a little jug that they have.

P&C: And we’re in the student center. Upstairs from here there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts.

D: I’m not sure what company it used to be, but it used to be a local coffee shop that had a location here, but just over the past year they’ve changed it to Dunkin’ Donuts, and replaced the other coffee in the dining halls with Starbucks coffee. Kinda depressing.

P&C: The reason we came here is because somebody told me that they had the worst espresso ever at WPI.

B: Did you find that out?

DSCN8638P&C: Well, this espresso was kind of weird. Actually I think that before me Tim had got this “whipped coffee,” and I think that part of the whipped coffee came out in my espresso, because—you’re supposed to have a layer of what they call crema on the espresso, but this was a layer of froth. Too much. So I think that’s one issue here—there’s a lack of purity of the coffee. It wasn’t the worst espresso ever. It was the most expensive espresso ever, at least for coffee coming out of a machine. Two dollars. A lot of these machines work on a capsule-by-capsule basis. And the capsule coffees are pretty good.

D: So is it pre-made coffee in a capsule?

P&C: It would be a larger version of one of these half-and-half containers, a plastic cup with foil or whatever on top. You pop it into the machine, which punctures the top and bottom and forces hot water through it. Inside is a small amount of ground coffee. So it is as fresh as pre-ground coffee is gonna get.

D: That’s cool. I had no idea how they worked.

P&C: That’s just my guess. We had one like that at a place where I worked. The older coffee machines are interesting, too. Did you ever see one where the paper cup shoots down into a slot, and gets filled with coffee? I think they had one on the credits of the original Siskel & Ebert.

D: I’ve seen one of those.

P&C: I’ll see if there’s a Wikipedia page about how these machines work, and I’ll link to it. [Ed. note: Looks like many of these machines use paper “pods”.]

B: Back in like 1998 there was a bagel cafe in Manhattan, in the Midtown area. I used to do some recording, jam with some people there, and right down the block, on 250 W 54th, right around the corner was a bagel cafe. Upstairs was a pizza place. I used to get an espresso, out of those teeny weeny . . .

P&C: Demitasse cups.

B: Yeah, not those same ones out of Italy, but close enough. And then they ran out of cups, so they ended up giving me a big paper cup for just a single shot. I mean, I didn’t try the double shot. I mean, I got wired up on the first one.

P&C: You were wired when you stepped in the door.

B: I was wired when I got on the bus.

P&C: So what’s the flavor of this coffee like?

B: Dark roasted. Dark rōsted. And very tōsted.

P&C: And the cup says But the machine doesn’t say that. So I don’t know anything about the provenance of this coffee.

B: Must be coming from the machine.

P&C: It’s like the soul in the machine. The ghost in the machine. The coffee in the machine.

B: And the machine’s here. Sometimes White Hen, or Shell, if you want French vanilla, or cappuccino, you get it out of the fountain machine.

P&C: They put a little syrup in it.

B: Yeah, stuff like that’s got a creamier taste to it.

P&C: I’m always surprised you don’t take sugar in your coffee, because you like syrup.

B: I don’t need the sugar. It would be too syrupy. It would totally wipe out the metal.

P&C: Drew, thanks for leading us down here.

D: No problem.

P&C: If any readers know which cafeteria at WPI has the worst coffee in the world, please tip us off. Bruce, any last words?

B: See you next time.

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One Comment Leave a comment.

  1. On January 15, 2007 at 14:13 OtherMichael said:

    The next time you make it to Scranton, I’ll treat you to some stove-top Espresso.

    I needs to gets me some espresso spoons, first, though.

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