Due to various experiences in the last week, we decided to review McDonald’s iced coffee today.
Cazey lives for iced coffee. For fun, he Googles iced coffee beverages at various franchises and compares their caffeine, calories, and price. It’s the only thing he orders at Starbucks unless he gets an iced Americano, which is basically the same thing. Just seeing iced coffee gets him going. For example, while writing this post, he decided to buy a McDonald’s iced coffee after staring at several pornographic images of mahogany ambrosia over crystal cubes in a plastic cup. He did it for research.
In short, Cazey feels qualified to review the Golden Arches’ iced coffee with Sara’s additional coffee queen input. (Sara drinks coffee every day, usually black, sometimes from a Keurig. Her standards represent the average American coffee drinker.)
Our review begins two summers ago in a bucolic Virginia town. Cazey is falling asleep at the wheel, he sees the Golden Arches, and he goes. He had discovered McDonald’s
sold iced coffee sometime before, but now was the time to pull Excalibur from the stone, otherwise known as “please drive around to the next window.”
The selling points for McDonald’s iced coffee are caffeine content and price. A large iced coffee (32 oz.) at McD’s has 320 mg of caffeine. Stomp the brakes, that’s higher than a Starbucks Trenta (285 mg at 31 oz.). And it’s definitely higher than the water Dunkin’ Donuts sells you (139 mg at 32 oz.). (We’re only talking large coffees here because go big or go home.)
Additionally, McD’s iced coffee is usually under $3 including tax. (The coffee Cazey bought while typing this post cost $2.44, though once he spent $3.17 for a McD’s large iced coffee in Newport News, VA, so he no longer supports that local city government.) Meanwhile, a Venti or Trenta (24 or 31 oz.) at Starbucks is always over $3 (though it comes with ambiance and cheap refills).
Anyhow, Cazey ordered his coffee, and it was love. He remembers rolling down the country roads, high on his 320 mg of the good stuff, and could life be better?
Ever since has been disappointment.
Part of iced coffee’s charm is its low calorie count. Coffee, in itself, has 0-10 calories, and everything else comes from the sugar and cream where, unfortunately, the limit does not exist. Both Sara and Cazey tend to watch our figures since we want abs when we end up on a magazine cover in the near future. Consequently, we ask for no or nonfat milk when we order coffee and rarely sugar. (Cazey enjoys Sweet’n’Low, the devil’s spawn according to some of his high-horse friends.)
This tends not to translate well with McDonald’s cashiers. Which is interesting since McDonald’s offers their nutritional information for their iced with the “Light Cream” boxed checked. (They also assume you want a small. Fools.)
Last Sunday Cazey ordered an iced coffee with “light cream.” From sleuthing over multiple visits to the McCafé, Cazey has deduced that light cream means four cream packs instead of seven. Which still sounds like a lot, but then again, Cazey’s (late) grandpa used to drink them straight (with his biscuits and gravy at Hardee’s). So sometimes Cazey specifies two creams.
And then the McDonald’s employee handed Cazey a drink whiter than his stomach. Light cream? They gave him the cow’s udder plus a splash more.
Another time, another road trip, Cazey ordered iced coffee at a different McDonald’s. Now he’s been to McDonald’s that have told him they are out of iced coffee, which he respects. Be honest. In this case, the cashier did not tell him they were out of iced coffee. Instead he hands Cazey a lukewarm soda cup.
Yes, folks, they did indeed put hot coffee over ice in a cup.
Not even a clear cup. Aesthetics matter when it comes to iced coffee!
This is an unforgivable sin. Hot coffee over ice is not iced coffee. That is a misnomer.
Now there is Sara’s horror story. This past Wednesday, she “accidentally” went HAM the night before and paid for it the next morning. The only thing that got her out of bed and to work was the promise she made to herself to get iced coffee along the way. (Who else can relate?) Since she lives a street away from the Golden Arches, she realized that was her best option, mainly because she also needed a chicken biscuit. And yes, she means need.
She went the through the drive through because she was dying. She ordered her biscuit and a large black hazelnut coffee, because that is the nectar of hangover gods. (Amen.)
She gets up to the window, and this lady has a huge cup filled to the brim with ice and appears to be a cup of milk with a drizzle of syrup and maybe a splash of coffee. Sara then informs her, "I ordered my iced coffee black, ma'am."
As a caring and loving McDonald's employee who clearly is concerned about delivering only the highest level of customer service (“My pleasure”), the woman tells Sara, "Well—this is your coffee." And proceeds to shove it further out the window.
It was as if she did not care even in the slightest that Sara could be lactose intolerant (she’s not). The drink itself tasted like milk with just a hint of nut. Sara drank it all anyway because she was hungover, but to this very day she doesn't believe there was any coffee in it. So there we have it: McDonald’s iced coffee doesn't actually have coffee in it. At least when Sara goes.
So about that iced coffee Cazey ordered while writing this? Well, he made his order into an experiment (because ATOB is trying for a Pulitzer): He went inside (yes, he got out of his car) and asked the cashier (like, they made eye contact), “Can I get a large iced coffee with no sugar and just two creams?”
The cashier mumbled something, he really wasn’t sure what she said, but she seemed to understand the message.
Cazey then watched as a different person concocted the drink. He watched as they opened one cream, two creams . . . six creams.
Maybe this is for a different customer.
Finally, the woman tries to hand Cazey a vanilla latte. Except she used the words, “Iced coffee.”
Cazey: “Is that two creams?”
Woman: “Oh, I thought you wanted two extra creams.”
Thankfully, unlike Sara’s experience, they remixed a drink for Cazey. This one was darker (*crosses self*), but – well, folks, you know we couldn’t get out alive. It was sweet. There was diabetes in this. There was (gasp) sugar. I said "no sugar."
Sara: “I’m shocked. Wait, no, I’m not.”
That’s what you get for $2.44. In the future, we’ll just pay the extra dollar for Starbucks. Or use a K-cup.