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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Roach

KyTasteBuds Takes the McCafe Challenge

Do you know when you started drinking coffee? Sounds like a silly question, but I distinctly remember the first time I drank my first cup of hot brew. I was a sophomore at UK, just sitting in the hallway, waiting for my 8am philosophy class. I had figured out by then that caffeine was an essential part of my life but it usually consisted of Coca Cola products. That morning, a friend of mine brought an extra cup of coffee and said to “Try it, it will wake you up”. And that was the first day of my love affair with coffee.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a coffee snob, not that there is anything wrong with that. As a college student, I was broke. I didn’t have money for creams and sugars, nor did I need it. I was not drinking coffee for the taste; I was drinking it to dispel a hangover or to fuel a late night cram session. It wasn’t like today where you have a thousand different coffees and a bunch of cute cafes serving up the best new cup of joe. In fact, I often drank my java out of machine. You know the kind where you insert a coin, and a paper cup drops down and you select mild, strong, or stronger…

Yep, that was me. And pretty much still is. I wake up every morning, head straight for the Keurig and pop out a black coffee to start my day. On a busy morning, I may hop on over to the local Starbucks and spend more than I should on a spruced up coffee or cappuccino, but for the most part, I am basic. No frills Leigh.

So when McDonald's asked us to take the McCafe challenge and try their brand new custom coffees, we were like, YES! Of course!!

We met with Jessica, marketing guru of McDonald's, in the Tates Creek Shopping Center in Lexington. First of all, have you guys been in there? Super clean - super cute - super modern. They even have a table that lights up! Jessica had prepared a lovely display of McCafes, served up fresh and hot on a silver platter. Nice touch Jessica! Let me tell you, Mickey D’s was doing it right. But that did not deter us from taking the challenge seriously.

With several flavors in front of us, this is how we broke it down:

  1. The AmericanaMy Go to McCafe. A satisfying McCafe simply made with hot water and poured over espresso, cream and sugar optional. But because I am basic, I like it black and this will be the coffee I order when I purchase my Egg McMuffin or Sausage and Cheese biscuit. If I need an afternoon pick me up, I am driving to the nearest Mickey D’s because let’s face it, there is one on every corner and it’s good, quick and inexpensive. I love my no frills cup of java and McDonald's serves it well.

Now here is where the fun begins:

  1. The Hot Caramel Macchiato My McCafe By the Fire. This medium to dark roast McCafe is made with hot frothy milk and mixed with caramel drizzle. It. Is. De-lic-ious. It’s so good in fact, you forget it’s a coffee. It’s the kind of drink that you want to cozy up with by a fire and read a good book. The only problem is, it tastes so good, you may not get through the first chapter before it's gone. Yum. If you like the texture and feel of hot cocoa, you will love this dessert in a cup.

The Iced Caramel MacchiatoMy “Bullseye Candy” McCafe. Remember the caramel candy with sugar clumps in the middle called Bullseye? That is exactly what this coffee tasted like to me. The rich, dark-roast espresso served with whole or nonfat milk, and once again mixed with sweet caramel syrup and buttery caramel drizzle, was a nice surprise. I am not typically an iced coffee fan but this drink wasn’t heavy nor did it leave an aftertaste that I am use to in an iced coffee. It definitely hits the “mark”!

  1. The Vanilla Cappuccino - My “Had a bad day and need a cup of comfort” McCafe. You can never go wrong with a cup of vanilla warmth. The French Vanilla Cappuccino made with whole or nonfat steamed milk, bold espresso fluffy foam and rich French Vanilla flavor provides just the pick me you need. To me, it’s the coffee you select when you want something more than your basic black but less than a dessert coffee. It’s your in-between java. Your soothing but uplifting cup of wonderful.

  2. The Caramel Cappuccino My “Werther’s Candy” McCafe. While the Iced Caramel Macchiato tasted like a Bullseye Caramel candy, the Caramel Cappuccino reminded me of a Werther’s Hard Candy. More butterscotch than caramel, this fluffy foam and buttery caramel cappuccino has a heavier taste than the macchiato but is equally as delectable.

  3. Chocolate and Caramel Iced Mocha’sMy “Are you sure this isn’t a milkshake?” McCafe. Made with espresso, these refreshingly cool Iced Mochas are comprised of whole or nonfat milk, chocolate or caramel syrup, and topped with whipped topping and drizzle. Although not thick like a milkshake, these light and flavorful drinks reminded me of one. Perfect for a fall afternoon, I will certainly be stopping in for one of these at least one a week!

And there you have it. While we did not try everything McDonald's had to offer (there is sooo much, you need to check out their new menu) we sampled a variety of their McCafe’s and let me tell you, we were more than pleasantly surprised. In our opinion, the McCafe’s compare in taste and flavor to any coffee house around. And the best part? THE PRICE. The McCafe’s are not only delicious but affordable. And with a Mickey D’s on every corner, you can grab your cup of joe in a hurry pretty much any time or any place. Most recently they have released their Pumpkin Spice Latte and even though I am not a fan of pumpkin, I will tell you this is now my favorite McCafe to date.

We would like to encourage you to go and out try a McCafe today. We are sure, if you are like us, you are going like it. Take the McCafe Challenge and let us know what you think!

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