The Caribou Coffee Revolution

I wouldn't actually drink this. But I needed a picture.

I wouldn't actually drink this. But I needed a picture.

By Ezra Klein

Iced coffee probably shouldn’t cost $3.08. Particularly when normal coffee just costs $2.00. Iced coffee, after all, is partially distinguished by the presence of ice, which is another way of saying the absence of coffee. And ice, in my experience, is cheaper than coffee. But $3.08 is what Caribou Coffee charges for a large iced coffee. And I’m happy to pay it. Want to know why? Because they don’t discriminate against decaf drinkers.

Yes, yes, I’m a decaf drinker. The lowest form of life. I know. I get it. I even agree with it. If my body didn’t react to caffeine as if John Travolta had just injected speed directly into my heart, I would drink it more often. But it does, so I don’t.

This is generally one of life’s less bothersome burdens. Real coffee does indeed taste better, but since I use coffee as a conveyor for cream and Splenda, it ends up in pretty much the same place. But the summer months are different. Coffee shops bring out the iced stuff. Some even bring out the cold press. But not for decaf drinkers. Never for decaf drinkers. We get hot coffee poured over cold ice. We get, in other words, lukewarm coffee-water.

Except at Caribou Coffee. They’re giving us the cold-pressed stuff. Are they charging a bit more? Yeah, they are. But it’s good. I don’t even use milk. And I’m willing to be ripped off in service of equality.


12 responses to “The Caribou Coffee Revolution

  1. Love that you’re a decaf drinker, Ezra – I switched to decaf about 5 years ago after an irregular heartbeat scare – and I am a black coffee guy. I actually find the decaf to be quite delicious if you can find the right beans. I had a Caribou Coffee last time I was in DC in April and enjoyed it quite a bit.

  2. Also, Caribou has free wi-fi. Also, Caribou doesn’t violently oppose its employees’ unionizing campaigns. Also, Caribou employees make it a point to pronounce my name correctly when announcing my chai is ready.

    So, lots of reasons never to go back to The Mega-Coffee Chain That Shall Not Be Named.

  3. I always thought the reason that iced coffee is more expensive is that it requires more effort/energy–you have to steep it overnight, press it, have fridge space to store it while you keep it cold. Then there’s the energy and space required to make and store ice.

    Whereas with hot coffee you brew and serve immediately.

    I’d advise you to get a french press and the best decaf beans you can buy. Stir it up, let it steep overnight according to your compatriot’s instructions, press in the morning. Cheaper, better-tasting.

  4. Also, iced coffee is generally brewed stronger to account for the ice effect, negating your more ice = less coffee analysis.

  5. Ezra, you are not alone. I don’t react well to caffeine either, and it took me a while to become an out-and-proud decaf-only person in this town. Some people still think it’s weird, but I also have had plenty of people admit almost conspiratorially that they, too, don’t take caffeine. For some it’s a negative reaction, and others just got tired of being caffeine-dependent. But most of us still like the taste of coffee.

    Nice to know about Caribou having decaf iced coffee. It was definitely a surprise when I realized Starbucks didn’t have decaf iced, but I usually get tea from them anyway.

  6. have you tried a decaf iced americano?

  7. If you’re not trying to get caffeine, why bother with coffee at all? I always just assumed the only reason any one put up with that nasty stuff was for the caffeine. There are lots of better tasting caffeine free beverages (such as water) out there.

  8. Pingback: David Trinh » CariBOO

  9. I too have had to go the way of Decaf. The problem with decaf is that the process typically extracts the flavor along with the offending drug. I searched for several years for some really good decaf whole beans in vain. I live in Atlanta and there just aren’t (or weren’t) any good local roasters to be found. However, I recently stumbled across Peet’s Decaf Major Dickason’s Blend beans, and have been in the (relative) bliss of Decaf Heaven ever since.

  10. Decaf drinkers unite! I’m so glad to hear that this is the case at Caribou. I will have to frequent them more now. One the one occasion that I got regular coffee at Caribou, I thought my heart would jump out of my chest, it was so strong. Kind of turned me off from Caribou completely. But I do sometimes crave a good iced mocha from time to time. Thanks!

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  12. Pingback: Recipe > Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee « BattleRecipes

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