Denny’s ‘New and Improved’ Coffee

February 14, 2013
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Free coffee at Dennys is a freebie that nobody needs.

The latest in our “We Try it So You Don’t Have To” series, we . . . well, crap, the title says it all.

Alternate titles to this entry include: “When cardboard is a flavor profile” and “Free coffee not nearly worth what I paid.”

Some of us long for the day when you can actually get a good cup of coffee nearly anywhere. The world does not always allow for grinding local-roasted coffee beans at home and making magic with your Aeropress or Moka pot. Sometimes we’re on the road; sometimes we need bacon and we need it NOW NOW NOW; sometimes we’re in massive need of hangover food — all three of which are good reasons to hit up Denny’s every so often (particularly the latter). So the promise of Denny’s coming out with its “best coffee ever” is admittedly a low hurdle and the prospect of getting the “best diner coffee ever served” a pipe dream. But, still, when the restaurant rolls out a new coffee program a week ago or so, and then offers it for free on Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to at least not give it a try.

(Plus Denny’s does bacon nicely, and make eggs over medium a hell of a lot better than I do).

I had four mugs of the new coffee — two of each new variety . . . supposedly, anyway. See, I had a hell of a time telling the difference. When the most prominent feature of both is “cardboard,” and the other notable feature is “slightly charred aftertaste,” it’s not easy to discern between “Signature Diner Coffee” and “Dark Diner Coffee.”

Who is this for? Well, much like when Burger King tried to upscale a couple years ago with Starbucks’ sub-brand Seattle’s Best, it doesn’t mean much to specialty coffee aficionados. (BK, by the way, is revamping its coffee menu again to compete with those golden arches, et. al.). Just marketing something shiny to the usual base of customers — though and I must admit, I enjoy the faux-’50s design of Denny’s associated materials.

At least it’s caffeinated; at least it’s pretty cheap ($2.09 here on the left coast); at least today it was free; at least there’s unlimited refills.

But this is lipstick on a pig. That’s okay if you enjoy kissing pigs anyway, but if pigs ain’t your thing, Signature Diner lipstick and Dark Diner lipstick won’t change anybody’s opinion on that matter. So to speak. Final analysis: if you liked Denny’s coffee before, you will be happy. I did not care for it.

And I tried it . . . so you don’t have to.

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One Response to Denny’s ‘New and Improved’ Coffee

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