Dayton coffee competition: Who’s brew is the best?

Coffee has come a long way from the one-brew-fits-all era of our grandparents. Today, coffee shops have surged in popularity by offering many options beyond the basic cup o’ joe to fuel America’s always-on-the-go society.

Many people disagree on who has the best coffee, so I journeyed to some of the local shops to determine who has the best coffee.

Starbucks, Saxby’s, Boston Stoker, Caribou Coffee and Central Perc European Café have established themselves in the Dayton area and compete daily for customers and ratings. Each of these shops receives its own special blend of coffee by mail so that customers know they’ll get the same fine brew each time they visit. I went to each of these shops and purchased their small house coffee with cream and sugar, then compared taste, price and store atmosphere.


My first stop was Saxby’s, located at 4425 Feedwire Road in Centerville. I walked in and was immediately impressed with the store’s layout. Customers were reading, chatting to one another, surfing the web, and most importantly, drinking coffee. The store also had a variety of pastries that looked delicious.

I purchased my coffee for $1.75 and sat down at one of the comfortable couches in the lobby area. I took my first sip and was surprised: the coffee was much better than I had heard. It was strong, but sweet at the same time. It also had a very unique taste, unlike any coffee I had had from a shop before.

“I like Saxby’s. The taste is great and I love to go with my mom to enjoy mother-daughter time,” says sophomore Marie Zimmerman. “I don’t get the house coffee; I get a caramel macchiato, just a sweet drink to start off the day.”

Caribou Coffee

My second destination of the day was the Caribou Coffee at 5839 Far Hills Ave., just south of Kettering. I entered the shop and was impressed by the cleanliness and the wonderful smell of fresh-brewed coffee. Although the shop didn’t have many people in it, the customers looked happy; most of them were reading and some were listening to music.

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I ordered my coffee for $1.79 and I got it right away due to the excellent service. I took my first sip of Caribou Coffee and I was stunned. The taste was outstanding. It was the sweet delicious treat that I had been searching for. I had no idea why I had never tried it before.

Some people aren’t fans, though. “I think it’s too sweet. I like my coffee strong and with a bitter after-taste,” said senior Tyler Cornett. “I’m just not a fan.”

Boston Stoker

My third destination was Boston Stoker. After a long day of searching for coffee, I didn’t have the gas money to go all the way downtown to the shop in Dayton. Instead, I went to the Boston Stoker inside the Dorothy Lane Market at 2710 Far Hills Ave., in Oakwood. I walked inside and the shop was very small, almost like a Boston Stoker kiosk. There were no places to sit, so when I ordered my coffee, I drank it standing up while my mother got groceries.

I wasn’t a huge fan; the coffee was cold, extremely bitter and pretty expensive. I got an 8-ounce cup and it was $1.99.

“I love Boston Stoker. I love bitter coffee. It’s just good stuff,” said Cornett.

Some people don’t like the bitterness as much as Cornett. “I’m not a fan. I like sweet coffee, almost like a desert,” said Oakwood sophomore Joel Thompson. “The coffee is just too bitter for me. I have always drank sweet coffee because my mom is like that. It’s just the way I was raised, I guess.”

Central Perc European Café

My next stop was Central Perc European Café, and I didn’t have far to travel since it was just down the street at 2315 Far Hills Ave.This shop is more of a hole-in-the-wall shop because it isn’t a chain like the rest of the coffee places. I walked in and it was completely empty. Only one employee worked at the store, but I still got my coffee. I wasn’t impressed with the $1.99 I paid for an 8-ounce cup. The coffee tasted like it had been sitting in the pot all day, and it wasn’t hot. It also didn’t have a very good taste. It was very bland, possibly even stale. I left Central Perc feeling bitter without any “perk.”


My final destination was Starbucks: the worldwide coffee chain, the McDonald’s of coffee. The shop at2424 Far Hills Ave. is almost across the street from Central Perc.  It was crowded when I walked in, which didn’t really surprise me, knowing how popular the chain is. Finally, I reached the front of the line after waiting about five minutes, and I ordered my coffee for $1.75. Starbucks was tied in the competition for lowest price with Saxby’s.

The employees were very nice and gave me what I ordered quickly. Once I had my coffee, I sat down and took a sip and finally realized why Starbucks was so popular. The coffee was outstanding. It was freshly brewed, had great taste and was exactly what I wanted. The taste was sweet, almost like candy. Yet it had the bitterness that coffee should have.

“Starbucks is heaven in a cup,” says Thompson. “It’s easily the best coffee shop in America.”

After my experience as a judge for the coffee shop competition, I needed to be peeled off the wall from all of the caffeine. I understand everyone has a different taste for coffee, but my taste buds love Starbucks.