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Published October 26th 2014
Driving through the choices in the quest for quality coffee
In search of Adelaide's best drive through coffee
When driving down the road recently I noticed that Adelaide's largest burger outlet is now advertising that "Barista made coffee is now available in the drive thru'". I thought that was a bit of a novelty until I opened my eyes a bit more and noticed that Adelaide actually has several drive thru coffee outlets.
So which one is the best ? I had to get myself an answer so I set out to see the four most popular drive thru's and to try and make an assessment. My criteria included service time, quality of service, price and temperature of the coffee.
The Rush Espresso drive thru at 380 North East Road opened earlier this year, and has had a steady stream of city bound traffic travelling through since then. Access off North East Road is achieved via a sharpish turn in to a former car yard which has been transformed in to a drive thru coffee outlet. A small building sits in the centre of the yard, and the order is placed on the northern side window of the building with a very helpful and accommodating barista. You are then asked to drive to the other side to receive your coffee.
Just on 65 seconds and for $4.20 I received a pleasant tasting coffee that I would describe as warm – warm enough to drink immediately, but not warm enough to scold you if you accidentally spilt the coffee. Rush is open Monday to Friday from 6am to 430pm, and Saturday from 7am until 2pm.
Next stop was the On the Run drive thru for a C Coffee. There are several of these drive thru outlets around town, and I chose the outlet on Salisbury Highway. The outlet was undergoing some renovations, but the drive thru was still open. By memory, the drive thru' was a former bottle shop which has been converted to sell coffee and associated products.
After a reasonable wait the coffee arrived. It was to be the largest of the coffees ordered in this research assignment, but at $4.20 it was comparable in price with the other drive thru's. Easy access in and out of the drive thru was the key feature of this outlet.
At 179 Main North Road is one of the original pioneers of drive thru coffee in Adelaide being the Muzz Buzz store. In a slight variation to the other drive thru's, Muzz Buzz has two coffee machines, one allocated to each window of the building in the centre of this former car yard. Ordering, paying and collecting your coffee all occur at the same window, meaning you can turn off your car's engine for the duration of the experience.
And the time - 60 seconds to make a coffee for a cost of $4.30. However the add ons at Muzz Buzz are interesting. A small biscuit is a cute offering, but does little to disguise the straw that now sits astride the coffee. Drinking warm coffee through a straw was certainly a novelty, albeit a sensible safety concept considering the potential harm that a warm cup of coffee could cause if it was spilt while travelling.
Finally I made my way to the local McDonalds drive thru to assess their barista made coffee. We all know the McDonalds drive thru with three stopping points being the order bay, the payment window and the collection window. From the time of placing the order to receipt of the coffee at the collection window was around 130 seconds for a outlay of $4.05.
Drive thru coffee is available in Adelaide at several outlets. Key factors to consider in the choice of drive thru is accessibility from the main road, most of which are generally ok, albeit tight in some circumstances. All outlets chosen were on the inwards (morning) route to the City, meaning in/out access did not require any road crossings. The price of all coffees was within a whisker of $4, so that leaves quality as perhaps the key distinguishing feature. In my opinion, the two dedicated coffee drive thru outlets produce coffee of a higher quality (taste, warmth) in half the time than those outlets whose primary products are something other than coffee.