When the aroma of coffee fills the room on a winter morning, this is the coffee you’re thinking of.
Donut shop coffee, as it’s commonly referred to, shares much in common with breakfast blends—which is to say, they’re both light roasts that find their appeal in being exactly what they sell themselves as: non-fussy cups of Joe that start the day off right.
Within the coffee world, donut shop coffee is the saison or pilsner; the cabernet or the pinot. They’re lively, well-caffeinated, acidic beans that, after a cup or two, are like a splash of cold water in the face in the best way possible.
And, as it happens, it pairs nicely with a glazed or a crueler. Let’s learn more about the origins of donut shop coffee and how it assumed its well-earned place as a favorite among coffee connoisseurs.
Where is Donut Shop Coffee From?
Donut shop coffees are created from Arabica beans, which are of a higher quality than the other standard bean type, Robusta. By that standard alone, donut shop coffee is not a low-quality brew.
These beans are, for a donut shop coffee blend or otherwise, grown on plantations in countries like Brazil, home to a large chunk of the world’s coffee exports. The environment in this region is marked for its heavy rainfall, optimal temperatures and a fruitful dry season.
To be clear, Brazil is not who grows donut shop coffee beans, exclusively, but given that Brazil is the world’s largest coffee producer, it is more likely than not the original donut shop coffee derives from there. Some donut shop blend coffee will combine beans—throwing in, perhaps, a bean from Ethiopia—but ultimately offer a similar experience.
The beans are almost always light roasted, drawing out nascent sweetness, and because they are notoriously already slightly sweet this allows them to be ideal tagalongs with, you guessed it, donuts. The exact association between the two items is murky, at best, but can probably be attributed to—in today’s popular culture, anyway—the rise of Dunkin’ Donuts.
As the story goes, in Quincy, Massachusetts, William Rosenberg, noticed as he operated his snack shop that coffee and donuts collectively made up 40 percent of his sales. So, he doubled down on the concept and by the 1960s, hundreds of Dunkin’ locations had spread across the nation—and is probably still the best-known destination for who makes donut shop coffee.
What Does Donut Shop Coffee Taste Like?
Some describe donut shop coffee as “coffee-flavored coffee.” That much is at least partly true.
The light-roast Arabica beans used for donut shop coffee is neither nutty nor chocolate-tinged; it’s mostly, from a descriptive standpoint, a little more complex than “coffee,” also smacking the palate with an earthy flavor rounded by a hint of sweetness that lends itself to milk and cream, but is still plainer than its more complicated bean brethren.
Donut shop coffee, as a variety. accompanies a donut or pastry particularly well for the simple reason that it doesn’t overpower the sweetness or flavor-packed qualities of the actual indulgence. Imagine, after all, enjoying a floral coffee alongside a rich chocolate donut ring.
The pairing just doesn’t sound quite the same.
Some donut shop coffees will be as bold as a medium roast, though the donut shop coffee is characterized by its light body but bold aromas. It’s wonderfully uncomplicated and delightfully versatile, whether it’s donut shop blend ground coffee or fresh-ground beans.
There's a good reason why they are such a favorite with coffee drinkers. In a word, a donut shop coffee is just classic. Try the popular style of Donut Shop Coffee for yourself with Victor Allen’s Coffee.