Coffee Science in Fargo

I was trying to think of something epic to blog on for this 100th theedgeofthevillage.com post. Since winter has taken over autumn on the northern Great Plains, hot coffee seems just as good a topic for analysis as any. There are a couple places around the campus of North Dakota State University to purchase cups of coffee. As of late, I have wondered about coffee temperatures. This thought came from being served super-heated coffee in paper cups with those petro-plastic lids within NDSU’s memorial union — a place that fosters memory and unity, no doubt. In the last couple weeks, I have encased the paper cup in one of those cardboard sleeves, and have had to let the super-heated coffee cool enough to sip. Once cooled, I sip the coffee, but then wonder whether the heat melted the insides of the cup: was I just tasting burnt coffee? Or was I tasting coffee infused with melted glue? And was this more damaging to my innards than, say, drinking pints of chilled energy drinks that seem to have begun replacing otherwise traditional coffee drinking? I have no idea, but this in turn led to another idea: data collection on the heat temps of coffee around the Fargo-Moorhead area. So this is the first entry of coffee SCIENCE! in Fargo, North Dakota.

The coffee reviewed in this case is not from the coffee shop alluded to above. Instead, this coffee is from Jitter’s, a coffee house located to the southwest of the intersection of 12th Avenue North and Albrecht Boulevard in Fargo, North Dakota. Here is the raw data from my field notes. Equipment used: one of those thermometers you pick up for around five bucks at the grocery store.

Coffee science.

Objective data: On November 13, 2012, at 9:30AM, the temperature reading from the medium roast coffee just pumped from a thermos into a heated ceramic mug at Jitter’s read 151° F.  The room temperature read 70° F, and the outside winter temp was 19° F (this according to AccuWeather.com). A second reading was taken after a refill at 10:25AM, this at 139° F.

Subjective data: at 151° F, I was able to sip the coffee immediately (no need to let it cool). This immediacy was important since it is necessary to intersperse coffee sips with apple fritterer bites upon the ceremonious opening of the pastry bag. Before getting my coffee, I only had to stand in line for approximately 13 minutes while waiting for the two patrons ahead of me to order some kind of double soy latte decaf with a re-caffeinated infusion loaded with Italian syrup and topped with whipped cream (this will eventually contribute to the downfall of the West to North Korea, a running hypothesis of mine here).

Contribution to Coffee Memory: The rise of the prepared sugar bomb drinks could be felt easily in the year 2000 if a person was engaged in serious coffee drinking at the Dinkydome or throughout the coffee houses in Dinkytown, Minneapolis, Minnesota. It seemed a bit more gendered, though, at least in my mind, as I remember it. Young women tended to order white cafe mochas left and right. Today, full grown men are shamelessly purchasing these types of drinks — not that there’s anything wrong with that. Nonetheless, I’m fairly supportive of nudging our culture in the direction where there are separate but equal ordering lines in coffee houses: one for straight-up coffee drinkers, and the other for sugar-bomb drinkers. More to come on objective and subjective coffee data collection throughout Fargo, ND.


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