Cheap Shot | Caffeine Fiend: Phil Needs Coffee. Now! 

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Coffee is my motivation to get out of bed. Not work or money or my bladder or breakfast. When my alarm goes off, I ponder things like, do bears hibernate because they don’t drink coffee? If bats drank lattes, would they fly during the day? The turtle who beat the rabbit in that great race: Was he drinking espresso, French pressed or drip?

Those who pay tithing wake up 10 percent behind the financial eight ball. To put myself on even ground, this means the first 2.4 hours of my day I can contemplate coffee.

Then, this morning, tragedy struck. After grinding the coffee beans through bleary eyes, I threw all of the grounds into the water receptacle and then poured water through the empty filter. Simply put, I screwed up.

Ten minutes later, I came back to Mr. Coffee and had nothing but Mrs. Hot Water and a clogged contraption that used to be my personal savior. I figure if some people can worship a man who allegedly turned water into wine, then I can do the same thing with a machine that most certainly turns water into coffee.

Quicker than you can say, “Hail Mary and put on some pants,” I was out the door to my new favorite coffee shop, Alchemy Coffee (390 E. 1700 South). Like finding the Fountain of Youth or turning lead into gold, Alchemy turned a bad morning into a two-fisted coffee day. I ordered a small cup of coffee ($1.63) and a 12-ounce mocha ($3.45). Also, since I was running behind on my caffeine intake, I looked at my watch and saw it took two minutes and 11 seconds from the moment I stepped to the counter until coffee consumption commenced.

It almost seemed wrong to time my favorite barista. It wasn’t her fault I’d made hot water this morning. So I went on a coffee quest around Salt Lake City. Drinking cups of coffee, ordering mochas and holding my own special coffee Olympics. The rules for my coffee contest were simple. I ordered the same two drinks at each coffee shop. A small cup of coffee and a 12-ounce mocha. If there was a line, I didn’t shoot the starter’s pistol until ordering my drinks, then the timer stopped once the transaction was complete. And, of course, a tip.

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After the Alchemy coffees got the neurons in my brain to reverse the lobotomy I felt I’d woken up with, I headed over to Cocoa Cafe (282 E. 900 South). Apparently, the owners of Cocoa put “chocolate” in the name because they know how to put it in their cups. This was the best mocha ($3.35) of the batch. It took three minutes to make, and the coffee was $1.50.

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At Raw Bean (611 S. West Temple), I was nearly out the door in a minute and 55 seconds. The mocha was $3 and the coffee was $1.50. Then the person at the counter asked, “Do you want biscotti?” Thinking this was like a “Do you want to supersize” up-sell, I said, “No.” She said, “It’s free.” I said, “Yes.” Turns out the owner’s mother makes a delicious pineapple-cashew biscotti. And the price is right.

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What I’ve always considered the cornerstone of coffee in Salt Lake City—the Coffee Garden (878 E. 900 South)—had me in and out with the mocha ($3.10) in two minutes and six seconds. Plus, they had the least expensive cup of coffee ($1.45).

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By the time I arrived at the fifth coffee shop, Nobrow (315 E. 300 south), I was thinking of converting from my coffee religion to one that is less tolerant of caffeine. Then I considered my local alternatives and opted for one more mocha ($3.02) and another cup of coffee ($1.86). For some people, it will take a lifetime to reach eternal bliss. At Nobrow coffee, I only had to wait two minutes and 30 seconds.

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Phil Jacobsen

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