Disney and the Coffee Conundrum

My Wife Karen and I, Fueling Up and Heading to the Parks!

Editor’s Note: Today, we’re hearing from our contributor, John J. Marchese, as he ponders a very important question: where is a coffee lover to find a good cup when visiting Walt Disney World? Take it away, John!

I doubt Tim Horton ever visited Walt Disney World. It would shock me if he was even aware of what had been created in the midst of Central Florida’s orange groves and swampland.

Horton played hockey for 24 seasons, won four Stanley Cups and was a 6-time National Hockey League All Star. After his death in 1974 at the age of 44, he was enshrined into the NHL Hall of Fame.

As significant as his hockey-related accomplishments are, they pale in comparison to his greatest achievement as a co-founder of the doughnut and coffee shop chain bearing his name that, in my opinion, makes the best coffee in the world. Tim Hortons restaurants dot the landscape in the northeastern United States and across Canada. For many years, Tim Hortons Coffee has provided me with the caffeinated fuel necessary to kick start my day—even days spent vacationing at Walt Disney World.

Horton’s coffee has accompanied my family on trips to Walt Disney World for as long as I can remember. At first, many years ago, we relied on Disney for our daily dose of caffeine. As novice Disney guests, we figured an organization that could “imagineer” and build a place like Walt Disney World could brew a decent cup of coffee once in a while. We were wrong. By packing our own coffee (and the filters, and coffee scoop to really get an authentic “back home” brew), we were able to solve the early morning coffee dilemma. Without a doubt, the first cup is the most important, but where do you turn when you are in a park and have a hankering for a pre-Illuminations or Wishes cup?

The options were grim, to say the least. As a long-time Disney corporate sponsor, Nestle USA has held a virtual death grip on coffee sales in Disney Parks. Oh sure, you could get a Starbucks jolt at non-Disney owned resorts such as Shades of Green or the Swan and Dolphin, but you were out of luck if you were in a park or staying in a Disney-owned resort. In that case it was Nescafe, or bust.

For us, more often than not, it was bust. We tried to get it down, sometimes thinking we could mask the sludge-like flavor of the Nescafe with extra cream, sugar or even cinnamon. But nothing worked. Each day we would try again, consciously ignoring yesterday’s, literally, bitter disappointment in the hope that today’s brew would be better. In the end, we threw away more coffee than we ever drank.

Then, a few years ago, Joffrey’s Coffee locations began sprouting up on property. Disney and Joffrey’s entered into an agreement which put Joffrey’s Coffee (orders of magnitude better than Nescafe, by the way) at locations throughout Disney property. Joffrey’s is able to compete with Nescafe at Walt Disney World because, technically, it sells espresso rather than plain old coffee.

My excitement at the addition of Joffrey’s Coffee has been tempered, however, by its disappointingly sparse and inconsistent locations throughout Disney property. Need a jolt on your early morning Epcot or Animal Kingdom day? You’re in luck, for Joffrey locations are placed right outside the entrance gates of those parks. But don’t expect to sip your Joffrey’s while watching the Magic Kingdom Good Morning Show.

That’s why we still bring a healthy allotment of Tim Hortons Coffee on each Disney vacation. And that’s why the addition of Starbucks locations in the parks will be a Godsend for all coffee-loving Disney guests. The first of the coffee giant’s Disney locations will open this June at Disney California Adventure. Then, Starbucks locations are expected to appear at Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

Recently, we Disney coffee aficionados were given even more good news. Now we can point to scientific evidence that our obsession with Disney coffee is motivated by more than just a simple addiction to caffeine. The New England Journal of Medicine released a study showing that coffee drinkers are a bit more likely to live longer than non-drinkers. In fact, the study concluded that the more coffee test subjects drank, the lower their mortality risk tended to be.

So Disney’s attempt to provide coffee that guests can actually keep down is not simply a commercial venture, but also is in the public interest.

Whatever the reason—taste, addiction or long-life—Welcome Home, Starbucks!

John is an attorney, writer and life-long Disney fan who married a Disney fan and raised two daughters who have become even bigger Disney fans. Despite incessant teasing from his colleagues, John’s passion for Disney remains unwavering. A shareholder at Colucci & Gallaher, P.C. in Buffalo, New York, John is a frequent contributor to The Disney Driven Life and Good Enough Mother.

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