Science proves that diner coffee is weak and terrible

Tim Taylor, owner of Ipsento Coffee, lifts a mug of coffee to his nose. “Smells like a wet brown paper bag,” he says.

We are not, I should add, at Ipsento, which is one of Chicago’s best coffee shops. Instead, we are sitting across from each other in one of those snug, well-cushioned booths at a diner (that will remain unnamed). You know, the kind of establishment that serves limitless coffee in thick, heavy mugs. On the side is an abundance of creamer cups, way more than any one person would ever need, along with a tall shaker of sugar.

Even though I’m practiced in pour-over and own a digital scale solely for weighing beans (by the gram) for my morning pot of French press, when someone mentions coffee, diner coffee immediately pops up in my head. I know I’m not the only one. There’s something so quintessentially American about sitting in a diner, coffee mug in hand. Can’t you just picture the waitress gliding through the room with a fresh pot, ready to top you off?

Then I decided to actually visit some diners in Chicago. It did not go to plan.

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