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#41 AlanB

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 03:39 PM

Getting hot water isn't usually too much of a problem, however I've seen comments from a few of our British members who don't think that Amtrak's water is hot enough to brew a proper pot of tea.

Maybe that's why AmCoffee usually tastes so bad! They probably start with not-hot-enough water, probably use too little coffee grounds (resulting in overextraction and a bitter taste), and then probably leave it on the burner for hours (sizzling, charring, and otherwise burning the coffee).


Well IIRC, the issue was that to do a proper pot of tea, the water needs to be boiling just prior to one's inserting the tea bag. You won't get that on Amtrak most likely. On the other hand, boiling water for coffee prior to pouring it over the grounds, is not a good thing. IIRC, I believe that the ideal temp for coffee is around 180 or 190, which is below the boiling point.
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#42 Rail Freak

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 04:16 PM

Getting hot water isn't usually too much of a problem, however I've seen comments from a few of our British members who don't think that Amtrak's water is hot enough to brew a proper pot of tea.

Maybe that's why AmCoffee usually tastes so bad! They probably start with not-hot-enough water, probably use too little coffee grounds (resulting in overextraction and a bitter taste), and then probably leave it on the burner for hours (sizzling, charring, and otherwise burning the coffee).


Well IIRC, the issue was that to do a proper pot of tea, the water needs to be boiling just prior to one's inserting the tea bag. You won't get that on Amtrak most likely. On the other hand, boiling water for coffee prior to pouring it over the grounds, is not a good thing. IIRC, I believe that the ideal temp for coffee is around 180 or 190, which is below the boiling point.


I'm afraid this southern Red Neck will stick to Coke :angry: I mean Pepsi!!!! :lol:

A Rookie No More! But Still A Lot Of Track To Travel !!!
Silver Meteor #97(6) & #98 (4), Silver Star #91 (2), Capitol Limited #29 & #30(6), Empire Builder #7,#8,#27(2) &#28(4) Coast Starlight #11 (6) & #14(5), California Zephyr #5 (2) & #6 (5), Cascades #506, City of New Orleans #58, #59 (2), South West Chief #3 (4), Lake Shore Limited #49, Maple Leaf #63, San Joaquin #714, Pacific Surfliner #774, Texas Eagle #422 (2), Cardinal #50, Crescent #19, Sunset Limited #1. Approx. 60,169 miles & 41 states!

 


#43 Kaki

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 04:22 PM

Is there a microwave available for passengers to use? For popcorn?
Would it be possible to heat up water for coffee or tea in their microwave?

#44 AlanB

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 04:30 PM

Is there a microwave available for passengers to use? For popcorn?
Would it be possible to heat up water for coffee or tea in their microwave?


Nope, no microwave available for passenger use. And the crew is not allowed to take food/drink from you and put it into the microwaves for health/sanitary reasons.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#45 jackal

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 04:35 PM

" probably use too little coffee grounds (resulting in overextraction and a bitter taste), and .."

For pete's sake, Amtrak ain't Starbucks.


For that matter, Starbucks isn't all that great, either--they overroast their beans for consistency but at the cost of flavor and bitterness. (Their new Pike's Place brew is a step in the right direction.)

I simply like good coffee. Usually, that means freshly roasted from a local roaster. (Kaladi Brothers up here is famous and pretty good, although I'm partial to Cafe del Mundo...but the best for freshness and price is the Seattle Mountain Coffee they roast right in my local Costco.) I'll never understand people who prefer to drink that dried cardboard crap known as Folgers, but most traditional American restaurants, as well as most transportation providers, seem to think that's what people still like. (Some places are beginning to realize that Americans are becoming more discriminating about their coffee tastes--even McDonald's now uses decent coffee instead of the freeze-dried stuff.)

Edited by jackal, 16 April 2008 - 04:38 PM.

Amtrak trains traveled: Acela Express, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Coast Starlight (and used to live next to its tracks!), Crescent, Empire Builder, Keystone, Northeast Regional, Pacific Surfliner, Pennsylvanian, San Joaquins...total mileage: 8,354 [massively out-of-date; to be updated soon!]
Other major trains traveled: Alaska Railroad (former TY&E employee), SNCF TGV (Paris-Poitiers, Paris-Dijon-Paris @300kph/187mph!) and TER (Beaune-Dijon), VR Sibelius (Helsinki-St. Petersburg-Helsinki), DB ICE (Stuttgart-Frankfurt Airport), Vietnam Railways Reunification Express (Hanoi-Hue-Saigon), CountryLink North Coast Line XPT (Sydney-Casino), Queensland Rail Sunlander (Brisbane-Proserpine-Cairns), Machu Picchu Train (Ollantaytambo-MP) subways/light rail/commuter rail/any other rail every place I can!
Coast Starlight trip report with Pacific Parlour Car dining menu
How Amtrak fare buckets and on-board upgrades work (a work in progress)

#46 PerRock

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 04:40 PM

for hot beverages may i suggest bringing:
Travel Hot Water Coil

peter
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#47 Rail Freak

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 04:41 PM

" probably use too little coffee grounds (resulting in overextraction and a bitter taste), and .."

For pete's sake, Amtrak ain't Starbucks.


For that matter, Starbucks isn't all that great, either--they overroast their beans for consistency but at the cost of flavor and bitterness. (Their new Pike's Place brew is a step in the right direction.)

I simply like good coffee. Usually, that means freshly roasted from a local roaster. (Kaladi Brothers up here is famous and pretty good, although I'm partial to Cafe del Mundo...but the best for freshness and price is the Seattle Mountain Coffee they roast right in my local Costco.) I'll never understand people who prefer to drink that dried cardboard crap known as Folgers, but most traditional American restaurants, as well as most transportation providers, seem to think that's what people still like. (Some places are beginning to realize that Americans are becoming more discriminating about their coffee tastes--even McDonald's now uses decent coffee instead of the freeze-dried stuff.)


This conversation reminds me of Costa Rica. Man, The coffee there would take paint off the wall!!!! :ph34r:

A Rookie No More! But Still A Lot Of Track To Travel !!!
Silver Meteor #97(6) & #98 (4), Silver Star #91 (2), Capitol Limited #29 & #30(6), Empire Builder #7,#8,#27(2) &#28(4) Coast Starlight #11 (6) & #14(5), California Zephyr #5 (2) & #6 (5), Cascades #506, City of New Orleans #58, #59 (2), South West Chief #3 (4), Lake Shore Limited #49, Maple Leaf #63, San Joaquin #714, Pacific Surfliner #774, Texas Eagle #422 (2), Cardinal #50, Crescent #19, Sunset Limited #1. Approx. 60,169 miles & 41 states!

 


#48 SweetSue

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 05:01 PM

Now you all have me concerned about getting a decent cup of coffee when we travel on the SWC in mid May. I've read somewhere on this forum that the coffee is "drinkable" from the dining car. As long as I can get a good couple of cups in the morning I'll be fine the rest of the day. Those of us who reside in NW Ohio, like Tim Horton's coffee. I've read that I should check out the Cold Stone Creamery in ABQ for ice cream but do any of these stops have a place to buy a decent cup of coffee with enough time to get there and back to the train before it leaves?

All the "coil" will do is heat water for a cup of instant. That is not good coffee to some of us. Or maybe I should bring my one cup brewer with me in my tote bag and make my own "brewed coffee" in my roomette in the morning. Another important factor in making coffee taste good is using filtered water or bottled water, not tap.

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#49 AlanB

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 05:08 PM

I've always thought that Amtrak's coffee is pretty decent. It's not Tim Hortons, but I don't think it's bad either.
Alan,

Take care and take trains!

#50 jackal

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 05:22 PM

I've always thought that Amtrak's coffee is pretty decent. It's not Tim Hortons, but I don't think it's bad either.


Yeah, but you're from the east coast, where good coffee = Dunkin' Donuts! :P

(I'm from Alaska, which actually has a higher number of coffee stands per capita than Seattle, which is a close second. We treat coffee here like fine chocolate or fine wine. At least it's not California, where coffee = double half-calf skinny soy two-pump latte...)

They have Tim Hortons in the U.S.? Or do you drive across the Canadian border for it? I had some outside of Halifax...I was too tired to notice whether the coffee was actually decent, but I couldn't get enough of their frozen cappuccino thing! Had an interesting and addictive taste!

Seriously, I've heard that dining car coffee is actually pretty decent--it's the coffee in the sleepers or in the business class cars that's not as good. I wouldn't worry too much about it, Sue.

Edited by jackal, 16 April 2008 - 05:24 PM.

Amtrak trains traveled: Acela Express, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Coast Starlight (and used to live next to its tracks!), Crescent, Empire Builder, Keystone, Northeast Regional, Pacific Surfliner, Pennsylvanian, San Joaquins...total mileage: 8,354 [massively out-of-date; to be updated soon!]
Other major trains traveled: Alaska Railroad (former TY&E employee), SNCF TGV (Paris-Poitiers, Paris-Dijon-Paris @300kph/187mph!) and TER (Beaune-Dijon), VR Sibelius (Helsinki-St. Petersburg-Helsinki), DB ICE (Stuttgart-Frankfurt Airport), Vietnam Railways Reunification Express (Hanoi-Hue-Saigon), CountryLink North Coast Line XPT (Sydney-Casino), Queensland Rail Sunlander (Brisbane-Proserpine-Cairns), Machu Picchu Train (Ollantaytambo-MP) subways/light rail/commuter rail/any other rail every place I can!
Coast Starlight trip report with Pacific Parlour Car dining menu
How Amtrak fare buckets and on-board upgrades work (a work in progress)

#51 p&sr

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 05:29 PM

Seriously, I've heard that dining car coffee is actually pretty decent--it's the coffee in the sleepers or in the business class cars that's not as good. I wouldn't worry too much about it, Sue.


I'd agree with this. I never touch the coffee in the Snack Bar. Partly to avoid hot spills. But in the Dining Car I've always found it quite satisfactory. Especially along with Cheesecake for dessert!

Recently I discovered that the San Joaquin Trains in California have good coffee as well, as part of their "Gourmet Menu".
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#52 AlanB

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 05:31 PM

Yes, Tim Hortons has been trying to make some inroads in the US, but they are no where near as sucessful here in the US as they are in Canada. In Canada you can't drive down a road without hitting a Tim's.

Next, DD isn't that bad, certainly much better than Starbucks. I haven't tried that new blend yet though, so maybe that might change things a bit.

As for me, go to this page and navigate down to the "Three Masted Blend". That's what I drink at home. Mmmm! :)
Alan,

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#53 edding

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 06:36 PM

for hot beverages may i suggest bringing:
Travel Hot Water Coil

peter


Peter, thank you SO much for this excellent suggestion. I've had one before but since most hotels now have some way of making a morning cuppa, I've lost the immerser. I've already put it on my Magellan wish list and will order it soonest. And whoever said that the water for tea had to be boiling was absolutely right. I've never understood why restaurants in this country could never seem to understand how to serve a decent cup of tea. And no I'm not English, but my mother is( she never became a US citizen after living here for almost 60 years. Or as she would respond when asked why she didn't: "My dear, why would I?")

Ed

#54 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 10:14 PM

I'd say Amtrak's dining car coffee is as good as Wawa's, which is a complement. It isn't Starbucks, but its pretty good. The stuff in the sleepers is poison, only use it for pouring on people who are screaming for the attendant at the top of their lungs at 2 in the morning.

Comment on coffee liking: I love Starbucks. Tim Hortons is ok. Dunkin' Donuts is ok so long as its hot- its dishwater when it cools off. My favourite coffee place is the Coffee Beanery. Starbucks has a slightly burnt taste I happen to like. Its all obviously a matter of personal taste. Except for the coffee in the sleepers. I think my trip on the Auto Train was the only time I actually spat a cup of coffee out in shock as to how bad it was.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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#55 auxplage

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 10:44 PM

I'd say Amtrak's dining car coffee is as good as Wawa's, which is a complement. It isn't Starbucks, but its pretty good. The stuff in the sleepers is poison, only use it for pouring on people who are screaming for the attendant at the top of their lungs at 2 in the morning.

Comment on coffee liking: I love Starbucks. Tim Hortons is ok. Dunkin' Donuts is ok so long as its hot- its dishwater when it cools off. My favourite coffee place is the Coffee Beanery. Starbucks has a slightly burnt taste I happen to like. Its all obviously a matter of personal taste. Except for the coffee in the sleepers. I think my trip on the Auto Train was the only time I actually spat a cup of coffee out in shock as to how bad it was.


While coffee is a matter of taste (I used to work at Starbucks unfortunately), I must say that I am not fond of any their coffee, and I prefer 7-11 most of the time for plain, black coffee. It could use some improvement. Americanos and Soy Lattes are the way to go, which is good since they also happen to be the cheapest thing on the menu after pure coffee. Christmas blend is not too bad . . .

Edited by auxplage, 16 April 2008 - 10:45 PM.


#56 MStrain

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 11:03 PM

We Southerners prefer chicory in our coffee from time to time (think Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans)......and we also drink Community Coffee made in Louisiana.....mmmmmmmm.......coffee..........

Also...there is an original dining car coffee carafe from the Santa Fe Super Chief on Ebay.....its calling my name.......

Edited by MStrain, 16 April 2008 - 11:05 PM.


#57 AlanB

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 11:20 PM

I once had a sleeper attendant on I think a Silver Service train, might have been the Crescent, I know I was going south in any event. He'd carry on his own supply of cinimon and sprinkle a little bit into each pot of coffee he'd brew. This was of course on a Viewliner back before they started replacing the old metal coffee pots with the new fangled machines that tend to break down left and right, and produce a very oily coffee.

That was some of the best coffee I've ever had on Amtrak. Mind you I liked the coffee brewed in those pots in the first place, but with that extra special touch from the attendant, it was really good! :)
Alan,

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#58 GG-1

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 11:34 PM

Aloha

With all this talk about coffee, I will let you in on how I won the Maxwell House restaurant award. I added a teaspoon of salt to the coffee grounds used to make 100 gallons at a time. Don't remember how many pounds of coffee needed for a 100 gallon pot. One day a week I would brew a 1000 gallons a day, about 7 hours worth in Disneyland, CA. :) :) :)

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#59 jackal

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Posted 16 April 2008 - 11:40 PM

DD's brewed coffee may beat out Starbucks' brewed coffee (although the new roast is much better, IMHO), but comparing Starbucks' espresso with DD's brewed coffee is like comparing apples and oranges. They're two different things.

I'll admit I like my espresso doctored up (usually in the form of a mocha), so a coffee to me is more like a coffee-flavored hot chocolate. I can't do doppios (what the Italians drink--two shots of pure espresso!) or even Americanos (two shots of espresso mixed with hot water, to create a similar strength as brewed coffee--get it, named after American-style coffee!--although the darker espresso roast gives it a different flavor). The worst is what's known up here as a sludge cup--two shots of espresso mixed with brewed coffee. Now that's a lot of caffeine!

But all other things being equal, Starbucks really isn't all that great. It's just the fancy coffee drinks that they're known for. They're predictably mediocre but offer a lot of sugar--kind of like McDonald's. Actually, most of the time, I go for their blended drinks (a Java Chip Frappuccino is my drink of choice). But from a pure coffee standpoint, you can usually do better--DD's (and maybe even McD's) for cups of brewed coffee and local roasters and coffee shops (or Caribou Coffee--I hear good things about them) for whole beans or espresso drinks.
Amtrak trains traveled: Acela Express, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Coast Starlight (and used to live next to its tracks!), Crescent, Empire Builder, Keystone, Northeast Regional, Pacific Surfliner, Pennsylvanian, San Joaquins...total mileage: 8,354 [massively out-of-date; to be updated soon!]
Other major trains traveled: Alaska Railroad (former TY&E employee), SNCF TGV (Paris-Poitiers, Paris-Dijon-Paris @300kph/187mph!) and TER (Beaune-Dijon), VR Sibelius (Helsinki-St. Petersburg-Helsinki), DB ICE (Stuttgart-Frankfurt Airport), Vietnam Railways Reunification Express (Hanoi-Hue-Saigon), CountryLink North Coast Line XPT (Sydney-Casino), Queensland Rail Sunlander (Brisbane-Proserpine-Cairns), Machu Picchu Train (Ollantaytambo-MP) subways/light rail/commuter rail/any other rail every place I can!
Coast Starlight trip report with Pacific Parlour Car dining menu
How Amtrak fare buckets and on-board upgrades work (a work in progress)

#60 Green Maned Lion

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Posted 17 April 2008 - 12:11 AM

Personally, I prefer their brewed coffee over everyones but Coffee Beanery.
Travelled: Broadway Limited (1), Lake Shore Limited (6), Capitol Limited (7), Empire Builder (1), Southwest Chief (2), Sunset Limited (1), California Zephyr (3), Coast Starlight (2), Silver Meteor (5), Silver Star (5), Silver Palm (2), Crescent (1), Cardinal (4), Auto Train (4), Pennsylvanian (2), Palmetto (1), Acela Express (1), Empire Service (1), Northeast Regional (11), Keystone Service (1) --- Total Miles: 50,144 --- Total Trains: 61
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