Gas station coffee

2014, Como, Italy. A little gas station with fuel prices showing why Italians favor small cars, scooters and bicycles, or diesel-engined vehicles.

At the exchange rate of the time, the price for basic unleaded was just over $9/gallon. Parking space being scarce in the hilly medieval cities probably added to the emphasis on smaller vehicles.

Inside, the picture was a bit different from the US gas stations. While the convenience store was similar in principle, the level of quality was rather different.

Good quality, made to order coffee was available. So was a variety of liquors. I was reminded of that quite forcibly a week later in Bucksnort, Tennessee, where I made the mistake of getting American gas station coffee. Almost three years later, I still remember my reaction to the foul taste. I dumped the coffee, quite sure that is was actually 50/50 mix of used motor oil and possum feces. There’s no way actual coffee could taste that bad…except that US somehow manages to have worse quality bread and beverages than some of the poorest European countries.

Why does even a provincial train station in Italy has freshly squeezed orange juice and baked goods worth eating, while even more cosmopolitan parts of the US have nothing better than donuts with disgusting corn syrup glaze and similarly unappetizing junk?

 

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10 Responses to Gas station coffee

  1. raven says:

    Why does even a provincial train station in Italy has freshly squeezed orange juice and baked goods worth eating, while even more cosmopolitan parts of the US have nothing better than donuts with disgusting corn syrup glaze and similarly unappetizing junk?

    Yes-why? I have noticed the same thing. All over Europe.

  2. Precision 270 says:

    do you want an answer?

    Quite simply the American palette does not appreciate quality. Or more accurately, a vast majority of people prefer cheap over quality at a value proposition.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      That being the case, you’d think that every large city would have at least one store for the connoisseurs, but I can’t even find that much.

      • Richard Douglas says:

        Oleg, I have a friend who has worked as a pastry chef in and around Chicago for the last 20 years or so. She trained at CIA in New York, and everywhere she has worked she has prepared top quality food. She even goes so far as to personally import chocolate from Spain and France for some of her personal confections. The issue I think is that the quality foodstuffs are prepared for people for whom cost is no object. The dining rooms of high end hotels, social clubs, and small, very expensive private colleges, for instance. 90+% of Americans never see these places, nor taste the food, and have much more pedestrian concerns, so cheap bland food is perfectly acceptable.

  3. Richard Douglas says:

    Americans are at root, cheap. We will accept overly sweet, air filled drek if it means we don’t have to pay $4 for a donut. In fact, we are offended on an almost spiritual level by the very concept of a $4 donut.

  4. Lyle says:

    There are plenty of Americans who appreciate quality. They don’t buy food at gas stations. They might not even buy food at restaurants. Some even raise their own food and prepare it themselves.

    What I hear you saying is that you see as-yet un-fulfilled opportunity niches in the States. You’re complaining about living in a land of such opportunity?

    The other thing you’re seeing is the pack animal tendency among corporate chain retailers. The higher-ups in the corporate world might lose their precious gig by being bold, and wrong. They feel safer doing things just like all the others, even if they’re wrong. They all sell the same horse crap, but again; that leaves opportunities for those with vision.

    In any case, there’s no excuse for eating poor fare in America, being that we have access to fresh foods from all over the world. That you may not be able to find quality at a gas station is a minor side issue (and again, an opportunity).

  5. jon spencer says:

    In a similar vein,
    If you are more than a couple of hours out of a major city, try finding real buttermilk.
    All the “cultured” buttermilk one could want, but real buttermilk. Good luck.

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