DAY 28: Wawa!
If you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, or Central Florida, I feel like it’s reasonable to assume that Wawa holds a special place in your heart.
If you’re not, I’m sorry. You probably don’t understand why I am apologizing to you, but it’s only because you haven’t experienced the most wonderful convenience store in the country (EAT IT, Sheetz). But seriously, they did a poll.
You’re probably thinking to yourself: “So this is some podunk gas station sandwich shop? How good could this actually be?” Yes, it’s often attached to a gas station, but don’t let that fool you. As New Jersey as pizza or bagels, Wawa is a magical place where you can get one of the best sandwiches you’ve ever had, a delicious cup of coffee, or (if you’re feeling something sweet) indulge in a Coke slushie.
Also, there are about 200 of them in 6 states. Also also, Wawa sells 60 million sandwiches every year.
That's 60 million, A N N U A L L Y.
Wawa is very important to me. It’s the first place (besides high school) that I drove to after I got my license. It’s the place where I went to get a celebratory snack after taking the GRE. It’s the place where I go to treat myself to a special breakfast on days when I know I’m going to have a long day at work.
So when I saw that they brought back their pumpkin products this season, I was hyped. I couldn’t figure out how I hadn’t tried any up to this point, but I was ready to change that STAT.
DAY 28: Wawa!
Items: Wawa Pumpkin Spice Coffee, Wawa Pumpkin Spice Muffin
Cost: $1.55 (Coffee), $1.69 (Muffin)
Purchase Location: Wawa
A warm, sweet fall aroma and flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg.
When it comes to pumpkin spice products, you have to make sure to balance the pumpkin, spices, and sweetness equally. If one is dominant, it can throw off the flavor completely. Throughout this project, I've had experiences where a product is overly sweet and it blows out the PS, and others where the spices are too toned down to taste.
But the usual victim of all of this is the pumpkin itself. More often than not, it is an afterthought when these products are constructed. To make up for it, manufacturers will just throw in double-or-triple the amount of spice/sugar. But Wawa is usually very good with their coffee and baked goods, so I have a lot of hope here.
I decided to start with the coffee. To be as true to the flavor as possible, I didn’t use any sugar and only added a splash of cream. The coffee had a nice and strong smell of pumpkin spice, and by color, looked to be a medium roast.
At first taste, this coffee is not good. The roast is way too light, and the pumpkin is invisible. Whatever additive they used tastes artificial, and is oily/fatty when it hits the palate. When I was making my coffee, I questioned why so many people before me were cutting this coffee with something stronger like Colombian, and now I know why. This coffee has no taste. As for the spices: the cinnamon and clove are present in scent, but absent in flavor.
The one positive thing here is that the coffee didn’t have any added sugar added as part of the pumpkin flavoring. So unlike the DD offering, I didn’t feel suffer from a sugar crash after drinking my cup.
Overall, this coffee was a huge disappointment. I think it would have been a completely different story if they had used a darker roast. In present form, it does not work.
There is so much potential here and it completely missed the mark. I've heard that their pumpkin K Cups and ground coffee are better so I might try those instead for future reviews. If I were to go with the ground coffee, I would probably use significantly more grounds per cup or mix it with something stronger.
At this point, I’m holding out for the pumpkin muffin. I think it could be redeeming.
The muffin itself wasn’t too dense, and it sprung back nicely when I poked at the dough. It was marbled with flavor swirls and small pockets where it appeared that pumpkin chips had been added for flavor. The top had a nice crust and (mercifully) lacked a layer of sugar that is a hallmark of most mass-produced muffins.
Biting in, the pumpkin was rich, full, and supported nicely by the spices. I was surprised by the modest sweetness, but appreciated that it allowed me to taste flavors other than sweet. The spice mix wasn't really varied (like 90% cinnamon). It was fine, but I missed the clove and hazelnut.
I ate through the whole muffin, and soon the bad coffee was a distant memory. As far as pumpkin spice baked goods go, this muffin is right at the top.
This taste test was an emotional rollercoaster. The coffee was so bad, but the muffin was delicious!
As for the ratings:
It pains me to say this, but the coffee: 0 /5 pumpkins
The muffin: 5 /5 pumpkins