Are There Any Good Companies Left? And Who Serves the Best Cup of Coffee?

cup of coffeeOver the weekend I had a problem with a company I used to love.  I still like them, but the days of love are in the rearview mirror.  However, I had no intentions of leaving them — until Saturday.

I don’t want to name the company, because we’re in the middle of possibly working things out. But I’m telling you… I was whipped into a frenzy.

Why does everything have to be a giant hassle?  Companies invariably say things like “your satisfaction is our success.”  Then they provide horrible service, screw up your account, accuse you of being the source of the problem, give you attitude, and make it clear they couldn’t give a tiny seahorse-shaped shitlet about you.

This company that ticked me off competes (kinda sorta) with Amazon.  And in a few years, when their whole operation goes swirling down the ol’ poop-catcher, they’ll be whining:  “Amazon is predatory… Amazon doesn’t play fair…  Amazon uses their power to squeeze out the little guy…”  Blah, blah, blah.

No, Amazon does a good job, and you guys don’t.  You drove me to them, with your couldn’t-give-a-crapitude.  Grrr…  I thought we had it all worked out, and now 36 hours have passed with no forward motion.  I’m getting pissed, all over again.

What companies actually provide good service?  Are there any left?  Amazon is about the only one that jumps immediately to my mind.

On Saturday I took some printed pages of my book project to Panera, and planned to read through them, write some notes, and drink a gallon of their coffee.  I love the coffee at Panera, it’s better than Starbucks, and those kinds of places, I think.

Anyway, I couldn’t focus.  There was way too much going on in that place, and not much reading got done.

It started when some doucheketeer with ludicrous sideburns was practically shouting his order, for all to hear.  “Yes, let’s see….  I think I’m going to do a Chicken Cobb!”  The asshole was going to DO a salad, and hollering his intentions for all to hear.  Then he proceeded to make a baker’s dozen special requests, that effectively transformed the menu item into something different, altogether.

The guy bugged me, because he was confident and cocky, and fancied himself the cosmopolitan sophisticate.  Fuck that guy.

Then (get this!) he sat at a table near me, and proceeded to smack his lips, and play with his phone.  The smacking was making my body go rigid.  But his phone… that was the last straw.  Every time he received a text or email, or whatever, there was a monotone male voice that said, “bouncy, bouncy, bouncy.”

I gathered my stuff, and moved as far away from that dipshit as I could get, and could still hear that “bouncy, bouncy, bouncy” crap, all the way across the restaurant.

Near my new table was a tiny waifish girl, sitting in an armchair with her legs folded underneath her, drawing in a giant sketch pad.  She was harmless enough:  college-aged and mildly crunchy granola. But it still made me roll my eyes.

I tried to get a little reading done, but a couple of scarf-wearing hipsters sitting near me were eating sandwiches, and saying things like, “Goddammit, this is good.  How could it be so good?”  So, I just gave it up, and went and bought one of the sandwiches.

I saw it as the only logical way forward.  And they were right, by the way.  The shit was incredible. Perhaps we can add Panera to the list of good companies?  I think they deserve it.  They can’t be held responsible for the pretentiousness of their clientele.  Right?

And I need to go to work now.  Do you agree with me that Panera has the best coffee?  If not, set me straight.  Use the comments link below.

Have a great day, my friends!

I’ll see you tomorrow.

Now playing in the bunker
Try Dropbox! It’s free and fantastic.


  1. Knucklehead says

    I have never experienced a Panera, but they HAVE to have better coffee than Starbucks – that shit always tastes burt to me.

  2. says

    Communitee Coffee, out of Baton Rouge, has the bst coffee. They have a hand full of shops in the south louisiana area. It’s the only coffee I’ll drink because it’s the only coffee I’ve ever had that actually tasted pleasent.

    It is well worth it to go to their website and order a few bags.

    • Warren says

      Agree wholeheartedly re: Community Coffee. Great stuff. Used to have it shipped until I found it at a local store.

  3. says

    USAA is a great company to work with. As is Indigo Wild (a soap company), and even though their bars are getting stupid expensive I’ll still buy from them because they’re a big ol’ bunch of hippies.

    Restaurant coffee is almost never as good as the pitch-black brew we make at home – Cafe Bustelo for the win!

      • Lori in Cbus says

        I’m very impressed with USAA.. just opened a checking acct with them and the guy on the phone had confidence and after he explained how it all worked, i was wishing they could take over my phone account, gas and electric.. i would marry it if i could

  4. says

    Panera has pretty good coffee. Einstein Bros. Bagels has amazing coffee, but they serve it at 900°F and you either have to wait forever to drink it, put some ice in your cup before you serve yourself, or be resigned to burning the hell out of your mouth.

  5. Melissa says

    Although I sorta like Panera I hate them for exactly the reasons you went there, Jeff. Our local Panera is used by local college kids as a library and it pisses me off to no end. We’ll head over there on a Saturday around noon for lunch and the place is packed with people wanting to eat, but mostly students who take up two-three tables with their laptops and books all spread out with only a cup of water (that’s free!!) or a cup of coffee in front of them. No food, nothing else. Just them, their books and laptops. Meanwhile, those of us who would like to sit and eat are stuck gazing at full tables when the clear solution would be to kick the asshats out who aren’t contributing any money in any way to Panera. But, management doesn’t do anything and says it’s the free WiFi that brings them in. Grrr. I’ve actually given them one star on yelp for it and I’m not alone in that thought, as many other people have as well. One time we went and squeezed three people around a two-seater table while a large booth next to us was taken up by two girls and all their shit. As soon as our food arrived they started discussing which veins would be best for drawing blood and began showing each other pictures of a dissected appendix (anatomy course). My mother was so pissed I thought she was gonna toss her french onion soup on them. My boyfriend said something to the manager who just shrugged and stared blankly back at him. We’ve never been back.
    So, after this rant I guess it’s safe to say I’m not a fan of Panera….

    But I love Amazon!

  6. madz1962 says

    McDonalds always had really good coffee. I haven’t been to a Panera Bread but I think there’s one maybe 10 minutes form work. I’m going to try that for lunch one of these days. Thanks for the tip.

    I hate to say it, but I feel like *I* make the most awesome cup of coffee. For everyday sipping, I use the Costco Kirkland Columbian. If I have the time to really sip and savor, I’ll make a pot of Starbucks Christmas blend (I stocked up on those suckas – 2 for 1 December 30th!)

    I make a kick ass cup of tea, too.

    I have to agree with Henderson – American Express has terrific customer service.

  7. says

    Holy shiznit, Panera? Whenever I go there, the customer base makes me feel like I’m in an assisted care facility, and I’m 50! By the sound of this bitch session, me thinks Jeff’s priming the pump for an extended stay.
    The best ‘booger-hook free’ coffee in town comes from my Keurig. Too many germ ridden surfaces to touch in those coffee joints.

  8. trighap says

    Mr. Kay… I started spewing words that mentioned that companies are made up of individuals, etc., etc… But I erased that cause I know you aren’t an idiot. The simple answer is, the bigger something is, the more assholes MUST exist within it. If you want good service, you’ve got to deal with one person and companies so small they can’t fit enough assholes in it to ruin them.

    As for Panera Bread, I love that stuff. Yeah, the non-customer people are kind of ruining it. Just do what I do. Stand in front of them, tell them get the fuck out of the table, and if they try to say no, throw the drink in your hand on their table towards their computer. Table will be free momentarily.

  9. Sue says

    I live in a tiny city and I don’t wait in line for anything… except Panera which happens to have a long line every time I go there. Every hipster, hillbilly, and college kidlet in town hangs out there for the atmosphere (free WiFi) so I try not to spend much time there after my purchase. The “bouncy, bouncy” guys are everywhere too. I was there yesterday and stared at my phone (ringer always set to OFF tyvm) while I stood in a Black Friday-worthy line. Bought my bagels and jetted the hell out of there to eat in the car.

    If the company that you won’t name is Barnes & Noble than I’m in complete agreement with you on their service. They don’t care about the customer and would prefer that you go over to Panera to use their WiFi and buy their coffee and pastries. B & N’s prices are horrendous too. And they don’t care. Go ahead and join their “Club” and get a paltry 20% off… and there’s a membership fee too. Pffffttttttttt……

  10. Alex says

    Next time somebody declares they want to “do” their food order, say (loud enough for them to hear) “Hey! I don’t want to hear about your sexual perversions”

    Can’t think of any companies that provide good all around service. They all fail at doing something that doesn’t stick it to the customer.

  11. Adam Tindall says

    There is a Coffee Company to fall in love with. They are called Black Dog Coffee and they are 100% West Virginia based! They started right here in Charles Town, and have grown tremendously ever since – because they have FANTASTIC coffee. Brian roasts his beans fresh every single day!

  12. Jack says

    The problem with excellent customer service is that it attracts a certain group of douchebags who exist just to take advantage. The free WiFi is great, but it attracts a group of undesirables who are there only for that. Sometimes it is preferable to pay for something, (other than WiFi) to putting up with freeloaders. I think of the moms showing up with their giant families to Sams club so they can monopolize the free samples. That generally ruins the entire shopping experience.

    • madz1962 says

      About those Sam’s Club bottom feeders – it’s like they’re trying to get lunch from those morsels of free samples. Our Costco doesn’t put out a big tray anymore – you have to ask for a sample. There are some antiques working those sample carts who miserly (and bitterly) dole out samples like it’s 1933 and you’re on the soup line.

      • hot fuzz says

        That’s too bad about Costco. There have been days where I have gorged myself (that’s embarrassing to admit). I just wish they’d also do free beverage samples – things get a little dry without something to wash it all down.

        They used to give free pizza samples – I was told they make 300+ on a Saturday. “Pizza? Well, I’ve never tried pizza, I must have a sample to learn of this new food”

        I always make a point of saying a clear “thank you” to the sample giver… I’m often the only one sadly.

  13. Fancy Pants Maguire says

    Amazon is good. I have had some minor troubles with some of their sellers in the past, and they have bent over backwards to make sure that I am happy: Even when that means paying out of their own till to cover for the problems that one of their sellers is imposing. They are on track to take over the retail universe as far as I can tell. I guess that probably isn’t necessarily a good thing…

    I generally hate the burnt coffee that Americans seem to love so much (Starbucks and many other brands). I do like the Dunkin Donuts coffee, it tastes a lot more like the Latin American coffee brands that I’ve had.

  14. JeffInDenver (InCleveland) says

    I love Panera, too, but… It seems like no matter when I go there, they are out of bread bowls. I understand par levels, ordering, etc. but goddamnit!! Is it going to kill your bottom line to lose 5 or 6 bread bowls now and then? You’re freaking Panera! Bread is kind of “your thing.”

  15. Doug says

    Perhaps Panera ought to start securing their wifi, then print the daily password on receipts? That might cut down on the mooching. Wonder if I were ever caught in the situation of no empty tables and a tray of food, if I would be brazen enough to sit down at a moocher table and proceed to eat my lunch? I’d like to think I would, but it’s easy to be brave on the internet. Now if there a couple of little coed hotties there and I was three beers brave – definitely!

  16. WB in OH says

    No Panera Bread within 40 miles of here… I did recently buy a Keurig coffee maker. Any recommendations on a good coffee to run through it?

    • Phil Jett says

      If you like dark and strong, Green Mountain’s Double Black Diamond is great. Love that shit. If you like a lighter and flavored coffee, they also make a Wild Mountain Blueberry that is really good. I don’t really think you taste the blueberry, but the smell is unbelievable. It’s like eating a fresh blueberry muffin while you drink.

      Tully’s French Roast also is good, not as strong as the DBD. That is what the wife drinks.

      I’ve gotten some really good prices on 96 cup packs on ebay, most times for under 40 cents a cup. Many sellers let you mix and match different kinds.

    • chill says

      We have a K-machine at work. My favorite so far is the Keurig brand “Barista Prima” Italian roast. I’ve found that it’s important to look at the weight of the coffee in the K-cups you’re considering. The BPIR is 13.5g per K-cup, as is the “iced coffee” that my local Wegman’s still carries. But a lot of them are much less, as low as 8 or 9g. So look at the weight, and consider how strong you like your coffee.

    • Griff says

      My favorite is the Newman’s Special Blend K-cups. My bride usually gets a good deal on the 80 count case at Sams

      • chill says

        I didn’t care for the Newman’s. The coffee quantity per K-cup is around 10g IIRC – inadequate for those of us who like “dark and strong”.

          • says

            Jet fuel by coffee people.
            But the hell with all of them. That unrecyclable plastic is uncalled for.
            I mostly use the basket insert and brew my own blend in the keurig. If im paying jamaican blue mountain prices, I might as well make sure thats what im drinking.

  17. T-STORM says

    I like starbucks but I am biased as my girl works there and I get lots of coffee that I don’t pay for.

    On the bus in vegas or mesa one day was some young bitch with a phone that anytime her phone did anything it would make a loud kissing noise. It’s fun once or twice then I’m over it. In the office now is a guy who does the R2 beep when he gets a message. Not as annoying but we get it you like incest.

    As for good companies Sparkfun Electronics and Parallax microcontrollers are top notch. Probably not something you would be interested in but you can get long phone charging cords at sparkfun for reasonable prices.

    Another good company but on a much much smaller scale is the Crazy Fox Saloon in Newport, KY. Good beer, fair prices, absinthe, and they give their employees benefits (health, dental (I think), tuition reimbursement, vacation days, etc) and pay them over minimum wage. And hey I has to be a decent place, they won’t let me back in.

  18. Buzz in Wheeling says

    Panera bread has always seemed to me to be a magnet for poseurs and phoneys. I won’t go there unless my wife drags me. I like their soup; the sandwiches seem to be a little too-preciously named (artisan bread – let’s outlaw the word artisan, OK?)

    Coffee, dunno. Guess I’m just a barbarian there. Coffee is either hi-test (with caffeine) or unleaded (decaf). My kind of restaurant is one that brings a pot of coffee and leaves the pot with me. Bob Evans doesn’t do that – Perkins does.

    This seems to be a non-issue for me. If I am served a cup of coffee that flunks the Buzz Test (not hot enough, watery, not much flavor, no bottomless cup) the whole establishment flunks and I take my business elsewhere.

    Besides, anyone who pays 3 or 4 bucks for a cup of trendy needs to have their head examined. Go ahead, call me a redneck – don’t care.

    Today’s quote: “Residents of the meteor were horrified to see the dreary Russian city of Chelyabinsk hurtling toward them.” some anonymous Russian wit

  19. Phil Jett says

    Fan of American Express and Amazon. Before the holidays I did a trial of Amazon prime. Really like the two day shipping on anything for free and all the tv and movies I can download for free.

    I was allowed to invite family members to join under my account, including two “Uncles” who are friends of mine. We all split the cost and for the year it is less than $20 each.

    As for coffee, Folgers at home does it for me most of the time, but we also got a Keurig after they installed one in the office at work. I found some that I enjoy once in a while after a good meal at home and the wife uses it when she only want one cups in the morning when I’m working nights.

  20. says

    just started reading crossroads road…i don’t care if it sucks from here on in, thus far it’s rocked massive ass.

    and panera must have god coffee if it’s better than starbucks. their coffee is pretty kickass..if overpriced to the point of retardation.

  21. steelyshan says

    Ahhhh…good companies? Dont know…but I could listen to your creative bitching all day. Makes me happy for some reason. Perhaps my questionable sanity…

  22. chill says

    I like Amazon and Zappos too; also and for computer stuff and electronic parts respectively, and for appliance parts. And Amica for car insurance: good price, no hassle at all when you make a claim. I also like Counter Culture Coffee in North (or is it South?) Carolina. They mail me a bag of good fresh coffee beans every week.

    (This is the segue)

    The best coffee is made in my kitchen. If I’m on the road, Dunkin Dognuts is my first choice. Denny’s, Bob Evans and iHop all serve nasty dishwater with all-you-can-stand refills. Charbucks’ coffee tastes burnt, but at least they seem to use something near the proper ratio of coffee:water. Most people, and especially cheap restaurants, make it WAY too weak. See

    I cut up my Amex 25 years ago, so I have no idea what their service is like these days.

    • says

      Mad props for counter culture, chill! Armenian finca nueva is my weapon of choice. It gets no better. $15 a pound and worth every penny.
      ALSO…FLYING DOG has re-released their el dorado single hop. You WILL NOT drink a finer brew.

  23. Stephanie says

    This is sad. I’ve read through Jeff’s post and all of the comments as well and I am having a hard time coming up with places that still provide reasonably good customer service. I came up with a boatload that have very crappy customer service including Verizon, the IRS, Comcast…

    Sign of the times?

    Oh! I thought of ONE but it is a local coffeehouse…the Local Blend in St. Joe, MN. BEST. COFFEE. EVER. And, consistently excellent customer service, too!

  24. Harpo says

    Zappos – great selection, unbelieveably fast, free returns, never had a bad experience with them (Disclaimer: I haven’t dealt with them much since they got bought out so this may all have changed)

  25. dto says

    Liquor stores seem to universially understand their customer’s needs. I’ve never had a bad experience with any of the many, many I’ve visited and conducted business with all across this country and Canada. I had at one time held massage parlors in the same high esteme however I was startled to notice many of parolrs have gone to a “self-service” approach requiring the customer to pay $25 to, on their own, bring themself to a level of released tension. My suppliers of herbal remedies and the assorted life enhancements I have dealt with in my travlels over the years were a conscientious bunch who strived for quality at the right price, on time delivery and customer satisfaction.

    • Not Oprah says

      Thanks for that – the customer testimonials made me laugh:

      ‘is there anything that the squatty potty can’t do’
      ‘truly changes lives’
      ‘I was skeptical at first’.


  26. Lori in Cbus says

    off topic but I did the grown up thing and paid my car off! just got the title in my hot little hand today

    car is 6 years old now and running like its new.. and its all mine..i’m going to hug it, squeeze it and call it my own

    no debt now..just the monthly living expenses. it feels damn good

  27. says

    Whatever company makes noisy food wrappers is a shitty company.

    I know I’m a fat-ass. I don’t need some uppity, jog every morning, ipod strapped to the arm food company alerting everyone around that I am getting fater assed.

  28. says

    I’m very impressed with KitchenAid as a company. I got the wife one of their fancy mixers a few years ago. After a while of mixing up her thick-ass bread the thing started to whine and the switch was off. I called them up and a very lovable lady said, “I can fix that. We’ll send you a new one. What color would she like? Red. I’m going to throw in an accessory. We picked a pasta roller thing. Two days later the new one was on our front porch with a return shipping box and instructions to put the old one in the box, on our porch. The next day the old one was gone. Amazing. We’ve had no problems with the “new” red one.

    The best cup of coffee can be had at Olive Garden. Oh, go ahead and scoff motherfuckers. Then go try it and you’ll see.

    • Dave's not here, man says

      American Express makes the best cup of coffee ever. Paneras sucks balls – I went there only once, and after seeing how i was going to be raped with the cost of my lunch I ordered water. And was raped again, having to pay 1.49 for my water. No sir, I didn’t like it.

      My local cable company is everything you’d expect a crappy local cable company to be – unreliable, nothing ever works the first time, etc… but honest to God they have the absolute best customer service I have ever had…EVER. I complained once and they actually told me to pay them what I thought they were worth that month!

  29. Bill in WV says

    I hate coffee. Never have been a fan. Tastes like somebody simply brought muddy water up to boiling temperature. If I need caffeine in the morning, I’ll just drink a soft drink, preferably JOLT.

  30. The 4th Stooge says

    Ah, Panera…or as they call it here (for some strange reason): St. Louis Bread Company–their coffee’s okay, in that I’ll drink it if I have to get change for the bus without flinching too much, but coffee’s always too weak for me. Today, I had a nice, strong cup of coffee made by the campus food service people, no less. Instead of weak pisswater, I actually got something that stopped me in my tracks, which is very rare.

    As for customer service, no one has any. There’s one reason or another that I have a reason to bitch about them–they all make me angry. The latest? Walgreens. Look, don’t tell me that someone’s prescription needs to be called in when I can clearly read that there’s one refill left! So, I wait and wait, and wait…”You’ll be the next caller served!”….and wait…and WAIT, until I get a chipper teenager stating that there was no problem, and that I had no reason to wait.

    DURRR!!!!! It wasn’t even like it was a prescription for oxycodone or something, damn. (Which are worthless, by the way, as is morphine. Bela Lugosi must’ve been getting his from a good supplier, or they made it stronger back then. That shit wore off on me in 30 minutes! (Is it supposed to work for an abcessed tooth?)

    • says

      I’m addicted to the tincture of laudanum. Also, I build bird houses (from old license plates.

      See what I did there?

      Sometimes I just ask whatever cafe I’m in for the grounds from the coffee basket and I eat those.

  31. says

    I’m getting pretty hyped up for day after day of living on nothing but expensive warm beer and super salty peantus during a week of spring training games.

    • dto says

      6 below here this morning but I haven’t missed a game on the MBL channel (213 on Direct TV). My beer is cold (Coors…regular) and I got a little area by the BAT I’ve been permitted to eat my peanuts. Damn this new BAT has a great picture…HD. It’s like being at the game. By game time it warms up to about 25 but it feels like Florida and Arizona from where I’m sitting.

  32. hot fuzz says

    Our first Panera opens in month or so.. sounds like I should be looking forward to it.

    I get the best service from local companies. I was quite impressed with one of the local auto body shops as well as (wait for it) a used car dealer. And I got some free, excellent service from the local Ford dealer/service center.

    I was getting mail for a lady named Melanie at our house from Bell. I did not want her mail coming here. I don’t know her. She’s not my problem.
    I called Bell and was told they could not change it unless Melanie was the one calling. I called back and told the Bell guy that I was Melanie and was a pre op trans-sexual, now change my address.
    I haven’t had mail intended for her since.

  33. says

    Hey, Jeff
    When you typed the word “clientele”, in your mind, did it sound like cl-eye-un-tell or the pretentious clee-on-tell?
    Just askin’…