The Jacksonville Daily Progress “Best Cup Of Coffee In Town” competition has finally concluded with two clear winners — a tie between Jacksonville Joe's and PhoenixSquare Deli & Coffee Shop.
Using a ratings scale of 1 through 4 stars, both stores rated a clear “4” in terms of quality. However, since comparing the two very-different venues is like comparing apples and oranges, the JDP staff has decided to award both their own first place designation.
Here's how we broke it down:
• Jacksonville Joe's — located in the Century 21 parking lot on south Jackson street near the intersection of Rusk. This coffee stand, with its drive-through accessibility and crafty caffeine mixology, takes first place for the commuter venue with the carmel nut “Frozen Joe” drink submitted for our review.
• Phoenix Square Deli & Coffee Shop — at 201 East Commerce, on the corner of Main and Commerce in downtown directly across from Austin Bank. PhoenixSquare takes first place as a “coffee place where you can hang out” venue for its eye-opening drink, “FlipSwitch.”
Now, as an aficionado of all things eye-opening — be it espresso, coffee, tea, energy drinks, or even C-Monster, this reporter can testify that Jacksonville Joe's and PhoenixSquare both provide vital public services by providing powerful, respective javas for mass consumption.
The main qualification in coffee contest was that the beverage had to be potent, contain lots of caffeine, and be effective in waking up sleepy people.
And in the end? Both shops fit this bill quite nicely.
A little bit of history: Having announced our competition on the JDP business page back in February, we at the newspaper received a handful of suggestions focusing entirely on these two stores.
Then, reader Kim “Mama K” Holman came along and provided us with her own superlative evaluation of both stores, which she kindly emailed to us. Her conclusion was that Jacksonville Joe's deserved the caffeine crown. She said she is a big fan of JJ's liberal use of chocolate in its drinks and the chocolate covered coffee beans provided to customers by the owner.
“In my opinion, this is a necessity for the coffeeholic,” Mama K said in her email. “I have ordered several different variations of coffee and have been pleased every time. Two times I drove up and told him (Larry the owner) what I wanted in my coffee and he nailed it overtime.”
But other patrons contacted the paper after we ran her evaluation and indicated they prefer their coffee and espresso in PhoenixSquare's artistic, “sit down” environment.
Here's our evaluation:
The frozen treat "Frozen Joe" comes in two sizes, 16 ounces costing $3.79 with tax and 24 ounces, costing $4.60 with tax. The drink contains coffee, ice, smoothie powder and whichever flavoring is preferred.
This amazing concoction is a winner because it is sweet, tasty and addictive. Indeed, the "Frozen Joe" slides across the palate like a ice cold chocolate malt on a hot summer's day — but with a undeniable "OOMPH!"
Seriously, you'll find yourself drinking yourself into a brain freeze. with the Frozen Joe. It breaks down to three words: DEE. LIGHT. FULL.
And actually, residents would be hard pressed to find someone more caffeine-talented and generally friendly than Jacksonville Joe's owner Larry Frisinger. This man puts an insane amount of love and care into his work. He's even from Seattle, the coffee Mecca of the universe.
He and his wife Charla came to town a few years back and quickly decided to provide Jacksonville with a superior cup of Joe, which led to the opening of this coffee stand.
Larry Frisinger makes his own chocolate, he gets up at Dark O'Clock to brew espresso for an entire day, and he provides a “to go” service that really can't be beat.
In the eyes of many coal residents his is the very definitive place to secure morning caffeine. The only coffee “drive thru” business in town, his store offers various types of coffee, smoothies, and yummy sweat treats with prices in the “under $10 range.” The store is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
CAFFEINE RATING: FOUR OUT OF FOUR STARS. EXTREME CAFFEINE COMBINED WITH CLEVER RECIPEES. OVERALL, AN EXCELLENT VENUE FOR COMMUTERS ON THE GO.
The signature drink, "FlipSwitch." contains 12 ounces of coffee and one shot of espresso and costs $3.51 with tax. It is specifically designed for people who need to stay awake.
The drink has a rich, robust taste accompanied by a Kung-Fu caffeine kick.
The mark of a truly superior caffeinated drink is how quickly one scouts out the nearest restroom after imbibing. And "FlipSwitch" had this reporter scanning for the Men's fairly quickly.
This steaming cup of "WOW!" was handed over to this reporter by Deon Williams, who was accompanied by his adorable, 3-year-old son Kaleb.
Another sign of an excellent beverage of this nature is the instant good mood and an enjoyment of conversation it provides.
And good conversation is almost always available with the friendly patrons of PhoenixSquare — which highlights the fact that this is a much-different venue than drive-thru Jacksonville Joe's.
Are you a creative type? Then FlipSwitch is a great drink to partake of at this Starbuck's-esque hangout. Our suggestion: Bring a laptop. Purchase a "FlipSwitch." Then sip coffee for a few hours and get some creative work accomplished.
There are tables and benches at PhoenixSquare, there is wi-fi, and in addition to the hot espresso and delicious coffee drinks there are also daily food specials with an average price range of about $10.
PhoenixSquare is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday — with store officials reserving the right to stay later during the last three days of the week, depending on the crowd and the music.
CAFFEINE RATING: FOUR OUT OF FOUR STARS. EXTREME CAFFEINE COMBINED WITH AWESOME "HANG OUT" AMBIANCE.