July 21, 2009

Mondays mean more McDonald's free mocha

Ronald McDonald was apparently not content with his first round of free mocha giveaways on Mondays this spring. He's brought back the promotion through August 3.

Always wanting to give free stuff a second chance, I decided to revisit the McCafe creation to see if my previous scathingly sugary review was off base. Only this time I decided to size up the more seasonally appropriate iced mocha.

Only it was more like sizing the down the iced mocha. My immediate impression had nothing to do with its taste. The free iced mochas are 7 oz. cups, a full ounce less than the free hot mochas. Since they lose girth because they're plastic instead of foam, they look downright microscopic.

I wish my camera could have captured the size of the cup in reference to something, because it was barely big enough to pick up without tweezers. I felt like a the Incredible Hulk walking his toy poodle as I carried the dinky drink out of the golden arches.

Size wouldn't normally be a valid complaint since we're talking about something that's free. But McDonald's would be wise to increase the size of its free iced mocha to give potential customers an actual taste of the drink. With the ice in there you barely get four sips of coffee.

Plus, I don't quite understand the rationale for iced coffee that's smaller than its warm counterpart. Are refrigeration expenses that much higher than heating costs? Is the price of ice, which fills a substantial portion of the cold mocha, that much steeper than that of coffee, which fills a substantial portion of the hot one?

Portions aside, McDonald's iced mocha is far superior to its warm brother. Cold typically mutes flavors, a blessing in McCafe's overly sweet and sometimes poorly mixed lineup. None of the sips come off sickeningly sweet or breathtakingly bitter like they do in the hot mocha.

In fact, the flavors were blended much better than in the hot drink, making the iced mocha the clear winner of the family. Some of the feedback I've received has indicated the quality of McDonald's mocha blending is largely dependent on branch location, who makes the drink, the time of day and the spot in the lunar cycle, so this is by no means a comprehensive observation. Still, it's worth noting that my iced mocha was far more uniform than my hot one.

So McDonald's iced mocha earns three and a half sporks out of five. How about that -- the smaller drink snatched a bigger score.

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