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Running out of new ways to love the cult-fave convenience store chain? Here comes one more.

David Landsel
January 16, 2018

For the more discriminating caffeine enthusiast, picking up a cup of coffee at a convenience store is something typically done out of desperation—unless, of course, that convenience store is Wawa.

There are many things that Wawa, a Philadelphia-area institution with locations up and down the East Coast, does better than its competitors—many, many things—but the drip coffee, made fresh all day long, is pretty high up there on the list of reasons why people like going to Wawa.

From a bright 100% Columbian to that smooth and dark Cuban Roast, to crowd-pleasing flavors like French Vanilla and a seasonal Pumpkin Spice offering, there's something for everyone, and if you're not sure where to start, most stores will have a stack of little sample cups out, free for the filling. So popular is the coffee, they sell it by the pound; Philadelphia old-timers are loyal to the stuff the way their New England equivalents are to Dunkin'—which is to say, very much so.

Good as it may be, often approaching great, even, Wawa coffee is still coffee from a convenience store—we love it because it's better than it needs to be at an always reasonable price, and we love it even more during the frequently-featured special offer where any cup, any size, costs just $1. (Pro tip: Maybe don't attempt to operate a vehicle in the vicinity of Philadelphia during this promotion—it can be even more hazardous than normal!)

Now, apparently, there's a whole new reason to love getting our daily jolt at Wawa: Say hello to Wawa Reserve. What is it? Basically, it's a bit like Starbucks Reserve, but it's a thing that Wawa is doing. Launched very recently and without all that much fanfare, the Wawa Reserve program was designed to showcase a new line of small-batch, limited edition coffees from around the world, made with beans pulled from the same miniscule percentage of the global supply that you'll find for sale in the upmarket independent shops that have become a staple across the country.

Right now, if you stop into a Wawa store, they're doing a 100% Kenya AA, a high-elevation coffee that is considered to be one of the best in the world. A helpful card at the coffee station offers interested customers a deeper dive into the experience than usual, with an explanation of the growing process ("altitude slows the growth of the beans, allowing the flavors more time to mature"), and a selection of tasting notes ("balanced and fruity," "dark berries and cocoa"), along with an invitation to notice the "lingering black tea-like tannins," which provide a drier, smoother finish.

And how does it taste? Visits to three different stores in the Philadelphia area over the weekend revealed a need for better training on the program—at one location, the debut reserve coffee didn't just have lingering black tea-like tannins, it was about as weak as poorly-made tea. On visits two and three, however, the coffee's potential really shone through, the tasting notes made perfect sense, and so did the recommendation to drink it black, in order "to best appreciate the nuance and character."

For those curious about the Reserve program, now is definitely the time to act; besides the fact that these are limited edition coffees, Wawa also happens to be running that famous $1 promotion, once again—if there's a cheaper cup of 100% Kenya AA floating around out there right now, we'd sure appreciate knowing about it.