Fast Casual Review: Einstein Bros. Bagels and Coffee

As we’ve recently told you on, Colorado-based quick service chain Noah/Einstein Bros. Bagels has been rolling out its fair share of new products over the spring, with the French Toast Bagel among the new breakfast menu items.  On Sunday morning I swung by my local Einstein Bros. to check out the new bagel, along with an old standby and a “tempting” seasonal coffee brew.  Here are my thoughts.

Real bagel on the right, semi-sweet circular bagel-like item on left.

Real bagel on the right, semi-sweet circular bagel-like item on left.

French Toast Bagel (Limited Time Only)- Let’s get the good news out in the open first.  Nutritionally speaking, this bagel is not as bad for you as it sounds.  The bad news?   It’s not as bad for you as it sounds, and it’s not a great bagel, period.  Frankly Einstein’s latest, ‘limited-time only’ bagel is the kind of product that gives an otherwise great chain a bad name.  Not only is it EXCEPTIONALLY small (see photo above) but it is lacks the bold, over-the-top decadence of a similar product from your average bagel shop. The product had a hard exterior (even by Einstein Bros. standards) and only had a small smattering of glaze on the bottom.  There was not much bread inside, and while it wasn’t exactly stale it still lacked the warm and soft interior of most Einstein bagels.  The bagel was lackluster in sweetness and mediocre in cinnamon flavor, with a small scattering of “cinnamon chips” providing an artificial buttery sweetness that was average, at best.  I didn’t really understand what made it “French toast,” as it struck me as just an undersized version of a cinnamon swirl type bagel with a little more butter in the dough.  It also had a horrible resemblance to Einstein’s famous “doggie bagels,” which (if you weren’t aware) are intended to be fed to your dog.  Overall it was average in taste, but considering its size I can’t be too generous with the rating, especially given the alternatives. If you’re looking for a bold “dessert” type of bagel I’d suggest going with Panera Bread’s more decadent Cinnamon Crunch or French Toast bagels.  GrubGrade: 4.25/10 (Poor)

Sumatra Roast Coffee- This is one of the chain’s rotating ‘seasonal’ coffees, and is offered along with a House Roast (available in regular and decaf), Vanilla Hazelnut roast, and a Dark European roast on the daily coffee menu.  I really enjoyed the spicy undertones of the Sumatra blend, and despite it being not as bold as I would have liked in flavor, I did pick up the earthy qualities that I enjoy in a coffee.  I took it with half a packet of Splenda and nothing else, and found that just the hint of sweetness worked well in balancing out the otherwise deep flavor.  The best part of this kind of coffee is the value. Einstein Bros is unique among many fast casual cafes in that they not only allow bottomless refills, but they also allow you to dress your own coffee (as opposed to a place like Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks.)  Even better, Einstein Bros. allows frequent visitors to purchase refillable mugs that allow you to buy coffee at $1 per visit, giving coffee addicts like myself the ability to throw back 2-3 mugs of coffee at insanely low prices.  GrubGrade: 8.00/10 (Very Good)

Pumpernickel Bagel- My old standby.  While few, if any, bagel shops and bakeries bake pumpernickel bread in the classic German style, I have found that Einstein’s rendition of the old world classic to be among the best intimidators.  The bagel has a hard, almost crispy exterior that gives way to an incredibly moist and ‘bready’ interior, with a well balanced sweetness that compliments the nuttiness of the flour.  This is a great bagel on its own or, as I like to take it, toasted with cream cheese.  GrubGrade: 9.50/10 (Hall of Fame)

Einstein Bros. is a fantastic quick service café which does “traditional” bagel flavors as good as any chain can, but when it comes to innovations like the French Toast bagel or the ‘Bagel Poppers’ (read our review here) the company seems to be going “a bagel-like product too far.”  Still, with the best value and selection of coffee of any similar fast casual café you can’t go wrong with a stop at Einstein Bros., while the café’s wide selection of bagels at more than reasonable prices keep the Colorado-based chain as my pick for the best bagel chain outside of the Big Apple.

Overall GrubGrade: 4.25/10 (French Toast Bagel - Limited Time Only), 8.00/10 (Sumatra Roast Coffee), 9.50/10 (Pumpernickel Bagel)

More Info: EinsteinBros.com
Nutrition Facts:
The French Toast Bagel has 350 calories, 6 grams of fat (2 grams saturated), 55mg Cholesterol, 380mg sodium, 54 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 9 grams sugar, and 9 grams protein.
The Pumpernickel Bagel has 250 calories, 1.5 grams fat (0 grams saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 710mg sodium, 55 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, and 9 grams protein.

10 comments on “Fast Casual Review: Einstein Bros. Bagels and Coffee

  1. That Pumpernickel looks AWESOME! Just curious, whats your “go to” bagel shop? What’s your “go to” bagel…and toppings?

    • Ryan says:

      @ Bear … I know this is Adam’s post but I have to chime in with my favorite local bagel shop. It’s called BB’s Bagels and Breads. They also make an awesome Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Chicken Panini… Their bagels are awesome…great selection. I went there just the other day because I knew this post was upcoming…so I grabbed a bakers dozen (14 bagels at this place) for my co-workers. Among the bagels I made sure to pick up a french toast bagel because I knew Adam had just been disappointed by the Einstein version. The BB’s version is huge and so packed and coated with syrupy sweet sugary stickiness. I uploaded the pic to the GrubGrade flickr account that I have been ignoring for weeks…check it out http://www.flickr.com/photos/grubgrade/3554486170/
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/grubgrade/3554486228/

  2. Looks pretty good, and Hall of Fame. Wow!

  3. @Ryan – Haha, I saw that monster of a “bagel”, how was it?

    • Ryan says:

      It was so syrupy sticky…you could probably throw it against a wall and it would stick. That’s probably what a French Toast Bagel is supposed to be like. It was delicious… although I only ate a quarter of it.

  4. Adam says:

    @Bear,
    EB is my local bagel go-to place, although I do eat breakfast a lot at Great Harvest because of the free bread. My go-to bagel choices are pumpernickel and onion. They also have a “good grains” bagel which I get from time to time, but I don’t like the amount of pumpkin seeds they have on it.

    Away from home I have a few “All Star” spots I like to hit, including Lighthouse Bagels in the OBX, NC. But yea, Einsteins is the best chain in my mind, and none of my local places are anything special.

  5. Adam says:

    Oh yea, and I usually have my bagels plain and ‘double toasted.’ When I’m at home I’ll put Reduced Fat cream cheese on it (but only at home, because I’m cheap like that)

  6. maxchain says:

    Yikes, I’ll stick with Panera next time I’m jonesing for a French Toast bagel. That thing looks WIMPY WIMPY WIMPY.

  7. LW says:

    I’m impressed with the calorie count for the Pumperknickel bagel. I had to double check on Einstein Bro’s website. I know, I know, wth am I doing on fast-food-review website – er, I like to eat vicariously? 😛

  8. hey all, i’m really bored on the net so you all should mail me if you are too, strike up a convo :). or possibly facebook, my name on there is george kowalski