Mall Santa requires a suspension of disbelief. Everyone has to agree that his workshop in the North Pole has been briefly relocated to a spot just a few feet from the food court.
Mall coffee shops require the same leap of faith. You have to believe that the wood paneling and mellow lighting are what allow Gloria Jean's Coffees to transcend the Independence Center Mall.
The trouble with that line of thinking is, you reach a certain age where you can see that Santa's beard is held on simply by a string around the back of his neck. And in the case of Gloria Jean's, it's when I realized that I couldn't get a strong cup of coffee.
The flavors are fine. The special blend is slightly nutty without being bitter. The problem is its iced coffee (pictured at right), which is almost translucent. It's the coffee equivalent of getting a fountain soda from the drive-through that is two-thirds filled with ice.