Learning to like Coffee

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deadDMwalking
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Learning to like Coffee

So, all of my adult life I've been a soda drinker. I used to drink Coca-Cola, but at some point I decided that it was too many empty calories. Although I swore to myself that I would never switch to Diet Coke because it tastes terrible, I did. It didn't take long before it didn't taste bad to me. But for whatever reason, I switched from Diet Coke to Coke Zero (at least if it was an available option). That's what I had at home and was my primary drink for caffeine. But Coke Zero is gone. They've replaced it with Coke Zero Sugar. Supposedly, it tastes 'more like Coke'. The thing is, after drinking Diet sodas, I don't really care for the taste of Coca-Cola anymore.

So I've given up on reduced calorie sodas completely. I know there are a lot of good reasons to do so, but this happens to make it easy.

I've also had some caffeine free days. So I could PROBABLY give up Caffeine completely, but honestly, I think I'm a happier person when I'm fully caffeinated. To avoid sucking all the joy out of my life I think I'm going to have to learn to like coffee.

I think I'm going to make it. A couple of days ago I had a venti latte with 2 packets of sugar and it was bearable. Today I let the barista surprise me and he provided a white coffee that had a lot of milk and some pralines. It might have been an Iced Chestnut Praline Latte but it was paler than the picture. Anyways, I'm not literally gagging as I drink the stuff, so progress! In my mind avoiding coffee has been the only missing thing on my 'being an adult' BINGO card.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Congrats on joining the coffee-drinking world!

I started drinking coffee when I was a junior in high school, initially with milk and sugar, then switching to no sugar, and after about a week of that, black. By then I had learned to cope with the bitterness. At that point, straight American-style coffee tasted pleasantly nutty to me--pretty much how it smells, in fact.

For American-style coffee, that's still how I usually take mine; artificial sweeteners have never tasted quite right to me, and non-dairy creamers are basically just granulated corn oil with non-lactose milk sugars. They don't actually change the flavor much.

My wife isn't really a coffee drinker, and these days I try to avoid drinking an entire pot. So most mornings, I start off with a moka, which I brew in a pot like this:

Mine is a six-cup model which actually produces enough for about four shots (roughly 2/3 of a 12-oz coffee mug) of moka, which is similar to espresso (although it is NOT espresso; that's prepared using pressurized steam), but I usually make a caffè mocha with it by adding milk and chocolate syrup. "Espresso" brewed out of a moka pot is a bit rougher-tasting than a true espresso, so I usually don't take mine black. I think mine compares favorably to Starbucks' coffee, though. Theirs tastes burned.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

I have been drinking coffee on and off for over 25 years.Usually with creamer and sugar. I, too, primarily used soda to meet my caffeine needs but as I grew older just went away from soda in general.

While I only drink Starbucks or Coffee Bean from time to time I have come around to the Keurig life. I am sure you have seen these. If you can score one, these machines are great for a cup at a time style of coffee drinking. Additionally, you can try different types until you find one you like. Right now I like Doughnut Shop and Cinnamon Dolce latte. I will drink more than my fair share of Pumpkin Spice lattes this season as well.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Obviously, people like what they like. But all of that sounds nasty, BR.

Keurig is several notches better than instant, and I think it's a bit more palatable than "office coffee" that sits in a hot decanter all day. But I can't stand flavored coffee of any sort, and pumpkin spice is my least favorite thing ever, unless it's rubbed on a chunk of lamb.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

Hahaha...yeah...to each their own I suppose. I used to be more into the grinding my own beans crowd but I just go with simplicity now.

Totally agree on the instant coffee. Its terrible. In the Army I used to take the little packets of Tasters Choice and either swallow the dry contents with a gulp of water or mix with my peanut butter. Both options were unpleasant and pretty much guaranteed that I will never touch instant coffee again.

I once worked in an Engineering office where they would pot cheap coffee all day long. The pot was stained brown with the amount of coffee that burned inside of it. Terrible.

But pumpkin spice? Not terrible! Granted, I am a bit of a pumpkin nut and fall is the season for me.

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

I did the same with the freeze dried coffee packets that came in my MREs, BR, swallowing them whole with water. I hate coffee, always have. Never developed a taste for it. Life would be easier if I'd had.

Not to completely derail things, but this made me curious... BR, what other fun uses did you find for your MRE components?

Board Rider
Board Rider's picture

Fixxxer wrote:

Not to completely derail things, but this made me curious... BR, what other fun uses did you find for your MRE components?

Admittedly, not much. Typically, I would field strip my MRE's leaving behind things like condiments (kept the TC though), the heater, and portions of the meal I didn't want or couldn't trade. When you're walking around with 60-80, and sometimes upwards of 150, pounds on your back things like MRE heaters were ditched. I am sure you can attest to that as well. Usually, I would bolster my field food with things like trail mix, Starbursts, jerky, or any other type of quick and easy snacks. That would come second to finding space for my smokes, of course.

What I do remember are basics like mixing cocoa powder, coffee, crackers/pound cake, peanut butter, sugar, and water to make what was called Ranger Pudding. We would mix the fruit beverage powder, sugar, and creamer with water and dump it into the fruit. Stir all that up and you have a runny paste that can be spread on the crackers.

There was a use for the "gum" that guys did but I cannot remember it now. Same with the non-jalapeno cheese.

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

There were always retards that were willing to use the mini hot sauce bottles as eye droppers "to stay awake." I suppose it worked, after a fashion.

I always kept my chemical MRE heaters. I ditched the little aluminum heat cup thing, but the chemical heat powder was always good for a laugh. We hoarded that shit. Used the use it, hot sauce, a plastic bottle and our own piss to make "stink grenades" that we'd toss into the barracks of people who'd pissed us off.

Darker

DDMW,

I'd recommend trying a variety of roasts. Back when I started drinking coffee (like 20 years ago), I figured all roasts were the same -- at least I was clueless as to the differences and none of my fellow, young coffee drinkers knew either. I usually bought whatever was on clearance or just fell back on "medium" because I figured it was about average. But now I realize that drinking a breakfast, light roast is like a completely different drink than a dark roast, especially when drinking coffee with no additions. The flavors are completely different.

For example, a few years back I bought some "winter dark roast" on clearance (it was early spring) and absolutely loved it. It was rich and strong, with none of the acid taste of the lighter blends. I figured out it was actually the "acid" flavor of the light roasts that drove me to reach for cream and sugar, as black light roast coffee always had an unpleasant sour note to me. But lots of people love it and feel like that's part of the whole experience, as the flavors in lighter roasts are supposedly more complex. Me, I like the "coffee" flavor, which is way more pronounced in dark roasts. So I would recommend experimenting with different roasts to find the one most palatable to you.

The second thing I've discovered (which others have eluded too) is that the brewing method makes a big difference -- but again, is a matter of personal preference. Things like the size of the grind (and type), water temperature, and type of machine all make coffee with different flavors and tastes. I've found my favorite dark roast coffee is made with a french press, with water about 200-205 degrees, brewed for about 3 minutes and 30 seconds. The brew from my Keurig is also a backup for when I am short on time and it makes a decent cup of coffee (as good as any drip maker in my opinion).

I'd recommend going to a locally owned coffee shop when they aren't so busy and ask if they'll provide you with a coffee sample flight of what they have brewed so you can try each roast. Adding a bit of cream to each likely won't mess with the flavors too much, but I'd stay away from sweeteners or added flavors until you find a roast that you like the flavors of -- then you can experiment from there.

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

Thanks Darker. That's helpful. I would have assumed the opposite regarding the darkness of the roast, so that's something to consider for sure.

Darker

Honestly, I assumed the same thing and just figured the flavors I didn't like in light roasts would just be more pronounced in dark roasts. Wish I had figured it out years ago that roasts are more just a personal preference with different flavors and not just a flavor intensity scale.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

I second Darker's advice, pertaining to coffee that you intend to drink without adding anything to it. I'm a dark roast guy, as well. French presses are nice, and again I agree with him that they make a better cup of coffee, but I doubt that I would have been able to tell the difference when I started drinking the stuff. If you're still at the stage where you need sugar and cream to make American-style coffee palatable, then you won't catch the nuances of drip versus French press versus Keurig.

If you're going to make a hot coffee-based drink, I recommend espresso, or failing that, the output of a moka pot. I don't know if you'll enjoy the stuff black, with no sugar, although most of Spain, Italy, and a good chunk of Latin America takes it that way. But in a latte-type drink, you'll find that it yields a more robustly coffee-flavored end product.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

Things are going decently well with the conversion process. I've been trying a wide variety of coffee beverages including hot and iced. I had a 'mocah frappacino' from Starbucks today, and that's certainly on the sweet side of things. My wife always makes her morning cup with a French press, but we have a 'Mr Coffee cappuccino/latte maker' that she sometimes uses in the afternoon. I've had that as well with Italian Roast (dark). At brunch on Sunday at a friend's house (she's Italian) we had coffee at the end and it was 'grown up' served black with cream and sugar on the table and I took just a little of each. At this point I wouldn't say I love the taste (or the aftertaste), but I think it's tolerable. I could drink black coffee if it weren't too hot without problem (I did have a cold-brewed sample of coffee on tap at Starbucks and put it down without problem).

Maybe tomorrow will be coffee from a French press with nothing added (to start).

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

The sound is really weird in this video because of how it was recorded, but it's easy to hear and understand. Alton Brown dedicated an episode of Good Eats to coffee several years back. I don't like coffee at all, but A.B. has a way of making his subject matter very interesting, so I remember being intrigued by the episode and I feel like I learned a thing or two from it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr2OVWFUJsI

Talanall
Talanall's picture

I remember this one. I thought it was interesting for departing from Brown's usual tendency to discourage people from having a lot of specialized paraphernalia for an otherwise simple task.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

Likewise. I recall being interested in the discussion between dark coffee vs bitter coffee.

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

My wife made me coffee the way she drinks it in the morning. It was an Italian Roast prepared in a French Press. No sugar, but a little milk. I could tell that it hadn't steeped long enough - it was watery. Still, I was able to drink it and three weeks ago I probably couldn't. I'm at the point where a 'caffe mocha' at Starbucks tastes pretty darn good to me (and before I didn't care for them at all) and a coffee like this is certainly bearable. Another week and I think my conversion will be complete.

Darker

Dark roast in a french press is definitely my favorite -- I like it with real cream, a bit of sugar, and a touch of real vanilla extract. I don't want to diss on your wife's French press skills, but after trying a bunch of variations I've figured this out:

  1. Use water just under boiling.... either take the kettle off right before it starts boiling or take it off and wait about 30 seconds before pouring.  Boiling water extracts some not so tasty oils.
  2. I marked my french press up with a marker at the 1,2,3,4 cup line.  I use 2 tablespoons of course ground coffee for every line I'm going to fill it up to.  You won't end up with a full cup measurement of coffee in the end because the grounds take up the room and a lot of water will remain with them.  Filling up to the 2 cup line gives me my perfect 12 oz cup and marking the lines takes the guesswork out.
  3. Put the coffee in, pour the water, wait about 20-30 seconds, then stir up the coffee/water.  You get a nice fake crema and it fully saturates the coffee.  If you skip this step, you can put a lot of coffee in and still get weak coffee.
  4. Then set a timer for 3 minutes.  You should put the plunger in and push it so it just forces the grounds at the top to sit below the waterline.  If you like a slightly stronger/bitter, you can go up to 4 minutes, but I find 3 works.  When it's done, pour it all out of the press -- it'll keep stepping even after it has been pressed down and turn to an undrinkable bitter solution in a few minutes otherwise.
MinusInnocence
MinusInnocence's picture

I don't drink coffee anymore but as a child, I liked ice coffee, the way my father took it.

"Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats." - H.L. Mencken

deadDMwalking
deadDMwalking's picture

So I was at Burger King this morning (there's one in the parking lot of my company's office building so it's a quick step away to talk about goings on without gossiping at work) and I had a black coffee. It was pretty terrible, but I drank it all. The question I can't answer is: was it bad because it was bad, or was it bad because it was good?

At this point, I don't mind the coffee taste of a mocah or a latte at all (and I used to) so I'm thinking it was probably just generally bad coffee. I could compare to home-brewed or a Starbucks black coffee... I figure since I managed to drink it I can officially call myself a 'coffee drinker'.

Darker

Burger King coffee is bad because it is bad. Most fast food coffee is the cheapest crap available, can sit for long periods of time, made in dirty drip machines.

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

^^What he said.

Part of my job is to do the purchasing and enact basic repairs for a gourmet coffee shop, so I've learned a lot about the difference between a place like mine and, say, a gas station or a fast food place. Those places NEVER clean their coffee machines. Literally ever. And the coffee is generally pre-packaged "pucks" of coffee so cheap it makes Folgers look gourmet in an enclosed paper filter.

Talanall
Talanall's picture

Yeah, one more on the "no, it was bad because it was fucking awful" train.

Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten,
mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold

Darker

Its like drinking Natural Light and then asking if all beer taste like piss.

Fixxxer
Fixxxer's picture

That's... perhaps the most apt description that might be possible in the English language. I'm impressed.