Coffee snobbery: the art of tasting coffee

I love coffee.  Breakfast isn’t the same without it; if I had to go without, I would feel the pull of Tim Horton’s (gravitational and irresistible)  and would grab a cup post-haste.

Part of it is addiction.  Without my morning caffeine, I suffer headaches.

However, I love the taste of this versatile drink, especially when the beans are flavoured and from Second Cup.  (Second Cup is my luxury coffee these days, especially since I have to drive an hour and a half to get some fresh beans!)

What's wrong with this picture? There's no coffee in the cup.

I read an article recently that suggested coffee has become the new wine.  Connoisseurs know a fine coffee the moment they sniff it, wash it around in their mouths, and swallow.

I like to think I’m such a connoisseur.

For one, it makes me feel a little more sophisticated.  I can’t tell the difference between a red wine and a white wine.  To me, all wine tastes the same.  Same goes for beer.  I lack the ability to taste anything other than alcohol in many fermented beverages.

However, my coffee senses are well honed.

Instant coffee… drinkable in a pinch.  I consider you but an alternative to outright coffee starvation.  Even the new flavoured kinds.

Cheap beans in a home drip maker.  Please.  Don’t offend me.  I can taste you a mile away and I don’t care about your catchy commercials that claim you in my cup is a great way to start the day.  The only way I’m sipping you?  If again, outright coffee starvation is my only option.  I’d rather drink you than get a headache.  That is all.

Tim Horton’s coffee.  I can drink you.  And drink you often I do.  However, you’re a quick fix.  I down you because you’re always there when I need you.  You’re not really a treat anymore.  You’re a utilitarian kind of coffee, getting me through the day.  You’re also cheap.

Robin’s Donuts.  Oh Robins, you put yourself out there with a smooth flavour (paired with delicious doughnuts.)  I really like you, but you are often out of my way.  I wish you were there more often; I would pick you over Tim’s any day, but Tim’s just always seems to be there.

Just Us coffee.  You are strong and robust, sexy even.  Sometimes a little more pricey, but you get your money’s worth.  You taste wholesome and rich, supporting me with a little more caffeine than I sometimes need.  I really like pairing you with organic cane sugar.  It makes me feel like part of the elite.

Starbucks, your taste is as bold as the organic coffee which is so good.  You were my foreign fling when I was a student at the University of Victoria, one summer long ago.  You were strong and sexy, and gave me a caffeine thrill that I will never forget.  You’re the bad boy of coffee even if you do hang around in bookstores.  I buy you to make at home, but it’s just not the same.

Winner’s, sometimes you have the most interesting flavours in your kitchen section.  Creme brule.  Egg nog.  My latest bag: Godiva chocolate.  Can’t say you are my favourite: you need a little salt to disguise the bitterness.  However, sometimes those funky flavours are just what I need for $7.99.

Bulk Barn carries fantastic flavoured coffee, second best only to Second Cup.  Chocolate fantasy is a delicious blend of chocolate and coconut.  Butter pecan is a rich nutty coffee that goes great with sweets.  As a bonus, the coffee is reasonably priced.

Finally, Second Cup.  You are comfortable as an old sweater, honest and true.  If I drink Carmelo, I know I get a smooth, delicious taste that is always the same, and always good.  Same for Butter Pecan.  I only wish you had more flavours so I could taste the flavours of the world.  I drive out of my way for you and you’re always worth it.

Of course, beans aren’t the only valuable aspect of the coffee equation.  Finding a great place to enjoy your coffee is important too.  Some of my favourite places:

  • in the driver’s seat
  • computer chair
  • kitchen table
  • on the couch wrapped in a blankie
  • coffee shop with delightful baked goods
  • at a hall (for that perked coffee)
  • 42nd Street Lounge, Sydney Street, Charlottetown while jazz plays in the background
  • diners (Bunn makers make Maxwell House taste like a star)
  • The Coffee Merchant, Wolfville
  • The Platter House with a fresh doughnut

However, when you’re on a student/recession budget, drinking out isn’t always feasible.  That’s why knowing how to make delish coffee at home is key.

If you have the cash, get a Tim Horton’s coffeemaker or Bunn maker (well, the Tim’s maker is really by Bunn.)  Bunn can make even cheap beans taste rich.  However, I recommend going for beans that are already rich tasting.  Then you have a killer combination.

For everyday slobs like me: a good drip maker with some decent beans is a great combination.  Grind your own beans for the best taste, especially if you spring for Second Cup or Starbucks beans.  Add cold water and enjoy.  Don’t leave the pot on the burner too long or it will burn, becoming as bitter as the thrice divorced.  Don’t ruin your coffee.  Enjoy immediately.

Coffee presses, if you enjoy strong coffee, are a great alternative to drip makers.  Experiment.

Can’t drink all of your coffee?  Save it for later, add cream and milk, a little sugar, a few ice cubes.  You have your own iced coffee for a fraction of the price you’d pay at a coffee shop.  Pat yourself on the back for being so thrifty.

Coffee is one of our most precious resources.  Don’t waste your money on beans that are nothing more than pedestrian everyday grinds.  Go for beans that leave behind a taste, a memory, a sensation.

Enjoy with cookies.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Tasha says:

    If I may say, go to [what I stubbornly persist on calling] the Coffee Merchant and get some Tucker’s Twist. It’s a rare treat when they brew it, but you can buy your very own bag of it (I prefer the press approach, but to each their own) and it is just delightful. Trust me.

  2. Miss Julie says:

    Mmmm, I take up your challenge!

  3. Aidan Matchett says:

    Good beans are closer than you think. Check out Quest coffee near Shur-Gain. You have to drive PAST the Tim’s!

    1. Miss Julie says:

      I think I’ve had Quest before at local restaurants. I may have to give it a try!

      Besides, I can totally drive past Tim’s… especially now that there’s a Robin’s in town!

  4. FYI says:

    IF you like Ice Caps in the Summer, Robin’s Donuts sells even better “Jet “(a wholesale product from Quest Coffee).


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