Posted in Art, Coffee, Everyday life, The Conscious Disbeliever

Why we drink bad coffee – I am talking to you Starbucks

I am a customer of Starbucks, but I  never touch their coffee, not even with a ten foot pole. I like some of their sandwiches and a few of the cold drinks served there. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and tried  many of their coffees, but for the life of me, I cannot like the taste. Even though they say that the coffee is arabica, many times I have encountered a rubbery taste typical of blends that have robusta and the lack of body is appalling.

coffee: we suck at it so badly [53/365]
coffee: we suck at it so badly [53/365] (Photo credit: Terence S. Jones)
Coffee is not just a drink, it is a multi-sensory experience. The very first thing that strikes me is the aroma, more so when I grind my coffee beans. Then comes the sight of that black elixir and the anticipation of taking that very first sip and the explosion of taste, as well as that warm comforting sensation it provides as your drink it. But not just that, coffee also revolves around conversation and ambiance. It is not the same to have your coffee on the run in a disposable cup than to drink it in an agreeable environment.

Starbucks provides a nice place to sit down and enjoy your coffee – oh if only it was good – comfortable, with music, free wi-fi and as in most coffeehouses a sense of community if you want it.

The business model is great and has been picked up by many other coffee shops, some even serve very good coffee.

Maybe as consumers we follow the so called “Principle of least effort” and are more than willing to sacrifice quality to obtain convenience.

And possibly another is some good neuromarketing. It could be our  (well not mine, but…) brain remembers the pleasant experience and favors it over the taste.

As social animales we crave a sense of community and this kind of shop offers it to a limited degree.

Some of the people who are part of the coffee house community are young and probably were never exposed to a traditional coffee shop. I had the joy of living next to a small coffee roaster, so every Saturday I would wake to the exquisite smell of freshly roasted coffee (one of the chimneys was just next to my window) and of course run next door for my fresh cup of Joe.  I guess that if they get them while they are young, they won’t know better.

Well, as taste is so individual and subjective, maybe I am only being a coffee snob, or as some say “being more papist than the Pope”, but I just can’t help it.

What is your take on this?

See you next time.

Posted in Art, Coffee, Everyday life, Family, The Conscious Disbeliever

Kopi Luwak

Today I had my first cup of Kopi Luwak ever. This is an exotic variety of coffee, and as I am always open to try exotic flavors, I gave it a go.

English: Piti luwak.
English: Piti luwak. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Due to price and availability, I do not think that it will become my daily fare.

The aroma of the coffee was sweet, with a touch of fruit.

The first impression upon tasting this coffee was one of high acidity, maybe even sourness. Maybe I was not expecting what was in my cup.  On my second sip came different sensations. This coffee was complex, with only a very little of bitterness that was overpowered by a sweet, nutty and fruity drink with a very good body to it. A small hint of wood with a good aftertaste that lasted for more than my  walk back home.

2013-03-10 14.13.04

Thirty minutes after I finished my coffee, I still have a pleasant aftertaste on the tip and sides of my tongue. A subtle sweetness if you will.

For me is tastes better than Jamaica Blue Mountain, that in my humble opinion is a coffee with little body and character that does not live up to expectations. And both coffees are really more hype than anything else.

2013-03-10 17.35.36

The Kopi Luwak I tasted was a good coffee, but not a great coffee, and certainly not worthy of becoming my daily drink or yours. And it does not justify the price tag.

I assure you it will not replace my daily Illy or my ordinary cup of plain coffee made with some Mexican, Costa Rican or Colombian coffee.

See you next time.

Posted in Coffee, Everyday life, Family, Human Rights, Morality, Politics, Science, The Conscious Disbeliever

The end of modern civilization

English: Coffee berries Polski: Owoce kawy
English: Coffee berries Polski: Owoce kawy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the past  weeks I stumbled upon a series of articles in the news that quite frankly were the harbingers of doom. Modern civilization is coming to an end in this century.

The Mayas missed the date, but it seems that in the later half of this century, civilization will come to a halt. At least in the way we know it today.

The articles all talk about climate change and how around 2080 wild arabica could be extinct. This does not mean that coffee per se will disappear, but it will be more difficult to keep up production of this variety of coffee.

Coffee production will not come to a halt, but we could be in for a change in the variety of coffee used in our blends. Reuters reported in an article called Analysis: Coffee roasters stick with less costly robusta that roasters are using more robusta in their blends due to cost and the possibility to maintain market share .  Consumers have switched to non-premium blends of coffee that contain a higher content of lower quality robusta.

The more resistant variety of coffee known as Robusta or Coffea canephora gives your coffee more bitterness, more caffeine and an unpleasant rubbery taste.  The best espresso roasts use primarily Arabica beans, which originated in Ethiopia, but have spread around the  world. In some blends Robusta beans are typically included in the blend because of their ability to generate crema. High quality Italian espresso blends such as Illy  use no robusta at all.

Robusta has on average half the flavour and aromatic oils compared to Arabica. These oils attack the foam and make it disappear. Less oil in your brew equals more foam – crema. But at a cost. Less oil equals less aroma, flavor and overall quality of your espresso.


So let us reduce, reuse and recycle so as to limit our carbon footprint, lest we leave behind a world of low quality/high price coffee to those that come after us.

Here is the link to the article from PLOS ONE.

See you next time.

Posted in Coffee

Salt in your coffee



I have seen people put salt in their coffee before, and at first believed it was by mistake. Later I learned it was a method of reducing bitterness. That is right, if you encounter an overly bitter coffee, before tossing it out you might give a try at a little pinch of salt to save the day. Salt as a flavor enhancer  will bring out the taste in that badly brewed coffee.


Just remember good coffee needs nothing at all added to it. No salt, no sugar, no alcohol…nothing at all.


And by the way, why don’t you take a look at the post Beyond Cream and Sugar: Coffee With Cheese, Eggs and Reindeer Bones in the Food&Think blog of  the Smithsonian from a couple of years ago.


Posted in Coffee

Caffè Americano

A Caffè Americano or Americano is a coffee made adding water to espresso. It has different strengths depending on the amount of water added to the espresso and the number of shots of espresso.

An Americano

A similar but inverse concoction is called a Long Black, it is obtained adding espresso to water.

A Long Black

So what is the difference? They are both water and espresso. Aren’t they the same?

Well, no. If you add espresso to water you keep the crema (the beautiful golden foam on an espresso), but if you do it the other way around, you wipe out the crema. It is a matter of preference, and in the end you get a drink that is closer to an ordinary brew coffee, maintaining a strength similar to your Cup of Joe but with a richer aroma and body.

An Americano (left) next a Long Black (right)

This style of coffee can be long or short and the amount of water varies.

It is believed that the name comes from the way American GIs during WWII would water down espresso  to get something that resembled the coffee they had back at home.

Why drink an Americano?

If you are at an espresso bar and crave something near an ordinary brew, including the size of your drink, this is a good option. And being at home, craving something full of flavor, but not too strong, this is also for you.

How to make it?

You have different options to make this style of coffee.

If you have an espresso machine: make your espresso as usual and then add water from the steam spout to the dilution you desire. If you are making a Long Black get the water in your cup and then draw the espresso on top of the water.

If you have a Neapolitan Coffee Maker make your coffee as always and meanwhile heat some water and then mix them in the order corresponding on your desired drink.

See you next time.

Posted in Coffee

Need more pizzazz in your coffee?

Have you ever had the feeling that your filter coffee (plain Joe) just isn’t enough?

Do you feel the need of something a bit stronger?

Can’t take an espresso yet because it’s too much?

Well do I have something for you.

A Red eye. Yes you read correct; a red eye, also known as a black eye, dead eye or sludge cup depending on where you are.

A red eye is a fortified coffee drink in which espresso is combined with normal drip brew coffee. (Arndorfer, Travis; Kristine Hansen (2006).The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Coffee and Tea .Penguin. p. 122. ISBN 9781592575442.

A Red eye

Could be that this drink has just the right amount of pizzazz for you. A notch above regular coffee and a step below a real espresso.

A great way to start your morning.

It is also known as an Al Pacino due to his fondness of coffee. Maybe you can relate to this link; I sure as hell do:

One of my all-time favorite actors and coffee is  surely my favorite drink.

See you next time