Coffee snobs


J and I went out for coffee last week. I love going to coffee shops, hanging out, watching people being busy on their laptops, chatting with a friend, studying, reading, what have you.

Even though Germany has coffee shops now (and I wish that a) I had found my love for coffee when I was still going to school there and b) the coffee shop culture had actually existed back then), they’re not quite the same thing. As far as I know, there is no “hey-let’s-go-to-the-coffee-shop-and-whip-out-our-laptops-and-seem-extremely-busy-and-motivated”-mentality (correct me if I am wrong, dear German readers IN Germany!).
I know, it’s probably a little bit silly and all, but I also know that there are other people out there who get my love for American coffee shops.

Having said that, the coffee experience itself was mediocre at best. J and I were both super-disappointed with the coffee we had (I had a latte, he had a regular cup of joe). It was a little bit startling to take the first sip and not have this all-around-good-feeling that I was expecting. This was a place where we usually liked to get coffee. Granted, we hadn’t been in a while.

We actually went to Peet’s afterwards and had another cup of coffee there (almost just as awful, just for the record) just to test, if we have indeed become what we secretly feared: coffee snobs. I think we’ve seriously spoiled ourselves for bad coffee.

You know, I had this thought before: what makes you an actual coffee lover? The fact that you will drink any coffee, anywhere at anytime or the fact that you are very picky about your coffee, that you like it a certain way (and only a certain way) and would choose no coffee over bad coffee any day?

I fall in the latter camp. Obviously.

I started drinking coffee rather late (in my mid-twenties; where were you, coffee, when I tried to pull all-nighters in school?), but I’ve come to develop a deep love and appreciation for a good cup of coffee. It really is a comfort drink for me. Warm, soothing, calming. I could, but really don’t want to start my day without it.

The funny thing is: I LOVE coffee when it’s fresh, hot and brewed just right. I practically despise it, if it’s bitter, luke-warm or simply bad quality. There seriously is so much that you can do wrong when brewing coffee.

J and I found our coffee vice last summer in New England. Funnily, our vice is a coffee that is originally from the West Coast, not too far up north from where we live: Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland, OR.
This is not a sponsored post in any way and I am just expressing my opinion, because it really has made a difference in our lives.
Unfortunately, they only sell their coffee through a handful of coffee shops around the country and online. And, as to be expected, it’s not cheap, but when it comes to quality things, my motto is “you get what you pay for”.

I am proud to call myself a coffee lover and then regularly get laughed at when people see how much milk/creamer (yes, I use both together!) I put in my coffee. But adding milk or not, you can TASTE if you’re having good coffee. I’d like to challenge you to a different mindset and ask:

Are you only worthy to be called a coffee lover if you drink your coffee strong and black?

Are you only worthy to be called a coffee lover if you drink any coffee, even the worst, cheapest, burned brew at a local diner?

Are you only worthy to be called a coffee lover if you manage to memorize your fancy order for the barista at Starbucks?


and this is my rationale;

are you worthy to be called a coffee lover when you know what a decent cup of coffee should taste like (regardless of how much creamer you put in) and take pride in the process of picking out quality coffee, preparing a freshly-ground pot and knowing ways to keep it fresh longer?

I wouldn’t call myself an expert by a long shot, but I do pay attention to a few basic rules. I use fresh, cold, filtered water, I (try to) grind beans freshly for every pot and I keep coffee in a thermos rather than have it sit on a hot plate. There is also something to be said about how you store your coffee, what kind of roast you buy, how much coffee powder you use, and the proper grinding for your brewing device. My co-worker, who (very questionably) is proud of calling himself “cheap”,  is under the false impression that you can buy a darker roast, use less coffee powder and get the same result. WRONG.

I prefer to brew coffee twice (sometimes three times) a day than have it sit for too long or, even worse, microwave old coffee. Ewww. I believe that’s an absolute no-no, but yet I know more people than I care to admit who do that.
Good coffee does not need any sugar (which really just overpowers the flavor of the coffee itself and is often used to cover up unwanted bitterness) and I only add milk, because I like the creaminess that it adds to the beverage. Good coffee shouldn’t be bitter or acidic, but have a smooth aftertaste.

So tell me, are you a coffee snob? Are you picky about your coffee? Do you like your coffee a certain way?

  1. I don’t drink plain coffee (just the sugary concoctions at Starbucks that have a taste barely resembling that of coffee – a good thing in my book), but the coffee shop culture you mention kind of does exist in Germany these days, at least at Starbucks. You are quite likely to find at least a couple of people there with their laptops (usually Macbooks), working away (or pretending to).

  2. I drank a lot of bad coffee for a long time and wasn’t until I was exposed to different local shops when I was in grad school did I realize that the coffee I had been drinking for years was really bad. There are days when the need for a pick me up outweighs the need for something tasty– and I can attest that the poor quality stuff often upsets my stomach or leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. So we might be coffee snobs, but I like to think of it more as just having great taste buds and a well-developed palatte :)

  3. You’re probably going to think I’m really weird, but I don’t drink coffee – I can’t stand the taste, no matter how much sugar/cream/milk/whatever else is in it! I’m a total hot chocolate snob, though :)

  4. Haha, I read through this, nodding to myself, going “Hm-m, sure, sure”, as if I had *any* idea what you were talking about. ;) I tried regular coffee once when I was little and never again. I love the smell but don’t like the taste of black coffee at all. Lattes, cappuccinos, etc. – that’s a different thing. Love them all, and sitting at a small café with some good company, or just to watch people around me, or both, is one of my favorite things to do! :)

  5. You know it always takes me time to adjust to American coffee after spending time in Germany. I love a good strong cup of coffee! Snob? No. Discriminating! :)

  6. Oh, I think the coffee mentality in Germany has been changing. At least in Bonn (where I study), we have a lot of coffee shops where I love to go just for passing some time. It usually cozier than sitting in a library – to sip on coffee, watch people, and work inbetween. ;-)

    Ha, and while I do love good coffee, I tend to drink my coffee even if it has gone lukewarm/cold. What I despise: instant coffee – just tastes like trying to swallow your own bile. Yuck.

    Thanks for that entertaining post. :)
    Have a great week.

  7. Being from the land of coffee, I think I’m definitely a coffee snob. There are so many incredible roasters here in Seattle, it’s pretty much impossible to have a bad cup of coffee.

    I drink my coffee black, or with a little bit of milk or cream. I feel like you can taste the many layers of flavors when you drink it on its own.

    I do actually love Starbucks. Many coffee snobs, especially in Seattle, would say that liking Starbucks goes against everything they know and believe about good coffee, but I like the way it tastes and I know I can get a consistently good beverage every time I go. But I also love many of the independent roasters.

    Mmmmmm, now you’ve got me thinking about my next cup of coffee…

  8. hahaha, I can appreciate this post, because I come from a family of coffee lovers and married one, even though I don’t drink coffee myself. Here’s what I do know … coffee houses at the beginning of the day, when they smell of freshly brewed coffee …. mmmmmm (even from the gal that doesn’t drink it!). Coffee houses at the end of the day start to stink of old coffee brewed hours ago. Just saying. And the idea of microwaved coffee breaks my heart. You’re not a snob – you’re a lover of some of the finer things in life!

  9. I am a coffee snob in the way that I just drink GERMAN coffee! LOL
    Our pantry is filled with Jakobs Kroenung etc. Starbucks is more of a place to buy “dessert” than coffee! ;)

  10. I am by far the biggest coffee snob in the world. I am so bad, that I will bring my own coffee to a coffee date, because I know that I don’t like the coffee some of my friends make. And they know…I will tell them, I don”t like your coffee and I wont drink it. I also always say, that people only come to my house because of the Cappuccino I am making. I am addicted to Cappuccino. I bought a froth au lait machine, just to have the perfect foam. My coffee machine grinds the beans right away and I hate the smell of bitter old coffee. I cant live without my coffee in the morning. On my way to school I stop every morning at my favourite bakery to get my Cappuccino and I am still drinking it while I am in school starting my class. My students know, if I didnt have coffee in the morning for some reason, it won”t be a good day.
    Should I go on? Haha….bad coffee is the worth that can happen to me and it will land right in the trash.

  11. I am a lover of coffee, as well, and I put creamer in mine. :) I would rather go without coffee than drink bad coffee. Like I refuse to drink the coffee at work. I love making coffee at home as I’ve found some brews I really like, and I like to grind my own beans. I also like treating myself to a latte on Fridays and have my favorite places. I love places that make foam art! That is the coolest thing!

  12. I am the total coffee snob – if I get a coffee I don’t like, I will not drink it! We love trying new brands and the other day we had to make 3 new cups before we were able to actually drink it. lol

  13. I’ve been a coffee drinker for longer than I’d like to admit, but since I want it to be piping hot all the time I am guilty of microwaving my mug. I hope we can still be friends! haha :)

    You should write a post with tips for brewing the perfect pot of coffee!

  14. There is nothing worse than bad coffee, especially when you go out for some cake and coffee and the cake is great but the coffee is bad. Me and my hubby had this happen last weekend. We took the kids to a place we often go for breakfast or in the afternoon and usually the coffee/latte is fine, but this time it was thin and watery and tasted really bad. Even my hubby who rarely drinks coffe said it was bad.
    I wouldn’t call myself a snob but I really dislike “Filterkaffee” which is the only thing I can get at my In-Laws. Either that or one of those “Pulvercappucinos”, which are equally bad. My stomach dislikes the regular coffee and gets upset. I think my MIL thinks I am a snob because I don’t drink her coffee.
    I have a Dolce Gusto (Capsule Machine) and use regular milk that I froth myself at home and the Machine we have at work is also pretty good.
    And I love Coffee Shops…I enjoy sitting at Starbucks and watching people and I love spending some time sitting anywhere and either watching people or reading a book.

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