If at First You Don’t Succeed, You’re Drinking Coffee

I’ve never been a coffee person. It probably helped that growing up only one person in my family (my father) drank it, and I’ve never been a big drinker of caffeine to begin with, but coffee has always been some strange unexplored continent.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Sometimes I think coffee smells great. And so every now and then I’ll try it. And with one notable exception, the end result is a resounding, “Ugh.” But that one exception—at the wedding of my friends Rachel and Jeff—was such a pleasant experience that I have held out hope that the problem was finding the right kind of coffee. After all, I went from only drinking herbal teas, to green teas, to Chinese teas, and finally to black teas. I had to work my way up. So maybe I could do the same thing with coffee?

You might be asking yourself, “Why would you even care?” But there are a lot of times when coffee is the only caffeinated beverage available, and I do inevitably need that pick-me-up. And like I said, I do enjoy the smell of coffee. So I keep telling myself that out there, somewhere, is a coffee experience that would turn me around. Recently at work a discussion of different types of coffees came up, and in the process several co-workers were talking about the milder taste of Ethiopian coffees. I made a comment that this sounded interesting, and the next day Laura kindly gave me a sample to take home and try.

CoffeeWhile waiting for Charlie to come back from the gym this morning, I decided that now was as good a time as any to give it a whirl. I dug out the french press (which is normally used for loose-leaf teas, or the occasional visitor who does drink coffee), heated up the water, and consulted the Internet on how much coffee I needed to put into the device. I pulled out some soy milk and also a cube of panela from my Colombia trip, but held them in reserve. And then… the first taste.

It was definitely a lot less bitter than the coffees I’d had before, so that was a relief. None the less, even milder coffee was not something I was ready to drink black. So I added in some soy milk and the sugar, stirred it around… and I will give it credit, it wasn’t bad. At the same time, though, I found myself wondering how much was really me just drinking the milk and sugar, versus the coffee. One of the nice things about drinking tea is that, of course, if you don’t add anything to it the calorie count is a whopping zero. Switching over to coffee where you need the milk and sugar to make it good seems less appealing. I tried a second cup (I’d made far too much) with just the soy milk, and that was all right, too. So clearly, some coffee is not out of reach.

In the end, it’s nice to know that with the right coffee, it’s at least an option. But I think for now I’ll stick to tea. I know that coffee drinkers are thinking, “Greg! You just need to drink 48 more cups of coffee and your taste buds will be beaten into submission! One of us! One of us!” And I’m sure I could eventually create that taste scar tissue given enough time. For now, though, I’ll just stick with this as an emergency option. Getting to, “It’s not revolting” feels like enough of a victory that I don’t feel the need to jump immediately back into that breach.

22 thoughts on “If at First You Don’t Succeed, You’re Drinking Coffee

  1. Krista says:

    Try cold pressing coffee for an even milder taste.

    another flavor option — mix in a bit of cocoa powder (w/o sugar or w/). That alone mellows things out a bit.

  2. I think that coffee is definitely an acquired taste, and I’m generally with you in terms of the bitterness. I usually prefer tea, but for 7 years after Graduate School I started running into problems in finding good tea to consume during the day at the office (in Grad School, I could go to the numerous coffee shops around campus and they would have good tea selections). So I switched to coffee at the office. I still drink tea with breakfast when I’m at home (I have several loose leaf blends), but I ended up with coffee at the office because the overhead in getting good tea proved too complicated.

  3. Susan says:

    One of us. One of us. My way in to the dark side was freeze dried packets of Maxwell House (opened a gym in Annandale at 5:30a, lived in Dumfries = need!), graduated to 7-11, and the rest is just bliss comparatively!

  4. Krista: I’d never even heard of cold-pressing coffee but I shall have to investigate.

    Arturo: I am with you 100% on the good tea dilemma. In many ways I think it has led us down the same path…

    Susan: This sounds like a serious admission! I’m suddenly being scared away again… 😉

  5. Susan says:

    Cold press is lovely. Pour-over coffees tend to be high quality and lovely, too.
    The admission is that I love things that taste like the earth…so that may drive you away, but I say go with Krista! 🙂

  6. LauraMartin says:

    It’s really okay, Greg. The ones who don’t drink coffee OR tea are the ones I look at side-eyed. But yes, Ethiopian coffees are very mellow. I prefer Yrgacheffe myself. Pure Kona — expensive as hell, but there’s good reason for that — is also one of the mellowest, most sublime coffees out there. And even though I’ve been enjoying coffee for my entire adult life, I still put something cream-ish (nowadays it’s almond milk) and sweetener-ish (nowadays, stevia) in it. I can drink it black with sweetener, but I can’t drink it black. I took a sip of black coffee this morning and said exactly what you did: Ugh. So really, it’s just fine to drink the cream and sugar with a little coffee flavoring. 🙂

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