I admit that I like dark, strong coffee. I prefer not to put anything in it. Sometimes, though, I will change things up and have a twelve ounce mocha with four shots of espresso.
They asked me about my coffee preferences today at my regular coffee haunt. The two brews available both work for me so it was sixes. What I’m looking for a good cup of coffee is what seems like a clear and unambiguous flavor. I don’t want woody or winey blends, or coffees that shrink away from being strong.
It prompted thoughts of the coffees that I don’t like. I know you’re curious and anxious about it, so here’s the list.
- McDonald’s coffee
- Dunkin Donuts
- Any other fast-food place where I’ve ever sampled coffee, like Burger King, Wendy’s etc.
People are often shocked when I mention Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. Eyes bugging out, their voice rises. “You don’t like Dunkin Donuts coffee? I love it.” They gape at me as if I’ve just spoken an alien language. I imagine them going home to loved ones in a state of shock. The family gathers around to comfort them. “What is it, honey? Are you okay?”
They slowly respond from their depths of horror, “You’ll never believe what I heard today.”
“Tell us, tell us.”
“Michael doesn’t like Dunkin Donuts coffee.”
Gasps all around.
It’s always amusing when one person is appalled that another doesn’t the flavor that they love themselves. “You don’t like Budweiser? I think that’s the best beer in the world.” I, course, respond without snobbery, asking, “Have you had any other beer? Do you have any taste buds.” See? I’m just like them.
I feel like I’m required to mention Seattle’s Best, Pete’s, and Tim Horton here. I’ve never had Tim Horton, so I can’t comment on it. I’ve had Seattle’s Best, and can take it or leave it. I do love Pete’s Coffee; it’s my go-to when there’s a need to find some and it’s there.
My coffee days began in the military over a quarter of a century ago, when American coffee options were much smaller. I was a shift worker. Night shifts sometimes required some stimulation, especially those of the twelve hour variety, in at six in the evening, out at six the next morning. In those bunker-like places without windows, lit by fluorescent and tasks lights, warmed by multiple telephones, radios, and computer terminals, I began drinking coffee.
I began with the leftover day shift coffee, you know, whatever was still in the pot. I’d nuke that sludge and drink it down. As my taste buds developed, I realized how dissatisfying that was. Actually, it was nasty. Instant, like Nescafe and Sanka, was then embraced and discarded. They frankly seemed worse than the warmed up sludge.
I started brewing my own pots. That’s when my preferences awakened. I figured out what strength I preferred when I was required to measure out the scoops for my pot. In the early days, it was, “More is better.” Command posts and operations centers typically had Folgers or Maxwell House. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I found them weak and unappealing, forcing me to bring in my own grinds. Then I started buying beans and grinding them at home…
Yes, I was hooked.
It’s amazing how many coffee options now exist. It seems like just like everything else in the world, we go for overkill, trying to fill every niche and nuance of flavor and delight.
I guess I can live with it, as long as I get mine.