Confessions of a two-faced coffee drinker.

Cowboy coffee making in the snow.In some places, far from the nearest Starbucks, so-so coffee tastes just fine.

You might reasonably expect me to be fussy about my coffee.

After all, I’m the editor of this site and have tasted and reviewed dozens of coffees from numerous roasters over the years. I also dish out advice on how people should make gourmet coffee at home.

But the truth is – and I don’t think I’m alone in this – I’m a bit two-faced about coffee.

One side of me is as you would expect. I love trying and drinking quality coffees. When roasters send us coffee beans, I dig out the press pot, grind the beans just right, get the water to the correct temperature, and use the press pot like a pro.

When it comes to tasting, we take it seriously, and can pick out the finer flavors of coffee as well as most professional cuppers. Although, truth be told, my girlfriend is the better taster. She sometimes finds subtle tones that I miss. How come? I have a disability of the nose. Seriously. I have a very poor sense of smell. But I make up for it with some killer taste buds.

Now for the other side of me, and the confession.

When I get up at 6:00AM I’m a bear. I desperately need my coffee. And I could care less about any subtle hints of berries or dark chocolate in the brew. I just want a strong dark coffee to hit me between the neurons and get me going.

And guess what…I use a stovetop pot to make the coffee. All steel. No buttons or flashing lights. I dump the water in, toss a little bit too much ground coffee in the filter, screw on the top and put it on the stove.

The resulting brew is just what I need. Not subtle. Not sophisticated. Just a good, strong cup of coffee.

And I think that is OK.

It’s like the wine lover who truly appreciates the subtleties of fine wines from different regions. But he doesn’t have to drink fine wine with every meal. A decent house wine with pasta at his favorite corner restaurant can be just fine.

I’m the same with coffee. I love great coffee. And when I get my hands on fine beans that have been lovingly roasted by a skilled roaster, I give that coffee the respect it deserves, brew it carefully, and taste it with a full appreciation of its flavors, and of the work that went into bringing it into my home.

But I’m not a coffee snob. I can still enjoy my morning coffee from the stove. 

Coffee on the road and at your mother’s house.

There are other times when drinking so-so or even bad coffee feels OK.

For example, it tastes OK if you are on a long road trip and pull into a gas station, or go to a local diner for lunch. Bad coffee is part of that experience. Road trips go hand in hand with bad coffee. To have some hipster make pour-over coffee at a gas station would be totally weird, and wrong.

Or maybe you’re visiting an older relative, or hanging out at a tailgate BBQ. Again, so-so coffee fits with those experiences. At your parent’s home there is a nostalgia there. A rightness to the coffee being a travesty of “third-wave” culture.

And what about making coffee while you’re camping with friends? You don’t want a coffee that delivers hints of blueberry. You want a kick-ass brew. And it’s great, because you’re with friends, miles away from the nearest Starbucks.

Put simply, it’s OK to be in two minds about coffee. 

There are times when a really refined and sophisticated brew fits the bill.

There are other times when a regular cup of Joe is just as right.

Read more of my coffee opinion posts.

In these posts I share my thoughts and opinions on various aspects of gourmet coffee – sometimes thoughtful, and sometimes more lighthearted. Find my posts here...

How to make coffee without a coffee maker.

How to make gourmet coffee at home...

How to use a French press or press pot...

Making coffee with a percolator...

About the author: Nick Usborne, aka Coffee Detective, is a writer and long-time coffee enthusiast. Read more…

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