Matthew Berk • May 17, 2021
Every once in a while, we come across folks who, for whatever reason, never caught coffee fever, and consider themselves people who just don't like coffee. If you’re one of those people, but curious about all the fuss, there are a few ways to dip your toe in the water and discover caffeinated joy.
Most people aren’t necessarily turned off by the taste of coffee, but instead by the bitter taste of commodity coffee. The bitter taste of coffee brewed incorrectly might also deter you from drinking it, and could be the reason you find yourself adding extra cream, sugar and flavored syrups to your drink (not that there's anything wrong with that). But if you're going to add sweeteners, it should be because you enjoy them—not to fix a bad cup of coffee!
High-quality, freshly-roasted coffee presents a different flavor spectrum entirely, with little or no trace of any bitterness in the cup when brewed correctly and, surprisingly, a great range of tasting notes, from fruit to nuts to chocolate.
Here's how to start enjoying coffee, based on your preferences.
Approach coffee the same way you approach wine. Beyond the caffeine kick, there’s an entire world of flavor perceptions, and developing your palate can open up a world of new coffee experiences to your morning.
Look for a light roast coffee from Ethiopia or Kenya. These beans yield a cup that’s generally bursting with fruit and/or floral notes, and they typically have a sweet edge and smooth mouthfeel that’s akin to a robust tea.
Make sure you use a filtered brewing method, and steer clear of the French Press or AeroPress. Coffee that’s made with these two brew methods yields a suspension of coffee particulate, and those particles will continue to extract caffeine in the stomach, an acid-forming process. Instead, use a brew method that uses a paper filter. Using filtered water can also help with pH balance.
Decaf coffees are a great choice, but if you can, find a single-origin decaf. Although the decaffeination process flattens much of the high notes in a coffee, single-origin beans (as opposed to blends) will retain some of their unique tasting notes even after the process. It seems obvious, but you can also just drink less regular coffee; keep the experience, but lose the volume!
Steer clear of dark-roasted beans. The darker the roast, the greater the likelihood a palate that’s new to coffee will be overwhelmed. You can also vary how you brew your coffee, by either using slightly less grounds, or by grinding your coffee just a bit coarser. Either of these two approaches will lessen the degree of extraction, and make the experience more enjoyable.
Be patient and wait for your coffee to cool. There’s one delightful fact about fresh coffee: as it cools, it will taste ever more sweet. In fact, when someone tells you they like their coffee piping hot, what they’re really saying is that they prefer not to fully taste the brew, since our taste buds don’t work as well with higher-temperature substances. You can also hack your perception by using the front—rather than the sides or back—of your tongue to taste the coffee. Even more interesting, by drinking your coffee from a glass instead of white ceramic, you can alter your perception so that the coffee tastes sweeter (and yes, this works very well).
For those willing to take the tiny steps needed to experience the joys of fresh, high-quality coffee, there are also a few tips we like to share:
Over the years, we’ve met many converts, and most of them report that their turning point came down to a shift in perspective, when they turned coffee from a mostly unexamined caffeine habit to a morning ritual, an occasion to tuck into a new kind of tasting experience, and to set their intentions for a great day ahead.