Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Coffee snobbery

It's official. I am undeniably a coffee connoisseur.

Since I went French press, I've started really paying attention to coffee. My morning cup of joe is hedonistically good. The first time I went to SF, last year, I realized that I had perhaps visited coffee nirvana - I still have not had a bad coffee drink there. But this trip really pushed it over the edge.

I went up to the Ferry Building for a Christmas present and stopped at the Blue Bottle kiosk for a macchiato. It was amazing. I'm not a very good connoisseur, because I don't have the right words to describe how amazing it was - it was bitter and rich and full-bodied and almost chocolatey, just the way I like my coffee. I could've licked the cup if I wasn't trying really hard to be cool about it.

The next day, we went to the Mission to Four Barrel. Yes, it's just as astonishingly hipster as you'd think from the website. :)

They played records. Remember those? Big black things, go round and round on a turntable?
Vinyl records!

I got a stunningly beautiful breve latte, which is my usual go-to drink. I immediately noticed it tasted different - almost thin, kind of acidic. I wasn't sure if it was the cream-to-espresso ratio or the actual espresso, so I watched the guy roasting coffee for an hour.
Breve latte

Then I went back for a macchiato. It, too, was too bright and acidic. G loved it - he got a macchiato too on the second go-round and he thought it was excellent. We went to late lunch with some friends, and they were also split on the Four Barrels espresso - she prefers it, he likes Blue Bottle.


I think it was just too light for me. I don't like dark roasts, in general, because it's too easy to hide bad beans by just burning the hell out of them (Starbucks, I am looking directly at you), but I'm definitely coming around to a proper espresso roast.

I can't decide if this is a terrible new development or not. I have certainly cut down my Starbucks spending because the coffee I make at home is so much better. I live like 20 miles from any independent coffeeshops that might have great macchiatos, and I live 220 miles from known amazing coffeeshops. I can't macchiato us into the poorhouse, and I get a great deal of pleasure every single day from the coffee I make at home.

Still. I'm one of those people now. An annoying coffee snob.


  1. Bad coffee may be just slightly better than no coffee. But truly GOOD coffee... OH! YES!


  2. My husband says, "Welcome to the club! Can I have a cup?"

    As for me, I am sticking to my Chai Latte. Coffee is icky!

  3. Mmmmmm, that picture of the Macchiato is heavenly!

    I am absolutely obsessed with my coffee and we have a great independant coffee shop about 10miles away, called Zojo's. I try to go there whenever I can, as they roast their own beans and the coffee is to die for. I believe Nature's is even selling some of their beans now- I don't know if ya'll have that store in Reno.

    Another stand by is Raven's Brew coffee, good coffee, plus they have awesome hoodie sweatshirts and a dark chocolate/espresso bar that is REALLY good! I have black one with a giant rave on it and the slogan "Raven's Brew, the last legal high"

    One of my favorite topics, after horses that is. K

  4. I can't stand the taste of "real" coffee (mine is almost equal parts coffee, sugar, and creme) because bitter makes me gag, but I love the smell of it.

  5. As a Coffee Snob, you are now morally obligated to turn to the NorthWest five times each day and lift your cup in salute.

    Also, I'm pretty sure that you are also morally obligated to try to get your butt to the Coffee Mecca of the Universe at least once in your life. Summer is good, that's when we have endurance rides....

  6. Aww! I love Starbucks! I'm a cheap date, though and I'm not a big coffee person.
    Mcdonalds coffee...now THAT'S gross.

  7. I love love love good coffee and cannot stand the watery bitter acid crap that most people seem to drink. I am still on the hunt for a really good tasting instant coffee. :-)

  8. You are a coffee snob, and I am a coffee innocent. I don't even know what half of those words mean.

    Really bad jitters and a racing heart has squashed all attempts for me to enjoy coffee. :(

  9. There is something utterly orgasmic about an exceptional cup of coffee!!!

  10. Ahhhh, my coffee snob friends, how I love yall. :)

    Here's my theory: the people who really get into coffee are the ones who drink it unsweetened or lightly sweetened. Starbucks is just fine if you want a coffee-flavored sweet drink. A frappuchino with an extra shot of espresso is a quite good treat - but it's not coffee. But if you do decide to give up sugar or whatever, try a better brand of coffee. That's where it really matters.

    Aarene - hopefully next year! :fingers crossed:

  11. OK Funder--tears are dripping on my keyboard. I had to give up coffee, which I love--it really was making me feel sick. I have replaced it with good strong Irish tea...but it just isn't the same. The photos in your post made me LONG for a truly delicious coffee--just as you described it. Darn you. I would love to be a coffee snob again.

  12. Yummmm... french pressed french roast for me.

    I used to drink tarted up coffee until I had a really good cup. French roast is the perfect combo of bitter and chocolaty. Plus french pressed just tastes so much better than brew machines. Plus you can still have java when the power is out ;)

  13. i wanted to recommend my local favorite espresso cafes in seattle for when you go up there.

    they are both excellent and precious to the locals.

    1.) Cafe Ladro
    2.) Uptown Espresso.

    both have more than one location but are not really "chains". it was always, "hm, ladro or uptown?" for me every day on queen anne.

    germany has its own strict coffee culture which is very old and rigid with tiny porcelan cups, so starbucks is not a welcome thing here, except with the young people. also, this "to-go" thing is strongly resisted by germans above 20. i've always hated starbucks but sometimes in germany i go because it is a little bit of my home. i never thought i'd say this but i do appreciate that.

    i have a pre-paid uptown card in my wallet so when i'm in seattle i can get my wonderful fix. i am so sentimental. when will i be home next? no idea.



    (oh dear, now i see that ladro has branched out into microsoft land!!)

    we have an espresso machine at work so every day i make myself something nice (i used to be a barista at Tre Tazze Espresso in the U district but i've since totally lost my skills, oh well.)

    i also want to recommend to you a breve hot chocolate if you really want something special and it's too late for coffee.

    did i already ask you this - do you sing the james k polk song when you find yourself on polk street in SFO? i wish we had more TMBG references, i mean, history/science references in my town.

    for now, i'm going to bed.


  14. Oh, I hear ya on the Starbucks. I think their undoctored coffee is just plain n.a.s.t.y.

    I make a pretty good cup of joe at home, but like to indulge in a tasty, syrupy, creamy Starbucks concoction now and again.

    I must not be much of a connoisseur because for the life of me, outside of the foam, I can't tell the difference between a macchiato and a cappachino. I know I don't like the Lattes...too much foam.

  15. Awww, Laura, hugs! I have another friend who had to give up coffee too. I can't drink wine so I sympathize about being cut off from a big range of things to drink.

    CFS - I even take my French press camping. I sleep in a tent and shower out of a black bag but dammit I still get amazing coffee for breakfast!

    lytha - I will remember the breve hot chocolate! And when I go to Seattle I'll make Aarene take me to your coffee shops.
    There's a hotel on the same block as G's apartment that has a James K Polk plaque, so of course I think of our Napoleon of the Stump when I walk by it!

    BEC - a real macchiato is just two shots of espresso with a tiny amount - maybe a shot - of steamed milk and a little dollop of foam on top. It's one of those things where you drink it in about three slurps, and if it's made with great beans it's like three little explosions of overwhelming happiness in your head. :) I agree that cappuchinos are just silly, way too much foam.

  16. You know what's good? Starbucks' HOT CHOCOLATE is good.

    Of course, I don't eat (or drink) sugar anymore, so Starbucks hot choco is off my list now.


  17. I'm a middle class coffee consumer. I have to have it first thing in the morning, coffee made from grounds in a can is fine, I don't like Starbucks, and Kona is a special treat.

  18. You know, I'm 31 years old and I've never had a cup of coffee... seriously.

  19. i2p - and you're a Marine?! What's this country coming to!!

  20. I wouldn't say I'm a coffee snob, but I do like good, full-bodied, dark coffee - and NOT starbucks, which as you say is burnt, burnt, burnt and gawd-awful. And I can't stand the brown slop that many restaurants serve as coffee - (especially in Washington state for some reason?? I've had my WORST cups of coffee there).

    Must get me a french press.

  21. WELCOME TO THE COFFEE SNOB CLIQUE! I too am a coffee snob and proud of it!!! On my trail work days in the Sierra Nevadas, we packed a French Press in with us. Never broke it. Had ridiculously good coffee every morning. I still use one
    Snob away!
    And PS, CG, I have a Raven's Brew tshirt! (of course)
    - The Equestrian Vagabond

  22. P.S.
    it's good for you, DRINK UP!!!
    (I like to choose and adhere to the articles that I like.)
    I'm going to go make myself a cup right now in my French Press.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond


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