[oclug] [OT] - Coffee

Stephen Webb stephenw at xandros.com
Mon Aug 21 09:58:36 EDT 2006

Rod Giffin wrote:
> ... It is an acquired taste, coffee is actually an almost harsh drink, 
> and is enjoyed by most of the world in almost twice teh concentration 
> that we drink it here in North America.  Dark coffee's usually have an 
> acidy taste, and almost flowery herbal aroma.  It's marketed as "full 
> bodied".  Canadians idea of "full bodied" coffee is that watery brown 
> stuff marketed by a certain donut shop.  What the heck, they make tons 
> of money off it so why not?  But it's a blended coffee of processed 
> beans, with a taste professionally designed and subdued for the North 
> American palate.  In Europe, they would spit it out as tasteless.

Most people seem to think that by obtaining cheap beans, carbonizing 
them, then scalding hte tarnation out of them with too-hot water makes 
goof coffee.  This is a cardinal sin.

The Europeans are prime among these sinners.  They prefer to carbonize 
the beans to remove all flavour and destroy most of the caffeine in a 
process known as "French roast".  They then like to destroy any 
remaining flavour and caffeine be extracting the tannins and greases 
using a steam process known as "making espresso," the result of which is 
a tar-like substance which lacks any of the subtle finesse of the bean 
they may have started with.  They then walk around with their noses in 
the air like people who claim they can tell the difference between a CD 
and a lossless copy of the same CD.

Turkish/Greek/Arabic coffee if made in a similar way, except rather than 
using steam, they raise the infusion to the vapour point several times.  
Same effect on the volatiles and alkaloids.

I've encountered many a coffee snob proud of how many mugs of 
caffeine-free burnt coffee she can down in a single day.  I'm 
impressed:  you could probably get as much caffeine from the same amount 
of Kool-Aid.  Caffeine is a clear colourless flavourless liquid.  Don;t 
be mislead by how bad your coffee tastes.

North Americans tend to prefer either cheap bad beans carbonized,a la 
Starbucks, or just cheap bad beans a la Tim Horton's (and just about 
every cup of coffee I've ever had in the U.S.A.).  At least Tim's has 
caffeine, not just placebo.

If you want to try to appreciate fine coffee, I would suggest you want 
to try a light roast of a low-acid bean (varieties vary) from Costa Rica 
(regions vary). made by a simple conical drip system using 
well-oxygenated water that has not yet come to the boil, but is just 
about to (97 C or so at Ottawa's altitude).  The less time the water 
spends in contact with the grounds, the less tannins and harsh overtones.

Drink it black to appreciate the flavour and subtleties of the coffee 
itself.  Add cream for a variation of heaven (mmm, fat).  I do not 
recommend sugar, but others seem to like it.

Once you've tried actual coffee, it's hard to appreciate that foul burnt 


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