A Shocking Disclosure I Disclose To Shock You

I don’t drink coffee, because it tastes of ass, but about once a week I will go to the local gas station and pick up a coffee-based liquid substance. The one you see here is about sixty percent their English Toffee latte and forty percent their French Vanilla latte, combined in a single cup. It comes out of a vending machine rather than made by a tattooed disaffected barista/o, and it tastes absolutely nothing like coffee — it tastes, in point of fact, like a liquid Heath bar, which is why I drink it. This is why I have no problem saying that I don’t drink coffee: This isn’t coffee, although some aspect of coffee may lurk within, utterly drowned out by the toffee and vanilla and sugar experience.

The fact that I enjoy my gas station vending machine coffee-related liquid candy experience more than I enjoy a genuinely excellently handcrafted coffee beverage that actually tastes of coffee will no doubt shock and horrify coffee purists and enthusiasts, but I am all right with that. I celebrate their coffee snobbery, I’m just glad I don’t have it. My total coffee-related expenditures come to $1.19 once a week versus three times that on a daily basis, and I think that’s about right.

Anyway, it’s fine to judge me on this. I don’t mind. I delight in it, in fact.

174 thoughts on “A Shocking Disclosure I Disclose To Shock You

  1. It would be grand if coffee tasted as good as it smells. On the other hand, maybe I should be glad since coffee gives me the jitters – even decaf. I did drink a cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain at a restaurant in Jamaica and that was extraordinary.

  2. So nice to know I’m not the only person who finds coffee a vile, undrinkable substance. I have in the past compared accidentally getting a mouthful of coffee to accidentally getting a mouthful of the squeezings from the anal glands of a llama which has been dead for six days, lying in the hot sun of an Andean valley the whole time. Nauseating, vile-smelling stuff.

    I’ll be over here enjoying a nice cuppa, instead.

  3. I am, as you read and I type, having my morning “tastes of ass”. In a typical day, this event precedes my afternoon “tastes of ass”. During a particularly long day, I might even indulge an evening “tastes of ass”.

    But I hear you on the costs, which is why mine comes from home 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time I get some system shocking espresso monster.

  4. Now I’m not so enthused about grinding my coffee beans and brewing a fresh cup. I’ll muddle through, though.

  5. I drink coffee *maybe* twice a year, if that. Hubby doesn’t care for it at all. Thus, rather than spending the money for a coffee machine, I’m perfectly happy buying the instant, flavored stuff you get in the coffee aisle at the grocery store.

  6. Coffee is an aquired taste I never could aquire. I tried it a few times when I was in college, but could never get past the taste. Then the aftertaste gets you as well. Not judging coffee drinkers, it just never seemed worth tasting it to me.

  7. Switched to hot tea recently after being a lifetime liquid ass, er, coffee fanatic. And I mean LIFEtime…discovered the crap when I was 13…day of my Bar Mitzvah…the day I became a man and an addict. [shameless plug in 3,2,1...] My tea of choice is right from the Queen’s land, approved by the Prince of Wales himself…Yorkshire Tea.

    Which I suppose means it only mostly tastes of ass…

    It’s not even so much the jolt or the taste as it is the comfort of ritual. With coffee prior, the prepping of the drip machine, the filters, the grounds and now, with tea, the hot pot, the steeping process.

    Humans are weird.

  8. Right there with you minus this concoction. I never developed the taste for coffee, especially after working in a coffee shop during my high school years. The constant smell just turned my stomach. I do love a good tea though.

  9. SHOCK HORROR! JUDGE JUDGE JUDGE.

    I have in the past compared accidentally getting a mouthful of coffee to accidentally getting a mouthful of the squeezings from the anal glands of a llama which has been dead for six days, lying in the hot sun of an Andean valley the whole time.

    Which you know the taste of how, exactly?

  10. I respect your liking for liquid Heath Bar and your dislike for coffee. It reflects a certain intellectual honesty.

    What I consider laughable are the people who go into Starbucks and get a Light Mocha Cookie Crumble Peppermint Frappucino and say they’re getting “coffee”.

  11. Hah. I drink coffee daily, and enjoy it, particularly different varietals, etc. (Oh, and I do drink mine from the local gas’n’sip when we are road trips, too because 1.19 coffee tastes better, usually, than 5.95 coffee) My fiance, however, is firmly in your ‘tastes of ass’ camp…and loves frozen frothy coffee ‘flavoured’ monstrosities in summer in exactly the same way. It amuses me every time…because there is COFFEE in it, ya loonies. ;)

  12. Add one more non-coffee drinker to the tally. I’ve never understood why many an office subsidizes coffee (sometimes even coffee-snob-coffee) but rarely my preferred caffeine-delivery substrate, which is soda. Perhaps it is a fear-driven response, encouraged by the canny self portrait of coffee drinkers as unholy terrors if they haven’t had a cup yet. “Don’t even THINK about talking to me till I’ve had my second Diet Coke!” just doesn’t have the same ring, I guess.

  13. I’ve tried for decades to like coffee (coffee, coffee milk, coffee ice cream, etc.), but yeah, it tastes nowhere near as good as it smells (rather like perfume,in fact). I can drink coffee-ish substances that are heavily carameled and sweetened and otherwise flavored to mask the assness of the coffee base; even then, my annual expenditure on such beverages runs roughly $3.

  14. Having never tasted ass, I don’t have the proper frame of reference to judge the validity of your statement.

  15. While I disagree with you on the taste of coffee (the fate of the addict protectiveness I assume), I’ll join you in being happy I do not need a barrista to get a good cup.

    Enjoy the concoction you discovered.

  16. I’ll have coffee perhaps a couple of times of week. But more as a social courtesy when I am meeting with a client than out of any great love of it. Mind you, I like it when I drink it, I just feel no need to go and buy it on my own. I wish my interest in beer was more like my interest in coffee, but I drink it more often than that because…. mmmmm…. beeer. I wish I could smoke a cigarette or a cigar or a pipe but once or twice a week, but I know I’d get right the hell into nicotine addiction, so I never started.

  17. I do like coffee. We have a pump espresso maker, a regular coffee maker, and a grinder. When I was allowed to have a coffee maker in my office, I drank a pot a day. I am not one to judge, though, for I too enjoy an occasional hot liquid candy bar. In fact, they’re a special treat that I associate with road trips.

  18. Not surprised at all. I didn’t start enjoying coffee until well into my 30′s. Even then I’m fairly persnickty about it, and have all but sworn off Starbuck’s (which is hilarious as my office now stocks it as our “free coffee”) except while traveling. I suppose my downward slide into the dark side of the caffinated beverages happened when I was working two jobs – but I started off with Frappuchinos, which are the height of candy-flavored drinks.

    My favorite drink, however, is still a large chai tea latte with whipped creme – and then drizzled with cinnamon. Yummy.

  19. OMG, it’s like you are in my brain. I used to drink the office machine stuff (French Vanilla) and then add sweet&low, just to make sure there was no coffee related bitterness. I only did it once every few months, when life was in desperate need of caffeine and sugar. However, I was officially told by coffee lovers that since that is my only coffee related substance, I’m still allowed to say I don’t drink it.

  20. Well it goes to show I should read your prior post, you did comment on his book. I like good coffee, if brewed well it has a wonderful taste and flavor. We have a place in our town that makes fantastic coffee, they roast their own beans and that can make a big difference as it’s not stale.

  21. Well, that’s not coffee, it’s a form of liquid sugar. Mom said coffee would stunt my growth, and I started drinking it in high school. If she was right about that …. I used to drink about a gallon a day, now I can get by with only a quart or two. Good tea is a treat, but I want the full caffeine versions.

  22. The liquefied candy bar experience was my gateway into coffee so I can’t poo-poo it too much. While I drink coffee and consider myself a coffee geek/borderline snob, I’ll still drink the pictured concoction on occasion.

  23. Want something that tastes like ass? Coke Zero (and to be fair, almost all diet soda) tastes like ass, or more specifically, aspartame, which is the same thing, at least to my taste buds.

  24. That sounds absolutely delicious. I fear the weekly commute from my home to your local gas station would be so prohibitively expensive that it would counterbalance any savings from the hypothetical daily coffee I don’t drink either.

  25. My mother drank coffee that I could never swallow. My father never drank it except in social necessity. I admit to an addiction, because headache, you know. Doctored mostly with a lot of milk and just one a day. But the Starbucks thing is mostly social for me. My partner hates coffee with a passion, but starts her day with a Diet Pepsi, which I cannot understand at all, except that it is liquid. Different strokes. Whatever makes you happy.

  26. I too dislike the taste of coffee. I recently tried one of the fancy caramel-blah-de-blah-something-or-others that coffee-type places make, and promptly tossed it in the nearest bin. Horrible stuff. I have now resolved to stick with hot chocolate.

  27. As a seller of cheapo gas station ‘cappuccino’ I thank you for this public service announcement :)

    I can’t help but notice that the ‘cappuccino’ outsells actual coffee about 3-1 and that’s not counting the folks who get regular coffee and then mix it with the ‘cappuccino’

  28. I don’t drink coffee. I drink caffeinated candy.

    I have no idea why coffee snobs get all snobbish about whether the beans are toasted at a particular temperature, what country and in what kind of shade they started their life’s journey. I think its all just a deep complicated story drummed up to justify an addiction. I prefer my addiction so smothered in creamy sugary goodness that one cannot taste any natural aspect of its origin.

  29. You are correct. >That< is not coffee. It is, of course, a hot liquified candy bar. That is, a diabetes precursor.

    Real coffee doesn't come from a gas station or even a Starbucks (tho it'll do in a pinch).

    Real coffee are freshly ground beans, water just off the boil, all stirred and left to sit in a french press for 5 min. Then poured right after pressing.

    I do love it so.

  30. I don’t think I’m a coffee snob. I loathe Star$’s and try not to give them any money (though I am weak when it comes to chai lattés); I think it smells like boiled sweat socks in there. I drink New Orleans coffee, with chicory, which tastes even more like ass than regular coffee until you add cream and sugar. I limit myself to 2 cups every morning, because otherwise I vibrate off my desk chair.

    A new café/chocolate shop opened up within walking distance, and they have the most divine Cinnamon Orange Spice tea I have EVER HAD. It’s very perfumy, but in a wonderful way; the spices form this incredible aura around the mug that just sitting there smelling it is fabulous. I’d walk over every day, but therein lies the danger of getting tea from a place that sells chocolates and petite pastries: they sell chocolates and petite pastries… and the almond macaroons are addicting.

    Also, I agree with Hugh57: aspartame is nasty. Gack.

  31. Thank you for admitting that what you’re drinking isn’t coffee. :) It used to kill me when someone would say they were getting a cup of “coffee” and they’d come back with what is basically a poor quality milkshake.

    I’m the kind of coffee snob who roasts her own beans, daily. I was a barista for almost 10 years. I deeply enjoy the ritual of making my cup in the morning, and I have some solid professional tasting experience. I still drink my coffee iced, with milk, though, which HORRIFIES most purists. Also, about once a year, I go into Starbucks and have a Pumpkin Spice Latte, because, while they taste pretty much nothing like coffee, they are delicious. They’re like warm pumpkin pie in a cup, and some days, you just need some pumpkin pie.

  32. I’m a coffee drinker, but as the Beastie Boys once said, I like my sugar with coffee and cream. Vanilla flavored cream. My coffee is doctored enough that I’m pretty sure it’s not coffee. (But I also don’t pay for frou-frou coffee. I get coffee free at work, including all the vanilla creamer I can stand, which is a lot.)

  33. My sister, brother, and I don’t drink coffee. My parents and my nephews and nieces do. Go figure. It tastes like burnt water to me.

  34. My Mom is in the smells wonderful, tastes like a gym sock category. I drink coffee by the quart. A the same time, I avoid Starbucks in favor of McDonald’s coffee when I drink it outside the house. The dirty secret of most restaurant coffee is that it is weak and stale (one exception being the Flagstaff House outside Boulder). I buy quality coffee, grind it, avoid the disaffected baristas, and save most of the $4/day habit Starbucks drinkers have.

  35. As a coffee enthusiast, I’ve got to say… most coffee does, as you say, taste like ass. You have to do it exactly right for it to be a remotely pleasant beverage. I’ve found that even a lot of baristas (at least where I live) can’t do it right. Even the good stuff is an acquired taste, since most people don’t have much of a palate for bitter flavors.

  36. I LOVE gas-station cappuccino – it’s so sugary and tasty… Mmmmmmm. I ask my husband to pick them up for me periodically, and even bestir myself once in awhile to go forth and procure one. don’t be ashamed – you are not alone! (I wish my local convenience store had the toffee – they mostly just have french vanilla around here… *sigh* I takes what I can gets…)

  37. Coffee fan. Can’t live without it. It’s an emergency when I run out. But if you like yours all doctored up, I’m not gonna judge. (Joining the “Diet soda — ick” camp.)

  38. I am not so much of a purist that I drink my coffee bare naked – au lait is how I must have it. Two Splendas, lots of 1/2 and 1/2. Tell me, are you like many non-coffee drinkers who like the smell of coffee but not the taste? I guess it’s like the diff between smelling and drinking vanilla, right?

  39. Oh, and Wendy says: I drink New Orleans coffee, with chicory, which tastes even more like ass than regular coffee until you add cream and sugar.
    Oh, I love chicory! When I lived with my parents in Montana, we had hunters that came up from LA every year and they would bring a supply. Dad is a serious coffee addict, but didn’t care much for it, but when my 2nd husband and I would come to visit, we’d drink enough to make up for it… Heh

    Someone mentioned instant coffee – the flavored stuff, like generic International coffees – is another thing I like. So, if the coffee is buried in lots of flavoring, I”m down with that. Especially hazelnut – if I go to a coffee shop, I always order at triple shot of hazelnut in whatever I get…

  40. About a decade ago, a guy I was dating turned me on to the joys of gas-station cappuccino. As much as I like fancy-dancy “real” coffee drinks, when I’m on a road trip, I always indulge in one of these concoctions (although I usually have to dilute it with regular coffee since the full-on experience is too sweet for me).

  41. I’m not judging, but I’m pretty sure that those things are the most vile and repellant drinks in the known universe. Especially when they come shooting out of you a few hours later in essentially the same form they entered. You live in Bradford right? Go to a Winan’s in one of your neighboring towns and get one of their latte’s. Or better yet, get one of their hot chocolates, that isn’t like a liquid candy bar, it is a liquid candy bar. Plus, if you can’t get your candy fix there, then it’s only because you didn’t bring enough money.

  42. To each his own! I like “real” coffee, but will not turn my nose up at gas station liquid candy “coffee”, either.

    I completely understand your experience with coffee snobs as it’s similar to mine with beer snobs. They just cannot fathom that the thing they love so very much is vile to you.

  43. I’ve found there just isn’t enough sugar/cream in the WORLD that can mask that horrible, horrible coffee taste – though I do like the smell. I’ll stick with nice, smooth hot chocolate… mmmmm, chocolate…. (and I’m still wondering how starbucks and most other coffee shops can make such BAD hot chocolates!) Besides, me on caffeine is like a siberian husky on speed – soooo not a good thing. I can’t even drink caffeinated sodas!

  44. I love those crappy drink from a box “coffee” beverages! They’re the best. I also drink coffee, and I drink it with no cream or sugar from the coffee shop upstairs. I’m ambi-caffeinated?

  45. I’m in the “smells like heaven, tastes like hell” category for drip coffee – kinda like a reverse durian! Except when I have a migraine – then lattes taste sweet and creamy and wonderful… Though I must admit, having enough migraines in grad school did break down my resistance to espresso-based beverages. Fortunately my (coffee snob, can’t live without his coffee) husband has not only a grinder, but also an espresso maker. :) So I can get my mocha fix any time. :) (though it can be argued that mochas aren’t *real* coffee either, with the sugar and chocolate and milk… ;)

  46. I don’t drink coffee either, for much the same reason, but I love Tim Hortons Iced Cappuchino, especially the Mint Chocolate flavour. Apparently McDonalds makes something similar but it’s not available up here in Canada.

    My question is, have you tried either and what did you think?

  47. Oooh, yes. Another dedicated tea drinker here (and flavored teas, at that, so not even a tea purist). The only “coffee” I like? Butterfinger-flavored coffee from a vending machine. It is, indeed, a candy bar in a cup, and pretty thoroughly masks any residual coffee flavor that might be lurking.

  48. There are ways to mitigate coffee expenditures. I roast my own coffee and grind it and make it at home; I spend about $80 on green beans every three months. :)

  49. The news today in the UK that since 1998 Starbucks has paid £8.6m tax on £3bn sales (ie 0.3% of turnover), and none at all for the last three years, should give a few people something to choke on.

    Personally I’m a tea in the morning, coffee in the afternoon, person, and living in a small rural town and working from home means takeaways don’t happen often anyways. When I visit the homeland and have coffee with cream (instead of milk) at Tim Horton’s I do always feel like I’m drinking dessert.

    I gained new respect for coffee when watching coffee ‘cuppers’ in Nicaragua do their thing (it’s like wine tasting, only very hot). They could tell very quickly if the beans had been picked too early or late (or were mixed), if they’d been fermented poorly, dried unevenly, or washed off with water that was less than clean. It was amazing seeing the small farmers’ reactions. Those who had tried to take short cuts were caught out, and they knew it, but still couldn’t quite believe it. Such a powerful tool in persuading them that was worth the effort to produce better coffee, as the buyers could truly taste the short cuts but were willing to pay more for the good stuff! I was impressed that the cuppers were also so precise and consistent about the different things they could taste in the coffee – pineapple, chocolate, etc. I don’t remember anyone saying ‘ass’, but maybe my Spanish isn’t as good as I thought it was.

  50. No judging here. I usually prefer my coffee to taste like coffee, kthksbai. Then Starbucks comes around with peppermint mochas, and all of that goes right out the window for the month of December. (yes, i know they have peppermint syrup year-round. shut. up.)

    My husband loves the smell of coffee, but not the taste. He makes an exception for tiramisu, however.

  51. You would think living in a place like Seattle that there would be good coffee houses all over the place. You couldn’t be more wrong. So many places try to emulate Fourbucks (Fivebucks?). Over roasted and burnt to crap beans.

    Good coffee is hard to find. It requires good grown beans (like good grown wine grapes for wine), the correct water, the correct roast, and a barista who knows what they are doing.

    If you want good coffee, you have to make it at home. I like my regular coffee from a french press. My espresso from a moka pot. You’ll know if I think a coffee house is good because I’ll get a macchiato. Not the crapy macchiato Fourbucks sells. A real macchiato. A shot of espresso with a “touch” of foam.

    Yeah… can you tell I’m bitter about Fourbucks ruining the coffee business here in Seattle?

  52. I, too, believe that coffee tastes of ass. I’ve never been able to stand it, no matter how gussied up it is. I drink Chai lattes when I go to a coffee-selling establishment, as I’m the only person in my circle of friends who knows the truth about coffee.

    I’m sure it tastes wonderful to those who love it. I look at it sort of like Scotch, a drink I love and cherish, but which my coffee-swilling wife insists tastes not like ass, but like seven day old ass.

  53. Henh. I’m not sure we choose our addictions; I think we just find them.

    My first encounter with coffee was when I was being shipped relative-to-relative the summer I was 13, at about 3 am in the ‘hound station in Youngstown OH. I looked over the vending machines (in those days it was insanely dangerous for a kid to sleep on a bus by him/herself, especially at night, so I needed to stay awake till about dawn when my grandfather would be picking me up after another bus ride). Could not afford soda; could afford the machine-made version of coffee. We might note that this was not a happy time of life, either … first taste of black (I figured I might as well take it straight) coffee “fresh” from the machine was the best thing that had happened to me that year. Finished it off and wished desperately that I had another fifteen cents. Later that morning, when Grandma asked if I wanted coffee with breakfast, and I found out what the real stuff was like, an addict was born.

    I’m just glad I didn’t have that experience with tobacco or meth. (Not that Grandma routinely offered meth at breakfast.) And though wine and tea were also love at first sips, they were just “pleasant” compared to coffee.

    Just started the working day so I’m about starting my second quart. (I make the stuff a pint at a time from microwave-superheated water and frozen beans ground down to molecules, steeped four minutes and then filtered, but true confession: can’t tell much difference between reasonably-good and world-class as far as the beans go. So I buy the former; why pay for a distinction I can’t taste?) I got nerves that jingle jangle jingle …

  54. As a resident living near ground zero of the coffee culture and a confirmed addict of coffee and most of it’s permutations I have to say : That’s just not right……

  55. :D I’m so happy to find another coffee hater. Though judging from your descriptions, you’ve drunk better tasting coffee than I have.

  56. Your kink is okay, it’s just not my kink *grin*.

    That is, I like my coffee (and I’m not picky about it; I will cheerfully drink cheap supermarket house brand brewed in the office coffee maker, or Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts, or whatever, no pun intended) with sweetener and cream, and occasionally with flavoring, but I do like to taste the coffee itself. I see absolutely no reason to hassle anyone else about not liking coffee, or about liking it prepared differently than I do.

    In general, I will be a snob about food and drink to the extent of, “I prefer XYZ, and if I can’t get that, I will get something in another category,” (e.g., “Do you have any non-alcoholic beers? O’Doul’s? I’ll have a Diet Coke, please”) but not to the point of, “EW, you drink O’Doul’s? *sneer*”.

  57. When people say that coffee tastes like ass, I always wonder what they have against ass to insult it that much.
    Needless to say, count me in the group of coffee-haters. Although I’m not as bad as John is: I do enjoy a nice frappé (with milk and sugar) once in a while, and I drink Greek coffee three weeks per year (γλυκό!). And I do enjoy coffee-icecream and tiramisu. But plain coffee? Bwuark!

  58. An addiction to any substance is unhealthy, I’m truly happy that a coffee habit is not something you have. Cheers John S.(as I take my fist sip)

  59. Liquid Heath Bar sounds rather decadent and unmanly. It needs a name that says Real Geeks Don’t Need Caffiene But Lots of Sugar Is GOOD. Only shorter.

  60. I’m a Dr. Pepper guy. Though, it’s a fine line to walk to remain non pear-shaped as a result. And I also indulge in a Hot Chocolate on occasion.

    On a side note: Chris L’s mom smells wonderful, but tastes like a gym sock. I couldn’t help but point that out, sorry Chris.

  61. I have headed down the Even More Snobbery road, where I actually buy green beans and roast them to produce the Caffeine Fix.

    That being said, the *extreme* level of snobbery has brought me back from an “expensive abyss” to a place rather more reasonable. Sure, I do need to have $600-ish worth of equipment (roaster, grinder, cappuccino machine), but the attendant price per cup is not all that high. I just bought 15 pounds of beans for about $110, which makes for about $7.50/lb.

    Effectively, I go through about a pound of coffee per week, which tends to involve a little over 2 cups of cappuccino per day, which points to a beans cost of around $0.50 per cup, probably slightly less.

    In effect, I pay about $1/day for materials, for what would cost, at one of the fancy coffee places, something like $8/day. And a $7/day savings can pay for quite a lot of equipment, if accrued over a year :-).

    I won’t try to convince Mr “Toffee Vanilla Melange” Scalzi that he should run down my particular route…

    One of my brothers is an anti-Coffee character, and the last time we played on this, I had picked up an Americano whilst browsing a bookstore (none of Scalzi’s books were on the shelf yet, at that time :-)), and brother, curious at how awful my concoction of the day was, grabbed a sip.

    The Americano, produced by adding hot water to a shot of espresso, is quite a curious construction in that it has more of an aftertaste than any other coffee-based beverage that I can think of. I would compare it to tasting somewhat like a cigar, and I watched with amusement as my appalled brother headed for water to try to get the taste out of his mouth. He didn’t use the term “tastes like ass”; rather he thought it “tasted filthy.”

    His wife (like him, not a coffee fan) and I both found it hilarious, probably with somewhat differing perspectives.

    I do appreciate the “worse is better” bit; something you might find interesting (or not, I’ll let you be the judge!) is Vietnamese coffee. Common at Vietnamese restaurants, it is prepared using a pour-over device which filters hot water through the grounds. Note that Vietnam used to be a party to French colonization efforts; the coffee methodology seems to have French roots. The usual coffee grounds used tend to be pretty nasty, with high levels of Robusta (which combines enormous caffeine levels with some added bitterness) and often chicory as a flavor additive. The coffee is then poured into a cup of condensed/evaporated milk, which makes it mighty sweet. It is then common to cool it with ice. Hot and black would probably make for a pretty nasty cup; with condensed milk, on ice, it’s a pretty nifty dessert-y thing.

    I suggest trying it once, in the icy form. The little steel filter makers are often available at Asian grocery stores, at least in my neighbourhood.

  62. Who am I to judge? I didn’t like coffee until my wife became a barista and then manager of a coffee stand. She’d make me mocha lattes that were practically hot chocolates. Since I was averaging 4 cans of Coke a day, it was a change in caffeine delivery. Over the years, I discovered I liked well made coffee just fine, with increasingly diminishing amounts of cream and sugar. Having since sworn off of soda, I depend on coffee for my caffeine input. Tea isn’t my thing (though I fancy a straight Jasmine tea when eating out).

    That coffee with a little cream and sugar is so low in calories is a big deal, to me. After dropping 84 pounds in 2 years, I almost never drink soda. In fact, I don’t know the last time I did, though it was less than a year ago, I think. Coffee? I’ll be having my third of the day after lunch (although normally I only do two, today’s a slow starter).

  63. @tolladay:

    I have no idea why coffee snobs get all snobbish about whether the beans are toasted at a particular temperature, what country and in what kind of shade they started their life’s journey. I think its all just a deep complicated story drummed up to justify an addiction. I prefer my addiction so smothered in creamy sugary goodness that one cannot taste any natural aspect of its origin.

    I’m kind of jealous of your form of coffee appreciation. As I’ve become more and more of a coffee snob over the years, (a) my coffee habit has become substantially more expensive (even though I do regular coffee, not espresso drinks), and (b) now I can barely tolerate most of the coffee I find when I’m traveling, which is a serious problem when I’m trying to stave off caffeine withdrawal.

  64. I suppose if I really *liked* coffee I wouldn’t insist on drinking it with milk & sweetener.

    I like to mix the English Toffee Latte flavor with the cocoa flavor when the gas station happens to offer both.

  65. The husband drinks his coffee extra strong and black. blech!
    I, like JS, prefer my coffee essences disguised as desert,
    Coffee with Baily’s Irish Cream (more Baily’s less coffee)
    Coffee with Frangelico (again coffee is a minority ingredient)
    Vietnamese Iced Coffee (lots of sweetened condensed milk)
    Cafe Cubano…think hot espresso flavored syrup with a twist of lemon

    The idea of a hot liquid Heath Bar with coffee flavor as a background note sounds very attractive…right now. mmmmmmm

  66. No worries here John… I’ve been in a mixed marriage for a couple of decades (grin) I love coffee but my wife is convinced it’s served as a punishment within the lower levels of the inferno :-) I’ve french pressed, used a super automatic machine, and filter dripped to make my coffee. But I stand by the modestly priced Bialetti as my favorite way to make my cup. (which I nearly spilled when I read ‘It tastes of ass’) LOL

  67. Tastes of Ass: good band name!

    I never liked coffee until I went to Italy. It took me 10 years to figure out how to make coffee at home that tastes as good (store stuff doesn’t do it). Turns out its pretty simple: Chemex coffee filters. They’re thicker than most filters (derived from laboratory equipment?) and remove that sour acid taste that most coffee seems to have. With the Chemex coffee, can actually taste the natural sweetness of coffee. It also helps to have a guy down the road from us doing the roasting. He gets it just right, for my tastes.

  68. The worst thing ever are those chocolate covered coffee beans that look just like chocolate covered peanuts. When you grab a handful of those thinking about chocolatey peanuty goodness and it turns out to be a gawdawful coffee bean leading to much spitting and gargling to remove that horrible flavor… It puts me off just thinking about it.

  69. From Mark Helprin’s “Memoir From Antproof Case”

    She affectionately said my name. And then she said, “You’re insane.”

    “On the contrary” I stated. “People who drink coffee are insane. Insane and possessed and, what is worse, willing to be possessed. Most people in asylums drink coffee. If you let them stop drinking it, they would regain enough equanimity to leave. But, no, they don’t stop. In fact, they drink more and more, and they get crazier and crazier. They’re dehumanized with every single goddamned drop, and although they sense it, they’re like lemmings, or buffalo who jump off cliffs. People drink coffee and it makes them insane.

    And..

    Catherine the Great used one pound of coffee to four cups of water which is, quite frankly, why she screwed horses, and, look, five thousand milligrams of caffeine by mouth is fatal. Someone once committed suicide by means of a coffee enema. Don’t you see? What if you lost count of your cups of coffee? You could die.

  70. I drink one cup of coffee each work morning, because I’ll fall asleep on my commute otherwise. It absolutely tastes of ass, but I don’t go for the tasty gas station nectar because A) it’s still more expensive than brewing my morning cup myself, and B) I’m really trying to cut back on my sugar consumption. Otherwise, I’d be doing exactly what you do =)

  71. I am a Type I Diabetic (“Juvenal Diabetes”–much less common than “Adult Diabetes”, but on the rise)…Anyway, since I try to avoid sugar, I have actually developed quite a taste for bitter flavors. I very much enjoy the taste of a good strong cup of Joe, black. Some people enjoy spicy flavors that burn the tongue. Some people enjoy the muscle pain of a workout.
    The point is, you can develop a taste for anything–even beer (Yech! in my opinion–but that’s just my opinion. (Opinions are like buts; everyone has one, and they all stink to everyone else.)).
    We humans can adapt to almost anything.
    Enjoy your liquid Heath Bar.

  72. I can’t judge you, sorry. I mean, I love to make a cup of pure Kona Fancy or Costa Rican peaberry as much as the next coffee fan, but I run counter to taste in other areas. I love cheap, sweet tasting hooch, and I’d prefer my steaks medium well. Many people will say I have no taste. I do have taste, and am perfectly aware of the virtues of what everyone else prefers. At the same time, one can like what one likes. I’m nearly forty, and if I want to drink ten dollar Riesling, I will. Little pleasures and all that.

  73. I forgive you, John, for you know not what you drink.

    Instant coffee tastes of ass, as does that stuff they sell at Starbucks. But a pot of freshly ground home-made black coffee from my timer-grinder-brewer is how I wake up each day and annoy the groggy people. Plus I like starting the day buzzing like a table-saw on European voltage. After that I switch to tea and juice. On weekends I switch to French press. My partner has a full manual espresso machine that I’ve learned to operate pretty well, but I drink espresso and cappuccino only occasionally. Since I buy my beans in bulk each month, a whole pot costs considerably less than $1.19. Got hooked on real coffee when I dated a girl in high school whose dad owned a local coffee shop, though back then I preferred a cappuccino, and no more than one every few days.

    Sober-loving health freak that I am, caffeine is my one constant vice, my coke zero, if you will. And just as you will pay with joint problems, I will eventually pay with kidney degradation. Canned soda, BTW, tastes like how I imagine piss would.

    That’s okay, I’m so uncivilized that I loath wine in all its varied forms and supposed quality levels. I do enjoy being able to see the expression on someone when they offer me a glass of “good” wine and I ask if they have any beer or scotch.

  74. Wendy Whipple: Chicory coffee has alot less actual coffee. I think I read once that Cafe DeMonde’s blend is usually about 40% chicory root. It’s probably a good thing, since you get less caffeine. Man, it’ll slap you silly and wake you up in the morning, though.

  75. Wow, so many fellow coffee non-drinkers. I’m on the far side of the spectrum, though – I don’t even drink the liquid candy bar versions – because I can still taste the ass… um coffee… through the pile on of sugar and sweetness. Coffee ice cream – right out. Brownies made with coffee to enhance the taste: all I taste is the coffee. Pity me. (Or not. I’ll drink my tea and be happy.)

  76. I should warn you, John: the flavored, sugary “coffee-based liquid substance” is just a gateway drug to the “excellently handcrafted coffee beverage that actually tastes of coffee.” At least, they were for me.

  77. My coffee costs a hell of a lot less than yours, because I make it myself instead of paying a tatooed disaffected barista. And yes, I make it black, strong and bitter, because I like that combination, as I like it in chocolate.

  78. My only problem with coffee is the allergy I have that causes my lungs to fill up with fluid, then, I wind up in the hospital. It is an effective way to get a few days off of work.

  79. Hm. I wonder if it’s an institutional influence? I learned to drink coffee while in grad school at the University of Chicago campus coffee shops, mid-1970s. It was, quite literally, an act necessary for my continued survival, given grad school; the coffee shops were just that, coffee shops, though you could sometimes scrounge an elderly tea-bag and hot water, if you looked hard (no carbonated or canned beverages). The coffee was overcooked, stale, and made with the cheapest grounds available by part-time student workers who were always more interested in their latest coursework than in minding–or cleaning–the coffee pots (bless them, for I understood completely and would have done the same in their place). For years, I thought coffee was supposed to taste like that. On the other hand, the campus coffee shops always provided real half-and-half to go in said coffee . . . so though I can’t stand flavored coffee-drinks, I can’t drink coffee without real cream in it. Go figure.

    These days, I make my own coffee at home and drink Dunkin-Donuts when I’m on the road. It serves.

  80. I would only judge you if you insisted that the beverage you’ve shockingly disclosed really was coffee and not dessert. I generally make my own of a morning, but out and about after I’ve emptied my travel mug, I’ve found that McDonald’s coffee (at $1 a vat) is the closest to home-brewed elixir of life.

  81. Excuse me? Who’s the one with snob up his nose? Yes, you, mi amigo. You are not good enough to drink such a universal beverage as coffee–a beverage of the MASSES. Oh yes, a beverage of the People, in fact. Except for you. No, you will only tolerate to imbibe coffee when it has been literally mixed and twisted with liquid candy of varying origins. How sickly, how sad, my friend. How very sad. Ah well, we all have our failings. I forgive you your weak justification, John. All I ask is you come clean and admit your guilt. Remember, we all have failings, Admit as much in this respect and be welcome. You are not alone. We are with you–so long as you admit.

  82. That’s like saying: “I don’t shoot heroin. But I like a Speedball now and then.”

    Speedballing, (alternatively known as powerballing) is a term commonly referring to the hazardous intravenous use of cocaine with heroin or morphine in the same syringe. I wrote a story 15 years or so ago about an HIV positive junkie superhero, who got both HIV and his powers from radioactive heroin from downwind of Chernobyl. I opened with him getting sexual favors from a “strawberry” in a crackhouse, what he called “A Full Belushi.” He runs at superhuman speed through the Rodney King riots in L.A., and when he figures out what has happened, he travels to track down the Russian mobsters who’d sold the tainted heroin.

    My father agreed that the sex and drugs were not gratuitous, and that civilization had declined since, in World War II, he felt racy from smoking a cigarette while drinking beer.

  83. As long as you acknowledge that gas station cappu (aka hot, liquefied Heath bar) is not the same as a cappu from a coffe shop of some type, you’re OK :)

  84. Yeah, gosh. Coffee. I’ll drink anything except black coffee. I don’t know what happened in the past but the thought of drinking it like that actually makes me want to think about crying. It’s an issue. I do like plain tea but the morning/whenever Joe has to have at least milk. Furthermore I don’t give a crap which kind of bean it is, save that it Not Be the stuff that goes through the jaguar or whatever’s digestive system. Feh.

  85. As a resident of Portland, Oregon, home to some of the best coffee in the world, I bite my thumb at you, sir! (though next time you’re in town, go to Spella and ask for a vanilla latte. it’ll put that candy drink to shame!)

  86. What a perfect description of the taste of coffee. Finally, someone who agrees! I have yet to find a coffee-esque beverage that I find palatable. Upon hearing that I don’t like/drink coffee my friends have often presented me with a mocha-based caramel flavoured drink and told me “here’s coffee that doesn’t taste like coffee.” Nope. I still taste it. How about leave the caramel and take out the mocha?

  87. To someone like me who does not regularly consume refined sugar, that coffee-based drink you describe sounds absolutely repulsive. I’ll take my fresh-brewed Ruta Maya coffee (sweetened with honey).

  88. Not shocked. You drink soda, which is vile and repulsive, so I would hardly expect otherwise from you.

    Personally, I have no sweet tooth. Occasionally I will have a bite of dark chocolate–that and berries are about the only “sweets” that I can tolerate without gagging. I enjoy coffee, and I drink it black, generally, which is good, because I work for a coffee company, and part of my job now includes cupping a few times per day. I’m lucky to be able do something I like and get paid for it.

  89. I’m a confirmed coffee/caffeine addict myself, take it mildly sweet and with what we used to call creamer (“lightener”, these days). Definitely not a connoisseur, though, I buy whatever’s cheapest at the time, typically house-brand instant, and rarely have coffee away from home except at diner-type places. Never been to or been tempted to try Starbucks, too many choices for one thing plus it was pretty obvious that their most popular varieties are far more sweets etc. than coffee.

    I used to like tea (again, with milk/whatever and sugar) for an occasional change when I was much younger, but a hospital stay totally killed that. Back in my early 20′s I experienced a spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and was hospitalized several days to patch that. The regimen was lots of fluid intake to help ward off the possibility of pneumonia, but the ONLY fluid they would give me was tea — no juices, milk, or even tap water. So that permanently turned off hot tea. I do like iced tea in hot weather, but of course that’s a totally different drink.

  90. Yeah, I’m one of those odd people who actually likes the taste, never had to acquire it. I really think we are a minority, even here in the coffee-crazed Pacific Northwest. I am hard core – black coffee from a French Press, though I not a fan of French Roast. Don’t do the fru-fru drinks except for peppermint lattes a couple of times a year (around Christmas).

    Oh, and Keith Edwards, you can’t swing a cat around here without hitting a coffee joint, I’ll have to check out Spella – my current favorite is Cellar Door in Southeast. (pardon the sidebar, another aspect of being a coffee drinker in this corner of the world is the need to do the shout out for your fav.)

  91. I’m a huge coffee drinker, but far from a purist — I use hot chocolate mix packets for creamer. :D

  92. @mariqat – From what I remember of back in the day, coffee was not as strong as it is now. What people tend to drink now was considered espresso back then. It just wasn’t that strong as ‘coffee’. I can remember drinking coffee black as a teenager in the 70s and it doesn’t compare with much of what goes for coffee now.

    @Luna – Honey? I’d never thought of that. I’ll have to try it. Not much of a fan for sweetened coffee, but that has promise. Thanks.

  93. The problem is the lack of non-sweetened drinks in American culture. Sugar makes me thirsty. Black coffee and unsweetened tea are about the only options. Water’s okay, but cf. W.C. Fields. Dick Francis once had a character wish for a non-alcoholic drink that tasted like white wine; that will work, until the return of small beer for breakfast.

  94. I like both coffee and tea, although I agree that in most cases the $5 per grande is redonkulous, both for price and poor flavor. Cinnabons used to have a maliciously delicious iced chocolate frappuccino thing which was 75% chocolate something, 20% whipped cream, and the last 5% was coffee and cinnamon; you might prefer that. The one thing I don’t care for is artificial sweeteners, particularly if it is in a beverage where I had previously been accustomed to getting sugar, honey, or (ick!) HFCS. Coffee is supposed to have a little bite, but the aftertaste from saccharine or Splenda I find more disgusting than coffee bitterness.

    One of my friends discovered that the property he rents has a few coffee bushes. He will harvest them and roast up a few pounds during the berry season. I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of his largesse; THAT is proper coffee.

  95. “…but about once a week I will go to the local gas station and pick up a coffee-based liquid substance.”
    And this is how we lure you up the slippery slope, heh-heh-heh. C’mon Scalzi, all your friends are drinking it.

  96. I’m a bit of a coffee purist, and this is the extent of my shock: meh. You like what you like. You don’t like what you don’t like. Anyone telling you that you’re enjoying things wrong, so long as that enjoyment harms no one else, is being a jerk.

  97. I prefer my caffeine cold and caffeinated so I’ll leave the coffee to everyone else. I’m just glad that here at work each floor has a coffee machine with hot water dispenser (tea or hot chocolate is good when you’re sick) and separate dispensers for milk, juice, water, and soda (both diet and regular.)

  98. While my tastebuds still love coffee, my stomach, alas, no longer does. In an effort to reduce my carbonated beverage intake, I’ve become addicted to caffeinated Crystal Light instead of Diet Coke. Yes, I know it’s hardly the same, but it keeps the headaches at bay. On rare occasions, I’ll stop at Dunkin Donuts for a Vanilla Chai.

  99. I have no problem with you drinking whatever sludge you want to pour down your gullet. You should be free to enjoy adulterated corn syrup in any form you wish.

    I would, though, like to praise you mightily for admitting that this stuff is not coffee. I might quibble that it is not even coffee-based but that is minor. Slurp on good man.

  100. mintwitch, how do you get into that line of work? I figure you don’t compare product all day, so what else in involved – roasting, inventorying, moving product around the factory floor?

    gleonguerrero, I think Sweet Maria’s website has an article about why coffee is stronger these days. I think basically because it’s more expensive. Back when high quality beans were ten-a-penny, smooth, high quality, lightly roasted Arabica beans were the norm, and lighter tasting varietal flavors like Kona were the expression of the ideal. At the beginning of the seventies, financial crises, tariffs & etc. forced bean prices through the roof. Robusta and not-quite-right beans were added (and of course over roasted to hide the flavor), and consumer taste was forced to match the product, even as it became noticeably more expensive. These days a good coffee expert might not be excited by an old fashioned cup, but he’ll recongize that it is an expression of a historic ideal.

  101. Anyway, it’s fine to judge me on this. I don’t mind. I delight in it, in fact.

    Meh… so, it amuses you to pay money to consume a paper cup of sugary chemical waste whose mere description makes me want to throw up? Whatever gets you through the working week, brother.

  102. I like coffee. But I’m too tired to stop and pick some up on my way in to work in the mornings and too lazy to make it myself. Thus, I don’t drink a lot of coffee. I would drink the free coffee they have at work if it were in fact coffee and not some vile concoction that tastes like burnt mud.

  103. I’ve had coffee that tasted like ass (much like unwashed dog* I guess) and left
    a taste that stubbornly refused to leave my mouth. ;p
    -
    * I have an older brother.

  104. I drink coffee to self-medicate my ADHD. Enough coffee and its like that scene in Futurama where Fry drinks 100 cups of coffee..everything goes all matrix-y.

    That and I’m addicted.

  105. By the way, John, I’ve read somewhere that you don’t drink. Have you considered a beer float? You know, a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream, hefty amount of caramel syrup, and a pint of Hale’s Pale Ale. Given your present disposition for coffee, you may want to see if this works for you.

  106. This is a pretty Clintonian description of it-doesn’t-count-as-coffee.

    Also, John, you get that those drinks are like the wine coolers/alcopops of the coffee world? Sweet and gooey to get you to tolerate the taste of the drug-delivery mechanism. Eventually you won’t need the training wheels any more. Some day you’ll find yourself onstage at Worldcon, doing espresso bacon body shots off China Mieville’s biceps.

  107. Coffee is an amazingly wonderful drink, with a taste that would be wonderful even if my brain didn’t start pumping dopamine when I smell the wonderful coffee smell with its promise of impending caffeine. I grind different varieties at home, drink it black (except for the occasional cappuccino at *$$), don’t put sugar or Evil Fake Sugar in it to mask the coffee taste, and think that if your spoon falls over your coffee is too weak.

    Having said that, yeah, occasionally when I’m at the gas station I’ll go in for a cup of Liquid Heath Bar instead of coffee (well, instead of half the coffee), because if I want the sugar rush, it really is Liquid Heath Bar.

  108. As for your kidneys and trouble when you are 70, I am 77 been drinking coffee for 56 years, and my kidneys are fine! I started coffee when I was working in a flower shop that had no refrigerator! Before that, in my younger years, when I went in the service, the only cold drink at meals on base was iced tea! Since then, when I have tea, it is hot, preferably a mint tea. I understand, though, people are people, and be very glad we are not all the same! By the way,how can you be a science-ficton fan, and not know who Heinlein was?

  109. Sihaya asks:

    mintwitch, how do you get into that line of work? I figure you don’t compare product all day, so what else in involved – roasting, inventorying, moving product around the factory floor?

    By accident, mostly. I started doing logistics and operations about 12 or 13 years ago with a specialty candy company, then went to work for a seafood company (YUM!), and now I’m in the coffee biz. Employees farther away from the products (e.g. accounting, legal, HR) don’t need to be as familiar with them as I do. On the other hand, buyers, production, and sales are far more expert than I am required to be.
    It also helps to live in an area where your addictions are produced, or where the producers are based.

  110. gleonguerrero, John’s also written about that here; he doesn’t drink alcohol because of how alcohol makes people act, as opposed to not drinking coffee because it tastes like coffee. I did have one boss a few years ago who gave up caffeine because one day he’d had a lot of the stuff and unfairly snapped at somebody, and realized that it made him grouchy and hostile, but most people who don’t drink coffee avoid it because of taste or health effects.

  111. I like candy as much as the next person, but the thought of what is actually IN that stuff from the gas station makes my skin crawl. It ain’t just sugar, I’m pretty confident of that!

  112. I had a coworker once who drank a similar vending machine concoction. We could smell it coming as soon as he got off the elevator. On the other end of the hall. Through the closed laboratory doors.

  113. The best coffee I ever had is, in fact, out of an ass.

    It is called Kopi Luwak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopi_luwak) from Indonesian archipelago

    Civit Cats eat the raw coffee beans for the pulpy flesh they are encased in. The coffee beans are undigested in their passage through the Civit’s GI tract but undergo a chemical reaction to the digestive enzymes that removes much of the harshness. Farmers then collect the Civit cats feces, clean the coffee beans and process them.

    It is also the worlds most expensive coffee at over $150 per pound.

    Yummy!

  114. @Bill Stewart – I can certainly understand the reasons for alcohol. I used to drink heavily at parties or when getting together at pizza joints and the like. Not an alcoholic, but it became a habit. A friend of mine finally opened my eyes by example, and while I still drink alcohol, it’s very rare when I hit three pints or more per day. I do enjoy the buzz, but it’s also good to retain ones dignity, not to mention senses. Besides, the taste of a good ale or stout is not lost here. So, I guess it’s a case of ‘ass’ after all. In this instance, being one.

  115. My friends look at me oddly when I mention that I like things that taste of coffee but not coffee itself. I like to think its a sign of superior taste!

  116. When people say that something tastes of ass, I always wonder: how do they know??? ;)

    Yegads, Gord! You do know that’s downright begging for our host to epically overshare in a post none of us will ever be able to un-see? :)

    But on reflection, the crack about “it comes out of a vending machine rather than made by a tattooed disaffected barista/o” reminds me of a non-trivial subset of Why we can’t have nice things: Almost inevitably, some pretentious arsehole is going to come along and ruin a simple pleasure for everyone else. Can I just have my fraking coffee & slice of cake/wine/dinner/night at the movies without the wank, please?

  117. Oh, thank goodness I am not alone! I am the water drinker at every event because I do not like coffee or tea. Wouldn’t it be lovely if they (the event planners) would offer something other than the old standbys? Why, yes. Yes, it would. (Mind you, I don’t think they should cater to me, though it would be very nice)

  118. @Jen, and why shouldn’t they cater to you? they’re catering to everyone else, so why NOT those of us who won’t touch tea or coffee with a ten foot pole! really, how hard is it to have a stinking packet for hot chocolate available – the hot water is already there for the tea drinkers, and they sell them in bulk at costco (yeah, I buy them in bulk….)

  119. Sure, you start with gas-station vending-machine latte, and the next thing you know, you’re asking the owner where they keep the used motor oil.

  120. I didn’t see it mentioned here, so I thought it worth mentioning that there maybe a genetic predisposition to believing “coffee tastes like ass”. I should mention first that I am a liberal arts person, and have no formal training outside of undergrad chemistry course, but I believe the somewhat documented and possibly reliable websites below may help explain why some parts of the worlds population taste bitterness when others do not. I believe it is called the PTC genetic test and often times those who are able to taste PTC are more likely to be displeased with the taste of coffee.

    Just a thought that perhaps those who dislike the taste of coffee do so are more likely genetically predisposed to do so.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenylthiocarbamide

    and

    http://www.brighthub.com/science/genetics/articles/34575.aspx

    Disclosure of personal position.
    I am a proud coffee snob/caffeine addict and find that I can make amazing and delicious cups of coffee at home for some what reasonable prices. Although this is relative considering I am sitting in the original Intelligentsia coffee roasters shop in Chicago as I type this and have just paid what many would consider a very steep price for amazingly good coffee beans. I find it worth it just as I find excellent beer to be worth the cost. My consumption is limited by price but I receive a much higher personal enjoyment quotient from things that I perceive to be vastly superior to there cheaper alternatives. When it comes to other things I purchase the cheapest functional product I can. (Most of my clothes come from second hand shops with monthly sales.)

  121. I’ve never liked coffee -I think it smells a hell of a lot better than it actually tastes- and anyway I’m not allowed to drink it, due to various digestive ailments, but dammit! I do loves me some cappacino-flavoured yogurt. And coffee ice cream too, as long as it’s not made with, y’know, real coffee.

  122. I think it’s interesting that many people, including the scientists who like to study such things, seem to assume that the portion of the population that enjoys coffee and other bitter flavors do so because we cannot taste them, despite the fact that the percentages directly contradict such a conclusion.

    For myself, I can report that I am able to taste bitters, with a high degree of (measured) sensitivity, I just happen to *like* bitter flavors. I am super-sensitive to sweetness, sourness, and salt, as well. Of the four, the one I like least is sweetness. It’s annoying to me that the only non-sweet beverages typically available in the US are water, coffee, occasionally/regionally tea, or alcohol; in the ready-to-drink category, the only non-sweet beverage is water.

  123. Interesting, the different preferences we all have. I like coffee a lot, also tea, and I actually make my own chai, with the 2-hour simmering of spices, in 7-quart batches around once a month. What I can’t abide are sodas; they are all too teeth-achingly sweet, and the diet versions have that nasty metallic after-taste. Every year or so I’ll want a rum-and-coke, but that’s about it.

  124. I am always so very happy to find another “coffee is vile” person. I’m one who doesn’t even like the smell (apparently this is abnormal, most people who don’t like the taste do like the smell). If there is even a hint of it in something I will be able to taste it and it will ruin whatever that item is. Related: why do so many chocolate items have coffee in them?!? Ruins good chocolate!

  125. @cranapia: “Yegads, Gord! You do know that’s downright begging for our host to epically overshare in a post none of us will ever be able to un-see? :)”

    Sorry, no intent to disrupt your coffee, cake, wine or other entertainments. I hope I wasn’t being a pretentious arsehole. Certainly not on purpose.

    Personally, I am the master of un-seeing things. I have unseen tragedies and sadness. It’s how we stay sane. The subconscious is ‘sub’ for a reason. Probably this is completely inappropriate in a conversation about coffee.

  126. Sorry, no intent to disrupt your coffee, cake, wine or other entertainments. I hope I wasn’t being a pretentious arsehole. Certainly not on purpose.

    Good grief, Gord. It was a joke – and, at that, one mildly (and affectionately) snarking our host who has turned his cats into minor internet celebrities. (And more seriously, has done some damn good posts on relating his own life and experiences to non-trivial things like “not being a creepy harassing assbag is not rocket science”, “racism, sexism and homophobia are real, and not all about the hurt feelings of straight white guys” and “being poor isn’t inevitably caused by mortal turpitude, and I really do know of what I speak”.)

    In future, I will telegraph such things more clearly.

  127. All acquired tastes are ass tastes until the addictive traits kick in. Then they’re refined experiences for adult palates.:)

  128. A beverage that tastes almost, but not quite, entirely unlike ass. But neat that your local gas station has a NutriMatic. Share and enjoy!

  129. Scalzi: it tastes, in point of fact, like a liquid Heath bar

    The “Milky Way” candy bar was envisioned to taste like a milkshake.

    I wonder if there are more solid/liquid taste crossovers…

  130. Started drinking coffee because I love coffee candy and coffee ice cream. Eventually I realized that trying to make my coffee taste like those was making me sick, because I really couldn’t take that much sugar with the bitterness of the coffee. My solution, no pun intended: dilute the coffee so much it looks like tea. I’m talking a tablespoon of coffee to a cup of water here, plus liquid dairy fat and maybe a teaspoon of sugar. It can be entertaining trying to get this across to the person behind the counter, or would be if I didn’t have to drink the result of their incredulity (“she can’t really mean that, I’ll just make it a third water…”). I’m thinking of commissioning a special ceramic mug to bring to such places, with a fill line etched in the inside about a quarter of an inch from the bottom.

    Nowadays my counterfeit coffee of choice is Caffe d’Vita instant cappuccino. Better yet, replace about a third of the Caffe d’Vita powder with Cafe Francais (International Coffee, rectangular can) powder, giving me a touch of tangy, toasty bitter and cutting down the sweet just a bit more. If I don’t have any of that on hand, I’ll put a dab of instant coffee in to give me a little caffeine in the morning.

    Though right now I am remembering that there’s actually cream, a substance I dare not buy because I will drink it straight, in the fridge from some spousal cookery… that doesn’t sound right, I mean my husband was the chef, not the entree… of a couple eves ago. A drop of that in my “coffee of life” with a couple crystals of instant could be heavenly, especially with these chocolate chip dunking cookies from Trader Joe’s. I’ll go find out.

  131. “Judge not lest ye be judged…”

    As for me, I drink SO MUCH coffee, 70% of my blood volume is made of the stuff…. I can’t operate without it. But please don’t tell me what coffee tastes like… I don’t want to know. I’ve been deluded into liking the last legal drug in the US.

  132. Not sure if I am a coffee purist, but I have no problem with someone who claims they don’t like coffee enjoying the pictured beverage. I may have an issue with them trying to convince me that the vendo-pablum was, in fact, coffee.

  133. Does the machine let you choose your own mix of toffee and vanilla, or does it just have a few fixed settings? It sounds pretty neat, like those coffee machines with your choice of cream and sugar shots we used when we were kids. It was pretty bad coffee. Bad cream too. But, we were kids.

    In the late 80s a friend of mine and I were bemoaning the death of the soda jerk, the guy who put together ice cream sodas, floats, sundaes, phosphates, e cremes, milkshakes and the like, all to the customer’s order, We were sipping coffee in a coffee shop at the Detroit airport, strictly for medicinal reasons, when some big, young guy, built like a line backer, came in and ordered a complex drink containing multiple shots of espresso, steamed milk, milk, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, a whole bunch of other things, and a maraschino cherry on top. The barista duly created the concoction. While we watched, the light dawned. Soda jerks were still around. They had just changed their medium from ice cream to caffeine.

    Also, when someone says something tastes like ass, do they mean it tastes like donkey? I’ve never had donkey, but the only person I know who has says it tasted terrible. Granted, this was a feral donkey, not one raised for food. He also said that camel tasted horrible. I’ve had camel – in Australia – and it tasted pretty good, a rich, slightly dark meaty flavor, not rancid or musty at all. I’ll avoid feral donkey meat, but for all I know, properly raised donkey tastes good.

  134. aaah, you further prove you are a man after my own heart. My (sometimes, if it gets cold quickly in the fall) dip into the coffee thing is to stop at QuikTrip (our best local C-store) and get a ‘cappuchino’ that is roughly half the coffee/sugar/milk flavored mix, half half-and-half and a dash of a flavor. At least until they started offering hot cocoa out of the same kind of machines. I was doomed at that point.

  135. Heh, I remember getting exactly that combination (though tilted more towards the French Vanilla) from the nearby Wawa back east, when I was but a coffee-hating teenager. I still could taste the coffee in it, but the sugar fix made me not mind so much. ;)

    Now that I’m a coffee-hating adult PacNW’er, I find myself quite pleased by the number of tea shops… :D

  136. “Baristo” is not a word. As a barista I often hear it from people who seem to think Italian and Spanish are the same language. The singular form is ‘barista’ no matter what the gender. The plural is “baristas’ if you’re speaking English (“baristi” or “bariste” if you’re speaking Italian, but if you were you wouldn’t need me to tell you).
    .
    And while you are wrong (wrongwrongWRONG) on coffee–I experience no perceptible effects from caffeine and can drink shots of espresso all day or go without for weeks without and have no withdrawal symptoms, but still love my black coffee, french presses, and straight espresso–I do salute you for realizing that what you are drinking is not coffee. I personally have a habit of referring to the majority of the drinks I make people as “coffee-flavored milk”.
    .
    That said, I usually drink tea at work, because I am too busy to drink it quickly and cold tea is *far* superior to cold coffee.
    .
    I apologize if I came across as overly ‘disaffected’ here, but at least I have no tattoos!

  137. I think the haters are going to hate me more than you, Mr Scalzi: I’m a brit coffee addict, and I generally cannot be bothered with beany stuff – my addiction is about 12 cups a day of instant – Nescafe or Maxwell house or Kenco usually, made reasonably strong, with semi-skimmed (2%? ) milk and one sugar.
    Oh, and the rare tea I drink – no sugar, milky and weak as witches wee-wee.

  138. mintwitch – thanks, I was wondering. My town actually sits on a coffee port. We have alot of budding coffee companies, as well as a few of the big grocery brands. The guys who do the cupping around here, at least for the press, seem to mostly be the spokespeople, which always makes you go, “Really? Shouldn’t a buyer or roaster be doing that? Does a buyer do that, since the beans he buys are green? Hmmmmm.” On the other hand, I knew that at beer companies brewers seem to do the heavy lifting and factory floor work at the same time that they taste and formulate, so it’s not exactly compartmentalized assembly line work, which made me wonder if coffee is similar. It’s interesting to know that so many different positions in the coffee company seem to require a comparative knowledge of the different varieties and blends. It makes sense.

  139. Could someone please clarify what this colorful-but-confusing phrase is meant to convey? Last I checked, tasty tasty bacon is harvested from the asstastic parts of Porcineus “Ham” van der Schwein. Coffee – even the meanest of machine-vended coffee signfiers[1] – doesn’t taste like that at all.

    Well, it doesn’t when I make it. Am I brewing it wrong?

    OTOH, liquid Heath bars are quite nice, really. Unless you spill one all over your clothed self. [2]

    ________
    [1]  Which, in fact, might be 80W gear grease laced with toluene and artificial sweeteners.
    [2]  Spilling on one’s unclothed self or partner is another matter altogether.

  140. Scripsit Brooks Moses:
    > John, I want to know how you figured out that you liked this stuff in the first place!

    Because John is a brave man. As Mark Twain points out, it was a brave man who ate the first oyster.

  141. Good point Mint at 4:40, I agree that is a frustrating assumption. I also happen to enjoy bitterness as a taste as well as savor. (Think perfect ripe garden grown tomato with a little salt)

  142. I can’t stand coffee either. Both my husband and daughter love it. They’ll be sitting there nomming it up and I’ll say, “OK, give me a taste.” And they will. And it will still taste like coffee.

    However, liquid Heath/Skor bar sounds heavenly.

  143. Apparently I have a reading comprehension problem. I didn’t realize that the drink you are making had any coffee taste at all. I can’t stand the taste of coffee. I don’t even like the smell. You can’t sneak it in in anything else either. I can still taste it and it still tastes like coffee. The only exception to that is Kahlua.

    I also can’t stand cilantro. To the exact same degree as I can’t stand coffee. And I can’t stand to drink with beer, but I will cook with it.

  144. Once driving back from Lousiana, late at night, I stopped in a little hole in the road gas/bar-b-q place and asked for some coffee to go.
    Waitress: Large or small?
    Me: Large.
    Waitress: Dark or light?
    Me: Large.
    Didn’t sleep for 2 days!

  145. We live on the Kona coast in Hawaii, where growing coffee is a way of life and a major source of income. Glad some of you folks like it.

  146. Mike:
    Darn it to heck–This being a fairly new install I don’t have “neato.txt”
    next to a shortcut to regedit on my desktop. Oh well, win+r, notepad,
    ctrl v save as neato.txt.
    Right click, new shortcut, regedit, click next, backspace out .exe….
    OK.
    I wonder if I’ll ever remember how many other things I’ve forgotten
    (not what they /are/, that won’t happen).

  147. So … having been to a science fiction convention or three, I suspect you may have had the opportunity to be exposed to the UrCoffee, also called the Black Blood of the Earth, as crafted by mad scientists at funranium labs.

    If so, did you avail yourself of that opportunity? And if so, did your opinion of coffee in general change?

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