Why I Don’t Drink Coffee, Featuring Maureen Johnson

52 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Drink Coffee, Featuring Maureen Johnson

  1. “You need a cup of my java”
    Steve Martin, as private dick Rigby Reardon, in “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid!”

  2. I’m with Scalzi: take my coffee, please. I seriously don’t get why burned bitter liquid is supposed to taste delicious. I get the caffeine high, but liking the taste? Hell, kale might even improve that swill :P

  3. I drink coffee… with lots of cream and sugar. I also don’t understand what’s supposed to taste good about bitter brown liquid, though many have tried. I once had a friend import different expensive beans from around the world just to make some for me that he insisted wouldn’t be bitter (he’s a coffee snob… one of those people who boycotts Starbucks because they “burn” their coffee)… they were all bitter.

    So I basically drink coffee purely for the caffeine and that’s it.

    Now tea, on the other hand… I am definitely a tea snob. Oh god I love tea. See… the British have perfected the art of drinking terrible tea. Japan, China, and Taiwan… now they know how to do good tea…

  4. Also, because I had been previously unfamiliar with Ms. Johnson and her writing, for a moment I thought Scalzi was tweeting about kale coffee with Lazarus Long’s mother.

  5. Elizabeth McFadden:
    *Wondering what my coffee would taste like with the addition of Scalzipieces.*

    I’m guessing now it would taste like kale.

  6. They say (haven’t tried it yet) that cold brew coffee is sweet without adding any sugar.

    Cold brew coffee is taking medium coarse ground beans and letting it steep (?) in cold water a few hours and then straining the grounds.

  7. Patrick V., no, cold brew coffee isn’t sweet without adding sugar.

    Lewis Van Atta,yes! My favorite scene in the movie is Steve Martin making coffee.

  8. Pure coffee is a bit like pure cinnamon, or pure salt. It takes a particular kind of person to actually have it straight up. Coffee added into milk, or other wisely chosen foods — now that is a good route.

  9. I think of black unsweetened coffee in the same vein as most liqour or tasting vanilla extract straight: Harsh, unpleasant, kinda disgusting. But cut with cream and sugar and (optional) added flavors, the harsh aspects of coffee’s own flavor are reduced and the pleasant aspects brought to the fore. I was in my early 30’s before I discovered this was possible.

    My dad, now, was in the Navy during WWII, so he got accustomed to drinking Navy-style (very strong) coffee while staying awake on long night watches. How strong? One time when our family went off on vacation for a week, we forgot to unplug the electric percolator before driving off. There was about a half-pot of coffee left in it. By the time we got back, that coffee had simmered into a syrupy sludge at the bottom of the pot. Dad poured the sludge into a cup and added a splash of evaporated milk (what people tended to use before “creamer” was commercialized); the evaporated milk floated back up to the top of the coffee as a curdled lump. Dad drank the coffee anyway.(And that, folks, is why we really won World War II. ‘Cause America was just that damn tough.)

  10. What I don’t get is why anyone is so concerned about what other people eat or drink, or don’t do either. Drink coffee, don’t drink coffee, whatever. I don’t judge you for drinking sodas, don’t judge me for drinking coffee.

  11. I love coffee. I love it in many forms–American coffee with a little milk, cafe latte, chicory coffee, cafe au lait, cappuccino (named this because it’s the same color as the robes of the Cappuccino monks, who decorate their crypt in Rome with skeletons and their crypt in Palermo with desiccated corpses, but I digress), dark Sicillian espresso a strong dose of sugar in it, Turkish and Arabic coffee, coffee ice cream, coffee liqueurs, roasted coffee beans covered in choclate, iced coffee (with milk), coffee flavored spice cake…

    Until today, I only knew of one form of unacceptable coffee: instant. (If you serve me instant, our relationship is OVER. So is any potential relationship among our future generations.)

    But now I know of another: KALE COFFEE. (Good God, man, is NOTHING sacred?)

  12. Oh my god, I thought people were making up the thing about “kale coffee”. Apparently, Kale & Coffee smoothies are a Real Thing. (And hey, Laura Resnick, the recipe calls for INSTANT coffee! Double the horror!)

  13. I don’t judge other people’s beverage choices….but I prefer tea to coffee. Coffee is far too bitter.

  14. I have no opion at this time on Martian coffee. (Is that a thing?)

    Kale coffee smoothies with instant coffee? Arrrggh! Back to hell, BACK, I say, thou Unclean Thing!

  15. Coffee is awesome, and you are funny. Even if you are not very popular and do not get much website traffic.

  16. Coffee is beautiful. Coffee is life. Coffee is rich, dark, thick, and like sunshine in a cup. Sounds to me from at least a couple of comments like they aren’t drinking REAL coffee. By which I mean, coffee not purchased freeze-dried off a supermarket shelf, or shipped as whole beans for weeks on end, meaning it’s that ‘dark roast’ stuff which has actually had all the goodness baked out of it so it’ll last during the long weeks of shipping.

    No, REAL coffee is bought fresh and ground fresh, single-source, and made in an Aeropress, unadulterated with sugar, cream or anything else that belongs on a kid’s birthday cake. The right stuff, made properly, tastes anything but bitter.

    In fairness, most people don’t know what real coffee tastes like because all they’ve had access to is supermarket crap and that stuff you get in restaurants that tastes like hot wet ashes.

    In other news, I think I need another coffee. Did I mention I like coffee?

  17. I grew up watching TV shows and reading books which depicted people as not able to function before their morning cup of coffee. This filled me with horror and I vowed never to drink it.

    I’ve been an adult a long time now, and I’ve managed to live perfectly fine without it, although people are often shocked to find out I don’t drink it. Of course what really confuses them is that I don’t drink tea either. I’ll go for the occasional hot chocolate though :) It may help that I’ve never lived anywhere actually cold.

  18. I’m on Laura Resnick’s side here (though I grew up with mostly instant coffee, which is what my mom still drinks, decades after there were better ways to make coffee even in her own kitchen.)

    And yes, coffee does taste bitter. Bitterness is Good, at least in foods that are supposed to be bitter, like coffee, and chocolate, and hops, and caffeine. And if you put a spoon in your coffee and it falls over, your coffee is too weak.

    Paul – Scalzi drinks caffeinated liquids, just from the Evil Cocacola Sugar-Substitute Conspiracy. So yes, a caffeinated Scalzi is quite possible. And he *might* be reading the comments, because Maureen Johnson only told him that Kale Coffee lets him Not See Comments, and that the first hit’s free, but not how long the effect will last, or how desperate he’ll be to get MOAR when it wears off.

  19. @Gary Gibson: many people have made this claim with me. They are all wrong, no matter if their beans come straight from Mt. Olympus and the water from the purest Antarctic glaciers.

    It is still undrinkably bitter and is so no matter what’s added to it, or what it’s added to.. And I like my chocolate as dark as possible, and my tea strong.

  20. Yes, I do like very dark chocolate, and I find that good tea is aromatic enough to be a pleasant experience even if I overbrew it. I mean, I also have been known to eat jam and peanut-butter straight from the jar, for nearly the entire jar. I am not *judging* drinkers of plain coffee, merely pointing out it’s a very strong taste along the lines of other very strong tastes that aren’t culturally expected to be taken straight up the way coffee is.

  21. Speaking of coffee I like it well enough but a cup or so a day is sufficient for my purposes; the time of main-lining the stuff to stay awake is a generation ago!

  22. Wait, doesn’t Ms. Johnson know that you have to keep the Scalzipieces separate? He’s like The Judge.

  23. @Laura Resnick: “Martian coffee” is hot water with a caffeine pill dissolved in it. Mark Watney, hero of Andy Weir’s The Martian, invented it after he ran out of real coffee.

    (And then, after he ran out of caffeine pills, he resorted to “nothin’ tea”; take hot water, then add nothin’.)

  24. Some people are hyper-sensitive to bitter. In particular, while most people’s taste buds literally change when they hit puberty, some people’s don’t, and they remain overly sensitive to non-sweet flavors in general, and bitterness in particular.

    That’s fine, but for those of you with this hypersensitivity, please realize that it is an uncommon hypersensitivity. Many of us actually do like coffee and beer (and in some case, including mine, even brussel sprouts). We’re not pretending in order to appear macho, or whatever. We’re simply different from you.

    Of course, the reverse is true as well. Those of us who do like coffee/beer/etc., need to stop trying to convince those who don’t that they should.

    At the same time, it’s worth noting that coffee can be prepared in a variety of ways, many of which have much better results than others. Coffee that’s too weak has only a faint bitterness, with all its more subtle flavors too subtle to spot. Bland and slightly bitter is not a good thing. This is what’s commonly known as “dishwater coffee”, and it’s an all-too-common abomination, found in restaurants throughout the US. Coffee that’s too strong, on the other hand, can shock the taste buds, and leave one unable to appreciate the subtleties. Finding the right balance can be difficult, but for those of us physically suited to coffee appreciation, the result can be ambrosia!

  25. “(And then, after he ran out of caffeine pills, he resorted to “nothin’ tea”; take hot water, then add nothin’.)”

    I have an 87 year old friend who drinks a cip of “nothin’ tea” after each meal because it helps soothe her spastic colon…. Is spastic colon a thing in THE MARTIAN?

  26. We had specially-ground, fresh-brewed straight black coffee as a sacrament in our wedding ceremony (Our minister also runs a cafe…) and there was not the slightest hint of bitterness to be found. Wedding coffee needs no sugar… ;)

  27. I’m in the “love coffee” camp; I like it STRONG and black–3 scoop Aeropress for a 10 oz mug, for those who understand that. Once in awhile I’ll add a couple of tablespoons of condensed milk (not evaporated, the sweet kind), and that has its own attractions. And adding a lil’ Irish (whisky) is also yummy. Neither of my sisters likes or drinks it; I live in Seattle and remember the very beginning of the coffee culture here; I got a bag of freshly ground coffee and my sisters sniffed it, saying it smelled great…but they didn’t like it. I used to tease a friend ’cause he claimed to be a big coffee person, but he couldn’t imbibe it black….

  28. “Is spastic colon a thing in THE MARTIAN?”

    Well, Watney is surviving mostly on (100% organic Martian-grown) potatoes. He mentions that this does have an effect on his digestion: “Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m the only guy on this planet.” I don’t know if that means spastic colon, or something else equally unpleasant…

    Also, he did try experimenting with potato-skin tea. His verdict? “The less said about that, the better.”

  29. Sorry, coffee and beer are the two essential fluids of physics. It’s rather like having two pedals in your car — one to make your brain go and one to make it stop going when you’re done with it.

  30. Kale coffee? From a woman who takes her name from Lazarus Longs mother? Yeah, you just might explode for real. I’ll stick with my Maxwell House, tyvm ;-)

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