Edited for content 7-25-2010
Part 2 of a series:
You've heard it before, probably countless times.
"I wish coffee would just taste as good as it smells!"
And I can understand that, really.
I have had coffee that smelled perfectly fine. But when I tasted it....ICK. It was either too weak, too strong, too bitter, too cold....what a letdown! Some of you non-coffee drinkers, reading this because you are hoping you can understand my pathological obsession with coffee, you are nodding your heads over that letdown. Drink a nasty cup once, shame on your host; drink one twice, shame on you. Right? Never will that tainted substance cross your lips again...
I have also had coffee that smelled good, but unimpressive. It promised nothing, at least nothing my nose could detect. Well, until the beans were ground. And then I knew that this coffee was going to sing, that the taste was going to be everything I could hope for. And it was. Flavors that I didn't even know could exist in coffee danced across my tongue, flirted with my tastebuds, and generally blew my mind.
And those of you who have experienced that sensation are nodding YOUR heads, maybe reliving that moment, that first French press, or that first Chemex.
And you can never go back. Once you have experienced great coffee, and you KNOW it is possible, it is almost impossible to go back to the same convenience store sludge without your tongue bitterly reminding you of what could have been. I have gotten to the point that I would rather do without coffee than drink bad coffee.
So what makes the difference? Why the discrepancy in flavor and experience? Isn't coffee just....coffee? Yes. And no.