Why add anything to coffee?

alanj11

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Sep 10, 2007
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As a long time coffee drinker I was the cream and sugar , brewed coffee drinker for about 15 years. Then I discovered real coffee in South America! Returning to the states in the early 80''s finding good specialty coffee was still a new thing in the South East.

I returned to cream only in my coffee until I began working as a coffee roaster in training. Cupping coffee does not allow any additions, and I began, for the first time, to really experience the nuances of coffee.

So do coffee drinkers who add all sorts of things to their coffee want to taste the coffee or all the froth and foam?

After decades of doing that myself I have had to ask why? Based on the quality of coffee in the U.S. before the rise of Specialty Coffee, it wasn''t hard to understand. I added cream and sugar to hide the bitterness and sour taste. So why would coffee drinkers do that to great Specialty Coffees?
 

AJPRATT

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Mar 7, 2007
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Atlantic City, NJ
I hope I don't offend anyone, but IMHO I think its ignorance. I'm not being mean, its just ignorance and most people don't know that really most good coffee shouldn't have any of those nuances one would need to mask with condiments. I know I felt the same way you do once I began to come into the light. Of course, some do prefer condiments just as a matter of taste--not that there's anything wrong with that. Haha
 

ElPugDiablo

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Jul 16, 2004
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
Nothing wrong with adding modifiers to enhance the original quality. I mean we add salt and pepper to our perfectly grilled steaks and we age our wines in oak barrels. So if macchiato and cappuccino work better than espresso, then go for them.

However, if you are adding cream and sugar solely to cover up the flaws then it is time to get better coffee.
 
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alanj11

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Sep 10, 2007
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I realize each to their own when it comes to anything. We are all different which is what makes life interesting in the first place. So no argument there.

My question, however, is why someone would take good specialty coffee and mess with the taste? If the taste is not important then what purpose does specialty coffee serve for that person, other than perhaps a little ego trip? Just a question with no malice intended.

The there is the issue of how coffee is flavored. Come to think of it, coffee flavored by a roaster is never top quality in the first place, so I guess I should get off my coffee barrel.

Then again, if one is going to prefer flavored coffee, why not at least start with good coffee and then add as much or as little flavor using a top quality syrup as they want to suit their taste? That's more than they're going to get from roasted and flavored coffee.
 

moonmonkey

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Jun 22, 2004
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Illinois
Most often, I think that people naturally use cream and/or sugar in their specialty coffee because they are use to drinking bad coffee. Once people (who of course do not understand the excellence of specialty coffee) have gone years using cream and sugar to cover up bad coffee, they convince themselves that they do not like the taste of black coffee, when really them have never experience true specialty coffee. It has always been a thrill for me when customers of ours step over from the dark side and drink there coffee black for the first time...only to realize its excellence :)
 

SlowRain

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Jul 16, 2008
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a Canadian expat in Taiwan
I put cream and sugar on my fresh blueberries and raspberries. I don't believe I'm trying to hide any flavor, I'm enhancing. Many people put milk and sugar into chocolate drinks as well, again to give them a flavor that they enjoy.

However, I do believe that milk and sugar can also help cover bad coffee--not to the point where it is good coffee, but certainly more palatable. Whenever I'm in an iffy coffee shop where I'm not sure about the quality of their coffee, I usually order a cappuccino. I believe it's harder to screw up a cappuccino.
 
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