On that coffee

I had a cup of Importin’ Joe’s Habesha coffee this morning, one of the two types I ordered, and as I was drinking it it occurred to me that I really don’t have any vocabulary for writing anything even approaching a review of a liquid. There is a little blurb on the front of the bag about what “tasting notes” to expect, and I’ll be honest: I picked up on the toffee, I guess, but other than that? It was coffee. It was good coffee, mind you, but I’m not a hundred percent sure how to go into detail about what the differences between “good coffee” and “bad coffee” are, other than that I’ve had Starbucks a couple of times and I understand what people mean when they say that Starbucks coffee tastes burnt. I have finally successfully conditioned myself to be able to drink my coffee black over the course of the last year, and so I didn’t put any additional sugar or creamer or anything like that into it. I’m not opposed to that or anything, but I figure since I can drink coffee black now I may as well drink my first few cups of this unadulterated so that I can learn what it tastes like. And yeah: it’s good stuff; I just wish I could be more elaborate than that.

What’s the best coffee you ever had? And can you tell me what made it the best coffee you ever had?

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.

4 thoughts on “On that coffee

  1. Rich aroma and flavour, no bitterness or burnt flavours and little acidity. Some people like their coffee acid but not me. The very best coffee tastes rich and almost chocolate, quite complex. I make a long espresso every morning and good black coffee has a lovely crema. I grind my beans on demand and prefer a strong brew. If I want a flat white I froth some full cream milk and add to a short espresso. There’s a special technique to this that only Australians can do… 😉

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  2. It’s honestly difficult to remember a specific coffee I’ve had, although I know I’ve had a lot of good coffee in my travels. My wife and I stopped at a cafe in Dubrovnik, Croatia on vacation there. Hidden in the warren of alleys in the old city, this place had two or three tables in the alleyway that left just enough space for people to pass by. Flowers and vines hung over a wrought-iron gate at one end, and at the other we could see one of the wider avenues packed with people. We sat at this place for three or four hours one afternoon, my wife with her tablet and me with a journal. I could not stop drinking their espresso it was so good, strong but chocolatey in the way Jessica mentioned above. I don’t normally drink that much caffeine in a single sitting, but it fueled several pages of drafting on one of the quietest and most pleasant afternoons I can recall.

    I have no idea if that was the best-tasting coffee I’ve ever had in my life, but it was probably the best coffee-drinking atmosphere I’ve ever experienced.


  3. I used to feel the same way, coffee is coffee, until I tried my friend’s home roasted coffee brewed in a technivorm. It was an Ethiopian and tasted fruity and effervescent. I loved it so much that I had to have my own home roasting setup. After a great deal of money was spent, I learned a few things:

    A burr grinder really is crucial. The settings you use on it are too. I couldn’t believe what a difference it made to use the right grind setting.

    Get a little kitchen scale and weigh the beans. There are a lot of websites to help you find the right coffee to water ratio. Getting this right makes a huge difference even in regular store bought coffee. You can mess up a fine home roasted coffee by not getting this right. I know from experience.

    You don’t need to roast your own, as you can probably find a local roaster to get fresh, properly roasted coffee.

    When it’s freshly roasted, you might want to watch out for the bloom…it gets downright volcanic sometimes. I just turn off the coffee maker to let it settle, then turn it back on. Stir the grinds. Check brew time and temperature (I use a bonavita which makes this automatic).

    But really, if you’re gonna invest in something, I’d pick a good burr grinder over an expensive coffee maker.


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