Someone once told me that a good cup of coffee needs only to be extremely hot and dark as a moonless night. This person left the counter and turned to the condiment counter where they proceeded to dump six Splenda packets and at least a whole quart of half and half into his cup. Why do you do these things? I asked under my breath as he tore open yet another Splenda packet. I’ve wrestled with this question ever since. Every day I watch the same scene and every day I ask myself the same question. Just why. I’ve narrowed my hypotheses down to two options: ignorance or a shameless love for sweeteners.
What would the world be like if instead of asking people out for coffee, we asked people out for tepid sugar milk? That’s what I see people drinking most of the time, at least. Why not call it what it is? Yes, hi, I’ll take 12 ounces of luke-warm half and half. If you could just pour that into a ceramic mug filled with raw sugar and give it a little stir, that’d be great thanks. Wouldn’t life just be easier if we were just honest with ourselves?
Because I don’t like to assume ignorance, I think that my first hypothesis is most accurate. However, for the sake of discussion, I’ll share my second hypothesis. Have you ever taken a sip of dark roast coffee and thought, hm, this kind of tastes like someone collected the ashes from a forest fire and served it to me in this cup… so then you walk to the condiment counter and the process begins. That’s because dark roast coffee tastes like forest fires. The beans are roasted almost twice as long which make them look and taste like little bits of charcoal. The bright side of this process is that there’s little to no acidity (and charcoal goes great with Splenda). Those beautiful beans weren’t meant to be burned beyond recognition and their flavor masked by sugar. Jeff Clinard, an instructor for the SCAA, discusses how a good barista should direct you toward better decisions as a service professional. We’re not here to make you feel silly or defensive, we just want you to have the best experience possible. So here’s my suggestion, my call to action: drink a light roast. Turn your back on the condiment bar. Maybe sit down and relax, while you let your coffee cool down so that you can taste everything about it. If I’m wrong and you miss the ashy finish of a dark roast, please do what makes you happy. But if I’m right and you fall in love with coffee and leave the sugar packets forever, please tell me. (I love being right).