Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Drink It, Black

Or not. In this recent New York Times post, Oliver Schwaner-Albright writes about how cream and all its dairy siblings pollute -- pollute! -- coffee. He says "the flavors of an exceptional cup of coffee can be as layered and complex as a glass of pinot noir." To this, I would like to say the following to Mr. Schwaner-Albright:

Bitch, please.

How you take your coffee is a preference issue. My father takes his with sugar, no cream. My mother takes hers with cream, no sugar. My boyfriend takes his black. I take mine "regular," an East Coast term meaning with small, equal amounts of milk and sugar that, sadly, the Midwest has never adopted in language or practice. Perhaps we should thanks Starbucks for running "regular" into extinction with endless variations on "-ccino."

Why isn't preference ever enough for food snobs? I appreciate that people labeled as food snobs are educated about what they're consuming, but the key word there is "consuming." Paying money for cupping sessions wherein participants compete to identify flavors and aromas undetectable by uneducated sensory systems is work. What's so wrong with enjoying something for once?

I enjoy coffee. My ideal cuppa consists of dark French roast (preferably Kaldi's or Chauvin, both local and delicious), muscovado sugar, and whole milk. Perfect. I breathe deeply over my cup and immediately feel more alert, calm, and satisfied. I don't think about nutty aromas or spicy flavors.

But again, that's just me. I know all about standards and such (like, um, Folgers sucks?), but everything enjoyable is open to interpretation. Few booze experts will deny that a true martini is made with gin, but I can't think of many who would deny that vodka martinis can be just as tasty and inebriating.

I'm not buying the coffee beans that come from a fox's asshole. I haven't invested insane amounts of money and time to make myself feel special. I just like my coffee the way I like it. Bitter balances sweet. Milk softens acidity. Neither ruins quality coffee's essential robust character. I don't break it down into science, I just enjoy it.

(Though if I were to dissect my love for coffee into more elemental terms, I'd use the outstanding Grant Achatz article in the August 2008 issue of Food & Wine....go buy it if you're not already a subscriber and read all about Gerard Craft [whose Smoky Pork Pappardelle recipe is today's top choice!] in the process!)

Pollution rules.

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