Like most sane people, I’m a coffee addict. I’m also a coffee snob. Go ahead, roll your eyes and chuckle. Taunt me with your Unicorn Frappuccinos. I can wait. I’ll just be over here sipping my exquisitely brewed cup of Uzuri African blend, reveling in the deep-roasted scent of the Sahara.
Before you pelt me with your coffee sleeve, let me explain. Being a coffee snob by no means makes me an expert, and I certainly don’t judge anyone else’s coffee choices. I grew up with a preset Mr. Coffee brewing canned Folgers every morning at 6:30 a.m. My mom couldn’t get out of bed without first drinking a mug of heavy-duty black coffee. When I snuck a taste, it was like swallowing battery acid mixed with sweaty socks. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would willingly drink such nastiness on a daily basis.
I didn’t have my first full cup of coffee until my mid-20s when I once showed up to work severely hung over. A 30-something in my office gently placed a chipped mug in my hands and pointed me toward the burbling coffee maker. That first cup did not go down smoothly, but it definitely dragged me out of my vodka-shot-induced stupor. I was on fire the rest of the day, and I was hooked. After a few months drinking whatever nondescript coffee was available, my taste buds starting rebelling. If I was going to drink coffee on the daily, the least I could do was drink the good stuff. Thus began my coffee obsession.
I don’t have a specially spouted kettle or designer grinder, and I don’t subscribe to coffee magazines or read coffee blogs. I do, however, like to know where my beans are from and how they were roasted. I’ve been known to use a refined Italian accent to describe a particular brew as “aromatic with a hint of cherry wood.” (Just kidding. About the accent part, at least.)
Seriously though, I like the way a truly good cup of coffee makes me feel: taken care of, engaged, and at least for a few hours, invincible. If that makes me a snob, so be it. Wondering if you’re a coffee snob too? If you find yourself nodding along to this list, then welcome to the club:
1. I won’t drink just any cup of coffee, even if I’m desperate.
There’s no way I’ll drink half-assed coffee, even if I’m going into shock from caffeine deprivation. At home, I’ll wait through a somewhat lengthy process for the perfect cup (see No, 2 below). If I’m going out for an espresso drink, it could be an hour or more between waking and sipping. I will gladly endure prolonged brain fog for the right cup of coffee.
2. Brewing coffee at home is a scared ritual.
I’m a one-cup-at-a-time, AeroPress kinda gal which means I have to boil water, assemble a three-piece apparatus, measure out the grounds, add water, stir, wait for the water to drip through, add more water, stir again, then press until I hear a subtle whoosh of air. I use one of three mugs that my entire family knows not to mess with. I add just the right amount of sugar and a splash of milk (a professional coffee snob would never add anything to their coffee, FYI), close my eyes, and sip. Those few minutes with my hot coffee are pure bliss. (Disclaimer: My husband usually makes my coffee in the morning, which means it tastes even better.)
3. Destination coffee is a thing.
I will travel out of my way to visit a favorite cafe. We coffee snobs can be very social. Finding a cafe with the ideal balance of delicious coffee, a professional barista, and a friendly community is worth the extra mileage. Plus, when you’re a regular, it’s really cool to have the person across the bar smile at you in total solidarity and start pulling your order without you saying a word.
4. I know the lingo (mostly).
I can tell you the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, a flat white and a caffe breve, and I know that the crema on a serious espresso drink has nothing to do with cream. That said, I’m also completely happy with a top-notch cup of no-frills, no-fuss brewed coffee. No folgers though.
5. I don’t buy ground coffee.
That’s because after about five days, no matter how well you store it, coffee starts going stale. Plus, you don’t know how long it’s been sitting on the shelf already. Since I don’t have a state-of-the-art grinder (those babies cost hundreds of dollars), I ask the barista to grind just the right amount of beans for five days’ worth of coffee. If you buy your beans from the grocery store, most have grinders you can use in the coffee aisle.
6. I have one word for Starbucks: respect.
While my taste in coffee has evolved, and I’ve graduated on from this cult fave, I’ll forever be in debt to the home of the double-tailed, green mermaid for introducing me to the true delights of good espresso. The same year I became a coffee addict, a Starbucks opened up in my neighborhood, and it changed my life forever. Besides, anyone who doesn’t think Pumpkin Spice Lattes are bomb or doesn’t get woozy over a White Peppermint Mocha is totally lying.
So, yes, I’m a coffee snob and proud of it. I know there are more of you out there.