I am constantly upset by people getting a drink (any drink, though I’m referring to coffee in particular) and loading it up with “condiments” such as sugar and cream before even tasting it. It’s a completely instinctual act, people have been programmed to add sugar to shit before they even check to see if it needs sugar. I have a couple different theories and a couple different people to blame. First off, “supermarket coffee.” By this I mean your Foldgers, Yuban, basically anything that is low quality, carelessly roasted, months from the roast date, and pre-ground. This goes against every element of quality and freshness that we in the specialty coffee industry strive to provide our customers with. As a result, you get coffee that is flat, bitter, boring, and overall gross. This is why these coffees leave you reaching for the half and half and Splenda. On that note, there is the “Splenda theory” as I will call it. Artificial sweeteners. They are everywhere. All shapes, sizes, colors, and all giving the impression that they are “healthier” than real sugar. Basically, these artificial compounds de-sensitize your taste buds to what sweet is supposed to be. This does not allow you to sense anything but the overpowering, chemical “sweetness” that these potentially cancer-inducing substances impart unto your palate. And now for the rant all of you can expect from me: Starbucks. Not just Starbucks, but Peet’s, CBTL, and even most “mom and pop” shops that offer grossly sweetened “lattes” and the ungodly blended drinks that dominate the American coffee service industry as of late. A lot of people are starting to consume coffee-like beverages in the time that these type of drinks are splattered across every street corner. They’re inevitable, almost everyone is going to eventually have a “caramel macchiato” (which is in fact a bastardization of the name macchiato, but another rant, another time.) Anyway, these drinks leave people with the impression that coffee is supposed to be grossly sweet, and makes them perceive any black coffee as plain “bitter.” I would assert that these perceived bitter flavors are a result of expectation of a sugar-fronted drink, and a let down on the delivery.
Basically, all I’m asking of you is to try it black, and avoid the Splenda. Try a lovely raw sugar or agave instead if you still crave sweetness, I feel you might be surprised.