By R. Justin Shepherd, http://spencersbg.tumblr.com
Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 10:00 AM CST
In the last post (BLBG Note see link below), we talked about all the reasons that doctoring up your coffee with cream and/or sugar is ok. But when it comes to great coffees (fresh, well-roasted, well-brewed), there are a couple caveats:
1.) Cream and sugar mask flavors. One of the defensible reasons for adding stuff to your bad-tasting coffeee (to mask the flavor) is one of the main reasons not to do so with high-quality stuff. Every type of coffee has the potential to be full of flavors, and if everyone does their job right in the supply chain, at the end you get a beautiful, flavorful cup of coffee. Milk and sweeteners will obfuscate a lot of those flavors from your palate, and also dull coffee’s aroma.
2.) Cream and sugar ruin some flavors. Have you tried a “citrusy” coffee? Something like a Yirgacheffe, that smells heavily of lemon or orange? What about a coffee with berry notes or fruity undertones? These are the “hot” coffees in the industry right now, and they change your perceptions of what coffee can be. They are, incredibly, delicious. BUT: Add half-and-half to one of these coffees, and you don’t just tone down the flavor, you change it. Some of them taste downright awful if you add cream, but delicious if you don’t.
Plus, drinking coffee black is just so much cooler, right?
If you’re a cream and sugar person — even I was at one time — but would like to work toward a purer coffee experience, the best way is to ween yourself. Pay attention to how much of each you’re using, and gradually use less and less over the course of a few weeks. Also, try drinking your refills black; you’ll notice differences in flavor, and the more you do it, the more you’ll come to prefer coffee with no additives. It’s healthier (almost no calories), it’s easier, and it’ll open you up to the full range of flavors to be found in great coffees.