Sometimes the best cup, like the best food, is all about the context.
Absolutely. Especially when it's unexpected...perhaps the Stoics knew a thing or two about being happy!
Originally Posted by NSU
Coffee geeks share your opinion of Starbucks. Good third wave sources I know of are Terroir, Counter Culture, Intelligentsia and Stumptown, though I'm sure many hipsters will turn their nose up at these guys for having gotten too big.
I read somewhere that McDonald's coffee beat Starbucks in a double-blind taste test. Afterward, McDonald's put up a big billboard bragging about it within view of SB HQ in Seattle!
You're right about the fact that a lot of people lose interest in something the moment it gives up its "underground" status and goes mainstream. I'm kinda that way myself...don't like to swim with the school so to speak. Once the masses discover something cool and start liking it not because they "get it" but because they think it makes them hip, it's like "Well, time to move on to something else."
BTW, earlier I said "I'm no coffee cognoscenti..." I decided to look it up...that properly should have been "cognoscente" (singular)!
The funny thing about coffee is the extra cost of the best beans in the world isn't that much. Stale pre-ground C coffee is like $10 a pound and I can run into town and get some whole bean Counter Culture for about $17.
Usually at home I just drink filter coffee; at work freshly grinded beans. Like the beans better, but I don't want to spend all day at work so... no clue what they throw in there as well, but it's free! (Yay!)
Not really into the business of buying special coffee or anything - I can taste the difference between a reasonable/good coffee and a bad one; so all it takes to make me happy is to not make it a bad coffee (American style filter coffee :'( - sorry for the bashing here).
Coffee is the most chemically complex food we know. It really makes a big difference to source it from a roaster and buyer who know what they're doing.
Origin matters, but a good buyer will work with the farmers to ensure quality washing and sorting, and invest heavily both with money and training in the developing regions that are so critical to cultivating quality coffee.
When you buy Starbucks or McDonald's or anything from the Big Four (Sara Lee, P&G, Kraft, Nestlé), you must understand you're getting C grade coffee that was either purchased by an anonymous agent at auction near origin or bought green out of a warehouse in Louisiana where it might have been sitting on the floor for 18 months. They have no relationship with the farmers.