Food & Drink

9 Confessions of a Coffee Snob

coffee snob
Courtesy of Callie Richmond

To be honest, on a coffee-nerdery scale of 1-10, I'd say I'm only a 7.5. But you'll still probably hate me with total impunity.

Ok, so maybe I never went into debt buying a roasting machine, or hunted for the best coffee beans in Ethiopia, but I do have a taste for exceptional coffee and a general disdain for those who don't. This makes me a perfect target for your scalding hot cups of hatred. Here are my secret confessions. If you only drink cheap coffee from gas stations, prepare to dislike me a great deal.

coffee beans
Courtesy of Callie Richmond

"We can't be friends if you put an 'x' in 'espresso.'"

Pronunciation is hard, especially in the Internet age when so often you read about things but have never heard them discussed aloud (maybe I need to get out more). But there is clearly no "X" in the word "espresso." If you've heard someone pronounce it that way, you're hanging out with the wrong crowd.
 

"I always ask coffee shops about their beans."

While you're patiently waiting behind me in line, I'm going full Portlandia and asking questions like, "Where are the beans from? Is there's a high level of acidity? Is the espresso supposed to taste like brown butter or raspberries or a long walk on the beach?"
 

"I judge you based on your coffee equipment."

If there is a Keurig machine in your kitchen that wasn't given to you by your parents for Christmas*, and you aren't a high-powered lawyer whose time is measured in Franklins p/second, there's no reason to own one of these. It's a dating deal-breaker for me because you don't respect your morning rituals, which would theoretically meld with my morning rituals -- and I don't want to become infected with your bad choices. Also, there's no better first impression than owning an Aeropress.

*My Mom gave me one that I politely returned to the store and never told her about. If you're reading this, sorry Mom, I appreciate the thought!

smelling coffee
Courtesy of Callie Richmond

"I waft in coffee smells like an idiot."

A serious coffee guru-type once told me that what you're paying for in specialty coffee is mostly the smell. So when I'm brewing, I damn well waft those delectable fumes into my nose and close my eyes. For a few moments I'm no longer in a crappy kitchen with a full sink of dishes, but rather in a poetic cloud of savory coffee fumes, and I'm sure I look like a real douche.
 

"Buy pre-ground coffee? I don't respect you."

Using pre-ground coffee is the equivalent of cooking a hamburger patty in the microwave. You don't need a fancy grill, but at least cook it on the stove. A $10 grinder will make a world of difference.
 

"I make up lies to avoid crappy coffee."

I hate to lie, but one of the few exceptions is when I'm offered a cup that's been smoldering on a hot plate for an hour. I will say that I already had coffee, even if I haven't, or that it makes it hard for me to sleep. But it doesn't! I'm a liar! And when I do drink filthy brown coffee, I put so much milk and sugar in it that it basically becomes a lukewarm milkshake.

trashing coffee
Courtesy of Callie Richmond

"I throw away perfectly good coffee."

A few years ago, a restaurateur I know was talking about how he hated making coffee with beans that are more than two weeks old and I thought he was the biggest dick. He threw the beans away because they were a little stale?! Now I am that dick.
 

"I go out of my way to visit certain cafes."

Venti-sized chains serve a purpose, and that purpose is to be a beacon of caffeine on long car rides when the only other option is gas station coffee, which is the equivalent of a New York City dirty water dog. But if I'm standing directly in front of a corporate coffee shop and there's an independent one within three blocks, I'll take a walk.

barista hate
Courtesy of Callie Richmond

"I am judgmental of baristas."

I'm not a grizzled veteran barista, which would attract an entirely different type of hate. I spent about six months behind the counter years ago. Just enough time for me to know when someone's screwing up, but not enough time for me to claim to be a pro. I'm walking a thin line of knowing about this stuff. So thin you probably want to shove me off of it.

But I know that when a barista dumps espresso into milk and calls it a latte they're doing it backwards. And that a shot shouldn't look like Willy Wonka's chocolate river. And, you know what? I judge the coffee shop they work in too. I can tell when their espresso machine is the equivalent of a 1993 Toyota Camry. I owned a '93 Camry for 10 years. By the end of its lifespan you didn't want to drink anything that came out of it.

Dan Gentile is a staff writer on Thrillist's National Food and Drink team. He is currently enjoying a cup of coffee that is probably better than yours. All hate can be directed to @Dannosphere.