Monday, February 20, 2006

Higher Standards

Anyone who drank beer in college knows that the dominant factor for beer selection in said institution is quantity over quality. However, anyone who truly loves beer (I have a hard time believing there are people in this world that do not) also knows that there is a certain coming of age that occurs after you have tasted one too many yummy microbrews to go back, and your selection standards are forever altered. From this point forward it is quality, or rather taste you seek, and the taste of beers previously admired for their high quantity to low price ratio are actually cringe inducing.

When it comes to coffee, I believe Brad had such a coming of age when he transitioned from his roommate/bachelor apartment to mine. We drank fresh roasted, fresh ground coffees until he could no longer go back to the 83 Meserole Street favorite, Cafe Bustelo.

My coffee palette was nurtured in a different manner, largely due to the generousity of roommates employed by coffee shops. During my junior year college, my roommate was a loyal employee of Starbucks, but was not much of a coffee lover. Since the policy of most coffee shops is to give it's employees a complimentary bag of beans each week (a 1/2lb or so), I would return home every so often to find a pouch of my latest, favorite roast sitting on our kitchen counter. A few years later, my roommate in Santa Fe worked for arguably the best coffee roaster in Santa Fe, and couldn't stand the thought of coffee at home after being around it all day. So, once again, guess who reaped the free, and might I add delicious, goods – me!

Even my parents, who raised me from the ripe old coffee drinking age of 14 on Maxwell House, have made the transition to regularly drinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee at home.

So now, Brad and I have more or less graduated to the level of coffee snobs. Lately we have been enjoying Jim's Organic coffee. They have a variety of roasts to tickle my every fancy, which I buy beans of loose from my local market. I am still a fan of starbucks, and Brad recently confessed to stopping at the Italian café next to his work for what he claims is a great cup of coffee most mornings, despite the two cups he drink at home during breakfast.

[My number one pet peeve of late has been the quality of the coffee I am often served after a delicous dinner, or with brunch, at restaurants. While it might be decent in quality, the coffee is often old, which can be just as bad, and a sour note after a great meal.]

This morning Brad and I experienced the same disapointment I have felt when my brother is the person chosen to make a beer run on my parent's tab, and in the company of one of his college buddies will return home with a case of 'Natty Light' to drink with dinner and poker. While Brad was preparing the coffee he came to the bottom of the beans and had to top it off with that we call the emergency reserve. (On days when we are desperate and out of coffee, we will be forced to settled for our deli's best offering, Chock Full O' Nuts. I often stash the small remainder of such coffee in our freeezer to pinch hit on future, desperate days.) When the coffee was brewed, I wish I had a picture of Brad's face as he tasted it - but it was, well, less than our standard of taste. Once you prefer the best, you can never go back.

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