Coffee snobs

Ken writes:

People often scoff when they learn I drink only decaffeinated instant coffee.

‘Why bother?’

The funny thing about this attitude is that it does no justice to their own appreciation for coffee. It implicitly claims there is nothing of value in the experience besides the caffeine. But who would want to replace drinking coffee with taking a caffeine pill?

They are mildly physically dependent on coffee, but I am not. They do need the caffeine stimulation, but I do not. I get as much from a cuppa as they do because I’m not missing what is missing from decaff.

But can they scoff because I drink instant decaf coffee?

I would concede that instant coffee has less flavour than the proper kind. It's bound to because it is processed and exposed to oxygen. Even after just a couple of weeks, the flavour of a jar of instant coffee has dropped away noticeably. But at the end of the day, it's only a cup of coffee. It's not something that really matters.

The pleasure of a well made cup of coffee just doesn't count for much. Even if on a relative scale proper coffee wipes the floor with instant, the two pleasures are so far from what really counts in life as to be indistinguishable.

I used to be a bit of a snob about coffee. Now I think it's just a young man's thing. One adopts these positions as part of carving out an identity. It felt good to feel superior to other people and to think that my palate was capable of affording me higher and more noble pleasures than others were capable of. I think I recognise now that it was not that other people couldn't tell the difference, it's just that they had the sense not to waste time bothering about it.

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3 thoughts on “Coffee snobs

  1. Mairi Jay

    I love your ending thoughts. Wise and rueful. But otherwise, yes, I totally agree that instant coffee is a different drink from real coffee and decaf real coffee is not to be sneered at but appreciated. These days, I have one beautiful, full-bodied plunger coffee in the morning (long black) and that sets me up for the day. It’s tea or powder coffee with milk thereafter.

  2. laura

    For a period of time, I had no access to coffee of any sort. “Grain beverage” was offered and it did the job, for me, without caffeine. If mixing up decaf, I would go all out for the Postum mix and enjoy something that doesn’t try to emulate the snobs’ brew. It’s hot, tasty, unique, – and where I live, affordable! Do they sell this kind of hot instant beverage in Ireland these days?

    1. kenanddot

      I once knew someone who drank Nestle’s Caro, which is a coffee substitute based on roast barley, I think. I should check it out. But really, I like the fact that decaf coffee is pretty ubiquitous. I don’t think I could be bothered going to a special health food shop just to get my coffee substitute. That’s taking things too seriously.

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