Once You Go Black…

Black CoffeeAmy has an uncle named Fred. Fred’s an interesting guy for lots of reasons, but of interest at the moment is that when he drinks wine, he cuts it 50/50 with ginger ale. I used to think he did this only with a particular batch of home-brew wine that was, to normal wine, what the bags of concentrated coca-cola syrup are to fountain drinks; dilution with that stuff is wholly appropriate.

But no. He does this with all wine. I think that’s fantastic. If that allows him to have a pleasant wine experience (champagne every day!) then more power to him, and what’s even better is that he can continue to enjoy even very cheap wine because the dilution softens some of the harsher effects of buying economy brands. Fine by me.

But I don’t do it myself, because I enjoy what’s involved in developing a palette for wine. I enjoy the vast spectrum of flavours you can come to appreciate, and I feel like cutting it with ginger ale would impair my ability to enjoy that: different strokes for different folks, that’s all.

I’m the same with chocolate: give me high-percentage, uncut, dark chocolate and I am a happy guy. I’m not stupid about it – I don’t turn up my nose at Hershey the way a good aficionado ought. But given my druthers, I trend towards quality and I trend towards unadulterated.

And so I confronted myself recently with the fact that I don’t drink my coffee black. Milk and Sugar, sometimes even a double-double. This, I realized, flies in the face of my whole aforementioned way of doing things. So as of about a week ago, it’s been straight black coffee.  Yes, purely in the name of aesthetic synchrony.

It wasn’t easy at first. Turns out those adulterants do a pretty good job of making bad coffee more drinkable, and bad coffee abounds. But I’m here to tell you that it takes less than a week for your tongue to form the appropriate calluses, and now I’m starting to really feel it. I expect that, like wine, my brain will start to assign more neurons to coffee tasting in the coming months, and that the experience will grow on me. As it happens, I got a half pound of Kona for Christmas (thanks Barb!) and while it’s not Jamaican Blue or (I can only imagine) Kopi Luwak, I’m looking forward to tasting it without blinders.

Yes, I realise how ridiculous this all sounds.

4 comments

  1. Congrats! I’m off coffee altogether, so I’m out on the tasting angle. I’ll take my decaf flavoured coffee candy, thanks very much.

  2. Welcome to the dark side. 😉

  3. Kopi Luwak is overrated, what you want to get your hands on is some CoE Panama Esmeralda. I think they shoot you if you add cream or sugar to it. Wholesales for a mere $80/lb. Or more reasonably as it sounds like you’ll be visiting the Bay Area, the place to learn about good coffees is Blue Bottle in SF.

  4. My mom does this with wine, but uses tonic water instead, at about 50/50 portions. I actually like this – its a compatible flavor with most white wine and only very slightly fizzy/sweet. I wouldn’t want to do it with a fine expensive wine, but when I’m drinking two buck chuck from Trader Joe’s it’s a nice way to extend the glass and not pay later for drinking too much crappy alcohol. Especially handy if you tend to swill your wine (as I do) instead of sip it.