Imran's Blog
Stuff I feel like blogging about.

I love coffee

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I used to hate coffee. I never understood why people enjoyed drinking coffee so much and so often. Among my coworkers and friends it wasn't unheard of someone drinking 8 cups of coffee a day. Though, to be fair, programmers generally seem to consume an unholy amount of coffee.

To me coffee always tasted bad. Everyone told me it's an acquired taste and that I would come around, but it just tasted so bad. Coffee was harsh, bitter and tasted like something burnt so I just avoided it. This worked well enough in the start of my career but soon I found myself relying on the occasional energy drink for a boost. Now energy drinks aren't the healthiest thing for you, so one day I started to have coffee instead. As noted before I REALLY did not like the taste of coffee. To make it drinkable for myself I had to basically "drown" the coffee in milk to mask any of the "flavour" and chug it as fast as possible. The whole process was rather unenjoyable, but hey, at least it's healthier than all the chemicals from energy drinks.

A little while later I found myself working at a company that had a fully automatic coffee machine. This thing was capable of making anything from regular drip to a sugary mocha. I think this was the machine, or at least something that had a similar appearance. I started having the super sugary mochas since they managed to mask the taste the coffee reasonably well and gave me that nice caffeine kick.

Soon after I started working from home on Fridays since I signed up for a recreational sport league and would not be able to make the meet up time if I had to drive from the office. The problem was when I was working from home I no longer had access to coffee. I resorted to ordering my coffee from either McDonalds or Starbucks since I had a location for each within walking distance from my home. This is when I started to notice the costs racking up. Five to ten dollars for cup of coffee was a bit much.

It's at this point that I started researching how to make coffee at home. I was keen to continue making milk based drinks as I still didn't like the taste of coffee. I would need an espresso machine to make lattes at home (switched up from mochas because of the sugar content). I was not too keen on Nespresso as I tried a sample at one of their stores and damn it tasted bad. After a lot of research, I concluded that I would need a grinder, a semi automatic machine and fresh roasted beans.

I settled on a Barazta Encore, a Gaggia Classic and beans from 49th parallel (so much for saving money 🤦). I dialed in my shot and had a taste. My goodness it's a night and day difference. What I thought was a drink that's supposed to be harsh, dark and bitter actually tasted clean, bright and florally. It was delicious and I got hooked.

Now I don't claim that I pulled a god shot from the classic. Light roasts are quite hard to get right with the hardware I had at the time. I had even done an OPV mod to bring the pressure to 9 bars. The stark difference between quality fresh roasted beans and what was (and is) readily available was staggering.

Turns out nearly every place has over roasted the life out of their beans. You can see this when you walk into a Starbucks or second cup. The hopper is full with incredibly oily beans (a sign of being over roasted). All the coffee found on grocery store shelves (even Costco) is over roasted. The reason is that over roasted beans tend have a longer shelf life than lighter (or properly) roasted beans and keep their "flavour" longer. This is also the reason why all "mainstream" (I know hipster much) coffee tastes so bad. It's because all the flavour has been roasted out of the beans. If the coffee you are buying does not have a roast date on it, it most probably falls into this category.

Turns out I didn't hate coffee per se, I just hated improperly made coffee. Coffee, when done properly, is delicious and makes for quite the fun hobby.