Country Living Series

Friday, July 16, 2021

Coffee guide for the coffee ignorant

Confession time: I don't like coffee.

I mean, I really really really don't like coffee. I love the smell but hate the taste. It's not a simple dislike; it's a revulsion. I jokingly call this my "superpower": I’m able to detect a single molecule of the hated flavor in any food or drink.

It doesn't matter how dolled up the coffee is. It doesn't matter of it's coffee-flavored ice cream or candy or whatever. I hate the taste.

Admitting I don't coffee is like a slap in the face for coffee aficionados. Coffee remains one of the most popular beverages in America, possibly the world. And I can't appreciate a drop of it.

I remember my dear mother telling me she never liked coffee until she went to nursing school, and drank it so she could stay up late studying. I went to college (and grad school) and swallowed caffeine pills if I needed to pull an all-nighter (which, frankly, never did much good – caffeine doesn't seem to affect me). I never learned to drink coffee in college. If anything, my aversion deepened.

Here's one guy who gets it:

"Growing up in the San Francisco area I remember crossing the bay bridge on foggy mornings with the smell of the Coffee Roasting Plant drifting up from under the bridge at the San Francisco end. Rich, full, luxuriant, coffee smells like chocolate tastes. Unfortunately for me the taste of coffee has none of the depth, the subtleties, the scope that the smell has. I only taste one flavor. Bitter.

"It doesn't matter how much milk or sugar I add, it doesn't matter if it has been turned into a rich dessert like tiramisu or a coffee candy, or coffee ice cream. The bitterness is pervasive. Not a light bitterness that can lend an interesting edge to a dish. No, this is a medicinal level of bitterness, like drinking a beverage brewed from aspirin."

Yes!! This guy understands! It has nothing to do with caffeine and everything to do with taste.

I tried looking into whether a coffee aversion has a scientific basis, but bizarrely, studies into coffee aversion seem to focus on one of two things: either a sensitivity toward caffeine, or cultural conditioning (i.e., whether you grow up around coffee drinkers). I have no sensitivity toward caffeine at all – it doesn't seem to affect me one way or the other – and I grew up around plenty of coffee drinkers. I just – plain – hate – the – taste.

But here's an interesting side note: I'm not fond of chocolate either. I don't hate it (like I hate coffee), but it's definitely not my favorite flavor. Apparently there is a connection between coffee aversion and chocolate aversion, something about a genetically predisposed sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil. That sounds nice and weighty, doesn't it? I'll use that as my excuse.

Once in a blue moon, I have the opportunity to get a fancy tea in a coffee shop (my standard is a chai tea latté). When ordering, I know from cruel experience to clarify, "This has NO COFFEE ELEMENTS in it, right?" Heaven forbid a dash of coffee should ever touch my tea.

Anyway, as a result of this coffee aversion, I'm completely ignorant about what makes one kind of coffee different from another (I'd make a lousy barista). Therefore this little sign was surprisingly helpful:

Oh, so that's what a cappuccino is. Who knew? The last two selections listed above are my go-to options in a coffee house, the operative words being "not coffee."

So there you go, my deep dark coffee-colored secret. Who else hates coffee? Is it just me?

45 comments:

  1. I love black coffee and have been drinking it since the age of 8 or 9-I truly love the bitter taste. However, I absolutely cannot stand chocolate. The taste is revolting, like dirt with sugar added to it.

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    1. Ditto. But I'd kill for danish and pastries.

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  2. My husband hates coffee too, as well as tea. Both taste bitter to him as well. I loooooooove coffee! Strong drip coffee with lowfat milk...I'm having some right now!

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  3. I'm thinking it must be a taste mechanism similar to cilantro tasting like soup to some folks.

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    1. I like cilantro, but my husband (who loves coffee) does not. Go figure.

      - Patrice

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    2. My wife hates both cilantro and coffee. I love both. I rarely get cilantro.

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    3. Our daughter once commented that cilantro tastes like stink bugs smell. Ever since I can't eat cilantro without tasting stink bug, lol!

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  4. Like you I love the smell of coffee but hate the taste. I can tolerate it though in something like ice cream, but it would be not a flavour I would choose. Also like you I made it through 4 university degrees - still don't drink it. Tea is my beverage of choice.
    I have never thought about it having a scientific basis. My mother is the same as me - loves the smell hates the taste. She shares your dislike for chocolate. I love chocolate though.
    When people tell me it's an acquired taste, I say that I have made it to my mid-40's without it, I think I will stay away.

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  5. Coffee is OK with me. Tea also (especially Earl Grey). But the one thing my body absolutely positively rejects is Rhubarb! There's not enough sugar or strawberries on the planet to convince my system the rhubarb should be swallowed.

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    1. Just about the only tea I don't like is Earl Grey. To me, it tastes bitter. I wonder if there's a relation?

      But I love strong tea. My go-to morning choice is Darjeeling.

      - Patrice

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    2. Post Alley CrackpotJuly 24, 2021 at 4:52 PM

      About rhubarb, you're not missing much, and here's a fun fact: rhubarb increases production of oxalate kidney stones in people who are susceptible to growing kidney stones.

      As for Earl Grey, there's an Earl Grey blend from the East India Company that's blended with neroli for a very deep flavour without the potential bitterness of bergamot.

      Not cheap, but also not cheaply done.

      It doesn't help that most Earl Grey tea blends (especially Twinings, but also many American blends) use cheap bergamot oil that is full of bitter impurities.

      Fortnum and Mason appears to be easier to find in the US now for whatever reason, so perhaps give that a try for what Earl Grey is supposed to taste like.

      Steven Smith Teas of Oregon is perhaps the only American Earl Grey I'd want to drink, but his company remains one of the few quality craft tea blenders in the US.

      Should you discover you really, really don't like Earl Grey no matter how well it's done, it's easy to give away Fortnum and Mason or Steven Smith teas.

      One last bit then: people who should avoid rhubarb should also avoid tea from Darjeeling because of the elevated oxalates problem.

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  6. I am the exact same way much to my husband's dismay. He's always dreamed of us retired, sitting on the porch in the morning, drinking coffee together. When we first married he tried adding a minute amount of coffee to my hot chocolate. I had no idea what he'd done, but my hot chocolate tasted horrible. Upon asking him why it didn't taste good like usual, he finally confessed to adding a small spoonful of coffee to try to wean me onto it. FAIL! :)

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  7. hmm I see this like I see cilantro distaste...I hated coffee AND cilantro , but ended up getting coffee repeatedly in a family situation where it was the ONLY thing to drink ...and I sipped it out of thirst desperation , eventually ( 4 years?) I got so I would drink it ...it still mostly tastes bad but I am used to the bad taste now and drink it daily ..same exact thing happened with cilantro , it kept showing up in foods and after a couple years I found myself tolerating that soap taste ,then expecting it...so they say it is a biological thing that tastes are bad,,and maybe I agree BUT they can be overcome ...or..well they still taste bad ,but I have come to "like" ?? the bad flavor ...strange . I guess " liking " the pain of very hot peppers would be the same type of thing ...

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  8. You are not alone. I hate coffee too! Love the smell of it brewing but the taste is disgusting. I dont understand how people can drink cup after cup all day long. On the plus side I never waste any time standing in line at Starbucks or in the drive-thru of Tim Hortons!

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  9. Coffee is to you what onions are to me.
    You got the short end of the stick. I am sorry.

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    1. And I LOVE onions. A lot. A whole lot.

      - Patrice

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  10. I am the same way. I can’t stand the taste of coffee and I am not fond of chocolate. The only value to chocolate is to sweeten walnuts or pecans. Those are my true passion. I write this as my husband is making himself coffee!

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  11. I'm just the opposite, I love my coffee. I jokingly say it takes at least two cups of the strong, black brew in the morning to get my heart started. I started drinking coffee at age 12 or 13 and never looked back. At one time I was going through a pot and a half of black coffee daily, but that has stopped as I grew older and sleep became much more important. I never went for the fancy-dan coffee like latte or expresso, they aren't really coffee in my book. Now I have two cups in the morning and tea or flavored water the rest of the day. But those two cups first thing are important, even critical, otherwise I wouldn't be here to write this comment. LOL!

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  12. As a child I often accompanied my mother on trips to the grocery store, where there was a grinder in the coffee aisle. I loved the smell of that aisle, and especially loved standing next to the grinder as she ran it. When we got home, though, and the hot water hit those grounds, that ruined it: not only was the resulting beverage undrinkable, but the smell of the grounds turned acrid.

    As an adult I worked in Portland for many years, where I was surrounded by coffee afficionados who sought to convert me to their ways. They were sure that the right bean, roast or brewing style would bring me over to their side. Didn't happen. It was only later, when I started working west of town in what the locals jokingly call the "Silicon Forest," that I finally landed among My People: the tea-drinking Indians and Chinese of that technology hub.

    The worst thing for me is when someone inadvertently puts coffee in a container meant to dispense hot water for tea. Once that happens, the vessel is forever ruined: no amount of soap, hot water, baking powder or scrubbing will ever enable water from that pot to make a decent, untainted cup of tea again.

    -- Retired Geek

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    1. YES!! Once used for coffee, a container is tainted forever.

      I used to work in a law firm where there was ONE tea drinker among all the coffee consumers. He had a dedicated coffee maker to make his tea. God help anyone who got them mixed up.

      - Patrice

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    2. I feel the same way about contaminated vessels. It is a very common (or even universal) problem in hotels. When they put out big urns for coffee and tea, there's always one of hot water... after a couple of bad experiences I learned to put a small amount of water in the cup first and sniff.

      I'm in the like the smell, hate the taste camp, too. But tea is fine.

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    3. I have found the same thing. I have travel mugs that are for tea only and ones that are for coffee only. As much as I love coffee, I cannot stand it when people attempt to make tea in a coffee urn. Never the twain shall meet!

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    4. Arbys is one of 2 fav fast food stops. No not gourmet, but I love it. One day, I got a french dip, and somebody had heated the ah ju in a coffee pot. Ewwww

      So it's not just tea pots

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    5. Post Alley CrackpotJuly 24, 2021 at 4:58 PM

      You can often remove the smell of coffee from a plastic container with Dettol, a British household disinfectant.

      Dilute a small amount to a lightly milky colour and leave it sit for at least two days in the side section of the sink.

      This works great on the plastic snap-seal containers we picked up a while back at a Korean grocery, especially when we give them a final wash with the dish washer.

      It also does a great job of controlling the presence of mould in the laundry, which can be a problem in Florida.

      Just keep the Dettol away from cats.

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  13. I absolutely hate hate hate coffee. I cannot understand how it can smell so wonderful and taste so putrid. The smell of coffee anywhere makes me ravenous. It must be Daddy's coffee always signaled food to me. I also hate tea and love chocolate. The fact coffee is hot adds a layer of distaste, too. I don't drink hot drinks. Jay Leno said he did not understand drinking hot things and especially coffee. I found my people in him. I thought maybe iced coffee would be better. No, cold is not better. I have never even made a cup of coffee, so coffeemakers are a mystery, one I do not want to solve.

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  14. I can drink coffee, but it sometimes makes me queasy, so I use it sparingly. I prefer it 'breve', which means with half-n-half. I love hot tea though, my current favorite is a mix of lavender and mint, very relaxing.

    sheilab15

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  15. I would kill for chocolate. Campfire coffee is the best. Yeah, weird, I know.

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  16. You mean it's not just just me???? I hate the taste of that nasty stuff. Smells sooooo good, but tastes like it was brewed using (used) toilet water, stirred using the shovel from the barn stall, and served in in a chamber pot. Yuck

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  17. I also hate coffee. Love the smell, though. But I like cilantro and chocolate. But rosemary tastes like bad medicine to me.- Miss Georgia

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  18. Years ago I used to smoke a pipe. I loved the way cherry blend smelled but in the pipe it never tasted the same. One guy at work brought in a cigarette rolling machine and I, on a lark, made a cigarette from Cherry blend pipe tobacco. It tasted just like it smelled!

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  19. I drink coffee everyday, usually Death Wish coffee, the stronger the better for me, and even that's not always strong enough, so I chase it with a spoonful of Kratom and I'm off to work in the morning, ready to go. But I never buy Starbucks, too expensive and they're not so great. I prefer my coffee with sugar and honey.

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  20. You absolutely hate coffee? Yes, there’s a genetic reason for that. It’s a gene that you need to get from both your parents, so only about one-fourth of the population share that gene. I don’t even like the smell of it, so I found the old coffee factory under the Bay Bridge in San Francisco a place to avoid. I also don’t care for chocolate, much to the mystification of chocoholic family members. There are several other foods that share that bitter taste, thanks to that gene. But coffee holds a special place of revulsion.

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  21. I was raised in a coffee drinking household. Love the aroma. One semester in college I had late first classes and that semester I had coffee and toast for breakfast. Not since. I worked in an office that told me I should drink coffee since I was 21 after all.

    I married a coffee drinker. Made it for years. Love the aroma, hate the taste.

    As for chocolate, I love it but it tastes better with nuts. So much so that I have some form of chocolate/nuts given to me every time I get a gift from the immediate family.

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  22. Vile Weed Or Essential Ingredient?
    https://cen.acs.org/articles/88/i6/Vile-Weed-Essential-Ingredient.html

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  23. Part of my childhood I grew up in Mexico. There they add a little coffee to a child's glass of milk for flavoring like chocolate. That was when I began to drink coffee and I love it, however the acid in coffee will mess with you if you end up on a GERD diet. I am not supposed to drink it but in 2 years I have only been able to reduce my 2 cups in the morning to 1 and 3/4 cups. Also love chocolate but also on the no no list in that same diet. Basically if you enjoy it and it tastes good you can't have it. I also love cilantro but most of it is in Mexican food with hot sauce, another no no.

    I once read that if you have an aversion to a food it is your body protecting you from an allergen of some sort. Must be true I have a serious aversion to onions, they make we want to puke. That is one food on that diet that I can certainly agree with.

    Tea I can tolerate with a load of honey.

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  24. I love the bitter taste of coffee, that withering on the tongue. I drink it black and prefer dark roasts. I also drink tea black except the occasional brew cries out for milk. I also love dark chocolate for the same bitter flavor. My DH can't even stand the smell of coffee, an acquired aversion from working in a Dutch Kettle, so I drink tea at home and coffee at work. He also does not care for chocolate. 16 years married so far!

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  25. I see others mentioned the cilantro gene. That stuff is vile.

    Coffee was an acquired taste for me. It's a favorite now. I've always loved chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

    Tea of all kinds makes me stomach turn. I've tried so many different kinds. Revolting.

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  26. Love the smell of coffee, can't stand the taste. I would have add too much sugar and cream it wouldn't be worth drinking. But do like tauramasu and chocolate, go figure.

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  27. I don't hate coffee but I hate beer that way it taste like molded bread and alkaselser

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  28. I drink plain black coffee every morning, have since childhood. Regular black tea bothers my stomach, I get that took a multi vitamin on an empty stomach feeling. Herbal tea I love though.
    Chocolate I’m very ehh about. I’ll eat it but it’s not what I would usually reach for at a store.
    And thank you to the person who connected cilantro to stink bug smell! That’s exactly it. I knew it didn’t taste like soap (as it does to my father) but I couldn’t come up with what it does taste like.

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  29. I am just like you on the subject of coffee. I love the smell, but hate the taste. No amount of sugar, milk, or anything else can cover the awful taste so that I can tolerate it. I also hate tea. When I tell people this, they don’t understand, and I have been called “unamerican.” Whatever. I no longer find it necessary to try to make myself like anything containing coffee or tea. Give me a glass of water and I’m fine.

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  30. Love coffee, chai tea, and like chocolate, but truly abhor cilantro. This topic is fascinating! So many differences! Thanks Patrice!

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  31. When I was a preschooler, my mother caught me eating her dark baking chocolate. She was flabbergasted that I liked it since I wouldn't eat chocolate pudding, which was "milk chocolate", chocolate ice cream, Hershey bars, etc. I would eat hot devils food cake but not German chocolate or plain chocolate cake. I liked only dark chocolate from very early in my life. I loved waking up to the smell of coffee and bacon, but when we traveled and my parents poured coffee out of their metal thermos, the smell made me quite nauseous. The dog and I rode with our noses stuck to the station wagon's rear window that my father would roll down about 3".
    We weren't allowed to drink coffee, it was adults only (due to budget constraints) so I never took it up until I was almost 37 years old. I like a good French roast or Columbian but have a brand of Brazilian that I like, which is a medium roast. I drink it with cream or half and half.
    The first sip of the first cup is almost magical and the first cup I like to consume before anyone breaks the spell, lol. I like a second cup but after that, it doesn't taste as good as the pot freshly brewed tasted. I cannot stomach convenience store, truck stop or diner coffee or any that is in one of those large metal pots such as at church. I can taste the metal.
    My husband can drink it all day long and will even microwave a cup that has gone cold, which I don't understand.
    Tea has a different bitter taste to me, it's as though someone brewed some grass. I do like some fruity herbal teas and love cilantro.
    sidetracksusie

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  32. My mother used to tease me that I'd acquire a taste for coffee once I was older since she only began to like it when she was in college. I thought the stuff was vile, and college didn't change that for me. I did start drinking tea in college, which wasn't a regular thing, but an alternative to the coffee I couldn't stand. Over the years, there have been only two things that have coffee in them that have coffee in them - vanilla frappucinos and when the coffee is used to enhance the taste of chocolate. Not coffee-flavored chocolate, which is vile, but the small amount used to accentuate the chocolate flavor. Go figure

    Katja

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  33. Post Alley CrackpotJuly 24, 2021 at 5:14 PM

    Try a win-win situation then: get a hybrid water boiling pot that works with a vacuum to reduce electric use.

    Zojirushi makes a great series of these pots with microprocessor water heating control.

    Not cheap, but again not cheaply done.

    I have one of the older series without the vacuum feature, but I've considered buying one of the newer ones because the reduced electric use would probably pay for it over two to three years.

    Try a Korean or Japanese grocery store with a kitchen section if you want to see them up close for comparison.

    The win-win then: you can have hot water for tea on tap all the time, plus any coffee drinkers can use an Aeropress or a French press to make their coffee with water that's already pre-boiled.

    If you use it with filtered water, there's very little need to descale it except after a few years.

    Since both coffee and tea people have to wait for their preferred brews, that perceived problem also gets solved. :-)

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