Learning to Love Coffee

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Coffee has long been considered a healthy drink option when consumed in moderation and without extreme quantities of additives. Until recently I had very little interest in coffee. But, after testing out a variety of brands I have found myself intrigued. Where does the coffee come from? What environment does coffee grow in? What makes coffee bitter at times? I have so many questions!

For me coffee it’s a fairly new concept. Growing up I always helped grandma make an afternoon coffee just before grandpa got home from work but I didn’t pick up my first cup of joe until becoming a dad myself. And then it was out of an extreme need for caffeine due to absurd hours during a rushed hospital construction project. I was less than impressed by my free jobsite coffee but needed a boost and couldn’t leave to go grab an energy drink.

Breaking an Energy Drink Habit

Fast forward five or 6 years later and I have just recently kicked my energy drink habit. I would stop at the gas station on my way to work twice a week and stock up on whatever deals they had. Generally a 3 pack on Mondays and a 2 or 3 pack on Thursdays. My early consumption days were the full flavored variety but after a few years I made the switch to the ‘healthier’ sugar free varieties of Monster, RedBull, Rockstar, and Xyience. Sometimes I would even get on a kick of buying a Kill Cliff from the fridge after a CrossFit workout. I knew it was not only an unhealthy habit but also a costly one but they just taste so good!

It wasn’t until the COVID – 19 lockdown that I was able to break my habits. They say it takes 6 weeks to create a new habit, but 4 weeks does a pretty good job! Don’t get me wrong, I do still enjoy a nice crisp Xyience or Monster on occasion but I managed to get away from the daily habit because it was no longer convenient.

Replacing Bad Habits with Healthier Ones

You could probably guess that my replacement for morning energy drinks has been a cup of joe. I’m still not a java lover but its growing on me for a number of reasons. 1) Price (if you make it at home its much cheaper than energy drinks) 2) Caffeine ( I’m at work before the sun comes up, need I say more?) 3) Appetite suppressant (working early I get hungry before lunch time, coffee seems to help keep me out of the free expired candy basket in the office!) 4) Smell, if I’m being honest it smells better than it tastes!

I’m not a coffee snob by any means but I have learned that I like a little better quality than the general run of the mill (or roaster). Since I’m new to the java world I’m actively searching for what I like best. You could say its become a quest.

As I try new brands or blends I’ll be updating this post. I’ll try to include things like where I discovered the brand, why I decided to try it, if I liked it, and if I would buy again. I’ll also use this page as a sort of journal noting where the coffee comes from, how the coffee is roasted and anything else I’m able to learn about the process or its additives. Obviously some companies are more transparent than others so results will vary. Stay tuned for updates.

Keeping the Process Simple:

Being new to the java world I don’t do anything fancy. We have a Ninja Coffee Bar at the house and I use a Keurig at work. My wife will sometimes use the Ninja for a specialty drink like a cappuccino but I just go for the cup of joe. We buy pre ground coffee and do our best to keep it from going stale.

Side note, putting your coffee in the refrigerator/freezer is not a viable option for preventing it from going stale. After complaining about a bitter burnt taste for 2 months after she bought the Ninja Coffee Bar we learned it was actually stale because it had been in the freezer. Lesson Learned. Now we use an air tight double lid AirScape coffee can and leave what doesn’t fit in the factory packaging in the pantry.

coffee storage and preservation canister
AirScape Coffee Can on Amazon

National Coffee Brands:

Like everyone else we first started with Starbucks. The Vanilla Pods tasted amazing but there is no way they could be good for you as sweet as they were. Not to mention they cost a fortune. Eventually we switched to Starbucks grounds bought in bulk at Sam’s Club. I feel like we don’t need to ask the hard questions like who they are and where the coffee come from. It is what it is and you get what you get. It was ok, tastes a little on the over roasted or burnt side to me. (This is my most common complaint, maybe its the Ninja Coffee Bar?)

An obvious choice beyond Starbucks was Folgers. All of our grandparents drink it so it must be great right? Again its OK. Nothing to get excited about but it does the job and is easily accessible. I assume that is why everyone we grew up around always drank it. I know this because its what Walmart carried and those old tin Folgers cans were everywhere! They have to be the most repurposed item in history!

Our next national brand we switched to and still keep around buying in bulk orders at Sam’s Club is Dunkin Donuts Medium Roast. It is solid and doesn’t have the burnt taste we experienced with Starbucks. It is currently our daily drinker as its bulk price point is more acceptable than the gourmet stuff. This is especially helpful because our Ninja Coffee Bar calls for what seems like a very large amount of grounds.

Good & Gather (Target exclusive): My wife had heard good things about this one and we caught a 2 for 10 special and decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and smell of it! We went with the Vanilla Bean Brulee and Cinnamon Vanilla. Cinnamon Vanilla wins between these two! Pick some up if you are in the store but keep in mind it is a very light roast (borderline watery).

My Gourmet Coffee or Less Mainstream Coffee Trials:

Laird Superfood Coffee and Turmeric Creamer: (2019)
Joe Rogan and his guests raved about this coffee/creamer combo for a what seemed like a month. It took the poll position in my search for a better coffee option. I don’t get as excited about things as Joe does but I will say I enjoyed it and will likely buy it again at some point. See my review here.

Lifeboost Coffee: (2020) A gift from family. We tested out 2 bags of the Medium Roast during Covid 19 lockdown. It was very mild and drinkable. I didn’t realize we plowed through both bags in a month. Apparently we liked it more than we realized! Lifeboost Coupon Code: 50% off for new Customers

Volcanica Coffee Co: (2020) Costa Rica Peaberry – Considered one of the worlds prized coffees I decided I had to try a Peaberry. Peaberry coffee is a mutation where only one bean is present in the coffee cherry instead of 2. Some claim that the single bean roasts more evenly due to its rounder shape and has a sweeter flavor profile. I’m not 100% on the science behind it but I will say I really enjoyed this one. It is smooth with a mild sweet flavor to it. Several co-workers have even asked for a sample cup after smelling it when I make it in the mornings.

Volcanica Coffee Co: (2020) Ethiopian Sidamo – This was another solid choice. Being new to coffee I felt the need to try something from where coffee originated and I wasn’t disappointed. The Ethiopian Sidamo is grown in small garden plots by local villagers, it has an acidic flavor with no noticeable bitterness.

Black Rifle Coffee Co: Fit Fuel Blend – I finally got around to trying Black Rifle recently. I felt adventurous and went with the Fit Fuel for the claim that it is a high caffeine blend. While I enjoy the taste initially I’m not sure I’m a fan of the malt finish that is advertised on the label. I’m thinking I should have gone with a normal Light or Medium roast. I’ll update when I grab some more!

Future Taste Test List:

  • Bulletproof Coffee
  • Kimera Koffee