There, I said it.
I have not had a decent cup of coffee since I have been here in America, and I have searched.
A Starbucks triple-shot cappuccino with enough foam to pass as a flat white is not something I would consider good; not even with an additional shot of flavor syrup to mask the taste. If I am honest, it is not something I would even consider to be ok under any other circumstances…. Being a student with limited time (I know being late to class because I was getting a morning coffee isn’t a good excuse, but have you seen me try to function without it?), it was easier to just take what I could get and run with it. Don’t get me wrong. I know that New Zealand is not necessarily known for their coffee, and I am sure there is an entire world of good coffee I have not even begun to explore yet… but if I am honest, it is probably the thing I miss most. Yes. I miss this more than timtams, bluebird chips, and meat pies.
I did wonder if it was just my expectations, whether I was expecting more and was sorely disappointed when it was just the same as I had always been drinking. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case. A number of sources, including an industry analyst interviewed by the Washington Post agrees:
People in this country, on the whole, are actually drinking worse coffee today than they have in the past. And the reason appears to be that they value cheapness over quality — and convenience over everything. “A lot of people in America would take a sip of single origin high-end coffee and not appreciate the taste,” said Howard Telford, an industry analyst at market research firm Euromonitor.
If this is true, in a culture where more is more and bigger is better… What could have gone so wrong?
This is simple, really, there are a number of important points when it comes to making a good drink, and unfortunately almost everywhere I have been so far has just missed the mark for this. The four points I have noticed to constantly be a problem are:
- Bean quality is something to question. Whether they are old or been sitting too long, or are just bad to begin with. Nothing good can be made from using a bad product.
- Baristas push too hard on the coffee grounds. This process must be done with a delicate hand, 30lb of pressure, if I am not mistaken (correct me if I am wrong). Let the grounds breathe a bit.
- Water quality in the United States (or at least where I have lived) is terrible – to the point I will not drink it unless I absolutely have to.
- In the U.S. baristas take around 3 minutes to make an espresso – this is far too long and it will effect the quality of the coffee.
Taking this into account, perhaps it is just bad training passed on from employee to employee, or the culture cares more about quantity over quality. Either way, I miss good coffee and until I find a decent little cafe, I will be forced to endure the filtered variety… It’s still got to be better than instant, yes?
What do you think? Am I being too picky, or is American coffee as bad as it seems to be? Leave a comment and let me know.