On the Coffee Snob scale from 1 to 10 (1 being lowest, 10 being highest), I am a 7.5.
I like good coffee. I grind it and brew it myself. I’ll French Press some motherfucking bean juice now and again, but I don’t get crazy about it. I don’t require my coffee to be run through the intestinal tract of a rare Sumatran rat-monkey, but if you try to serve me Keurig coffee in one of those little pre-configured K-Cups, I’ll break all your fingers with my back teeth.
(Further, do not ever ever ever never ever serve me decaf coffee. You might as well piss in my gas tank. THAT WAY LIES DEATH AND LASERS. Just a friendly warning!)
Like I said: 7.5 on the Coffee Snob scale.
And so we come to Starbucks.
I like Starbucks espresso drinks well enough. They do fine in a pinch, and make a serviceable latte or cappuccino. If I have no other option and I see the sign for that saucy tail-flipping Seattle mermaid, fuck it, I’m happy to get my fix from the S’bux without complaint.
But their coffee sucks balls.
It’s like drinking coffee brewed from a crushed up charcoal aquarium filter. It tastes like burned gorilla pubes. I drink a Starbucks roast — any roast at all — and I get that first hit of “oooh, coffee” followed by “all I taste is ash and carbon on the tongue, a finish of frizzled scorched briquettes. (They call it “Charbucks” for a reason, after all.)
They seem incapable of a light roast. And a light roast? It’s my favorite coffee. You gimme a nice winey, fruity Ethiopian peaberry and I’m in heaven — plus, a lighter roast has the benefit of having a wee smidgen more caffeine and goddamnit, I’ll take what I can get in the go-go-juice department. And yet, any time Starbucks offers a light roast, I get a cup and it still tastes like I’m licking an asbestos roof shingle that survived a house fire. I have to imagine that in the back of every Starbucks is some diligent pyromaniac asshole with a micro-torch hand-scorching every fucking coffee bean that comes into the place. “I just want to watch the world burn!”
So, it was with some trepidation that I embraced the quest to try Starbucks’ not-so-new “blonde roast.” They’d begun a campaign to push this coffee and all the advertising seemed to contain the subtext of, “We know our coffee tastes like driveway gravel, so here’s this one light roast that’s actually a light roast and just shut up and try it and stop complaining.”
Today, I went into Starbucks.
I ordered a “tall” (fuck you, Starbucks, and your asinine sizing chart) blonde roast.
Then I went grocery shopping and consumed it.
Mmnnneeh? Muh? Eh? Mmm? Guh?
Like, okay, it’s fine. It is lighter than the traditional “the burned-out core of a supernova star” brew. But even behind that lighter roast still lurks that tang of unpleasant bitterness one associates with amateur hour bush league coffee. This is more of a dirty blonde coffee, or a blonde highlights but technically it’s still dark hair coffee. I’ll admit that the longer I drank it, the more… appealing it became, and by the end (when it had cooled down to luke-warm temps) I started to get those winey, acidy undertones I was hoping to get right from the get-go.
But, for the most part, still a mediocre brew.
Signed, Sort-of-a-Coffee Snob