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Please Help: all coffee is torture except a 'bad' cup; caffeine does nothing.
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Discussions > Coffee > Q and A > Please Help: all...  
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TeaGirl
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Posts: 3
Location: NJ
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 10:56am
Subject: Please Help: all coffee is torture except a 'bad' cup; caffeine does nothing.
 

I've been searching the web for answers and it seems you have a lot of coffee knowledge on this site, so maybe you can help me understand this bizarre phenomenon:

Call me crazy, but I'm 42yrs old and have HATED coffee all my life until now (sort of)... whether it's from DD, Starbucks (even loaded with caramel, whipped cream, & salt), anyone's home, I have ALWAYS found it bitter... it all has a bitter quality I just don't like, and therefore I simply never drank it, though I love crushed coffee beans in ice cream ("Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz"), in good quality chocolate bars, and even enjoyed chocolate-covered coffee beans themselves a few times. (but hated drinking coffee! weird, huh?)

A few months ago my son got a Bialetti-type stovetop espresso(?) maker and ...drumroll please... I actually liked it. It did not taste bitter to me at all. I added sugar & milk, as I would with black tea. He used a cheap coffee, comes in a yellow brick for maybe $1.99 in every supermarket & ethnic shop, so we're pretty sure it's not the brand that did it, and he theorized that it may have been the first time i had coffee that did NOT go through a paper filter, therefore allowing oils & other flavors through... but I read everywhere that the oils are what makes it bitter... but it was the only time coffee *didn't* taste bitter to me... I am SO CONFUSED.

I went on tasting people's coffee now & then to see if my taste simply changed... nope... every cup elsewhere is bitter and I could not see any reason to torture myself drinking it.

A month or so ago a friend offered me coffee from a percolator, and knowing it had no paper filter I decided to try it (all of these, even tasting other people's, have sugar & some kind of cream/milk)... again I liked it! again, no paper filter, and a cheapo-brand. Next time she used a different brand (maybe taster's choice or folger's) and I liked it then as well. I wasn't ravenous for it, but I felt, "This isn't bad, I guess I could like coffee" and I now mildly enjoy a cup at her house now & then.

Everything I read says a percolator is the worst way to make it and it will be bitter, and that the oils make it bitter.
It seems ANY paper filter method, to me, tastes bitter, and non-paper methods do NOT taste bitter.
This seems backwards! Please explain!

Yes, I *swear* I know what bitter means, LOL... I cannot stand anything bitter.
In addition, another weirdness is that caffeine does nothing to me. I have taken 6 excedrin (65mg caffeine each) over 4-6hrs plus coffee with that friend and went to sleep without a hitch. I bring this up because maybe it's related to hating coffee & bitterness if it's true that caffeine is 'bitter'.

Along with any possible explanations for the backwards-ness, in which direction should I go to find a coffee method I like? I don't want to spend much money; it's not *vital* that I find coffee I love, but I am curious enough to explore a little and maybe end up with a lovely new drink to enjoy... though I can't see ever having it elsewhere, unfortunately. Also, please don't suggest the bialetti (unless they come huge?) because I'd like to be able to make 2-4 cups with ease, so that I could offer coffee to a friend or two and enjoy it with them.
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Buckley
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 11:22am
Subject: Re: Please Help: all coffee is torture except a 'bad' cup; caffeine does...
 

Dear TG,
First of all, it is no big thing.
Coffee is very a very complex mixture and there are many more components that will taste bitter, besides the oils.  It is obvious that it is not the oils that are determining your perception of bitterness.
Secondly, taste physiology research is not advanced to the point where we can connect every food component with every perception of taste.
Thirdly, taste is not like sight and hearing.  We may all possibly see the blue of the outfit of "The Blue Boy" (painting) the same (there is room for disagreement here) and we may all hear the tone of middle C on a piano the same, but it is not likely that any given food or drink will taste the same to us.  As a population, our tastes agree enough that published descriptions, say, of wines and coffees are abundant.  However, there is also a large population that would disagree with the published characteristics of any given taste.  As an example, think of how many couples who disagree about how salty their food should be.  There is nowhere near this amount of disagreement concerning discussions of color in works of visual art, or of harmonies in music.
My advice is to be grateful that you have stumbled upon something that tastes good to you while you are still young enough to enjoy it.  Our ability to taste changes and diminishes with age.  Also, you are fortunate that you do not have to pay a high price for the coffees that are in your comfort zone.  Your curiosity amd interest sound like good things to me and if you venture too far into the bitter realms, you can always get back to your dependable roasts and brewing methods.

buckley
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Goldensncoffee
Senior Member
Goldensncoffee
Joined: 9 Feb 2014
Posts: 73
Location: Pennsylvania
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: Breville Smart, Skerton
Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 5:36pm
Subject: Re: Please Help: all coffee is torture except a 'bad' cup; caffeine does...
 

DD, and Starbucks are just terrible. I would try out a French Press. They are fairly cheap and make a great cup of coffee. You will want to get yourself some fresh beans as well.
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DanoM
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Joined: 20 Mar 2013
Posts: 306
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega, '84 La...
Grinder: Compak K10, Kludge grinder,...
Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 5:46pm
Subject: Re: Please Help: all coffee is torture except a 'bad' cup
 

First off... It's all you!  Every person has a different palate, and all of us experience flavors at different intensity.

A couple decades ago I used to love even regular drip coffee provided it was strong enough, sweet enough, and creamy enough.  Then I had 2 weeks of the most mind numbing corporate meetings that required me to drink pots daily to keep from sleeping!  I burned up my stomach and for over 20 years couldn't even touch coffee without my stomach doing flip flops.

Now I've discovered that espresso works great for me, but if the espresso is off on the bitter side too much I'll know within 5 minutes and can't touch coffee for the rest of the day.  If the espresso is right then I can drink them back to back all day long.  This means I have to handle my own espresso or go to only the best shops that care about their product.

I don't do other coffee right now so I can't give you a great recommendation, but french press could possibly be an inexpensive product of quality that you would enjoy.  It's generally a great, rich drink with alot of character.  You can do french press without paper easily as that's the standard.
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z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 340
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 4:06am
Subject: Re: Please Help: all coffee is torture except a 'bad' cup
 

You might be a super taster.  There's an easy test to find out using a bit of blue food color and a hole punch.  Look it up.

Many supertasters suffer from sensory overload.  The ones who understands this trait use it in their favor.  With enough coffee or anything you can essentially gain your brain to filter out the "noise"  and allow you to pick out the subtle details you didn't notice before.

Like you I hated coffee all my life. I'm 42 as well.  It was not until I started to drink espresso which I found extremely bitter at first..  But after almost a year of drinking it daily my palate had trained itself to accept the bitterness in a different perspective.  Actually I don't perceive bitterness the same way as before.  The drinks haven't changed.  I have.  The brain is a wonderful thing. :)  

Ever hear your ears ringing and then it fades away?   Yes that's your brain hard at work filtering out the noise.   (hint: it's still there if you listen for it).  This same merchanism works with taste as well.  It works with pain too.  It's all in your head.
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TeaGirl
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Posts: 3
Location: NJ
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 5:25pm
Subject: Re: Please Help: all coffee is torture except a 'bad' cup
 

Thank you all very much.

BUCKLEY- You made a good point about us all interpreting things differently. It's one of the biggest lessons we learned in art school, I never thought of it applying to taste. And thank you for pointing out the complexity of coffee and that it may not only be oils (or lack thereof) that I'm noticing so strongly.

GOLDENSCOFFEE and DANO - I perused a french press or two this past week, and decided I'd prefer it over a percolator, especially since the percolators I saw at that store were aluminum, and I choose not to cook in aluminum for possible health risks. But then a friend said she thought she heard the oils in coffee may be carcinogenic, so I am going to look that up further... maybe there's a reason I don't like coffee and I should just stop trying, LOL

WEEBIT-NUTTY - love the name :-) I wondered in the past if I was a supertaster due to my repulsion to certain foods that most people cannot understand. For years I LOVED green pepper but could not STAND red; currently I enjoy some onions and cannot bear others; not just slight differences but *huge* ones. In fact, now that you mention it, my red pepper experience is like your espresso experience... The quality I used to hate in it sort of changed. I doubt red peppers have drastically changed in the past 5yrs but I don't taste that weirdness that I used to... they taste different to me now... hard to explain, but thank you for your insight. I am definitely going to look up the blue food coloring test, though I can't help being afraid of the hole punch part of it... hopefully my tongue is not involved, LOL... and I won't get into the things I do with that ringing in my ears when I'm falling asleep or everyone would think I'm a huge-bit-nutty.
:-)
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TeaGirl
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Posts: 3
Location: NJ
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 5:40pm
Subject: Re: Please Help: all coffee is torture except a 'bad' cup; caffeine...
 

Holy cow!!!
I haven't done the blue test yet, but judging by the wikipedia list of foods that supertasters apparently disdain the most, they are ALL on my "No Way" list or were for most of my life. I used to hate the cruciferous family but have 'grown' to like them for health reasons. People all my life have thought I was a total oddball for not liking SODA, for goodness sakes (the carbonation), olives, grapefruit, alcohol, and even green tea. When I say I don't like them, I don't just mean I don't prefer them, I mean I would have to refuse them if offered or the person might be offended to see my face scrunching up like I'm taking medicine. When most people are enjoying coffee, alcohol, olives, etc, I have felt kind of like an outcast, or inadvertently rude for not partaking like everyone else.
LOL, I feel like I just went to a therapist or something, lol... thanks guys. :-)
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z0mbie
Senior Member
z0mbie
Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 340
Location: Online
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 11:29pm
Subject: Re: Please Help: all coffee is torture except a 'bad' cup; caffeine...
 

BTW, don't be mislead by the term 'super' in supertaster.  It doesn't win you anything other than eye rolls from most people.

There is absolutely nothing super about being a super taster.   It's not like living in synesthesia where you are detecting wonderful things others can't..

It is the opposite--the distinction of being able to taste the utterly disdainful qualities in foods that others seem to blissfully enjoy.


Below is the test:

Place some dark blue food coloring on the tip of your tongue.  On a piece of paper, punch a standard three ring binder sized hole.  Place the paper on your tongue.  Count the number of little dots that you see inside the hole.  On average, supertasters have 35, average tasters have between 15 and 35, and non-tasters have less than 15.  Or, if you know a biology teacher, ask for a PTC paper.  Supertasters have a gene that allows them to taste the bitterness of a chemical called PROP (propylthiouracil).  If you place the PTC paper on your tongue and you taste bitterness, you know you are a supertaster.
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