Quote of the Day – Coffee Snobs Edition

“168 million Americans brew filter coffee and wish to do so in less than 27 minutes. Are these people out of touch? I daresay no.” -  Todd Carmichael, counseling his fellow aficionados that their pet trends aren’t the only way to enjoy a cup of Joe.

A decade ago I was a legitimate coffee snob but the mainstream has likely caught up to me at this point.   While I agree with Carmichael 100 percent, I must say that I’m still surprised when I’m at the home of  a person of means and they’re still drinking 1970s-style store brand coffee.   But to each his own.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. “1970s-style store brand coffee” drinker here. Maybe if I took it black I’d care more. But when you add in soy-based creamer and sucralose on weekdays, or on weekends you add Bailey’s or better yet Amarula, it really doesn’t matter at all what kind of coffee you’re making. Any subtle imperfections or highlights in the coffee get smothered by the creamy goodness of the additives. About the only real difference I can discern is with the grades of roasts — and I bet that like most coffee snobs, Professor Joyner likes his beans burnt into charcoal briquettes French roasted, too.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Even with Splenda and half-and-half, I can taste quite a bit of difference between Mrs. Olson’s brew and a decent $10 a pound coffee. But, yeah, I tend to prefer a darker roast.

  3. reid says:

    The true snobs actually prefer a lighter roast so they can taste the subtle flavors of the bean variety. Having said that, I’m only a half-snob and prefer a dark roast, too.

  4. john personna says:

    I hesitated to disagree with Reid, but I suppose part of being a snob is rejecting anyone else’s standards: true coffee snobs match the roast to the bean.

    And if you prefer dark roasts (if you know what “full city” means you might be a coffee snob), you’ll select beans matched to that.

    See the roasting notes on green beans at sweet marias:


  5. reid says:

    Heh, John’s right, of course. I was just countering the idea that darker roast = snobbier. I do roast my own and pick beans that supposedly can take a darker roast. I definitely don’t aim for charcoal briquette, though! (Okay, I’ve accidentally lost a few batches to fires, but I didn’t use them….)

  6. john personna says:

    heh, charcoal. I’ve got an older Hearthware Precision electric roaster … but I’m too lazy to use it often. Well, plus I don’t have a local source for green beans. That would make it much more convenient.

  7. reid says:

    I’ve at least out-snobbed John on hardware! I have a Behmor 1600, which does a great job. I haven’t bought roasted beans in a long time. It’s work, but at least I can roast about 3/4 of a pound at a time. I previously had an iRoast.

    I wish I could find a local source for green beans that was also Fair Trade, etc. I don’t think there are any, so I end up going the internet route, buying about 30 pounds every six months or so. You referenced Sweet Marias, so I don’t have to tell you, clearly…. (I usually buy from other places for no special reason.)

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    Black. That’s the first thing. I’m not saying that I oppose latte or cappuccino in all circumstances, but the default should be black. Because then you’re a manly man. Did Philip Marlowe take cream, let alone sucralose? Did John Wayne empty little pink packets into his coffee? Forbid it, almighty God.

    I’ve made this clear to my kids. They can be gay or straight. Republican or Democrats. Wimpy or bold. They are free to make all of their own choices in life. But by God if they’re drinking coffee it’ll be black.

  9. Sine Nomine says:

    Never learned to drink COFFEE. Don’t understand all the fuss. Starbucks, etc, etc, ???

  10. Steve Plunk says:

    Like beer and wine sometimes we choose our coffee and stick with it not because it’s the best or the most interesting but because it is familiar and comforting. Snobs be damned I’ll drink whatever beverage I prefer with pride and confidence.

  11. john personna says:

    I bow to the Behmor 1600