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Starbucks? How are they viewed among the coffee guys and gals?

Appreciate the feedback on why the "standard" coffee bag size is usually 12oz. I do accept that its mainly a question of economics but I don't think it is related to the recent increase in coffee prices as that size has been common for years (I can't recall if/when a transition from 16oz bag sizes took place). Last year I bought a 13oz can of Peaberry coffee from Trader Joe's which is an odd size that gives a little nod to the idea of it being directly related to a pound of pre-roasted coffee.

Agree with Jasonian that coffee is under appreciated by a large percentage of coffee drinkers and much coffee is considered fungible to them. I think the potential higher image of coffee suffers in that after roasted it has a short shelf life for best flavor but it doesn't actually spoil or become undrinkable until much later. Consumers understand the shelf life of a loaf of bread, but much less so when buying coffee, so that are not as moved to pay/appreciate better quality because it is harder to see and fleeting. It is not a product that can be moved efficiently by mass market channels, so people adapt and do not know its full potential.
 
I chuckle at the "over roasted" complaint about Starbucks. This reminds me of the conversations I had with brand managers with some very large, and some very small, upscale coffee purveyors years ago when I was in the hotel business running 4 and 5 star properties. Believe me when I tell you everyone, right down to the dishwasher, had an opinion about what a good cup of coffee was, and almost no one would agree or be able to define a consensus. It was exasperating trying to get any consensus at all. The Exec. VP of Ops would like one thing, the purchaser would like another. And of course, then there was the whole "French Roast" snobbery. It's the same conversation we are having here. "Over-roasting" was deemed by me, after listening to all of these folks, including some of the roasters I talked to during the procurement process, to mean almost anything that you felt was too "dark" for your personal taste. What this means is that there are some "snobs" (a certain English General Manager comes to mind) who will denigrate a very high end coffee for being delicate while praising a mass-market "specialty" coffee for being dark and tannic and grotesquely smokey - the quintessential over-roast of a coffee to get to a certain taste that is considered to be hip and cool and in reality is virtually undrinkable due to the amount of heat applied. Note that the reverse also applies, too! Does Starbucks make some of those kinds of coffees? Yes. Everybody does. It's common to take an inferior bean and make it so dark that it becomes bitter, tannic, and smoky - you've just arrived at Denny's. Even very high end specialty firms wind up with coffees that meet this criteria. Since much of the world makes the assumption that this is what "good" coffee tastes like, it's de rigueur. "French Roast" is both an overworked synonym for beans taken beyond their station and a specific and quantifiable mass market taste that some people think is what coffee should be. I sympathize with those who may view dark coffees as "over roasted" and undrinkable, but to say that Starbucks produces nothing but that is a gross over-statement and really unfair. And for the snobs out there who rush to their roasters every Saturday morning to pick up a pound of their chosen bean just as it comes off the kettle (yes, I know a few people like that!) all I can say is that my taster is as well educated as anyone's and I can't detect a great deal of difference in their "French Roast" from anyone elses, unless we are talking about canned Robusta (not Arabica) coffee. And while I like dark coffee, I dislike French Roast because to my palate it all tastes the same - smoke, without much spice or floral. This, I think, is what many are describing in terms of taste and over-roasting, and it's not uncommon for some people to disdain dark coffee, label it over-roasted, and instead enjoy a lighter roast, deeming it superior because it's to their own taste while denigrating everything else as "over roasted". And another coffee snob is born who insists that his taster is the only one that's any good. I have a foot in both camps, and am enjoying revisiting the memories of "coffee clashes" from days past.

For the snobs in our midst, a tip or two: if you are using tap water to make coffee, the bean is the least of your problems. And adjusting the grind, as well as the water to coffee ratio, can make even a mediocre coffee quite delicious. The secret, for me, to truly fine hotel coffee was in controlling these variables.

Lastly, I had to laugh when the fella mentioned Folgers. He proves my point, and I sympathize: there is a faction in my family who will drink nothing else, and deems everything else to be "too dark". We have to make two different brews for family functions, three unless I submit to drinking "French Roast". Which means there is no end to this discussion :)
 
to say that Starbucks produces nothing but that is a gross over-statement and really unfair
The Starbucks roast philosophy is, in a word, "dark". They call it "bold". I call it "burnt". I like "quotes".
In all seriousness, I think the generalization is fair and warranted. Whether it's appropriate is not an entirely subjective question; there is a degree of expertise which can categorically say that roasting your beans darker diminishes much of what makes them unique (or to state it another less generous way, masks that which makes them bad).

Lastly, I had to laugh when the fella mentioned Folgers. He proves my point, and I sympathize: there is a faction in my family who will drink nothing else, and deems everything else to be "too dark". We have to make two different brews for family functions, three unless I submit to drinking "French Roast". Which means there is no end to this discussion :)
Yeah, well, that was a little tongue-in-cheek - but my point seems to have landed. There's the grocery store coffee crowd and the specialty coffee crowd, and they both think the other is drinking crap. Trying to compromise generally makes them both unhappy.
 
Is there a point (did I just miss it?) or did you just want a soap box to stand on?
Tough Crowd.

The point is that everyone has their own opinion on what is the best cup of coffee, and believes that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
 
Tough Crowd.

The point is that everyone has their own opinion on what is the best cup of coffee, and believes that they are right and everyone else is wrong.
Well, heck, as long as you're enjoying your coffee and it's coffee that you're drinking, does it matter all that much?
 
There's the grocery store coffee crowd and the specialty coffee crowd, and they both think the other is drinking crap. Trying to compromise generally makes them both unhappy.
On this point we can agree. Having suffered with truly over-roasted coffee from some purveyors, I can say that SBX doesn't deliver the anywhere near the same amount of "acid" as many of those others did. And, unless I'm drinking 100% Kona or Blue Jamaican, SBX will do just fine - as long as it's Italian Roast.
 
Read it again. If you can't figure it out, I'm sorry.
Well, that was neither a "yes" nor a "no". I'll assume that you intended to have a point. That point being that "nobody ever agrees". The part I'm confused about is why it was necessary to use so many words to say something that took me three words to summarize. This may explain the soap-box part of my previous post. I'd still be interested in the point of doing so.
 
] For the snobs in our midst, a tip or two: if you are using tap water to make coffee, the bean is the least of your problems.
I guess I'll agree with you on this because I use good beans. If I was using *$ beans, that would cease to be true.:001_smile
 
I have to say..what's wrong with TAP water?
Well, it's over-simplified. The truth is that if you use bad water, you'll make bad coffee. Generally, tap water isn't so good. Mine is actually quite clean and clear (it's a newer house, so we've tested the water a few times and it's very good and slightly improved each time we test). In other words, I'm making fantastic coffee with tap water. I couldn't do this at my parents' house, where the water has a slight earthy smell/taste.
 
Sorry, I was referring to "For the snobs in our midst, a tip or two: if you are using tap water to make coffee, the bean is the least of your problems."

Plenty of good tap water (NYC tap water in a newer building is awesome)
 
I would have to say that I really enjoy Starbucks Coffee...when I make it in a press at home. It seems that serving coffee isn't their priority in the stores anymore. I stopped getting my morning coffee at a local store a few months back because over the course of about two weeks I was only served fresh drip coffee on 3 visits! 5 times they didn't have any coffee ready for me. One time they gave me coffee that had clearer expired (they time the coffee for 30 minute freshness) and another time they gave me coffee that had only just started brewing (it was incredibly strong because it wasn't finished brewing!). I don't think most baristas know how to properly calibrate the espresso machines as well. I've had some pretty awful espresso there and the quality varies drastically from day to day. So unless you like frappuccinos or other "specialty" drinks that are extremely expensive, a visit to Starbucks can be a gamble.

I don't think that their coffee is over roasted. I enjoy espresso blend in a press. Casi cielo, which is only available once a year is still my favourite coffee. Ethiopia and Kenya are fantastic coffees as well.

Unfortunately in my city there aren't too many good options for going out for a cup of coffee. If, however, you find yourself in Toronto, the Green Beanery on Bloor & Bathurst (near Honest Ed's) is a great spot. They have absolutely the best coffee and they have a great selection of coffee equipment. The coffee is so good because it is roasted on-site regularly. Freshly roasted coffee is incredibly flavourful.
 
I chuckle at the "over roasted" complaint about Starbucks. This reminds me of the conversations I had with brand managers with some very large, and some very small, upscale coffee purveyors years ago when I was in the hotel business running 4 and 5 star properties. Believe me when I tell you everyone, right down to the dishwasher, had an opinion about what a good cup of coffee was, and almost no one would agree or be able to define a consensus.
Why would you expect consensus? Preference plays a major role in just about any field of interest I've run across. As long as I can find a choice that I prefer I don't see the point in consensus. Popular doesn't always equate to what I prefer. A lot of forum users seem to think that consesus means "best". Best is always highly subjective.

I sympathize with those who may view dark coffees as "over roasted" and undrinkable, but to say that Starbucks produces nothing but that is a gross over-statement and really unfair.
It is certainly not unfair. Starbucks does gravitate towards darker roasts. It is a broad generalization but Starbucks didn't randomly end up attributed with that generalization. Overroasting (or "overroasting") isn't my biggest gripe with them anyway. High prices for low quality espresso (and espresso drinks) are my biggest gripe. I guess I wouldn't care any more for them if they were any cheaper though. Again, if you love Starbucks, more power to you.

For the snobs in our midst, a tip or two: if you are using tap water to make coffee, the bean is the least of your problems. And adjusting the grind, as well as the water to coffee ratio, can make even a mediocre coffee quite delicious.
Thanks but I'm well aware of my water quality as well as its hardness and I do take measures to make adjustments to the degree that my tastes are able to distinguish improvements. There are plenty of other variables to play with as well. Yes, while making adjustments can yield improvements you can't exceed whatever the bean has to offer. Starbucks doesn't make such adjustments on a frequent enough basis so that's not germane.

Well, it's over-simplified. The truth is that if you use bad water, you'll make bad coffee.
Shouldn't wet shavers already know that not all tap water is equal?

I don't think most baristas know how to properly calibrate the espresso machines as well.
Again, button pusher != barista. No, most of them are not qualified to adjust their superautos. In my experience/opinion superautos can only achieve mediocrity at best as it is.
 
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I'm not bowled over by star bucks. To me, the coffee always tastes burnt. Don't pee on my leg and tell me that's the way coffee is supposed to taste. I know better.
 
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