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Sugar and coffee snobbery

Am I the only coffee snob (espresso, specifically) who takes sugar? I'm tired of baristas attitude regarding sugar-users (that they have "undeveloped palates" was today's insult). Why do other snobs think that sugar harms or covers over the flavors, rather than adding another layer?

I'm confused about the sugar hatred; educate me ye 'Hounds.

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  1. Coffee is something you are supposed to enjoy. You like sugar in the coffee, put it in and no need to justify your why when adding it. There is so much pretention about food and it is really unnecessary.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruthie789

      I get that and I use sugar because it's enjoyable, but I am also curious what other coffee snobs have to say...

      1. re: fame da lupo

        I don't care what snobs have to say, but if others who enjoy coffee wish to contribute, I'll be happy to read their posts.

    2. I'd start by saying there are so few shops that do this - probably fewer than 0.25% of all coffeehouses - that I'd have to ask why don't you just avoid them?

      I can give you a number of reasons, but the above is a good starting point.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Panini Guy

        In my experience, they are the same places that make the best espresso. That's why I'm here. Perhaps it's that those who are self-consciously the best must reject wholly the philosophy of the corporate chains, which rely almost exclusively on sugar and dairy for flavor. An overreaction then.

        1. re: fame da lupo

          I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here. I used to own a coffeehouse and we were accused of snobbery although we never refused sugar or milk or anything else. You bought it, do with it what you want. It didn't make us as happy as someone who tasted the fruits of our labor and enjoyed it as is, but it's not our business to tell you what to do.

          However, with some coffees and espressos we encouraged tasting it unadultered first before adding anything as our mission was to do something different and prove to the public that there's no such thing as "just coffee" in the same way there's no "just wine" or "just beer". It's all different depending on where it's from, how it's roasted, etc. etc. ad infinitum - and I'm sure you've heard this from the bars you visit.

          On the one hand, it's individual sensibility. If I'm eating a burger at Five Guys, I'm likely to put ketchup on it. If I'm ordering a $15 dollar burger of Wagyu beef cooked rare, I want to savor the beef. The ketchup isn't adding another layer, it's acidity is competing with the luscious fat. You may think differently.

          OTOH, I fully understand a coffeehouse wanting to gain appreciation for their espresso. There's a lot that goes into making a great espresso besides pushing a button. A great barista really is a professional highly educated on the process. I'd hate to equate them to chefs, but the concept of bringing your own ketchup to The French Laundry comes to mind when you're talking sugar and milk in a specific type of espresso.

          I'll add that coffee professionals live in a bit of a bubble. The community has a number of 'high priests' they follow on Twitter and Tumbler and the trend of the best of them, which become destination shops, is to not offer sugar. So it gets copied.

          I don't know the Seattle scene that well (I'm assuming that's where you're from based on other posts). I don't know if David Shomer at Vivace allows sugar or not. I would think he does as he tries to recreate true Italian espresso blends. And I can't see why any shop that offered something akin to a Northern Italian or Southern Italian espresso blend would object to sugar.

          But for a lot of single origin espressos (and some blends), there are notes - particularly fruit acidity - that would get lost in sugar. Many are already fairly sweet (in coffee terms). The shop would like appreciation for their art. You could humor them by taking a sip, saying it's nice, but I like it sweeter, then add your sugar.

          I'm trying to respond best I can as someone who was inside the bubble and understands the rationale, but one who also sees a lot of it is overblown and not customer friendly.

          If you really want to upset a top notch barista, order your espresso, watch them start to make it, then go to the bathroom and let the drink sit there. Trust me, you'll be talked about in unfavorable terms while you're away from the counter :-)

          1. re: Panini Guy

            So honey and 1/2 & 1/2 would be off the charts on the NO
            scale? :)

            1. re: bbqboy

              In an espresso? They'd throw you out even in Italy!

              1. re: Panini Guy

                Italy isn't the only place people enjoy small strong cups of coffee. I grew up in Brazil where enjoying a strong small "cafezinho" with LOTS of sugar is normal. I grew up drinking my coffee this way..I don't care if it's from Italy, Africa, Arabia, if a meerkat pooped it out, Tom Keller roasted it and the Pope blessed it..I'm putting sugar in it.

            2. re: Panini Guy

              Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I'm not in Seattle (LA, rather) but I'm also not happy unless I'm drinking the best espresso (which I'd say is the stuff produced by Grumpy in NYC, Blue Bottle in San Francisco, Klatch in the IE .. I have fond memories of Monorail in Seattle and Sterling in Portland).

              I understand the idea behind single origin coffees and recognize the variety of flavors that can be coaxed out of the world's coffee beans. But I also don't think sugar happens to mute or damage those flavors, at least not the ones I care about (berry, toffee, caramel). I find it complimentary just as acidity (say in ketchup) is complimentary of fat (say in a burger). Sugar balances bitterness and acidity as well. Perhaps this is the "Thai" way of approaching coffee as an art of balancing extreme and opposite flavors into a beautiful whole. I think sugar does that.

              I'm not sure the "bringing ketchup to the French Laundry" analogy is apt. I've never found a cafe that had no sugar, though there is a stupid trend towards only providing large crystal raw sugar (usually the "Sugar in the Raw" brand) that very poorly dissolves in espresso. I think it's a problem of viscosity and temperature.

              PS Hell no do I ever let my espresso sit, gotta get those volatile flavor compounds on my tongue ASAP!

              1. re: fame da lupo

                Blue Bottle? You can certainly do better . . . . ;^)

                I find Blue Bottle to be very problematic for me. Even in their cafés, there are times when I have liked it very much, and times when I haven't. And I've never been happy with it at home (Elektra T1 with a Mahlkönig K30 Vario). But even at its best, BB's coffee has never wowed me.

                C'est la vie . . .

                1. re: zin1953

                  I've only been to one location, the alleyway location in Hayes Valley. Been on several occasions and never was disappointed. I've gleaned that they've become a pretty big operation nowdays, akin to Stumptown... not sure if size has affected their quality...

        2. I supertaste bitter, and find that I'll need a half teaspoon of sugar in even a 100% Kona coffee to cut the bitterness down to tolerable for me.

          So I'm with you on this one.

          1. Oh, gee . . . where to begin?

            a) Not even the LAPD's infamous S.W.A.T. team will kick in your front door and and hit with tasers for putting sugar in your espresso . . . or lemon peel, or . . . or . . . or . . . .

            b) I am not really sure I am a snob, just because I drink my espresso "straight" (no sugar). I also drink my cappuccino without sugar; my brewed (drip) coffee without sugar (though generally with milk); my tea without sugar; and so on . . . I just don't like those drinks with added sugar. Does that make me a snob?

            c) Sugar does not "harm" anything; it can, however, be useful in covering over the bitterness that can exist in a bad shot of espresso, or with an over-extracted and/or "burnt" drip.

            d) Finally, who gives a $#|+? Drink your coffee the way YOU enjoy it!

            1. As my coffee has gotten better over the years I've been able to go from a teaspoon per mug to less than half that. I no longer want it sweet, but to my taste a bit of sugar rounds off and enhances the flavor. And if any hired minion wants to give me grief about that, I will remind him or her exactly whose cup of coffee this is, although that has never happened. Of course, neither do I hang out in places with "baristas."

              1. Pretty sure most Italians use sugar in their espresso

                I don't use sugar that often but sometimes find sugar in coffee is like salt in food in that it can enhance flavors in coffee

                9 Replies
                1. re: scubadoo97

                  my grandparents immigrated from italy in the early 20th centruy. i remember my grandfather pouring -- dumping, really -- sugar into his espresso, but not stirring it, until it was sweet. then he ate the coffee-flavored sugar at the bottom of the cup with the spoon.

                  also remember my grandmother yelling at him the entire time:)

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    As one whose spent a couple years in Italy, I can affirm this. I've explained this to baristas. In the last instance, the person told me that Italians take sugar because the roasts are too bitter. The person probably has little experience in the better Italian cafes.

                    I also agree that sugar enhances certain flavors, in particular the fruit and toffee notes that I love.

                    1. re: fame da lupo

                      The thing is espresso in Italy is one thing (more like three actually - south, central/roman, north) and remarkably consistent between cities in the respective regions. In Italy espresso is ALWAYS a blend, usually with a high Brazil content to bring out low chocolate note.

                      In the US you have places that use a dark (south Italy/Napoli) or medium (north/Milano) or something in between (Rome/Fierenze) blend. Starbucks does this. Often times shops offering these will put out atrocious espresso because they can't know how to make it as they don't know what's actually in it.

                      And then you have those few shops that had taken the 'idea' of espresso and taken it further - using fewer beans in blends (Illy uses 11 I believe, while Intelligentsia Black Cat uses 3) or a single origin/farm - say a Bolivia Anjilinaka or Ethiopia Biloya.

                      Italians don't believe you can make espresso with a single origin. It doesn't fit their idea of espresso and actually may be against the law there. But you can. And when you do, you're highlighting specific characteristics of that single bean. Sometimes it's very citrusy, sometimes tree fruit, sometimes jammy like tamarind. Not everyone's cup of espresso, but they can be enjoyable when made by someone with skill. And adding sugar doesn't allow one to experience what that specific espresso offers.

                      But in the end its the customer's choice. I only mention this to point out that not all espresso is equal and not all espresso is based on what's found in Italy. Americans took the idea, experimented with it and created something different, and in many cases, better.

                      1. re: Panini Guy

                        Agreed on the later -- I've been wondering if American style roasting may feed back into Italy and start something there. I'm still not convinced that sugar covers over the nuances of single origin coffees. It's also highly likely that someone used to tasting espresso with sugar is going to taste that espresso differently than someone not accustomed to it. To that person, they probably will only taste sugar. The person used to sugar will pull more flavors out of the same shot.

                        1. re: Panini Guy

                          In the FWIW mode . . .

                          I have two grinders at home -- one is for S.O. espresso (most often from Ethiopian - a washed Sidamo, or Yirgacheffe (Wote Konga). ; the other is for my "house" espresso blend, generally from Redbird Espresso, but occasionally I use Metropolis Redline, Caffè Fresco Ambrosia, etc.

                        2. re: fame da lupo

                          LA... ok. Klatch is great. Intelligentsia is more a 'scene' although they have the chops. But if you have an opportunity to visit Handsome Roasters, you'll find some excellent espresso. I've found theirs to consistently be full flavored and rounded as opposed to off the charts bright. I think they'll let you add sugar although they might put up a fight.

                          1. re: Panini Guy

                            I live about 2 miles from Klatch's roastery, so I've been pretty pampered. Thanks for the rec on Handsome, always looking to add new downtown destinations.

                              1. re: zin1953

                                Nice list -- I'd add Barrington Coffee Roasters to it. Based in the Berkshires. Turned into liquid gold at Amherst Coffee and helped produce a lot of my academic work while a grad student there.

                      2. I do think the sugar overwhelms, but that just means I don't want it in MY cup. I am baffled by people who claim there is only one right way to enjoy anything. There may only be one way I enjoy certain things, but that has nothing to do with how anyone might enjoy said things!!

                        1. I generally taste espresso and if it is well made, I drink it straight, right away. My regular barista pulls a wonderful shot. Very few do. A poorly pulled shot (which, in my experience, includes all automated ones) is just not a fun drink. Sugar might help it, but it won't make it worse. It will turn a bitter and/or sour crappy drink into something closer to Turkish coffee.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: tim irvine

                            I'm hoping you weren't implying that Turkish coffee tastes like bad espresso with sugar? My wife is Turkish and I make a mean cup myself.

                            1. re: fame da lupo

                              Nope! I love Turkish coffee. There was a place here that made it right, but they are gone. It is unique and wonderful stuff, completely unlike espresso. However, I have been to places that produced a cup of purportedly Turkish coffee that I suspected of just being very strong over sugared coffee or maybe espresso with nothing at the bottom and made way way too quickly to have been done right.

                          2. My mother and her 6 siblings all took their coffee black: they all married people who took their coffee with milk and sugar. I compromise, and just use milk.

                            I don't use sugar because I generally don't like sweet things. I've had Vietnamese drip coffee made with sweetened condensed milk, though, that was very good: I think the stronger the coffee the better it holds up to sugar.

                            1. Sugar can be complementary in that it can increase the perception of aromatics while suppressing perceived bitterness, but the amount required to do that can be below the threshold at which the sugar itself is perceived: around 1%.

                              I don't have much of a taste for sugar: I eat so little refined sugar that half a teaspoon in ~350mL of liquid seems sweet to me. I would never add it to espresso, because I would prefer to (try to) taste and savour the complexity and subtleties of the espresso; sugar would supress or overpower them, and it would particularly distort the natural balance of acidity and sugars.

                              That said, if I added sugar and a barista accused me of an 'undeveloped palate', I'd tell him to fk off.

                              Try this for an experiment: drink your espresso without sugar for a month, then order two at the end of the month, add sugar to one, and see which of the two it is that you prefer. I have a feeling that you'll choose the one without sugar.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mugen

                                Interesting stuff (1st paragraph). Re: the experiment, unfortunately we're in a counterfactual. Since drinking anything one way for a month accustoms you to it, you'll experience it differently over time. By the end of the month, it'll taste different to you than it did at the start, despite being the exact same beverage. Going from one style to another (say no sugar to sugar) is a jarring transition that'll emphasize the new ingredient (or its lack). Just like if I drink an espresso w/o sugar, I get overwhelmed by the acidity. I'd have to imagine what it'd be like to drink the thing after having habituated myself to sugar's absence.

                              2. I don't judge people on how they take their coffee, especially after having sat next to a gentleman on a flight where I saw him pour something like 10 sugar packets into his little 3/4 filled 6 oz paper airplane cup.

                                And of course he was no country bumpkin, my companion was a noted English Indian author and novelist.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  It might take 10 to make that stuff taste appetizing.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    From memory, Indians do drink their coffee/chai/tea quite sweet.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Tea in India is typically brewed by boiling it in milk (with spices that include cardamom, cloves and ginger, if they can be afforded) and with a lot of sugar. Coffee remains a phenomenon of the cities: poor imitations of Starbucks are the urbane place to gather for middle-class Indians - as KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut regularly top regional lists at zomato.com (a yelp equivalent). Oh globalisation, you wondrous thing.

                                  2. Yes, a small amount of sugar just makes it better for me.

                                    I usually ask the person making the coffee to drop in a small tea-spoon when they press the coffee.

                                    1. Dear Mr Da Lupo,

                                      I had the very same question when in Australia, and also whist travelling in the US but i had it answered for me when for me when i began work in Italy.

                                      the short of it is, yes, sugar is an very important additive to a coffee in italy, coffee making mecca, period.

                                      now, the explanation. try and stay with me here..

                                      the basic reason why sugar is part of italian coffee culture comes down to the working man/family budget.
                                      back in the post-industrial era, the 'working class' italian, like many other nations, didn't have a big personal or family budget therefore coffee HAD to be cheap whilst still , of course, taste very good.

                                      anyone that owns a cafe will tell you, producing a wonderful coffee 'cheaply' is not easy, some think it impossible. For the cafe owner in italy, profit margin was low so, to make money, coffee needed to sold cheaply, be delicious and sold in quantity to make money. espresso machines were, and still are, expensive to buy, & expensive to run. the riestretto and espresso was the answer - priced the cheapest on the menu board, the ristretto and espresso was fast for the barista to make, which suited the working man drank it at the bar in 60 seconds to drink a coffee and go.

                                      also, to keep the price of the espresso low, the cafe owner HAD to use coffee beans which was a balance of great taste but low cost.
                                      mostly, italian blends use Arabica coffee beans however the robusta coffee bean coffee was also added to the the Arabica beans used in a blend to keep the blend per Kg cheap. but, the robusta added a subtle bitterness to the coffee. to keep the bitterness to a minimum, a shorter coffee was better (the ristretto).
                                      to come back to your question - for those that wanted to reduce the bitterness further in their ristretto or espresso, add sugar!

                                      plus, italy in summer is a hot country and was, generally, without the luxury of air-conditioners - even today many cafes and businesses only use fans.
                                      tired workers, effected by the heat, needed to re-energise themselves, and caffeine is perfect for that. what also helped with energy levels was sugar!
                                      so, getting back to your question, sugar also was ideal for that energy boost!

                                      today, coffee making is even better in italy. i can tell you, the coffee just at a service station in italy is way way better than snobby cafes in other countries i have lived in - seriously!

                                      the only shift that has occurred since the old days that relates to your question, is that somehow italians have friend the blend so it has a natural sweetness and its these coffees that don't need sugar, or much less sugar.
                                      illy coffee, in my opinion, is a good example of a coffee which has a natural sweetness, little bitterness so, for me, doesn't require sugar.

                                      i am in the middle east right now and the quality of coffee here is good, but not high. last week i was in rome and bought green unroasted beans from one of my favourite coffee houses and its so naturally sweet, i don't add any sugar.
                                      i wish i knew how the italians did that as no where else i have been have i seen cafes produce a blend that is naturally sweet, they are too bitter (for me) to drink without sugar.

                                      sugar, like salt in foods, can bring out certain flavour characteristics of coffee too! so if anyone ever tries to tell you sugar should not be added to a coffee, they don't know what they are talking about.

                                      sorry for the lengthy explanation, but i just didn't know how to answer your question any simpler.

                                      Mr C.Adam

                                      1. so, if anyone gives you lip about sugar in coffee, i would recommend suggesting to them to go travel to coffee leading countries & learn about why coffee and sugar is ok and, until they do, they should just go f**k themselves.

                                        1. My gut reaction, when I read your post, was "age". I remember a time a while back.. okay.. quite a while back.. .when I was bitten by the food / drink bug. I was young enough to think that I knew everything really quickly. I would pick up one piece of quality information like a sponge and then it would lock my brain like some religious tablet entry. But I wasn't able to apply that piece of solid learning to a broader, more complex world. It was dogmatic and the epitome of pretension. My new "tribe" was being foodier-than-thou and I wanted everyone to know it. I wanted to talk about it constantly. Obsessive and boorish.

                                          I watched a well heeled diner pour a bottle of Heitz Bella Oaks cabernet over a pitcher of ice and just about got fired for my reaction. (I should have been fired). I explained to our formally trained chef that he should NEVER serve browned garlic in our Italian dishes while I was standing at his stove. (Sorry again, Chef D).

                                          If I was a barista in those days I could see me thinking I was doing you some favor by explaining that you were "f"ing up a good coffee there, mister!"

                                          Nowadays I actually like a small piece of lemon peel in an excellent espresso and I put some turbinado sugar in my macchiato (I love the crunchy "crust" at the bottom of the cup at the end of my drink). I may be insulting a coffee roaster but I've had thousands of espressos of all qualities and varieties. I know what I like just as you do.

                                          The attitude is most likely misinformed, poorly channeled excitement at their new found "expertise". Show pity on them as I was once a member of their tribe and I got over myself over time. Mostly.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: e_bone

                                            we were all a like that, myself included, and some more than others, but not all change.
                                            great post, sir.

                                            1. re: e_bone

                                              I think you have a good point here - this is a fairly common trait among the newly converted, often young, but not restricted by age. I've seen it with religion, environmentalism, vegetarianism, gluten free diets, foodie-ism, recently sober alcoholics, people who just joined MLM programs, and more.

                                              The other thing I would say is that the desire to educate the ill informed may be well meant, but it is rarely well taken. So when someone orders a double espresso with sugar, you may feel that you're doing them a favour by suggesting that they drink it black to enjoy the citrus and toffee notes of that particular blend, but the response may well be "Shut the $#@ up and give me my damn coffee, you smug little know it all!" Even if you're right.

                                              By all means, if someone asks for advice, you can give it to them. Offer coffee tasting sessions in the store, where you lecture on the source of your coffee beans, and how to taste them. Have pamphlets or posters people can peruse at their leisure.

                                              Giving unsolicited instructions on how to drink a cup of coffee the right way, however, is probably best skipped.

                                              1. re: e_bone

                                                IMO, the key takeaway from your excellent post is that you actually evolved over time to be more accepting. I'm assuming you actually tried/tasted most of the things you were once dogmatic about and simply became less dogmatic with maturity. And that's great.

                                                But the key there is "evolving" through actual experience and growth. My issue with so many on CH and other food communities is the simple unwillingness to even consider something that challenges their dogmas (see post further below in this thread that says poster would always put cream in sugar in every cup - I'm guessing that person has never tried to even sip a great cup of coffee black, which is just silly).

                                                I see stupid stuff posted here all the time: espresso must be consumed with lemon peel, espresso beans must be dark and oily, oily beans mean freshness (nothing could be further from truth), etc. etc. Just let your experience be a guide. Listen to actual experts. Try different things. If you don't like them, then don't like them. That's OK. But it's dumb to just toss off ideas because they don't fit your dogma.

                                                I used to own a coffeehouse and was a bit of a prick when it came to certain customers who would visit us because we had a great reputation for coffee but then wouldn't let us "do our thing". They wouldn't try anything we suggested even though that was the entire point of our existence and popularity.

                                                And that's how we millions of kids who won't eat anything but boneless chicken nuggets :-)

                                              2. I don't use sugar per se, but I do use a touch of Truvia. I would make sure to (LOUDLY) let the manager know just why I will not be returning to his establishment. I do not suffer fools gladly.

                                                1. I've always been a purist when it comes to coffee, never using sugar and rarely using cream or milk. I just learned to drink it that way, is all.

                                                  Making a strong but not overly-bitter cup of coffee, let alone an espresso, is a real art. There should, nonetheless, be some bitterness among other notes.

                                                  If you're in a place which prides itself on its coffee, try a cup without sugar or cream. Wait for it to cool to the point where you can sip it without having to blow on it. I believe you will find many of the complexities the snobs are discussing: bitterness, sweetness, depth, chocolatiness, mineral qualities.

                                                  But keep in mind, we're just talking coffee here!

                                                  Drink it how you like it, sugar or not. And be ready with some snide retort if a "barrista" gives you grief. Something like, "Funny, but my Folgers instant doesn't need sugar at home."

                                                    1. For me, it makes no difference if it's the finest cup of black coffee ever brewed. I don't like black coffee. What I DO like, is coffee with cream and sweetener.

                                                      It's like people trying to tell me I don't like alcohol or why bother drinking it, because I like the frou frou cocktails. Why do they care how I like what I like?

                                                      1. I sweeten the cup, not the coffee.....................

                                                        Sounds confusing, let me explain.

                                                        I am very sensitive to the taste of dish detergent. Too often, coffee is served in cups that have lost some of their glaze over time and become permeable to the detergent and it's taste. Sugar will mask or 'cancel' this unpleasant taste.

                                                        So, if I am served coffee in a ceramic cup I sweeten the cup by adding a small amount of sugar to the first cup, no sugar added to refills.
                                                        If the coffee is served in disposable containers, no sugar is added.
                                                        Or, if served in glass, no sugar either.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                          I tried this once at a cafe I liked. I got a withering stare from the barista, who clearly didn't like that I interfered with her work flow. Fair enough. But having the espresso drip onto the sugar and slowly dissolve it is much better than adding it after the fact and stirring. Not only do you never fully blend the sugar, but you cool the espresso too rapidly.

                                                        2. Ignore it, have your coffee the way you like it, and if the server gives you a hard time, don't leave a tip. As for what "coffee snobs" have to say, who cares, really? Snobbery isn't knowledge, it's attitude - bad attitude.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: John Francis

                                                            "Snobbery isn't knowledge, it's attitude - bad attitude."

                                                            Words of wisdom, sir.

                                                          2. I'm a liberal sugar and cream user ... have never gotten any attitude that I can recall about this from any barista.

                                                            I had a friend whose mother taught her that non-black coffee was for wimps, but I had no problem disregarding that opinion (clearly not a family of supertasters).

                                                            I will say that I have once been served coffee for which no cream was available. They asked me to taste it, and offered condensed milk(!!) from the kitchen if I wanted it. Indeed they were right, the coffee was super mild and needed no cream.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: foiegras

                                                              Condensed milk would have been good, though! There's a cocktail I make consisting of espresso vodka, Kahlua, and condensed milk. It's like an alcoholic Frappuccino!

                                                            2. Next time order your coffee like this;

                                                              "I'll take a double espresso black, with a shot of sambucca please"

                                                              "I'm sorry we don't serve alcohol here"

                                                              " Uggghhh who drinks espresso without sambucca? I need that flavor........."

                                                              "I can add a spoon or two of sugar"

                                                              "Well if that's the best you can do then fine......"

                                                              1. As i refined my relationship with coffee addiction, I developed a few coffee habits which are just preferences, and not rules!

                                                                i generally like to,
                                                                1. Drink coffee with milk before 11am, or add milk if its a bad coffee.
                                                                2. Sip espresso coffees before adding sugar, or not.
                                                                3. if its so hot that i have to slowly slurp it, its too hot for me to taste the complexities.
                                                                4. if i am served coffee in anyones home, be bloody grateful and don't give advice, unless they actually ask for it!

                                                                i have a few more basic habits which relate to roasting & extracting, but that's for another forum topic.

                                                                1. I started drinking coffee late in life when I went back to school. At first I added tons of cream and sugar to my coffee since that was the only way I could drink it. Think melted Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream. Since then, I drink black coffee when I feel a touch of asthma. Usually, I drink my coffee lightened with half & half and just a layer of sugar crystals on my tongue so I don't put sugar in the coffee anymore.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                                                    you pour a spoonful of sugar in your mouth?
                                                                    To make the medicine go down? :)

                                                                    1. re: bbqboy

                                                                      LOL I get a teaspoon wet with coffee and lightly dip it into sugar on my saucer. I lick the spoon then drink the coffee. Takes much less sugar than pre-sweetening the coffee. Idiosyncratic, quirky, I admit it, but it works for me. :)

                                                                      1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                                                        It's sort of a beverage version of dipping a fork in salad dressing!

                                                                        1. re: Violatp

                                                                          Exactly! Wouldn't you know, I dip my fork in salad dressing too! I don't like salad drenched in dressing (this doesn't apply to certain oil and vinegar with Greek or Italian spiced dressings) By dipping the fork in the dressing, I get the same taste but far less calories.

                                                                          1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                                                            I'm almost afraid to ask, but what do you dip your knife in?

                                                                  2. My wife laughs at me in the morning when she sees me using the gram scale to measure fresh coffee grounds and then stirring them when the water hits my Technivorm filter.

                                                                    She doesn't take sugar, but I do.

                                                                    If I drink an espresso or macchiato, I could go without sugar but usually prefer a small amount.

                                                                    1. look, i must also stick up for the baristas here - baristas that pride themselves on perfection. it is sometimes 'perfection' that is miss interpreted as 'snobbery'. the difference i try to differentiate is that perfection is usually 'technique' related, but snobbery is often about flavour or etiquette.

                                                                      1. I agree that you should take your coffee however you like. The barista may not agree with your choices, but that's life.

                                                                        It's similar to a chef or waiter being asked for the wagyu beef very well done. It grates to see a lovely cut of prime beef being incinerated, but the customer is paying, so deal.

                                                                        Likewise the very old rule of white wine with fish and red wine with meat. Arrant nonsense. Drink what you enjoy.

                                                                        Being a coffee aficionado (not snob?) I hate being asked to serve a weak, skinny soy latte with four Equals, please.
                                                                        I bite my tongue, wanting to say:
                                                                        "And would you like a coffee with that?"

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: cronker

                                                                          I don't think adding some sugar is akin to ruining a steak by cooking it well. Rather, I think were such baristas themselves used to adding sugar, they'd notice new notes that they hadn't before.

                                                                        2. as an uncouth rube that is not a coffee snob, but enjoys an espresso every once in a while when someone claims they have a clue how to make it, I do take it without sugar, but prefer just a hint of sweet, if asked. much the same with my Americano and French coffee and "American" coffee, etc...

                                                                          milk, in an espresso, on the other hand is another discussion...