Archive for the ‘8 O’ Clock Coffee’ Category

Coffee Tasting: The Mouthfeel of Milk

May 17, 2010

I have a confession: I’m guilty of having a snobbish attitude against drinking coffee with milk. Real coffee drinkers should drink their coffee black. I saw milk as a mere softener of the bitterness of bad coffee. Well over the last few weeks, I’ve been making 8 O’clock Coffee in the morning and have been adding milk to soften the bitterness of the bad coffee. But I had a micro-epiphany. One thing that milk does that adds another dimension to coffee is what it does to the mouthfeel. Mouthfeel is how it feels in our mouth. Water is thin. Cream is creamy. Maple syrup is thick (By the way these terms are my own. I don’t know if there are a standard set of mouthfeel terms used by coffee experts).

Why I called this a micro-epiphany is because I now realized the different experience one should expect with a high quality latte. The mouthfeel of milk is another dimension to the taste profile of coffee that make things interesting.


Coffee Tasting – Bitter on the Tongue

September 9, 2009

bitter tongue croppedSo I’ve been trying to find a more precise description of the taste of regular old coffee (8 O’clock – to be exact). “It tastes like coffee” just doesn’t seem right. Part of my philosophy about training our palates to appreciate good coffee is that it just takes practice and the proper vocabulary.

I used my French press with 8 O’ clock beans this morning; added a little milk; poured it into my coffee mug;  got on the bus and went to work. As I read my book – I typically borrow 3-5 books a month from the local library, in the back of my mind I kept asking myself, “So is it nutty” Chocolaty? Earthy?” Then reality hit. “It’s just plain old bitter!”

The poorer the quality of the coffee, the harder it is to get past the bitterness of the caffeine. The bitterness on the tongue just overpowers any subtle aromas the coffee may offer – or not offer.

Let’s give 8 O’ clock Coffee a break – it really is not that bitter – not like Maxwell House or Nescafe, but neither are there any subtle aromas that can overcome the bitter caffeine. At least the caffeine kicked in by the time my bus ride ended.

“I’m Drippin’ 8 O’ Clock”

August 20, 2009

Manual-DripMy coworker, John, asked me this morning, “Did you have coffee this morning?”

I replied, “Yeah, but I’m drippin’ 8 O’ Clock.”

It must have been in the way that I said it. But John took it as a statement of utter desperation. Not only did I use 8 O’ Clock beans, but I didn’t even use my French press or vacuum pot – I brought out my drip maker! Where is my coffee ethics? Where is the snobbery?

I may have felt that way, but I didn’t mean it that way.

Last night I bought a 12 oz. bag of 8 O’ Clock coffee from Giant Eagle. $5.25 on sale.  It didn’t hit me until today, but that’s $7 a lb. Green Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from La Prima is $6.50 a lb. Sometimes when the pocketbook gets thin, it’s easy to feel guilty indulging in good coffee. But good coffee (granted I have to roast it myself – but that’s half the fun anyway) is cheaper than cheap Giant Eagle coffee that’s even on sale!

No more will my conscience cheat me from a good cup of coffee in the morning!

So what do I do with my 12 oz bag of 8 O’ Clock? Well I want to explore how to best go about learning how to best describe what I taste in coffee. So here is my ambitious endeavor: can I describe the taste of 8 O’Clock coffee? Is it possible to be more descriptive than saying, “It tastes like coffee”?

I’m Hooked!

January 24, 2009


One of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history is Tony Montoya is finally hooked on cocaine in Scarface. In an earlier post, I mentioned that the best business model for converting coffee drinkers into drinkers of quality specialty coffee is the drug dealers’ model – give away free coffee, after a week they’ll be hooked.

Well last week I found myself in Tony Montoya’s place. I was out of coffee. I threw away my 8 O’Clock coffee. I was out of good specialty coffee – not even Starbucks. I did have a little bit of my friend’s Maxwell House coffee – which I mentioned in an earlier post, he said to throw away. We I poured the Maxwell House in to my french press. I then had to warm up half a cup of milk to put into my travel mug, before pouring in the Maxwell House from the french press. I thought it would be bearable. Ugh! My stomach could not take it – even with all that milk!

I recently heard that my brother-in-law is as ruined as me.

How to Change the Taste of Coffee Drinkers

December 29, 2008
The Drug Dealers' Approach

The Drug Dealers' Approach

I’ve been at my brother-in-law’s for the the past five days. He normally drinks at least one whole pot of coffee, if not more, throughout the whole day.

Since we’ve been here, I’ve been making coffee in either my French press or the Vacuum pot. We tried the El Salvador coffee. He felt the taste ended too quickly. So we’ve been drinking Starbuck’s Sumatra.

This morning, while rushing to get the kids ready for church, my brother-in-law made a pot of Maxwell House lite. Oh man! Did that taste bad!

The same thing happened to me with my 8 O’ Clock beans.

So I’ve been wondering how to start up an online coffee business. Aha! What better way than the drug dealer method. Give away one or two pounds of good coffee until they can’t go back to bad tasting coffee.

the winner is . . .

the winner is . . .

Crossing the Bridge – Average Coffee Drinker to Specialty Coffee Drinker

December 11, 2008

Good Old 8 O'Clock

This morning I went back to Old Faithful, cheap, Giant Eagle-bought 8 O’ Clock. Oh man! It was bad! It’s raw bitterness (not the same bitterness as Maxwell House though) bit me in my recently specialty coffee initiated taste buds. Ouch!

I guess that means for me that there is no turning back. Can’t stay on the same side of the bridge. Gotta cross over to the other side.

Here is the good thing about the other side of the bridge – where specialty coffee reigns: the world of coffee is broad and diverse. In whatever way I want my palate tickled, tantalized, or traumatized, there is probably a bean out there to satisfy me.

With me 1/4 cup of beans and my 4 cup French press, steep time of 4 minutes, I am ready to embark on my journey. I can now travel the coffee globe – visiting Africa, Central and South America, even Asia and a few Pacific Islands. Once I have travelled, I can then become a travel guide to other fellow coffee drinkers.

Coffee Tasting 101: Vocabulary (1)

November 12, 2008

My coworker (same one who let me use his French Press) gave me a can of Maxwell House Master Blend. I made a cup with his French Press this morning. My taste buds are now much more aware, but I completely lack the vocabulary of coffee tasters. So let’s begin Coffee Tasting 101.

Coffee cupping is to coffee what wine tasting is to wine. I’m going to go as slow as I need to go. I am a bona fide novice myself – kindergartner with an epiphany remember? According to one article by Steve Leighton, there are five things to pay attention to when cupping coffee: 1) fragrance – both dry grounds and wet grounds, 2) acidity – the liveliness of the coffee, 3) body – the fullness and richness of the feel of the coffee in your mouth, 4) flavor, and 5) finish – the aftertaste.

Got it?






So what’s the verdict on the Maxwell House Master Blend? I thought 8 O’ Clock is better. Sorry, I can’t quite use coffee tasting vocabulary to describe the Master Blend. Maybe in a few weeks or months?

My Taste Buds had an Ephiphany!

November 10, 2008

I’ve been trying to pay attention to the taste of coffee. This conscious awareness is my preliminary training before embarking on some serious coffee cupping. My 8 O’ Clock coffee is my baseline in taste. It’s not bad – not bitter, not watery – but nothing to hoot or holler about.

A few of my coworkers like to go to Caribou Coffee in the morning. Since I’ve begun to pay attention to the coffee taste, I’ve had the realization one morning that the Caribou light roast was “brighter” than my 8 O’ Clock I had on the bus. Maybe that’s what the coffee people call acidity.

Today after my first sip of Caribou’s Organic Blend light roast, I had the sensation of a bouquet of flowers! This my taste bud’s epiphany! I felt like a kindergartener realizing that I just read a real word for the first time.

Vacuum/Syphon Coffee Maker – 8 O’ Clock dark roast

November 6, 2008

This morning I made myself a cup of coffee in the Bodum Santos Vacuum coffee maker. It is really cool to watch it brew.

1. Heated water in a kettle on the stove.

2. Ground coffee beans. Smelled it. Mmm.

3. Added grounds to the top vessel of coffee maker.

4. When the water was just about to boil, turned fire off.

5. Added the hot water to the bottom vessel.

6. Connected the top vessel to the bottom vessel.

7. Turned on heat – within seconds the bottom vessel began to boil and hot water filled the top vessel.

8. Stirred the coffee in the top vessel. Smelled it. Mmm.

9. Turned on the timer to 3min 30sec. Turned the fire down to a low simmer.

10. When the timer went off, removed the coffee maker from the stove and set it in the holder.

11. Watched the coffee empty from the top vessel to the bottom, as the water in the bottom vessel cooled.

12. Poured the coffee into my travel mug. Took a quick slurp to sample the taste.

13. Got on my bus to work.

Verdict: The Vacuum made coffee is cleaner than the French Press coffee. On a scale of 1-10 for the intensity of the taste, 4 for drip, 9 for French Press, Vacuum was a 7. The taste lingered like the French Press, but not with the same intensity. Still, much better than drip. I think I’m leaning towards the French Press for the attack-of-the-taste buds sensation.

French Press – 8 O’ Clock – Light Roast

October 29, 2008

This morning I decided against my Cuisinart Grind and Brew with the gold basket. I threw my 8 O’ Clock light roast beans in the Cuisinart (I don’t have any other coffee grinder) but stopped it before it could start brewing. I dumped out the coffee grounds into the French Press and made myself a cup of coffee.

I had to babysit two toddlers while my wife got more sleep to circumvent the beginnings of a migraine. So I couldn’t quite “enjoy and savor” the coffee. But definitely, it was better than drip (even if I had used the gold basket).