Returning to a Simpler Cup of Coffee

In Serious Eats, Keith Pandolfi writes about how he turned away from fancy, upscale coffee and went back to drinking the old school, pre-ground, grocery store stuff in giant cans. While Pandolfi makes his case for what he calls bad coffee, Matt Buchanan at The Awl gives a breezy, biting recap of the rise of America’s venture capital-fueled third wave coffee business, where “every other Good Coffee company suddenly looked very small next to Blue Bottle’s big pile of money,” and “There are perhaps some people who will be upset that their favorite Good Coffee Company is now just another Good Coffee Brand, revealing once again the insignificance of their person and the futility of their Brand Devotion when it is set against forces vastly larger than themselves, like capitalism, but they should take solace in the fact that even if the Good Coffee Brand becomes less Good as it becomes ever larger—which, FWIW, Blue Bottle has only gotten better as it has gotten bigger—it was never even Great to begin with. It was just coffee.” In his essay, Pandolfi writes:

Maybe it all started a few months ago when I found myself paying $18 for a pound of what turned out to be so-so coffee beans from a new roaster in my neighborhood. It was one of those moments when I could actually imagine my cranky diner-coffee-swilling Irish grandfather rising from the grave and saying, “You know what, kid? You’re an idiot.”

It’s more than just money, though. I’m as tired of waiting 15 minutes for my morning caffeine fix as I am waiting the same amount of time for my whiskey, cardamom, and pimento bitters cocktail at my local bar. I am tired of pour-overs and French presses, Chemexes and Aeropresses. “How would you like that brewed?” is a question I never want to hear again.

Cheap coffee is one of America’s most unsung comfort foods.

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