How To Be A Coffee Snob (emphasis On Snob)

So you like coffee. Well, here are some steps to help elevate you to aficionado status. Or at the very least, we’ve humored you while you sip your hazelnut triple grande soy latte decaf. Enjoy!

1. The first step in becoming a coffee snob begins before you leave the house. You must dress appropriately. Vintage thrift-store clothing is preferable. T-shirts with bands that no one has ever heard of, or throwback ’80s shirts are bonus points. Check the shoes—are they vintage looking? You’ll know they are vintage by the way the front of the shoe squares off and the appearance of crème colored leather. Scope the hair; does it look like you just rolled out of bed? Good, keep it that way. A funky belt with a unique buckle will pull it all together, along with a homemade purse for the ladies.

2. Locate your target coffee shop. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go to Starbucks, or at least don’t declare your affinity toward it. If you do, every true coffee snob that ever meets you will scoff at you. Starbucks represents the mass commercialization and unbridled capitalism that is slowly infecting and killing our country. Starbucks is evil; remember that. Now the best coffee shops are the small ones that no one has ever heard of in "urban renewal" parts of downtown. The older the building is, the better. These places will have the “shabby chic” thing going on with the busted furniture and the shag carpet. It’s trendy, you’ll go there and you’ll like it. Trust me. Look at the baristas working behind the counter. Are they friendly? Do they say hello when you walk in? If so, you might be in the wrong place. The person serving you coffee should have the superiority complex rivaling a rock star. Making good coffee is like making art; expect the elitist attitude that comes with all aspiring artists.

3. Now it’s time to order your coffee. KNOW THE LINGO. Here is the coffee ordering sequence: how much espresso + size of drink + type of milk + type of drink. Example: double tall skinny cappuccino would be a cappuccino with two shots of espresso in a tall cup filled with foamed skim milk in proportions of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk and 1/3 foam. If you want a shot of syrup, this goes before everything else. Also, modifiers like no-foam or decaf can be thrown in anywhere. Example: hazelnut triple grande soy latte decaf no-foam. You figure that one out. IMPORTANT: Know all of this before you walk up to the counter, and once there, rattle it off as fast as possible. People take notice and will be ineffably impressed.

4. Once you get your coffee, sip it and comment on the taste. Read up about different coffee growing areas. There’s Kona from Hawaii, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Kenyan AA, Guatemalan, Salvadorian, Sumatran and the favorite of donkey-boy Juan Valdez, Colombian. Pick one to be your favorite. It doesn’t really matter which one. Then while drinking your coffee, make comments like, “This is okay, but I like the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe better.” (For reference, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is wild coffee grown on a specific mountain in central Ethiopia.) You may wish to delve into the secret art of describing the makeup of the coffee taste, which includes the coffee’s body, acidity, aftertaste, aroma, balance, complexity, depth, finish, nose and tart. Comments like, “I love the nutty nose and buttery acidity, but the finish is just too woody” are definitely in order. Also, remember that ordering fair trade coffee is a must because it pays the farmers what they deserve, and that shade-grown coffee is good because it retains the forests where tropical birds like motmots live. Please, think of the motmots …

5. With your coffee in hand, find your seat and procure a book or magazine no one else has ever heard of. Do you notice the trend here? If you want to be a coffee snob, you have to be into really obscure counter-culture stuff. Classic social commentaries are perfect, such as 1984 or any works of Machiavelli. Also, watch foreign movies and be able to quote them off the top of your head. If all else fails, talk about politics.

6. Finally, you must make a solemn vow to never ever again drink Folgers, Maxwell House, JFG or any other major brand of coffee. You will swear by fair-trade, shade-grown whole-bean coffee. Everything else is an insult to your palate and a mockery of all that is good coffee. No matter where you go or who it is that is serving you coffee, even your future spouse’s mother, you must keep this promise at all costs.

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You are now prepared to be a coffee snob. Go, henceforth, and drink bad coffee no more!

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