Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Office Coffee

Today I will answer the question that every working person asks themselves around 9:17 each morning, why is office coffee so bad? It is annoyingly so, because everyday on your way to work you have the ongoing debate in your head whether to stop in that Starbucks you pass and spend $2-$6 or to bank the cash, suck it up, and drink that office muck.

If you're frugal like me, you will usually decided that the latte isn't worth it, and you are too tired to enjoy it anyway, so you might as well stick with the muck.

But why is office coffee so bad? Coffee is coffee is coffee, isn't it? And if that's true, why does my office alone have 3 different coffee makers? And why does everyone in the office have their own preference on which one is the best?

This morning, I used the Keurig. There is only one type of Keurig cup I can drink without wanting to spit the coffee right back out and it's the Green Mountain Coffee Extra Bold "Dark Magic". 

It's the best of the worst for the simple reason of it being the strongest in both flavor and caffeine content. To get a good, or at least semi-drinkable cup of coffee from a Keurig, make sure to choose either the small cup setting of the 4oz or 6oz cup.  Again, this keeps the coffee strong and doesn't water it down. Out of all the Keurig cups we have there are two that tie for my least favorite: Green Mountain Coffee's Mocha Nut Fudge and Colombian Fair Trade Select, and let's face it the second one I only hate because I work for a Republican firm (just kidding that is not why).

The Mocha Nut Fudge sounds delicious, and for one reason or another the guys in the office tend to prefer it, but every time someone brews a cup I can smell it down the hall and it's dreadful. It smells like somebody found a chocolate Easter bunny a year later and lit it on fire and then tried to put the fire out by pouring a pot of three-week-old coffee on it. The Colombian Fair Trade I dislike not because it is a lighter coffee (the breakfast blend is even a lighter roast and I prefer it, I would say it is on par with the Dark Magic if you favor a lighter flavor) but because it has a premature taste, almost as if the coffee beans were never roasted. Choose your Keurig cup wisely.

But when all is said and done, we still ask ourselves the question, why do we have to choose between bad, terrible, and mediocre coffee in the office?

First and foremost, CLEAN YOUR COFFEE MAKER (says lifehacker). Think about how many years your company has had that same coffee maker, how many pots or cups are brewed each and every day. When you make a pot of coffee at home do you wash it after? I sure hope so! The office coffee maker needs to be cleaned as well to get rid of the old crud and buildup of year-old coffee grounds.

Second, check the expiration date. Coffee doesn't stay good forever, not matter how well packaged and especially if it is not stored in the fridge/freezer.

Third, that's just the way it is. Once you have cleaned the coffee maker and checked the expiration date, it is most likely the coffee you brew in the office will still taste horrible. Because that's the way the world works. So plug your nose, bottoms up, and sucks it down as fast as you can because office coffee is simply poor quality and Geoffrey James, marketing blogger for CBS tells why:

Contrary to popular belief, coffee is not bitter. It is supposed to be a naturally sweet beverage. However, the way it is usually prepared tends to concentrate the tanins in the coffee, which makes it unnaturally bitter. Remove these tannins and you get a good cup of coffee.

Tannins come from five sources:
  • Exposure to air. The more the beans are exposed to air and light, the more they begin to break down, turning the natural sweetness into tannins. If coffee is already ground, that process is accelerated.
  • Brewing residue. Most brewing methods cause tannins to be deposited on the brewing mechanism where they're transferred into the coffee. Plastic and metal is porous, so even if you scrub it, there's always residue.
  • The brewing process. If the water is not hot enough, the coffee flavor is lessened while the tannins are transferred into the water. Most coffee makers don't heat up the water sufficiently to make a good cup.
  • The filtering process. If the filter is the wrong porousness and not designed to absorb tannins, it will pass them through into the coffee. Many filters just filter out particulate matter and don't absorb the tannins.
  • Time after brewing. If there are tannins in the coffee, they'll spread throughout the coffee, making it increasingly bitter over time. That's why reheated coffee -- or coffee that's been sitting in the pot for an hour or more -- usually tastes so wretched.
The worst-tasting of coffee is stale, pre-ground, brewed in a dirty coffee machine, with a reusable filter, and then has been sitting in the pot for over an hour. That's pretty much what corporate America drinks every day. No wonder so many people are in a sour mood.

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