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Is adding sugar lame?
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Discussions > Espresso > General > Is adding sugar...  
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jsaliga
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 1:03pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

ilcaffedio Said:

Dave this isn't specifically directed at you, but It is possible to be overly politically correct.  That attitude reinforces the commodity coffee mindset and completely disregards the efforts of specialty coffee industry, and what we have strived to become.  It disregards the work of everyone from seed to cup.

Posted February 3, 2011 link

Thankfully not everyone shares this extreme view, that sweetening a coffee to taste destroys what makes it worthwhile as specialty coffee.  How much is too much?  A few grains?  A pinch? A sprinkle?  

Why is there an apparent double standard at work here?  Why is milk acceptable but sugar taboo?

Personally, I think that milk does a great deal to mask and hide the flavor and character of coffee, and is one of the reasons I don't consume very many milk drinks.  Though I still enjoy them from time to time.

--Jerome
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ilcaffedio
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 1:26pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

Jerome, at this point it's well evident that you're just trying to elicit a reaction.
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jsaliga
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jsaliga
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 1:36pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

I am trying to understand the source of some of the extreme opinions surrounding this issue.  I don't care if someone's preference is that they don't take sugar with their coffee.  I don't take sugar myself.  That is not what this is about.  It is about people who seem to have a problem with the preferences of others, and judge them to be inferior because of their preference.  That is what I am trying to understand.  This is where I see a double standard.  Why is it ok to drown a double shot of espresso in 6 oz of milk but not ok to take a pinch of sugar with a double shot?

Like it or not that is a fair question.

--Jerome
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TheMadTamper
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 1:40pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

ilcaffedio Said:

I think you'll like Forza then.  It's probably going to be a little more sensitive to brew temperature.  I liked Apollo in it's earlier versions, though I haven't had it lately.  Aficionado, and Rustico are underrated, I wish more shops would use them.  Coffee and Crema in Greenville, SC (excellent, btw) uses Rustico for decaf.    Toscano is my least favorite among those mentioned, but it is the most common CCC offering used for espresso in shops around ATL.

Posted February 3, 2011 link

I'm pretty picky about the darker roasted milk drink blends.  I like Redline caff but not decaf, I wasn't fond of November's Black Cat, but liked the decaf.   I wasn't fond of Chris's voodoo for shots, or capps, but it was great for machiattos and Americanos.  I avoided Forza before due to the "milk bomb" designation....but after my Klatch House experience, I simply had to give it a go :)

I'm not sure why Toscano is so prominent.  It's the cookie cutter definition of a single dimensioned boring brew....nothing is unique about it.  While Forza supposedly is their rich milk blend, and the others are their shot blends....Toscano is just....somewhere in the middle, excelling nowhere. It's not a bad blend, but CCC offers so many much more interesting blends, I'm not sure why Toscono is the most popular.  Forgiving brew parameters is probably the key.  It very easily and beautifully pulls boring shots :)

Rustico decaf is one of my 3 go-to decafs.  I love the regular Rustico too, but I tend not to buy it much since I very often have it in decaf, so I stick with variety.  Afficianado is one of my favorite shot blends along with Fresco Flossies.  For the moment I rotate between CCC, Klatch, and Fresco for my beans....they all have ever so many to try.  SOME day I'll get back to Redbird and Metropolis for the cheaper cost... :)

Along with a Robur E, and the latest crop from Aida Batille and others, I highly recommend it!  I had Apollo before they had a name for it... ;-)



That REALLY sounds like a blast :) (Well, ok, I have a K10, so the Robur E is only slightly exciting...mostly for the feel of it ;) ) The FB and preview of beans....that's a treat! :)
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TheMadTamper
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 1:50pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

jsaliga Said:

Thankfully not everyone shares this extreme view, that sweetening a coffee to taste destroys what makes it worthwhile as specialty coffee.  How much is too much?  A few grains?  A pinch? A sprinkle?  

Why is there an apparent double standard at work here?  Why is milk acceptable but sugar taboo?

Personally, I think that milk does a great deal to mask and hide the flavor and character of coffee, and is one of the reasons I don't consume very many milk drinks.  Though I still enjoy them from time to time.

--Jerome

Posted February 3, 2011 link

I think the reason milk is acceptable is because it is the roastmaster's intent to serve it with milk, and for the blend to bring out certain properties in the brew.  The preparation of the bean was INTENDED to be used that way, and the barista him/herself prepares it to that end as the final flavor.   The roastmaster (in most cases) does NOT intend it to be used with sugar, so adding some is to say that you feel the resulting cup is flawed and unsuitable to be served as-is.  A single customer saying so is no big deal, of course, it could be preference.  But if numerous people feel it needs sugar to be acceptable, that would tell the barista/roaster/blender they have failed and must return to the drawing board, the same way as a WBC judge docking points would affect them.  Ultimately the customer is even more important than the judge.  A conscientious barista/roaster/blender would take such failure seriously.  

Now, if CCC's Forza description intends to say that it is a blend format that should be served sweetened, that's a whole different thing.  Like milk, that means the blendmaster/roastmaster has decided that their blend is optimally served prepared in a sugared manner, much like the milk blends are optimally served prepared in a milk format.  If the people creating it felt it would be best served over sugar, then they'd have served it that way at the bar, or offered it as a recommendation verbally or on the board.  If the sugar is part of the barista/roasters INTENT then it's fine.

Now that starts a whole different thread topic.  If we were to agree about the effect of adding sugar to a drink served optimally being a bad thing, ok.  But then the second thread would be as some have described in HB threads....that limiting sugar limits roasts.  That's a whole different topic.  "Is it acceptable for a roaster/blender to suggest adding sugar" or "For a barista to add sugar."  It's an industry taboo, but if a blend works best with sugar, why not serve it that way? Heck, in the US, adding sugar to ANYTHING increases sales, right? We Americans love our sugar, don't we?  Better yet, why not high fructose corn syrup?  Sweet espressos for world peace! :)

(Just to clarify, when I say "wrong", I don't mean that it shouldn't be done, or it's wrong if you prefer it that way, I just mean in the eyes of etiquette and respect for the skill of the producer, and/or in the spirit of coffee being served as those serving the drink believe it to be best.)
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jsaliga
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jsaliga
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 2:16pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

TheMadTamper Said:

I think the reason milk is acceptable is because it is the roastmaster's intent to serve it with milk, and for the blend to bring out certain properties in the brew.

Posted February 3, 2011 link

That doesn't really make a great deal of sense.  Go to Red Bird Coffee and read the description of Red Bird Espresso.  Jeff does not give his specific blessing to use his blend in a cappuccino, but does that alone make it wrong for people to do so?  Would Jeff be bothered by it if someone didn't ask him about it first?  He does say that his espresso blend is great as drip coffee.  Would that make it inappropriate to use with an Aeropress?  Klatch Belle and House espressos say they are fine as straight shots or with milk.  Klatch Worlds' Best says it is strong enough to cut through milk or delicious as a straight shot.  Stumptown Hair Bender has nothing to say about milk in its literature.  Does that mean that Hair Bender is unnaceptable with milk?   Many roasters offer recommended brewing instructions for their espresso.  The 20 gram dose that Klatch recommends will absolutely choke a S1 Vivaldi, does that mean I can't use Klatch?

The roastmaster (in most cases) does NOT intend it to be used with sugar

Please provide links to roasters who expressly say that their coffees are not intended to be taken with sugar.  None of the specialty coffee roasters I buy from (and I buy from a lot of the same roasters that you do) have anything to say at all about sugar.

I don't think that coffee drinkers need to work as hard at it as you suggest.  If they make a cappuccino with a particular blend and it's delicious, then why would that not be enough?  I'm not trying to be argumentative here, but you really haven't made a compelling case.  I think the reality is that roasters want their customers to enjoy their coffee, and to that end provide serving suggestions and recommended starting points.  They are not edicts handed down from on high.

--Jerome
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ilcaffedio
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 2:28pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

John (TheMadTamper) made an excellent point, and that's where I think this thread should end.  

Jerome, I'm sure you'll respond with some accusations of extremism, double standards, etc...  however it's wasted on me, I won't be reading it.  This thread ended with John's insightful post.
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carlsilver
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 2:38pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

jsaliga Said:

Thankfully not everyone shares this extreme view, that sweetening a coffee to taste destroys what makes it worthwhile as specialty coffee.  How much is too much?  A few grains?  A pinch? A sprinkle?  

Why is there an apparent double standard at work here?  Why is milk acceptable but sugar taboo?

Personally, I think that milk does a great deal to mask and hide the flavor and character of coffee, and is one of the reasons I don't consume very many milk drinks.  Though I still enjoy them from time to time.

--Jerome

Posted February 3, 2011 link

Personally I don't think that sweetening a coffee destroys what makes it worthwhile as specialty coffee. I would rather say that it just prevents you to feel the subtlest aspects of its taste and flavour. So I don't think that milk is more acceptable in this sense because it actually masks tastes even more. But I don't think any one is inferior because he adds sugar or milk. I myself do it sometimes. I only think that if you never drink it straight (and learn to like it) you are missing a worthwhile experience...
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jsaliga
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jsaliga
Joined: 27 Sep 2010
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Location: Connecticut, USA
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 5:58pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

carlsilver Said:

Personally I don't think that sweetening a coffee destroys what makes it worthwhile as specialty coffee. I would rather say that it just prevents you to feel the subtlest aspects of its taste and flavour. So I don't think that milk is more acceptable in this sense because it actually masks tastes even more. But I don't think any one is inferior because he adds sugar or milk. I myself do it sometimes. I only think that if you never drink it straight (and learn to like it) you are missing a worthwhile experience...

Posted February 3, 2011 link

For the most part I don't disagree with that Carlos.  I tend to like coffees that have some natural sweetness and don't really need sugar.  But I still experiment with different coffees.

And I get it that some people feel a special connection to the coffee growers, importers, roasters, cafes, and baristas.  But I have to believe that most of the folks in the supply chain want us all to enjoy our cup of coffee.  They may also hope that we come to know a little more about what they do and that we develop an appreciation for what it takes to get the coffee from the tree where it grows to a brewed hot beverage  in your cup.  In the course of this thread I reached out to a few roasters that did not say anything about milk in their literature.  Both responded in much the same way, and as I expected.  In short, they said that it was a matter of personal preference and they leave that up to the individual tastes of their customers.  One went on to say how he personally likes to drink his own espresso blend, which I found to be fascinating.  So I have something slightly different to try.

--Jerome
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4cups
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Posted Thu Feb 3, 2011, 6:15pm
Subject: Re: Is adding sugar lame?
 

Wow what an amusing thread. I suppose if a barista were to come up to you and say "here is a free espresso try it don't add sugar it's real good" and you added sugar before trying it that may be a bit lame. But... If you purchase an espresso it's yours to do with what you wish. No it is definitely not lame. If you purchase a 2,000 dollar espresso machine and a 500.00 grinder and spend 14 dollars a pound on coffee, it's your stuff drink your espresso the way you like it. Sugar in good espresso is much better than sugar in bad espresso. I suppose if the cultured thing to do was to put sugar in your espresso. This thread would be named. "Is drinking without sugar lame?" In all seriousness it's only lame if you don't hold your pinky up in the air when you drink it.

Jody
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