The Recovering Coffee Snob and Civet Coffee

coffee snob civet coffeeI wasn’t a daily coffee drinker until I started my business and felt, as small as we were, we needed a coffee nook. One of the girls in the office was a coffee snob, so she acted as my coffee Sherpa. We bought a a decent coffee maker with a carafe that kept coffee warm all day without evaporation or burning. We also bought a little electric coffee grinder and bags of whole bean coffee because Coffee Snob told me drinking coffee made from ground beans was tantamount to buying a cup of Joe from one of those dusty, roadside gas station seen in post-apocalyptic movies. Better to be eaten by the zombies.

Before that moment, my previous coffee drinking experience came almost exclusively from pretending I was an adult at the horse shows I attended as a young rider. I ordered coffee from one of the rolling breakfast trucks and then poured one full cup of powdered creamer and eight sugars into it. In short, I created warm, coffee-flavored ice cream.

I shook powdered creamer into my work coffee like I was trying to throttle the life out of a chicken, until I realized my coffee snob workmate was staring at me with dismay. Maybe dismay is the wrong word. It was more like pity.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m getting coffee,” I said.  I refrained from saying “duh” so as to keep our relationship professional, but it was really difficult, and one of the early signs of how abysmal I would be at being a boss.

“You put that crap in it?” Coffee Snob screeched.

I could see I had just fallen a peg on her respect ladder. I stared remorsefully at the little island of creamer floating in the dark seas of my coffee, its white sand beaches beckoning to me with creamy goodness. All it needed was a little palm tree.

I watched it sink.

“Just creamer,” I mumbled, trying to stem the damage. “I don’t use sugar.”

I said sugar like people say “cigarettes” or “Ed Hardy” or other things that used to be cool but are tres gauche now. Anything to make Coffee Snob think I had some cool left.

A Coffee Snob is Born

After that, I took my coffee with only creamer. But the pressure continued until I weaned myself from creamer and went black, presumably never to go back. I became a coffee monster. I mocked others for adding anything to their coffee. My poor parents, who do drink coffee black, were chastised for using pre-ground, popular brand coffees. My poor sister-in-law, who used flavored creamer might as well have been dunking adorable teddy bear hamsters in her coffee, such was the disdain I heaped upon her.

When I closed down the office in favor of working remotely, I found myself at home with my coffee pot and that same bean grinder, running through the same office routines in my kitchen. One Friday, feeling frisky, I put a splash of milk in my coffee. Yum. That was a little better. No snotty Starbucks barista hipster swooped in to mock me.

Soon, I began experimenting with all sorts of things: a drop or two of almond extract, a blurp of chocolate syrup, bourbon, whipped cream, Grand Mariner.  All my experimental coffees had one thing in common: they were all a hell of a lot better than black coffee.  Except the one time I used lemon and cream. That was a mistake.

I had been freed from the shackles of coffee snobbery!

Or at least I thought I had, until I visited my parents and had to drink that pre-ground, name brand coffee for a week. I didn’t think much of it until I came back home and made a pot of my self-ground, premium brand coffee.  On my first sip, angels appeared with trumpets, welcoming me back. Coffee Snob was back.

So, there were some depths to which the coffee snob in me just could not sink. But by no means would I ever be a purist again.

Coffee Snob Relapse: Civet Coffee – The Kind of Coffee You Can Only Get from an Animal’s Butt

I suffered a brief relapse into true coffee snobbery when I ordered a bag of civet coffee, also known as Kopi luwak, coffee beans processed through the intestinal system of an Asian jungle animal called a civet cat, pooped out and harvested.  There was a tiny part of me that was addicted to bragging about the quality of my coffee-tasting tongue buds, and I was searching for a new way to crow.

Thanks to the civet cat’s digestive system, civet coffee is supposed to be devoid of acids that might otherwise taint the taste of my daily cuppa brain juice. Though the civet coffee did seem smoother than my usual brand, possessing none of the tang that tragically unpooped coffee has, it wasn’t remarkably better.  Especially after I mixed chocolate syrup and coconut extract and created the Easter Egg Coffee.

So I’m on the wagon again, drinking my coffee willy-nilly as I see fit. Sometimes I grind my own beans. Sometimes I buy it pre-ground. I still buy slightly better brands, but if someone offers me a cup of everyday coffee I don’t slap it out of their hands and accuse them of trying to poison me.

But sometimes I want to.

Amy Vansant

5 Responses

  1. Abby

    I can’t drink coffee and haven’t had a cup in more than a decade, which gets the same reaction from people as if I told them I club baby seals (which I do not do either.) It’s like poison to my body–literally, I’ll be sick for days.

    Anyway, my favorite job ever was running a coffee shop, so I have experience with coffee snobs. I LOVED that job, but it was before the day of cat crap caramel lattes. I miss out on ALL the trends.


  2. Jennifer

    I have taken my responsibility as a rabid coffee drinker extraordinare a step further. I have instilled these values in my five daughters. I feel that it is one of those invaluable life skills that one must have learn in order to have a fighting chance in life…like knowing how to throw a football really well, or knowing how to apply makeup without looking like a hooker…you know, important things. I get a strange burst of pride when one of them sidles up to the coffee bar and says, “Gimme a skinny red-eye with a shot of pumpkin, please”…. Of course there are those who treat me like I am giving my kids meth…but on the other hand, the accuser is usually one of those who probably drinks decaf, with fat-free flavored creamer.


  3. Deb

    This so reminds me of myself when I first started drinking coffee. “Light and sweet” — basically craving a diabetic seizure….. “Want some coffee with that sugar and cream?”

    One day, while at my girlfriend’s house, she ran out of half and half. We were lost. We couldn’t drink coffee like this!!! So instead, because I was jonsing —- I just added 2 scoops of sugar and drank it black. DELICIOUS! I kept up with the sugar for a few years, until I realized sugar was the devil. I then started drinking it black with nothing else in it. And wow, you can really taste what coffee is “good” and what coffee is mud. People are masking their coffee and sometimes confusing “bad” coffee, when it’s just bad milk. I am a total coffee snob, standing TALL and PROUD! Cheers!



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