Over at Whatever, John Scalzi recently explained why he doesn't drink coffee:
Some coffee's are spectacularly bad. There's a local deli chain, Miracle Mile, that makes one of the best Ruebens sandwiches in town. But their coffee is bad. Bad, bad, bad. Harsh, bitter and burnt. It is so bad that every time I go to Miracle Mile, I order another cup, because traumatic amnesia has wiped the last experience from my mind. (And, perhaps, I'm living proof that hope springs eternal, for surely MM's coffee must have improved since my last visit. Sadly, no.)
But there's a lot of coffee that's merely bad. Coffee shop coffee, usually, for some reason or another. Hotel coffee shop coffee is almost invariably bad.
Nonetheless, I've been a regular coffee drinker since 1981. Didn't like coffee before that. But then I had some home-brewed coffee while Hilde and I were visiting Diana Paxson and the other folk at Greyhaven... and it actually tasted... good.
Here's my secret method to making coffee palatable:
Use HALF the amount of ground coffee called for in the brewing instructions.Some people have called my coffee "wussy-ass-wimpy". Yeh, yeh; these are the same type of people who drink Everclear straight.
You can make it stronger if you want, but don't use more than 2/3rds of the recommended grounds. Past that, and you get too high a concentration of the bitter oils that Scalzi so evocatively describes.
(Why do makers' coffee instructions invariably call for a larger amount? Gee, could it possibly be that using a larger amount of coffee means that you'll BUY MORE COFFEE, MORE FREQUENTLY?)
There's also light roast vs. medium roast vs. dark roast. I use the light or medium. The dark roast coffees have a burnt taste to me. If I wanted that, I could suck on a charcoal briquet.
One of the ways I judge a pot of coffee is by holding the glass pot up to a light and checking the color. The ideal pot, with the light shining thru, should have a dark red color like a good piece of cherry amber.
Also, clean the pot occasionally, wiping out any accumulated oils on the inside of the pot. Otherwise, you can end up with something like the break room at my postal station, Home of the World's Filthiest Coffeepots. (I'm not kidding about those coffeepots; we should open up a sideshow and charge the public to look at them.) ("Small children and pregnant women are advised against seeing this show.")
Yes, I use sugar and creamer. Yes, I'm not a Real Man. Tough.