Sumatra: Green Mountain Bad, Starbucks Good

Something reminded me today of my disdain for Green Mountain coffee.

You see, a while back I tried a Sumatran blend of coffee, I think from Rosemont Market down the road, and fell in love. But since we’ve gotten a Keurig, I wanted to order some k-cups online. (I certainly don’t blame Rosemont for not stocking k-cups. Everyone knows that they are not ecologically friendly to say the least, although they do help prevent wasted water and electricity.)

I found some Green Mountain Sumatra k-cups online, and clicked “buy now” with gusto. All was right with the world. I looked at my surroundings through a smooth, low-acid, caffeine-tinted haze, and all around me there was harmony. One day, a few months later, I needed to order more k-cups. No problem, I ordered more and eagerly awaited their arrival.

Disaster. What was this bitterness, this stinging rigidity? I couldn’t believe my taste buds. Literally! I honestly considered the notion that perhaps I was getting sick, and that my sense of taste was simply not operating correctly. I turned to the internets to find out if, in fact, it was just me. I was floored by what I found. Previously unbeknownst to me, there existed a vibrant and diverse set of coffee aficionados, whose chosen hangouts were filled with desperate souls trying to spout off to anyone that would hear them about what a pile of shit coffee X is and how mediocre coffee Y was and why didn’t everyone just savor coffee Z since it was obviously, far-and-away the absolute best goddamn coffee money could buy. Coffee Z could completely satisfy your spouse, walk your dog, mow your lawn, watch your kids and tell you that you look fabulous in those khaki shorts. Why was I surprised by this? It’s the internets – it’s full of people going OCD over one thing or another. I digress.

The important thing I took away from some of the conversations I read was the undeniable confirmation of my earlier fears that something was wrong with Green Mountain Sumatra. No one in the forums hesitated to excoriate Green Mountain for the complete nosedive their product had taken.

Having weighed down my fellow keyboard jockeys at work with my coffee woes, a co-worker recommended trying Starbucks’ Sumatra. I found myself immediately resisting the idea. I am, at the core, a creature of habit. Some might even call me “stubborn,” or “set in my ways.” So I was with my pre-conceived attitude towards Starbucks. From Starbucks’ existence I had always viewed them as uppity. The kind of place frequented by people who either had too much disposable income or who wanted to let other people know that they didn’t really have the money for that grande double-espresso, whipped carmel, half-caf, three-splenda, steamed soy chai mocha-JesusWhatTheFuckIsThis, but that they were willing to pay for it and sit by the windows so that everyone would see that they cared enough about good coffee to make other sacrifices in their lives. This is the long-winded way we used to describe what are now so easily known as hipsters. Come to think of it, is it meta or hipsterish in itself to describe hipsters before anyone thought to describe hipsters, before they were hipsters? I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. I believe I’ve digressed again.

Too late for TL;DR, so here’s the verdict: I tried Starbucks Sumatra, and it rocks, I heartily recommend it. Most of the characterizations of the flavor that I’ve seen pretty much hit the mark, and it depends on what sort of blend you’re buying, but a few comments I’ve seen are straight out of the crack den. “Spicy?” No. Perhaps a little spiciness which is greatly overshadowed by other bold flavors. “Unpredictable?” Uh, no, see above where I talk about Green Mountain. That ain’t supposed to happen. If you like a little or a lot of bitterness to your coffee, this is not the right coffee for you. The lack of acidity makes it the smoothest coffee I’ve ever had the pleasure to drink. To your health!

Author: Charlie Herron

Denizen of Portland, Maine; tech jack; lover / hater / whatever; philosophical dabbler. http://twitter.com/realgeek