Maybe it's the fault of my small-town redneck-hick upbringing, but I have a hard time taking any sort of connoisseurship seriously. I have always laughed at fancy descriptions of wines, and it seems even sillier for coffee. Coffee's coffee, isn't it? What kind of dope pays more than 75 cents for a cup of joe? My parents fancied themselves gourmets, but when it came to coffee we were still a Maxwell House family. Freeze dried! I had never even heard of espresso until I met an Italian kid in the dorm with his own stove-top macchinetta. It was a revelation. In the 20-plus years that followed, high-end coffee connoisseurship took off in this country, and I have been its willing victim. Here's my latest effort to figure out if this expensive habit is worthwhile or frivolous.
Name: Heartbreaker Description: "A Café Grumpy Espresso Integration. Rich fruit, chocolate, very balanced with an Amaretto finish." Roasted by Novo. Source: Café Grumpy, 224 W. 20th St., between 7th and 8th Avenues. Country of Origin: Not listed, but apparently a blend of Colombian varieties. Packaging: Sealed in foil bag. Date Roasted: Oct. 27, 2008 Date Purchased: Nov. 5, 2008. The Pour: Single shot of espresso, ground and made fresh. Let's stipulate that I probably don't have the nose for this sort of thing. Deep, rich flavor, but I'm not getting the chocolate, or the Amaretto aftertaste. The aftertaste is pleasant enough, not annoying. That said, this alternative description of Heartbreaker ("a smooth, fruity shot with a great creamy finish and silky mouthfeel" etc.) seems more on point. The flavor is not nearly as bitter as the canned Danesi from Zibetto I bought last week, which wore on me after a few days. It might be a freshness issue. My hands-down all-time favorite remains Honey Bean, which Grumpy did not have in stock. I may have to buy a truckload of it the next time they have some. (Many of these links are to the store's old blog; the new one is here.) Effects: I am now on my third shot of Heartbreaker. It's sublime. This has been a long and tiring week at work, and I still have a sleep deficit. But for now I am focused and clearheaded, and feel as though I can conquer the weekend and go join some friends, who are brewing beer today. But I better stop with the coffee before I get jittery and punch a hole in my Mac keyboard.