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Thread: Is instant coffee really that bad?

  1. #1
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    Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Taking a deep breath, I am risking the wrath of the coffeesnobs by posting this.

    I love espresso. I roast my own beans. But I still drink instant coffee!

    I mean, seriously, lots of people drink it. I drink it almost every day. At work, and at the communal dining hall. You know, like Nescafe Caterers blend and International Roast. Not even the fancy expensive instant coffees. I wont say its bad. In fact, I kinda like it. Its nothing like espresso *or espresso based drinks, more like a different drink alltogether. Of course a latte tastes better than nescafe with a dash of UHT milk, but the nescafe with UHT milk isnt half bad.

    I drink orange cordial just like I drink instant coffee. Fresh orange juice is nicer but seriously, orange cordial aint half bad. Neither is instant coffee.

    To use orange juice as an analogy:

    Orange cordial is orange flavoured water designed to be palatable to the masses. Reconstituted orange juice is made from orange extract that is then recombined to become orange juice. Fresh orange juice is made by cutting an orange in half and squeezing out the juice.

    They arent the same. But orange cordial is awfully convienient, and is acceptable to most people. Reconstituted juice will never taste like fresh orange juice, but it at least contains real oranges. Fresh orange juice is a bit of a hassle to make, but if you have good oranges (that arent too sour!!!) and are willing to put some effort into squeezing it fresh (they dont keep for long), you will be rewarded with a nice cup of fresh orange juice!

    Instant Coffee is coffee flavoured water designed to be palatable to the masses. Supermarket coffee made in a french press, drip maker, percolator, or pressurized filter basket is made by using hot water to extract flavour from the groudns. Espresso is made by using high pressure and the right temperature to extract the most flavour out of fresh beans using the least fluid.

    They arent the same. But instant coffee is awfully convienient, and is acceptable to most people. Brewed supermarket coffee will never taste like espresso, but it is at least brewed from coffee grounds. Espresso is a bit of a hassle to make, but if you have good beans (that arent stale!!!) and are willing to put some effort into learning how to dose-level-tamp-extract (consistency is key!), you will be rewarded with a nice cup of coffee.

  2. #2
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    ezralimm.

    You like it, thats fine.

    I dont like it and I see no need to force what I regard as an inferior product down my neck. To answer the title of the post - YEP! Compared with what I like to drink, it is.

    Instant coffee is a different drink to brewed coffee.
    Brewed coffee is a different drink to Espresso based coffee.
    Syphon, filter, mypressi etc. all have variations.
    Not all coffee is created equally (and I dont mean the artifical sweetener).

    By all means, you can drink what you want, just dont expect me to agree with your choices.

    If its a choice between freshly squeezed orange juice and orange cordial, Ill have water. Its even more convenient.

    Brett.

  3. #3
    Wine_of_the_Bean
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Because of the value-adding to make instant coffee, you have to wonder just what sort of coffee goes into instant, just to keep prices reasonable.

    I reckon floor sweepings would also make their way into the batch. Cant waste a single bean.


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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    :o
    blerrghhhh, i think youre comparing oranges to instant.

    freeze dried robusta does not equal arabica, does not equal fresh, does not equal well made, does not have any meaning any longer....

    if you like the taste, but in food in general and (specialty) coffee, it is often about keeping it simple, expressing more of the character of the (fresh, *quality) food.
    it might be simple to open a cordial bottle and water it down, but not simpler to make than picking and squeezing oranges when manufacturing, transport, marketing, etc is taken into account, and it should not be mistaken for real food

    no one can manufacture a fresh orange with anything like real taste, nutrition value, locked up sunlight. good food is healthful and tasty, old food not so much.
    in coffee, fresh roasted contains many times the antioxidant levels of green tea, wine or chocolate, these volatile components rapidly oxidize and stale, leaving free radicals, so fresh roasted is really healthful, and old coffee is just as it tastes, poisonous...

    if you squint your eyes (metaphorically) add a bucket of milk and mound of sugar, you may have something that you personally dont find offensive, try an instant short black

    some food companies spend millions/billions yearly to reprocess waste products into food for the masses too, adding fake aromas and flavour to make it tasty, but its still garbage


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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    I had a laugh I agree.

    Cordial is not freshly made orange juice.

    Instant coffee is not fresh coffee brewed from freshly roasted beans.

    There is no such thing as an "instant short black". Sadly there isnt a law to define what espresso is so everything probably passes as an espresso. Heck, you could probably sell coffee flavoured soda and call it espresso.

  6. #6
    Wine_of_the_Bean
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Even 100% Arabica instant coffee brings into question "What really goes into making instant?"

    If youre drinking it simply for the convenience factor, you might want to try making batches of CP instead. *At least you know theres good quality going in.

    Whod want a rubbish frozen pizza, when a freshly made one is infinitely better?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Shotgun's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6A54535862525B62495558627F585C533D0 link=1271378038/2#2 date=1271379728
    I reckon floor sweepings would also make their way into the batch. *Cant waste a single bean.
    I reckon youre right about that. If they didnt use floor sweepings Nescafe would only have 42 beans in every cup. *;D ;D ;D

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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 506B6C7764766D030 link=1271378038/6#6 date=1271381159
    Quote Originally Posted by 6A54535862525B62495558627F585C533D0 link=1271378038/2#2 date=1271379728
    I reckon floor sweepings would also make their way into the batch. *Cant waste a single bean.
    I reckon youre right about that. If they didnt use floor sweepings Nescafe would only have 42 beans in every cup. *;D ;D ;D
    Oh giggled like a schoolgirl.

    I would hv guessed 43 beans went into a tin. But maybe im wrong.

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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    I think you are right ezra but I dont really see the value in raising this point on a forum dedicated to people who love coffee. It would be like saying that dominos pizza is ok because it is easy on a forum dedicated to food lovers.

    It is easy and quick and I do agree it is not what I define as coffee (too much processing) but it is a hot drink for the masses.

  10. #10
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    ezralimm are you a troll?

  11. #11
    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    I dont buy into the convenience argument. When I have no access to decent coffee - I drink tea.

    Luckily for tea, the convenient variety eg teabags doesnt suffer the same fate as its coffee counterpart.

    So when Im stuck, all I need is hot water and a teabag.

    Same with the comment above, if I cant have OJ Ill just drink water instead of orange cordial.

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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    i had a double shot white 1 sugar blend 43 today.....

    had to happen, needed to cure the headache.... I had a laugh

  13. #13
    Senior Member fatboy_1999's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 4D4A41414A5B5B2F0 link=1271378038/10#10 date=1271388522
    Luckily for tea, the convenient variety eg teabags doesnt suffer the same fate as its coffee counterpart.
    I think youll find many tea snobs who would disagree.

  14. #14
    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 424550464B5D7B151D1D1D240 link=1271378038/12#12 date=1271391903
    I think youll find many tea snobs who would disagree.
    Good point.

    But if you had to compare, as tea is a more robust product than coffee, tea copes much better with bags than coffee.

    If you had the option, loose leaf tea tastes better than teabags - but the drop is not as marked as for coffee.

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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Well if it will make you feel better and less guilty, ezra, I drink instant coffee, too. Not really everyday, but I have to admit there are indeed lazy days or super busy days. And I do travel a lot, so sometimes instant coffee is the only choice.

  16. #16
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 7F7873737869691D0 link=1271378038/13#13 date=1271393969
    If you had the option, loose leaf tea tastes better than teabags - but the drop is not as marked as for coffee. *
    Again, disagreement.

    Im no tea snob because I only used to drink tea about once a year with my Nana and shes now long passed.

    However, I did buy some Darjeeling from CS for my wife and mother to try.
    Even I can tell its WAY better than teabag stuff.

    I also took some to work for some of my Indian colleagues to try (they know a thing or two about tea).
    Just like the reaction my fresh coffee gets from coffee drinkers, the Darjeeling got rave reviews.

    When the Darjeeling came up again in BeanBay (late last year?) I did a poll of the office and bought a bit more to split between myself (almost out of the first lot) and some others.

    Maybe "supermarket loose leaf isnt outstandingly better than tea bags" is what you meant to say. *;)

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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 467A677C767760757D76120 link=1271378038/9#9 date=1271386698
    ezralimm are you a troll?
    Nope. fingers get itchy when ive had too much caffeine. Mental diarrhea. Must type... must type...

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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 40475244495F79171F1F1F260 link=1271378038/1#1 date=1271379242
    If its a choice between freshly squeezed orange juice and orange cordial, Ill have water. Its even more convenient.

    Brett.
    ^^ this 8-)

    I really like water, so I tend not to subject myself to the quick/easy/convenient versions of drinks.

    Id not really been into tea until my wife got a proper teapot and good loose tea. Now I love it. Id not been really into coffee until we got our Isomac and started making real coffee.

  19. #19
    Senior Member bennett's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 665A475C565740555D56320 link=1271378038/15#15 date=1271399258
    Maybe "supermarket loose leaf isnt outstandingly better than tea bags" is what you meant to say.
    Sorry TG I would have to disagree. Again youre using coffee terminology and extrapolating it to tea.

    Whilst it is IMPOSSIBLE to have supermarket coffee that tastes good. It is NOT impossible to have nice supermarket tea. There are
    some really good quality teas sold through supermarkets, interspersed among the Lan choos and liptons.

    Now I am sure your darjeeling from beanbay was probably a lot better and I buy my tea and teabags from T2 which is good stuff, but the point is that the drop in quality between fresh coffee and coffee bags is a LOT MORE than fresh tea to teabags.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Pavoniboy's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Is instant coffee really that bad?

    YES!

    "Give me convenience...Give me death!"

  21. #21
    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    I drink my home roast coffee made into espresso or at work through an Aeropress. :)
    I drink freshly squeezed orange juice. :)

    I do not drink instant coffee. :P
    I do not drink orange cordial. :P
    They are both VASTLY inferior to the real thing. If you want them, you can have my share. ;D

    Greg

  22. #22
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Yes, instant coffee really is that bad...

    Have you ever stopped to wonder about what must go into it to make it smell that bad. Seriously, it makes me feel ill everytime I have to make an instant coffee (and sadly I have to) and I dont know why it would do that. Im not just saying that it makes me feel ill as a joke, I am serious...it really does make me nauseous.

    You should watch the SBS doco on coffee sometime, especially the episode about Folgers instant coffee and why there is such a thing...it will really have you staring in stupid shock as they tell you how the Americans had to help Brazil with their coffee oversupply...and they came up with horrible instant as an answer... ::)

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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    This is an extremely interesting post which has more to do with rationale than coffee.

    Taste, as we know, is very subjective in that, what one might perceive as tasting "good", another might perceive as tasting "bad", take Brussels sprouts as the classic example... or instant coffee so I dont stray too far off topic.

    This is somewhat to do with the number of fungiform papillae people have on their tongues - which varies from person to person. If one was to have a large number of fungiform papillae, they might consider instant coffee (or coffee at all) to be undrinkable, however someone with an average number of fungiform papillae might consider instant coffee as "aint half bad".

    That being said, one might consider that the taste of instant coffee "aint half bad" and the time and effort it takes to make an espresso is not convenient, thus the rationale is that the taste of instant coffee outweighs the effort of making an espresso.

    On the other side of the coin, one might consider instant coffee tastes so horrific that the time and effort required to make an espresso (from fresh home roasted BeanBay beans of course) is easily worth it.... I know I sure do.

    Taste Vs Convenience - Since we cannot have a consistent for "taste", it is all very subjective. Suffice to say we are rationale animals.

    In the interest of stirring things up a little on the OT subject of "having" to drink/make instant coffee, do you think perhaps "choosing" to might be a more appropriate word? ie. if one chose not to make/drink/brew instant coffee, even if the consequences were devastating - surely its still a "choice" *;D *;) *

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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    while taste being subjective is debatable (and i agree with steve fwiw, (how can any experience NOT be subjective?), *at least one experienced taster over at HB, i think another-jim from memory, *in this thread: www.home-barista.com/knockbox/why-should-taste-be-subjective-when-sight-isnt-t10667-20.htm thinks otherwise.),

    if we look at instant coffee in broader context were talking high input (fertilizers/pesticides) broad-acre monoculture, which reduces local biodiversity, feeding large companies for whom the product is just an exercise in money making and marketing & who value economy over social or environmental concerns.
    when this coffee is picked, do we expect it to be sorted to specialty grade, or contain under/over ripes, sticks, detritus?

    high nitrogen inputs pump up the coffee beans, making them absorb more water, swelling cellular stucture, increasing yield, and impacting negatively on taste (think huge tomatoes that look perfect but taste of very little), also nitrogen run-off chokes waterways.
    smaller farms are much more likely to use shade trees to slow ripening and protect the coffee trees, homes for local creatures. the remote nature of many high altitude arabica farms means that nutrient is valued and held on farm for fertilizer, such as by using cherry pulp under the trees. smaller, quality farms also means large nature corridors are maintained between farms, valleys etc.
    as pesticide is expensive and has to be transported, many small coffee farmers choose not to (or cannot) support these industries (of death)

    massive inputs required to take vietnam from 14th to second largest global producer of coffee in a decade not only degraded vast tracts of land but helped global price for coffee fall bellow production costs (even in vietnam with low labour costs). the bulk of this low quality robusta coffee was produced for instant or flavouring preps.

    some grades are so bad they have to steam the beans prior to flash roasting so as to have some of the funkier compounds driven off. flash roasting, even though done light to maximize yield, is so quick as to not allow complexities of *the bean to develop.

    then it is demonstrably old.

    the process of making instant exposes total soluble solids to oxidization, so it has to be stale.

    fungiform papillae as far as I know deal with the five taste basics (sweet, sour salty, bitter, umami), but all further olfactory recognition occurs retronasally, unless fungiform papillae occur in the nasal cavity
    (which i dont think they do), so it would seem that even people with few tastebuds may be able to taste anything other that these basic tastes, perhaps with less intensity.
    this does not alter the fact that what you CAN taste in instant is at best fairly poor

    good/bad is defined us, humans with the ability to take environmental and social concerns into account, along with the bottom dollar. we can even choose who we give our money to, by coping out to convenience we make some basic decisions as to what and who we support.

    furthermore, in the cup, without the aid of milk and sugar: instant is clearly bad

  25. #25
    Super Moderator scoota_gal's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 1B303E060A2D3C2F3C590 link=1271378038/22#22 date=1271441702
    In the interest of stirring things up a little on the OT subject of "having" to drink/make instant coffee, do you think perhaps "choosing" to might be a more appropriate word? ie. if one chose not to make/drink/brew instant coffee, even if the consequences were devastating - surely its still a "choice" *;D *;) *
    I have to make it as it is requested by some customers. I dont have a choice there, though I have tried to convert some to espresso.

  26. #26
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 3D3A31313A2B2B5F0 link=1271378038/18#18 date=1271409569
    Sorry TG I would have to disagree. Again youre using coffee terminology and extrapolating it to tea.
    @bennet I dont think Im "using coffee terminology and extrapolating it to tea".
    I will concede that Im using coffee "experience" and comparing it to tea and considering my already achkowledged lack of tea experience, will concede that supermarkets may have some better loose leaf teas than I imagined.

    I will point out though that you said you buy from T2... NOT the supermarket. *;)

  27. #27
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Someone above said this is a good topic and I agree. There have also been some good responses.

    My answer FWIW, instant coffee is not that bad.

    Regardless of what it is or isnt in comparison to fresh roasted coffee, lots of people like it and drink it and I dare say, lots more of it is consumed than fresh roast.

    If you take the line of discussion to the nth degree (that instant is bad), then anything that any individual does not like, is bad. Which means that just about everything must be bad.

    I dont like ford falcons, therefore they are bad. But are they really?

    Life goes round & round, fueled by individuals opinions.

    I wouldnt normally seek to consume an instant coffee, but in some (albeit very rare) circumstances, I very well might have to...and in some other circumstances, the instant may be a much better bet than the alternative so it will be relative to the situation.



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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by 7D6669626D65070 link=1271378038/23#23 date=1271459453
    while taste being subjective is debatable (and i agree with steve fwiw, (how can any experience NOT be subjective?), *at least one experienced taster over at HB, i think another-jim from memory, *in this thread: www.home-barista.com/knockbox/why-should-taste-be-subjective-when-sight-isnt-t10667-20.htm thinks otherwise.),

    if we look at instant coffee in broader context were talking high input (fertilizers/pesticides) broad-acre monoculture, which reduces local biodiversity, feeding large companies for whom the product is just an exercise in money making and marketing & who value economy over social or environmental concerns.
    when this coffee is picked, do we expect it to be sorted to specialty grade, or contain under/over ripes, sticks, detritus?

    high nitrogen inputs pump up the coffee beans, making them absorb more water, swelling cellular stucture, increasing yield, and impacting negatively on taste (think huge tomatoes that look perfect but taste of very little), also nitrogen run-off chokes waterways.
    smaller farms are much more likely to use shade trees to slow ripening and protect the coffee trees, homes for local creatures. the remote nature of many high altitude arabica farms means that nutrient is valued and held on farm for fertilizer, such as by using cherry pulp under the trees. smaller, quality farms also means large nature corridors are maintained between farms, valleys etc.
    as pesticide is expensive and has to be transported, many small coffee farmers choose not to (or cannot) support these industries (of death)

    massive inputs required to take vietnam from 14th to second largest global producer of coffee in a decade not only degraded vast tracts of land but helped global price for coffee fall bellow production costs (even in vietnam with low labour costs). the bulk of this low quality robusta coffee was produced for instant or flavouring preps.

    some grades are so bad they have to steam the beans prior to flash roasting so as to have some of the funkier compounds driven off. flash roasting, even though done light to maximize yield, is so quick as to not allow complexities of *the bean to develop.

    then it is demonstrably old.

    the process of making instant exposes total soluble solids to oxidization, so it has to be stale.

    fungiform papillae as far as I know deal with the five taste basics (sweet, sour salty, bitter, umami), but all further olfactory recognition occurs retronasally, unless fungiform papillae occur in the nasal cavity
    (which i dont think they do), so it would seem that even people with few tastebuds may be able to taste anything other that these basic tastes, perhaps with less intensity.
    this does not alter the fact that what you CAN taste in instant is at best fairly poor

    good/bad is defined us, humans with the ability to take environmental and social concerns into account, along with the bottom dollar. we can even choose who we give our money to, by coping out to convenience we make some basic decisions as to what and who we support.

    furthermore, in the cup, without the aid of milk and sugar: instant is clearly bad
    There are two problems with above argument:

    1) Im pretty sure most of the farms that sell us beans (eg on coffeesnob) also supply major instant coffee manafacturers. Hence that point is moot. Believe it or not, instant coffee is also made by blending beans.

    2) Instant coffee is actually quite drinkable black with maybe a lil bit of sugar, especially as a mild drink (half a teaspoon instant to a mug of water). It really is like cordial in that regard.

  29. #29
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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    while i agree that even on the most conscientious farms up to 60-70 percent of coffee is not considered top grade (and hence producers are constantly trying to bring a greater proportion of their product to the premium specialty market, as an example re-passed or raisin coffee that used to regarded as waste is now a specialty product, same goes for caricole or peaberry), in Brazil a disproportionate quantity of coffee is produced on fewer than five percent of very large super farms, mainly for the less selective market, using intensive industrial agriculture practices.

    i thought that if taken relative to specialty grade, instant is so clearly bad that its not worth arguing, on the other hand, if taken according to some measure that is not related to specialty grade, eg. triple bottom lines of environmental, social and economic, instant still has clearly negative outcomes (as in coffee farmers the world over not being able to make a living by being out competed for bottom-line by industrially produced low quality coffees. prices for coffee have only really just recovered in the last couple of years), do you trust huge corps racing for lowest possible bottom line to produce something really good, or something just grudgingly accepted.

    a study some years ago showed that when mean coffee quality is considered high, in excess of 70% of the population will drink it. conversely when average coffee quality is not as high, in excess of 50% of the population choose not to drink it, ie. they find it intolerable... er bad ( i think one population studied was america during different time periods in which consumption went up and down, i will try to locate said article)

    i personally have never found instant prepared in any manner tolerable, let alone black *::)

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    Re: Is instant coffee really that bad?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    That is very insightful.

    I do recommend you to watch the SBS doco on Yemeni Coffee (link in another thread). Skip to 13.30 where it starts the segment on coffee.

    Its making me curious. If any Yemen coffees come to CS I will probably give it a try.



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