My husband calls me a coffee snob. I don’t think that I’m a snob per se, but rather I have certain expectations when it comes to my coffee, which became very apparent when we returned from our honeymoon. We stumbled upon a coffee shop called Castroni Caffe while in Rome, and I swear I had died and gone to coffee heaven. I am a dark roast fan, and I want my coffee to taste like coffee, and I often drink it in espresso form because I need the boldness, adding just enough cream to take any bitterness away. The Castroni coffee was bold, strong, but smooth. I needed little cream and no sugar. I had found my coffee.
I bought two tins straight away. I gave one of the tins of coffee to my mother-in-law and kept one for myself. When we came back to the US and I had run out, I vowed that I would find a coffee here that was the equivalent of the coffee I had in Italy (I kept the tin, in case I was able to search and find this brand out here).
After our honeymoon, my husband and I missed the food that we had in Italy, so we ventured out to Little Italy here in San Diego. Mona Lisa Italian Foods not only has a great restaurant, but they also have a wonderful little deli. I asked the workers there if they have a recommendation for a coffee that equalled the coffee we had in Italy, as they did not carry the Castroni brand. They recommended Illy, and I have been buying this brand since then (see my post on Espressamente, their cafe in Las Vegas here). I had found the bold yet smooth taste I originally discovered in Rome. It does however come at a price: any regular supermarket that carries Illy prices their tins at $14 to 16, and Mona Lisa has theirs at $10.99 (the last time I checked).
For everyday use, I find it difficult to justify paying that much for coffee, which I go through very quickly. So I set out to find a more inexpensive alternative for my daily use, and then I can have my Illy on the weekends. After trying about a dozen or so brands, I had just about given up on finding a good, cheap roast and resigned to the fact that I just have to put up the cash for the coffee that I want. After standing for over 20 minutes in front of the coffee aisle, I saw a tin with a price of $4.99 called Cafe Bustelo, a Cuban-style coffee. I decided to try it, and if it wasn’t great, then I would have only spent about $5 and that would be the end of it. I ended up enjoying this coffee for the bold taste. Although it wasn’t as smooth as my first two choices, it tasted much better than the others I’ve tried and I could add just a bit more cream to take the edge off.
Recently, I found this article on Shine from Yahoo and promptly showed my husband. The article was called “Brew a Cheaper Buzz with the Best Budget Coffee“. Lo and behold, my cheap choice of Cafe Bustelo was one of their favorites as well, which I felt proved my uncanny ability to distinguish good coffee, therefore solidifying my refined coffee tastes. My husband just looked at me and said, “Snob…” then walked away.
Whatever. I won.
(Middle image courtesy of World Harvest Foods)