6 Coffee Myths Debunked, and What Makes a Good Cup of Joe

Have you ever heard people saying that ‘I don’t know how to drink coffee’?

With the boom in cafe industry, a lot of us have adopted the western weekend brunch ritual. What do we expect when we abandon our good old kopi and fork out RM10 for a cup of latte?

1. Latte art

Thanks to the popularity of Instagram and Facebook, coffee has to look pretty nowadays. Some cafes even come up with photogenic 3D latte art to attract customers. Does good latte art make good coffee?

According to this article, latte art doesn’t make coffee taste better but it does increase the perceived value of coffee. In other word, we are willing to pay more for pretty coffee.

2. Acidity

Being exposed to third wave coffee culture, we learn that coffee is supposed to taste acidic (sour in lay man term) and carries complex flavours such as berries, citrus or cempedak.

Truth is, coffee from different origin has distinctive taste profile, such as lemony, chocolaty, earthy or nutty. Other factors that affect acidity include processing method and roast level. Generally coffee beans that go through fermentation process and lightly roasted will have more acidic taste.

We need to understand the factors that make up acidity of coffee and set our expectation accordingly. Acidity is not equivalent to good coffee.

3. Sugar and milk

Coffee snobs often order their black coffee with pride. That is how you get the authentic taste of coffee, they said.

Truth is, sugar enhances the flavour of coffee. There is professional sensory judge who recommends adding sugar to espresso. Also, milk and coffee could be match made in heaven because the natural sweetness of milk cut will through acidity of coffee, making our coffee milder with smoother mouth feel.

Well, everyone has their own preference and standard for favourite coffee. We deserve a guilty pleasure sometimes.

4. Starbucks coffee sucks?

Starbucks coffee tastes like coffee flavoured milk, some coffee snobs say that. Yes, Frappuccino could be the product of great marketing campaign, and there is no secret that Starbucks takes pride in their customer service. They also make sure that your name is written on Starbucks cup which you will proudly snap and post on social media.

This year, Starbucks made a huge move by establishing Starbucks Reserve in Seattle, where they showcase sophisticated roasting facilities, all types of beans and different brewing equipment. This is their way of saying that, ‘hey, we know coffee too’.

5. Arabica VS. Robusta

The common perception is that Arabica beans are good and Robusta beans are bad because Arabica beans are more expensive and harder to grow. 

Our local kopi is made from Robusta beans fried with sugar and margarine to cover its original bitterness.

Thing is, most traditional Italian espresso blends such as Illy and Lavazza contain Robusta beans which give it body and crema.

6. Extra hot please?

Being Asian, we are used to having hot food, which is why sometimes we see people ordering extra hot coffee in a cafe.

Truth is, milk tastes sweetest when heated to 60-65 degree Celsius, while the ideal temperature of brewing coffee is 90-96 degree Celsius. If you ask for extra hot coffee, chances are you will end up with scalded milk or burnt coffee that doesn’t taste good at all.


So, what makes a good coffee?
Stories of coffee matter.

As a consumer, our perception of coffee originated from memories and experiences.  Sometimes we consume stories crafted by advertiser, marketer and brand strategists, which often include elements such as happiness, luxury, and perfect backdrop of beautiful cafes.

Professionals in the coffee industry, such as grader, roaster and barista are exposed to stories of coffee that encompass origin countries, processing, brewing, and chemical reactions in coffee compound. They judge the quality of coffee based on aroma, body, flavour and aftertaste.

Our taste buds remember stories of early coffee experiences in life while a barista’s taste buds are trained to remember stories of sensory aspects in good coffee.

These stories define the perfect cup of coffee in every one of us.

In TED Global 2009, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an author from Nigeria said:
Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity.

Understanding builds the fundamental of a community.
If a barista respects the beans and needs of customer, if a customer respects the responsibility of barista to bring the best of bean to cup; they will create a space and moment so magical that makes the perfect coffee experience.

Favourites aren’t always about quality but about the experience and the memory.

We should keep an open mind and explore as many coffees as possible; who knows when you will bump into your new favourite. 


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