A little over a year go I got an espresso machine. Although I like coffee-flavoured ice cream and sweets, I had never really got in to the habit of drinking coffee before, probably because it seemed to me more like getting in to a habit than enjoying a drink. I think it was more that I just didn't like instant coffee.
Through some friends I ended up enjoying a vanilla-flavoured coffee substitute, and that prompted me to take up my boss's offer of a coffee when we headed off to a regular weekly meeting. The coffee at work was made from freshly ground beans and to my surprise I could actually taste the coffee, finding it to be a pleasant flavour and quite different from my memories of instant coffee. It was this revelation that prompted me in to getting the espresso machine, which allows me to make good cups of coffee at home. My only obstacle after getting the machine was finding some coffee that I liked.
There are an awful lot of different flavours and brands of coffee available. I wasn't too daunted, as I could just buy a few different varieties and try them out individually before settling on one or two types that I like. Unfortunately, it wasn't that simple. Buying a bag of coffee to taste it either means wasting the rest of the bag, and the money spent, for the sake of a cup or two, or finishing the whole bag, which takes at least a week with my enjoying a cup or two a day. I try not to be wasteful, so unless the coffee was truly foul I finished the whole bag before going on to try a different variety of coffee. This has drawbacks.
By the end of a bag of coffee it was obvious whether or not I liked that brand of coffee, and I could judge fairly easily how it compared to the next brand, even if I didn't break open the new bag until the next day. But by the time I'd got half-way through the new bag I would have forgotten the relative taste of the previous one, apart from whether I liked it or not. Carrying any qualititive judgements from individual bags of coffee for more than a couple of weeks was difficult when a new flavour dominated my taste buds. I could only ever compare two varieties of coffee directly, across bag changes, and I would often buy the same brands several times because I had forgotten their relative tastes.
I tried to make mental notes of which coffees I particularly liked, and although some written notes may have helped more I never quite got to the stage of reviewing for personal use each brand I tasted. I was happy enough to continue trying different coffees each time, as there were still plenty of brands and varieties to work through. Every now and again, however, I would get a coffee that was obviously not as tasty as others, and that finally gave me the incentive to find my coffee of choice. I bought new bags of all the flavours that I had mentally marked as my favourites up to that point and decided to choose between them.
It still took a month or two to work through at least one bag of each flavour, but the moment came half-way through a bag of Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Guatamala Genuine Antigua coffee that I realised I had found the coffee for me. It is smooth and not too bitter, and tastes simply fabulous when enjoyed with some spicy food. There are still varieties of coffee that I haven't tried, and I will likely pick one up occasionally to give it a try, but for now I am happily savouring a brand that has taken me around a year to decide upon.