The Caffeine Addict: Costco Coffee Fail
Saturday, November 13th, 2010
I’ve said plenty of nice things about Costco in the past, and regular readers will have seen my specific product recommendations in the Costco Reports that I post on this blog (e.g., here and here), but I have no special agenda in support of Costco shareholders, and I don’t pull my punches, so today – as I pour another badly needed but instantly regrettable cup that tastes very distinctly of incinerated carbon- I have to call them out: Dude, your Kirkland coffee really sucks.
Now, before you jump down my throat for being foolish enough to buy coffee in bulk from a warehouse, trust me, I get it: I’ve posted (here) at some length about the importance of both the intensity and the freshness of the roast, as well as (over here) why I prefer coffee that has, at the margin, been roasted too hard rather than gently. I’ve also bought coffee at Costco once before – an ostensibly fair trade and organic Sumatran from the “Seattle Mountain” brand that they freshly roast right in-house – and I was reasonably happy with it, particularly at about $5/lb, or less than half the price of Peets and at least 70% less than the boutique roaster here in town.
The Kirkland brand (pictured at right), however, isn’t French roast, it’s downright volcanic, the beans apparently having been subjected to some sort of scorched earth policy, and produces the sort of coffee that I can imagine the rebels drinking in the future of the Terminator, where the very surface of the planet has been reduced to a bleached out, smoldering husk. You know when you use a charcoal grill and then it rains on the burnt out coals before you can clean them out? Well, take ash, push it through a cheesecloth, and you’ll have a fair idea of what I’m drinking for breakfast today.
I’ve heard it claimed, but cannot seem to vet or verify, that the Kirkland brand is roasted for Costco by none other than Starbucks, which would go a long ways to explaining the egregiously violent application of heat, although I suppose the final analysis sits in my cup, so it doesn’t really matter who burnt the living daylights out of the poor little beans, only that it happened. I would buy the freshly roasted organic version again because, while it may pale in comparison to what a really top shelf local roaster can provide, it represents terrific value and still tastes good in an absolute sense. But I’m struggling to keep from using these Kirkland beans for compost – partly because I’m a cheap bastard who hate, hate, hates to waste food, but mainly because I’m afraid that introducing the sack of coal black berries into the environment could leave the same sort of carbon footprint as Al and Tipper Gore’s McMansion.