I blogged on this question this week after a regular customer asked me... what are your opinions?

Check the blog here http://www.baristaexchange.com/profiles/blogs/does-good-coffee-need...

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absolutely yes. coffee is only what it is when it is left "pure." as soon as good coffee is diluted with dairy or altered with sugars and flavors, it may as well be Folgers or Via. If black coffee is too "strong" for an individual, buy a home espresso machine and create good coffee meant to have milk and flavors.
Brian Thayer said:
absolutely yes. coffee is only what it is when it is left "pure." as soon as good coffee is diluted with dairy or altered with sugars and flavors, it may as well be Folgers or Via. If black coffee is too "strong" for an individual, buy a home espresso machine and create good coffee meant to have milk and flavors.

Huh?! Drip, press, vac, pourover etc. is only what it is meant to be when unadulterated and espresso extracted coffee is meant to have milk and flavors to be good coffee? I think not.

While agree the preponderance of espresso beverages served in cafes in the US qualify for that statement, that in no way means espresso was or is intended to be adulterated. It means the preponderance of US consumers are sweet toothed milk babies following the Green Mermaids lead.
First off I have not read your blog. I don't think it will help me respond to this.

All depends on what you or your customer is drinking the coffee for.
Does your day get ruined by rain? I'm not at all trying to be a smart ass here. Just trying to clear up the picture for you a little.
I'm a coffee roaster/ cupper/ and all around coffee freak in business like you. You want it pure? Don't put anything in it.
Ruined? what do you mean? Not pure? Then yes if that is your only criteria. The word or phrase "Good Coffee" in and of itself in this country has come to mean something different to each and every customer who comes through my door. The owner and master roaster of the roasting/cupping school I came from drinks his spro with demerara every morning, he prefers to stir in the creama and then adds sugar. Ruined, I think not in Mane's mind. Enhanced, in his mind, absolutely.
Does he use sugar when he cups each and every roast that goes out his door absolutely not.
Again, if you want to taste only the bean, SO, quality of roast, blend, etc. then drink it straight.
Other wise it's totally subjective.
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
Does the presence of sugar "ruin" coffee? That sounds absurd.

Does the use of salt "ruin" food?

I liken sugar in coffee to that of salt in food. In the right amounts, it can heighten the flavor of the coffee. In excessive amounts, it's not so pleasant. And while I cringe at the customer who deigns to put six tablespoons of sugar in their 12z coffee, I don't hate them for it. I'd like them to try it my way, but if they truly are enjoying our coffee with six sugars, then c'est la vie.
You seem to ask two different questions here. In your post title you ask if good coffee gets ruined by sugar. My answer: yes, every day. Every time a perfectly extracted cup of conscientiously grown, carefully processed, lovingly roasted, beautiful coffee is diluted with 500 calories of white sugar, a tiny tragedy has occurred. However, truly good coffee can get it's point across through a little cream and sugar.

Your blog how ever asks "does good coffee need sugar?" I say no, never. If coffee "needs" sugar, it isn't good.

I note in your bog that you go to great lengths to absolve roasters of culpability when it comes to bad coffee. While I would concede that most bad coffee is a result of bad preparation (via carelessness, equipment issues, stale product, poor standards, etc.,) certainly there are countless tons of crap beans shipped from roasters to cafes the world over every year. Roasters are just people after all, and are susceptible to inattention, boredom, hangover, stress, illness, emotional agitation, and ennui. These roasters work for/own businesses that deal with market pressures, equipment failures, unpaid accounts, uncertain sales, missing shipments, depreciating capital investments, and general economic downturn. All of these factors can lead to slips in product quality, and with coffee it doesn't take much of a slip for good coffee to bypass mediocrity and go straight to being crap.
Hi, I'm Paul, and I am a sugar user.... kidding aside, I am learning to drink coffee straight, as I desire to learn the nuances of flavor. However, I find that for pure enjoyment, I tend to want a little sugar in my coffee and espresso. I am a stirrer when it comes to espresso. I don't hold that "crema is rubbish" as some say, but I like my espresso best when I taste all the elements of it together. For me, a little sugar, and I do mean little, considering it's a 2 oz shot, enhances the flavor, emphasizing the flavor notes I enjoy most.

I do cringe when I see a customer dumping in 6 packets of sugar into a 12 oz. coffee, following with 3 or 4 half and half creamers. I work hard to provide the best drip coffee I can, and while I know that their practice of adulterating their coffee is a habit borne of years of bad coffee, it still bothers me. But as Jay says, if they enjoy their drink, then I will let them be. Coffee preparation is subjective when it comes to what we add to the cup. I happen to dislike the flavor of dairy products in my coffee, but I like it in a latte. That's subjective. Does that make it wrong? Of course not.

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