Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

A Decent Ground Coffee in a Can? Say Whaaaat?!?

Posted in Uncategorized by Jason Gray on August 24, 2009


For Thomas Coffee’s Website, click it!

Recently, I have been forced to choose economic alternatives to some of my favorite items that I purchase regularly; a reality which urged a dichotomy to the surface when it collided with my long ago affirmed, mental treaty to abolish canned or ground coffee from the territory of my morning routine.

Over the years as an artist, I have found myself needing to rely on other sources of income to survive, and ended up working a number of jobs in a plethora of cafes.  In Chicago alone, I worked as a supervisor or “mere” barista at Starbucks, Filter Coffee Lounge, Gloria Jeans Coffee, Beboba Tea House  and Caffe de Luca.  These experiences have led me to become a veritable connoisseur of the steamy, caffeinated, black stuff that I pound back every morning with a willful desperation.  Which is why, when I reluctantly lowered my defenses and allowed the enemy, that is ground and canned coffee, to enter my fortitude comprised of bags of organic, Fair Trade, whole beans, I was astonished at the resulting brew; it possessed a smooth, even tone, a presence of acidity but without its expected accomplice, bitterness, and a very subtle flourish of something floral.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have grand allusions of possessing an extremely refined palate, nor do I go around scoring my coffee that I get from cafes, but I do appreciate a good cup of joe and I go through a process of hand-pouring every morning to get the best flavor that I can with what little I can afford.  And surprisingly, this St. Louis native measures up.  It even retained its flavor (mostly) after several hours of festering in my thermos at work.

Based on my observations of the blend, my assumption is that Thomas Coffee uses a lot of beans from Latin America, which are naturally versatile to many uses and great for adding to blends.  If I’m right, then great, because those tend to produce my favorite coffees (mild, somewhat acidic, and smooth).  I really don’t taste anything that screams “African” or “Indonesian/Sumatran” in this blend; it is also not roasted dark enough to properly accommodate (in my opinion) most of those bean origins.  Looking at the grind, it doesn’t shimmer like the “coffee crystals” that you see in both Folger’s and Maxwell House, which might be evidence that Thomas does not go as far in terms of “processing” their blend, and it seems to be ground ever so slightly finer than those brands, which places it in between a paper cone filter and a flat-bottom.  There is also the point of fact that I am drinking a coffee that is made locally, which might account for some of the better flavor (ie. freshness).  If only Thomas could produce an organic and Fair Trade version of their house blend, I would be all set!


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