Starbucks. Isn’t that where it almost always starts? While I was in grad school, I would frequent the local Starbucks, trying to kill two birds with one stone. I needed a place to study, but I also wanted to earn my coveted Starbucks Gold Card. Not wanting to have third degree burns in my mouth on a daily basis, I would always order an iced coffee. This is when my palate started to change.
That smokey, roasty, charcoal, and medicinal flavor would stain my mouth whenever I would drink my iced coffee, and with free refills, I would knock back at least 8 a week. This evolved my pallet as years before I would gag drinking whiskey, then all of a sudden I had a craving for those smokey, tannin filled flavors. I thought that Starbucks was the epitome of coffee, because of its properties to change my taste. Then a good friend of mine took me to my first specialty coffee shop: Handsome Coffee.
Handsome Coffee was located in the Arts District of Los Angeles, which is now housing Blue Bottle LA. It was beautifully simple, and it still had the magnitude to change my life. Since all I knew was iced coffee, I ordered just that, but the baristas called it cold brew. I didn’t know any different. Through my palate training at Starbucks, I was expecting the flavor of liquid smoke, but what I tasted was completely different. I had that same euphoric experience that the rat in “Ratatouille” went through when he had his first taste of amazing food. My world was changed. The cold brew was mildly acidic, with chocolatey, and nutty notes. It was refreshing, and lacked that horrible bitter aftertaste. Handsome became the Mecca of coffee for me. Handsome was my rabbit-hole experience that I am still falling, and tumbling through.
R.I.P Handsome Coffee Roasters.