Learning How to Like Coffee, and How to Like Beer
November 15, 2008 10:34 AM   Subscribe

There are two beverages that nearly every American adult seems to like, but I dislike both: coffee and beer. I would like to develop a taste for both of them. For morning caffeine, coffee's free at most workplaces whereas pop isn't; and beer is a cheap mood alterer; but more importantly, both are social lubricants, one that isn't achieved by drinking a soda while others get either awake, buzzed or drunk. It's been a while since I had either, but remembering the tastes, I think it's that I dislike the bitterness in each drink.

This isn't anything I'm torn up over, but I can see how acclimating myself to these would be helpful to things I'd like to develop socially. Anyhow, tips on how to change my tastes so that I can become a jittery, coffee-addicted beerhound would be appreciated. :-)
posted by WCityMike to Food & Drink (56 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
You can work yourself up to full strength coffee. Start by learning to like coffee ice cream, then try drinking a frappucino-type "blended coffee drink," then try mocha or some other drink that has a lot of sugar, etc until you're drinking black coffee. I can't help you with the beer.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 10:47 AM on November 15, 2008

Response by poster: I actually do like the taste of coffee candy, coffee ice cream, etc. already.
posted by WCityMike at 10:48 AM on November 15, 2008

Best answer: If the bitterness of beer is what bothers you, stay away from anything that describes itself as "hoppy". You want to stick with the more malty or citrus-y flavors. I think a good starter beer for those who don't like bitterness is Blue Moon--it's very light and a bit sweet without being cloying, and can be served with a slice of orange to sweeten it up even a bit further. Once you've acquired a taste for lighter hefeweizens and wheat beers, you can branch out into amber ales and other malty brews. Stay away from porters and IPAs in the beginning if you don't like bitter tastes.

Almost all coffees have a bitter taste to them, but dark roasts are much more pronounced. Stick with "breakfast blends" or other light roasts (and avoid Starbucks for straight coffee, because their coffee tends towards being a bit more bitter). Also, while sugar or sweetner can help a bit with adding in a sweet note to coffee, what you really want is to add some fat in--that's ultimately what takes the bitter taste out. Use a dash of half-and-half or creamer (NOT nonfat or 2% milk, neither of which have quite enough fat to work as well) to cut bitterness first, then add sugar or sweetner to taste.

Good luck! I'm not a huge fan of bitter flavors either, and I've acquired quite a taste for both beer and coffee.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:50 AM on November 15, 2008 [6 favorites]

Best answer: If you dislike the bitterness, go for some flavored coffees and beers. One beer that comes to mine is Summer Shandy. It's still got that beer taste, but it's slightly masked by a lemonade-like flavor. Very light, refreshing, and delicious. A perfect starting point, as you'll develop a taste for beer without being turned off by it. You may, however, have a hard time finding it during the Winter as it's Summer beer.
posted by nitsuj at 10:50 AM on November 15, 2008

For me, beer and coffee were definitely both tastes which required some getting used to, so I might have some useful input.

For beer I would say to buy a few bottles of different kinds and try them, preferably fairly light so that they don't taste too bitter. (Hopefully someone else can help you out with brands, I am in the UK). Start by drinking them with food, to help take the edge of the taste. Chips and salsa is an obvious classic, or a spicy curry. Basically anything spicy is good, as the alcohol breaks down the spice and the beer will taste really refreshing, rather than bitter.

From there, the taste will grow on you with a bit of luck, and you will be desperately looking forward to a nice cool beer come 5 o'clock on a Friday afternoon.

Coffee grew on me out of necessity, rather than desire. Whilst writing my masters thesis, I figured I would try this caffeine thing to help me get through the day, and almost instantly I was constantly going back to the coffee machine. I started with very milky, very sugary coffee to avoid the bitter taste, but it wasn't long before I was more than happy with a good old strong black coffee.

So I guess my advice is to just stick with it. You'll be a jittery, coffee-addicted beerhound in no time.
posted by latentflip at 10:57 AM on November 15, 2008

I'll challenge your top line assertion. I know lots of adult Americans who don't like beer and/or coffee. Whether its because they haven't tried to acclimate themselves or just a fundamental disconnect in their taste buds is a different question.

As for the taste of beer, I think you need to find a beer that works for you. Beer is a huge multi-axised spectrum of tastes. You can't write off all beers without trying a representative sample (just like you would do with wine or scotch or a whole host of other things).

Since you are in Chicago there should be plenty of places that will do beer samples. Go with a friend if you are worried about wasting beer. Even better would be some sort of beer festival where you can get even smaller samples of a wider array of beers.
posted by mmascolino at 10:58 AM on November 15, 2008

Best answer: One other suggestion--if you can stand it, try to cut all soda out of your diet for a week or two and see if that helps. It's easy to get acclimated to very sweet tastes when you're drinking things like frappucinos, soda, or sweet teas every day, and in comparison the bitter notes in everything else start to really stand out.

When I avoid sweet drinks for 2-3 weeks, I find that I need less sugar and fat in my coffee and tea (and food in general) to combat bitterness, because it no longer tastes so strong to me. On the other hand, when I first have a sip of Coke again, I almost can't stand how syrupy it is, when it didn't bother me before the break. I'm guessing that if you drink a lot of very sweet drinks, your perception of the bitterness in coffee and beer is much more pronounced than how other people are experiencing it.

Cutting out the sugar for a bit might even open up your appreciation of other foods that taste kind of bitter now, like broccoli. (Mmm, roasted broccoli + bit of balsamic vinegar + porter = heaven. Totally worth giving up my diet coke addiction.)
posted by iminurmefi at 10:58 AM on November 15, 2008 [3 favorites]

Try cider like Strongbow for a drink that looks like beer and has more kick to it anyway. You could also go for the double whammy, New Belgium Brewing Co. has a new beer called Giddy Up that uses espresso for flavoring. You could go to your local brew/pub and ask the tender what his/her least bitter beer is and try that.
posted by schyler523 at 10:59 AM on November 15, 2008

As a coffe/beer drinker I'd first suggest that if you're not into it I'd consider not even trying. I love them both but they're definitely acquired and neither are particularly good for you healthwise (not are they terrible, but...).

Coffee is really, to me, the more addictive of the two. I get serious withdrawal symptoms if I don't drink it, and after a while you don't so much get buzzed from drinking it as simply approach something resembling 'baseline' when you do. If I don't have it I'm irritable and have a headache moreseo than being less 'awake'. Before I started drinking coffee I got along just fine in a very stressful university/athlete mode and it was probably a lot better for me - easier to nap in the afternoon etc.

Beer, well. It's good. I could stop with no negative symptoms. Beer's the more social of the two, though it depends on your age. I'm in my thirties and beer is just another type of alcohol - wine seems to be the drink of choice amongst a lot of my friends. If you're in university it's a little harder to avoid, but even then it's not impossible. My brother is mildly allergicl to alcohol and he just grabbed an empty, filled it up with water at a party and nobody was ever the wiser. But, I digress...

I'd say that if you wanna do it, do it right. I am a grade A coffee snob and have both an espresso machine and a french press, and those are the only way to go. Fuck drip. If I want a kick ass hard core coffee, get a good espresso bean and grind it coarse, fresh and yourself. Keep it in a sealed container. Four teaspoons in a 4-cup Bodum or similar. 5 minutes before pressing. It doesn't get any better.

Beer - go microbrew or explore interesting import beers. Make sure to start off with nice lighter lagers if you don't like the taste of beer. Not many people do like it at first, to be honest, but it doesn't take long. Drink while eating something at first, or even ease yourself into it with mixing with half beer and half lemon soda - some people in North America think this is shameful but I'll be they've never had a good one. Lemon Fanta is pretty good for this, if you can find it.

A good Bavarian Lager or Czech-style pilsner is not a bad place to start. You don't want to start with MacEwans or something dark or bitter, because you'll never like it. Guinness is also a good starter despite what people may say. It looks think but is actually very mellow, mild and smooth. It's one of my favourites.

Good luck.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:59 AM on November 15, 2008

Best answer: As someone who once liked neither coffee nor beer, and now does, I can assure you that it is actually quite easy to develop a taste for either or both.

Coffee is probably the easiest. First, remember that really in your day to day life you are going to encounter maybe three or four kinds of coffee (and then if you get into it you can then go and discover the many other kinds of coffee out there): instant; often burnt-tasting percolator coffee (which can be made strong or weak); "premium" coffee like what you get from Starbucks or your favorite local cafe; and espresso drinks of all varieties.

I'll avoid the "which one is best" arguments, because here we are talking about just drinking what you are served. My point is just that it is more complicated than just "coffee," and there is a real range of bitterness in the cup someone might hand you.

But the good news is that as an entry-level coffee drinker, all you have to do is cut the bitterness and acidity with milk and/or sugar. Most everyone starts with milky/sweet drinks, and works their way up to drinking strong coffee black. (The complication is that most offices only have non-dairy creamer for coffee, which is a pretty poor substitute for real cream.)

Beer works the same way. You start with sweeter and less bitter beers, varieties like hefeweizen and brands like Blue Moon. Pretty soon you will find yourself enjoying IPAs and craft beers that advertise extra hops. Personally I find Bud/Miller/Coors/etc pretty undrinkable, but love almost every micro/craft beer I've tried; as with all things, YMMV.

Almost every supermarket now sells lots of better beers, but I would strongly suggest going to a decent bar when they aren't super busy, and telling the bartender that you are wanting to start drinking beer (make some joke about too much PBR in high school or something, maybe), and ask for tastes of whatever they'd recommend. Some places offer "flights," meaning a bunch of small glasses of beers for you to sample, but every decent bar I've been in will give you tastes of three or five beers as long as you don't seem like you are just trying to mooch free sips. Taste different sorts of beers (lager, stout, etc), and see which are at least marginally palatable to your tastebuds. Keep experimenting, and see how your tastes change.

(Beer and coffee, like wine, whiskey, and chocolate, are magnets for obsessive aficionados who will try and convince you that the only version worth tasting is some organic version that costs $500/sip and was hand-crafted by monks in a mountaintop monastery in a country you can't pronounce. They are probably right that that version tastes better, but the utility-grade stuff that is served at the office, or in your local bar, does the job acceptably. Don't feel pressured to go straight from dilettante to aficionado without passing through normal-land.)
posted by Forktine at 11:00 AM on November 15, 2008

Best answer: I am working my way into coffee via the following:

Step 1 - Coffee ice cream
Step 2 - Mocha or vanilla frappaccinos
Step 3 - Coffee with LOTS of milk (like half coffee and half milk) and sugar
Step 4 - Real coffee!

Right now I'm between steps 3 and 4 and it's working out pretty well. And I HATED coffee.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:04 AM on November 15, 2008

I totally agree that bitter flavors are something you have to work up to. I used to loathe anything bitter but after a period of almost unintentional acclimation, I'm a bitter freak now. I like french press coffee with just a hint of cream and big, hoppy beers.

As with most things, practice makes perfect. In my quest to be a more perfect omnivore, I've gotten over a variety of food dislikes simply by making myself eat or drink the thing over and over again in low pressure situations. Start with the girly, syrupy latte type coffee drinks and malty, low hop beers. Just keep drinking them, even if you aren't in love at first. The human palate has an amazing talent for getting used to things. Once you find the gentler stuff palatable, you can work your way up the scale.

As for beer, a good liquor store or beer bar should have people working there who can help you find beer that suits you better if you tell them you don't love bitter hops flavors and that you're trying to get more into beer. A good tutor can be invaluable. For specific recommendations, by beer loathing mom adores Blue Moon with an orange. I'm quite a fan of proper German Hefeweizens (wheat beers) in general. They tend to be soft, round, and very drinkable. Also, the first two beers I ever loved when I was starting out were Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale and Flying Dog Road Dog (a Scottish porter, sort like Guiness, but not). Both have warm, roasty, nutty flavors that I found approachable.
posted by mostlymartha at 11:05 AM on November 15, 2008

What about tea instead of coffee? The black teas are sometimes bitter, but the rest (oolong, green, and white) are pretty mild to my palette. And a box to tea is pretty cheap. Certainly cheaper than soda.

As for beer... no recommendations there that haven't already been said (stay away from the hoppy ones). I started drinking beer as a sophomore in college. Couldn't stand the stuff at first, so I'd only drink it after a night of screw drivers and vodka and tequila shots. At that point an MGD didn't taste so bad :) Before too long, I was actually enjoying the taste and adding beer to my repertoire.
posted by sbutler at 11:06 AM on November 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

I like beer and sometimes coffee. I would also suggest one of the citrus-y hefeweizens. There is a local brewery in Phoenix where I live that makes an orange blossom hefeweizen that's probably my favorite beer. I didn't like IPAs or other dark beers when I first started drinking beer, and now I've acquired a taste for them (except Guinness...yuck). If you find a beer that you like and keep drinking that, it will lead you to other beers. You might also like a cerveza (Mexican beer) with lime (I like Dos Equis).

I hate black coffee for the most part, but I like it with plenty of cream and sugar, so you might try that (as previously suggested).
posted by nel at 11:07 AM on November 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

I can't help you much with coffee but I do know beer. As iminurmefi said, the "safest" beers are wheat beers, hefeweizens, and flavored brews. Hoppy beers like IPAs have a strong bitter taste, and malty beers like porters have a strong nutty taste. Both of those can turn people off, but you may find that you like one of those styles.

I would suggest going to a local microbrew and ordering a flight of beer samples. You can quickly try a variety of different styles of beers to tell which kinds you prefer. Really, trying a lot of different kinds of beer in general is the only way to tell which one's you'll like.

Also, if you want to drink beer in social settings, you'll probably need to find some relatively common beers that you can drink, because you won't always be able to get your favorite hefeweizen or raspberry wheat beer at a random bar. In Chicago you'll find Goose Island beers in many places, along with a few other local area brews that are better than the national domestic choices. In general it helps if you find a popular beer such as Sam Addams, Becks, Heineken, Corona, Stella, Hacker-Pschorr, etc. that you like.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:07 AM on November 15, 2008

I'm a supertaster (I bet you might be too) and really don't like coffee or beer (or grapefruit).

As a coffee alternative, I drink cocoa or green tea. It doesn't give me the caffeine, but really being caffeine free is great for you. When I do want chemical stimulus I drink cola or eat a lot of dark chocolate (actually theobromine, but it has a similar affect) instead.

For beer, I drink cider or cocktails instead. They're not always available but I tried to like beer (trying the least bitter beers me and a big beer nerd friend could come up with) and it just didn't work. Beer people do actually rate the bitterness of beers, in IBUs but it didn't matter, I still hated them all.
posted by aubilenon at 11:09 AM on November 15, 2008

I did what Forktine describes with coffee and started milky/sugary and then eased off so now I'm in the "the more like cat piss the tastier thank you" camp. It's also easy to go overboard with sugar til you're basically just drinking soda so if you watch your sugar intake make sure you count it.

As far as beer goes, I'm still sort of "eh" on beer a lot of the times, but I've found some that I really like. I drink a lot of fruity beers -- apricot, blueberry and honey flavors are my favorites -- avoid anything that is too hoppy or too bitter. I often go for a hefeweizen or a Belgian like Blue Moon (as iminurmefi suggests above). This Yahoo Answers thread has some more suggestions for sweet beers and "cream ale" is aften another way you might see sweeter beers described. Also, there's just good time for beers and less good times. I love a cold beer on a hot day, or when I'm out with friends someplace. I rarely drink beer with meals and I don't drink a lot of beer because I start feeling full and bloated.

I know this wasn't part of your original question but you might find that mixed drinks fit the bill of what you're looking for in a similar way and they come in a huge range of taste options. I drink fruitier drinks like Cosmopolitans and lemondrop type drinks but also like rum-based drinks like mojitos and just straight up rum and coke drinks. They also don't have the same filling quality as beer which I appreciate. I'm pretty much a two drink maximum person most days and two cocktails go down easier than two pints, to me. If you're in a bar situation they're often equally available.

Also, just an aside, if you're sort of new to drinking my best advice is to take it easy for starters. Alcohol is a great social lubricant but if you're using it in that way it's easy to go overboard and you can go from happy-buzzed to "uh oh" in a drink or two (speaking from personal experience of course!) so feel free to start slow, intersperse drinking alcohol with water or soda and treat it more like a science experiment than "am I missing out on something?" situation. Have fun!
posted by jessamyn at 11:14 AM on November 15, 2008

I recall a famous food critic who said that he couldn't stand certain foods but felt that he had to eat them in order to do his job. He said that after he ate something a few times, he got used to it and appreciated it more.

I was the same way about beer: My first few tastes, I thought it was awful, but after a few years of a beer here and there, I don't really mind it.
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:18 AM on November 15, 2008

I seldom feel like having a beer unless it's with food. Maybe experimenting with some of the suggested lighter-tasting beers along with some nice savory foods? Really good french fries, pizza, anything salty...these are the foods beer was made for.
posted by Neofelis at 11:21 AM on November 15, 2008

I used to be a lot like that. This may not work for you, but I found 'gateway' coffee and beer, which then, sadly or not, led me to like both in full extent:

for beer: try wheat beers or hefweizen, especially those with a bit of a blended taste like coriander and orange or even apricot. They're not bitter at all, and totally refreshing.

for coffee: try with cappuccinos, especially if you add a shot of hazelnut/vanilla or whatever other flavor you like.
posted by shamble at 11:21 AM on November 15, 2008

I dislike most beers as well, but like Guinness-- go figure (and go try one). It's more like a food than a beverage, really.
posted by availablelight at 11:25 AM on November 15, 2008

For beer, I'm going to echo the above suggestion of sampling: tastes at a local pub, a flight at a brewpub, or, if you're lucky, a (medium to high end) beer shop that lets you choose individual bottles. If they're staffed well This last choice will be cheaper than trying full beers at a bar, generally. Get a notebook (or a text file, whatever) and make notes about which beers you really like, and go to the beer store next time armed with that until you feel like you have a good sense of brands and/or styles that do well by you.
posted by knile at 11:33 AM on November 15, 2008

Response by poster: I really appreciate people's suggestions thus far, especially those suggesting particular brands that are good "starter beers" or ways to ease into coffee drinking.

I do want to ask if people have recommendations amongst the "Joe Schmoe" kind of beers that you might find either cheap or in a grocery store. I'm not sure of the brands suggested thus far which are specialty beers I might only find in a liquor store and which are fairly easy to find anywhere. I do have liquor stores, but being a city guy I'm limited to public transit or my own two feet, and liquor stores are averaging about half a mile away ... certainly not horrible but a slight inconvenience for a separate trip.

And are there brand names that fulfill these suggestions that are any of the "big names", i.e. stuff that can be found at almost any bar? In other words, if I walked into a neighborhood bar and asked for a Samuel Smith Nutty Ale (is it Samuel Adams and not Samuel Smith? I've never heard of the latter), I'd be surprised if they had it. But is there a alternative suggestion that can be relied upon to be fairly commonly found?
posted by WCityMike at 11:36 AM on November 15, 2008

Sam Adams and Samuel Smith. One's American and one is British (probably the Nutty Ale is British).

As for big names and your neighborhood bar/pub...it depends on your neighborhood.
posted by mmascolino at 11:43 AM on November 15, 2008

The fact that its specifically coffee and beer that you dislike could be a red herring. Here's an article on overcoming disliked foods that offers general strategies.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:44 AM on November 15, 2008

If grocery stores where you are sell beer, then I'm guessing you can probably find Blue Moon there. As I recall, it's produced and distributed by Coors, so it's pretty widely available in grocery stores (although maybe not on tap at every bar you might visit).

If you're visiting a bar, I'd say it's not improbable that Blue Moon would be available; it was on tap even in kinda shitty hole-in-the-wall bars in the tiny Midwestern town where I went to college. Strangely, in my experience, it's less available in nicer bars that focus on having a high-quality beer selection. If you find yourself in one of those bars, you're probably safe just asking for a wheat beer or lager. (Avoid Sierra Nevada though--that's one beer that is often available on tap in nicer bars, and I find it unbearably bitter in every form, even their blond ales.)
posted by iminurmefi at 11:50 AM on November 15, 2008

I checked your profile to see where in Chicago you were, and if your coords are accurate, go to Hopleaf now (on Clark just south of Foster). Well, maybe it would be better to go during more traditional drinking hours, or when they're open, but the only better selection of beers in Chicago is at the Map Room.

While you're there, ask for an Allegash White. It's becoming more popular, but you won't find it in every bar. Also, they probably have the Samuel Smith's (which is a British import, unlike Sam Adams), but a lot of bars won't.

So far as common beers go, all of the macrobrews taste basically the same. I'm a beer snob, but I'll still drink cheap beers when I'm thirsty, or at a party. There is always a time for a watery, (relatively) flavorless beer. So far as the biggies, I usually prefer to drink Coors (not light) or High Life.

Coffee-wise, head over to Intelligentsia and get a cup of their single-source coffees. They're expensive, but they aren't nearly as bitter as a cup of Maxwell House. Flor Azul is a great all-around coffee. Not to strong, not too weak. But, if you don't want to drop $4 on something you might not like, head over to Dunkin Donuts and get a French Vanilla, double cream double sugar. Then in the future, start cutting back on the cream and sugar, until you can drink it straight.
posted by hwyengr at 11:52 AM on November 15, 2008

Bailey's Irish Cream was my gateway into the wonderful world of coffee. Any coffee, whether a premium roast or last nights dregs rebrewed through a paper towel, tastes like heaven with just the right amount of Bailey's.

Any large grocery store in the city (Jewel, Dominick's, don't know about Whole Foods) has a fairly wide selection of beer. You should be able to find Goose Island anywhere, even restaurants. Same for Blue Moon, which is pretty much God's Own Beer.

Really consider going to Goose Island (before they close) or any number of brewery-type restaurants and trying their samples. Then you can get a good idea of the kinds of beer you like, and will feel more comfortable asking for what you want in a bar.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:53 AM on November 15, 2008

Best answer: Samuel Smith and Sam Adams are worlds apart. Samuel Smith makes some of the best beers in the world (IMHO), but nothing like what you're looking for.

The advice in the thread is good-- look for wheat beers, hefeweizens, that sort of thing. Blue Moon is a good starter, but try to move past it as quickly as possible because it's rather bland. I find Widmer Hefewiezen to be rather tasty, and it shouldn't be too hard to find.

Really this is a great season to be getting into wheat beer, because a lot of brewers do winter wheat beers-- winter and summer tend to be the seasons for wheat beer.

Here's what I'd recommend doing:
1) Try a Blue Moon.
2) Try a Widmer.
3) Enjoy a Bell's Winter Ale or Sam Adams Winter Ale, or both, although I'd strongly recommend the Bell's over the Sammy, and you'll have no problem finding the Bell's in Chicago (it's brewed in Kalamazoo).
4) If you liked the beers listed above, go to any craft beer store and ask them to recommend more stuff along those lines.
5) Once you find something you really like and acquire a taste for it, go to said craft beer store and ask for "dunkelweizen." This is dark wheat beer, but fear not, it won't be especially bitter, just earthier and nuttier than the straight weizens.
6) If you like the dunkelweizen, go ahead and try a Newcastle. It's a nut brown, so likely to be more bitter than the others you've tried, but the nuttiness gives it a sweetness which makes it quite pleasant. A lot of people just really love to stick with Newcastle, and I see nothing wrong with that. It's not my favorite, but it's good.
7) If you find that you enjoy the Newcastle, congrats! There's nothing wrong with being a wheat beer drinker if that's your bag, but the flavor profile for wheat beers is extremely limited in my opinion.
8) At this point, experiment away! You may not be quite ready for a Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, or anything too much darker than the Newcastle, but the human palate does a funny thing over time-- it acclimates. Once you get used to consuming bitter beverages on a semi-regular or regular basis, and find that you actually enjoy them, your taste buds will adjust and you'll be able to enjoy progressively more bitter brews. As a beer connoisseur, I personally tend to enjoy the strongest, most bitter beers I can get my hands on. Of course YMMV and I won't espouse the absolute superiority of bitter beers over all else, but I will say that nothing cheers me up quite like a heady IPA in hand.

Going forward:
1) Try a Mackeson Milk Stout or Left Handed Milk Stout. Significantly darker than most of the beers you'll probably like, but Milk Stouts are actually very sweet and almost chocolatey-- although you may never grow to enjoy the sublime pleasures of a fine Imperial Stout or Oatmeal Stout, you may find Milk Stouts to be quite potable.
2) Watch out for beer tasting events in your area. These are wonderful for expanding your horizons because typically you'll pay a flat rate for a set number of tickets, which get you a 4oz. sample, so if you don't like something it's not like you paid $7 or $8 for a 6-pack, or $5 for a bottle. You'll find a lot of beer to like at these events.
3) Consider throwing a beer tasting party with some friends. Everybody brings a 6-pack and a food dish. Another great way to get a lot of exposure to a lot of beer, and if you don't like something you can give it away or trade.
4) IMPORTANT: When summer rolls around, run don't walk to the nearest liquor store and buy some Bell's Oberon. It's the best wheat/summer beer I've ever had-- truly inspired stuff. I'm sure you'll like it.

If you're ever in Minneapolis, make sure to drop me a line!
posted by baphomet at 11:57 AM on November 15, 2008

Best answer: Why change yourself? Im just like you. I make tea in the morning and drink wine at social situations, which fool people into thinking Im more classy than I really am. Sometimes I have beer but I get stuff thats a little different like Belguim beer. You dont want to turn into a guy who drinks piss beer like budweiser. Once youve had some good foreign beers, you'll be able to appreciate their rich flavors and when youre not in the mood there's always wine.

Coffee is terrible for you. Its like giving up to the world and admiting "My job/society/whatever demands I be on various stimulants to be productive. So I will do what they say." Perhaps a little too dramatic, but there's a depressing coffee culture of overstimulated people taking in 300+ mg of caffeine a pop along with hundreds of calories of sugars. They are run around with coffee breath, stained teeth, and stained shirts. They talk your ear off and act like watered down meth heads because someone sometime told them they should be wired.

What I do is try to get a good amount of sleep, motivate myself without chemicals, and when I want caffeine I just have a some tea. Green tea is full of things that are good for you. The upside of weak tea is that your body cant develop a tolerance to such a small intake either. So one tea is like two cups of coffee.

Perhaps not the answer youre looking for, but there are alternatives. The overstimulated during the day and buzzed at night culture isnt for everyone. You should ask yourself if you really want what youre asking. If you truly liked these things you wouldnt be asking us this question.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:18 PM on November 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

In France, people often mix beer with other things. Beer + Limonade (kind of like sprite, but not as sweet) = panache [pan-a-chay]. Beer + Limonade + a touch of grenadine = Monaco. You might try one or both of those as a way to ease in to beer. Use a light lager beer. These things would horrify most American beer lovers, but you are not one of those and you might actually like it. They still have a beer taste, and you can then transition into just beer. I bet good bartenders at nice bars will be able to make you a Monaco if you ask.

You can make your limonade with club soda or light tonic water + lemon juice + sugar or sugar syrup, and make it as sweet or as unsweet as you like. I think Sprite would be too sweet.
posted by ohio at 12:23 PM on November 15, 2008

If it has been a while since you tried either coffee or beer, it is likely that you could develop a taste for both now, simply because we lose taste buds as we age --- especially at the "bitter" end of the range. I can't remember where I read that, but it was somewhere credible. This is the reason that we learn to like so many things that we hated when we were kids.
For beer, try one of the "lager" types. The best ones tend to be the European brands. The American brands (or at least, those that I have tried), don't manage to get the milder bitterness without losing the complexity of taste that makes beer interesting rather than insipid, IMHO. Avoid "light" beers as these seem to be the worst culprits for insipidity. I used to hate beer; now I quite like slobbing around on a weekend evening with a bottle or two of Carlsberg or Heinecken ...
posted by Susurration at 12:26 PM on November 15, 2008

I've got to second Newcastle. I'm not a huge fan of beer, but Newcastle was one of the first I tried and it's still my first choice wherever I go. Bass is not that different, and most bars will have one or the other.
posted by Durin's Bane at 12:30 PM on November 15, 2008

I learned to like beer about a year ago; starting with ciders served me pretty well. Once I graduated from those, I actually found that I preferred dark beers (porters, stouts, and the like) to lighter ones--so you might want to throw a Guinness or a local porter into your initial tastings. On the other hand, most of the people I know who prefer dark beer do so partly because dark beer shares flavors with coffee and chocolate, so perhaps you should save those until you've begun to love black coffee.

damn dirty ape, I agree that caffeine should be taken in moderation, but it isn't valuable merely for its stimulant effects. If WCityMike learns to like coffee, he'll be able to enjoy an Intelligentsia Classic Cappuccino, which is a rare and wonderful opportunity indeed. I try to moderate my coffee intake by switching to decaf every so often, and I find that a good decaffeinated coffee can still offer most of the sublime flavors that make coffee such a joy.
posted by fermion at 12:40 PM on November 15, 2008

Half-caf. Half decaf/half caf
posted by captainsohler at 12:45 PM on November 15, 2008

I used to hate beer, but learned to appreciate it via a stepfather who's a big microbrew fan. So I definitely say the way to learn about beer is through trying the good stuff, not the Budweiser or Miller or that stuff.

For a while, I got myself to tolerate drinking Bud Light on nights when I was out with the guys for a while and knew I'd be drinking several drinks. The problem is, I realized that basically beer doesn't give me a "buzz,' so much as it just makes me sleepy. For me it wasn't quite the social lubricant it's supposed to be.

So that's when I moved to mixed drinks. A scotch'n'soda is no more expensive than a beer, is just as available in any bar, and I like its effects better than beer. Tonic water upsets my stomach, so I can't personally drink gin or vodka and tonics, but those might be good options for you. I like Jack (or bourbon) and Coke, but I have it rarely, as the combo of booze + caffeine is rather doubly dehydrating - more than one in a night gives me nasty headaches in the morning.

And all that led to me gaining appreciation for good classic cocktails. Martinis, Manhattans, Negronis... It's true that in the average bar, these can be sketchy to ask for, but when you're at a more sophisticated bar or restaurant it's a nice option. (Aside: Trader Vic's will be re-opening in Chicago soon. When they do, go try a Mai Tai!)

So in general, I'm just saying that if you don't like beer, you don't have to. Just because "everybody" drinks beer, you don't have to also. Finding something else that you like can become something that makes you a stand-out character - an intriguing idiosyncrasy that makes you more interesting to others. (At least, that's the way I like to look at it.)
posted by dnash at 12:54 PM on November 15, 2008

I used to be like you. These days I love coffee, although I don't really have a refined coffee-palette (I'm fine with Maxwell house--will even drink the bad free coffee at jiffy lube, but I really despite the taste of, say, Starbucks, and other strong, burnt-tasting coffees).

I started out by drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee (usually French Vanilla) with cream and sugar. DnD is extremely inoffensive-tasting, but if you know people who are Starbucks/organic coffee snobs, they might sneer at it. I gradually cut back on the sugar and now drink my coffee--any coffee--with milk. And find it way tasty. If there's free coffee at your workplace, keep a stash of cinnamon and nutmeg. These things always make coffee taste better.

As for beer, I'm still working on that one. Blue moon was one of my early favorites ("Hey! This beer isn't terrible!"). I've also found that I reliably can enjoy Miller High Life and Corona. Some cheap beers--PBR, Bud--taste really gross and bitter to me. Darker beers have this bready flavor that I similarly find disgusting. Given the choice, I'll still almost always have a glass of wine or cider, though, especially if the aim is drunkenness. I can almost never get through enough beer to get drunk, and often instead end up feeling gross, bloated, and sober instead.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:02 PM on November 15, 2008

Oh, also lambics taste pretty terrific.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:04 PM on November 15, 2008

I recently developed a taste for beer - suggestions for "common" beers I find easy to drink: Tecate, and Killian's Irish Red. (I don't like Corona). I also like German lagers, Spaten or Becks.

Never could develop a taste for Coffee, I've only tried a sip a few times in my life. Sticking to tea. I long, you long, we all long, for Oolong.
posted by and for no one at 1:28 PM on November 15, 2008

I'm going to agree with the crowds who have already said "Why change?" I'm an occasional coffee drinker who generally prefers tea and the person who would gladly drink out of the toilet before picking up a beer. Whenever I hear suggestions on how to start liking beer, or why I should drink coffee more regularly, I respond with "Why?" ... and the other person is almost invariably lost for an answer.

I can't give any recommendations, beer-wise, other than maybe baking some beer bread, to get yourself accustomed to the flavour (I hate beer, but love me a good Guinness bread ... go figure). For coffee, hie thee to Intelligentsia on Broadway, as hwyengr suggested. Not only will you get wicked good coffee, the baristas there really know their stuff, and it's quite likely they'll be able to brew something up for you that will ease you into the world of coffee. Plus it's a great place to spend a lazy morning. They also sell a Vosges chocolate bar with their Black Cat coffee beans and cacao nibs. Plus, if you want somethin' sweet to go with your coffee, you can run across the street to Cupcakes for a truly awesome treat.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 1:33 PM on November 15, 2008

I used to think I didn't like coffee. Then one day the office fridge was out of milk and I just put sugar in it. Surprise! I like coffee with sugar quite a bit! It was the milk in coffee that I didn't like.

Both beer and coffee are definitely acquired tastes. I worked on acquiring them both for the same reasons you're considering--it makes it infinitely easier to socialize if you can drink a commonly accepted beverage. Yes, you shouldn't have to change yourself or your tastes, but if you're interested in learning to like a food/drink/type of music/genre of literature that you currently don't care for, well, I consider that growth and something worth trying.

That said, if you keep trying and still don't like it, well, you tried.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 1:41 PM on November 15, 2008

TEA and WINE!!! You don't have to drink nasty bitter drinks just because other Americans do! Coffee and beer are bad for you... and taste bad too. Tea and wine are good for you... and taste... well, better. Try Yogi green tea or Tazo Zen... and a modest priced Chianti is my favorite red wine. If you must insist on giving in and going against your own taste buds' own logic, the above posts give good advice. :)

posted by senorpuma at 2:00 PM on November 15, 2008

Interesting thread... I too can't stand either coffee or beer, despite my best attempts to try. Maybe it's time to give it another shot...

What I've found that works for a coffee/caffeine replacement is Red Bull (or any energy drink, I suppose). It has the same wakefulness effects, and is usually cheaper than a grande-whatever at starbucks.

For beer, I just drink anything but. I'm a girl, so I can get away with a cranberry vodka without any hassle.
posted by cgg at 2:38 PM on November 15, 2008

I too am generally opposed to both coffee and beer, because of the bitterness. Tea and/or wine is usually preferable, and when I go out I'll often get a jack and coke, a 7&7 or, just some whiskey and water or ice. Or mix a mojito if I'm the one entertaining.

I do drink beer when it's the going thing sometimes, but it's never all that pleasant. I find that drinking beer is easier after easing into things with some other drink, and I'm generally happy that I feel no need to consume the expensive imports. If I can get away with it, I find that PBR in a can is cheap, occasionally hip, and a pretty good choice for me due to its relative tastelessness.
posted by washburn at 5:58 PM on November 15, 2008

I am like that, too, and I understand wanting to develop a taste if for no other reason than for social situations. I don't go out for a coffee, but everyone wants to meet for coffee. I don't drink beer, but what to do when that's all there is? I think the coffee with milk and wheat beer and cider suggestions are great - that's what I do. I noticed this question because coffee and beer were two of the major cravings I had while pregnant - the one time I couldn't have either. The smells made me crazy with desire. Now I'm just, meh.
posted by krikany at 7:41 PM on November 15, 2008

If you just want the caffeine, get some strong black tea, like an Assam or Lapsang Souchong. Brew it up, and you have all the punch you want, with none of the ick. Even good quality tea is relatively inexpensive when measured per cup - not free, like the work coffee, but not the $1.75 that Starbucks would charge you either.

If you really want to develop a taste for *coffee*, try some cold brewed. Here's the recipe I use, from the NY Times. Just get yourself about 1/4 lb of coffee, and try this out at home. Don't listen to those who tell you you need a Toddy system to make this; I use a Tupperware container, and filter the resulting concentrate via a funnel and paper towels into an old soda bottle. You'll be able to taste the actual coffee, but with a lot of the bitterness leeched out. If work has a fridge and a microwave, take a bottle of it to work, dilute it to your taste, and heat it up!
posted by spinifex23 at 9:24 PM on November 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend skipping this idea. Once you're addicted to coffee, you will waste much more money than you saved from not buying those morning sodas. Beer, too, is expensive. In social settings, there are options to both: go out for coffee and have a scone or a chai latte or something; go out for beers and get cider or a glass of wine or a mixed drink or something. As someone who just quit coffee (probably temporarily), addiction to something that puts you on edge and makes you crash five hours later is really not as awesome as it looks. Many of the coolest people I work with drink neither.
posted by salvia at 11:04 PM on November 15, 2008

Aha, I did this a couple years ago and I'm glad I did!

Coffee: Started with cream and sugar, now I just add cream or milk. I also started by drinking drip coffee, but switched to using an Aeropress, which I found produced coffee that was smoother, and less bitter but without being weaker.

Beer: Tried a good variety of beers and also drank whatever my friends were drinking (mostly cheap pitchers of Molson Canadian). The swill makes you appreciate the good stuff more.

The key to maximizing enjoyment of both is variety and persistence. For coffee try different roasts, beans from different places, and different preparation methods. For beer, there's different types, lagers, ales, stouts, etc, and also different brands/places of origin to experiment with. There's a huge number of different tastes to experience within the scope of beer and coffee, so I'm sure you'll find something that you like.
posted by benign at 12:00 AM on November 16, 2008

Response by poster: Very much appreciate the answers thus far.

Very much appreciate the no-doubt-helpful intentions behind suggesting "why change?" or tea or wine, but I have no desire to cultivate a taste in tea or wine at this point.
posted by WCityMike at 9:08 AM on November 16, 2008

French pressed coffee seems to yield better flavor. A lot of coffee establishments will French press a cup for you if you ask. I like organic coffee. It is my drink of choice. Some people say there's no difference but if you have ever been to Costa Rica and gone on a coffee plantation tour I beg to differ.
Also, I agree that you should experiment with cream, half and half, nonfat milk and the quantity of it in your cup to decrease bitterness or build up to your liking. A bit of raw sugar or honey to sweeten is good too or even a dash of cinnamon. I, personally, wouldn't go the flavored drink route since you want to like coffee and that diminishes the taste of coffee which seems to defeat your original purpose.
Also, I think they are more dessert oriented, and I would rather have an actual cookie or pastry with my coffee.
posted by bookshelves at 11:34 AM on November 16, 2008

A Joe Schmoe type of beer? As a fellow beer-hater the brand I find least offensive is an American classic: Rolling Rock, icy cold.

Get yourself a coffeemaker and experiment. The first cup of fresh brewed coffee is the least bitter. Pour over a scoop of vanilla bean or coffee ice cream and enjoy. Throw caution to wind and add a shot of Irish cream liqueur.

Next, wean away from the sugar and add half n half. Cream smoothes out the bitter; sugar enhances it (to my taste.)

Last step is going black. Black is easy, economical and ultimately the most satisfying once you have acquired the taste.
posted by maggieb at 1:38 PM on November 16, 2008

I got my "beer taste" using a method pretty much opposite to what everyone else is suggesting. I was in London for a few months and a friend had told me, "You'll drink cider. All the girls drink cider. But do me a favor and have at least one Guinness for me." So on my first night, I walked into a pub and ordered a Guiness. It was AWFUL, dark and bitter and heavy. I managed to choke it down though, and out of spite I continued to drink Guinness for the rest of my stay. By the time I left, I wouldn't say that I *liked* it, but I could tolerate it a lot better. Then I got back to America and tried an American beer for comparison. Seriously, it was like water. I've never had trouble drinking beer since.
posted by web-goddess at 4:30 PM on November 16, 2008

Probably too late, but the key to beer is to drink it down like water, rather than sip it. Sipping lets it sit on the tongue too long and get too bitter. And pay more for the good stuff.

And I'm not much of a coffee guy myself.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 10:05 PM on November 16, 2008

Best answer: Here are a few beer suggestions from someone who also doesn't care too much for bitter:
Sam Adams Cherry Wheat
Sam Adams Winter Lager(has a slightly bitter aftertaste, but it's not bad)
Lugenkiegel's Honey Weisse
JW Dundee's Honey Brown
Blue Moon's Honey Moon(summer beer, you'll have to wait for next year)

Avoid Blue Moon's Harvest Moon. It's a seasonal pumpkin ale, which is what started me drinking beer in the first place, but this one is too bitter for me.

You shouldn't have too much trouble finding these, I get them at my local grocery store or Target.
posted by owtytrof at 11:39 AM on November 17, 2008

For those of you taking notes at home, I imagine "Lugenkiegel" in the previous comment is a typo of "Leinenkugel".
posted by knile at 4:13 PM on November 17, 2008

This isn't exactly your question, but nevertheless: If you'd like to imbibe is a specific social situation but haven't yet acquired the taste (or if you decide that coffee and beer are irredeemably gross), you could always order some miracle fruit. If you chew the fruit (or tablets derived from the fruit) for a little while, it will change sour tastes to sweet for up to two hours. I'm not sure what would happen with bitter-heavy flavors like coffee and beer, as I've never tried miracle fruit myself, but it's on my list of things to do. Miracle fruit became somewhat well known last year (I think the New York Times ran an article), and it's readily available online now.

Tablet form would probably be best as if I recall the berries are quite perishable.
posted by kprincehouse at 11:39 AM on January 17, 2009

« Older Where can I find free photos online that I can use...   |   What is this thing? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.