This tastes gross.
January 3, 2012 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Coffee tastes weird: confirmation bias, or something else?

I woke up this morning and made coffee for DH and myself; it tasted weird, and I told DH he should make a new pot for himself. When he did, he said THAT tasted weird also. This is coffee that we drink every day from Fairway, and make by French press.

When I got to work, I bought a coffee from a local vendor that I thought was going to be French vanilla, but they either didn’t hear me or my taste buds are really screwed, because it tastes like regular coffee. I called DH at work, who made a pot of our Fairway coffee (separate bag that he keeps at work) and he says THAT tastes weird also.

Neither one of us feel sick at all, and we’re both hypochondriacs. Does anyone have a clue what might be going on? Could my taste buds be off for some reason and his be off because of confirmation bias?
posted by roomthreeseventeen to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You all could both have colds, which I know affects my tasting abilities.
posted by greta simone at 7:21 AM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

What do you mean by "weird"? Can you describe the flavor?
posted by Think_Long at 7:21 AM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: What do you mean by "weird"? Can you describe the flavor?

Like bad sewer water coffee.

Neither one of us have any other symptoms of a cold.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:22 AM on January 3, 2012

Weird taste has occasionally been the first symptom of a cold for me. Not all the time, but maybe 3 or 4 times over the course of my life. It seems to be acidic foods that taste the worst -- try some orange juice.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:27 AM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but I went downstairs and got a grapefruit juice; it tastes fine.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:34 AM on January 3, 2012

Maybe the weird-tasting coffee just went bad?

As for the french-vanilla-that-wasn't, I'd chalk that up to "they didn't hear you". Or, if it's your first time at that place, maybe their French Vanilla doesn't taste much like french vanilla (I've noticed that happen sometimes as well).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 AM on January 3, 2012

coffee tasting weird (for me it tastes like ammonia) is often a sign of a nasal infection for me. Probably something to do with not being able to smell it properly even if I'm not stuffy.
posted by patheral at 7:41 AM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have both of you recently started taking a new medication?
posted by raztaj at 7:43 AM on January 3, 2012

I don't know why, but my drip coffeemaker just went bad a couple years ago. It still worked, but the coffee it produced was awful. Tried cleaning and descaling, all the usual things. Had to throw it out.

A French press seems so simple that I can't imagine how it would go bad, but I'd investigate whether it's you, the coffee, or the coffee-brewing equipment.
posted by adamrice at 7:44 AM on January 3, 2012

Allergies? Post nasal drip?
posted by anniecat at 7:47 AM on January 3, 2012

Maybe there was a fish in the percolator?
posted by brina at 7:53 AM on January 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'm on vacation drinking weird tasting coffee now using the same beans, same grind, same Aeropress, but no Britta filtered water I used just last week back home. The water here is different. My husband uses a French press, and he says his now coffee sucks, too. Maybe your water was treated differently in your system recently. I'm about to buy bottled water to see if the taste of our coffee improves. Try that?
posted by Elsie at 7:55 AM on January 3, 2012

Did you guys eat pine nuts yesterday?
posted by foodgeek at 8:05 AM on January 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Maybe something going on with your water supply?
posted by xingcat at 8:07 AM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was also going to suggest pine nuts. I had pine nut mouth a few weeks ago (for about two weeks). All foods had an unpleasant bitter aftertaste. The exception was foods that were already bitter (grapefruit juice, beer) - those foods were the only ones that tasted normal.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:17 AM on January 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: No pine nuts, medications, etc. We're in Manhattan, so if something was up with the water supply, I'd probably have heard about it. We're going to buy some new coffee tonight and try again.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:20 AM on January 3, 2012

Coffee can go rancid, specifically, the oils can go off with storage. I've had this happen and it does taste similar to what you describe.

things to try:
Change your coffee. This bunch may well be bad, especially if you've had the same problem twice now. It may well have been a bad batch (or two) of coffee. Trying buying a small batch from somewhere else.

Clean your pot and kettle really well---not just a rinse out, a good scrub with hot water and soap, followed by a hot water rinsing. Don't forget to clean your plunger screen too. That's often a source of problems.

Clean the container you store your coffee in too. Sometimes the residues there are the problem.
posted by bonehead at 8:23 AM on January 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm voting water - and no - you might not have heard about it. Sometimes they treat for bacteria or whatever and this is normal so bulletins don't go out, but this makes water smell slightly chemical-y and taste funny. This type of effect usually lasts a few hours in the water supply.

Maybe smell the water while it's running through the tap? And try the coffee again tomorrow before throwing it out. If the coffee is new and still tastes crap, I'd bring both bags back to Fairway. (god, how I miss Fairway!)
posted by jbenben at 8:54 AM on January 3, 2012

I am drinking a cup of coffee right now in Manhattan and it is fine.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:06 AM on January 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

Never underestimate the suggestibility of people, including yourself. Simply saying "doesn't this coffee taste weird?" could easily amplify and distort your sense of coffee's taste, just as saying the word "milk" or "club" over and over and over again can make you realize that they are bizarre sounds without any inherent meaning, or how right now you're realizing that there isn't any comfortable place for your tongue in your mouth, or how right now you're realizing that you're breathing manually, and that you're blinking manually, and that your clothing is a little more itchy than you had originally observed this morning.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:02 AM on January 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Try running some diluted vinegar through your coffee cycle, followed by a couple of cycles of hot water.
posted by kamikazegopher at 1:00 PM on January 3, 2012

To follow onto Sticherbeast's comment, I'm so susceptible to that sort of suggestion when it comes to food that I've had to put my husband in charge of evaluating all milk. If he asks me if it tastes spoiled, it will inevitably taste off to me, even if it's just fine.
posted by deludingmyself at 2:00 PM on January 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Some anti-plaque toothpastes and mouthwashes can do this to me. My son had the same experience. Any change there lately?
posted by PickeringPete at 5:14 PM on January 3, 2012

Response by poster: So, I have no idea what it was, but we bought new coffee, cleaned out all the pots and containers, and everything was fine this morning. Go figure.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:55 AM on January 4, 2012

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