I've been on both sides. I grew up in central California with an orange tree in my back yard and you can't get me to touch a supermarket orange unless it's to play a game of catch. On the other hand, ask me to decipher between a $50 pinot noir and some three-buck chuck and I'll probably try to argue that the difference is all in the head.
There is joy in refining the senses to appreciate fine nuances and celebrate true excellence. Just as human intimacy enhances our joy in each other, so can deep knowledge of the food we eat heighten our gratefulness in every taste. On the other hand, for some people ignorance may truly be bliss, and a fanaticism for culinary perfection can stifle one's ability to walk peacefully through our beautifully flawed world.
But we all know that a strawberry plucked from a Willamette Valley garden tastes better than a pristine California behemoth pulled from a plastic carton.
When a green coffee bean is roasted the sucrose of the bean caramelizes, resulting in the emission of water and CO2...not to mention delightful coffee aromas. After roasting the beans continue to emit CO2 (decreasing over time) preventing oxygen from deteriorating the essential flavors of good coffee. If you brew your fresh coffee in a press pot you will observe a gaseous foam (known as the “bloom”) at the top of the steeping grounds; this is the sign of fresh coffee because it is still emitting CO2. About twelve hours after roasting, the beans should be sealed tightly in their storage jar and preferably kept away from direct light. In these conditions coffee will stay reasonably fresh for a full week.
You don't have to know the difference between a Ethiopian Harrar bean and a Guatemalan Antiguan to reject stale coffee in favor of a piping fresh roast. No matter what we eat or drink, it's important to enjoy it in its best form. There is a place for just drinking your coffee without complaining (perhaps while wearing your boots and Carharts on an early morning in a friendly neighborhood diner) but there is an even greater satisfaction in knowing good coffee and cherishing each sip at its height of excellence.
Join me at this beautiful place on the bridge between the banks of snobbery and ignorance.