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Discussion Starter #1
Time was, you'd open a can of fresh coffee and the aroma would lift you out of your socks. I haven't smelled that for a long time. Regardless of brand or price. What happened?

Coffee lovers beware: climate change may affect your brew

(Please note that I am not invested in any way, shape or form into the notion of anthropomorphic climate change. Just found this interesting.)
 

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Insomuch as coffee beans go through many stages of processing before they get canned, I'd be reluctant to attribute anything about them to distal causes like climate change. Now, if we're talking about something that comes unaltered from a tree or bush somewhere to the produce section (e.g., tasteless tomatoes), that's another matter.

I will also note that our chemical senses (taste and smell) both decline with age, so the product can remain constant but the consumer changes.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Insomuch as coffee beans go through many stages of processing before they get canned, I'd be reluctant to attribute anything about them to distal causes like climate change. Now, if we're talking about something that comes unaltered from a tree or bush somewhere to the produce section (e.g., tasteless tomatoes), that's another matter.

I will also note that our chemical senses (taste and smell) both decline with age, so the product can remain constant but the consumer changes.
So the claim that the coffee plant's optimal metabolism operates within a three-degree range is bullshit?
 

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So the claim that the coffee plant's optimal metabolism operates within a three-degree range is bullshit?
Not at all. So much of what we eat has evolved under a predictable and largely stable set of climatic conditions that is rapidly being destabilized, compromising crop yields, and also potentially changing how things grow. I'm concerned about the prospects for world food security, in light of a rapidly changing climatic pattern. Not just plants, but also the migration patterns and viability of their pollinators, who are every bit as crucial to food security.

But at the same time, it would be naive to think one could unambiguously attribute changes in the hedonic properties (i.e., how good it tastes or how pleasurable it is) of a food substance to climate and climate alone, especially when there are so many other factors potentially involved. Besides, it's not like we've been collecting annual data for decades, where we ask thousands of people to rate how "good" coffee tastes on a 10-point scale, with the same coffee being prepared in exactly the same way. Memory plays a HUGE role in such subjective judgments, and we simply don't have objective data to rule memory out. That's precisely why I place so little confidence in the reviews of people who sent away their pedal for some mod involving a chip and/or capacitor-type change, and after they get it back 6 weeks after last having used it, and after having spent $60 to get it modded, they can't believe how much better it sounds. Does it sound better, or do you just remember it as being worse?

For years, people I hadn't seen in a while would say "Man, you've lost a lot of weight!", and I knew that I weighed exactly the same as I had for 25 years, within 2lbs. Crazy how stable my weight was for the longest time. They remembered me as kinda chubby, and when they saw me again, months or even years later, I wasn't nearly as chubby as they had remembered me as being.

So, coffee may well have declined in quality. I won't discount that entirely. But there are a whole lot of things to rule out first before drawing that conclusion.
 

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Yeah, it must be the coffee's fault. You're exactly the same as you've always been, right?

I still love the smell of recently-opened coffee, so you must just be getting all the crappy stuff.
 

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Aging changes in the senses: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

TASTE AND SMELL

The senses of taste and smell work together. Most tastes are linked with odors. The sense of smell begins at the nerve endings high in the lining of the nose.

You have about 9,000 taste buds. Your taste buds sense sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami flavors. Umami is a taste linked with foods that contain glutamate, such as the seasoning monosodium glutamate (MSG).

Smell and taste play a role in food enjoyment and safety. A delicious meal or pleasant aroma can improve social interaction and enjoyment of life. Smell and taste also allow you to detect danger, such as spoiled food, gases, and smoke.

The number of taste buds decreases as you age. Each remaining taste bud also begins to shrink. Sensitivity to the five tastes often declines after age 60. In addition, your mouth produces less saliva as you age. This can cause dry mouth, which can affect your sense of taste.

Your sense of smell can also diminish, especially after age 70. This may be related to a loss of nerve endings and less mucus production in the nose. Mucus helps odors stay in the nose long enough to be detected by the nerve endings. It also helps clear odors from the nerve endings.

Certain things can speed up the loss of taste and smell. These include diseases, smoking, and exposure to harmful particles in the air.

Decreased taste and smell can lessen your interest and enjoyment in eating. You may not be able to sense certain dangers if you cannot smell odors such as natural gas or smoke from a fire.

If your senses of taste and smell have diminished, talk to your provider. The following may help:

  • Switch to a different medicine, if the medicine you take is affecting your ability to smell and taste.
  • Use different spices or change the way you prepare food.
  • Buy safety products, such as a gas detector that sounds an alarm you can hear.
 

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Time was, you'd open a can of fresh coffee and the aroma would lift you out of your socks. I haven't smelled that for a long time. Regardless of brand or price. What happened?

Coffee lovers beware: climate change may affect your brew

(Please note that I am not invested in any way, shape or form into the notion of anthropomorphic climate change. Just found this interesting.)
Time to switch to beans and grind them fresh yourself.
 

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For many years, a large segment of the North American population thought that "good" coffee smelled like opening a new jar of Maxwell House, Nescafé, or (saints forbid!) Sanka. So not only does taste change (thanks jdto), but so do tastes.

And again, Kapn, I am not at all disputing the possibility that the stuff itself has changed. But from a purely scientific perspective, there are just too many factors to rule out to be able to draw the conclusion you wish to encourage. When it comes to stuff like apples or tomatoes, I think there is considerable agreement that many such fruits are grown with such speed, that what shows up in the produce section really doesn't have the same flavour it used to have "back in the day". And if coffee came picked straight from the bush to a big basket o' beans at Loblaws, and it was up to us to do everything else to render it into a satisfying beverage, we might be in a strong position to say "I don't know what it is. I've been buying the same beans from the same store and preparing them the same way all these years, but it just doesn't have the punch it did 10 years ago. I don't get it." But that's not how coffee reaches us. There's a big black box between the bush and our tongue, and an even bigger one between what we taste right at this moment, and what we think we tasted years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yeah, it must be the coffee's fault. You're exactly the same as you've always been, right?

I still love the smell of recently-opened coffee, so you must just be getting all the crappy stuff.
Yes, I am saying the coffee isn't as good. Unless old age only affects the smell of coffee...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Time to switch to beans and grind them fresh yourself.
Tried that too. Disappointing.

I guess the thing that bugs me is how much I have to use to get a decent brew. From 1/3 cup per litre to 1/2 cup per litre.

I used to be loyal to an expensive brand because I used less of it anyway. When that brand went south. I began to experiment. It was hit and miss for a few years with various methods and brands. Now, nothing. Just sayin. If you guys are still enjoying yours, great.
 

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Yes, I am saying the coffee isn't as good. Unless old age only affects the smell of coffee...
It's possible that something strong-smelling like coffee with which you associate the sensations described in your OP makes it more noticeable to you. Maybe your brain just got tired of the "coffee smell high" over the years. Maybe your sense of smell and taste have changed over time, as happens to our species as we age. Maybe all the different coffee in the world has all gone to shit.

I still say it's likely subjective :)
 
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