Approach Your Coffee Like A Shave In The Morning
Discover the connection between shaving and how to get the most out of your morning cup of coffee. In addition, learn about a rarely reported instant coffee that has a surprisingly good flavor.
Welcome to the first posting of “Brew Quest: The search for YOUR perfect cup of coffee.” My name is Tim. I am a scientist, health writer and reluctant traveler hopelessly addicted to discovering good…if not great, tasting coffee.
That said, the purpose of this new health category is to inform, entertain and help you discover YOUR perfect cup of coffee. I consider coffee to be an important part a healthy lifestyle. Where else can you find so many benefits, physiological, mental and social imbued in a single cup of morning heaven?!
And so, while future articles will offer recommendations and reviews; some history and fables; some techniques and practices related to coffee and coffee drinking, there will also be the experiential. I believe that brewing and drinking coffee is not just about an achievement of taste, but about the mindful experience that comes in a cup of joe whether you are aware of it or not. How that the empiric drive makes coffee so universal; A fountain whose sip evokes memories and creates new futures…a time machine that goes forward and back.
Allow me this example to elaborate: A solution to shaving that I stubbled upon.
To my spouse’s dismay, my medicine cabinet and bathroom counter reveal that I have not one or two, but several different brands of shaving creams, lotions and shaving-related products. For me, shaving has become an accidental experiential discovery that was initially motivated by—for lack of a better word—cheapness.
I have been a consumer of Gillette shaving blades for many years. In my humble, unbiased opinion, it does produce the closest shave without suffering from nicks, scratches and razor burns. And there’s a reason for this. It’s not just the technology that produces such finely-honed blades, but the skin science research behind it that analyzes how human skin reacts to what essentially is trauma to the facial tissue as one or more blades scrapes over the topmost layers of the skin.
Unfortunately, the cost of their blades has become prohibitively expensive for a skinflint such as myself. And so, I went into the “it’s good enough” mode of consumer decision making and began trying out different shaving options.
After much consideration and testing of what’s out there, I was surprised to find myself going retro and returning to something I had not used in many years—a classic, heavy duty, metal, double-edged safety razor.
My first few attempts at relearning how to shave with this comparative metal monstrosity of shaving turned my face into a battleground. Tissue stuck to my face like red badges of courage. But I hung in there. And not because of stubbornness (although there is some of that in my nature), but because it made my skin feel alive in the morning. It was experiential and I like to refer to it as my latest “shavsation.”
Moreover, I also found a double-edged blade brand called “Personna Double Edge Stainless Steel” that costs about $3 per 10-blade pack made in Germany and provided by the good people of Edgewell Personal Care, LLC in Shelton, Connecticut. It cuts better than other double-edged blade brands I’ve tried and has passed my “it’s good enough” requirement balancing cost with performance.
Eventually, my technique improved and I learned how to let the weight of the razor work with the sharpness of the blade. Each stoke a mindful meditative Zen of pleasure, even if it’s just for a moment. It’s been several months now, and I remain sold on the retro safety razor over modern designs and consider it a morning ritual as important to me as my morning coffee.
Now back to coffee.
The point I am endeavoring to make, is I believe that like shaving and its new hold on my morning rituals, that the deeper attraction of drinking coffee goes beyond just taste and the caffeinated buzz of wakefulness. Rather, that it is the process. The doing, which has such a profound hold on the body and the mind. Whether it is a morning ritual to start the day. An excuse to meet with a friend. A social convention or pleasantry to share with a guest in your home. Coffee also gives us pause—a moment for reflection and some thought.
My goal is to provide the reader with more than just a how-to on coffee brewing, but to also provide content that enhances the coffee drinking experience, gives pause for some reflection and thought, and perhaps even…encourage a Brew Quest of your very own that you can try in your home.
Instant Coffee Recommendations: G7 Coffee and G20 Coffee from Vietnam
As promised, here is an instant coffee recommendation that you may have never tried, but will be glad once you do:
Both to my chagrin and pleasure, I overcame my coffee snobbery regarding instant coffee while living in Asia.
Chilled during a boat ride after scuba diving, I gave in and resorted to drinking some instant coffee offered by one of the crewmembers to help warm me up. I watched him prepare it from a tiny red pack; its contents stirred into a mug of hot water. No creamer, no milk, straight from the packet.
To my surprise, it did not taste like instant coffee! It was different. Distinctly coffee-like. Not the milquetoast pretender nor the chemically rabid bite I had experienced from instant coffee in the past. I became an immediate convert and now it is my go-to coffee when traveling, looking for a change in coffee flavor…or, when I am just too lazy to brew a cup from bean.
G7 and G20 both are products of Vietnam. Although in spite of their similarities in name and nearly identical packaging, they appear to be from two different companies.
G7 presumably takes its name from the exclusive “Group of Seven” economic superpowers. Incidentally, there’s also a “G7 2X” which is approximately 60% more coffee granules for a larger mug or stronger beverage.
G20 also presumably takes its name from another international consortium focused on economic and trade policy called the “G20 Group,” that consists of 19 countries plus the UK. Perhaps both products use the same marketing company. In either case, it’s easy to mix up the two on the shelf.
Nutrition-wise from their respective labels, they are nearly identical and both come to about 70 calories per packet.
The Taste Test
Both instant coffees recommend adding 75 ml (2.5 ounces) of hot water just under boiling temp to each packet of instant coffee. Both of them are 3 in 1 mixtures of dried coffee, creamer and sugar.
Comparing the products before adding water, the G20 has slightly larger light brown “coffee crystals” and a higher percentage of white (presumably creamer and sugar) granules than does the G7.
The scent of each is identical. And the taste is nearly identical as well with the exception that G20 has a very slight hazelnut and possibly cinnamon taste to it, making it just a little more preferable to my palate. However, both are surprisingly good for an instant coffee with a mild roast flavor.
Discovering that there could be such a thing as a satisfying taste in an instant coffee was a surprise and a good lesson for me. Now, I actively keep an open eye and fearless palate on the lookout for other non-traditional coffee drinking choices and plan on future reviews for your enjoyment and/or avoidance as the case may be.
If you would like to try G7 or G20 at home, you can buy it online, but will likely find better pricing and easier availability if you look for it in the coffee section of your local Asian food market.
If you have any insight into an instant coffee brand that you like, please share it with other readers in the comments section below.
Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between coffee and healthy living. For continual updates about the benefits of coffee on your health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at
Images courtesy of Pixabay and the writer