For the longest time I've scoured my local grocers' shelves for the cheapest coffee. My mission, to save a buck. To me coffee all tasted the same, the only difference was the amount of grounds I put in the filter - I liked what I deemed as 'motor oil' coffee, thick and strong. Then I decided I would try a local roaster to see if I could taste the difference. Having an appreciation for Scotch, I knew that if I tried hard enough, there would surely be certain qualities I could pick out and enjoy.
One Tuesday afternoon I took a drive to a local roasters coffee shop and spoke with one of the employees who was very knowledgeable about what makes coffees taste different. He explained the difference between single origin and blends, then told me about what others had said they tasted in particular coffees that they roasted. I tried the single origin the gentleman had suggested, let it roll around on my tongue for a moment as if I was sipping Scotch, then swallowed. Sure enough, there were distinct flavors that I had not noticed in my regular cheap grocery bought brand. I sipped a little more. Brown sugar, followed by fruits and earthy notes. This wasn't by any means a sweet coffee, but there were certainly notes of sweetness hidden in the roast. It was then that I decided coffee was more than just my morning stimulant, it was something to be thoroughly enjoyed and each taste should be pondered.
The origin of the beans, the method by which it was roasted, ground, and brewed has given me a whole new perspective. No longer do I look at coffee solely as a means to wake up in the morning, but rather something to be enjoyed, something to start the wheels turning in my head. While I could probably go back to the store and buy a few different flavors of the big brand coffees, I find more enjoyment in seeking out local artisan coffee roasters in my own city. Each one has their own unique story for each roast. And by trying their coffees, by really pondering the various flavors, you can taste the story their trying to convey.
So if someone asks me what kind of coffee I buy... I buy micro-roast, artisan coffees. Not always from my locale, but I try to sample as many local roasters as possible.