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Former coffee snob here. Only "former", because circumstances prevent me from being an active one now. I won't get into it. I love coffee. I roasted all my own before things changed.

I can tell you exactly how this whole thing started (IMO, of course).

People measured their coffee using volume. Home scales were not practical or affordable until very recently in the grand scheme of things. The more you roast coffee beans, the more they puff up and take up more volume; become less dense. You would be shocked at the extent. So a quarter cup of dark roasted beans, compared to a quarter cup of light roasted beans of the very same green beans, will simply be a significantly less amount of coffee. Weigh them out equally and you will have virtually the same amount of caffeine with the same brewing method.

MarcelNL is exactly right. Once again, most people would be stunned to learn the range of caffeine amounts that result from different varieties in different growing conditions. The specific variety by far makes the most difference, just like chili peppers and capsaicin. Until you get into very extreme roasts, the amount of roasting (light to dark) does not affect the caffeine amount to any significant degree.

Bottom line: To get consistent strength brews to your liking, weigh your coffee.
Thanks for the science lesson! Makes sense why there would be a misconception. I do weigh my beans, and now I have another reason not to stop
I buy mostly from Black & White now. I did years of onyx exclusively, but had a string of bad experiences that really put me off at the price. Especially sad for this native Arkansan to not be able to endorse the home town roaster anymore.

In particular, if you like espresso but also like funkier Latin American coffees (my jam) I think B&W absolutely crushes the medium roast game.
Also should note my favorite of all time is perla negra from Durango. I usually like to order 1-2 bags at a time and shipping is like $8 unless you get $50 worth so I tend not to order it too often
I had taken ethompson's advice a while back and tried a bunch of black and white coffees. Their house blend medium roast is really great and tastes like coffee coffee, quite awesome. I liked their anaerobic stuff too. I've been trying a bunch of other roasters too; there's just so much out there.
I used to order from Intelligensia but it’s been a few years. At the time they guaranteed that they’d ship within 24 hours of roasting, which was very important to me. They’ve since been acquired so I don’t know if that’s still their policy. The first week within roasting for a single-origin is magical for me, all the subtleties of the single-origins come through and each day you can taste the flavors change. Then after that first week they all taste pretty much the same to me.

Anyway, this is for non-espresso brewing (eg pour over, some sophisticated drip machines) where you can allow the grinds to bloom before full extraction. Freshly roasted beans off-gas co2 for the first week or so especially when brewing, so when you allow the grinds to “bloom” that means you hit them with a little hot water and allow them to fizz for 30-60s while the co2 bubbles off, then you continue brewing after that for best extraction.

With espresso brewing you would probably want the beans to be a week or more old for better extraction since you can’t do the bloom, but I was never into that side of things so I don’t know much about it.
I ended up with a variety pack from Tandem and I'm gonna swing by a local brewery/coffee shop that sells Black&White since I love their stuff.

I look forward to trying the rest of the stuff on this list in the next few months
Coffee is... difficult, I think...
Personally, I prefer Kenyan SL28 brewed with a V60. Here in Norway we are really spoiled for choice, but I always come back to very light roasted Kenyan coffee.

The most important parameters are good and consistent grinding and precise measurements with both water, coffee (WEIGHT!) and time - as well as good coffee of course.
Different people have very different tastes in coffee. I favor Yemen and Ethiopian/Tanzania beans; I like the fruit-tinged rounder acidities, vs., say, the assertive lemony acidities of Kenyan beans. For my wife, I kept roasting and taking her coffees to try, and nothing rang the bell until I hit...Sumatran coffees. Not very popular with a lot of people; they tend to have low acid expression, and the sort of spice flavors that root beer or sarsaparilla would show. She loved it from the first: "I would drink this just because it tastes good." High praise from a woman who used to choke down her morning coffee just for the wake-up.

With that frame in mind, when my Dad was asking for roaster recommendations, I bought him a Mistobox subscription. You fill out a questionnaire about your tastes, and each month, you get some freshly-roasted coffee from a different roaster. It turned out to be a very good way to sort out what he liked. I knew about it because I subscribed myself, and it turned out that what was to my taste was "coffee as recently roasted as possible." I just can't stand that stale flavor that creeps in after 2-3 weeks.
I do mostly espresso, occasionally pour over and I regularly order from these places who almost all roast to order and mostly ship within 24 hours of roasting:

Intelligentsia (mostly their Black Cat espresso blends)
Coava (they offer espresso and drip roast profiles for everything)
Counter Culture
George Howell
Happy Mug (significantly cheaper than all the others)

I used to order from Blue Bottle but their prices are pretentiously high now. But their 17 foot ceiling blend is dark and roasty, great for espresso based milk drinks. Too dark on its own, but it has robusta in the blend (uncommon for specialty roasters in the US) that gives it a lot of body and strength that stands up to a lot of steamed milk if that’s her thing.

I always order enough to get free shipping and freeze what I’m not immediately using in mason jars. Freezing them will keep them fresh for over a month.
self confessing coffee snob here....single origin is IMO not worth it...a coffee variety has distinct characteristics , much like grapes...terroir does affect the result but IMHO to a much smaller extent as most folks think.
A contrasting view on this one: I am constantly amazed by the extraordinary differences among coffees with the same cultivar and different origins.

The wine analogy is a good one. Similar sorts of differences between, say, Pommard and Nuits St Georges and Sonoma Pinot Noir. These, too, I find to be extraordinarily different from each other.

However, it is less clear that paying attention to those differences is worth it, when buying pre-roasted coffee. Professional roasters almost always blend, even within single origins, because the goal is to present a uniform product, year after year, even though it is made up of an agricultural product that varies considerably. People want that; it's how they think of coffee. So you're not likely to have peak experiences that way, any more than a Burgundy made up from wines of different communes to have a consistent taste every year would even hint at the greatness of some of its components in some years.

Still, it can be a guideline to finding things that are to your taste. I can usually guess correctly that an Ethiopian blend will be more to my taste than a Guatemalan blend, and will run more to fruity than nutty.
So, I put cream in my coffee, would I be wasting my time and flavor buds buying fresh roast coffee?
So, I put cream in my coffee, would I be wasting my time and flavor buds buying fresh roast coffee?
It's a very interesting question. When my beans get three weeks from the roast, or if the roaster is down and I have to buy roasted coffee, I will add light cream to it, to smooth the sharp edges of the stale flavor. So there is some spreading and masking that happens.

That's not the same as saying it makes the underlying flavor invisible or irrelevant, though. And people long-accustomed to a flavor addition tend to make it disappear; it's just how our senses work. Think Europeans smoking at wine tastings.

I guess the only way to answer your question for yourself would be to try it and see. My guess is that you will notice a difference, but may or may not find it significant enough to chase. It is the subtleties that make the freshest coffee rewarding, and cream will definitely blur them.
I wouldn’t recommend paying the premium for something really exotic like a gesha, but a milk drink is only as good as the coffee it’s made with. A good, freshly roasted (less than 6 weeks let’s say) blend from a reputable roaster will be noticeably different than anything pre ground or even fancy beans from the grocery store that have been sitting for months and months.

I agree with the assessment above to try a wide range of beans, find what you like, and then find a roaster that does that type of beans well. Latin and African coffees and different processing methods can yield wildly different results.
Naturals or a good anaerobic if it's done well, but that's not everyone's cup of tea. I do cappuccinos, so there is a splash of milk, nothing like Starbucks milk drinks with burnt rubber beans. The quality is everything for me and the beans don't come into their own till the 5 or 6 day after roast and can last up till 10 or 12 days after roast.
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Variety (or varieties included in a batch of greens (seldomly a batch of greens consists of just one variety), conditions during growing season, harvest condition (ripeness, evenness of ripeness), post harvest processing (wet, honey, natural, anaerobic), origin.... just a few factors impacting flavor before roasting.

Just have a look at the great many varieties (likely not even near complete);
List of coffee varieties - Wikipedia
Local to me is No Name Java, now Roast to Order Coffee. I've been a customer for many years, suffered with them the aftermath of Ian while they were down for awhile, and enjoying them again under their new name. My daily is their Saint Pete Dark Secret blend but they have the singles as well.
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...... We've got some good local roasters but that's not as ~fun~ since she could technically go out and get their stuff any time...even though she doesn't.

..... She likes medium/dark roasts.
Please do your local roasters a favor and find something she loves from them. Especially if you can find a small (5# batch) roaster. These folks are fanatical and usually all you have to do is tell them the profile she likes and being method, and they will hand you the bag you're looking for.

6 years ago, A friend accidentally gave me a bag of Ethiopian light (really light!) roast and I was amazed at what that was. Changed my whole approach to coffee. I have a couple of small batch roasters I go to, and honestly they are like a personal sommelier. I don't tell them what I want anymore, I let them tell me.

Conversation usually goes something like "oh you're using the cafelat robot this week? You'll want this bean, it's (insert ridiculous sounding flavor profile description here)". Or "oh, you're traveling and using the moka pot? You'll like this one or this one"

Support your local roaster!

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