A Matter of Taste

Source: Freeclipartnow
Source: Freeclipartnow

A proud moment during my post-divorce bachelor period was when I bought a Keurig coffee maker.  I was living under a very restrictive budget but had just completed the most difficult part because of tax reasons. Once my accountant gave me the green light, a small bit of cash again began to flow directly to me instead of the government.  It wasn’t enough to change my circumstances in any meaningful way, but it was a sufficient and adequate amount where I could at least pretend that I had a taste of the good life.

“Taste” and “Good” here are subject to interpretation and definition.  I knew full well that K-cups are not by definition “coffee” by any gourmet standard.  But I’m also someone who has absolutely no problems with running into a 7-11, an AM/PM, or especially those frighteningly fascinating highway truck stops such as Pilot or Flying-J, and drink what can only be described as battery acid.  Doesn’t taste good?  Eh, so add that sugary, flavored cream that they offer and be done with it.  You’re awake now at least, aren’t you?  And it only cost you $1.20.  Get over yourself.

Absolute true coffee to me, and I know rigid connoisseurs out there will no doubt furrow their brows in utter derision when reading this, can only come from a percolated pot. Sorry for this, but I have too many beautiful recollections of growing up in my Midwestern home and watching the coffee jump up to the pot’s glass cover while sounding the “glub, glub, glub” of its brewing cycle.  A very good memory of nostalgic aroma

K-cups, I understand, are a comparative abomination to any aficionado no matter what your exacting brewing method is.  But they are awfully convenient, and when first introduced, as with any new-fangled invention, I thought they were the bee’s knees.

Such was the low point of my life at that time in terms of adventure that I excitedly arrived at the office the following day, and told my co-workers all about my thrilling new purchase. One person, a pesky progressive type who heretofore had often impressed me with her crunchy-granola vibe, completely harshed my mellow by letting me know that K-cups are environmentally unsound. She went on to tell me that I could buy do-it-yourself, reusable cups that are much more responsible.

Oh.  Well, THAT certainly takes all the joy out of the convenience.  Kill the whales, I say.

However, another co-worker excitedly told me that she too was a recent convert.  We breathlessly talked about the different coffee varieties and brands offered. She told me about tea and cocoa too.  I had found a kindred Keurig fan, and we immediately made plans to split purchases to save money (Hi, H).  What a life I was having– I was free, single, paying alimony, and drinking easy-to-make coffee.  What could be better?  Well, maybe having an actual life.  Which in due course I finally got when I married Gorgeous.

In addition to all the adjustments couples make when they begin cohabitation (i.e. she likes several blankets at night, I like one only), my wife and I soon discovered that we each have profound and differing coffee preferences.  Or as she plainly put it: “You like bad coffee.”

“How,” I was rhetorically asked, “can coffee possibly be any good when it’s being brewed through this cheap plastic cup?

The nice thing about rhetorical questions is that most don’t require a response, especially when the postulation is likely to be correct.  Best to stay silent.

When Gorgeous moved in with me, she brought a huge Saeco espresso machine, a French press, a Baratza Encore grinder, and a Bonavita coffee maker.  My bachelor pad kitchen suddenly converted over from my carefully crafted Target brand ambience to a Sur La Table chic that belied anything I would have attempted or even tried to figure out on my own.  We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

The Keurig was put in a closet and then kept safely in a packing box prior moving to Oregon. Once we settled in Portland, Gorgeous discovered that coffee there is considered to be as holy as Pinot Noir and long beards.  Soon she was tasting from all the local roasters, in particular one called Stumptown, which was a favorite in our neighborhood and throughout the area.  She was in seventh heaven.

I found most of the coffees there over-priced. Clearly it was all going over my head or at least my stomach.  But such is the passion for coffee in the upper northwest that I found myself putting on a trench coat, a drooping hat over the eyes, and would walk into a mini-mart just to get an inexpensive cup.  The clerk always assumed I wanted the Penthouse magazine, but I really just needed to buy my cup and then quickly leave.

When we arrived in Florida, Gorgeous was disappointed to discover that at least in our small hamlet, there are no decent coffee shops other than Starbucks.  We’ve found one that’s passable, but it apparently still doesn’t have the right taste.  She feels that she has been to the mountain top, and I have now taken her to a place where ordinary rules, caffeine-wise that is.  I must get her soon to Miami where I know she’ll fall in love with the Cuban roasters.

To mitigate her loss, and also as a test of my budgetary patience, Stumptown packages arrive at our home from the Rose City on a regular basis.  Stumptown mugs, also purchased from afar, sit in our cupboard with unspoken rules about their usage.  Only when I’m feeling especially frisky and diabolical do I dare use one.

The Keurig has somehow made its way back out on our very crowded kitchen counter along with all the other fancy brewing devices.  It sits in the “ghetto” area, in a corner near the garbage disposal switch and the bottle of Ajax dish soap.  I again have K-cups available for my use, but they are placed in a high cupboard away from eye-level.  I don’t use it that much, but I still find it helpful to have on those occasions when I only want a cup for myself, and I’m not in the mood to thumb through the 17 page instruction booklet I would need to use the other machines.

Mediocrity and me get along quite fine, thank you very much.  But if you come over to visit, we’ll make sure to brew you the good stuff.

Shhhhhh.
Shhhhhh.
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19 thoughts on “A Matter of Taste

  1. Coffee people are a breed of their own. I was recently at a very nice restaurant and I turned to my husband and said, “This is the worst coffee I’ve ever had.” He agreed with me but I’m not sure if he noticed before my declaration. I love good coffee like I had in Brazil or Greece but hey, I’m not there and I can make do with battery acid if necessary. Right now at 4 in the afternoon I am sipping a delightful Starbucks.

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  2. I wasn’t a coffee drinker until I moved in with my husband who brought me French Pres’s coffee in bed. I converted! While I occasionally do it, I resent the prices of the fancier coffee stores.

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  3. Coffee has its place in my life. Sometimes I can’t get by without it (4 plus cups per day), other times I’m ok with just a sip. The problem is I don’t trust that coffee machines are ever really clean. Yes certain parts come out to be washed, but what about the internal plumbing? For this reason I prefer the French press, but the glass ones keep breaking so I’m now in search of a budget friendly stainless steel stovetop percolator.

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  4. Having just googled what a Keurig is, have to tell you Snakes, I am totally with you. When I am enjoying a brew from our version of the Keurig I feel like I’ve died and gone to coffee heaven. The cream pumps out, the milk is perfectly frothed and all I have to do is sit back and enjoy. It’s the simple things in life, huh.

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  5. Strangely, even though I’m pushing the half century mark in a year, I wasn’t a coffee drinker until just a few years ago. Now, I usually start the day with a cup, and love it. I don’t go in for the expensive coffee – double shot whip whip – just a regular coffee/black no chaser kind of guy. Occasionally, I drop by a Subway restaurant where they serve breakfast that looks like lunch, waiting for the wife to get her nails done at the salon next door, and have a coffee and read – an opportunity just to hang out and read, listen to music, without interruption and enjoy a brew. I noticed the last month or so that the Subway is now using a Keurig for their coffee which I think is kind of strange that they don’t brew their own anymore. Also, they only have one variety – no decaf either. When I’m ordering, I often forget they only have one coffee option for the Keurig and usually get a response back that reminds me of the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld; “This is all you get, no coffee for you, three months!!!!”

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  6. Funny how life works, Snakes. I just walked into my Man Cave after having made a pot of coffee and I thought, “I could blog about coffee.” Then I called up your site and read your effort that was much better than I could have written. So I blogged about an old friend and mentor instead. Maybe I’ll blog about my Man Cave at a later date. It’s different.

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  7. I am a coffee lover but by no means a connoisseur… I just know what I like and don’t like! I don’t like Starbucks that is for sure. At home I grind my coffee beans every morning… mostly I buy the organic Whole Foods Dark and Light Blend which seems to suit my taste buds the best, but I do enjoy branching out and trying other coffees… sometimes I mix them with the Whole Foods or drink them on their own, depending on my mood… when traveling I just grin and bear it as long as it has caffeine to get me started in the morning…

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    1. I’ve been trying to get my wife to blend the coffees more. When she buys one she doesn’t like, I always suggest she just keep to blend with another one in the future that she might like. Slowly I think she’s beginning to get it. I was always a big believer in blending back when *ALL* that I could afford was Folgers or the even worse Maxwell House. When in doubt just blend it!

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      1. As far as big brand coffee goes I think Folgers is the best. That’s absolutely what I do,,, if I buy a coffee I don’t like I mix the beans 1/3 bad to 2/3 good and it is a pretty decent cup.

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  8. We have a similar version of the Keurig here in the UK called a Tasimo machine. I thought it the bees knees when I first bought it, but then my attention turned to espresso makers (the ones with the built-in milk frother) and since then my Tasimo has sat unloved and gathering dust in the corner of my small kitchen.

    I probably spend far too much money on coffee and related items, but I rarely drink and don’t smoke, so I don’t really see the harm as drinking is my only vice. Perhaps I’ve taken it a bit too far though as my local coffee shop knows my name, my order and my favourite place to sit…. 🙂

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  9. I’m not familiar with the built-in frother, but that sounds really good for those lazy days or nights. If I have too much coffee I get jittery and a stomach ache. So I can only have it once in the morning and once in the afternoon. But I look forward to both!

    Yes, you are indeed a regular at that neighborhood coffee joint. I used to have the same problem with a watering hole near my second bachelorhood apartment. I actually chose the apartment because it was within walking distance! Anyway, I would sidle up to the bar and they would immediately start making my regular gin martini. Sometimes I actually wanted something different, but I didn’t have the heart to tell them. It was kind of cool to be a regular.

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