I’ll bring the cream.

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Photo courtesy of Mikael T on Flickr.

I grew up with a father who worshipped coffee. He still does. I absolutely attribute my love of the rich, bold tasting brew to him, since I may not have given being a coffee drinker more serious thought if it hadn’t been for his influence.

He took it so seriously that I thought one must be a cool person if s/he is a coffee drinker. And I still hold this opinion. But we know I am a total coffee snob.

Anyway, my dad took his coffee with cream when I was a kid (well, half ‘n half). On Sundays when we’d go to church, he would bring a carton of cream to share with others during coffee hour (the hour(s) adults would stand around and talk about grownup things), because he wanted his coffee doctored just so. I always thought this was a strange practice, not understanding what was at stake, of course.

I didn’t know what “powdered creamer” was or that it has nothing whatsoever in common with the real thing. I was ignorant of what delicate texture cream gives to a hearty cup of joe.

As a grown woman who has strong preferences on just about everything, especially what food and beverages I consume, I can safely attest that given the same set of circumstances, I, too, would be hauling my own cream to a weekly function where there is coffee but nothing with which to doctor it.

I have brought my own cream to work on many occasions, because otherwise I cannot drink coffee at work. Coffee and cream go together, plain and simple.

At one of my previous jobs, my employer actually provided milk and cream in the kitchen in the fridge. It was even stocked for us. Do you know what a luxury that was? Picture Forrest Gump saying, “Magic cream.” (Instead of “magic legs.”)

Seriously, best. thing. ever. My cup runneth over with cream. I had my fill of coffee those three years, perfectly blended just the way I liked it.

As I was doing some dishes in the not too distant past, I got to daydreaming and thought about whether I would ask my staff to keep cream in the fridge for me if I ever made it to a top position in management or public office or something. I really think the answer is yes.

Certainly, if I were a pop star, my rider would explicitly state that a small carton of very cold heavy cream would need to be in the fridge in my dressing room, in addition to a pound of my coffee bean of choice.

Thanks to my father, I totally GET the utter importance of having one’s cup of java doctored to one’s exact preferences. And it makes total sense why he would get so understandably upset when he would forget to bring it to church.

“God BLESS it! I forgot the cream!” he would cry out in the car.

Diva or no diva, when it comes to coffee and conversation, I try to plan ahead. Thanksgiving, brunch at a friend’s house, or even church, should I someday join one. I’ll be the woman who states loud and clear, “I’ll bring the cream!”

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Amalgam Day

Hello fair readers!

For the post du jour, I’m whining writing about a couple of things that have been in the hopper for a little while but needed proper motivation to be written.

Today is that day. Hooray!

Before we get to it, an amalgam is “a mixture of different elements,” the second definition of this word according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

First things first. I have decided that instead of “Hump Day,” Wednesday should be called “Slump Day.” I mentioned this to a friend of mine this morning because I feel very strongly against using the word “hump” – gross. And also it really does feel like a slump. Is anyone really motivated on Wednesday? Anyone? I’m waiting. Or we could just call it Amalgam Day, but that wouldn’t always apply.

Next on the list:

So apparently I’m a masochist. It takes me forever to realize that something is going to suck no matter how much I want it to not suck.

<Dramatic Deep Sigh>

Today turned out to be incredibly chilly, rainy, and windy, so I decided to get myself a hot meal at lunchtime. Since I didn’t have time to go out for a real sit-down meal, I ventured to go for McDonald’s, the only fast food place close by to my office. I know, you’re probably thinking, “There’s your first mistake.” I hadn’t been to Mickey D’s in a couple of weeks and so I was ready for it to reward me for my abstinence.

I also thought that perhaps they’d be having a Good Fry Day and I would be able to benefit from it. We all know what Good Fry Days are at McDonald’s – you get your bag and these perfectly cooked golden sticks with just the right amount of salt on them await you to consume them. They become the cornerstone of the meal, though Chicken McNuggets or a Big Mac aren’t too far behind. For the record, it was NOT a good fry day. I got hot fries but they were overcooked and had a puke yellow color to them, so they were not all that appetizing.

In any case, I decided that on top of getting a regular lunch meal, I’d opt to try a hot coffee drink, since they have already begun putting their holiday beverage advertisements out at the drive-thru. (I guess it worked….)

There’s no way in hell I would try anything with “peppermint” in it from McDonald’s, so that nixed the “Peppermint Hot Chocolate” and I didn’t want a regular latte, not that I trust them to make a great one. My go-to coffee drink is a mocha when I’m feeling splurge-y, so that’s what I decided on.

I know, we’ve been here before, right? Also here. I keep signing up for the pyramid schemes and believing I’m going to make my money back.

Needless to say, it did not live up to the expectations my little heart had set.

Pros: the ‘mocha’ was hot; it had whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup on top
Cons: it was mostly just espresso with not enough milk in it and was entirely too bitter; the best part of consuming this ‘mocha’ was at the end when I got the extra bit of syrup and whipped cream mixed in with the last of the drink. I should have just gotten a regular cup of coffee.

Basically, I’m living out the cliché definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The hope here is that having written about these disastrous drinks on a couple of different occasions, I’ll actually like, REMEMBER that the next time I think I am going to manifest that perfect coffee drink I’m craving and I find myself at McDonald’s.

I have yet to hear from anyone that these things are actually satisfying, unless you’re addicted to super sugary stuff and go for the drinks that are all syrup with a drop of espresso in them.

All of this leads me to my final point, and one I didn’t think I’d ever say:

Dear Starbucks, PLEASE SET UP A NEW LOCATION IN MY CITY! Urbana has the Starbuckses because the University of Illinois is there. We Champaigners don’t have one, unless you count going up to the mall area, which I don’t. You know what we get instead? A plethora of Espresso Royales.

Don't be fooled. It's horrible.

Espresso Royale is even worse than McDonald’s AND they charge you up the ass for their beverages and baked goods. I can’t say enough bad things about that place, and after trying them at least five times before giving up (are we seeing a pattern here?), I can say with confidence they don’t know how to make coffee OR hot chocolate.

I NEED a Starbuck’s. They may be all corporate and “everything that’s wrong with America,” but I am desperate. They know how to make a freaking mocha without screwing it up and know a little something about the art of coffee, even if they’re not everyone’s ideal. Plus, they make a damn fine pumpkin spice latte.

I don’t even need a giant Starbucks with a drive-thru. I just want a little shop set up within a mile of of where I work in the southwest corner of Champaign. Is that really too much to ask? Please, Starbucks, come and put Espresso Royale out of business!! It’s a travesty that that place is even staying afloat because they’re doing everything they can to keep people out, trust me.

I actually really like my newly adopted city but if I were appointed City Planner or whoever makes these kinds of decisions, I’d ban Espresso Royale and start getting some much needed coffee shops in the coffee-less areas for the suburbanites. It’s time to get the good coffee drinks to us coffee snobs in the farther out regions. (Some of us ninety-nine percenters have spending priorities such as I do – it’s all we’ve got! Did I say the word ‘coffee’ enough in this paragraph?)

To sum up: McDonald’s keeps on disappointing and it’s annoying; Starbucks is neglecting a very important area of the country and needs only to send me an email if they want to know where to set up their next location.

Happy Slump Day.

Back away from the coffee, ma’am.

I am a Supertaster who loves coffee.

I’m not “supposed” to like bitter foods like coffee but I have a workaround, thanks to to the assistance of Splenda and cream.

As with most food items in my life, I am picky about how I take my coffee. I’m very much Sally from When Harry Met Sally with my preferences:

  • Has to be bold, flavorful, HOT coffee. I can count on one hand the number of restaurants I go to for their coffee.
  • I prefer my coffee in a cup and saucer at restaurants but a mug at home.
  • I have to have half ‘n half or cream in my coffee. 2% milk is barely tolerable and skim milk in coffee is so bad, I’d rather not have it at all.
  • I choose an artificial sweetener, such as Splenda (well, ONLY Splenda) to put in because it’s technically sweeter than sugar so I can use less, and it dissolves like a dream. There is no sinking of Splenda to the bottom of the cup.
  • I can drink coffee with cream and no sweetener but usually only if there is a sweet dessert present. I can’t drink black coffee, with or without sweetener. So you see what really takes precedence.
  • If the coffee cools too long, it becomes undrinkable and it goes down the sink. There is absolutely a Point of No Return with coffee temperature.

BUT!

Because I am so discerning with how I doctor my coffee (ratio of cream and Splenda to coffee is of utmost importance), my biggest pet peeve when dining in a restaurant where I’m happily sipping my coffee is to have my cup refilled before I’m ready.

It really gets my hackles up to sit there enjoying my food and a waiter or waitress comes along and before I can say no, s/he gives me a “warmup” with fresh coffee, thereby completely ruining the precious, perfect combination of coffee, cream and sweetener.

<Insert slow motion “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” here.>

Because I am a shy person who doesn’t want to bring attention to myself, I rarely speak up for myself in these instances, and my perfect cup goes to crap, forcing me to re-doctor my coffee all over again.

I’ve even pretended to be mid-sip so that the waitress will think I don’t need a refill. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. If I were a server, I would definitely wait to get a response before taking the liberty of filling up my customer’s cup.

Coffee doctoring takes precision, people! I even have pictures to prove it. Yes, I’m that person.

Polished Silver

Cold cream awaits the coffee.

Coffee_altered

Perfectly good coffee in a saucer receiving cream.

Clouds in my coffee

The cream begins to work its magic.

Coffee and spoon_NYC

The swirls of deliciousness unite.

Doesn’t that just make you want to get yourself a yummy cup of joe? It does for me. But that delicate balance of java, cream and sweetener can be ruined in a heartbeat with the addition of extra coffee before it’s consumed.

So servers, I beg of you: back away from the coffee. Wait for a “Yes, please!” before you give that warm-up.

It’s also with a heavy heart that I inform you all that the place in which I took these photos earlier this year has now closed. It’s one of the only restaurants in my town that served really wonderful hot coffee (with cold cream!) and I am sad to see it gone. R.I.P. Uncle Jack’s.

Best Coffee Flavor? Creamy Chestnuts.

It occurred to me that I have yet to write about one of my favorite websites on my blogroll: Coffee Fool. If you love coffee and you’ve never heard of this website, I urge you to go there immediately and browse their insanely good selection of coffee. Then buy some.

It’s not just the flavors, though they are my favorite out of the kinds they have. It’s the joy and caring they put into their roasts, as well as a very detailed explanation of how they get their coffee a certain way. They also help you understand that most store-bought coffee is not freshly roasted and therefore is stale. If you’ve ever smelled ‘fresh’ coffee grounds and thought it smelled kinda ashy, like cigarettes, then yeah, they’re bad.

Big K and I like to get the beans because when we grind them ourselves, the powerful smell of truly fresh coffee hits you over the head. It’s akin to wine. You can inhale the scent up to your eyeballs and before you even brew the stuff, you feel more awake. I wish I were exaggerating but it’s really true.

To that end, we discovered that our favorite part of Coffee Fool’s website is the Friday Flavors. There, they “experiment” with different flavors and usually keep the roast at on the lighter, American side of things. (Don’t get me wrong – their Italian and French Roasts are like dark silk. Try one if you have any semblance of loving a rich roast.) Anyway, in Friday Flavors (which have now been incorporated into their regular line), they have many delicious concoctions but my favorite “potion” – and I’m talking all-time here – is Creamy Chestnuts. There is just something about this nutty flavor that keeps me buying pound after pound. I could probably get on their auto-delivery program for it because it’s that good. Every single person who has ever had it at my home thought it smelled amazing and tasted just as good. You don’t get that all the time with coffee – just sayin’.

I don’t know if they still do this but if you buy enough coffee from them, you earn a permanent discount with them. Needless to say, I get a slightly discounted bag of coffee each and every time I order. They also have wonderful staff and customer service. I really hope their whole business plan stays exactly the same.

So, to Coffee Fool: I salute you! Keep up the outstanding work and thanks for brightening my life with your creativity in a product as necessary as coffee. The variety and quality boggle the mind! At least mine.

Here are a few of the other flavors I’ve tried and my two cents on them:

Boolicious: they keep this one a ‘secret’ but Kevin and I have definitely discerned that it’s a mixture of blueberry and other flavors. This would be great for most people, since there are an odd number of folks out there who enjoy blueberry flavored coffee, but I do not. So while I do not recommend it, Kevin would.
Chocolate Pumpkin Pie: I like this version better than their regular Pumpkin Pie flavor. I found the latter to have too much pumpkin spice.
Cremera: Don’t bother. It literally tastes like a weird, subdued, creamy coffee. Wouldn’t buy twice.
Egg Nog Royale: I don’t like egg nog flavored things but my dude loved this one.
Santa’s Cookie Coffee: I bought two bags of this and liked it initially. Then when I tried it again, I didn’t like it enough to buy it again. It’s VERY popular, though.
Turtle Gone Nuts: This is pretty good. I love me some chocolate and caramel.
Vanillamykahlua: Give this a whirl if you like mild vanilla. (I can also highly recommend their French Vanilla, since it’s French roasted coffee with vanilla. YUM.)
Bacon: You’d think this one would have blown us away. The ‘bacon’ flavor was so mild that it didn’t blow our hair back. We’ll just stick with regular coffee and frying up some bacon.
Chocolate Espresso: Self-explanatory. And delicious.
Chocolate Raspberry: This stuff is amazing. Conversely, I tried the Raspberry Squared and wanted to throw up. I couldn’t drink the stuff. Too berry-y.
Creme Brulee: I can’t attest to this one but K-Dawg loves it.
English Toffee: very tasty! I’d buy this one again.
Maple Walnut: a new flavor that is really good. I think out of the “nut” coffees, it goes Creamy Chestnuts, Pecan Supreme, then Maple Walnut. This is a really nice flavor and can be mixed with others if it’s too mapley for you.
Melted Marshmallow: I wasn’t a big fan. It was just kinda ehhh for me. But I’m picky about marshmallow stuff.
Pecan Supreme: REALLY good. Not as good as Creamy Chestnuts but up there!
Pacific Espresso: I really adore dark roasts but I do not like this one. The best reason I can come up with is that it’s too bitter. Their Italian and French roasts are great for me, though.
Smooth Sailing: this is a reduced-acid coffee and has a wonderful flavor. It’s what “regular” coffee should taste like. And I can have multiple cups without having a Tums. Bonus!
Snoodle Doodle: One of my favorites. I have ordered this multiple times and would get this more regularly if it weren’t for Chestnuts eeking out the competition.
Highlander Grog: Also one of my favorite repeat orders. I like it because it’s not super hazelnut. It’s got a good blend of butterscotch and the hazelnutflavors.

Flatpicker Fuel, Fool’s House French, Fools’ House Italian Dark, Lock & Load and Velvet Hammer are all of the dark roasts I’ve tried. They’re really good about keeping the descriptions accurate so just double check what they say about each before picking. It’s almost hard to pick one you won’t like! (My God. I just went over to the Light/Medium roasts and realized I’ve tried a bunch of those, too. I really am a fan!)

VERBOTEN! Set Free on Day 3

I’m doin the coffee dance! You have no idea how happy I am that I finally got the divine release I was craving for 72 hours. After visiting my dentist this morning, I was given the A-OK to drink coffee even right after I got my teeth cleaned. Needless to say, as soon as I put my things down in my cube and booted up my computer, I grabbed my hefty Starbucks mug and headed to the kitchen to fill up all 20 ounces with my aromatic melange of French Roast coffee. As a special props to my office, we have the best-tasting, free office coffee I’ve ever had. That could probably be a post of its own – office coffee – but suffice it to say the coffee here serves all my flavor and caffeine needs. We even have an espresso machine, in case you want to brew strong shots to put in your coffee. (Or you can do like my boss does and drink black espresso. He’s not fuckin’ around.)

Anyway. Apparently I was using way too much of the bleaching gel, which is why I was doing unknown damage to my gums. When I told her that I was using an entire syringe full of the gel in each tray, she got a horrified look on her face and told me that that was WAY too much and that I could even use half a syringe for BOTH trays. She says, “You only filled them up halfway, right?” I told her I had followed the instructions by using a “unit” of the gel but since they don’t say what a unit is, I assumed it was one syringe for each tray.

“Oh no wonder!” she replied. In her extreme Long Island accent, it was more like “Ow now WUN-derr!” (Remember when I mentioned in a previous post that my dentist is chatty? Yeah. It took twenty minutes to even get me lowered in the chair so she could look at my teeth. Then she would start, ask me a question, pull the instrument out and wait for me to talk. The cleaning itself would probably take a half hour but with all the talking, I was there an hour. It’s pretty unreal.)

I haven’t decided if I’m going to subject my mouth to another torturous interlude of bleaching gel but maybe if I drastically reduce the amount of the gel and only do it for a couple of hours, I can withstand it. My dentist was highly encouraging of me to continue for a couple more sessions to get my teeth a bit whiter. But she approved of the level of whiteness thus far. So at least the pain was worth a professional nod towards the results.

What have I learned from the past 72 hours? I now know that I depend on coffee to keep me productive and that it plays a vital role in my morning routine at work. Not only that, but it keeps me full between meals when I’m on a strict budget and have small meals like a Hot Pocket and a small bag of chips for lunch (after a breakfast of yogurt and what else, coffee). Never again will I take it for granted. It was all I could do not to grin at my mug while I was stirring it this morning, at the same time thinking, “Mine! All mine!” Tasting the familiar bittersweet concoction on my tongue was pure bliss. I exaggerate not. I could literally feel the joy my veins were experiencing as the coffee flowed through them.

So relieved am I that I can have brown drinks again, that I might go full throttle and have some Coke Zero tonight. That’ll help me get through the ordeal of going to the laundromat. It’s gonna be a wild night.