I blame it all on Costco.
You, see, there was a time when I didn’t need drugs to survive. Yes, I smoked pot when I was younger—but who didn’t?—and I may have dabbled a bit with chemical substances, but for most of my life I’ve been pretty straight. I can’t stand cigarettes and I’ve consumed enough alcohol in my life to maybe fill a bucket.
But, you see, my wife Leila and I go to Costco almost every Sunday (our big romantic getaway) and that damn snack bar drew me in with their Mocha Latte, which pretty much amounts to a coffee milkshake.
Drinking those ML’s every week became a ritual for us. We’d do our shopping, then swing by the snack bar and pick up a couple and head on over to the next shopping center, sucking on our straws as we drove.
The next thing I knew I was buying those coffee milkshake drinks at places like Starbucks, and pretty soon I was breaking out the blender to make my own, using the mocha latte mix I bought from—guess where?
Then, after getting a publishing deal, I suddenly had to write a new book and work a day job, and every morning I wound up dragging myself into the office feeling like crap warmed over. So what did I do?
Since I worked in a conference center, I started drinking the free coffee. Twice a day. Morning and afternoon.
Problem was, that coffee tasted like something that had been scraped out of the garbage can after sitting there moldering for a few days, and I knew I had to find something better.
I stopped buying the fancy latte drinks altogether and invested in a very cheap coffee maker. A four-cupper that made a halfway decent pot. And when you have a coffee maker, you have to have coffee, so I went to Trader Joe’s and started buying their beans and grinding them in the store grinder.
But, of course, why grind them at the store when you can grind them at home? So I bought a cheap burr grinder and a bag of beans and started making my own grinds. Sometimes I would blend beans to get the taste just the way I liked it.
Medium roast. Cream. Sugar. That’s what I craved.
Until my buddy Bill Cameron mentioned that the best cup of coffee you can get is by using a French press. I had no clue what that was, but I went in search of one anyway, carefully followed the instructions and—
—oh my god, it was amazing. Bill had not lied. There was even a little bit of grit at the bottom that I just loved. And say goodbye to medium roast, this shit was strooooooong.
So now it was French press on weekdays and an Americano (a shot of cappuccino with hot water) when I was out and about, and I finally had to admit it to myself:
I was a full-fledge coffeeholic.
Problem was, Americano’s were expensive and that French press was just a pain in the ass to wash. All those coffee grounds everywhere? Yuck.
I needed another solution. So, there I was in Costco and I see they have a special price on the machine Alafair talked about a few days back, a super duper deluxe Keurig one-cup coffee maker. Just pop in the pre-made cup, pour in some water (and you don’t have to pour it in every time!) and presto! you’ve got… well… you’ve got…
…a perfectly bland cup of coffee. Unless you set the thing on the lowest setting for the smallest cup, your coffee tastes like an Americano without the cappuccino.
I tried the boldest of bold coffees in that damn machine and just could not find a cup I liked. It was useless to me.
Not only that, Leila hated it, too. Not the coffee so much as the machine itself. The water light was always flashing, asking for the reservoir to be filled, and she was also concerned with the pure waste of using those tiny plastic cups every time you wanted coffee.
But we stuck with the machine. I used the little MyCup device that let you use your own grind. Unfortunately, it was messy as hell and just not worth the effort. I still couldn’t get a cup of coffee I liked out of it. I even tried some other contraption the Internet suckered me into buying and it was worthless.
Now I know there are a lot of people out there who absolutely love their Keurigs. But the Brownes? No so much. So after a month of experimenting—and a crapload of lousy coffee—back to Costco it went.
Now it was back to the French press while I hunted online for the perfect coffee maker. I found one for $250 at the Everything’s Kitchen website that uses the “steam” method of brewing, just like many Japanese coffee makers.
That was the one for me! So I ordered it, only to discover that they were out of stock and I’d have to wait a month or so to actually get one. Sigh.
Then a few days later I was tooling around Fry’s when I came across a unit on sale.
It was a Cuisinart 12-cup “on demand” model. Meaning it has no pot. The carafe built in and all you have to do is push a little lever on the front and fill your cup as if you’re using a watercooler.
I took this baby home and Leila and I instantly fell in love with it. Easy to use, easy to clean, makes lots of coffee and is actually kind of fun. Plus the coffee stays hot without sitting on a burner, so there’s no burnt taste after a couple hours.
Every morning, when I fill my cup, if I close my eyes and pretend, I kinda feel like I’m in a restaurant.
Until the cup overflows and I burn myself.
In the end, of course, I remain a diehard coffee addict. I still only drink two cups a day, but I couldn’t do without them—even though my day job is now sitting right here at this desk and writing ten hours a day.
In the morning, I grind my beans (dark roast, thank you), brew the coffee, draw a cup, put in two teaspoons of sugar and a dollop of half and half and I’m good for the morning.
And it’s all because of you, Costco.
So what about you guys? Coffee drinkers? Strong? Sugar? Cream? And what kind of coffee maker do you swear by?