I Know How to Make Coffee. Really, I Do.

I made a fresh pot of coffee this morning. It was early but I was awake. I’m sure of it. In order to make the coffee, I had to clean out the pot and the grinds from the little basket. That takes a few minutes and I’d let the dogs out and yea, I know I was awake… but the coffee tasted weird all day long.

I assumed it was because I’d gotten used to Starbucks blond after drinking 3 straight bags of it and today I had to use pre-ground some not well known name bag of coffee because that’s what was in front of me and the bags of whole beans weren’t right there in front of me.

No big deal, I will pretty much drink any coffee and be happy about it. But I’d pretty much decided I was never going to buy this brand again, no matter how inexpensive it might be. It just tasted… not great.

So tonight, I was out of coffee (yea, I drank an entire pot of not very good coffee today — coffee is coffee and when you’re addicted, you drink what’s in the damn pot) so I made another pot. I cleaned out the pot. And the basket thingy. I filled the basket with that same brand of ground coffee and pushed the button to turn on the machine.

It started making that very loud airplane sound that the Breville is known for … when it’s grinding beans.

What? Grinding beans? NO! No grinding beans, I was using pre-ground coffee! I ran back into the laundry room, where my Breville is, and pushed the power button to turn it off. Sure enough, I had forgotten to change the settings this morning so apparently it ground up a few stray beans in the bottom of the basket and brewed that coffee along with the pre-ground coffee I’d filled the basket with.

No wonder it tasted weird.

The Breville has different settings for pre-ground and whole bean brews. There’s a strength difference and a difference in brewing times and hell, I just totally flubbed it this morning. I caught it in time tonight — the coffee is fine. It’s no Starbucks or Prince of Darkness or even Seattles Best but it’s FINE now.

What the hell was I thinking? Maybe I wasn’t as awake as I thought I was this morning?

Happy Birthday to Me… Mmmmm, Coffee

I hate my Cuisinart coffeemaker. Seriously hate it. Everyone who’s used it (in my house) hates it. I’ve been dreaming of a new coffeemaker for at least a year, probably closer to two years. Finally, we couldn’t take it any longer and we started talking (a lot) about buying a new one.

At first, I was all “Let’s just get a cheap Mr. Coffee.” But apparently that wasn’t the right idea, since neither of us really pushed to just do that.

Then, we talked a bit about trying to find a coffeemaker like our old Starbucks coffeemaker that we both loved so much. But, that seemed like an impossible task, so we did nothing.

We both considered the Breville  YouBrew, after buying Prince J the fancy schmancy Breville Tea Brewer last year but that’s a lot of money for a coffeemaker we didn’t know much about.

We continued to do nothing and I cursed my Cuisinart every day.

Last month, we wandered into ABT to look for a big microwave with a mute option and while we were there, we saw the Breville YouBrew in person and I fondled it. A lot. I pretty much decided that was the coffeemaker I wanted.  

I went home and researched it. I watched the nice Breville videos and read user reviews and watched more videos and yep, that’s the one I wanted and I was going to get it for my birthday. But then, I bought a new car and thought maybe I shouldn’t also get a new, expensive, coffeemaker. So I did nothing, again.

But TW came home on Friday with the YouBrew and yes, I really was surprised.

I read the instructions. I put it together. I ran it through the cleaning cycle. I brewed a single cup of coffee at 6pm.

It wasn’t the best cup of coffee I’ve had but that’s to be expected. It has a lot of settings and I went light/medium on brew and strength to see what the coffee was like at that setting. It also takes a really, really long time to make that single cup of coffee but that’s fine, I was doing the dishes while it brewed.

The next morning, I got up and made a pot of coffee and I went for the setting just below the strongest setting and it was a fabulous pot of coffee.

(There are a bunch of reviewers who talk about the coffee getting cold. I call BS. I made the pot at 6am and at 4pm the coffee in the carafe was still hot. Not burning hot but a good temperature to drink a fast cup of coffee before you have to leave the house again…)

Later that night, I made another single cup of coffee and I went strong/strong – perfect.

This morning, I made a pot of coffee – strong, not intense and I briefly wondered at the reviewers who talk about how loud the coffee grinder is because at 6:30am, with nobody else up, it didn’t seem that loud to me.  

After the machine beeped, I got up and poured a cup. Hmmm, it seems really light to me. But maybe it’s my imagination because I didn’t have any lights on in the house and it was still dark… I carried the cup back to my desk, took a sip and paused… hmmm that doesn’t taste good.  What happened? Did I screw up the settings somehow?  I took another sip. I looked in the cup, by the glow of the laptop screen – very light. Shoot. I must have screwed up the settings.

I took another sip. Put the cup down. Did some work. Took another sip. Sighed a lot. Wondered whether it would improve if I just left it out all day (and drank Tassimo while I waited for it to improve – I know, I’m nuts. You don’t have to say so, on my birthday. Hmph.)

I grabbed the little Breville booklet to figure out what I might have done wrong.

I got up to peer at the machine. Sighed. And took it apart to wash it so I could start over. Why were there almost NO grounds in the filter? Were they in the pot? No.  Did it somehow brew a cup’s worth of beans in a whole 12 cup carafe of water? That would not be good. Not good at all. It would mean taking back the machine, I’m sure.

I poked around it again and realized… there were no beans in the bean hopper.

Oy. Why doesn’t it have a beeping noise or a warning display light that says, “You are an idiot and there are no beans in here!”

Sure enough, I cleaned the machine, refilled the hopper, made sure the settings were where I thought they were and brewed again…

Another excellent pot of coffee.

Thank goodness.

Posted via email from Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

I Am Creating Jobs For USA — Are YOU?

We went to Starbucks this morning, it is Wednesday after all. I was extra excited about going because I knew I was going to be helping to create jobs for the USA. I knew this not just because I saw a press blurb about it last week but also because I sat in on a conference call with Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz (and led by BlogHer Co-Founder, Lisa Stone).

I always make small contributions to whatever charitable program Starbucks is promoting in their stores. It’s what I do. Starbucks gives me my Quad Grande Non-Fat Caramel Macchiato three days a week (and on holidays and special occasions) and I support causes they ask me to support. It’s the least I can do, really. And I have found that every single cause Starbucks has promoted has been one that I’d be happy to support.

HIV, Fresh Water, Literacy. Yep, Yep, Yep.

Creating Jobs for USA. DEFINITELY.

So I bought ten wristbands this morning and chatted about the program with my baristas who thought it was extra cool that I’d been in a conference call with Howard, heh.

Image001

Those ten wristbands cost $50. That’s less than I spend at Starbucks in two weeks (less than I spend at Starbucks in one day if all of the kids are home on a coffee day.) That $50 goes an awful long way:

-          Every $5 = $35

-          $50 x $35 = $1,750

It takes $20,000 to create (and sustain) one new job. My contribution HELPED and yours can too.

You don’t have to buy 10. Just buy one if that’s all you can afford or all you choose to give. That’s one quad grande nonfat caramel macchiato… it’s worth it.

(If you’re a small business owner or considering starting a small business – you should consider applying for a loan at Opportunity Finance, which is where the funds being raised by Creating Jobs for USA are going.)

Posted via email from Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

Smelly Cat Coffee & My Dad

My dad likes Friends. Hold on. I’m not really sure he likes Friends, he might just like Phoebe. He calls her his “sister”. I don’t really see the resemblance, myself. Or maybe that right there is the resemblance – the weird ability to connect dots that aren’t there and oblivious to the fact that you’ve connected dots that don’t exist? OK fine. My father’s sister could be Phoebe from Friends.

What’s weird is that I’ve never watched more than a couple of full episodes of Friends. I only vaguely know who the actors on the show were. I might not even know who all of them were, though if I saw them I’d recognize them. I like Courtney Cox. I don’t really like Jennifer Aniston. The guys – I have no idea. Not my thing.

So anyway, I was talking to my father one day on the phone and he started telling me about Phoebe and his idea that she could be his sister because they were so much alike and I was uh huhing because I didn’t get it and then he starts rambling about Smelly Cat. I probably rolled my eyes while I laughed at him.  I might not know Friends but I do know Smelly Cat.

All of this discussion about my father and Phoebe and Smelly Cat happened years ago – he’s mentioned all three once or twice again over the years but that first discussion was the longest and it stuck with me. So that any time I see Lisa Kudrow, I think of my father. Any time I see the Smelly Cat video, I think of my father.  Whenever someone mentions Smelly Cat Coffee in Charlotte, I think of my father – though my father does not drink coffee.

As much as I love coffee – you’d think I’d have visited Smelly Cat, wouldn’t you? But no… I never have and I’ve always wanted to.

Several weeks ago, my mom called me from some bar in Charlotte where she was getting drunk with my cousin and my sister and she wanted to talk to me about Smelly Cat Coffee. I was annoyed. No I have not been there. Why are you calling me from a bar?! (I might be exaggerating about some of this – slightly – maybe – or maybe not, I wasn’t there so all I have is my mother’s word and… well she’s the one who tricked me into coming to Charlotte so I could deal with the Boo for her so…)

Anyway – I was grouchy again because I had never been to Smelly Cat and everyone else in the world has been. (I’m sure this is not an exaggeration at all and you can see where this is going, right…)

I went to Smelly Cat Coffee!!!!!

And it was a-freaking-mazing (notice I’m not cursing so much? Huh, wonder why?)

I drove over there on Saturday morning. There were just a couple of people there inside and a couple people outside. It’s the perfect rundown awesome kind of shop that I love. The baristas were friendly and interesting. The coffee was fan-freaking-tastic. I even bit the bullet and ordered a Cuban since it was on the menu and I LOVE me a good Cuban though it’s hard to get a good Cuban outside of the Miami area (or Cuba, I guess?)  — The Cuban – ex-freaking-ellent (oh, that didn’t work.)

I also ordered a cup of mini-brioche that was yummy and a regular old Sumatra that was just what a regular old Sumatra should be.

I took my order outside and promptly called my father to tell him that I was at Smelly Cat.

The man… did not know what in the hell (oops) I was talking about. It took me five minutes of explaining why I always think of him when I see/hear Smelly Cat.

Eventually – he got it and laughed for a long, long time.

Eventually.

Maybe Phoebe is his sister after all?

Posted via email from Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

Keurig vs Tassimo

We have a Tassimo.

My mother has a Keurig.

I can now say that the Tassimo wins, hands down.

The T Discs are more expensive than the K Cups, that’s true, but after using the Keurig for five days I’m 100% sure I won’t be replacing the Tassimo with the Keurig. Here’s why.

- The water container thingy on the Keurig is a pain in the rear. It’s oddly shaped. It is hard to take off and put back on, when compared to the very simple to remove/replace water container of the Tassimo. That little handle on the Tassimo and a basic rectangular shape = huge improvement over the Keurig.

- The Keurig has to think about brewing or I don’t know what the hell it’s doing but when you turn it on it makes noises like it’s thinking or working or doing something and you have to wait until it tells you that it is ready to brew. Screw that. With the Tassimo, you turn it on and as long as there’s a disc in the machine and water to in the thingy – it’s ready to go.

- The brew temperature on the Keurig is messed up. You can tell it what tempt o brew to but the highest temp is 192. Either this particular machine isn’t managing to hit the 192 degree mark or 192 is not hot enough. My coffee has yet to be hot – not even once.

- The Tassimo and the Keurig both brew small cups of coffee and espresso but again, the Tassimo wins. Sometimes the Keurig brews such a small cup that I am not even sure it HAS brewed any coffee. The Tassimo may short cup us once in awhile but never THAT short.

TW Says I am a Two

Editor’s Note: I am employed by BlogHer, Inc as the BlogHer.com Community Manager. I was not paid to write this post. I was not asked to write this post, by anyone at all – much less my employers or coworkers. Nobody at BlogHer, Inc has a clue that I’m writing this post. In the post below, I mention BlogHer Food ’10 and want to make sure you know that I did attend BlogHer Food ’10 – as an attendee, not as a BlogHer, Inc employee. This means I paid the full conference ticket price. I paid for my plane ticket. I paid for my hotel. I was not reimbursed in any way for my attendance at BlogHer Food ’10.  Carry on.

I scoffed when TW said, “You’re a two.”

Turns out, she was right.

I can’t decide if it’s good or bad that she knows me so damn well.

I could argue and say that I am anywhere between a one and a three, all of those work for me. I know for sure I’m not a five and I’d really rather not be a four.

You’re confused aren’t you? Sorry. I forgot that not everyone gets awesome gifties in the mail like we do.

Seattle’s Best, who we met at BlogHer Food ’10, sent us both sample packs of their new coffees. We both received enough for one pot of each of their five coffees. And each of those coffees has a number. This “Level system” is supposed to make it easier for you to remember which blend of coffee you like. Or something like that. TW can probably explain it better. And she probably will, over on her review blog.

I don’t know anything about the reason for the number system. I do, however, know about coffee. And I’m the one has been responsible for the drinking of nine out of ten packages of the coffee that was sent by Seattle’s Best. (The last package of #1 is waiting for me to brew it now.)

The #5 is too strong. Almost burnt tasting. Particularly because I make a pot of coffee at whatever time of day I get around to it – that might mean 9pm. Which also means that when I wake up in the morning after a 9pm brewing, that I’ll drink what’s left in the pot the next day. (Don’t judge me.) The #5 does not lend itself to being a day after coffee. It doesn’t handle numerous rounds of nuking in the microwave either. I’m not a five.

#4 is better. Not quite as strong. It holds up throughout the day’s nuking and renuking. It doesn’t do well sitting over night.

#3 is close. Oh so close to perfection. Immediately after brewing and the next day too.

#2 is ME. Perfect. Beautiful. TW said it would be similar to my beloved Starbucks Gazebo and she is right. It is close. Very close. Which means…. This is my new favorite coffee, particularly when Gazebo is out of season, which is most of the year.

#1 is a little too light. I like it but it could be a wee bit stronger – even on day two.

Have you tried the new Seattle’s Best “Level System”? Do you think it’s a useful thing to have this kind of number system?

Posted via email from Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

The Mayor Denied the Permits

Remember earlier in the week when I was fretting about our Starbucks being closed for more than a week? Well today, we went in for our last day before the closure and TW started bugging the store manager about the closure:

TW: You didn’t check with us before you decided to close the store. We do not approve.

Me: Yea, you should clear these things with me ahead of time, I am the Mayor after all. (The Foursquare Mayor, and he knows this.)

Manager: We’re not closing.

Me & TW: What?????

Manager: Nope, we’re not closing. The Mayor did not approve the permits.

Hahahaha. The Glenview Mayor and the Foursquare Mayor both working to keep Glenview’s best Starbucks open.

Posted via email from Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

Taste and enjoy your happy time

When we went to the Super H Mart on Wednesday (Sorry Val!) we found all sorts of interesting things. One of the interesting things we purchased was Premium Olive Vinegar Tea.

We bough this specifically because we were amused by the English description on the front of the box:

Taste and enjoy your happy time

Huh. Olive vinegar tea = happy time? How could we resist?

Inside of the box are little single serving sleeves, just like the single serving Crystal Light sleeves, but these contain LIQUID.

When TW made the first cup, I sniffed it and… it smells like Easter!

I made myself a cup and it was like… drinking Easter!

It didn’t necessarily make me feel like I was having happy time but I like Easter pretty well so I guess I wasn’t having “unhappy” time. On the other hand, TW got the giggles. I have absolutely no idea why she got the giggles while drinking her happy time olive vinegar tea but giggle she did. Nonstop. I fell asleep and she was still giggling.

No false advertising for these folks.

More from the great north

I know, I’m sorry, I came home to a ton of work and have had absolutely no time to blog more about our trip north. I still don’t have a lot of time and I’m working on a series of posts about moving that won’t come ’til next month – hopefully this will tide you over for a while.

When we arrived in Chicago and had that weird automatic that expected me to shift, we took a quick driving tour of houses we were interested in seeing – we started with a house in Lincolnwood then hit two more in Glenview. From there, three houses in Wilmette and then onto five in Evanston and then finally two in Skokie. By the time we hit Evanston, TW was ready for a pit stop so she said “if you see a McDonald’s, I’d like to stop” (code for I have to use the bathroom.)

This caused me to realize that we’d been driving for a very long time, covering a lot of territory and I hadn’t actually seen a McDonald’s or any type of fast food besides Dairy Queen, Jimmy John’s and Einstein Bagel – all in strip malls. We’d also seen Starbucks in strip malls. But no stand alone McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell etc… hmmmm

I kept driving and finally when we hit Dempster, I knew we’d find some because I had heavily researched Dempster because I was SURE we were going to rent a house on that street. (We didn’t.) I pulled into McDonald’s – TW raced for the restroom – I pulled out my phone to call Michelle. I also ordered a coke and while I was ordering, I said to Michelle “Well, it took us two hours of driving to find a McDonald’s.” The woman who had just ordered in front of me turned around and burst into laughter. I thought for sure we were going to see ourselves on Overheard in Chicago. heh

A lot of you have asked “So, what’s it like in Evanston/Glenview?”

It’s hard to describe, particularly if you’ve never spent much time in Indiana or Illinois. It looks like THAT. I think we boiled it down to “Evanston looks like Chicago but without the stuff that makes Chicago cool.” and Glenview looks like a suburb of Atlanta would look if Atlanta was in the midwest. Does that help?

Let’s see… what else can I tell you?

I finally ate at Cheesecake Factory. I’ve never been – I don’t think I’ve ever seen one. I’ve always wondered why people go there for birthdays and make a big deal of it. It’s a chain, what’s the big deal. I see now. It is a chain but it’s a specialty chain. And I enjoyed it.

We went to Trader Joe’s, finally! Yay. There’s one around the corner from where we will live. No more care packages from California are necessary (though I have greatly appreciated the ones I’ve been sent.)

Also, The Blind Faith Cafe in Evanston was awesome. I had this Shiitake Gorgonzola Biscuits thingy and it was awesome. I said awesome, right? We also hit the Cafe Express on Dempster and the chick working was very nice, coffee was good, too.

What else do you want to know?

Stalked! (by coffee)

Many years ago, at a dot com I used to live at, I was stalked by coffee. It wasn’t just me, the entire community was stalked by Millstone coffee. There was a great free offer from Millstone and everyone was thrilled by that ad. Until the ad banners turned into pop up ads. Then we were not so thrilled. The ad banners and pop up ads were on every page of the site – every time you changed pages, you’d get another one. We were STALKED by Millstone coffee and we did not like it. We quickly went from being in love with Millstone for the free offer to calling for a boycott of Millstone.

Flash forward 10 years and I’m being stalked by coffee. Again. But this time I’m not calling for a boycott.

Juan Valdez has a great contest being advertised on BlogHer. Cool. Besides being on BlogHer, the Juan Valdez ad is on blogs all over the internet because of the awesome folks at BlogHer Ads. Cool.

So I expect to see a lot of Juan Valdez when I’m reading blogs. I did not expect to see Juan Valdez when I read my Juno webmail (the account attached to my homeschool blog comments). Nor did I expect to see Juan Valdez when I checked out About.com’s brand new weight loss product, Calorie Count Plus (which by the way looks fantastic and could easily give some of the more popular – or less popular – diet tools a run for their money.) I also did not expect to see Juan Valdez when I was surfing online newspapers for women blogging health for said newspapers.

Juan Valdez is everywhere I am. Stalked. Again.