Sunday 25 Sep 2016

Coffee
Matt Seinberg

We are a nation of coffee drinkers or addicts. How often have you refused a cup of coffee or vice-versa? Rarely, if ever I would guess.

Years ago, I worked for Godiva Chocolatier. We brewed coffee all the time. People would come in and take samples or ask the employees to make it for them!

While we would pour it for them, milk and sugar was self-serve. How did we know how much of them someone would actually like? For goodness sake, they were free samples; please don’t make a big deal out of it. The only reason we did samples, in fact, was to sell the coffee! We didn’t do it to make friends or clean up after people. We wanted them to spend more money.

I haven’t always been a coffee drinker. I had a former roommate who was. He always made a full pot in the morning before work. Occasionally, I had a cup.

I’ve always taken my coffee light and sweet, which means a lot of milk and sugar. As I’ve gotten older, I still take it light, but now with 1% milk and one sugar instead of three or four. At home, I’ve just started using Truvia, a natural sweetener made from the stevia plant. I can’t use anything made with aspartame, also known as NutraSweet.

Aspartame gives me headaches and no matter how many times I’ve tried it over the years, I’ve always had the same result, a mild headache soon after using it. I read about many of the artificial sweeteners available and none of them appealed to me until I checked out Truvia. I invested $2.79 in a 40-pack box on sale at Walgreens and was happily surprised at how good it tasted.

One packet is equal to two teaspoons of sugar it says on the box, so that’s how I tried it. My morning coffee tastes just as good as it did with sugar and there are no side effects. Here are a couple of little facts about the stevia plant. One is that it originated in Japan. The second is that Cargill and Coca Cola invested millions to develop and market Truvia.

I worked briefly for Starbucks; it was the worst 6 months of my working life. I hired on as a store manager (SM), which I have done many times. Had it been explained to me that a Starbucks store manager is a glorified bar tender, I would not have taken the job. It wasn’t worth the $40K yearly salary and benefits to make coffee. I am a manager, not a barista.

During training, I worked with a store manager and district manager (DM) that did nothing to train or teach me. I truly believed that they didn’t like training people, their attitudes really showed it. Starbucks required trainees to attend training sessions and seminars and then present a tasting and pairing to the SM and DM.

These two women made me feel about an inch small and it got so bad that I called the woman in human resources who had hired me to complain about the treatment I was receiving. I didn’t go to work for a week and waiting for Kathy to call me back. She finally did, and asked for all the details. She apologized, told me Starbucks would pay me for that week; I was transferred to another store with another SM and DM. That store was also closer to home, and I had met the new SM and DM previously, so I was optimistic of better things to come.

Sorry to say, I just didn’t enjoy the job. I wasn’t destined to make coffee, so I contacted another company that I had interviewed with previously and found out they were still hiring. That’s another story, and it was like going from the pot into the fire.

I haven’t had Starbucks coffee ever again.

Before and after Starbucks, I’ve always been a Dunkin’ Donuts fan. Their coffee is mild and full of flavor. My wife and I like French Vanilla and Hazelnut, which we buy in one-pound bags for use at home. During the Holiday Season, Dunkin' Donuts sells coupon books for a large coffee, at a discounted price. I bought three books; one for Marcy and two for myself.

The discount books cost $12 for twelve large coffee. The usual price for a large coffee is $2.50. The saving is nice, $18 per discount book.

Marcy used hers up quickly, so whenever we’re out together, she takes one of mine. Naturally, I try not to go out together too much. I don't want to share my coffee coupons.

Also in our area are Fairway Markets, which has an awesome coffee selection. They have barrels full of whole beans, which they grind to order. One of my favorite flavors is Chocolate Hazelnut. I also like the Vanilla Caramel, which is very smooth and mild.

Some of the best coffee I ever had is Jamaican Blue Mountain, which we bought on our honeymoon almost 22 years ago. I don’t think I ever tried anything more smooth or flavorful. Back then, I think it was $22 a pound. I can only imagine how much it is now.

In the store I work in now, we offer free coffee. Mention the word free to anyone and it’s like watching a swarm of locusts attacks the carafes. We use New England brand coffee; Marcy once bought it for us at home. It was as awful at home as it was at work. I threw it out. Thank goodness, she only paid $1 a bag for it.

The truth of the matter is this. No matter what coffee you like, the best way to have it is with the pastry of your choice.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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