I drink a goodly amount of coffee — between half a pot and a full pot a day. I don’t get headaches if I miss a day, and I can drink a double espresso at night and still fall asleep. It’s a reassuring constant in my otherwise topsy-turvy days.
I’m particular about coffee, prefering to drink only what I’ve made myself or what my brother has made (now that I’ve brow-beaten him into making it exactly the way I make it). Of the critical elements of good coffee — fresh, well roasted beans; filtered water; correct grind; correct ratio of beans to water; not cooking the coffee after it’s made; and on and on — the one that causes me the most trouble is the beans.
My favorite beans come from Peets Coffee & Tea. I came to depend on them when I lived in San Francisco, and since then have gone to lengths to keep myself in supply, including starting a coffee club in grad school to share expenses. Peet’s has a program called “Peetniks” for people who place recurring orders, so I know I’m not alone in this.
But shipping costs raise the price of a pound of Sierra Dorada Blend from $11.95 to $15.95 (plus tax), and if ever I add up what I’ve spent on coffee at the end of a year even I start to feel I’m being extravagent. My usual substitute is a Starbucks blend, which I buy at the grocery store. I resent buying it though, in much the same way I resent having to install Microsoft Office on my lovely Mac. It does what I need it to do, but it makes me feels like I’ve given in to The Man.
Last night at Giant Eagle, on my way down the coffee aisle, I spotted racks of 8 O’Clock Coffee. I remember my mom buying 8 O’Clock Coffee at the A&P when I was a child, grinding it right there at the store. What an awesome smell fresh ground coffee has! (Fun trivia: My grandfather’s family ran an A&P grocery store back when it was called Atlantic & Pacific.) And I seem to recall that Consumer Reports rated the brand highly among grocery store coffees. According to the label it’s “America’s best selling whole bean coffee.” And the price? Merely $4.47, about a third of what a pound of Starbucks would cost.
So into my basket the 8 O’Clock 100% Columbian went. I’m drinking it now. It’s kind of sweet, kind of nutty, but on the edge of bland. Fine in a pinch but not something I’ll look forward to every morning. I may have chosen the wrong roast: the website indicates that Original Roast is more full-bodied, and the Dark Roast is a “dark, Seattle roast.” So the experiment will continue.
Bonus: If you’d like to experiment too, here’s a coupon for $2 off 8 O’Clock Coffee.