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Coffee Confession Number Two

January 5, 2011

Guilt is powerful stuff.  Letting go of guilt is hard, but it’s very empowering.  This is why I have confessed my sins against good coffee, good cocktails, and good food on the road.

From the moment I wrote my first coffee confession, I began to feel the burden of coffee confession number two upon my psyche.  But the guilt and the shame were just too great.  In time, I thought, I would be able to earn back enough coffee credibility to share this dirty little secret without appearing like a complete coffee hack.

But then I was outed by my old friend Raf, who knows me far too well.

Despite being a lover of truly great coffee, most of the time I drink dreck at home.  Maybe you caught my response to his jab in the last installment of Ask the Profussor.  Or maybe you didn’t.  I offered one explanation to why I drink supermarket coffee, but as usual the full story is a bit more nuanced.

That’s right.  Supermarket coffee.  Specifically, we drink a blend of Chock Full o’ Nuts Original and Eight O’Clock 100% Columbian.

It all started a long time ago, 2005 to be specific.  By then Mrs. Fussy and I had transitioned from being the young carefree couple of our early days to the perpetually tired and bleary-eyed parents that we are today.

No matter how much coffee you drink before having children, it pales in comparison to what happens when you regularly stop sleeping through the night, and sleeping in on weekends to catch up ceases to be an option.  At least that’s the way it worked for us.  And to be honest, the amount of money we were spending on coffee was starting to get out of hand.  After all, there were now diapers to buy and a whole host of other things.

That’s when Eight O’Clock Coffee appeared on our radar.

It came to us in the form of a Cook’s Illustrated Taste Test.  In fact, the Original Whole Bean Eight O’Clock Coffee was one of the magazine’s three highest-recommended supermarket coffees.  Of those three, it was the least expensive by a significant margin.  And they made it sound pretty good.  This is what they had to say, “We liked this inexpensive brand’s smooth body, its nutty, almost chocolaty flavor, and its ‘toasty aroma,’ especially in the plain tasting.”

It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful.  It was hot, wet and caffeinated, so we stuck with it.

Mrs. Fussy has many strengths.  Thriftiness is among them, although sometimes it can get a little out of hand.  I had thought the arrival of Chock Full o’Nuts was heralded by some similar article in Consumer Reports, but I cannot seem to locate it.  What I am remembering is a quest for even cheaper coffee than the Eight O’Clock.  Part of the logic was surely that most people drink mass-market coffee every day, so how bad could it be?

The answer is pretty darn bad.  Chock Full o’Nuts might be the best of the worst.  And eventually I got Mrs. Fussy to agree to cut it with some of the Eight O’Clock to make it more palatable.  In the last couple of years, the Eight O’Clock 100% Colombian topped a Consumer Reports tasting, besting Colombian coffees from Peet’s and Starbucks.  So that became a principal component of the blend.

Most mornings, this is the cup of coffee that gets me going.

I have my 1.5 cups in the morning and Mrs. Fussy packs the rest of the pot in a thermos to bring to work.  The saving grace of this arrangement is that I get this coffee delivered to me in bed almost every morning and get to wake up without an alarm clock.

All the subsequent cups of coffee after I am fully awake and alert are of my own choosing.  And let me assure you, unless I’m in some diner, the coffee I drink is not Chock Full o’Nuts.  Diner coffee is an entirely separate topic.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2011 2:31 pm

    Wow Daniel. I don’t know man, this may lead me to totally start mistrusting your judgment:)

    I do think that cheap coffee can sometimes taste decently when it’s made in a French press, but in a regular drip machine? Gross. Okay, except for the Cafe Bustelo. I do actually like that. And I’m a college student again these days so I’ve gotten a little cheap, but for the most part I try to buy my beans from Metropolis, which runs a great cafe near my place.

    • January 6, 2011 1:27 pm

      P.S. You should make sure you get the little Fussies trained about how to prepare a cup of coffee and bring to you and Mrs. Fussy in bed as soon as they’re able. My mother had my brother and I trained from a young age – and once I left home, he took over the reigns as the official “bring coffee to mom in bed” designee. These days, I think my stepfather’s got that duty.

  2. January 5, 2011 2:59 pm

    I recall an article about “collecting” that suggested a complete collection should show some bad examples of the object, to let observers appreciate the good stuff. Difference here is that you’re drinking the bad stuff. Me thinks we had this conversation before. Try Deans Beans (.com), your new fancy grinder, and report back.

  3. John H permalink
    January 5, 2011 5:34 pm

    Based on the Profussor’s repeated statements that Blue Bottle was one of the best anywhere, I grabbed the 1/2 pound of it that came in an office gift a few weeks ago and had it at home. It was better than Peet’s coffee. The crema on the espresso was very impressive. Then I looked at the ~$20 a pound it costs. I am not switching. I am not sure why you should feel guilty. If everything was cheap, then I would drink grand cru burgundy all the time. But it is not. Making the most out of what you got is a good thing.

  4. January 6, 2011 12:46 pm

    Aw… If coffee were being made and brought to me, I’d graciously accept the junky stuff, too. Sweet :)

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