Marolt: Strange brews hard to swallow
There is coffee in my kitchen interrupting the normal flow of my mornings. It’s not anything that anyone will pour into your cup while you are watching or who is expecting a tip for looking after your dining experience. They call it Jamaica Me Crazy, or at least that’s what a famous chef who goes by Wolfgang Puck calls it.
Our dear old coffee maker died of complications related to sediment buildup, and we bought one of the new types where you pop an individually sealed-for-freshness cartridge in a chamber, cock it and then fire hot water through it to get a cup of steaming joe. We are aware that it is the most eco-unfriendly way to get a caffeine fix, but that doesn’t matter much when we need it most at 6 in the morning or later when we are jacked up and moving on to bigger problems, so it has won a place on our counter until it, too, eventually dies or is recalled by the manufacturer for sounding too much like a foghorn while it is brewing, which has the potential to disorient an aging demographic.
I bought the 18-pack of Jamaica Me Crazy coffee not because I thought coconut-infused coffee sounded delicious but because it was on sale. Did I mention that a cup of cartridge coffee normally costs about 85 cents? It doesn’t sound like much until you do the math. For a guy like my brother, Steve, who has reached that sorry stage where he drinks coffee to relax before bed, it would add up to about $10,000 a year.
I saw the “20% Off” sign on the shelf at the store, and it never occurred to me to ask, “Why?” It was a deal! I saw what I wanted to see. I didn’t read the fine print of the box because I was going to be saving a dollar and 62 cents.
It’s not like there was anybody at Wolfgang Puck Corp. looking out for me anyway. Nobody is going to put “coconut infused” in an obvious place on a package of coffee. I am convinced that this wasn’t a planned product. My guess is that somebody was greasing up the gears on the bean grinder at Wolfgang Puck’s and accidentally kicked a 5-gallon drum of gear lube into one of the bean bins.
The result was noticed at quality control when somebody took a sip from that batch and wretched a little. He said there was something definitely wrong with the product and asked his supervisor to try a little to confirm it. She said, “Phewy! Yuck! It tastes like coconut!” She excused herself to the restroom.
The rest is history. Rather than hauling the entire batch of ruined coffee to the landfill, they did extensive market research until they got the answer they were looking for. Of all things, they ended up calling their friends at the Almond Joy plant to confirm that customers existed who, even if they didn’t actually like coconut-flavored products, bought them for whatever reason anyway, most likely because Almond Joy bars are cheap.
I don’t blame the people at Puck’s. I can’t bring myself to throw the stuff out either. Instead, I have resolved that, on really nice mornings that start out as close to perfection as possible on this earth, I will first drink a couple of cups of Starbucks cartridge coffee and, after that settles, quickly down a cup of Jamaica Me Crazy. Under this systematic method of elimination, I figured I would rid our house of this plague in a month, tops. That was three months ago, and I have still have five cartridges left.
I know it sounds like I’m disgusted with cartridge coffee, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In spite of its propensity to help us clog our landfills while going broke doing it, I really like the convenience. It might also sound like I’m down on Wolfgang Puck. That’s not true, either. I don’t even really know what they do. I give them all the credit in the world for marketing what appears to be designer food that can be served piping hot in minutes. I don’t even hate coconut. My tolerance for all kinds of food and food-like substances is immense. I even like black licorice and marmalade.
The question of the day is, “Why did he write about this?” To that, I have no good answer. All I know is that I always think of Base Village when I drink Wolfgang Puck’s coconut-infused coffee.
Roger Marolt likes his coffee black as night and hot as day. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Aspen Sister Cities members dedicated a plaque in Sister Cities Plaza to Don Sheeley, who served as president of the organization from 1998 until his death in 2017.