Thursday, February 12, 2009

Going for Coffee. A Suburban Safari.

How hard is it to buy a simple coffee maker? It's not exactly a rare, or exotic appliance, like say, a triple filter Earth Friendly organic sub atomic energy saving Amazonian herb juice extractor with extra freebase module to isolate the proper entheogenic compounds needed for a quasi legal recreational buzz. All I wanted was a goddamn coffee maker. Without built in grinder. Without special .001 micron toxic waste extracting chemical filter. Without an infinitely adjustable brew-strength dial, and built in caffeine meter. I didn't even want an automatic timer that turns itself on for you, beeps when ready, and turns itself off after two hours. My one and only stipulation was that it come with the cone shaped filter, and not the flat bottom basket.
I had such a machine, a Krups that I bought last summer. But it had a funny kind of mildewy smell. I figured that the smell would go away after running some water through it. No. So I removed the filter with the special tool included for removing the filter. Still smelled. So I tried vinegar. Still smelled. So I chose to ignore it. But the smell became a taste, and this morning's coffee tasted like it had been brewed with flood water drained from a post Katrina New Orleans mausoleum. Even my voracious caffeine monkey howled in protest. So I went out to buy a new coffee maker.
Tuesday Morning, a kind of eclectic odds and ends store, had nothing. Besides, the last one I got there was a Frankenstein monster that was half coffee pot, half hot water tank. The basket stayed in place until you turned it on, and left the room. It then popped open and poured hot water and coffee grounds all over the counter, and onto the kitchen floor.
So I dumped it and bought the smelly Krups that I was now on a mission to replace.
Next stop, Wal Mart. You could get a cone filter coffee maker only if you wanted to spend a hundred plus dollars and get one which grinds the beans, starts on its own, and tells you with a computerized voice that the coffee is ready, but reminds you that too much caffeine can lead to irritability, and has been linked to violent behavior in laboratory rats, and farm animals. This is Southern California. The water here is so hard that you can brush your teeth with it sans toothpaste. A hundred dollar coffee maker is useless in six months, just like a twenty dollar coffee maker. Plenty of cheap flat basket ones though. But, I wanted- scratch that- needed the cone.
Bed Bath and Beyond. Same story. Target. Same story. I might as well have been looking for a hood ornament for a fifty two Packard. So I gave up, and settled for a flat basket machine from Hamilton Beach. Besides, it was on sale.
By this time the needle on my frustration tolerance was at "E", and the red light was beginning to flash. So I got in line behind a woman who wanted to pay for her groceries with a check from the bank of Mozambique, and a hand written note from her daughter's second grade teacher for identification. But I got out of there, got home, and set the coffee maker on the counter.
You had to lift a big lid to pour water into a thimble sized opening at the back to fill the tank. This might not have been a problem if the machine sat somewhere with six to eight feet of vertical clearance above the counter, or was placed conveniently in the middle of the floor. I have a weird kitchen with cupboards above the counter. If I positioned the machine so that four or five inches of it extended over the counter's edge I could flip the lid most all the way open.
I'm a competent guy. I can work most household appliances without even reading the instructions. But when I went to fill the tank I ended up with seven of the twelve cups of water in the coffee maker, and the rest of the water on the hot plate, on the kitchen counter, and on the floor.
I rest the blame for this solely- solely on the engineer who designed the piece of shit thing. So I took it back to Target. The gal at the exchange desk finished her telephone conversation well within the thirty minutes that good customer service usually requires, adjusted her lip ring, and asked if she could helf. No questions asked. I got my money back and bought a twenty dollar Mr. Coffee. I got it home, and my wife reminded me that the Mr. Coffee machines never seem to make very good coffee.
I'm going over to Starbucks.



walt said...

Uh ... the devil's in the details?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aye, there's nothin' like that flashing light goin' on at Walmart which tells me it's that same lady with the check from Mozambique holding things up.

The designers of most coffee makers ought to be summarily exiled to Adak Alaska for the remainder of their sorry ass lives.

This is why I use our old perculator, which never breaks.
Alas, my wife has to have the drip kind, which never last more than a few months, perhaps six if we're lucky.

Robin Starfish said...

We gave up on the endless succession of Gevalia machines that would last exactly as long as the coffee subscription and bought one of these gadgets, the $99 model with no bells and whistles. And damn if it don't make the best cuppa joe ever. But the little "K-cups" aren't cheap and they are subscription too. But, in the fine print we found you can buy a $15 permanent K-cup filter, so no more mail order coffee and you brew only what you need, cup at a time. No more paper filters either.

That and a Pur filter on the faucet and we're happy in the AM.

Ricky Raccoon said...

Hey guys, "...are we the first ones up?"*

We just broke our 12 cup coffee press. They should be a lot cheaper (I’d say $20 – there’s nothing to ‘em! and I’m sure the R&D was recovered 200 years ago at least) but the coffee came out great. So me and the missus was kicking around spending too much again for another French press. I remembered my parents on special occasions used to use a percolator. I think we spent $40 dollars on this new one (I think you can get one for $20) and the coffee is better than in the press. I could tell from the first cup, before I tasted it. I couldn’t see the spoon one eighth of an inch below the surface of the black gold.

*Movie Trivia -- anybody gets it, gets a delish cup o joe :-)

QP said...

Funny man! You got me with "adjusting the lip ring". Disgusting things! Last Sunday I HAD to endure the sight of a horseshoe shaped metal piercing, with sharp arrows on each end, dangling between the two nostrils, of the "genius" at the Apple store. My mind kept screaming: "NO kisses".

When my 20 year old Krups gives it up, I'll shop for a used one.

QP said...

Keerection: My 20 year old Braun

mushroom said...

I enjoyed that, JWM. That's funny.

My current favorite -- not without its flaws -- is a relatively cheap Hamilton Beach "BrewStation" that doesn't have a pot. You push your cup against the lever and coffee runs into it. Our well water is hard, too. I thought this H-B had died a while back but I managed to resusitate it with lots and lots of vinegar. Every other kind of "cleaner" I tried only made it worse.

In college and several years after, I had a green percolator -- very '60's -- so it was probably really avocado. In school, it ran night and day and supplied coffee to probably a dozen of us. There is no way of knowing how much coffee that beast made. My folks had used it before they sent it off to school with me. It was still working when my wife -- who doesn't drink coffee at all -- decided to sell it in a yard sale.

wv: relibism -- Obama should have had a poster with that on it.

mushroom said...

Mozambique -- Now I have a ZZ Top song stuck in my head.

jwm said...

Thanks, gang. You know there's nothing that wrecks a joke quite like repeating the punch line. I had to go back and change one letter. one.


Ricky Raccoon said...

Didn’t know you drove a Suburban. Cool. They must luv ya at Starbucks.

julie said...

LOL - that one letter does indeed make it laugh-out-loud funny.

Also ties in nicely with what Walt said over at his place, which I read first.

Nice set-up, guys. :D

jwm said...

I have a POS '91 Escort
My wife has the good car- a POS '94 acura.


Joan of Argghh! said...

I am soooo done with everything beeping at me. My whole house, well, when I had a place, was just one more appliance waiting to beep at me. The coffee maker was the worst offender.

BTW, get a PUR filter or some sorta filter. It helps tremendously. The chlorine in the water interacts with the plastic parts and generally just kills the taste.

Ricky Raccoon said...

You said you went on a "Suburban Safari".
I was picturing a Raccoon pulling up to Starbucks in like a 1972 big rig carbon shoeprint with no emissions equipment.