Saturday, December 16, 2017

Sending The Lodger For Coffee Is A Good Idea

     Left for work yesterday after writing a grocery list on the dry-erase board in the kitchen.  I figured I'd pick up most of it that evening.

     Tamara enjoys -- and I use the word loosely indeed -- the kind of highly variable paydays that make the life of a freelance writer so very interesting.  Some publications -- too few -- pay on the first and fifteenth, or every Friday, or on the last day of the month, just like clockwork.  Others pay on publication (and one includes a half-dozen free issues, in case your friends doubt that you're a real writer).  Most seem to pay on whim, randomly, and a few even demand to be invoiced separately.  I find that last approach petty and vexing -- the completed manuscript, with name, address and word count* is essentially product and invoice all in one and (IMO) decent publications pay from that.

     Put these two things together, add in that Tam is of a beneficent nature and the postman had that day brought happy correspondence with those wonderful words, "Pay to the order of...," and the result is that she did the grocery shopping.

     Our corner store has done some rearranging.  Bagged coffee, both beans and ground, used to share the same four-sided set of shelves next to the bulk coffee in open-top barrels;† now there are two smaller sets of shelves near opposite ends of the bulk barrels, one across an aisle in a sort of cul-de-sac.   Ground coffee lives one on set of shelves, beans in bags on the other, in about the same spot as all the packaged coffee in the previous layout.

     On the way home from work, I called to see if she needed anything from the store.  She told me the marketing was all done, and added, "The coffee area is all screwed up.  I couldn't find the kind you like."

     "They changed things around, I know where it is.  We've got enough for the morning anyway."

     "Oh, I bought coffee!  Did I ever.  They rang me up and the bill was way over what I expected for bacon, brie and coffee.  I looked at the receipt and the coffee was over thirty dollars for a bag.  We're going to be drinking the good stuff!"

     She'd bought Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee instead of the "Blue Mountain Blend" that sells for about the same as any other decent coffee and has a small amount of the good stuff in it.  Actual one-hundred percent Blue Mountain is the good stuff indeed, and costs like it, too.
* Yes, writing is piecework.  If you're writing something fixed-length, it may be a flat rate for X many column-inches or Y many words (with plus or minus ten percent leeway), but mostly writers are paid by the word.

† I rarely buy from those barrels.  Cute idea, but the lids aren't airtight and coffee beans lose flavor more quickly under those conditions.


Carteach said...

My last 'paid' writing gig ended with this conversation....

Newspaper tie-guy: "Hey, Is this weeks column ready? We are going to print tomorrow!!"
Me: "That depends.... you got the sweet sweet check for Mister Writer Man?"
Newspaper tie-guy: "What are you talking about?"
Me: "I'll remember to submit the column 12 seconds after YOU remember to pay for the last two months work I did. Let me know when that happens".

Never heard from them again.

Carteach said...

Oh... and on that note.... I order my coffee beans from Amazon. Nice to find the box on my doorstep, and no peoply stuff involved.

Jeffrey Smith said...

Blue Mountain!
That's the best coffee in the world.
For $30 you got either a small bag or a big bargain, going by my memory of the price.

pigpen51 said...

I am not a true coffee snob, in that I can drink coffee of different brands. However, given a choice, I prefer to drink the good stuff, as well. Mostly, I have found that I can usually do well if I stick with beans that are the freshest. Even the more expensive ones tend to suffer with age if left exposed to air and light, at least in my mind. But I can drink coffee from some fast food joints, so I am no one to judge.

Old NFO said...

Ah yes, the 'vagaries' of getting paid... Sigh... At least Amazon pays two months late, on the 29th...

poobie said...

RE Coffee, well, this is one I have to let the hippies have; they really do know coffee, pizza, and premium beer. Peet's, out of Berkeley, has become my go-to brand. While they do offer exotic beans, their house blend is really quite good, as is their Major Dickason's Blend. Best of all, they date code all their stuff on the day it's roasted, so you have some idea how fresh the beans are. It's a good bit more expensive than the big national brands, but it's usually available around here for about $10 a pound, and well worth it to me. Of course, I'm down to a couple of cups a day at this point, so flavor counts for quite a bit these days.

John said...

A number of years exposure to Navy coffee gave me a tolerance to bad coffee, but as pigpen51 said, I would rather drink the good stuff.

I wonder once in a while if the Navy coffee was as bad as I think it was, then I remember that we made it from coffee grounds that had worked their way through the Navy's supply system, we used water that we made, and the coffee pot was cleaned but rarely.

Maybe instead of a tolerance, I developed a resistance to bad coffee, much like an Iocane powder resistance.

Roberta X said...


Rick T said...

John, sometimes the coffee fairy delivers even in the Navy. One of the best cups of coffee I can remember was on the AS-37 (USS Dixon) when I was in the RadCon division. We had just scrubbed the stainless steel pot with Boraxo (as I recall) then they used de-ionized water to brew it. Navy coffee in 5 pound cans but that pot was amazing.

Now, I live a few miles from Martin Diedrich's new coffee shop (he was the owner of Diedrich Coffee before Peet's bought him out) where he is the Master Roaster. Spendy, but good stuff.

John said...

Rick, I kept on thinking a bit about what makes a good cup of coffee, and I was more able to decide on the obvious signs of bad coffee.
Dissolving the stainless steel spoon is always a bad sign!
A rainbow sheen of oil across the surface is another.
Of course those are exaggerations, but they are exaggerations and not lies.
When the messenger of the watch wakes you up at 0315, to go down the hole, you are going to drink the coffee whether it is good or bad.

Roberta X said...

The "secrets" to good coffee, once you get past the esoterica of bean and roast, are few and mostly center around keeping the coffeepot (etc.) clean, using decent water and not brewing at too high a temperature or for too long, along with not over-warming it once it is brewed. If you get all that right, the ground coffee beans can be pretty average and it'll still be decent.

One of the reasons Chemex coffee is good is that the glass coffeepot is easy to keep clean. Rinsing after use and a weekly scrub with a bottle brush after an overnight full of vinegar water is all it takes. A huge percolator is a lot more difficult to stay ahead of.

Nathan Lowell managed to launch an entire SF series in which the main character's ability to brew good coffee in ship's-company-sized brewer plays a big part.

D.W. Drang said...

Mmmm, Blue Mountain...

Also, don't forget the importance of not overworking the beans. There is a tendency to skimp on the amount of ground coffee used, which means that every last iota of coffee is forced out, which leads to a weak and bitter brew. Put in more coffee than you need, though, and you'll end up with a richer, tastier brew.
You want about 2 ounces of ground coffee per cup; a bit more is fine. But don't overdo it like the eager beaver second lieutenant who wanted to impress the S3 by making a pot of coffee before the command and staff meeting. He used three filters and completely filled the basket, resulting in a huge mess, which, naturally, an NCO had to deal with...