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let’s talk about coffee

April 8, 2011
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I have a confession to make. Lately, instead of making tea or a fresh pot of coffee, I’ve been drinking Trader Joe’s instant coffee in the morning on my way to work. I have never been a hot-beverage-in-the-morning type person… I have always sort of gotten around to a cup of tea or coffee a few hours after I wake up. But now that I’m a commuter again, it’s something to look forward to. That, and my audiobook (OMG, quick aside, The Prestige is getting so good. I am going to have to physically restrain myself from watching the movie this weekend — I don’t want to wreck the ending!).

But lately I am so foggy in the morning that I can barely remember to turn on the water to boil, let alone decide which tea or make the ever-so-slight effort to put together the French press (we don’t have a coffeemaker — the French press is terrific and works great 99% of the time). So I’ve just been reaching for the nice little jar of TJ’s instant. One heaping teaspoon into a mug of hot water, topped with half-and-half (no sugar), and I’m happy. (I went with soy creamers for awhile but I never got used to the taste… even though we are continually trying to go dairy-free, there are a few certain exceptions we can’t seem to let go of. Half-and-half is one of them.)

I have to say… it’s pretty darn good. I definitely notice the difference when I make a pot of regular coffee (fresh is better), but it’s not like I don’t like the taste of the instant; it’s pretty good actually. I’m getting to quite enjoy it. If I add a dollop of hazelnut syrup, it’s quite delicious. I found this discussion on Chowhound about instant coffees and now I think I need to explore this new world.

I’m also a fan of Nescafe decaf (I only allow myself one, maybe two cups of caffeinated beverages in the morning and then I switch to herbal or decaf the rest of the day). It’s not as good at TJ’s, but it’s fine, especially when you dress it up with trashy flavored non-dairy creamer. My favorite lately has been the Almond Joy creamer. Pure trash, but it’s kind of a sweet treat in the afternoon. (Lara, not a word from you about this being a milkshake, not coffee. I like my hot coffee milkshakes!)

The other awesome thing about instant is that there is no coffeepot to clean up, and no teabag to dispose of. I’m not left feeling guilty that I’ve left a mess for Terri to clean up when she goes into the kitchen.

So, that’s my trashy confession of the day. But seriously, if you’re not a hardcore coffee snob, try the TJs instant. It’s quite good, and I would keep it on hand for recipes needing coffee flavoring, too.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2011 10:21 am

    i could probably have a longer than usual conversation about coffee, so im all over this post.

    i love coffee but am not much of a coffee snob. (although i definitely see the appeal and can appreciate a cup of Stumptown, Peets, etc.) i hadnt tried instant coffee in a while since i really never have a need to because almost always have a fresh pot made. but i did recently get a sample of the Starbucks instant and it was AWFUL. i know you dont like Starbucks anyway so this is probably no shocker to you, but it was bitter and weird and no matter how much stuff i put in it, i couldnt even drink it.

    we have a regular coffee pot but i miss my french press. we had used one for years and i really do think it makes a better pot of coffee than the regular coffee maker. but i dropped ours right before we moved and we decided to get a maker with a timer. its nice to have the coffee already prepared when you get out of bed. that was definitely the down side of the french press-having to boil water in my already groggy state.

    as for creamer, im a fan of the plain old half an half. i cant do milk or soy/almond milk-it just doesnt make my coffee creamy enough. for years and years i did flavored creamers but lately the sweetness is just too much so i go plain. i also have nothing against regular old coffee mate powder. its nothing fancy, but it is what it is and its familiar.

    one more thing, ive been drinking coffee every morning since i was 12 years old. while i cant say it stunted my growth, i will admit that i am very much addicted to it and if i try to go a morning without caffeine, not only do i have no energy but i get very, very sick-headaches, dizziness, etc…so yeah, unfortunately its my vice.

    • April 8, 2011 2:10 pm

      I actually had to shorten my post, because I was trying to stick to instant coffee and not my opinion about coffee in general, which, even though I’m not a HUGE coffee drinker, I do LOVE coffee (except Starbucks, which I reject both on principle and also because I just don’t like it). I’m not a snob, though. I love Peet’s, I sometimes like Stumptown (although honestly sometimes it’s too strong for me) and I love good espresso (plain or made into fancy drinks or honest cappuccinos, etc.). I also like most diner coffee. I like a lot of Trader Joe’s coffee beans. I love coffee with chicory. And, apparently, I like TJs instant coffee.
      And i’m with you: I don’t like plain milk and I don’t like soy creamers (much as I try). I like half-and-half, and sometimes i like flavored creamers but I’m not really big on sugar in the morning so I save those for afternoon or evening decaf, usually.
      I used to work for a coffee stand and I made a deal with myself that I would NOT get addicted to coffee (because, hello, yummy coffee ALL DAY LONG, and I haven’t. If I don’t have it one day I might be a little tired in the morning, but I try to actively avoid coffee at least one or two days a week to give my body a break, and have either decaf or regular tea, or just water.
      Also I seem to not be able to handle more than two cups of coffee at a time anyway, I get really jittery and I don’t feel well at all. So that helps limit my intake.
      But yeah, YAY COFFEE. I love coffee.

      • April 8, 2011 2:13 pm

        Oh and also, I like my coffee EITHER with cream OR with sugar, but not really both. I like black coffee sometimes, but what I really love is very strong, thick coffee with a lot of sugar. Or nice plain coffee with plain half-and-half. Both together is, like my friend Lara says, pretty much a milkshake. Which I reserve for afternoons. πŸ™‚

  2. April 8, 2011 6:24 pm

    Wow you have me wanting coffee now, lol. I can’t go a single day without an iced coffee in the morning. My day doesn’t start til I’ve had it.

    • April 8, 2011 8:22 pm

      Mmm. Iced coffee is so yummy. I am going to learn to make Thai iced coffee for the summer months…

  3. April 9, 2011 4:57 pm

    I have become too much of a coffee snob by drinking freshly ground organic Peace coffee. But it is good to hear that instant coffee has improved. Now, how to get my dad to make the switch to it from Folger’s? That’s what I am subjected to whenever I go to visit my parents. I will have to start planning my strategy now so I’ll be prepared whenever I next visit them.

    • April 9, 2011 6:42 pm

      I say just sneak over a jar of the good stuff and switch it out when he’s not looking. πŸ™‚

  4. April 9, 2011 5:26 pm

    I love coffee, but I have to have both creamer and sugar, and I have to have cold creamer like the flavored ones or half and half.. I can’t deal with the powdered stuff. *laughs* I do opt for sugar free flavored creamers though since I already put sugar in it. I don’t know how I would feel about instant coffee, though I just had a fb conversation this morning about wanting to have coffee magically appear whenever I wanted some.

    I have never cared for Starbucks coffee either. I honestly don’t get what all the hype is. I feel the same way about Duncan donuts coffee. Blech!! I guess I’m just a wierdo. LOL

    • April 9, 2011 6:45 pm

      I’ve never had Dunkin Donuts coffee but I know lots of people love it. Personally my favorite is Peet’s, or any really good Italian brand, but I’m not that picky. Every once in awhile I have a Starbucks gift card and so of course I go get something (since it’s free) but I’m never very impressed. However, Peet’s coffee and fancy coffee drinks are always delicious. My very favorite coffee is the coffee with chicory from New Orleans, the kind in the red can. But I like to switch it up sometimes.

      I was doing the sweetened creamers in the morning and then it just got to be too sweet. So I’m back to just plain creamy coffee, unsweetened. Unless, like I said, it’s the afternoon decaf.

  5. Lara Starr permalink
    April 10, 2011 9:13 pm

    I’ll keep my snark about your milkshake to myself – as long as you’re enjoying yourself, who am I to judge? (Who am I kidding, I def. judge. I’m not really a coffee snob, but I do look down my nose at folks who use cream and sugar)

    I do keep a jar of TJ’s instant around to use for baking – honestly never thought about drinking it – I will def. do in a pinch!

    • April 11, 2011 9:43 am

      You crack me up. I know you look down your nose at us creamy-coffee types. It’s okay. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darnit, it’s okay to like creamy coffee. πŸ™‚

  6. April 17, 2011 4:17 am

    Oh, I could talk for hours about coffee. I’m semi-enjoying my first cup of the morning as we speak – a Starbucks Ethiopian whole bean.

    Living in Portland spoiled me for coffee, and I can’t find anything good here in Winchester because, hello, Stumptown has spoiled me for life (I like the really strong blends.) When we first got here I tried some Taylor’s of Harrogate since I love their tea, but a good tea merchant does not a good coffee merchant make. I fell back into buying Starbucks beans since if it’s not at least reliably great (I can never remember which ones I like from bag to bag), it’s at least never terrible and always available.

    I was home for about the last three weeks and fell into my mom’s habit of a cup of Nescafe decaf with dessert every night. It’s sort of weird because I absolutely hated the taste of it, yet it was perfect with homemade desserts. Bizarro. So I’ve been wondering about instant coffee since it’d be nice to have something easy and reliable when travelling. Too bad to hear the Starbucks stuff is crap.

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