Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cult of the Keurig

Normally my husband and I do an extravagant mutual Christmas present. For example, last year we did the Marine Mammal Keeper Experience at SeaWorld, an all-day affair that takes you behind the scenes and let you interact closely with sea lions, dolphins, manatees, and more. It's a fun but pricey proposition.

This year, however, tight finances dictated something smaller and more practical. We had no idea what to get. We thought we might even end up skipping the gift altogether. Duloc Manor is well equipped with everything we need, which is why past gifts were "we'd never do that otherwise" sorts of things. Then it happened: one pre-Christmas day as we strolled the aisles of Publix, we suddenly walked into the Cult of the Keurig.

Actually, it was only unknowing for me. My husband, who outpaces me in coffee drinking by a margin of 4 to 1, was already familiar with Keurig brewers, which use little pre-measured plastic containers to make fresh, hot, individual cups. Apparently his employer used to have a Keurig for the office. Back when I worked in an office, things were done the old-fashioned way. The cafeteria workers brewed coffee in regular pots, dumped it into air pots, and we pumped out cups for purchase. In Duloc Manor, I either used my little 4-cup machine or waited for hubby to brew some coffee in his aging and complicated Starbucks coffee maker.

I should probably mention that we're both flavored coffee fiends. I can't remember the last time a pot of plain coffee was brewed in our household. We were into flavors even before we moved to Celebration. Once we got here, the proximity of Barnies, with its wondrous array of tantalizing tastes like Sweetheart Blend (chocolate and cherries) and Cool Cafe Blues (don't know, but it comes directly from Heaven) kept us well stocked. The Celebration Barnies turned into a Starbucks, but we found two others within a reasonable striking distance where we could still stock up.

Anyway, on that fateful day I was off looking for something in another aisle while hubby headed for the dairy case. I found him stopped at a sample table, which is quite unusual. I'm usually game to try samples, while he almost always rejects them. Turns out a demo person was handing out fresh-brewed cups of coffee made with a Keurig, and his caffeine addicted brain couldn't resist.

I was mildly intrigued, since I'd seen many flavored Keurig packs in the coffee aisle every time we were down there (besides Barnies, we buy flavors from other brands). Turns out there was a sale on Keurig coffee makers...yes, a coffee maker sale at Publix. Not exactly the place I'd choose to come searching for one, but I've seen stranger things.

We'd been half-assed looking for a new coffee pot, mostly at my urging, since hubby's Starbucks brewer was looking decidedly aged. They don't sell that style anymore, and he's very precise about coffee makers, so even though we browsed the coffee maker aisle whenever we were in a big box store, prospects weren't good for actually buying one.

The demo person told us that the Keurigs were on sale, plus she had a coupon for additional money off. Out came the smart phone to compare prices. Sure enough, the Publix price was actually a very good deal. The Keurig was still a pricey proposition as far as coffee makers go. Could we justify it? We decided then and there that it would be 2011's mutual Christmas gift.

Of course, now that we had a fancy new coffee maker, we had to accessorize it. We headed out to Bed Bath & Beyond with a sheaf of coupons to get an attachment that lets you use regular beans in the Keurig (for hubby...I'm just fine with the special packets), a storage drawer that goes under the pot to keep a handy supply of Keurig packets available for fast caffeine fixes, and of course a smorgasbord of flavored coffees. Yes, it's a little weird to buy your coffee at Bed Bath & Beyond, but their regular price isn't bad and it becomes irresistible once you throw in the coupons.

Now that we've got our Keurig, I haven't brewed a regular cup of coffee since we brought it home. My 4-cup coffee maker is in a cabinet, and hubby's old machine went out in the trash. The Keurig sits faithfully waiting on the counter, ready to brew a fresh, hot cup within seconds. We don't have to fight over flavors anymore. We rummage around in the drawer and pick our individual selections. The only minor Keurig-related conflicts are, "You left your pack in the coffee maker" and "Am I the only one who ever puts water in this thing?"

The only downside to the Cult of the Keurig is that it's upped my coffee consumption. I used to drink a cup a day, and maybe I'd have a second one if hubby brewed up a flavor I liked later in the day. I wasn't tempted to have much more, since the Starbucks coffee maker had no warmer and the lid to the insulated pot got lost some time in the distant past. That meant drinking cold coffee unless I grabbed it as soon as it finished brewing. Granted, I could have used my own small pot, but the hot plate always scorches the bottom of the coffee and gives it that unmistakable "scorch taste."

Now the coffee is always fresh, hot, and exactly the flavor I want. I'm up to between two and three cups a day. I'm firmly in the Cult of the Keurig, and even though our Christmas gift this year was much more modest than those in years past, it's the gift that keeps on giving all year long.

I've got several books for Kindle out, including guides to SeaWorld and Disney World, as well as a guide to starting your own home-based travel agency. Click here for the list on Amazon,

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