Is there any better drink than a hot cup of strong coffee? I've been drinking coffee for what seems like forever. I started drinking when I was in High School.... maybe even Jr. High! My habit didn't hit the full stride until college however. There is nothing like an all-night study induced coffee binge to really lower your standards for coffee flavor. I remember some nights, nearing 4 or 5am, thousands of lines of code on the screen, and a sliver of coffe in the pot that had been burning there since midnight. I knew it was nasty. I knew it probably wouldn't "pour" in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, that last cup of joe was going to be an agry fight. First, there is the horrible pre-drink stare down. You know you are going to drink that coffee, but you also have a fairly good idea of just how nasty it is going to taste. Then there is that first bitter taste. The putrid taste whips your head back, cracking your neck. You're fully awake at this point, but also very close to making a run for the toilet to hurl. Then there are the next couple of swallows, in which you are convincing yourself that, yes, in fact, you can make it to the bottom of this pot. Resume studying. At this point, you have fully convinced yourself that the taste of a sweatsock filled with the scrapings of an ashtray really isn't all that bad. At least, that's as close as I can come to describing how the coffee tastes at that point.

Having survived that terrible episode, and many others, I've now come to truly respect a good cup of coffee. Surprisingly, I'm not a big fan of Starbucks coffees. I have had plenty of them, but they are not at the top of my list, at least when we speaking strictly of coffee. I really enjoy their specialty drinks. It is really hard to pass up a cafe mocha, or a carmel frappuccino. When it comes to regular coffee, however, I stay away for Starbucks. I am a die hard Maxwell House Rich French Roast drinker. Maxwell House messed with me a little while back and changed the labeling on the can. It now reads simply "French Roast". I'm not sure if this was influenced by a little backlash of all things French or what. They changed the color of the can from teh easy to find purple to a well camouflaged blue as well. Those tricky bastards. I wasn't fooled though. I spent the good part of a half hour at Marsh, carefully pouring through each layer of the shelf searching for what I knew had to be there. The coveted can of French Roast coffee. I eventually found it, albeit in its newly adopted clothes. The Rich French Roast is my staple coffee. It is what I have prior to long road trips, or in the morning when I have to get ready in a hurry.

When I'm not so pressed for time, I whip out the gourmet stuff. Now, I haven't had any true gourmet coffee in quite some time. The last I can remember was some awesome Kona Coffee that my parents brought back from Hawaii. Outstanding stuff. I'm pretty sure I could have used it as fuel for my car as well. It was powerful stuff. I've also read about some extraordinarily expensive coffee that is only found in the droppings of some obscure cat. That's right: cat shit coffee. I don't understand rich people. Anyway, back to my train of thought. Gourmet coffee. To me, gourmet coffee is the stuff that I drink on the weekends. I get the flavored beans from the marsh next door. Sometimes a friend or relative will get me some as a gift. In fact, that reminds me... Jenn's mom got me some coffee while she was on vacation in St. Martin. It was really good stuff, and fairly strong too. Anyway, the gourmet that I have on the weekends is usually the marsh beans. I get out the grinder and make some fresh French Vanilla or Hazelnut coffee. Those are probably my favorite flavored coffees. I've also got a can of Decaf French Roast sitting on the counter for those emergency situations where I need a coffee fix, but don't want to be up until three in the morning.

I was a little surprised on my last trip to Marsh. I saw that Maxwell House now has a cans of Vanilla and Hazelnut flavored grounds for sale. As I mentioned before, these are my favorites, so I had to give them a try. I haven't opened the hazelnut yet, but I can pronounce the Vanilla a definitive success. Good stuff. The first few pots have tasted just as good as the beans that I usually get. The only drawback I have noticed so far is that the smell isn't quite as strong while brewing as with the beans. At half the price of the beans, I'll definitely be getting it again though.

So if you ever spot me, and I'm drinking a coffee, you can be sure that I'm in my happy place.

[Listening to: Faith No More - Easy - Das Schutzenfest]


Jade Mason