I have a great coffee machine. It's a Cuisinart and I don't mind giving it a plug. If this link works you can see a picture of it and read all the five-star reviews. Ignore the people who had bad experiences. What do they know?
It's great when I remember to set it up before I go to bed. Shortly after the alarm goes off I'll hear the grinder fire up and know that coffee is on the way.
On those days when I either don't remember to set it up, or I'm out of beans or just don't care, on those days I swing by my local Kroger's who recently installed a Starbucks.
My experiences in Starbucks have not been exactly great as chronicled in the February 21, 2005 blog entry "Coffee Coward", although I have improved. Somewhat. I still wish I could simply stride up to the counter and order a mug o' Joe, plunk down a dime and walk out. Yes, sonny, in my day coffee cost a dime and the cup had to walk up hill ten miles. In the snow.
A Starbucks day happened this week. I pulled into the Kroger's parking lot at the stroke of 6 in the morning and saw someone moving around in the store. The Starbucks door was still locked so the guy motioned me to use the main store entrance. Thanks, buddy, I thought. Usually they just leave you standing out there like you're invisible.
As I got closer to the counter I noticed something strange about the Starbucks guy. He was old. It looked like I was walking up to me. To be safe I turned around to make sure it wasn't me walking up to me. Whew, that was weird.
I got up to the counter and Starbucks guy spoke first.
"Looks like you could use a cup of coffee," he said.
"Let me guess. Grande Coffee o' the Day. Save room for milk or cream, but I'd say milk."
He poured my drink, swiped my Kroger card and told me that in three more visits I'd get a free coffee.
I stood there as in a trance. No mumbo jumbo. No figuring out what I wanted. No frapaccinowtfo. Just a hot cup of coffee and I was ready to rock and roll.
As I paid for my drink Starbucks Dad looked out over the parking lot as the sun began to spread pink across the horizon and mused,
"You know," he paused, "in my day that would have cost a dime. Those were the days, man."
Yeah, I thought, as I opened the door and strolled out into the early morning, I hear you.
I don't know why at that moment I turned around. Last look? But, I did. Starbucks Dad was gone and the lights were off. I walked back to the door and looked in but the place was empty. I checked the sign on the door and it read
Store Hours: Mon-Fri 7am to 10pm
I checked my watch. It read 6:15. I took a deep pull of coffee and thought, yeah, those were the days.