Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Coffee good, package bad: The Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company

I like supporting my local businesses as much as the next guy, especially Western Market in Ferndale, because a significant percentage of the meat counter employees know me by name. Besides, they sell their own fresh-squeezed orange juice. On a recent visit to Western, I was stopped on my way to said meat counter by the tantalizing aroma of fresh coffee beans. I just happened to be out of drinkin' beans at my house, so I decided to take a gander at the goods.

It turned out to be wares from the Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company. Great Lakes coffee is so good that I almost feel bad annihilating their packaging here. Almost. If I hadn't previously had it at Mae's, my favorite local restaurant, I never would have bought the dang stuff. See, they have clever yet meaningless names for their coffee -- ones that give no hint of what kind of beans, and therefore flavors, are inside. What's the Corktown Blend? What's the Triple Threat? On top of that, all of their bags I have seen have the exact same dripping-with-snob essay on the back.

As the folks at Cabo Chips know, I am no stranger to dissecting a food essay, so here we are again.

"Great Lakes coffee is not for you[1]. You should stop reading this immediately and drive to the closest coffee chain drive-thru[2]. We roast coffee an an old-fashioned drum roaster. If our roaster were any smaller we would have to use nanotechnology[3]. We think small when it comes to coffee. Our narrow-minded focus on coffee is just plain wrong[4]. You probably are not prepared to be burdened with so much information about where the coffee is grown, how it is processed, particular flavor characteristics and the many brewing options[5]. Why don't you just get a cup of regular coffee? Life is too complicated for options like organic and fair trade certifications or micro-lots of coffee from specific coffee growing regions[6]. You probably want something that's just hot and black like a lump of coal[7]. Just remember, by choosing not to engage in what you are drinking, you still have made a choice.[8, 9]"

1. Weeds out normies and sensitive people, thus limiting potential customer base.
2. Sure, I will just abandon my grocery cart.
3. Joke for people who read Wired magazine.
4. We aspire to be like Philip Morris.
5. Is this why you didn't bother to tell me what sort of coffee is in the bag I am holding?
6. Does this coffee have all of these characteristics?
7. Or Beyonce.
8. You didn't give me much of a choice when you made your packaging so vague.
9. Nice Rush reference.

If you're a luck-of-the-draw kind of coffee drinker who requires something better than brown water, go ahead and get some Great Lakes coffee. If you're Great Lakes coffee, please consider being a bit more specific about your beans.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Having Thanksgiving mostly my way

Swallow your Franzia because when you read about what happened to me this Thanksgiving season, you're likely to do a spit-take!

It's likely that you've already read my holiday classic, "Thanksgiving My Way", so you'll be pleased to hear that I got DANG close to having Thanksgiving My Way this year. And it's not even Thanksgiving yet!

This pre-holiday miracle transpired when Elise suggested we have a delicious pre-Thanksgiving with her mom and sis, since I'd be making the most of my time off of work by driving 5 hours each way just to eat dinner in Pittsburgh.

Being the unorthodox American that I am, I seized the opportunity to enjoy a delicious ham. There was turkey too, but since no one deserves to spend a minimum of seven hours thawing and cooking a bird, we got a two-ish-pound Jennie O turkey breast that cooks in a bag. It even came with its own gravy. Genius.

On a side note, does it worry anyone else that all of the turkeys in the open freeze row at the grocery story smell vaguely of rotting meat?

Anyhow, the advantage of getting your hands on a breast-only turkey is that there's no opportunity to prepare vile in-the-butt stuffing, which is one of the no-nos of Thanksgiving My Way.

There was no crevice stuffing, but there was:
  • Green bean casserole

  • Sweet potato casserole

  • Mashed redskin potatoes, skins on

  • Loads of stuffing with cranberries added

  • Mickey's Malt Liquor Grenades

  • Gin n juice

  • "Two" Buck Chuck

  • Delicious coffee

There was almost a pumpkin pie, but our friendly local grocer only carried graham cracker crust.

After dinner, we didn't watch football -- another rule of Thanksgiving My Way. Instead, we relaxed on the couch and enjoyed such classic films as Caddy Shack and the Enforcer.

I had the pain and privilege of going to work the next day, so there was no group breakfast, but Pre-Thanksgiving 2010 was a success. And it went my way. Thanks, Elise!

Without further ado, the photo gallery!

Micro icebox of deliciousness including ham and malt liquor plus Asti and fresh-squeezed OJ for mimosas.

Ham, getting ready to become even more delicious by way of Elise's "How's It Work" Vernor's-based glaze.

Ham and turkey together in the micro-oven. Best friends!

Mt. Marshmallow atop the sweet potato plain.

A toast to celebration meats.

Another gratuitous ham shot.

Gravy -- the only reason people think turkey is delicious.

Dinner plate, before addition of sweet potato casserole and extra gravy.

Prologue: I totally ate leftover ham and green bean casserole while writing this.