Kenya AA in a Pod

To me, Kenya AA coffee represents a New World, a new Symphony, a New World Symphony.

Along with my first cup of coffee from the Yirgacheffe region, Kenya AA – particularly the beautiful SL-28, SL-34 cultivars – introduced me to the immense flavor possibilities of hand-drip coffee. Powerful, playful, dynamic, bursting – all words to describe some of the Kenya AAs I’ve tried thus far (which includes coffees from Verve and PT’s).

Kenyan AA in a K-Cup. Who knew.

For the past two months or so, I have had my share of K-Cup coffee (audible gasp). Purchased by the firm as part of new office space furnishings, the Keurig has been, by far, the most popular piece of equipment in the office. Thus began my objective experimentation to find out what exactly draws people to press that “Brew” button on the Evil Empire’s facade every morning. Here are my three conclusions to date.

*          *          *

1. Consistency

A thumbs-up for Keurig, as consistency is key to brewing good coffee. The only problem is, consistently brewing bad coffee is just as negligible as having no consistency at all. K-Cup coffee, I find, has a distinct “machine flavor” to it; a K-Cup flavor, might I say. Consistently tastes like machine.

2. Flavorama

My office underling affectionately ordered box loads of “flavored” K-Cup pods. Take any wild guess, and surely you will find a flavor for you: spicy eggnog, wild mountain blueberry, Cayman coconut, butter toffee, creme caramel, pumpkin spice, and my personal favorite, “Breakfast in Bed” with/by Wolfgang Puck. Had enough yet? I am beginning to think the vile shots of peppermint syrup I used to add to my law school 6th floor detergent coffee had better flavor than some of these concoctions. But oh, for the adventurous soul seeking new boundaries in coffee, flavored K-Cups give them the mojo to make it through their otherwise monotonous day.

3. Convenience

In a gallant effort to guide my office underling to world of quality-brewed specialty coffee, I offered him an excellent cup from my Aeropress brewer. Alas, while he acknowledged the superb quality and mind-blowing taste, he cites to “convenience” as he gleefully returned to Mother Flavorload in K-Cup Land.

*          *          *

Out of the three reasons discussed above, it seems to me that “convenience” is the biggest reason people use the Keurig. This bothers me. Nothing good can come from a society that prefers “convenience” over “quality.” Convenience is inherently rooted in the need for efficiency and speed; the need to get things done, and to get them done now. Convenience, speed, and efficiency are good for the office – for copying, scanning, shredding, reading, writing, editing, yelling, screaming. It becomes an issue when we “convenienize” other aspects of life.

Brewing your cup of coffee should not be a matter of convenience. I am not advocating for a culture that requires you to process, dry, and roast your own beans (thankfully, we have masterful sourcers and roasters who do that professionally, and, beautifully). I am advocating for a culture that understands the need (and want) to slow down, to skillfully craft something for one’s own serenity. A culture that whips you constantly with a carrot on the end of a stick is at risk of “losing” so many things, which is ironic because a go-go-go culture is that way only to “gain” things, not lose them.

If Keurig’s “convenience” brought equal or almost equal quality to a cup of coffee, then I would have less of a reason to object. However, as evidenced by Green Mountain Coffee’s “Kenyan AA” in a pod, convenience has failed to bring about quality, flavor, or respect. If anyone has ever tried masterfully roasted, “real” SL-28, SL-34 coffee, one would share my utter disgust at the stale grinds buried in that pod. (On a different note, what is “Medium Roast, Extra Bold”? I would like to think coffee is one or the other, either medium roast, or bold roast, but I guess this is a new paradigm in coffee culture, curated by none other than Keurig and Green Mountain.)

So we have come to this. Kenyan AA in a pod.

I shall shed a tear or two, for if this doesn’t signal a society in demise, nothing will.

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