Coffee Service

To me, coffee is very much like napalm in the morning: I love the smell, but it’s taken me a while to acclimate to the taste. I still can’t drink it straight. Luckily, diluting it with milk, chocolate and peppermint is now socially tolerated. Heck, if I wanted to order a venti soy latte with a twist of gingko blobola-infused strawberry syrup, made from coffee beans hand picked on Easter Island by a herd of marketing alpacas, the barista would not flinch.
Coffee is an important beverage, especially here in the northwest.

My (new) company has been evaluating coffee services. Exemplifying how retro I am on certain social trends, I thought a “coffee service” was merely someone who’d regularly stock ground whatever-Costco’s-selling-this-year, cups and filters, which is an upgrade from “bring home a can of Folger’s”

Oh, noooo… it’s much more!

Tuesday, a representative from Flavia came in to dazzle us with the Binford 2000 S350, their deluxe model for small offices. One of my customers had, and was proud of this appliance, but I hadn’t actually tried it until today because it looked very Rube Goldberg. You select a hermetically sealed packet from the dizzying collection, pop it in the machine, supply a cup, select the type of beverage (tea, coffee), select its intensity (if coffee) and press “go.” If your beverage of choice has frothed milk in it, you can repeat the process with the special white packets. The S350 also does teas. (Add a network port and a keyboard, and this would be considered fomplicated. I think the second or third time would be much easier.)

The packets contain a pre-measured quantity of beverage plus a mini filter. It appears the needle pierces the packet’s seal and drips hot water into the envelope. The water, obeying the laws of physics, makes coffee as it drips into your cup. When the process is done, the machine “eats” the packet. (This was somewhat disappointing. I was hoping it would turn into a jet-propelled, crime fighting super robot.)

There was another vendor whose name I honestly don’t remember, possibly because he had a poor choice of pastries. But, his machine functioned similarly. Instead of patented-looking packets with a plastic “docking clamp” on the top, theirs used the little, sealed plastic cups that looked like the syrup or creme (not “cream”) containers you’d find lying around the International House of Pancakes (IHOP).
I thought this system was simpler to master in the morning, before the caffeine worked its magic.

The result wasn’t as good as the quality of beverage I’d expect at a Starbucks or Tullys, but then again, it was a quarter of the cost. (By the time you factor in the machine rental, cups, chocolate sprinkles and the gallon of peppermint extract; packets are about $0.45 – $0.50 each.) and I didn’t have to wait around staring at the Willie Nelson music montage while the barista worked through a backlog.

The collective powers decided that neither service was a major enhancement over what we already have, and that we’d address the issue again once the sugar/caffeine buzz wore off.
In the meantime, if you’ve ever wondered how much coffee a pound makes, wonder no more.

3 thoughts on “Coffee Service”

  1. Marketing alpacas?! Thats the strangest thing I have ever heard of. I love the “gingko blobola-infused strawberry syrup” and the Binford 2000! Great entry; definitely go with the system that requires the least amount of clean up or you will inevitably be made to clean up the mess of the person who brewed before you so that you can get a decent cup of brew yourself.

  2. But I thought the whole point of getting a coffee was to get off your ass and walk across to whichever is the closest coffee shop. And then get a muffin. And then say, man was that lineup ever long, when you arrive back at your desk–since you took the opportunity to run an errand or two.

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