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I got one of those single cup coffee makers. The first time I saw one was about a year ago in the waiting room of my son’s orthodontist. I took a white Styrofoam cup from a stack next to the contraption and stood there long enough for paranoia to convince me that everyone was staring at me. I walked up to the receptionist.

Me: “Can I have a cup of coffee?”

Receptionist: “Help yourself!”

Me: “Uh, I should make the coffee?”
Receptionist: “Sure, go right ahead.”

Me, mumbling as I walked away: “Is she kidding? I’ve sent three kids to this guy and I’m making coffee? He has enough of my money to hire an orthodontic barista, for crying out loud.”

After a five minute search, the only thing I found that resembled a coffee pot held a goldfish. Apparently the receptionist was quite literal about “help yourself” because she wasn’t budging from her swivel.

Me: “Where is the pot?”

Receptionist: “Pot? There is no pot, just use a cup next to the machine.”

Me, shaking my white cup: “Uh, this cup?”

Were these magical Styrofoam cups with invisible coffee? Was I supposed to mime drinking coffee while trapped in a glass box?

Receptionist, pointing to a nearby basket: “No, those small cups ... right there.”

Me: “Those?! Are those espresso cups?”

The experience left me feeling underwhelmed, stupid, and wanting for a simple cup of joe. The next time I used a single serve machine was in the kitchen of my cousin, who patiently talked me through the procedure. Considering my ineptitude in anything cooking related, I was amazed. I made a perfect cup of coffee. That sort of success in the kitchen has always eluded me, so when I saw one on sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I bought it with my 20% off coupon. Personal Note: My husband had thrown the coupon in the garbage, but I found it, cleaned it (from that night’s spaghetti dinner), let it dry, and, after three days, stopped harping on him. Husband’s Note: Jean’s harping sounds more like bass drumming.

It turns out that buying the machine was the easy part. The vastness of coffee flavors, brands, styles, colors, fonts, and nationalities had me so overwhelmed, I wanted to hide in the Beyond. I can get “Jazzed Up” (Emeril’s) at a “Lake and Lodge” (Green Mountain) after reading the “Morning Edition” (Diedrich) at “Daybreak Morning” (Caribou) with a “Tree Hugger” (Coffee People). When I called my husband, he said, “Jamaica Me Crazy” (Wolfgang Puck).

I bought a 60 count variety box, plus a 3-tier carousel to house them. When I got home, I excitedly organized the cups by carousel level. I was indeed excited, which speaks more about my life than about my organizational bent. The top level is dedicated to decaf, tea, and hot chocolate; middle is reserved for mild and flavored coffee; and the lower is for bold and flammable.

I loaded my carousel like a seasoned carnie worker and slowly spun it, making sure each passenger was safely and appropriately seated. Once satisfied, I asked my husband, “Would you like me to make you a cup of coffee?” I thought he was going to pass out. The last time I asked him that was 30 years ago, when I tried to impress him and his mother. In retrospect, the latter wouldn’t have happened if I had hand-picked Columbian beans, ground them with mortar and pestle, and brewed it with spring water personally bottled in Nova Scotia.

In the two months since owning the machine, we’ve gone through three boxes. It’s almost too easy. My husband’s usage is nearing intervention. I came home from visiting my daughter this past Saturday and the house smelled like Starbucks. I checked: the bottom level of the carousel was missing five passengers. My husband was so wired, he was raking the living room. It took 30 years, but my coffee-making skills finally impressed him. And I didn’t even have to go to Nova Scotia.


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