Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Separated at birth?

J'ever notice you never see Jon Hamm and Gregory Peck in the same place at the same time?

Nattering Nabobs

Life is hard enough. Isn't it? But when something you really liked, even loved, suddenly turns bad. . .

This happens with marriages, and jobs, and friendships, and even (incontinent, age-ing, vet-requiring, slobbering, stinky old) dogs.

But when it's something inconsequential, yet still significant, it really gets you. It's a small pleasure withdrawn, perhaps forever.

I've bought the same coffee for at least ten years. A nice, middle-of-the-road roast and grind, nothing fancy, but at its best, oh boy is it good, and dependable. It has that richness and complexity of flavor that any decent coffee should have. It's the same with the decaff. You zip open the can and hear that little rush of air, and the aroma jumps out at you. You shovel the grinds into the basket, pour in the water, and wait.

Just a small thing, of course. Until it turns bad.

It's been several cans now. Hell, maybe six! My coffee has turned bad. Turned watery and bland, with a bitter, even sour undertaste and a nasty whiff of tar.

It's the same brand. Same brand I've used for years, for so many years now it's like a goddamn marriage. Of course I won't name it here, but it starts with an N, and ends with a B, and has an ABO in the middle.

What has happened to my Nabob coffee? I'm buying exactly the same kind, same roast, same grind. Brewing it exactly the same way. Storing it in a cool, dry, dark place.

It's just crap, all of a sudden, and I can't fix it.

The only difference I can see is all the very loud and public ballyhoo about "sustainability", printed on the can and all over the web site. I'm not sure what this means because it goes on for about 500 pages, and we're supposed to read it and go, "Oh, I guess it's worth drinking a sour, lifeless cup of coffee, so long as we have SUSTAINABILITY."

I had to complain. Not because I hate the product, but because I love it! Because I want it back with every fibre of my being. But, of course, there was nowhere to complain, just literally hundreds of FAQs like, "Can I make coffee cake out of my coffee?" and "Can I store turkey giblets in the can?" I had to scrabble around web sites all morning to find a "legal stuff" page with a mailing address that turned out to be wrong, in that the postal code said MJB (ironically, the name of a kind of coffee!) instead of M3B. Had I sent them my (snailmailed) complaint with the wrong postal code on it, it never would've reached them.

The page also assured us we could always "just send them an e-mail". Oh, sure:


So what is going on here? Where is quality control? I think we're just supposed to go on drinking it, and pretending there's no difference, or that it's us, somehow, that we're doing it wrong, or that our tastebuds have collapsed with age.

I've sent customer complaint letters before, and I usually get a form letter back (if anything), and coupons for more of the same product I hate. More, more, more bad coffee! It's almost like the hundreds of writing rejections I've received, though they don't send you coupons. (And no, I don't paper walls with them. I throw them away.)

If they had a taste panel, well? If they had any quality control at all, WELL?? I wonder now, since I wrote to the "legal stuff" address, if they will sue me just for wanting a good cup of coffee.

Or for wanting it back. For wanting that dependable jolt, that aromatic reverse sigh, that roasty-toasty, almost wheaten taste, not just in the morning when I really need it, but any time in the day when I want a lift.

Get with it, guys. Sustainability should apply to taste, too.
(And there's nothing living inside my coffee maker. I do clean it, stinky vinegar fumes and all.)