Saturday, January 19, 2008

The most logical place to find it

At work today, we were talking about coffee. Being in the Pacific NW, it's only logical that even the average person has their bean preference. If you're not from here or have never visited, you may not realize that the NW is where the first Starbucks ended up across the street from another Starbucks. (That's what others call "the end of the world." We call it "barely meeting demand." Yes, I have witnessed simultaneous lines out the doors at neighboring Starbucks.) In this region there is a minimum of one drive-thru coffee hut/trailer/cart at least every quarter mile on every major thoroughfare. You can enjoy a latte as you shop for groceries, clothes, soap and paper products, cars, baby strollers, caskets, insurance, furniture, shoes, and while getting your hair done.

Having moved here from Minneapolis, I am beginning to suspect that the natives like to use caffiene to replace sunshine. The results are the same: it lures 'em out of the house, even in the middle of winter.

My favorite beans (yes, of course I have favorites) are Cascade Pride, the budget bean sold in bulk at my local no-frills big-box supermarket. I love the deep, dark chocolatey roasted flavor of their oily black beans. Other favorites are Peet's (hard to find), Trader Joe's various French Roast beans, Starbucks, and pretty much all fair-trade Organic Mexican Altura. Unfortunately, for economical reasons, I'll also add that the most tolerated of my least favorites is Folgers. It's unfortunately also the one I drink the most often.

Anyhoo, one of the gals at work and I were talking coffee beans, and the Kirkland brand of coffee sold at Costco came up.

"There is another brand they have that's good," I said, "and it comes in an orangey-purple bag. They roast it in the store."
"Yeah," she said. "What is the name of that bean?"
"Can't think of it. But I'll check." And I went to the Costco website to find out.

I shop at Costco periodically. Not often enough, of course, but I do go, and I know they have a whole aisle dedicated to coffee and related products. (Never been to Costco? It's a members-only warehouse store, like Sam's Club.) I figured their website should show all their coffee brands.


From their homepage, I clicked on the "Food & Wine" category and was shown a variety of beautiful gift baskets, some that even included tiny bags of coffee. In the search box, I typed "coffee" in the Food & Wine Dept and got the same results. I tried "coffee" in All Departments and got a few expensive coffee makers, coffee urns and commercial-grade espresso machines, but no coffee.

Really? Costco is based out of the Seattle area. Starbucks is based out of the Seattle area. They're both in the Pacific NW where coffee is a commonly recognized blood type. One would think that Costco sells coffee - or is not afraid to mention that coffee exists for the masses - online.

Something told me to click into their business area. This is the part of their website that sells business supplies. I guess I figured if they sell commercial espresso machines and paper cups, they must also sell coffee. Right?

Well, sorta.

Let me stop for a minute and ask what you think. If they sell commercial espresso machines and paper cups, would it make sense for them to sell coffee to run through the machines and into the cups? These machines are snobs, of course, and require nicely roasted whole coffee beans that have been carefelly ground into a black powder. You can't crack open a large can of (*gasp!*) mass-produced, medium brown pre-ground coffee grits and expect the espresso machine to burp out anything but a burnt-tasting cup of nasty.

So I clicked into the business side of their website and did a search for "coffee." A few clicks in, and voila! We have coffee for sale.

One selection: A big honkin' can of Folgers.

Sold under "Office Supplies."

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