Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coffee Can Confessions

I cannot tell a lie. I have drunk coffee from a can. And I liked it! (At the time.)

Before you stone me, let me explain.

Until college I didn't know that mashed potatoes could be made out of whole potatoes (don't they come as flakes in a box?) Or gravy could be made from scratch (doesn't it come in a jar?). And I certainly did not know why anyone would bother buying coffee outside of a can.

Occasionally, someone would give my parents a special gift of whole bean coffee and my mom would grind it in a little bur grinder she kept above the refrigerator. But that was fancy stuff and I didn't quite get why anyone would bother with all that fuss. After all, the enchanting hiss that the can of Maxwell House made when I pierced the lid proved to me that it was fresh as can be. It’s the sound that said it was morning! And, according to the can, it was 100% Arabica beans. What more could you want?!?

Even then, though, I didn’t really drink coffee until my senior year in high school when class got stuck in Philadelphia airport during a massive snow storm on our way to Florida for our class trip. After a great night of sleep on the airport floor, I headed down to the hotdog stand to get a nice black cup of airport, hotdog coffee.

And there was no heading back! I was hooked! To me, the only thing better than airport, hotdog coffee was a nice fresh can of Chock Full o’Nuts.

So what turned me and started me down the road of becoming a home-roasting coffee geek? What made me chuck my coffee cans and never look back? Starbucks.

Yes, Starbucks. During college, in the middle of my 2 pots-of-Chock-Full-o'-Nuts-a-day habit, I got a job as a barista in a little Boston based coffee company called The Coffee Connection, which had just been acquired by Starbucks. It was The Coffee Connection/Starbucks that taught me all about the dangerous life of coffee can coffee. And for that, I will always be greatful to the big green mermaid for saving me.

There. I've said it. It's off my shoulders and I'm feeling so much better.

How about you? Ever had that craving that can only be cured by the hiss of the ol' coffee can? Get it out in the open and share with Coffee Llama! We won't judge. Promise.


  1. You know the hiss of the coffee can itself with the scent of new coffee is what I remember from being a kid. It's just not the same aural/nasal double whammy when you open a bag....

  2. I love Chock full of nuts, 'the h-e-a-ven-ly coffee, h-e-a-ven-ly coffee," as the old TV ads used to say. The lovely lady on those ads lived on my paper route when I was a kid!

    I remember the old Chock Full stores around Manhattan, and I remember someone telling me that the reason the coffee was good was that the beans were from Uganda, and, I think, Kenya? I have no idea if this is still true.

    anyway, i had a can in my kitchen last week! always good to have a backup emergency stash, for when the Oren's blend runs out.

  3. I haven't drunk canned coffee for a while, but I will confess that I keep a vacuum-sealed block of Lavazza pre-ground espresso around for those days when I really need an espresso and I've run out of the freshly roasted stuff.

  4. Thanks all for stepping out into the spotlight and sharing your confessions.

    I am intrigued by the special Uganda bean hidden inside the Chock Full can.

    And I'm also interested to figure out why bricks of Lavazza and Illy seam to be presented to me frequently as "good" canned coffee. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone finds out I'm a coffee fan and then tries to convince me to try Illy. Anyone know why this might be? Good brand identity?

  5. yes.
    The son of the founder of Illy, Ernesto Illy, "ran what amounted to the Bell Labs of coffee” in Trieste, Italy.
    He was brilliant, a bit obsessive, a huge innovator, and a quality freak.

    ck out his NY Times obit.

    the stuff is superb, esp for the expresso drinker. if you gotta drink canned . . . . don't go near Lavazza. Silver can of Illy - doesn't get much better.

    here's to Ernesto!