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An at-home activity while waiting out the coronavirus...

I'm not a coffee snob.  Or a coffee aficionado.  I honestly like Taster's Choice, the French Roast flavor, and while their decaf isn't nearly as tasty, I like it fine.  And I like my coffee 'black'.  My wife is the opposite.  She has more coffee making devices than I can count, and she puts things in her coffee.  So it was no surprise that she got me to try a Starbuck's French Roast K-cup.  The surprise was that I liked it.

I also liked the quickness and neatness of it.  No shaky hand spilling instant coffee all over the kitchen counter.  No waiting for water to boil, which is literally as boring as waiting for water to boil.  Easy cleanup.  What's not to like?  So I thought I might find a decaf, a great activity I could do at home while waiting for the coronavirus to do whatever it is going to do.  So I decided to embark on a quest to find a decaf k-cup that I actually like as mush as the caffeinated Starbuck's French Roast.  I ordered a sampler of 30 different brands/flavors, and set up a spreadsheet with four columns: Yes, OK, Meh, and Awful.

I never thought I'd drink the coffee cool-aid.  Instant coffee requires two pieces of equipment: a spoon and a cup.  Well, and a kettle to boil the water in.  It's not that hard, and certainly much easier than some of those fancy coffeemakers.  But pressing a button, waiting for the water to heat and then watching a steady stream of steaming brown liquid pour directly into my cup has a certain... tidiness to it.

My wife brought home some Wegman's decaf to try.  But it didn't even taste like coffee to me, not even like bad coffee.  The problem was there were a dozen pods in the box, so I am trying to use it up at times when I am eating chocolate or licorice, which makes its distinctive absence of flavor less noticeable.

Decaf SpreadsheetMy spreadsheet is only showing one decaf pod in the 'Yes' column so far

My decaf sampler came just in time for me to be isolated at home because of the coronavirus.  It immediately became a thing to do because I can't leave the house to do stuff I would normally do. Not that I leave the house that much anyway, but this was an activity I hoped would yield a positive result: the perfect decaf K-cup.

So far -- I still have 11 to try -- Timothy's Hazelnut is the only one I checked as 'Yes'. Most of the flavors are in the 'Meh' column, though a few made it to OK.  As flavored coffees go, hazelnut is the only one I've ever felt any enthusiasm for, and Timothy's was better than the other two hazelnut coffees I have tried so far.  But I really want an unflavored coffee, or actually a coffee that tastes like... wait for it... coffee.

And some of the flavors are just awful.  One was called 'Death By Chocolate' which I thought I would like because I love mocha chip ice cream, and mocha is coffee and chocolate.  But I almost made a new column called 'Yecch!' after I tasted it.  Or maybe suggest to the manufacturer that they rename it 'Yecch By Chocolate'.

Since I realized I was pretty much striking out with my decaf assortment, I decided to see what the critics say.  And I noticed that SF Decaf French Roast was in the top five  of several 'top five' or 'top ten best decaf K-cup' reviews.'  I followed a link, and, not paying attention, managed to order a 12-pack of SF Bay Coffee Espresso Roast.  So I got the brand and the K-cup correct, but got caffeine and the blend wrong.

Still I'm game to see if there is something better than Starbucks, so I tried one.  Not bad.  Good enough to try again and order the decaf French roast this time.  I am trying it for the first time as I write this.  It definitely tastes better than most of the pods I've tried so far.  I wouldn't say it is the best coffee I have ever tasted, but it is better than average restaurant coffee.  Thinking back on all the decaf I have ever had, it never seemed as rich tasting as caffeinated varieties.  So this may be the best I can find.

The inventor of the K-cup was famously quoted in a 2015 Business Insider article as saying he doesn't have one and feels guilty about inventing it.

"I feel bad sometimes that I ever [invented the K-Cup]," Sylvan said. "It's like a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance. I don't have one. They're kind of expensive to use ... plus it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make."

But I think I'm hooked now... or will be if I can just find a palatable decaf pod.  I still have those eleven pods to try, though, and, as the saying goes, 'Coffee Drips Eternal!'

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