1.06.2020

Rambling over coffee: I miss the office but not the office coffee - or the odd coworker that loved 'office coffee'

This morning I'm reminiscing about my previous job.  It was for a non-profit organization, which means funds are distributed how the board of directors deem appropriate; which was not to sink any money whatsoever into the building that actually houses staff.  Most of the board members never even see that part of the foundation, or even the staff for that matter.  LOL. 

Our break room was a little tiny passageway in the basement area, you walked through to get to a larger area before you entered the legit basement of the building, where the groundskeepers stored things, old junk was stashed and even old roofing tiles were stored.  Ah yes, the glamorous life of a struggling non-profit!

https://amzn.to/37JMMhZOur break room had a sink, a tiny little corner that had a counter on it, and an old green avocado colored refrigerator.  Nestled onto the tiny counter space was old traditional coffee maker.  The kind with a glass carafe that you found in most homes across America circa 1980's and 1990's.  The kind that burned the crap out of your coffee and made it taste like cigarette ashes when it got down to the final 2 cups and was forgotten long enough...  and then of course burned all the liquid away and left black dredges and dried flakes on the bottom when left even longer.  Which it usually was.  Because you know in an office, no one wants to take the time to make a new pot of coffee. 

Everyone makes sure there is still a tiny little smidgen of liquid left at the very bottom so they don't officially 'finish' the last of the coffee.

We had this coffee maker for the first couple years I worked there.  And it was horrible, horrible... and yes even a third is needed - horrible coffee.  Granted, it was also due to the fact that the person buying the office coffee at the time only bought the large red plastic tubs of pre-ground Folgers coffee.  Our basement sink water, classic, rancid coffee grounds and people that thought a tiny scoop of ground coffee dumped into the brew basket was how you made it...  made for the most atrocious coffee I think I've ever tasted.

But we drank it. 
Because... coffee.

After I had been there long enough that I could voice my opinion on a few things (lowest on the totem pole and all) the person buying the coffee came back from the warehouse with some Folgers 'black satin' or special blend of some sort.   It was bad.  Perhaps even worse than the classic blend. 

And dang if these weren't the hugest plastic buckets of coffee grounds... they lasted so long that by the time they were half used up they were rancid, dried out and even more disgusting than you thought possible to begin with.

When I had been there a little longer, I was able to go with on some of the supply runs but we could only go to one warehouse for supplies and we weren't allowed to buy anything from any other source.  So, I first came back with a blue tin of Maxwell House (baby steps to wean from Folgers!).  When people overcame their shock at seeing a blue container instead of red, I ventured a little further and would bring in some freshly ground coffee from home each morning. I'd let everyone know it was there to use... for whomever was making the next pot of coffee.

Their eyes were being opened slowly... oh so slowly.  They would exclaim over better tasting coffee but it was still pretty crappy considering the water and coffee brewer.

We got a water dispenser.  Only one or two of us would use the fresh, purified water from the dispenser to make coffee though, as it took longer than shoving the glass carafe under the old sink faucet to fill.

It wasn't long before we learned to watch (or ask) 'who' made the last pot of coffee before partaking any of it.

And there is always that one guy..........

Our guy was Leonard.  And he was a bit of a weirdo.  A cringe-worthy weirdo some times.  Irritating most of the time.  A know-it-all who knew little, but spouted off as if he did. What he did know was a random food product.  A food he could talk about for an hour non-stop.  And did. The history of it, companies that made it, ranking the companies, the companies he had visited to see how they made his favorite food product, the festivals he attended in honor of this food product.  He was... umm, an interesting guy.

And oh, he made bad coffee. 

He sneered and made sarcastic comments about the two of us that would bring in fresh ground, good coffee to share with the office. 
He brushed us off when we suggested he use at least 4 tablespoons of his ground Folgers instead of trying to brew a full pot with 2 little meager scoops. 
He deemed the sink water was 'perfectly fine'. 

Unfortunately, since he was a coffee drinker himself, but he also disliked actually doing work, he was the one finding excuses to hang out in the break room and thus, was usually the person making the new coffee.  Gleefully.  He would actually sing and hum and cheerfully brew the coffee; I think since he was such a passive-aggressive person, he took a lot of joy in making the absolute worst coffee he could because he knew it irritated the rest of the staff.  He was always chuckling and laughing about anyone complaining about the coffee.  He wasn't doing anything 'to' the coffee... I could see into the break room area from my office most of the time.  And he is the one who ended up drinking half the pot himself as no one else would touch it... so the coffee was safe and fine.  Just really, really bad.

Every morning I would bring my travel mug of coffee along with my little 2 cup thermos of 'good' coffee from home.  I also stashed VIA instant coffee packets in my drawer.  Even instant coffee was better than Leonard's coffee.  But when we were out of coffee... yep, we drank it.

Because, coffee.

As I moved up in the ranks and we got new leadership, a few things changed.
Finally, I was able to do what I wanted more or less.
And I brought in a Keurig!

Hallelujah!

Just a regular Keurig from home, but it was heaven after almost 3 years of the most disgusting tasting brew I've ever had on a regular basis.

The 3 or 4 main coffee drinkers in the office were relieved, giddy and thrilled.  (There were only about 9 people on staff total at this non-profit agency.)  We brought in our own k-cups from home, as the foundation wouldn't pay for k-cups, but we didn't care.  People that loved hot chocolate, or tea or coffee all had options.  It was glorious.

And you know what?

Leonard refused to use it!  Bah ha.

He would still brew his terrible coffee in the old glass carafe, drink it burnt to a crisp and finish off the final, black dregs.  He would make a production out of it actually. Oh, he was an interesting character.  The oddest man I think I've ever worked with in my adult life.

Soon after the Keurig saved us all from drinking burnt leaves and trash flavored coffee, I was relocated across the country.  With me came my Keurig.  I don't know what they did after I left.  I assume the woman that started with the company not long before I left probably brought in another Keurig.  I'm almost positive she would/did.

It brings a smile to my face to remember this random little work-memory.

The staff had almost completely turned over in the time I was there.  Only 3 people were still there from the original group when I started 3 years previously.  And two of those three were groundskeepers that we rarely saw.  Just me and the person in accounting (who never touched coffee and only drank green tea).  Although this person also relocated across the country within a year of me leaving.  We had a very, very high turnover rate at that place!

Ahhh the memories.

And now, my own (good) coffee is getting cold.  Time to wrap up this trip down coffee-memory-lane.




Don't mind my rambling... it's just the coffee talking again.