Coffee & Black Friday

Besides the much needed rain, shopping wasn’t as bad as I expected.  This is probably the 1st Black Friday I’ve ever gone to, ONLY because my daughter in law is really excited about Christmas.  This will be her first Christmas, she’s from Turkey.  Her travel papers haven’t come in yet, she won’t be able to go home until they arrive.  She hasn’t seen her family since April when we had the big engagement parties both here and in Turkey.

While my son wanted to watch the over-rated Mickelson – Tiger Woods match,  I took one for the team and braved the rainy Black Friday with her.

Besides the line to just get in Lululemon (not a line I waited in), it didn’t seem that bad.  We only went to a few stores, I knew right away what I wanted to check out.  There’s a Nespresso store where they were discounted and I’ve been meaning to get one.  My coffee shop days are getting numbered, the service sucks and for the holidays, people suck.  I still go to Peet’s whenever I can, just not that Walnut Creek store.  At the one in Lafayette a guy cut in front of me rudely.  At the Coffee Shops  (a new chain) I’ve been trying to love they seem to get my drinks out last, it’s super annoying.  I never know whether I should ask at a certain point in case they lost my order or not?  When I finally watch everyone get their drinks that were behind me in line and ask, I feel like the bitch because NOW they’re working on my drink. One time at Peet’s when they did that they just said, “It happens” rudely while I waited & waited.  Granted, the customers are so high maintenance and WAY more important than me so  there’s that end of things too.  They just think good old Heller is going to sit tight while they cater to more demanding customers.  The other thing about the Coffee Shops is nobody gets it when I bring my own cup?  I bring it in not to waste cups, yet EVERY SINGLE TIME they forget my cup and put it into a to-go cup, completely defeating the purpose.

I should throw in that I don’t complain, I went to that Walnut Creek Peet’s for 20 years with the only complaint being they scalded my milk a few times.  I’d donate my books for an employee lending library, I was a good customer.   One of the girls that worked there was on my volleyball team when I coached.  She dropped out of high school, I bought her a bike to get to work at 5:30am.  They wiped out the staff last year, probably an effort to wipe out long term customers too and attract the pain in the ass crowd.  I left when they messed up my Costco GC’s, didn’t add the balance of the other cards, wouldn’t give me the cards back and told me to call customer service.  It should have been a 2 minute fix, instead it was a week of both customer service & the store employee treating me like I was a thief.

I’m throwing in the towel with coffee places and going to try to just make them at home, which I do from time to time with an old machine I have.  Thought I’d try the Nespresso for the instant gratification with both the milk and capsule at the press of a button.  I keep forgetting that Nespresso is actually Nescafe, basically it’s just popping instant coffee into a cool machine.  I just realized it this morning when I got my first cup.

The first time I had Nescafe was on a rooftop of our hotel in Europe somewhere after a long flight where I was trying to power it until at least 9p to adjust to the the time zone.  I was thinking “bleck.” and still drank it.  Regardless, I’m keeping the machine!  Just have to learn to love it, or put flavor in it, or something.

When I got it home, the box was all soggy from the rain.  There’s a handle for convenient carrying, only it was going to fall out from the bottom if I didn’t carry it right.  When I hooked it all up, it wasn’t pumping water for it’s first rinse out and there were no samples.  I spent last night chatting it up with customer service, who immediately said they would send me the missing capsules saving me another trip downtown.  It was so nice not to be accused of trying to get away with something!!  Then the second call was about the water not flowing through.  I guess you have to prime it, which I would have known if I would have looked at the manual.  They were so busy at the store, they probably forgot to tell me.  It seemed like I had a defective machine with a soggy box it wasn’t going to go back into.  In my world, I want to plug it in and press the button…walaa!  It took awhile, it finally worked when I opened and closed the capsule lid a few times, pushing that air bubble out.

Happy to get out, even in the rain, with all the smoke here the past few weeks.  The sky is clear today, have a few free weeks before Christmas with only weekend plans.  For my birthday, I bought myself a year parking pass to Lafayette Reservoir.  Looking forward to filling up my Yeti mug with my homemade latte for my Rez walks mentally preparing myself for Christmas…yay!










In search of a latte & piano…

The trip to Las Cruces, New Mexico was a long one yesterday.  We timed it really well with the cars, my husband flew into Oakland and took my car.  On this end, he left his car in the lot in El Paso.  We met when his flight came in at Oakland for breakfast then I had to wait for several hours for my flight at 12:30p.

I wish I could just assume the position at the airport and know that it’s going to be a day of rude, lame people.  When I get on a plane, the first thing I do is pop on the headphones and not talk to anyone (maybe I’m the rude one too?).  When I travel with my mom, she insists on talking to the person next to her the whole time.

The day started out with trying to have breakfast at Chili’s in the airport.  The hostess rudely stared at us a few times and I told my husband I bet she’s going to come up to us and tell us it’s a 20 min. wait.  That’s been my experience with hostesses lately, empty restaurants with 20 min. wait because the hostess hates everyone.  She said there was no food, it was 10a so the breakfast menu was done and the lunch menu hadn’t started yet.  There won’t be any food for about a half hour.  Really??  I’ve never heard of that before.

Instead we went to Starbucks for a yogurt before my husband left.  I just charged my gear and read, not really paying attention until boarding when it was noon and I really hadn’t eaten much.  I shrugged it off, Phoenix is a short flight and I’d deal when I got there to transfer planes…only our plane was late!

There was still a little time in Phoenix, they were pre-boarding when I got there so I found the bathroom and another Starbucks to wait for food and now my afternoon latte.  I wish Sienfeld was around in the times of Starbucks, it is true insanity.  The Starbucks customer is the true pain in the ass connoisseur of coffee.  They know the lingo, want to make sure they get half- low caf/med blend/1.5 percent breast milk.  The employees have to acquiesce to the demands of the high maintenance customer.

What all this means in Heller terms is that I was going to miss my flight if I wanted my med latte, it wasn’t going to happen.  When the next customer started in on his very specific drink, I left the line to be the last person to board the plane.

When I got to El Paso, the airport Starbucks was closed upstairs.  There was one more chance, the one downstairs Starbucks was open!!  No line, I splurged for a pumpkin spice latte, still no food.  At least I had my latte for the drive to Las Cruces, where I knew food would be waiting at Andele’s

Yes it was!!  Food and actual service!!  The hostess said, “Just a few minutes” in a crowded wait area.  I’m not a picky person normally, but when it comes to that Chili’s hostess saying there’s no food I get pissed and call BS.  Because of her rudeness, I ended up not eating the rest of the day.  Some of that was my fault, it just turned into a chain of events that led to me collapsing at Andele’s.

One thing about Las Cruces I’ve noticed is how nice everyone is here.  This visit is a relaxing one, nothing to do all week but hot springs and finding a practice piano place.  Maybe I’ll go back to music school here?  It would be an interesting change up for me.

In search of a new coffee place

This whole Peet’s poor customer service fiasco has me in an afternoon latte free fall.  At times, I’ve actually had to resort to Starbucks, which is almost like stopping at a rest area for coffee in one of those machines.  The odd thing has been different coffee shops attract different customers, I’m just learning all this.

The Peet’s customer used to be serious coffee drinkers, no flavored drinks, PLM (people like me) who need a strong boost and would like to just sit back for a bit to read a book.  The first one I had ever been to was when I lived in Oakland, I’d go to the flagship Berkeley store.  I even bought stock when it went public, and then a corporation bought it.  Now  there’s the flavored drinks and K-cups, which should have been the sign of impending doom.  I always got my drinks “for here” so I could read and save waste.  So far I haven’t found another place that does that.

On the South side of town is Pacific Bay, which is decent coffee without a coffee shop vibe.  I’ve been trying to love it, it’s not very crowded and a little out of my way from my normal OCD routine.  Sadly, it’s too far out of my way if my routine includes the gym  on the way home to swim.  It’s a little bit of a location problem more than anything else.

They opened a Philz coffee right by our old office that’s booming.  Opening day was free coffee to train  the employee’s, our whole office was wired.  Philz doesn’t make latte’s or steam milk, they do pour over coffee with cream.  The few times I’ve been there I must have gone during the mom groups time with strollers everywhere.  When my kids were little I would have loved that, now I just want to read my New Yorker on my Kindle and have a place to sit.  The other problem I have with it is I do pour over coffee on my boat, I don’t really need to pay more for that.  It’s a good meeting place though, I’m plenty wired when I leave.

The other place I’ve been trying to love is the Coffee Shop for $5 a pop.  They have that Square system where they flip the screen around and the suggested tip amounts come up, minimum $1, making it a $6 latte.  It’s also just way too hip for me, millennial start up crowd where everyone has their laptop and “working.”  Not my vibe at all, it’s a great latte though.  They also have a liquor license, to cover everyones addiction.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they sold pot soon.

I’m still in search, a caffeine addict without a home.  There are 3 options:

  1. Keep searching for the perfect place
  2. Make latte’s at home
  3. Quit my afternoon latte addiction

I’m still royally pissed at Peet’s for jerking me around on every level after being a loyal customer for 20 years.  With all the competition around here, it doesn’t seem like I should have to crawl back and suck it up.  I’m getting really good at foaming my own latte, which might be my only solution?