Coffee tales

Tonx is a fantastic coffee bean subscription company. They recently included my mug story in the Mug Life section of their newsletter. You can read the appropriately abridged version via that link, but here’s the unabridged one I submitted in case you like too many words. (I have no idea why you would subscribe to this blog if you didn’t, haha.)

textured yellow mug

When my husband and I were mere lovebirds, we took a trip to the nearby quaint town of Port Townsend. It was our first early-couplehood weekend away, and I was positively giddy traveling with the guy I was proudest to call my boyfriend.

We wandered into a random kitchen shop and saw these two mugs and had to have them—his was orange with raised square texture, mine was yellow with raised dots. We bought them for each other, even though they were the exact same monetary value (something like $6.95). Somehow, the gesture of separate transactions was meaningful, you know? (I’m sure the shop clerk was rolling her eyes.)

I fully expected this mug to just make its way into the rotation of awkward or lame mugs in my cupboard, as most mugs do. But instead, perhaps in our giddy starry-eyed state, we each took our fancy new mugs to our respective workplaces. They became our Desk Mugs.

A week later, I quit my job. I transitioned into a new role at my first-ever “real” job in a major tech company, and that mug came with me. Hardcore developers of fancy enterprise software suites admired my mug in the corporate kitchens. My mug garnered jealousy at meetings. If I ever accidentally left it in the kitchen, people knew to bring it back to me.

My mug became a part of my professional identity. It has come with me to every job since then, earning compliments the whole while and holding twice as much coffee as those lame paper (or worse, Styrofoam) cups. It became the personal item of flair I chose to display at every desk I’ve sat at.

Now I work at home. That textured yellow mug is still on my desk every day. I even started decorating my home office with accents of the same shade of yellow, so it would always fit in. My seven-dollar mug reminds me of the love of my life, and of my own professional success and prowess. It even reminds me of how I turned my romantic success into a business helping singles find their own mug-exchange partners. I love that the people who compliment my mug now are my clients.


Here’s another coffee tale; this one is of woe.

I swept it up by hand and brewed with it anyway. And the grinder is the Baratza Encore, which I love. I mostly followed Marco Arment’s advice about grinders, but went cheaper. However, one Tweep said in response that her grinder requires all parts to be properly assembled in order to grind; that seems like a useful feature right about now. :)

I’ll be posting a longer ditty on my ideal coffee creation flow soon, in case you’re somehow not incredibly bored by that!

Supafine? No, ULTRAfine

ULTRAfineKnow how I was all cocky about my great cookies the other day? Well, ONE coworker gave me a less glowing but more helpful piece of cookie feedback: my bud Cristina mentioned that she could detect the large crystal size of the sugar I used. I tend to go for organic bulk evaporated cane sugar, which does indeed have a noticeably large crystal size. In fact, said crystal-crunchiness had always bugged me too, but even the finer organic evaporated sugars I’ve found have still been kinda chunky like that. I’ve occasionally been precious enough to grind it down to a supadupafine size in a coffee bean grinder in order to, say, sugar a cocktail rim, but never have I done this with enough sugar to bake anything. Who has time for such frivolities?

A: The C&H company. (OK, by “time” we should probably round up to “massive industrial complexes and machinery and infrastructure” or something.) So check this out: you can buy supafine and also ULTRAFINE (“baker’s”) sugar in the grocery store! I knew that sexy fine cake flour existed, with a creepy name that makes it sound like knockoff Dove Body Wash, but I never realized that a fancy sugar also existed. I bought some recently, mainly because I was at a sketchy little mini-mart that didn’t have great selection, but I’m SO GLAD I did. Its deceptively weird milk-carton packaging is actually way easier for storage, and the stuff inside is amazing.

Cookie jarrrI’ve been using it to make the odd cocktail, such as my standby Sidecar or more recently, an Old Fashioned, which I started enjoying thanks to the most recent The Talk Show with Marco and Gruber. Anyway. Great for Old Fashioneds because you want something that dissolves quicker in less water, so you can move on to filling the majority of the drink with the important part (the whiskey). And today, I tried making white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies with it—delish! I actually under-estimated the amount I would need, since I thought my cookies from before were both too sweet AND too crystally-crunchy. Turns out they may have only been the latter. But I daresay the texture is much improved now!

I can’t wait to try this stuff for cakes, as well as any recipe where I need sugar to dissolve fast. I think I’ll always keep a carton on hand. However, I do wish that I could get a luxury product like this in a less processed format—I know, what a brat, right?—because I do think organic sugar tastes better. It’s kind of like how I wish they made unbleached recycled Charmin, or unbleached recycled Bounty, ya know? It’s a real shame when natural products are inferior products. If I ever get windfall-rich and accomplish all my other many MANY windfall-rich goals (get a Ph.D. in linguistics; pitch a movie about online dating and actually get hired to do something with it; buy the silly ice cream joint by my house and turn it into a combo ice cream joint/neighborhood pub; get a legal pet ocelot somehow; ever fix our goddamn deck; start up a natural skincare line; buy the overpriced .com equivalents of all my silly domain hack websites; the list goes on and on) then I totally plan on making a company that makes Luxury Natural Products. Eh, maybe I will grind up a bunch of organic evaporated large crystal sugar for my next confection, just to see how it goes.

Oh, and isn’t my new foxy cookie jar adorable? It’s still on clearance at West Elm if you hurry. (Curse the lack of affiliate link.) We’d been wanting a sleek, mod-looking yet fun cookie jar for ages, and this could not fit that description better. They have some other cute animals too. Happy baking!

foxy