Freelancer’s Guide to Coffee – Part 1: Brew Your Own

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credit: TheGiantVermin/Flickr

Rocket fuel, cup o’ joe, brain juice, mud. Call it what you will, coffee has been the go to fuel for freelancers from around the world. Sheik Abd-al-Kadir may have said it best when he said “no one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.” High-five Sheik!

But before you head out the door to your favorite café or run round the supermarket to pick up a can, there are a few things you should know about this liquid of the gods. Join us in our light-hearted look at a Freelancer’s Guide to Coffee – Part 1.

Why I’m such a jerk all the time

Before we get into our coffee expose, I should explain briefly what’s going on here. I’ve recently received the FreelanceSwitch honor (debatable?) of being put in charge of writing weekly humor/snarky/light-hearted articles. Now while many of you may find my humor…sarcastic? Non-existent? I hope to bring you something a little less business-heavy and something more…effervescent?

See, I can use a thesaurus like a real writer!

So while some of you may already be familiar with my writing style, others may be wondering who is this big pile of jerk? Let me assure you that it’s probably best to take little of what I say seriously. In real life I can actually be quite friendly, or at least mildly tolerable.

So with that out of the way, let’s get into this thing…

If you hate coffee, go to a big coffee chain

Starbuck's coffee mug
credit: el patojo on flickr

What’s this you say? I shouldn’t go to Starbucks to buy my coffee? The reality is, if you’re looking for good coffee, you probably won’t find a lot of it at the major coffee chains. What you will find however, is burnt out, bottom of the pot sludge masked with froufrou toppings and silly sounding names. And you’ll get the privilege of paying outrageous prices for it!

Is that to say that you should never go to a coffee chain store? No, I’m not saying that, but let me tell you of my first Starbucks experience.

How I made a scene at the local Starbucks

In Seattle you haven’t had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it’s running. -Jeff Bezos

As Starbucks was gaining popularity as the place to go for coffee, I made a conscientious decision to never set foot inside one. I guess when I peaked inside and saw all the caffeine loving hipsters with their Mac books and their knitted scarves; I had to make a decision based purely on my own dignity. It just didn’t look like my class of people.

My wife says I get dignity mixed up with super-inflated ego.

As it happened, some friends and I were traveling home late one night and found ourselves in the need of a little caffeine boost. As they were not aware of the blood-pact that I had already made, in they walked to Starbucks. I had no choice but to follow.

A person is never really prepared when they walk into a Starbucks for the first time. You are hit with all these new names for coffee that come in sizes you’ve never heard of before. How was I to know if I wanted a grande, a venti, or maybe an il’duce? Add in the fact that everyone ahead of you knows exactly what they’re doing, and with each Raspberry Mocha Chip Frappuccino you’re quickly getting pushed toward your date with barista destiny.

Let’s just say that I cracked under the pressure.

After making a bit of a scene that culminated in me telling my wife to get her head out of her…posterior area, I realized that the biggest fool in Starbucks was obviously me. Scarf wrapped hipsters had nothing on ranting white guy.

What I discovered is this – if you’re looking for a caffeine fix, it really doesn’t matter where you go to get it. Bad coffee and high moral standards take a back seat to the need to stay awake on a long drive home. The truth is, I now have a Starbucks coffee card, and I use it often when I’m in the city. Sometimes you just need to grab a quick cup or scam on some free WiFi, and there’s no reason to get all high and mighty about it.

Why I want to travel back in time and punch Tim Horton in the stomach

Tim Horton's cups
credit: MSVG on flickr

My ability to overlook coffee stupidity stops with Tim Hortons, however. For those not from Canada, Tim Hortons is a long time coffee chain that has caught on like wildfire. I’ve driven by at 6 in the morning and 10 o’clock at night, and there’s always a long line up of people in the drive-thru picking up coffee.

What are you people doing?!

Is the coffee that great that you have to line up for 30 minutes to get a cup? I’ve had the coffee, and to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t line up for more than 30 seconds to buy a mug. I really can’t explain this phenomenon, but I think someone deserves a punch for it.

So what’s the better option?

Make your own coffee, people!

Brewing your own coffee is not rocket science

I believe humans get a lot done, not because we’re smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee. -Flash Rosenberg

Every time I see one of those long lines at the drive-thru I wonder why people don’t just brew their own coffee at home or work. You can buy so much better coffee and it takes only a few minutes to make a pot. I think it may have something to do with the quality of coffee that people are used to buying.

Let me give you a few tips – if the coffee comes is a huge round tin or has a picture of a dude with a donkey on it – run away! If this is the type of coffee you usually buy, you’re either a blue-haired grandma or clearly insane.

When you’re in the grocery store, keep your eye open for higher quality coffees. These usually come in a bag rather than vacuum packed bricks that are hard enough to throw through a liquor store window. Better yet, look for beans that you can grind yourself.

You’re a hardworking freelancer for goodness sakes! You deserve to buy yourself good coffee. A pound of quality coffee is worth every penny, and I know you’ll thank me when you have that first sweet, sweet taste.

But with several different ways to brew coffee available, which one do you choose? Join us next time as we look at the slim and sexy French Press.

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