An Instant Coffee Life: From Juan Valdez to Jean-Luc

Genya Coulter

Genya Coulter

Coulter is an election official and election security advocate in Florida. She is @ElectionBabe on Twitter.

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25 Responses

  1. Thanks for writing this post. I remember (some of) those commercials.

    I’ll add that some instant coffee tastes pretty good, at least my taste buds. Have you tried Aldi’s instant brand? An 8 oz. jar costs about $4, and I love it. I’d also advise you to trust your instincts on Keurig. Not only are the k-cups (and machines) expensive, the coffee doesn’t taste very good, at least in my opinion. One of my problems with coffee makers is that my wife and I don’t drink enough to justify making a whole pot.Report

  2. Genya Coulter Genya Coulter says:

    Thanks so much! I was expecting people to come for me with pitchforks. 😁Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Senior Trip.

    Was that really a thing, once?

    It’s like watching Stranger Things and noticing that the parents just didn’t care what the kids did in the 10 hours between breakfast and dinner on Saturday.

    “We used to live like that.”Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

      Yep. As kids, we were free to wander the neighborhood and woods. I would go over to a friend’s house, knock on the door, their mom would get them, and we’d head out to play adventures in the woods.

      Not only kids. When our dog needed to go outside, we’d just let her outside. After a maybe an hour, my dad would open the door, whistle and call her name, and then she’d amble home.

      Some yards were fenced. Most weren’t. Ours wasn’t.

      Stranger Things is pretty spot-on for “kids in the eighties.”

      I grew up in a planned Florida suburb, which was its own kind of weirdness, but still, it was a lot like that.Report

    • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Jaybird says:

      If you don’t remember the senior trip to Paris, maybe this coffee isn’t for you.

      Or is it?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      I’ve heard vague tales of the senior trip but never experienced it myself. My entire high school music department was invited to compete in a music festival in Paris after we impressed somebody at a competition in Toronto. This immediately caused the parents to break into “this is an event of lifetime that we owe our kids” and “this is a planning nightmare that will disrupt testing.” My parents were on the pro-Paris faction but the anti-Paris faction won.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Oh, I went to school at the tail end of Senior Tripping. The Senior Trip was something you did as part of Spanish III (where you went to Spain) or French III (where you went to Paris).

        (This was Westchester, by the way. For all I know, they still do this.)

        When I came out to Colorado Springs, though, there was no Senior Trip.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      Last year it maybe two years ago, I learned that senior proms on Saturday night were not uncommon. At least in late 1990s down stats, New York the tradition was for the prom to be on a Thursday and Friday to be senior cut day.Report

  4. Avatar Em Carpenter says:

    Love this (though I will not drink instant coffee knowingly.)
    I forgot about that commercial but when I read it I instantly heard them exclaiming “Jean-Luc!” in my head!
    I get the whole coffee commercial obsession. For me, it was print cigarette ads.Report

  5. Avatar InMD says:

    I enjoyed the essay. While I appreciate fresh coffee I’m fine with it being a luxury after a meal at a nice restaurant or something along those lines. Currently life with a toddler and the rat race has my wife and I on the Folgers, ‘Murican for coffee kick. And that’s just fine.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’m also remembering those coffee commercials where they secretly replaced the gourmet coffee with Folger’s Crystals commercials.

    There is a phenomenon where if you tell a taste tester that the glass of wine they’re drinking is a $3 glass of wine and ask them to describe it, they’ll tell you “eh, it’s okay… it’s wine…” (or “It’s swill”) but if you tell them that it’s an $80 glass of wine and ask them to describe it, they’ll tell you “oh, it’s got notes of blackberry and smoke and it’s got a peppery finish”. Same glass of wine.

    Folger’s Crystals weaponized this.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      I do t know. I can taste the difference between instant and freshly ground coffee a lot easier than cheap and expensive wine. Cheap and expensive wine is still made in fundamentally the same manner. Instant coffee is more processed than ground coffee. It comes across in the taste.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        I have never developed a taste for coffee. Tried it when I was a kid (as kids do), hated it (as kids do). Grew up loving the smell of it… it’s what morning smelled like in the house.

        I had my first full cup of coffee when I was 20 (due to Lisa… sigh) and didn’t have an espresso until I was well into my 20s.

        I can enjoy a fine Turkish Coffee or Espresso if the opportunity shows up (flying from Qatar back to the states, for example) but as a lifestyle drink, it never really caught on with me.

        If asked to tell the difference between good coffee and bad coffee, I don’t think I’d be able to do anything beyond “this is strong coffee with a lot going on” and “this isn’t particularly strong coffee and there isn’t a lot going on”.

        Now with wine? Oh, my goodness! This one has notes of blackberry and smoke and, my goodness, the finish is a little peppery!Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

          What I find vaguely weird is that coffee is considered an adult drink in the United States, nearly on par with alcohol. In other countries, kids drinking coffee is common but it’s seen as an adults only drink in the United States that when foreign kids movies or lit is translated, coffee is often turned into cocoa.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to LeeEsq says:

            For a long time, received American nutritional wisdom was that caffeine would stunt your growth, so there was a big push to avoid even the vague suggestion that kids might consume coffee and it would be okay…Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      That was a good commercial though.Report

  7. Avatar Aaron David says:

    At home? I will make a full pot of (very dark) coffee, with a pour-over or two in the PM. I have the time, equipment and such that this is the best solution. In a hotel, I will use whatever they provide before heading out to breakfast.

    Camping is a whole ‘nuther ball game. If I am with my wife, I will make either a press-pot or use the little stove-top espresso maker I have had for ages. But that is with my wife, so its car camping. Back when I backpacked heavily, I would be decaf. And I would do that because I didn’t want to carry anything more than my little Coleman stove, which I only used to boil water. Tea, miso and instant coffee. Other than those it was gorp and jerky. Things I didn’t have to prep or cook.Report

  8. I like my men like my coffee.

    I don’t drink any kind of coffee.Report

  9. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I feel sort of fortunate in having no real idea about what constitutes “good” coffee and “bad” coffee because it saves money. I drink black coffee and we have trendier coffee shops around me and it all comes down to price. If I’m paying three dollars for a cup of black coffee, it’s not good. My palate is just fine with drinking 7-11 coffee. I can’t tell the difference.Report

  10. I am firmly in the camp of “to each their own.”

    I admit I thought my life would involve a lot more sitting around drinking General Mills International Coffee (it’s good!!) and a lot less cat litter boxes.

    I always liked the Taster’s Choice commercials because they featured, as I called him, “Sexy Giles” (from Buffy) Even though the commercials predated the show, occasionally I saw one now and then after the show was on the air and never failed to think “Sexy Giles!!!”Report

  11. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    When Sexy Giles busts his move by asking Sophisticated-British-Accent Lady for a second cup of coffee, and she gives him the jar of the product and tells him he can take it with her, I think we all know what that was.

    Dude got his bad self Shot. Down. A cup of black instant coffee was all he got that night. Probably couldn’t get any sleep that night, thanks to a combination having caffeine too late at night and sexual frustration.

    And really, who among us hasn’t been Sexy Giles getting shot down? Who hasn’t been there? That may be the genius of the commercial, making creepy pressure-his-way-into-the apartment-with-his-flimsy-ass-“begging-for-coffee”-trick guy somehow sympathetic.Report