Sue me, I LIKE instant coffee

At least one person in the U.S. still drinks instant coffee. Me.

It’s not because I’m cheap (I am) or that I’m old (I am). It’s that I like being able to drink coffee whenever and I hate having to wash out a coffee pot. I bring a Thermos® of hot water to work, and I’m good all day.

Most people recoil in horror when they see my jar of instant coffee. These are the folks who will spend $4.00 for a cup o’ Joe at a Starbuck’s or the local Wawa (if you’re outside of the extended Philadelphia area and aren’t aware, Wawa is simply THE finest convenience store in the world, bar none). Both of these are wonderful, and I, too, will happily fork over my dollars in exchange for a cup, but I don’t seek them out. It is exceedingly rare that I stop at either of these shops for a cup of coffee.

The secret to instant coffee, as told to me by President Dwight D. Eisenhower (okay, it was in a book, but still, it was as if he was speaking directly to me), is to pour the water, stir, and let the cup sit for no less than five minutes. This allows the coffee time to “brew,” as it were. This is essential for instant coffee, no matter what brand, and it does make a difference. (Try it.) The other secret to instant is that you can tailor the strength of the coffee, simply by adding more or less.

For almost 40 years, I have been content with my instant coffee. I’ve tried several brands, from Eight O’Clock® to Taster’s Choice® French Roast, and currently, more often than not, I have a jar of Maxwell House® in my office. For a long time, I would even use a blend of two different instants in pursuit of a better cup. I use CoffeeMate® in my coffee, with just a dash – the merest dusting – of CoffeeMate® French Vanilla to top it off. Don’t give me Cremora®.

(Taster’s Choice® used to sell a French Vanilla Roast in a small jar, which was perfect. A teaspoon of my regular instant along with a dash of the French Vanilla was wonderful. Taster’s Choice®, in their infinite wisdom, no longer sells the small jar, but instead now packages the French Vanilla in a box of “tubules,” or single-cup servings. No thanks. I went so far as to cut open all of the tubules (20, I believe) and dump the contents into a small jar, but that’s just too much work for the little bit I got. It’s a lot of trash and wasteful packaging for a small amount of coffee. When they go back to selling this in a jar, I’ll go back to buying it.)

Up until this year, I was a smoker. Ever since high school (back in the early 70s), I have eaten one meal per day – dinner. Breakfast was a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Lunch was a cup of coffee and a cigarette. Only when I got home after work did I actually eat a meal. I really had no appetite, I ate to live. I was not the definition of healthy. People would marvel that I never ate during the day, and I was famous for ordering a cup of coffee for lunch when out at a restaurant.

The smoking has stopped, I now eat three meals each day, but coffee continues to be a constant in my life. And now my life-routine has been disrupted.

My daughter bought her mother a Keurig. Or, rather, Mom dropped some heavy hints for Christmas that she’d like a Keurig. Either way, my wife received a Keurig for Christmas.

In coordination with my daughter’s gift, my task was to buy some coffee to go along with that new Keurig. I picked out a big ol’ box of a Donut Shop decaf and some kind of a Green Mountain brew. I think these were 36-count boxes. The Green Mountain is long gone, but we still have some of the Donut Shop decaf around. And it didn’t take me very long to figure out that Keurig and Green Mountain were one and the same.

I started haunting the coffee aisle at the grocery store, standing and staring at the shelves.

Scan the shelves of K-Cups in all of their varieties, imagine that this space was full of different instant coffees – that’s how it was in the last millennium. Today’s selection of instants is a mere shadow of what it once was. With a $10 jar of instant coffee, I can drink up to 100 cups. With a $10 box of K-Cups, I get 10 or 12, and that’s not even a good week.

Early on in my brewed coffee career, I found that I preferred the bold roasts, the dark roasts. The Green Mountain French Roast was a good cup of coffee, and early on I latched onto a Peet’s French Roast – sort of a slap in the face in a K-cup. Pricey, but very, very good. I came to view the Peet’s as a treat – almost $1.00/cup (can you imagine?).

We went through a lot of boxes at $7.99 and $8.99 for 10 or 12 K-cups, and I began to think that perhaps we should look into “buying in bulk.”

About the same time, NPR had a program that dealt in part with K-cups. I don’t think that anyone, even John Sylvan, inventor of the K-cup who now regrets it, understood that there would be billions and billions of these small plastic containers being dumped into landfills every year. Now I am not an environmentally-sensitive sort (well, I kind of am, but I don’t preach it), but the mental image of all of these billions of K-cups put me off a bit.

With a very little bit of Googlin’, I came across Rogers Family Coffee and Tea.

This is a company in the San Francisco area that has purposely gone about making K-cups biodegradable and recyclable. Imagine that! At the time, they boasted that their K-cups were 97% biodegradable, while Green Mountain/Keurig promised that they were working on a solution and hoped to have it available by 2020. Also, oddly enough, Rogers’ K-cups were incompatible with the Keurig 2.0, but they happily provided a simple solution to that problem, and provided it for free – a very simple workaround that allowed their K-cups to be used in the Keurig, bypassing Keurig’s lockout. There were also lawsuits between the two going back and forth.

I like “the little guy battling the big bad corporation,” so I gave them a try.

My first order was for their Organic Coffee® brand of French Roast and Breakfast Blend. The former for me, a good, dark cup of bold, and the latter for my wife, a milder early morning cup. I thought that the Organic® brand WAS Rogers, and didn’t understand their various labels. But these were good enough that I re-ordered.

Rogers Family is also known as San Francisco Bay Coffee with a good variety. I can recommend the Espresso Roast, the French Roast, the Fog Chaser (yes, I like the dark roasts!), and I’m about to try their Jamaican Blue Mountain and Kona Blend coffees.

I now order the larger boxes of 36 or 80 counts and I easily meet the threshhold for FREE SHIPPING. Bottom line, I spend at most 50 cents per cup! From one coast to the other, it takes about a week and a half to receive my orders, and that is consistent. Also, unlike the sealed plastic K-cups, these coffees really need to be stored in an airtight container (which I prefer over the carousel K-cup holders, anyway).

Every day and all day Saturday and Sunday I drink brewed coffee. Monday through Friday I go to work and drink instant coffee.

It’s all good.

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The Myth of Terrell Owens

The common belief among Eagles fans is that Terrell Owens (T.O.) is the reason that the Eagles played in the Super Bowl after the 2004 season.

Terrell Owens did not take the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004. He was not the Difference Maker. I think that Eagles fans then and Eagles fans now forget just how good the Eagles team was at that time.

2001 – McNabb’s 2nd full year as starter, an 11-5 record, won the division, lost the NFC Championship to the Rams

2002 – 12-4 record, won the division, lost the NFC Championship to the Buccaneers

2003 – 12-4 record, won the division, reached the NFC Championship Game for the third straight year. This time, it was the lowly Carolina Panthers that would knock the Eagles out and advance to the Super Bowl, while the Eagles went on vacation. Three straight years, three straight losses in the NFC Championship.

The best team in the NFC saw three different teams step over them on the way to the Super Bowl. If only there was a way to get them over that hump, so the Eagles could reach the Promised Land.

Enter Terrell Owens, a controversial pick-up.

Donovan McNabb may have lobbied Andy Reid to pick up T.O. (likely lobbied Andy Reid), but regardless, it was done. T.O. came to the Eagles, and the 2004 Eagles got off to an incredible start. Seven straight victories before losing in Pittsburgh, followed by five more wins before hosting Dallas at the Linc. Terrell Owens was injured in that Cowboys game (the Eagles won anyway), and would miss the rest of the season and the entire playoffs. The Eagles were 13-1 at that point.

In the last two games against the Rams and Bengals, the Eagles rested some starters. Had they not, they could easily have ended up 15-1. It was enough that they had already won home field advantage through the playoffs.

Amazingly, all three of the other NFC East teams – the Redskins, the Giants, the Cowboys – ended the 2004 season at 6-10. It is a GIVEN that the Eagles would have won the division, with or without Owens.

It is extremely likely that the Eagles would have won 12 or 13 games, with or without Owens. They may not have earned home field advantage, but that would have made little difference in the playoffs. And, remember, the Eagles DID have home field advantage in 2002 and in 2003, having learned their lesson in St. Louis in 2001.

As it is, the Eagles had a bye, followed by impressive wins against the Vikings and then Falcons. And, of course, the Eagles won these two playoff games WITHOUT OWENS.

T.O. rushed back from his injury so that he could play in the Super Bowl. A less-than-100% Owens may actually have HURT the Eagles during that game, but his presence certainly did not win that game!

So I ask the question: how, exactly, is Terrell Owens responsible for the Eagles being in the Super Bowl in 2004?

(Answer: He’s not. It’s a myth.)

2004 NFC CHAMPIONS
Record: 13-3 1st in NFC East
Head Coach: Andy Reid

9/12 NY Giants W 31-17
9/20 Minnesota Vikings W 27-16
9/26 @ Detroit Lions W 30-13
10/3 @ Chicago Bears W 19-9
10/17 Carolina Panthers W 30-8
10/24 @ Cleveland Browns W 34-31
10/31 Baltimore Ravens W 15-10
11/7 @ Pittsburgh Steelers L 3-27
11/15 @ Dallas Cowboys W 49-21
11/21 Washington Redskins W 28-6
11/28 @ New York Giants W 27-6
12/5 Green Bay Packers W 47-17
12/12 @ Washington Redskins W 17-14
12/19 Dallas Cowboys W 12-7 (Owens injured)
12/27 @ St. Louis Rams L 7-20
1/2 Cincinnati Bengals L 10-38
NFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF
1/16 Minnesota Vikings W 27-14
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP
1/23 Atlanta Falcons W 27-10
SUPER BOWL 39 (at Jacksonville)
2/6 New England Patriots L 21-24

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In Chip We Trust (?)

A couple of months back (I swear, it was only a couple of months), the talk in Philadelphia was about how Chip Kelly had lost it. He was making very questionable moves with his personnel, sending his best players elsewhere. We began to think he was crazy. Now, after seeing in preseason what he had put together on the field, we are looking forward to a very good year.

— History —

Like every good bandwagon-jumping fan, I came on board during the good times. It was 1979, and Dick Vermeil was coach, Ron Jaworski quarterback. These guys would lead the team to a Super Bowl (okay, they lost), along with players who would become Philadelphia legends (even though they lost). It seemed that the best the Eagles could do was get TO the Super Bowl.

Dick Vermeil gave way to Marion Campbell, and I must have slept through those years. Nothing worth remembering. But…

To shake things up, there was Buddy Ryan. He was FUN, putting together a defense for the ages. Never won anything, but at least it was entertainment. Ron Jaworski gave way to Randall Cunningham, a man with tons of talent and no offensive coaching to speak of. Never won anything, but he was damned entertaining.

Buddy Ryan gave way to Richie Kotite (Richie the K), who was nothing but annoying. He never won anything AND he was annoying. In his last year, the team lay down like dogs, and I wanted Richie AND everyone who played for him gone.

Be careful what you wish for, because in came Ray Rhodes and talk of sodomy. Yeah, Ray had a couple of winning years and the fans gave him the key to the city. He could have been mayor of Philadelphia, if he’d wanted that. But then the losing came, and Ray’s coaching style began to stink. Ray went from Coach of the Year in 1995 to Out the Door in 1998. Then came…

Andy Reid. The winningest, bestest damn coach in Eagles history (Eagles NFL history, that is). Andy, too, took the Eagles to the Super Bowl (and LOST), after an historic string of four straight NFC Championship games (three LOST, one WON). We had never seen such success in our football team in the modern era (yeah, yeah, Champions in 1960, but you’d have to be, like, 70 to even remember such a thing). We had a glimpse of the Promised Land, before the long, slow decline into irrelevance. Andy set the bar awful high, but in the end couldn’t get over that bar himself. It seemed, eventually, that Andy had lost the team, and Andy, too, had to go.

— end History —

Enter Chip Kelly. Kelly is now in his third year, has caused a great amount of turnover on the Eagles squad, and has assembled what is arguably “Kelly’s team.” After a rough offseason (rough for the fans), and after a surprising preseason (yes, I know, preseason), this team looks poised to improve upon Kelly’s first two years. And I do mean improve.

Kelly dumped DeSean Jackson. Were the Eagles receiving corps better then, or are they better now? Kelly showed LeSean McCoy the door. Were the Eagles running backs better then, or are they better now? The offense, IMO, is much improved, and the offense didn’t exactly stink before!

So, here’s how I see the 2015 season ahead of us.

The Eagles play only five teams this year that had a winning record last year. The rest are really bad, I mean awful, teams and the Eagles should beat them all (that would be 10 wins right there) –
Tampa Bay BUCCANEERS 2-14
New York JETS 4-12
Washington REDSKINS 4-12
New York GIANTS 6-10
Carolina PANTHERS 7-8-1
Atlanta FALCONS 7-9
New Orleans SAINTS 7-9
Miami DOLPHINS 8-8

I throw a loss to the Saints, who play tough in New Orleans, because the Eagles should be coasting on autopilot when they head down to NOLA. A wake-up game.

Then, three “good” teams, all of whom the Eagles should beat –
Buffalo BILLS 9-7 (The McCoy Reunion game, smackdown)
Detroit LIONS 11-5 (We love picking on those Lions)
Arizona CARDINALS 11-5 (Here in Philly in late December)

That leaves the “powerhouse” teams, the fraud Cowboys and the for-real Patriots –
New England PATRIOTS 12-4
Dallas (sucks) COWBOYS 12-4

We split with Dallas (sucks) (the Cowboys are a little worse this year, the Eagles a little better, and Dallas still has a Tony Romo problem) and lose to the Patriots.

The Eagles have no problem scoring points, and should now score even MORE points, whether it’s Bradford or Sanchez behind center. Our weakness was our defense, specifically the corners and safeties who were royally exposed. Assuming the run and pass defense improves over last year (as it should), the Eagles should be able to hold opponents’ scoring down below the Eagles’ own 30+ average.

I see 13 – 3, with the division title and home field advantage.

If I’m off by one (I can see losing in Detroit on a very short week), 12 -4 gets the division title but may not guarantee home field. Even if I’m off by two (and I don’t think I am), it’s still a bit of an improvement in Kelly’s third year, and the future is still looking good.

Time to put the seatbelt back on my La-Z-Boy.

 

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