Baltimore declares war on Styrofoam

Having successfully tackling every other problem plaguing the city, Baltimore has now set its sights on ridding the city of Styrofoam.

From The Baltimore Sun:

By an unanimous vote Monday night, the council gave preliminary approval to the bill that Councilman John Bullock introduced as an effort to cut down on the number of foam cups floating in Baltimore’s waterways. The bill would enact criminal fines on businesses that fail to comply with a ban that states that “no food service facility may use any disposable food” container made from polystyrene foam, commonly called Styrofoam.

How about instead of banning Styrofoam, pass a law that criminalizes throwing the used Styrofoam container in one of Baltimore’s waterways? I believe they call it littering.

As a coffee drinker, I personally hate the war on Styrofoam. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my hot coffee to be hot. A cup made from Styrofoam keeps a hot drink hot.

A paper cup makes hot coffee warm. That’s why places that use paper cups for coffee always give you a stupid cardboard ring to go around the cup. The paper cup loses heat so quickly, you’ll burn your fingers if you hold it with your bare naked hand.

Instead of banning Styrofoam, teach people to throw their trash away in the proper receptacle and not one of Baltimore’s waterways.

Stay away form Tim Horton’s K-Cups

I was at Sam’s Club the other day and picked up a box of Tim Hortons K-Cups. People have told me that Tim Hortons was like the Canadian version of Duncan Donuts. Since I associate Duncan Donuts with the greatest tasting coffee ever made, I decided to give it a try.

Big mistake.

Tim Hortons K-Cups coffee is terrible. It’s weak and bland tasting. It’s nothing at all like Dunken Donuts coffee. It tastes like watered down gas station coffee with a hint of sadness. The type of sadness an entire country emits after years of not winning the Stanley Cup.

After drinking my first cup of Tim Hortons, I found myself with yet another reason to take pity on Canadians. If our neighbors to the north think Tim Hortons coffee tastes good, it’s an indicator of just how horrible life is in Canada. No wonder so many Canadians dream of moving to the United States like so many of their hockey teams have done.

Take my advice and stay away from Tim Horton coffee. Whatever you do, don’t buy a box of 80 K-Cups like I did. I wish I could say I was high on bath salts or that I had been drinking forties of Olde English 800 all day before going to Sam’s Club. That would be a lie. I was just being stupid.

Don’t be stupid. Don’t buy Tim Hortons K-Cup coffee.

The Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker

coffeeA couple of weeks ago I bought a Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker. I thought it would be a good idea to augment my Keurig single-serve coffee maker with a good old-fashioned drip maker. Why make coffee one cup at a time if I’m going to be home for a while? It seemed to me to be a good idea to have a coffeemaker that can make a whole pot.

What a stupid idea.

I set my sights on finding a coffeemaker with a simple on and off switch. I didn’t want any type of programing ability. I also wanted one that featured a cone filter, not a round basket filter. I think the cone filters make a stronger cup of coffee. The water passes through more coffee before it drips down to the pot. I also wanted a black coffee maker.

With these points in mind, I went to the coffee maker section at my local Walmart. I bought the Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker, model CM500BD. What a giant mistake.

This is the worst coffee maker I’ve ever owned.

It’s flimsy. It has a removable water reservoir on the back that is just a bit too removable. It also has two opening flaps for pouring water into the reservoir, one on the left and one on the right. Why this is a feature I don’t know. Has anyone ever poured water into a coffee reservoir and thought to themselves, I wish I could pour water in on the opposite side? I don’t think so.

It uses #4 cone filters, but for some inexplicable reason, it also uses the round basket type of filters too. To make this possible, two plastic tabs come down in the basket for the round filter to set on. The problem is, these tabs fall into round basket filter mode every time you remove a filter. This is an unnecessary pain in the ass.

Another unnecessary pain in the ass is the on/off switch.  It doesn’t have an on/off switch. Not really. The Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker is always on and to remind you of this fact, it features a bright blue LED light built into the switch. The light is so bright that it lights up the kitchen at night with an obnoxious blue glow that you cannot turn off. We started placing a dish towel over the switch at night.

What does the on/off switch do if it doesn’t turn it off? When you are making a pot of coffee, you must select how much coffee you want to make. If you want to make two cups, you press the switch once and a small orange light begins flashing. If you want to make four cups, you press the switch twice and a small green light begins flashing. If you want to go hog-wild and make eight cups, you press the switch three times and a red light begins flashing.

I never made anything less than an eight cup pot.

With most coffee makes, the on/off switch not only begins the brew cycle, it also controls the warming pad. With this piece of junk, the on/off switch doesn’t control the warming pad. No, the warming pad turns on and off on its own. I never could figure out when it would turn off. I knew if I didn’t drink my first two cups of coffee in the morning in quick succession, the third cup was going to be lukewarm.

The last straw with the Black & Decker Easy 8-Cup coffeemaker was its inability to make a second pot of coffee. For some reason, when trying to make a second pot of coffee, it would put about only an inch of coffee in the pot. It would then spend the next 20 minutes making percolation noises that sounded a lot like two pigeons engaged in raucous love-making.

I threw this awful coffee maker away yesterday and went to Sam’s Club and bought a 100-count box of Caribou Coffee Blend K-Cups for $43.

Take my advice and stay away from any coffee maker made by Black & Decker.

Stay away from Gevalia K-Cup packs (Update)

Update (19 July 2014): I wrote this almost a year ago. Sometime between then and now, Gevalia fixed the problem. I’ve now gone through four boxes, and not a single K-Cup has given me a problem. The K-Cups look the same, but they feel as though they are made with a much more rigid plastic. Go forth and buy Gevalia K-Cups without any fear!

If you have a Keurig Gourmet Single Cup Home Brewing System and are looking for new K-Cup packs to try, stay away from K-Cup packs from Gevalia. They’re made different and often result in a mess instead of making a fresh cup of coffee.

Unlike every other brand of K-Cup packs, the ones from Gevalia are made from a real flimsy plastic. They even look different. Instead of having a smooth surface, they have a ripple pattern. I’m guessing this is to give them more stability, making up for the thin, cheap plastic. The problem is, the ripple pattern isn’t good enough. When you put the K-Cup pack into your machine and close it, it often doesn’t puncture the bottom so the coffee can come out. Instead of putting a small hole in the bottom, too often it merely creates a small dent.

Without a hole, the coffee has nowhere to go. Hot water is injected into the top of the K-Cup pack, but it quickly stalls as the water backs up.

The whole thing is incredibly annoying.

To make up for the problem, I started pushing down on the K-Cup pack when I placed it into the maker, forcing the spike at the bottom to puncture it. Even then it wouldn’t put a hole in the bottom. I would push down, and if I didn’t detect a puncture, I would take the K-Cup pack out and put a small hole in it where the dent was. I would then place the K-Cup pack back in the maker, aligning it so that the spike goes into the hole.

What a pain.

I have to figure the people who make the Gevalia K-Cup packs know about this problem, and will fix it eventually. Until that happens, stay away from them. I’m not buying them again until I see something on the packaging about a new improved design. That’s too bad, because Gevalia makes a decent cup of Joe.