Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Hooray, Mom finally bought a coffee maker January 9, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I CAVED. And it was time.

After my eldest daughter and her husband brought their French press to my house for Christmas weekend (per my request), I purchased a coffee maker. This was silly, asking them to pack one more item into a car loaded with baby equipment. For around $20, I could buy a coffee pot.

So on Saturday I shopped for a coffee maker, settling on a small size Mr. Coffee, a name brand I recognized. Then my husband and I fussed over filter sizes before I fussed even more over coffee brand. Who knew so many brands and types of coffee existed? Not me. I’m mostly familiar with Folgers, once promoted by Mrs. Olson as mountain-grown.


Among the sweet treats.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Several text messages later, I had a recommended brand name from the coffee drinking eldest daughter. She failed to mention, however, that I would be faced by shelves of choices. Which should I choose? I quickly eliminated “candy cane” coffee. That doesn’t even sound good. Donut Shop Blend tempted me. But would it taste like donuts or coffee served in a donut shop? That marketing strategy confused me.

Perplexed by the multiple choices, I phoned my daughter from the coffee section of the grocery section of a Big Box retailer. I could almost hear her laughing on the other end of the line. She was kind enough, though, not to laugh aloud.

I’ve now made my first cup of coffee in my Mr. Coffee, using a medium roast House Blend. The process proved simple, the coffee OK. But I’m no coffee connoisseur; each morning I consume a mug of instant French vanilla cappuccino. I expect many would not even peg that as coffee.

TELL ME: Are you a coffee drinker? If so, what brand and type of coffee would you recommend I try?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


56 Responses to “Hooray, Mom finally bought a coffee maker”

  1. tangorae Says:

    Cameron’s brand “Toasted Southern Pecan”
    – made in MN 😉 (I moved here from CA & love it!!)
    Sold at Cub, target, and other locations

  2. Wãshē Kōdä Says:

    I used to melt candy candy canes in my coffee when I was weening myself off of putting schnapps in it. ( still kept a ½pt in the sleds glove box though (for emergencies!) )
    Am considering a ‘Mr Coffee’ but the enameled stove-top percolator of 30+ yrs is well seasoned and a few of the chips in the porcelain have memories. 🙂

    • Well, candy canes are certainly a better choice in coffee than Schnapps.

      I love how much you love your enamel stove-top percolator. I might have one of those tucked away in the back of a cupboard. I believe it’s Harvest Gold in color.

  3. Littlesundog Says:

    I love a medium roast to dark roast coffee. FD is a coffee connoisseur who is a frequent patron of Starbucks. He even has his own coffeemaker at work. We have a Bunn Single K-cup brew system at home. We use K-cups in order to have a variety of flavored coffees for him, and since we entertain a good bit it makes it easy for others to choose what flavor or type of coffee they like. On my recent trip to Nebraska, my niece Emily (who is a barista for Starbucks) had purchased the Starbucks Verismo system – which was mind-boggling to me! I decided not to tell FD much about this machine lest he’d have to have one! It makes all sorts of concoctions – way over the top for this simple girl!!

  4. Dan Traun Says:

    Both the Mrs. and I drink coffee. We each typically have one 16 oz. mug each daily. I’ve used all sorts of different coffee makers and always seem to land back at the basics. Keurig machines aren’t for me. They are fairly expensive and you cannot recycle the coffee cartridges. It’s true, you can buy reusable kcups, but at the point you might as well put the grounds into a regular coffee pot filter rather than in a tiny and cumbersome to clean mechanism; all for a single cup of coffee. I’ve tried all sorts of different coffee. The standard Caribou Medium Roast is probably my favorite. Just like the coffee maker, the same goes for my coffee selection; I revert back to basics. I tried, liked and continue to enjoy Eight O’Clock Coffee. The older I get the more I gravitate toward no fuss or frills kind of things. I do, for some reason, like to grind the beans; I don’t see that as too much of a hassle. The coffee makers does have a timer on it as well. I like my coffee ready when I wake up in the a.m. Minor frills and fuss 🙂 One coffee item I will not live without is my Contigo Autoseal mug. I have not spilled a drop since acquiring.

    Links to a couple of items I’ve mentioned:

    Eight O’Clock Coffee

    Contigo Autoseal

  5. LOL! You truly made me Laugh Out Loud! Thanks for the giggle this Monday morning! Have a great day!

  6. Colleen Gengler Says:

    No doubt you are going to get a lot of advice as MN is filled with hard core coffee drinkers. I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was in my late 30s. It all started on a road trip and ordering one of those highly sweetened coffee beverages from a machine in a convenience store. No, your instant French vanilla cappucinno isn’t really coffee! I gradually evolved to purchasing the “flavored” coffees into which I put milk or half/half. Then I started purchasing freshly ground coffees from coffee shops and eventually purchasing my own beans (soon you’ll need to buy a grinder too). With that I started using coffee syrups to supplement the medium roast. I’m still evolving. I tend to buy what’s on sale including Dunkin Donuts brand (actually quite good and not all with doughnut flavors), McCafe (also quite good), Caribou, Starbucks, and 8’clock beans. Also I still occasionally purchase beans or coffee from a coffee shop where they do the grinding themselves. The Left Bank in Slayton is a great place; you can find them on facebook. They will ship to you. I’ve quit using the coffee syrups thinking all that sugar isn’t good for me. Plus I got tired of them. So, there is not a simple answer to this; only brand I NEVER buy is Folgers. You may evolve as a coffee drinker as did I. I’m not done yet.

    • I think you’re right that my progression in coffee drinking will evolve. Kind of like drinking craft beer. At first I didn’t like the hoppy taste. Now anything that isn’t hoppy tastes like water to me. My favorite craft beer happens to be Hop Dish, made by Lift Bridge in Stillwater. How’s that for a transition from writing about coffee?

  7. Just like with other drinks we take coffee to the next level in our house. We have a medium work horse of a coffee maker and the newest addition is a burr mill coffee grinder (noticed a difference right away in grinding and brewing). We seek out coffee species like varietals in wine 🙂 Here’s to a Good Cup of Joe – Cheers! Happy Day – Enjoy

  8. Carol Says:

    Hilarious post! Thank you, Audrey.

    I’m a dedicated, morning-to-night coffee drinker. You might like Highlander Grogg; it’s one my favorite coffees. It’s available in small foil packs that make 8-10 cups so that’s good for a trial run.

  9. Virginia Updegrove Says:

    My favorite coffee is Arbuckles which is roasted here in Tucson. They have a number of flavors and I prefer 1/2 & 1/2. Meaning half decaf. I don’t always get that as I have to go quite a ways to purchase it, but they mail all over. As to the Kuerig, after my husband passed, a pot of coffee was a waste for me so I purchased one. I love it. I buy the cups at Costco and like the San Francisco brand the best. It may be a waste, but the convenience for one is great. Also since we do not have the cold weather of Minnesota we probably don’t drink as much coffee here.

  10. Valerie Says:

    A very fun post Audrey…I can picture you in the coffee aisle. Too many choices…I agree.
    I am a coffee drinker and we like Sumatra but there are too many choices for even that kind.
    Have fun experimenting…and know that a French Press makes much better coffee but is not as convenient.

    • That was the problem with the French Press. We were heating water on the stove and then there were messy grounds. But it worked for my daughter and son-in-law to bring to my house given it didn’t take up much space.

  11. Rita Waters Says:

    I recommend you try “Chock Full of Nuts” brand.Hopefully they carry it in your area.Very tasty coffee.Breakfast blends are weak tasting.Bold is strong.I like the medium roast coffees.Hazel Nut is my go-to flavored coffee.Experiment.I am not crazy about the off brands..

  12. Liz Says:

    Since my husband drinks decaf coffee and I am a regular coffee fan, a Keurig works great for us. I second the use of Cameron coffee, and if you buy their version of K-cups, the whole thing is recyclable which is not true of the other brands. Plus it is great coffee. I personally like a dark roast and then, of course, add a little half and half to it, so their Intense French is good. I think you will find yourself enjoying coffee more as you experiment. French press does make wonderful coffee, but it doesn’t stay warm unless transferred to a very good thermos. Have fun!

  13. Oh, this is quite amusing. I had no idea you were out of the loop on coffee and living in Minnesota!! Hah! Okay. I buy Cameron’s a lot, as well as Starbuck’s and Caribou and Peace Coffee and Market Pantry (Target’s own). I love French Roast and Italian Roast (both are DARK). I also love Donut Shop (Market Pantry’s – no, it doesn’t taste like donuts) for a general, all-around okay coffee; kona (Hawaiian, nice flavor, not too dark); Sumatra (also not too dark, great flavor); and sometimes breakfast blend (lighter roast, easy to drink, maybe the closest to the Folger’s feel that you are familiar with). I stay away from flavored coffees because they always taste weird to me. If I want flavoring, I’ll add a flavored creamer to the cup. I have a French press and a Cuisinart coffeemaker. I use the French press sometimes if I want coffee for myself in the afternoon. The coffeemaker gets used every morning without fail. I make it strong! Experiment a lot with the amount of coffee you’re putting into the coffeemaker. The directions are just general guidelines – tweak them to your taste!

  14. Don Says:

    On average I drink about 12-15 cups of coffee a day (I know that is way to much) and usually drink what is at the company. I do not like flavored coffees, I call them fu fu coffee, make mine regular (hum is there such a thing) black and no sugar. My wife prefers Folgers (Mrs. Olson would be so happy) and that is what we drink at home. She takes a baggy filled with Folgers when we travel so she can make her own in those hotel coffee makers. We have an acquaintance in Hawaii that has a coffee plantation and I have since developed a taste for their “Kona Coffee” which can be quite strong and flavorful. Over the years we have had, and worn out many coffee makers, Mr. Coffee (which is our current make in a red color) Black & Decker, Krups, Bunn to name a few. Our makers get plenty of use between us and friends coming over for morning coffee and inevitably the warming plate stops working or they spring a water leak and we end up replacing it. I always have favored the drip style makers as we need the 12 cup capacity and the single cup brewers would not work for us. Humm perhaps it is the long winters here that trigger the amount of coffee we drink! Minnesota must be on par with that too!

  15. Jackie Says:

    Way to go Audrey, Looks like you picked the perfect coffee maker for you! I am a coffe drinker, but not my husband, only one of my 3 kids drink it (Brice). I have a small single-pod Keurig coffee maker at home, and a larger version for the cabin. You can buy every flavor under the sun, you select the pod you want, pop it into the designated spot, it the “brew” button and in about minute you have a yummy cuppa Joe.

  16. Neil Says:

    I’m with Don – 12 to 15 cups (or more) per day! It’s a habit I picked up in my Army days, where it seemed that everyone I worked with had a coffee cup permanently attached to their hand.

    As you’ve quickly learned, coffee drinking these days can be complex! Like the others, who’ve commented, I’ve tried all sorts of coffees. Some are very good, but over-priced. Some are too much work and a little too pretentious for my liking (e.g. grinding your own beans). Some come with a lot of waste and/or high-priced makers.

    True to my roots, I stick with the utilitarian Folgers and Maxwell House. None of that that high-falutin’ nonsense in this house! They’re relatively inexpensive choices, and pretty much every coffee drinker is okay with them when they don’t have their personal favorite available. Accommodating all of the various tastes is challenging, just like accommodating the varied tastes of your beer-drinking guests.

    If you’re goal is to find the blend that satisfies you, it can only be done through extensive trials, just like when you tried all those many beers to find the one that you currently like best. Happy drinking!

  17. Sue Ready Says:

    wow you really tapped into a lot of coffee opinions from your readers. i am a serious coffee drinker and very fussy even over my coffee maker. When we travel in winter I even take my Cuisinart Grind and Brew as I feel fresh beans make the best coffee. We are hooked on French Roast Starbucks bur reader #13 give you the best advice. And Virginia from Tucson loves Arbuckles sand when we were there last year I was definatley hooked. So when we return this winter i will get you a bag to try. it can be ordered via email and delivered right to your door step. Your daughter will be quite impressed with your new coffee knowledge on a return visit next time.

    • I’m often surprised by which of my blog posts generate high reader content. I didn’t expect so many opinions on coffee, which shows me people are passionate about their coffee choices.

      That is so sweet of you to plan on bringing me coffee from Arizona. 🙂

  18. Ashley Judd Says:

    I hear wonderful things about Aldi’s coffee!

    • That’s my primary grocery shopping store. The daughter and son-in-law had tried the coffee from there, but did not recommend it. However, my tastes my be less refined or different than theirs. I always like the low prices at Aldi.

  19. You did it!
    And the donuts, OMGgggg. Look DEEElish.
    My daddy bought me a Kerug coffee maker.
    I couldn’t live w/out it!
    The little things in life are beautiful.

  20. I love coffee! I currently have Green Mountain Breakfast coffee and McDonald’s Breakfast blend both in a medium roast. I don’t care for McDonald’s food but their coffee is pretty good.

  21. Rosalie Quale Says:

    Jon would be right up there with Don and Neil in their coffee consumption. I’m not quite as bad though I am an addict and would get terrible headaches without my morning hit of strong, black coffee. We like it dark and strong so we use Folgers Columbian blend. We also like Kona coffee.

    We used to buy German coffee, but since it isn’t grown in Germany, they are importing it from somewhere and putting their label on it. Why should we pay for their labeling when we have so many choices. It is made VERY strong there so it is likely where my taste for strong coffee came from, (not from Mom’s weak Sanka!) as well as marrying a Norwegian whose family lived on the strong black “nectar of the gods”.

    Jon hates the flavored stuff, but I like it. I can do the flavored coffee when he’s gone, or when I’m at work, but my first cup of the day has to be just straight up dark.

    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when you were in the coffee aisle.

  22. Gunny Says:

    My Southern Grandma hooked me up with sweetened and creamed coffee before I was 10 due to her lack of Kool Aid. Worked for me. But I wasn’t hooked. Being aboard a Navy ship for about the first time, softdrinks were not available and the Bug Juice (a Kool Aid subsitute) was drained after each meal. With the water fountains shutdown, it was coffee or die. OK – NOW I changed my habits – but still not hooked. Joined the Marines. Up at gawdawful hours, needed to stay awake, bored to tears, taking classes, standing duty, swabbing floors. I was hooked on coffee with sugar and cream (Cremora is fine). Caffeine and nicotine worked for me, still do even though I can have a cup of coffee then usually go right to sleep! Once in England, I had their much touted Death By Chocolate desert. To cut the sugar in that dish, I paused (several times), I asked for coffee. Finally the waitress asked if anything was wrong – she had been waiting for me to finish desert! I told her, “I am an American! Bring me coffee for breakfast and don’t quite bringing it to me unless the cup is full or upside down – the whole day long! I like Yukon from Starbucks, my daughter makes a good cup from Folgers but my all time favorite when we could still get the beans was 50/50 mix of Columbian and Santos – smelled as good as it tasted! Want to see me choke, gag and spew? Try a sugar substitute or one of those Foo Foo flavored creamers. Kona coffee is good!

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