Expat Life: The Great Coffee Crisis of 2012
|The Keurig. If you do not have one, you should.|
Back in January, when I was suffering through my first real winter in 11 years, I mentioned in this post that we'd bought ourselves a Keurig coffeemaker and had fallen head over heels in love with it. For those of you unfamiliar with the Keurig system, it's more or less a coffee maker that brews you a cup of coffee - quickly - whenever you want it. The coffee is packaged in these little pre-measured containers called 'K-cups:' you pop one into your machine, press a button, and the machine brews you a fresh cup of coffee in seconds. It is a Beautiful Thing.
|Our absolute favorite |
Unlike regular coffeemakers, there's no measuring, no spilling coffee grounds, no filters, no waiting for the pot to brew - you get the idea. After using one at my friend T's house back in the US in January, I flew back to Korea determined to get one of my own and begin living the good life.
Now, you should know that the Keurig is not yet sold in Korea, which means that -obviously - the K-cups are not sold there, either. We were, of course, aware of this, but it did not overly concern us, because one of the perks of MrL's job is that we have the privilege of accessing the US military base here in Seoul (although MrL is not in the military) and the US military retail arm understands that a ready supply of coffee is vital to their mission. We knew that the PX carried K-cups, and, secure in this knowledge, we confidently moved forward with our purchase.
For the first six months or so, things went swimmingly. MrL and I, in the honeymoon period with our new machine, enjoyed trying the variety of coffees available to us. Eventually, though, we settled on our favorite: Starbuck's brand Sumatra dark. (Readers should know that MrL and MsCaroline like their coffee to be serious: strong, dark, bold, and just a few chemical changes away from being a solid.) This coffee was so serious, that the other brands fell more or less by the wayside. Our relationship became exclusive.
And then, the first signs of trouble appeared: one day, MsCaroline stopped in to pick up her weekly box, only to find an empty space on the shelf. Reasoning that she'd gotten there the day before the next shipment arrived, she returned a few days later, only to find more empty space. On her next trip, though, the shelves had been restocked, and she picked up her week's supply, slightly shaky with relief.
But the ordeal - far from being over - was, in reality, just beginning. As the weeks went by, a distressing pattern of empty shelves (only where the Sumatra Dark belonged,naturally) began to emerge, and MsCaroline and MrL found themselves increasingly short-tempered and bitter with one another in the morning as they were forced to greet the day more often than not drinking lesser coffees. Weeks would go by when the supply would be ample, and all would be sunshine. Then - for no apparent reason - the coffee would disappear and simply not be restocked.
After several months of this roller-coaster coffee situation, MsCaroline finally sat down and did what she should have done months ago: she ordered a case of Sumatra Dark from Amazon.com, looking forward to peace and harmony in her household and a future of excellent coffee.
Naturally, as soon as MsCaroline did this, the PX sorted out whatever the supply glitch had been and began to regularly and consistently stock its shelves with Sumatra Dark. The Amazon order (which we expected to take several weeks anyway) slid out of consciousness and into the murk in the back of MsCaroline's mind.
Months went by, and, as astute readers will have guessed - the day came when MsCaroline was, once again, confronted with an empty shelf. Immediately, she remembered the missing case of Sumatra Dark, and was shocked to realize 2 months had passed without a sign of it.
Panicked and righteously indignant, she drove home and sat down in front of the laptop to try and find her missing box.
Amazon claimed it had been delivered less than two weeks after ordering.
But to whom?
After casting quite a few unjust aspersions on Amazon's integrity (sorry Amazon, can we still be friends?) MsCaroline discovered that the whole situation was entirely her own fault. She had blithely sent the case of coffee to her US address (no doubt puzzling the tenants presently living there) instead of the one in Korea. After a series of international emails/phone calls/Instant Messages, MsCaroline eventually tracked down the case of coffee (the tenants did have it) and made a number of arrangements of Byzantine complexity to ensure the eventual safe delivery of the coffee to her apartment in Korea, some of which involved:
- e-mail to renters, asking if package had been delivered to them and asking, if so, would they mind giving the box to family friends 2 doors down.
- email to family friends 2 doors down(Thanks, M!) asking if they would mind holding the box and passing it on to Son#1, who is at Uni nearby and would soon swing by to pick it up.
- IM to Son#1 at University, asking him to contact family friends to arrange pickup time, go pick up the coffee, and mail it the fastest way possible to us in Korea.
So, at the moment, MrL and I are sitting here, drinking insipid coffee and wondering if our son the University Student has jumped up out of bed extra early on a Saturday morning to pick up the case of coffee and rush it to the post office.
We can only hope.