My Material World Project: Hazelnut Eight O’Clock Coffee

18 Jul

The coffee at my office is undrinkable.  It’s not just that it’s often weak, it’s that it tastes like old coffee grinds.  Maybe I got a little spoiled from my previous job.  Prior to this job, I worked for a company that had an on-site chef, who often whipped up fresh juice combinations and smoothies in the test kitchen.  Even the employees’ kitchen was well-stocked with a wide variety of flavored coffees so I could select blueberry or cinnamon roll, depending on my craving.

I’m not a huge coffee snob.  I can enjoy a good cup of diner coffee.  But the coffee here just doesn’t cut it.  There’s a great Swedish coffee shop called FIKA, which I used to stop into on my way to work.  We Swedes know how to make coffee.  Lately, though, I’ve been making my coffee at home before I leave for work.  I’ve been taste-testing my way through different brands and flavors.  The last three bags, though, have all been what I grew up on:  Hazelnut Eight O’Clock Coffee.

My mom is a coffee fiend.  I don’t remember ever seeing her drink water when I was growing up.  It was always a hot cup of hazelnut coffee.  With the coffee machine always on, the kitchen had a warm, sweet smell to it.  To this day, the smell of hazelnut coffee relaxes me and makes me feel comforted.  It makes me feel close to my mom.

Since she lives in Greece and I live in New York, I don’t get to see her all that often.  Maybe it’s silly, but drinking the same brand and flavor that she always drank has made me feel a little closer to her these past few weeks.

This morning, as I was drinking a cup of horrid office coffee (it’s been one of those days when a single cup at home just isn’t enough…), I remembered a factoid I learned when I was reading up on Louie Psihoyos for the post I wrote on the photographer/film director and his efforts to save the whales: he was a major contributor to the UN-sponsored “Material World Project,” a traveling show of portraits of families around the world with their material possessions.  The above photograph is a shot of the coffeepot that my friend Mario gave me one year for Christmas (thank you!) and a bag of hazelnut Eight O’Clock Coffee that I took the other day.  The only thing missing is my mom.


12 Responses to “My Material World Project: Hazelnut Eight O’Clock Coffee”

  1. Kim Rivera July 18, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    Thanks for sharing this post Stepanie – we always think of your mom when we see 8 O’Clock coffee at the store – it makes it feel like she is here with us as well. Now we just need a good pastry to go with it!

  2. Kim Gottschild July 18, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    My mom makes such wondrful coffee, and when I lived in Germany, I’d bring flavored coffee back from the U.S. And it would remind me of home and my mom.

  3. Debbie July 18, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    I remember that sweet warm hazelnut coffee scent in your kitchen ( and I miss your Mom too)!

    • Stephanie Nikolopoulos July 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

      I miss the days of sitting around the kitchen table, drinking my mom’s hazelnut coffee and your mouthwatering cookies!

  4. Coffee Guru September 29, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    The #1 mistake in making coffee is not using enough grinds! Eight O’clock is actually pretty good coffee, if it’s prepared properly. Like any dish, making coffee does have a recipe! My personal recommendation is to use one full tablespoon per cup (a coffee cup is 4 ounces). So that’s two tablespoon per mug (which is normally 8 ounces). Also, your water has to be hot enough – can’t make coffee with warm water. 200 degrees or so is ideal (that’s just below boiling). cheapo coffee makers usually can’t get the water that hot which means your grinds dont brew properly. A couple of other tips:

    1) Don’t use re-usable filters. They don’t filter the bits of grind out properly, and your coffee ends up tasting bitter.

    2) grinding beans does make a difference. If you’ve got the time , I highly recommend it!

    3) Get a good coffee maker – Maybe Mario will be kind enough to buy you a new one 🙂

    4) CLEAN your coffee maker.. All that gunk changes the flavor of your coffee.

    5) Use filtered water from the cold tap. Water from the water heater, or unfltered water has a weird taste.

    Happy drinking!


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