There was a time when hubby and I were coffee aficionados, even bought the requisite espresso maker, with the little thing that froths milk, etc., plus tiny cups and saucers. After a while, the novelty wore off and the local Salvation Army got the machine.

I guess we’re just not into serious coffee that much, although in 15 years of marriage we’ve tried some very good coffee. We’ve enjoyed the popular ones like Illy, and I have some good memories of Cafe du Monde. Somehow the Starbucks bug never bit us, but there was a period years ago when a Cafe Mocha from St. Louis Bread Company (now Panera) was a must on every date. Then there was the time I got some Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, supposedly the “best coffee in the world”, very expensive and very delish, but in the end it didn’t make that great an impression on us either.

What turns out to be the mainstay of our coffee drinking evenings through the years is a little company called Gevalia. (I probably shouldn’t say little because it seems they have grown.) Yup, them with the free coffeemakers and such. They’ve been offering those for YEARS, along with some awesome coffee choices, and that’s why I kinda found the Starbucks phenomenon so funny, as it really just goes to show what some well-designed marketing plan will do. (And I’m quirky about this too, but that’s probably why I tend to turn up my nose at Starbucks, though I *will* drink their coffee if the mood hits and they’re the only coffee shop close by.) Oh, and the Gevalia free coffemakers aren’t bad either.

These days, along with the Gevalia (which offers a smooth Peruvian organic by the way), we like to serve fair trade coffee, which you can find at natural food stores, Whole Foods Markets, maybe even your local grocery — I’m drinking Gorilla coffee as I type this. Try a pack, because it just might turn out to be the taste that trips your trigger. You’ll also be doing some deserving farmers a favor.

Always get your coffee in whole bean form if at all possible. There is nothing like freshly-ground coffee, freshly-brewed on a Saturday morning (or any morning, just that Saturdays are special for hubby and me as it’s when we wake up early and refreshed and ahead of the kids and we celebrate some alone time with a couple of hot cuppas).

To make yourself some easy cafe mocha, brew your good coffee.
Then, make some hot chocolate the traditional way (none of those mixes if you can help it):

Take some really hot milk (I’ll let you decide the fat content), about a cup, add 1-2 tablespoons or so of your favorite cocoa (I’m not a snob about Hershey’s and use it here, but Droste is also very good as is, of course, the better-known chocolate makers’ such as Scharffen-Berger and Ghirardelli and other European ones — just try different brands to find out which is your favorite!), 2 tablespoons of sugar or to taste, a pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla (no artificial flavors ok?). Stir, stir, stir. Then mix the coffee with the hot chocolate in your desired proportion (I usually go half-half), top with some hand-whipped cream and a sprinkling of more cocoa powder, or cinnamon.

Spike with some Grand Marnier if you’re in a holiday mood (or any mood really). The one in the picture is happy;).

I have another little story about my cafe mocha experiences but I’ll save those for my post on Panera.

And before I forget, this post is dedicated to my youngest bro, a fellow coffee lover who turns 28 today. Happy birthday, Chris!