Coffee Balls

Well, the response was loud and clear and almost instantaneous. I simply had to whisper about a serious competitive coffee capsule situation, and the problem was solved!  Yesterday Migros announced that it has invented the coffee ball!

They look like those round Lindor chocolates the melt in the mouth. But instead of hard chocolate surrounding soft, they are made of an invisible compostable material that surrounds ground coffee beans.

Of course, you have to buy a special machine to squish the balls and extract the coffee flavour, but then you just scrape the little sacks of coffee grounds out of the machine and put them directly in the compost. No drippy trips to the post office or the recycling bin.

No prices are available yet, but this exciting new product is coming to a store near you SOON! Just in time for Christmas!

Back in the day in our manses in the Canadian countryside, we didn’t know there was any kind of coffee except instant. Tea, stewed in a glass pot, was the drink of choice.

Black and white cowboy movies brought us into the world of cowboy coffee where water and strong and gritty coffee were boiled over a campfire. A Stetson, a guitar and a tin cup were additional props in this exciting and adventurous world.

Childhood forays into other houses, revealed divergent coffee universes. There was percolated coffee where the machine stood on its own little heating pad and stayed warm the whole day. Those kitchens smelled strong and specific.

A Dutch friend’s mother (beside her meat mincer attached with a vice to the kitchen counter) had a coffee pot with a plunger she pressed and the water magically changed colour. She had huge strong arms and her dangerous kitchen was my absolute favourite.

Later on into the adult world of coffee production, there were the paper filters holding the ground coffee that you poured hot water over, and the timeless Italian Moka coffee pots.  Then came the fiddly coffee capsules and their specific machines. The world was full of narrowing possibilities.

Anyway, the new coffee ball method has been brewing for the past five years, and Migros claims to have the competition shaking in their aluminum coffee-capsule boots.

The official Migros crystal ball contains images of future tea balls, cappuccino balls, soup balls, and many many other things. I am already dreaming of the coming cold winter and making hot toddies with a canny mixture of rum and water in the reservoir, and a sugar and cinnamon spice ball.

Unfortunately, most coffee methods require electricity, which might also be in short supply in the months ahead, so I am getting prepared.

The fireplace or the barbeque can be used for cowboy coffee. Note to self: find a couple of tin cups and a guitar. The fondue burner is just perfect for the Moka machine.  And now, with this most recent invention of the coffee ball, if worse comes to worst, like Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, we can just chew on cold yet sustainable coffee balls.


The Ongoing Trauma of Returning Defective Products: Sunscreen and Coffee Capsules

You would think that one of the largest domestic merchandising outlets in Switzerland (Migros) would be smooth and cool about taking back and refunding small faulty items.

Actual exchanges (always for a larger size, for some reason) usually work efficiently; and when presented with stinking, dripping perishable goods there is also swift action.

However, if you have no ticket, no bag, and something that doesn’t offend the senses of the lady at the customer services desk, you are dealing with a bigger issue. They have been trained, possibly with refresher courses, how to avoid parting with cash.

This summer, it began with a small tube of #50 sunscreen. Guaranteed no wrinkles. Guaranteed youthful progress into the past. Guaranteed beauty and protection.

The problem was mechanical. The lid didn’t click closed properly and so the precious liquid would escape inside bags and purses. After a week or two battling soggy innards and my futile attempt to secure the lid with black electrical tape, I girded up my loins and went to see the lady at the desk.

She smirked and called her colleagues over.  The three of them squirted my precious rejuvenating liquid over their hands and asked (did I detect sarcasm?) if I really thought such a product worked? What did I want them to do?

The small tube was soon empty and I was dumbfounded and humiliated.  They told me to go buy another tube and they would check the lid for me on the way out.  Guffaws were heard as I walked away.

So, when the faulty coffee capsule episode arose this week, I knew the highest level of preparation was necessary.

The box stated clearly that these capsules were compatible with the internationally famous coffee capsule brand, “Nespresso”. I put an M-capsule into my N-machine. A bit of water reluctantly spit out, there was a grinding sound and all the lights started blinking. Upon extraction and close forensic examination, the capsule showed it had been pierced at the front, but not at the back.

I closed the newly-opened box and placed the bad capsule and a used Nespresso capsule in an evidence bag. The prosecution was armed.

The lady at the desk the next morning was good. Flying in the face of black and white evidence, she tried to throw the case out on a technicality. She said that on their product, “Nespresso” was spelled with only one “s”. Over-ruled.

She then said that no one had ever complained before and so my complaint was invalid. She went to find a man who was a coffee capsule expert. He denied specific expertise in this case, as he always used another variant. Did I have a receipt? Why not take the box home, and try all the rest of the capsules? Maybe it was just a rogue individual?

I held firm.

A quarter of an hour of recalcitrance, and finally my palm was crossed with silver: A breathtaking hard-won victory of seven francs.