Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Decisions, Decisions........

Decisions, decisions.....Choices, choices, choices, and more choices!!!  There are a bizzilion choices here in The United States, enough to make a simple decision drive you crazy.  Take something as simple as having a cup of coffee.  Let’s just ignore the fact that I had to pick up my morning coffee at a 7 Eleven (Hey, I was in Lemore, CA, so remote and small, there wasn’t a local coffee shop around or else I would have supported them).  I walked into the 7 Eleven just wanting a cup of coffee.  Simple, right? WRONG.  It took me about 20 minutes to prepare my cup of coffee.

A beautiful coffee section at the 7 Eleven causes me a headache

I was faced with a selection of coffee that would make you think you were at a coffee “all-you-can drink” buffet.  Preparing a cup of coffee becomes an adventure similar to the young adult novels “Choose Your Own Adventure” I used to read when growing up. All of a sudden my heart started to beat faster, I got sweaty palms, shortness of breath, my mind was spinning, all because of the amount of choices I had to make to buy a cup of coffee.  In fact, I was so overwhelmed, I had to leave, ride down the road, go get some groceries and come back, to prepare mentally for the battle.  Yes, I equate getting a cup of coffee to a battle because it honestly feels like you are fighting with your mind, trying to make a million decisions, when all you want is something so simple, coffee with milk!

From right to left, small, medium, large, x-large,.....xx large?!?!?

First, you have to decide what size coffee you want.  For me, the small size was even too large.  The American size “small” doesn’t even exist in Spain- it’s massize in comparison to anything you can find in Europe, unless it is a coke at a McDonalds!  Of course, the larger the size, the cheaper the price, so automatically you begin to think….“Well, I really don’t need a coffee that big, but it is cheaper, why not!” If you don’t have any self control, you end up with something bigger than you really need.  I’m proud to say I stood my ground and got a small.

This machine is the easy way out.....powder, chemicals, and hot water,....voila, coffee!!!

Next, you have to decide what sort of coffee you want…..roasted coffee or coffee from a machine.  Actually, all I really wanted was a café con leche, espresso with a bit of milk, but that just wasn’t an option! If you choose coffee from a machine, all you had to do was press a button and voila,…cup filled with powder, chemicals, and water!  Of course, you have to choose from a normal cappuccino, a banana flavor cappuccino, a low fat vanilla option, or a normal vanilla option.  Really?!?! Do you really need so many choices? The machine can be the simplest option, because if you choose the roasted coffee, read on to  see what choices you now face.

Seriously, Energy Roast, what could that possibly be?

Roasted coffee, there are also about 6 different roasted varieties from hazelnut to an energy roast, premium roast, to decaf, and a Brazilian roast.  If they would have put a small description by each, I would have spent an additional hour reading them and trying to decide.  Once you decide which type of coffee you want, you have to decide the type of milk or cream to add.  You have some more natural choices: half & half or a French vanilla flavor “non-dairy” option.  If neither of those sound appealing, well, you have all sorts of little creamer samplers, about six different options to be exact from amaretto to irish coffee, toffee, hazelnut and French vanilla.  So really, at this time in the coffee making process, you could have a hazelnut roasted coffee add a amaretto cream.  What would it taste like,….I can’t even imagine?!?!  Then you can make it even sweeter by adding a sweetener. 
what about just fresh milk?  Too natural I guess!

Look at the size of these pumps! Artificial goodness in a squirt!

Sugar makes coffee sweet, right?  Well, not necessarily.  To make your coffee even sweeter, and even more artificial, you can add a million different types of sweeteners from the good old white sugar to raw sugar, Splenda and Aspertame (you can also go back and add powder cream at this point….) or you can pump out some liquid sweetener including sugar-free varieties, a hazelnut flavor, French vanilla, or honey. 

Wonder if I could roast these on a campfire?  Do I dare try?

Your cup of coffee is sounding pretty delicious right about now…..But you aren’t finished.  Don’t forget to top it off with some powders… can choose ground cinnamon, cocoa powder, vanilla, or even mini dehydrated marshmallows!  Amazing!!  So now, really you could have a French premium roast, with a non-dairy French creamer with a french vanilla sweetener added, dusted with a french vanilla powder, topped with mini-marshmellows, yummy! Is this still coffee? It sound to me like it’s more of an upscale dessert drink which probably tastes nothing like coffee in the rest of the world!  And we wonder why American struggle with being over weight?!?!  This is just the coffee selection that exists at a & Eleven, imagine a restaurant, café, or the supermarket.

The back side, just in case everyone takes as long as me getting a cup of coffee, I won't slow down the line....

Personally, I think the insulated mugs are the best deal, if only they fit in my bottle cage!

Did I mention that the 7 Eleven coffee area was a back-to-back coffee bar? Yes, a two-sided coffee bar!  Oh, and if you wanted, you could have purchased an insulated coffee mug for $1.99 and had your first cup free, what a deal!  Too bad they don’t fit in my bottle holder on my bike or else I would have done that.  Maybe I can call the 1-800 number and see if they will make these mugs to fit in my bottle cage.... or better yet, force it in my bottle cage, start to ride and sue the company after it spills and burns my leg while riding!

I’m speechless! Appauled….horrified!  Choice, yes, it is wonderful to have options…..but come on, how many options do you really need?  In Spain, god forbid, we have about three different coffee choices, and sometimes I find that daunting: a café solo (only espresso), a cortado (espresso with a wee bit of milk), and café con leche (espresso with more milk).  The sizes range from a shot glass to an 8oz. mug.  If you head down south to the Andalucia region, you might be lucky if the mug size gets bumped up to a 12oz. mug, wow!!  What a treat! If you’ve been following my trip statistics, you know that I’m a coffee connoisseur.  I’ve been pretty happy with the coffee selection everywhere so far on my trip.  Throughout Europe, I could something similar to the Spanish varieties.  In SE Asia coffee was delicious and even richer because of the condensed milk.  There, the only option you had was hot coffee, or coffee with ice.  In Australia and New Zealand, they had more variety: flat whites, cappuccino, latte’s short and long blacks, and piccolos.  You really couldn’t go wrong with any of them their either! 

This is fancy for Spanish coffee....oh how I miss my cafe con leche. I'm going through withdrawal

Now that I’ve landed in The States, I’ve been completely thrown off track.  America, the land of the free…..Free to make whatever choice and decision you want!  But how the hell do you know what you want if you are faced with a massive amount of options? I think I know myself pretty well.  I know what I like, what I want, and what makes me happy.  I should, after all, I spend the majority of my time by myself these days seated on a bike, thinking and talking to myself.  Yet, if you give me a million different options, all of a sudden I have no idea what I want.  I shut down and get completely overwhelmed and can’t make a decision to save my life!

Do I dare tell you what my experience was like going into a frozen yogurt dessert store that same day with a few friends?  Here are the pictures, you can fill in the blanks.  Do you blame me for settling for a McDonald’s soft serve cone?

The only problem with so many choices iwth frozen yogurt is that it melts while you are trying to decide what to put on top!
This is what we ended up with,...can you guess which one is mine?

Ice cream, you can't go wrong no matter how many choices you have it just makes people HAPPY!

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