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Solving the problem of coffee for one

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I have tried many ways to make coffee and I still own most of them. My reliable go-to coffee maker if I have guests is a Mr. Coffee, and when I shop I will get some half-and-half as well as making sure that I have sugar. For myself it will be Truvia and Coffee Mate, but if you are in any doubt about whether a guest would prefer cream and sugar, please provide for them. They will love you for it as much as I appreciate my friends who keep some creamer and sweetener around for me.

There is a relatively-new sweetener out there, by the way, and it is called Nectresse. The ads say that it is made from fruit, and I have found that it goes best with tea rather than coffee. I also use Pure Via, another stevia product that I buy in large quantities at Costco near Interstate 10 in Tucson. Unfortunately these sweeteners usually contain chemical sweeteners as well, and I hope that someday the ad writers who say that Nectresse and Truvia are "natural" sweeteners made from monkfruit or stevia will be telling the literal truth.

I don't make coffee with a French press very often because it comes out very "muddy" and you find a thick layer of sediment in your coffee cups. That isn't particularly appetizing, although I wouldn't stop making French-press coffee just because of it.

For the finest coffee in town, when I have only two or three guests, I get out my Chemex glass drip pot and my Starbucks Blonde Veranda Blend. I can depend on the best coffee ever if I do this, but for myself at home, I have tried several options and finally arrived at one.

I used to make coffee-for-one in a four-cup Mr. Coffee pot, and then I used a Senseo that made coffee from little pods. Senseo came out right before the whole Keurig system was released, and many stores abandoned Senseo products and just went the whole hog for anything Keurig. I found that annoying, and for those of you who use a Senseo coffeemaker, you can get the coffee pods at Walmart in Tucson.

Then I saw a television commercial for the Hamilton Beach 49981, a single-serve coffee maker. I sent off for one at $60.00 and I have loved it ever since. If you want one cup of coffee, this machine works well. It has one significant advantage over both Senseo and Keurig, in that it uses your own ground coffee, whatever you prefer, brewing it directly into the cup. The cup station is even adjustable so that you can brew into a shallow cup or a tall travel mug.

Of course I can use it with my Starbucks, but I can also brew the Middle Eastern coffee that I bought in San Diego at the Aladdin Restaurant near my sister-in-law's house. It is that versatile. Just load it, punch the button and you are set.

The idea of making coffee is, of course, to get the best coffee with the least cleanup. The weakness is always cleaning the basket that holds the grounds, and since the Hamilton Beach machine has a self-contained stainless-steel basket that doesn't require any filter, you will have an easy cleanup with just a little bit of coffee grounds that make it into your cup. This is definitely the best option that I have found so far, except for one. You can get a Chemex glass filter pot that is small enough for one person if you will send away to Chemex for it. I would do that but right now I am actually happy with what I have.

One thing that did happen over time, finally, was that I learned to appreciate the lighter Starbucks Blonde Roast coffee. Eventually I came to prefer it even over my former favorite, Gevalia Traditional Roast. If you like your coffee strong and on the dark-roasted side, the best I know of is the Gevalia Breakfast Blend, but it is too dark for me. I don't even know what Espresso blends taste like; I only know what they smell like, which is charcoal, and I am not interested in them. And now I have gone all the way in the other direction to Starbucks Blonde Veranda Blend and I am living happily ever after.

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