Caffeine and the Art of Dumpster Diving

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(Photo: The common destiny of a ubiquitous 20% off coupon.)

True to their word, Intelligentsia Coffee is now keeping the Millennium Park store on Randolph Street open until 8 p.m. weekdays (10 p.m. weekends were never in doubt). Monday evening I dropped by to enjoy the new hours, only to be seduced into making my weekly whole-bean coffee purchase a day early. Regular Intelligentsia customers cop to twofer Tuesdays when all beans are discounted $2 a pound. But my Ethiopian Mocha Java ran out Monday morning, and the Brazilian Fazenda Vista Alegre, even at 14 bucks a pound, just sounded — and, as it turns out, is — too good to pass up (and not just because I can pronounce it in Portuguese).

For the first time in years I’ve taken to grinding and brewing my own beans in the morning, and bringing the black gold to work in a construction worker-esque battered red thermos. This meant I had to actually get a coffee maker (not to mention a better grinder), and I don’t mean a free $5 coffee-pot with purchase from Bradlee’s, but an actual won’t – melt – from – the – heat – of – its – own – hotplate coffee machine. I took a page from uber coffee addict Devyn and went with the early model Cuisinart Brew Central and Grind Central. They may be from the early 2000s, but they’re about as convenient as it gets, midcentury styled, and currently one step away from clearance priced at the River North Bed, Bath & Beyond and Linens ‘n Things.

I wanted to show some local support and buy them at Marshall Field’s on State Street, I swear. But I decided it wasn’t worth the extra $40 their lousy-service markup would cost me just to be able to say I fought the good if curiously overpriced fight one last time (Macy’s won for a reason). Besides, Bed, Bath & Beyond had just sent out another round of their endlessly arriving midnight blue 20% off coupons. True to form, I had thrown my coupon out the moment it arrived in my mailbox. But then again, I realized, so had everybody else at Marina City. So after a quick mailroom recycling bin diving-for-coupons spree I was off to BB&B for my coffee maker with someone else’s castaway 20% off coupon in hand, with the added benefit that after poring through 900 apartments worth of recycled coupons, now I’m pretty much set for life with the little expiration date-optional suckers.

While I’m on the subject of downtown retail, welcome back to the neighborhood, Linens ‘n Things. I know when you closed up shop a few years ago you didn’t expect BB&B to arrive on the corner of State and Grand and instantly become overwhelmingly successful. Not that I want to rub it in that you skipped out at the worst possible time (you know, just when thousands and thousands of new residents were moving into the nabe?), but if you really want to make it after all down here, best to choose practicality over hubris. To wit: your “prestige” address may be 600 N. Michigan Avenue, but in case you haven’t noticed your actual entrance is a block away around the corner at Rush and Ontario. Your main entrance. Your only entrance. So just out of the sheerest curiosity, and really, I’m asking for your own good, how, exactly, do you expect anyone to find you when your vanity address and your real front door are 500 feet away from each other on opposite sides of the block?

Printing up a few 20% coupons wouldn’t hurt either. You won’t need to mail mine. I’m pretty sure I’ll know exactly where to find them.

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