food / Uncategorized / Washington

Things I Miss About Seattle – Costco

For those of you that have not been keeping up with me on Facebook (since I haven’t posted here in almost a year – yikes!), my family and I have moved back to the Midwest and relocated to Lake St Louis, MO.

Lake St. Louis is a nice little area and everything we need is virtually as close as we had them in Redmond, WA. There is a Starbucks right down the road and one in the Target a block away. This reassured me that we are still in civilization, since this is exactly how Seattle is. Well, there are even more Starbucks than that, but who is counting.

One of the places I was worried about was Costco. That wonderful Kirkland, WA big box emporium that you sign on with by the year and have everything in bulk.

We rely on Costco for a few things. Cheese for the little one (which we buy in huge chunks that last for months) and 3 pound bags of coffee for the wife.

I was relieved when I found that there was a Costco just down the road in St. Peters. Finding that Kenley will eat no cheese, but the Costco kind, and my wife was out of coffee, we headed there today to do a little shopping.

The first thing that was very different was that the parking lot was surprisingly unfilled. In both Kirkland and Shoreline, there is rarely a time when one can park close at Costco. There are always a million little granola families moving through the warehouse and huge lines at each of the many counters that give out free samples.

The St. Peters’ parking lot was nice and spacious and there was a real lack of people in the store. I, just off the top of my head, attribute this to two things:

First: Wal-Mart is king here and Sam’s Clubs are everywhere.

Second: Costco was surprisingly costly. Many of the items we get were the same prices they were in WA. I was a little taken aback since many things are a dollar or more cheaper here (excluding gas, which is still a little cheaper and healthy products, which I blame on the fact that everyone in Seattle buys them and not that many people here do, but this could be my West Coast bias showing – yes, I have found that I returned with some).

All this aside, the thing about St. Peters’ Costco that made me miss Seattle was a simple thing called a Coffee Grinder.

Those 3 pound bags of coffee that my wife loves come in bean form. Yet, thank goodness, Costco provides a grinder that is big enough for one to pour 3 pounds of beans into and get perfectly ground coffee out.

This process is not difficult: the customer sets the fineness of the grind, pours the coffee beans in the top, places the now empty bag under the spout and pushes the button. Presto – out comes wonderfully ground coffee.

In Kirkland, Costco has a Coffee Grinding Station. A little shrine to coffee that contains the basic essentials that one would need:

Two grinders (you still have to stand in line most of the time), a pair of scissors (security strapped to the wall – Seattlites are not thieves, but they do think of things lying around as free), a brush (also security strapped, of course), and some tape (very essential since those folding bread tie things never work on a huge bag of coffee).

In St. Peters, we had to ask where the grinder was . It was in Costco’s Food Court (which, was the only place with a huge line–again with my West Coast prejudice), down next to the ketchup and the napkins.

There were no scissors, brush, or tape. This poor grinder looked like an afterthought. Something the St. Peters’ Costco management didn’t know what to do with.

I carefully pulled off the sticker (a fake fastener that never works to hold back the spilling of coffee) and the bread tie folder-holder (I am sure there is a scientific name for this) from the bag of coffee. Then, always my father’s son, pulled my pocket knife and hacked off the top off.

I could make this work – napkins as my brush and ketchup… well, ketchup was there if I had to fake an accident to get someone’s attention.

Now that I had the bag ready, I raised it to pour into the grinder. That’s when I noticed that the plastic rim of the bowl (where the beans go) was busted. There was no way that the bag of beans was going to fit into the bowl and that was problematic since, remember my early easy directions, one needs the bag to put the finished product in.

I needed a small container to pour the extra beans in. I looked around, but there was no simple answer. Huge line at the food court, so a cup was out. No handy containers marked PLACE EXTRA BEANS HERE.

I left the mess in the hands of Shannon and went to find help. The first gentleman I talked to had no idea what I was talking about. He led me to a lady and said, “This member has something stuck in some kind of grinder over in the food court.” (Yes, I understand the double-entendre of member).

After he handed me off and the woman understood what was going on, she handed me a plastic bag and I showed her where the grinder was located. She told me on the way that she had never seen or been asked about the grinder.

She took one look at it and wished us good luck. We poured the excess beans into the bag and placed the coffee bag under the spout. I placed my hand over the broken section and Shannon pushed the Go Button.

The grinder started spinning in the middle of the machine and Shannon shut it off before it flew apart.

It was that sad droid – R5-D4. The one with the bad motivator. Of course, the R2 units were back in Kirkland and we were screwed.

I went and found the lady who had helped us 10 seconds before and she was already across the warehouse. I told her that it was broken and dangerous and asked if I could have a new bag instead of dumping our bag out of the grinder. She, thankfully, said yes and as I went to get the new bag I heard the woman tell a helper that, later, they needed to find a sign to put on the grinder.

I am sure that it will be there the next time we go, without sign and just as broken. Welcome to Missouri.

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