Blueberries, pumpkins do not belong in my coffee

I received a coffee machine for Mother’s Day that allows me to make individual cups of coffee. I quite like it, because this means there are no more half-pots of coffee slowly growing bitter in my kitchen, and whenever I want a cup of coffee, I can make one quickly and easily.

Well, as part of the gift, Bill also bought me the special little coffee “kups” that fit in it. He thought he was ordering two boxes of the coffee I like, but by accident he got a “sampler”0 pack, of all different kinds of flavored coffee.

As an optimist, I try always to focus on the good in everything. In this case, there were so many goods: my husband gave me a lovely gift; I like trying new things; I love coffee.

So I have been trying them.

I’ll admit I didn’t start trying the flavored coffees until the “unflavored” coffee started running out. It began as a game between Lucy and me: I would ask Lucy to bring me a flavored coffee without telling me what it was, to see if I could guess the flavor. (Sort of like the part of “Hell’s Kitchen” where Gordon Ramsay blindfolds the cheftestants and makes them guess what they are eating.)

Lucy makes a superb cup of coffee. She doesn’t drink it herself, but no matter what the method of making coffee (Melior, Mr. Coffee, Keurig), the coffee she makes tastes wonderful. She brings it to me just the way I prefer: steaming hot, in my red oversized ceramic mug that says “Keep Calm and Carry On” that has its own lid to ensure the precise temperature and with lots of cream. Absolutely no sugar. Delicious every time.

So I decided that if Lucy made me a flavored coffee without revealing what the flavor was, I’d have a much better shot at keeping an open mind about it. The first coffee was perfectly hot, with the exact shade of mocha that tells me the perfect amount of cream has been put into it. I took a sip as Lucy watched.

It made my nose wrinkle and not in a good way. It was definitely fruity. The fruit was definitely not blueberry, which is a flavor I recognize. But my mouth kept saying “berry,” so I decided it must be raspberry. It was rather cloying. It was better than not having any coffee. But it was not the same as having good coffee.

Once I started with the flavored-coffee project, my New England thrift kicked in. I needed to use up this coffee, so it would not be wasted. And, who knew? I might find a flavored coffee I actually like.

Some of the flavors have not been bad: Almond Joy is not as tasty a coffee as a candy bar, but it was drinkable. Not the case with one of the cinnamon coffees, which was so strong I spat it out. I actually enjoyed one mystery flavor that was just that: a mystery. It came marked with a question mark. It had a wonderful, nutty aroma. Sweet, but not overwhelmingly sweet. As soon as I tasted it, I recognized it: hazelnut, which is the only flavored coffee that I drink, when not in desperation mode.

But still wanting to keep an open mind (and watching the other “good” coffee dwindle away), I drank my way through:

Caramel mocha

S’mores

Ebony and Ivory

Turtle

Blaze (this was the perfect name: that much cinnamon feels like your mouth is on fire).

Almond Joy

But there are three flavors of coffee that my mind (and palate) are closed to forever – vanilla, pumpkin and blueberry.

This is a forever decision. I love pumpkin. I love pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup – pretty much anything pumpkin – but I find the combination of pumpkin and coffee disgusting.

Vanilla is a strong flavor by itself. I hold a firm position that it belongs only in baked goods, and that’s where I am staying. Trying vanilla coffee is one of those culinary experiences that I wish never to repeat.

Berries do not belong in coffee, but after tasting all these coffees, the one that belongs in coffee the least is the blueberry. I know where blueberries belong – pie. Muffins. On oatmeal. In yogurt.

Not in coffee.

But I am glad that I had this experience. It has made me savor a really good cup of coffee – coffee flavored coffee – all the more. Plus, it gives me something to kid Bill about.

June Lemen is a freelance writer from Nashua. Her column appears the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. Email her at june@junelemen.com.