I can make pretty good hot chocolate myself

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Caribou Coffee is the latest to announced forced mask mandates in all of their stores. We live in a strange time where adults don't seem courageous enough to discipline or control their children, but are ridiculously driven to control other adults. But that's a whole other blog post.


"Help keep everyone safe." That's impossible. And it's not your mission. Quit.


As I explained at great lengths in a recent blog post, any corporation that thinks their customers can't be trusted to make their own decisions should be a corporation you walk away from.

I've been an excessively good customer to Caribou Coffee over the last four or five years. I know I've spent thousands and thousands with them. I am pretty sure they are seriously part of me being fat because that's a lot of fiber-free calories I've guzzled. I practically lived there, and my rewards account would tell the truth. My friend and I went to Caribou almost every day as kind of the end-of-work-day wrap-up.

Now that they have announced a mask mandate, even in states where they aren't required, I will use up the 1000+ points I have in my account through the drive-thru by ordering the largest and most expensive drinks I can so I will get as much free out of them as possible. And then I will cease being a regular customer. App off of my phone. No more auto-reload. Good-bye.

Again: I DON'T NEED THEM.

I don't even like coffee. It was just about the hot chocolate.

The best hot chocolate I ever had was actually in the Seattle airport this past January. 



Unlike coffee shops who go on and on about their coffee and describe it as if it is from the J. Peterman catalogue and then toss some random chocolate (corn) syrup in their mocha, or use some awful power when you order a hot chocolate, this shop focused on their chocolate. There were endless glorious kinds of hot chocolate you could order, and it was amazing.

While at Downtown Disney several years ago, I had a little cup of drinking chocolate at a "French" patisserie. Glorious.

Caribou does a pretty good hot chocolate.

So coffee drinkers quitting one coffee shop will often hop to another coffee shop no problem, but I never have anything to order except tea because the hot chocolate is ALWAYS a disappointment. I drink a lot of tea and love tea, but I hate paying $2 for a cup of hot water and a tea bag that I could bring from home just to hang out with my friends and have something to sip while we talk.

So saying I'm done with Caribou is no small thing, because I'm basically done with coffee shops unless a local shop miraculously ups their hot chocolate game.

I worked at a coffee kiosk here in town several years ago. I came up with a few ridiculous drinks that were particularly heavy on chocolate. The mocha shiznit was one, and became a kind of joke with a friend, the only one who actually knew about its existence to order it.

The secret recipe. You can get the Kona Mocha powder online.



During the years I worked in a patisserie/bakery, I had my own line of powdered hot chocolate that I sold under the Lone Prairie label.




I actually make my own hot cocoa powder for personal home use because absolutely nothing you get in the store is any good; it's all sodium and sugar and weak tan-gray chocolate and random additives to keep it from clumping. So I use a mix of natural and Dutch process cocoa, with a bit of black cocoa, very little sugar, no powdered milk. You mix it with hot water and add milk or cream.

The difference in the color of different types and qualities of cocoa is significant, and if all you've used is the cheaper Hershey's or Nestle baking cocoa you get in the store, you'll be shocked when you get actual high quality cocoa and compare the color.

All of this to say I take chocolate seriously, particularly hot chocolate which I drink like other people drink coffee.

But I don't need Caribou Coffee.

Again, as I previously said, the discomfort and loss felt when changing a habit should not be mistaken as something bad. Walking away from Caribou is going to save me significant money and calories, and any blended or hot drink I want, I know I can make myself at home. I already have a milk frother.

The trick is replacing the entire habit, which is the travel to the shop, the smell and sound of the shop, the purchase, the first sip--all of it. It's part of an experience. I have to create some kind of ritual or experience at home as the replacement habit.

Starbucks came up with the "third place" concept, which is that we like to have a place besides home and work to meet or hang out. So going to Caribou was about a third place, meeting a friend at someplace less fussy than a restaurant, or the act of breaking up your day by running over there for lunch break.

It's fun. But we can live without it.

We can make our own food and drinks, cheaper and healthier. We can change how our mind prods us to distraction and require breaks of a certain nature and instead of going to the coffee shop, go for a walk. We can invite friends into our home more and practice hospitality. Heck, I have a freezer full of cakes I didn't get to use for an event, and I would love to have people over for cake and tea/coffee. I can make much better chocolate chip cookies with better ingredients than Caribou or Starbucks.

I don't need them.

You don't need them.

We don't need them.

The list grows, the habit changes seem daunting, but I am excited for the challenge to retool the grooves in my brain. I know I'll save money, I know I'll be a better cook, I'm pretty sure I'll lose weight and be healthier, and I'll be better on the other side of it.

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