Ditching Single-Serve Coffee Pods, and How I Got Hired to Write About Coffee

June 2, 2021Kelly Getzelman
Kelly Getzelman coffee comfort zone

The author enjoys a fresh cup of joe. Photo by Kelly Getzelman/Coffee or Die Magazine.

It was a Saturday in early November 2020, and just like everyone else on the planet, I was almost eight months into a mask-wearing pandemic. I vividly remember standing over my trusty Keurig coffee maker, excited to participate in Black Rifle Coffee Company’s Guinness World Record attempt for the most users in a video coffee hangout.

Instead of reaching for my usual box of BRCC Just Black Coffee Rounds, I instead opened the surprise shipment of coffee I had just received from the company.

Almost immediately, a sense of guilt and panic set in. Since December 2017, I have considered myself a loyal member of the Black Rifle Coffee Club. For almost three years, twice every month, I’d been receiving a new shipment of Coffee Rounds from the veteran-owned company. The arrival of these regularly scheduled coffee drops was often a highlight of my day since retiring from the military.

BRCC Christmas Blend photo
The Black Rifle Coffee Company Holiday Roast started the author’s journey into coffee beyond Coffee Rounds. Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company.

When I opened the box and discovered a bag of ground Holiday Roast coffee instead of the Coffee Rounds to which I had grown accustomed, I had to ask myself: What have I been missing out on all these years? 

With the coffee hangout about to start, I reached into the depths of my kitchen cabinet, looking for my lonely glass carafe. Finding all the pieces of the coffee maker was no easy task. I frantically assembled a this-will-work, mismatched, drip coffee maker and stuffed a crumpled-up filter into the device, then poured some less-than-ideal SoCal tap water into the reservoir.

At this point, I realized I had no idea what the proper coffee to water ratio should be for this bag of coffee. Now don’t get me wrong, I was a two-cup-a-day sailor during my 20-plus-year career in the US Navy. I have brewed and ingested almost every possible variation of shit deployment coffee imaginable. But once retirement set in, I had fallen into a comfort zone of the single-use, disposable cups of coffee grounds that so many Americans are accustomed to enjoying. Was it possible that I forgot how to make a proper cup of coffee?

Guinness World Record pic
The most users in a coffee video hangout is 979, achieved by Black Rifle Coffee Company on Nov. 7, 2020. But who is that guy messing up the photo in the top right corner? Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company.

It’s not every day you get the chance to break a world record though, so I knew it was time to up my game.

When I broke the seal on that Holiday Roast bag, I had to pause for a moment to take in the unique nutty aroma that was flooding my senses. It was easy to tell the difference with this festive roast, as I could immediately identify hints of chocolate, citrus, and almond. This was something I just didn’t do with my usual order of foil-covered coffee pods. Making that first rushed pot of Black Rifle coffee, I knew I needed to venture out of my coffee comfort zone more often.

BRCC K-Cup Offerings
Comfort zone: Boxes of Coffee Rounds like these made up the author’s original Black Rifle Coffee Club subscription. Photo courtesy of Black Rifle Coffee Company.

That video call turned out to be transformative for me and my post-military retirement trajectory. I genuinely felt as though I was part of a team once again. But more importantly, that event made me want to take a closer look at what I was missing. I needed to rediscover my passion for coffee.

It had been such a long time since I updated my coffee club subscription that I had to reset my password. But once I logged back in, I found a plethora of options that would enable my dive down the coffee rabbit hole. My twice-a-month subscription of Just Black Coffee Rounds had met its demise. It was time to start living outside the box, and inside the bag.

Little did I know that taking the time to open and make a pot of drip coffee using that simple bag of BRCC Holiday Roast would wind up leading me to apply to my dream retirement job as a coffee writer, traveling the world for the Coffee or Die Magazine team in search of good coffee and great stories. My first week on the job resulted in a no-notice mission to Guatemala to visit coffee farms and cup coffee with some of Central America’s finest coffee producers. This was not going to be a normal job, but more on that later!

Kelly Getzelman
Kelly Getzelman

Kelly Getzelman is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. A retired Navy SEAL chief petty officer, Getzelman has nearly two decades of special operations experience and is always ready to ship out on his next epic coffee adventure.

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