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Coffee hacks to survive the Tampa Bay half-and-half shortage
Supply chain issues have dairy shelves barren, but we can get through this difficult time.
Coffee, crying out for cream.
Coffee, crying out for cream.
Published Dec. 14, 2021

Coffee is an inkblot test revealing personality and priorities. Relatedly, people who don’t have morning caffeine are sociopaths and can’t be trusted.

I’ll never forget the moment I realized my best friend used full-fat heavy whipping cream in her coffee every day. I was poking around her fridge for creamer. She pointed to a carton of the stuff I use for crème brûlée at fancy dinner parties. Here she was, drinking it on a Tuesday. Her inkblot: “Queen.”

Me, I’m a half-and-half person. Plain, no frills, hearty and dowdy and white like my ancestors. There’s a time and a place for creamer that tastes like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, too. There’s also a time and place to eat leftover cake off the pan (glow of fridge, midnight). My inkblot: “Confused Peasant.”

Like so many little luxuries, half-and-half is scarce due to supply chain issues, worker shortages and holiday demand. The problems are complex and endemic of fragile economic models that need to change at a cellular level, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

What’s the pour-cast? A weekly market report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a fascinating read if you’re into dairy gossip. It has a section titled “BUTTER HIGHLIGHTS,” also a chapter of my memoirs. Last week’s report:

“Cream supplies are tight in the East but become more available in the West. Some purchasers are seeking out available loads of cream in the West to fill strong year-end demand in other regions.”

We here in Florida pray that California comes through with these mythical loads of cream! After finding no half-and-half or heavy cream at two Pinellas County Publix stores and a Winn-Dixie, I scored some at Clearwater’s Whole Foods for approximately $6,000. Readers are reporting taking to their kitchens and — gasp — mixing milk and cream.

When did we become so reliant on cow juice in our bean water, anyway? We have gotten through worse — not to bring up early pandemic toilet paper pain. The times call for creative solutions.

Nut milks are fantastic dairy substitutes, even in creamier times. Same for oat milk. Did you know you can make your own oat milk? It’s blended, strained oats and water. Doing this will make you feel pastoral, like you could raise a barn. Your inkblot is “Agrarian Instagram Legend.”

If you found eggnog, lace a few dollops in your morning Folgers. Oh, it’s spiked? Shakespeare wrote, “In nature’s infinite book of secrecy, a little I can read,” which I think means Shakespeare won’t tell. Your inkblot is “For a Good Time Call.”

Now, be shameless. Close your eyes. Picture the ancient ice cream tub in the corner of the freezer, the one with crystals in the shape of the Matterhorn. Chip off the burned bits and melt that forgotten butter pecan into your hot mug. Nothing expires in the freezer, least of all ingenuity. Your inkblot is “Against All Odds.”

Finally, consider drinking coffee black. Supply chain aside, cutting back on milkfats is good for the ticker. And drinking black coffee is cool. You can change a tire and build a fire. You go to Denny’s at 2 a.m. You know the total collapse of society comes when consumers can’t get potatoes (fries) and tomatoes (ketchup). Your inkblot is “Ready, Swilling and Stable.”

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Now, I must get back to crumbling Oreos in my coffee. I’m just not ready to be stable.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes
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