For my readers with hearts too gentle to venture into social media, this is Klout. It's unpleasant because it turns communication and sharing into a ranked game with no clear rules for winning, and it's kind of interesting because -- well, because even obscured rules are interesting, and because Klout has partnered with advertisers to give its members free stuff. Citizens of the Internet provably enjoy free stuff, and I'm no exception.
One of the genuinely cool things about Klout is that they have a forthright free-stuff disclosure policy. Members aren't obligated to talk about the samples & other perks they receive, but if they do, they're asked to disclose that they got it for free. Which is an important thing to do because the act of receiving a gift creates a bias.
So the thing is that I don't actually recommend signing up for Klout -- Schmutzie details a whole lot of good reasons why you shouldn't over here, including shady privacy issues and the aforementioned unpleasantness -- and I'm really only in it for the free stuff, and eventually, when my sense of morality outweighs my appreciation for free stuff, I'll quit. But I've discovered a few awesome products via Klout, and I wanted to share them with y'all. Here's one of them.
This one time Klout gave me a free $20 credit for Lot18, with which I ordered coffee from Superba. (That link to Lot18 is an affiliate link. If you go sign up through it and then buy something, I get credit there.)
I adore the roasty bitterness (erm, and caffeine high) of all coffees, and I'm unlikely to turn my nose up at any cuppa. But I do have a binary categorization system for coffee quality: I dilute & soften less-good coffees with milk and I drink tasty-unto-themselves coffees straight. The iteration of Superba's Classic Blend that I received falls into the latter category. Rich and dense, this coffee smells savory and tastes like wood and chocolate and citrus and caramel. When brewed in a drip cone it has a serious gravity to it, and would stand up to all sorts of heavy, sweet, holiday-spiced desserts -- linzertortes, apple pies, buttery cakes, gingerbread. It's a bit more delicate when brewed in a French press, but still heavier than the description on Superba's site indicates. And it's a kick in the head in the morning, which is generally what I'm looking for.
Superba roasts and packs its coffees when you order them and sells only whole beans, which is pretty much the best way to treat coffee -- after a couple weeks, roasted beans begin to go stale, and grinding them expedites the process exponentially. (All pre-roasted & pre-ground coffees go into my add-milk category. And while we're talking coffee snobbery: Get yourself a drip cone & some filters or a French press. Using either will improve even the cheapest coffee over using an electric coffee machine.) The company is based in L.A. and claims to source its beans responsibly. Their coffees retail for $12 to $16 per 12-oz. package (which is what good coffee costs), plus $7.95 flat-rate FedEx shipping. For the record, my standard of tasty coffee is Counter Culture.
Most of what Lot18 offers is wine & schmancy things that're out of my price range, and since my qualifications for 'good' wine are a) Is it less than $12? and b) Is it dry?, Lot18 isn't really the best service for me. And at honesty o'clock, I have to admit that I find the site's voice pretentious and their default email setting (2-3 per day) complete overkill. But I can see it being a nifty thing for someone with more cash & feelings about wine than I have. In case you're interested in trying Lot18 out, Klout is offering the first 5 people who use this link a free $20 credit there. I'm not sure whether you'll have to sign up for Klout to get the credit, but there you go. Lot18 offers free shipping deals regularly, so make the most of your credit by watching for those.