Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Devious Ad Campaign That Convinced America Coffee Was Bad for Kids - Jordan Weissmann - The Atlantic

The Devious Ad Campaign That Convinced America Coffee Was Bad for Kids - Jordan Weissmann - The Atlantic:

This is over on the Atlantic and worth a read. Coffee certainly didn't do anything to stunt my growth. If it had, I would have grown to be a monster of a person.

However, I still find it funny how this myth is still perpetuated by popular television, even Science Fiction shows like Eureka.

Recently, I also had a discussion with a friend in med school about how caffeine and coffee might not be addicting in the ways we thought.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Happy!



Well, here we are in lieu of content. I've been insanely busy with stuff without much time to really dive in. We're big Community fans around here, so ...

Merry Happy!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Coffee Gear: The De'Longhi Bar 32

After some research and a request on what I would like for Christmas, I got this as an early gift from my parents.

I call it one of the baby De'Longhi machines because it is one of their lower end home units. I originally started calling it that because I thought it would be significantly smaller than it actually is. I am pressed for space, so I am struggling on where its permanent home will be in my kitchen. We're debating setting up a bit of a coffee bar in a nook of a dining room to store the machines and makers.

Now, as for this machine. It is a pump machine like I was wanting. It does produce crema. Using the same coffee I too to work, when properly prepped it produces about the same quality coffee as a lungo on the Jura Coffee Center.

The key is properly prepped. Whereas, it is easy to get heated up and ready to go, it is a manual machine. I have to get the grind right, the water amount right, and the tamp right.

I have not messed with the frother yet, mostly because I am not entirely sold on the steam based frothers. I know they are traditional, but I just do not like the effort that goes into cleaning them. I also do not like the possibility of bad milk spoiling a perfectly good coffee. I will keep with the microwave and the wand frother for now, until I can get my hands on a Nespresso Aeroccino.

Therefore, do I recommend this machine? I do. However, I have only had for a couple days and drawn about a dozen shots from it. For its price and build quality, it reviews well. It has also been on the market for at least six years, so I have some confidence in its design.

Of the two coffees I have tucked away right now, the darker roasted coffee is coming out better, the Sunrise Mauna Lao Breakfast Blend. I have got some older stuff tucked away I might try, but I cannot say its of the greatest quality. In comparison to the Pixie though, it really does not compare. However, the coffee for the Pixie is much better.

I will go back to the presses and the Chemex soon, but for now I am enjoying the espresso extractions from this machine and the Nespresso Pixie.

You can read up ion some of the specifications for the machine with the link below.

http://www.delonghi.com/en-US/products/coffee-and-espresso/coffee-makers/pump-espresso/bar-32-0132151040/

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

"You're the Cream In My Coffee"



Because, why not?

A Little Cream in Your Coffee?



from Modernist Cuisine.

Here's something I stumbled onto on Open Culture. They've also listed some reasons why coffee with cream cools slower than black coffee. Fascinating, but we know that real snobs only drink coffee black.

Of course, without cereal or the occasional Latte, I might not get any milk at all.

http://www.openculture.com/2013/12/the-beautiful-physics-of-adding-cream-to-your-coffee.html




Monday, December 9, 2013

Caribou!

It feels likes its been a while since I have been able to post anything, especially anything coffee related.

'Tis the Season, after all. And when you work for a company that sells things, this is prime time.

This weekend, Delle (my aforementioned fiance) and I made a little trip to Target. I needed to run into a short-lined Starbucks in order to face the rest of that afternoon. Somehow, I have developed a taste for Americanos, a variation of coffee I previous though of as being a bastard coffee. I can make a pretty good one with the Aeropress with the left over water.

Well, while winding out way to the toy aisle, I stopped into the coffee aisle to see what they had any if anything caught my eye. Given that its truly freezing outside, there are some deals out there. One of them is this coffee by Caribou Coffee.

This is their "Medium Roast," so it is mostly equivalent to a Maxwell House or Folgers in intensity level. This is made for morning drip coffee that most people will enjoy. It is smooth, fragrant. The beans are dark brown with a bit of a shininess to them. In the presses, it makes a dark coffee that is as smooth as advertised. There's a hint of boldness that comes out as the cup cools and keep drinking.

It does have that bitter cocoa flavor that isn't too strong that lingers on the palate. I do not taste the berry notes the company claims, but I have not tried it in more of a drip extraction. I haven't used it for a full espresso, yet. However, soon, I know I will.

To be honest, I was mostly drawn to the coffee by the art. They do have some amusing art. I also like how they lay out the sources for their coffees on their website. They also claim to be ecologically sustainable.

I think, I will be buying more of this coffee.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Back to Roasting

I got back to roasting this weekend. I finally got tired of the store bought roasts, and the lack of variety and taste. I still had a fair bit of green coffee beans leftover and made a nice roast with the Brazilian and Ethopian coffee.

I almost forgot how good freshly roasted coffee could taste, and even more so how good it could taste after it degassed for a couple days.

It has been decided, I will just do this with a painter's mask with HEP filters rather than endure mediocre drips. Of course the pain from the allergies is still a lot to endure, and regular dust masks aren't going to do it.

So I need a mask, and a new load from Sweet Marias...

And another load from Nespresso.

This habit is getting expensive.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

If You Put It On Sale, They Will Come

Our nation's soul is on the bonfire tonight, and the marshmallows are a blue light special. 

I am back on my soap box again tonight.

The grocery stores in town seemed to be closed, and all that are open are just the big boxes...

Of course, you knew that already.

In past years, I managed to avoid a lot of this mania since I stopped working retail. Then again, even only two or three years ago stores were closed Thanksgiving day. So, if you ran our of something like dish soap, you were out of luck unless you paid through the nose at one of the convenience stores still open. If somewhere was open, you thanked the clerk for being open while giving them a sympathetic "this sucks" shrug.

Tonight, however, we ran our of dish soap, and had a dinner to clean up after. Since the most available place open was WalMart, we decided to brave it.

I was fully expecting the borderline chaos, the mania. After all, I had seen my fair share of Black Fridays from behind the counter working mall retail.

Tonight though, knowing that today is Thanksgiving, a holiday intended to count our blessings, spend time with our families, and celebrate our harvests, we have this.

We live in suburbia, and near a fairly suburban WalMart. Granted, our community has a bank robber still on the lamb who robbed a bank that had been knocked over before in the past six months, but we we are a generally safe community.

I have never had the worries of dying from a botched drive by living in Plainfield, Indiana as I did when growing up in North Miami, Florida.

I was pretty accepting of the situation this evening when I found parking. Sure, it was a bit like a busy Saturday, I could deal.

Then, we saw the line of empty Plainfield police cars lined up in front of the store. My jaw almost dropped. there was a good eight cars parked in front of the store, front ends pointed towards the parking lot. A bit of frost was beginning to gather on the windshields and hoods. I blinked, remembering the horror stories from other locations on Black Friday in past years. I am not surprised by a show of police force, but at a store? On private property? On Thanksgiving?

I uttered, "Who the fuck is paying for all these cops?"

Going in, amongst the madness, we counted at least ten milling about. They were not just there to hang out, I assume.

Again, "Who the fuck is paying for all these cops to guard WalMart?"

And why?

Let us be honest with ourselves. Is this worth it? Is this level of consumerism worth betraying the agreed upon meaning of a national holiday. This is not necessarily like Christmas or Easter which isn't celebrated by everyone.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, about being thankful for things the things we agree upon as American.

So here we are. We have perverted it.

We got our soap, walked around to take a peak at what they did have in stock. Of the things I would genuinely want, I didn't see a sale that was worth the pandemonium, and I knew there wouldn't be. I have worked for my share of companies, and I know this scam.

Black Friday and now this creep into Thanksgiving has become the biggest conn, and its taking the very things that unite us as a country away.

I am prone to hyberbole, but I do mean this. We're stripping it all away in the name of having more and more crap. And I like my share of crap. I piss my money away on my share of crap.

Where does it end?

The clerk who rang us up seemed like he stopped giving a crap about the whole thing sometime after they opened, hours before we showed up for dish soap. He said it was the greediest thing he had ever seen.

Welcome to middle America in the 21st Century.

The Greediest Thing We Have Ever Seen.

I have never wanted to pack up my own shit so much, find another country, give up my citizenship and go.

One day, my home in Florida will be covered by water, possibly in my lifetime. One day, parts of America will be gone because of what this greed wrought.

I am proud of what my grandparents and ancestors achieved as a nation. I am ashamed by what we are becoming.

If you are looking for a cheap ass toy on Thanksgiving, you are part of the problem. If you are refusing to pay your employees enough to survive without leaning on the crutch of the taxpayers, you are part of the problem. If you are offering deals to make a buck to sacrifice a piece of our country's greatness...

You are the problem.

Meanwhile, the town cops are guarding WalMart while someone who stole people's hard earned cash and threatened people with a gun is still out there... somewhere.

I'll leave this here with A Perfect Circle's cover of "Imagine." I nearly hate the song now for the blandness in most version. APC took the saccharine and turned it into a dirge for what could have been.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Coffee and Espresso

It seems it is getting difficulty to switch back and forth between espresso and the press. Somehow, drip and pressed coffee are turning out to be too watey, too thin on the tongue. I am not entirely sure how it happened. It might also be simply because the coffees I am using in the Press just is not as good as what I could roast on my own or get from Nespresso.

This is turning into a little problem where it is just too easy to pop a capsule in the machine and make a coffee. Convenience and Quality certainly are selling points every morning.

Expensive selling points.

Like any good addict, I am wondering when I should purchase my next shipment from Nespresso. Which is fine, because I really enjoy their Cosi blend when I first get up in the morning with the hints of cacao in the coffee. It is a nice way to start the day.

Speaking of flavoring, I went out on my coffee hunt yesterday to see if I could find something new an interesting. I found damn near nothing but flavored coffees all ground up. It was one of the most annoying trips in a while.

I understand we are near the Holidays and its getting colder. I also understand this makes a lot of people who do not normally drink coffee turn to it for their fix. But, what they really want is a cup of hot chocolate flavored with a million other things.

Go drink that. Leave the coffee to the serious coffee drinkers.

It know its a bit elitist, and borderline hypocritical of me to say all that given some of my recent reviews. However, it was simply annoying when I was looking for a solid, baseline coffee. I am ranting about the flavorings, but really I think that I couldn't find more whole bean was more of a pain in the ass.

No matter when I went, I could find some good coffees reasonably priced, but I could not find it whole bean.

After some digging, and a bit of settling, I did find something, Mauna Loa Sunrise Breakfast Blend. Like many of the coffees from this brand, its adequate. Its not phenomenal, it doesn't blow me away, but it works.

I've done a hand drip with it, and made a French Press. Its bold, but not too bold. Its nice and dark. It'll work for many mornings, and seemingly low on bitterness.

This will certainly do the trick. 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Pale Blue Dot



I have been fortunate to have this stuck in my head off and on all week. I really do not have much else to say about it.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Five Poems




Here's a selection of five poems. The first one is my own Autumn Concerto, I wrote during an afternoon drive during the Fall. I intended on a theme, but it quickly fell apart as I kept looking for poems to read.

So enjoy!

Also, I just do these for fun and for vocal exercise. Please listen to them in that spirit.

Pour Over Coffee - The DIY Edition.

I finally pitched my old drip coffee maker. Now, it was just a cheap Mr. Coffee, and I did set it next to the dumpster rather than simply tossing it. It should still work even it needs a good cleaning. I felt I just needed to make a bit of room in the kitchen, and the big thing was just taking up a space on top of the refrigerator.

Actually, I thought I got rid of it months ago, but oh well. It was sitting there, hidden behind paper towels, colanders, and other assorted crap ... the sort of crap that accumulates on top of a refrigerator.

However, I kept the coffee carafe, and gave it a good cleaning with white vinegar and soap. It is squat and cylindrical. The glass is thin, and I hold no hopes for how long it will hold the heat from the water.

Then, using the funnel from the Aeropress and one of the Hario filters I used up more of the Michael's coffee. Even though it is not the most visually appealing pot, it at least has the measures of cups on the side.

When I use the flavored coffees, I find filtering them helps out immensely. The process with the French Press holds the grinds and the oils. As much as it preserves the flavors, the flavored oils wind up overpowering the cup, so much that I find the bottom of the pot undrinkable.

Using the Pour Over method, I still retain the flavors, but I have a much smoother cup. In time, if this secondary pour over method works out, I would like to retire the Chemex to a special shelf, only to be brought down for special occasions. It is a pretty pot, as are the Bialetti's, but using it can be nerve-wracking. I am much too attached to it to accidentally break it, then have to replace it.

Therefore, repurposing an old coffee pot seems like the best thing to do.

On a side note, we've been in and out of being sick here at the roasters, and I just have not had the voice to do proper recordings.

I will do a few more soon, I promise!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cold Press Coffee

I finally gave it a shot in the French Press. Last evening, I picked up a coffee from Meijer from the dispensing bins. 

I want to preface this by saying that I really like cherries, and I do not know what I was thinking until I brought the coffee home. I picked up a Michigan Cherry Coffee. It is artificially flavored with Michigan Cherries oils. 

Again, in hindsight, I am really not sure what I was expecting. It was a nice, strong, cherry smell that fills the nose. In a regular French Press, the coffee seems to be too oily to be properly enjoyed. I have the same issues with other flavored coffees too. The coffee itself is well roasted, and all Arabica. Its is a nice, light roast.

I made up a second pot with cold water, and set it in the fridge for 12 hours. When we got up this morning, I pushed down on the plunger, and poured it out over ice with a bit of milk. My fiance still needed sugar.

It was exceptionally smooth, refreshing, with a nice boost of caffeine. It maintained the cherry flavor with the overall coffee-ness in the background. I cannot say this particular coffee knocked my socks off, and I probably will not be buying it again. But I will be making a few more cold presses with it. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Pixie - the iPhone of Espresso Makers.


It came today! 

This is the machine I received for participating in the Nespresso event a few months ago. It was work related and completely unrelated to this blog.

But since it is all about coffee, I do not mind talking a bit about it. After all, there was not anything big or proprietary revealed. Hell, I think we basically heard the party line from Nespresso for what they would like people selling their products to tell the customers. 

Generally, I do not go in for the capsule base systems. However, I am really getting too lazy to pull my own shots of espresso. I kind of like something brain dead simple. Also, once I unboxed this little gem, my fiance was pretty pleased herself. After having a couple shots, I wound up ordering a fair amount of coffee off their website.

She likes it simple, and if I got around to picking up a regular espresso machine, she would never use it. She is a latte and cappuccino kind of gal, really. This is basically perfect for her. 

This is not to say I am putting up the Presses and the Chemex. Nespresso is expensive, and really not for everyday coffee drinking. I have a feeling it will be more for weekend enjoyment.

In the sampler pack we received one of the vanilla flavored coffees. I made it up for her into a sweetened latte. The flavors really came out with the milk, and now I get how to best use flavored espressos. 

I've got a few more pictures of the unboxing I will post up. On the whole, the Pixie has proven to be a good little machine. It does just what I need it to do at this stage in the game. 

I am considering one of the reusable, third party made capsule for using my own coffee grounds. It really is tempting, however it voids the warranty. 

Seeing how Nespresso is like the Apple of the coffee world, I find it ironic I am a little worried about voiding the warranty. This is especially amusing because as soon as I buy new computer hardware, I break the warranty within hours of purchase by installing Linux. 

Hell, if it had been possible back in the mp3 player heyday, and I bought a full-fledged iPod, I would have put Rockbox on it in defiance. 

Unfortunately, the third party options for capsules seems a bit thin. There isn't a well made option like the My K-Cup. Nespresso capsules are fiddly and small. I think I would rather just have a decent espresso maker for using my own brew. 

I will just try to enjoy the kick ass coffee. I just won't be buying a Mac anytime soon.

In the meantime, listen to the real Pixies. "Where is My Mind?"





Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Springsteen, Glen Hansard and Eddie Vedder

I struggle with Bruce Springsteen a lot. By all accounts, I should be a fan of his work, but for some reason I just cannot get into him or the E Street Band. It might be an age thing. It might be Generational.

I don't get it, until I hear him covered.

Over on Antiquiet, they've got a preview track from an EP tribute Glen Hansard (from the Frames) and Eddie Vedder recorded.

Click on over to their site, because I couldn't really get it to embed. Its worth it.

"Drive All Night"

http://www.antiquiet.com/news/2013/11/glen-hansard-and-eddie-vedder-tackle-bruce-springsteens-drive-all-night-listen/

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cold Brew Coffee on Cool Tools

Now, here is something genuinely coffee related, if a bit unseasonal now that its cooling down and snow is a real possibility.

It details using a French Press for cold brew coffee for iced coffee rather than brewing it hot and then icing it down. Not only do you keep from watering it down, you'll have less acid in the cup.

Prepare your French Press and use lukewarm or cold water. Put it in the fridge for 12 to 15 hours, and let it extract. Press it when its done.

It makes complete since in its simplicity. I found this in the Cool Tools feature on BoingBoing today, a blog I owe much too. This how I have learned a lot about coffee by hand.

I will be giving it a shot in a couple days, I think, perhaps with the flavored coffee I picked up last weekend. If this works to my liking, I might need a French Press just for cold brew coffee.

http://boingboing.net/2013/10/30/easy-cold-brew-coffee-with-a-f.html

War of the Worlds! 75 Years Later

According to an article on NPR today, it really didn't cause the panic 75 years ago that we believe it did. That the hype was brought about to sell newspapers and discredit the radio industry (see big media's suppression of new technology.) It gave a panicky, vocal minority more of a voice than it probably had any need for.

This is probably a bit of why we have a "Tea Party" movement today.

I recommend reading the article because the numbers are fascinating. Also I'd have been PISSED if I lived in Boston that night.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/10/30/241797346/75-years-ago-war-of-the-worlds-started-a-panic-or-did-it

And just in cause you haven't heard it, I recommend taking an hour to listen to the original broadcast.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Nyarlathotep by Lovecraft



Here we are, I will try to do a couple more readings before Halloween. But this is the one I have been wanting to do for a little while now. Sounds like it came out okay.

Feel free to share it out!

Pianochocolate



Here's a beautiful way to get your day going.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Steampunk Coffee Maker



These are unbelievably cool. Though I really don't want one. Its is called a Belgian Balance Brewer, and this brass model on Amazon is probably the closest thing you can commercially purchase to have a Steampunk coffee brewer without adding extraneous valves and dials.

Really, it is a beautiful piece that I came across by scrolling through the coffee communities. I do not necessarily want it, because the vacuum brewers wig me out, and this is a weight based vacuum brewer that is described as the first automatic coffee maker.

You can read more about these little bad boys on Coffee Geek.

http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/coffeeatthemoment/11-27-2012/4:30

Disaster...

Or really, a real pain in the ass annoyance.

I was planning on discussing a new acquisition today I picked up in Goodwill. I found an older looking coffee pot that seemed like it came from a some drip coffee machine. It had a nice Erlenmeyer flask shape with a wide bottom and a funnel top. I picked it up, and I had plans to clean it up and convert it into a hand drip coffee machine with a strainer tweaked to hold a Hario Filter.

It also had a handle on it, which I would have liked for everyday use over the Chemex. I thought, if I could get this to work, it would be nice to have a back up for the Chemex that would have a handmade or retrofit vibe to it.

Alas, it was not meant to be.

When I was getting it, and a few other things out of the car, I promptly dropped it in the parking lot in front of our apartment. I cut my finger, and disgustedly tossed it into the dumpster.

I did not even get a chance to get a picture on the off chance I find another one.

However, I did venture to Gordman's to check the place out and see what their coffee selection is like. I tracked down the Michael's Coffee brand I mentioned previously and picked up their Wicked Doodle. I made the first pot in the French Press in order to retain as much of the flavored oils as possible.

It is still a smooth, not particularly bitter coffee that hits the tongue fine. I mostly taste the hazelnut rather than anything else. However, I do smell the flavorings. The beans are a mix between light brown and dark, and it makes a rather dark pot of coffee in the press. They are also covered in the fine powders from the flavorings before hitting the grinder.

I am not really blown away by this coffee, but I only picked up an 8oz bag for $3.99. It will serve its purpose for a bit of variety.


The Humble Bundle

Despite the fact I have a small, mostly accidental readership, I like to post up links to organizations and things I feel are worth people's time. In this case, I'm talking about the Humble Bundle. they are a group that work with game publishers and ebook publishers to get some nice, indie work out there, and do some good for a couple charities I like.

Right now, they have a bundle for games for Windows, Linux and Android. One of these games is Organ Trail, a zombie remix of Oregon Trail. There are some other interesting games as part of this Bundle, but in previous ones, I picked up Cave Story + and Crayon Physics.

Your contribution to the Bundle also helps out Child's Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundations, two causes I definitely support.

There's a couple days left on this Bundle, so check it out.

https://www.humblebundle.com/

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

On Whisky Tasting

Over on a blog I follow, Drink Spirits they review a new whisky from a Talisker, a whisky I had not even heard of until I spent a couple weeks listening to every episode of Cabin Pressure. I do enjoy whiskies, and I've never had the budget to truly enjoy the good stuff. It is a shame, but not something I wanted to write about.

What I really find interesting is how they describe the whisky and how it tastes across the whole palette from start to finish. Every time I read one of these reviews, I feel like I've had the chance to try it myself, and I am desperate to track it down.

Of course, there is the bit about having the budget for a serious whisky habit.

I will have to stick to coffee.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Poetry Night Two! - The Twa Corbies



This week, I decided to do a traditional favorite, "The Twa Corbies." I had to tweak the text a little to keep it from coming out too sing song-y, since it is traditional song as a ballad.

I lifted the text from here.

A long while back, I heard a rewritten version of this on Podcastle, one of the podcasts from Escape Artists. The story was also called "The Twa Corbies" by Marie Brennan and read by Elie Hirshman. By the way, Escape Pod needs money, and I'm broke, so give them money! They do some great stuff for Genre Fiction and exposing new voices in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

http://podcastle.org/2009/12/16/podcastle-82-the-twa-corbies/

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jonathan Wilson - Dear Friend



Somewhere, in the back of my head, possibly in my soul there is a song, or a general musical sound I hear. I have spent a good chunk of my life trying to find out what it is. I always feel like different musicians get closest, like Pink Floyd or Porcupine Tree.

I think, in Jonathan Wilson, I've gotten the closest I will get it.

His new album sounds like it is in rhythm with whatever is deep inside me.

It's hokey, but I really do not know how else to describe it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Poetry Night!



A little reading for the evening. I'll do more, I promise.

Money in Politics

My intent with starting this blog was to keep off my soapbox. But since we're changing focus, I'm kicking out the soap box.

It's my virtual coffeehouse, and what's a coffeehouse without a little time on the soapbox?

We are in the midst of the Great Government Shutdown on 2013, and like the one of the mid 1990's, I have little doubt our politicians will come to their senses with a deal no one really likes. I am a Democrat, raised in the old, Democratic traditions of Will Rodgers and Harry Truman (without the racism, and more Socialism.)

However, I am getting annoyed as shit with constant stream of emails coming from different branches of Democratic Party asking for donations.

I get it. Then again, I do not see how small donations to the party will solve the current impasse. From a superficial level, it just seems like the party is trying to take advantage of a bad situation now, for next year's election.

It is a purely passive form of activism in a time when we need, as a nation, to put pressure on our politicians. We shut our government down during an economic recovery. Instead of coming to a deal, even a shitty deal, we're passing little fixes to prevent hemorrhaging, rather than attacking some of the real problems in our country. We're being held hostage.

Here's the thing, we're being held hostage by people with money. In turn, we're being begged to give money to the party, so we can continue this fight.

Money is not speech. Having something to say, and saying it, is speech. That's what should be free. If you want to give a lot of money to some politicians, why not pay some taxes and help your country, your nation?

Of course, keeping people as slaves to the elite is a very American tradition as well. I just thought that after World War 2, we moved passed it for the good of everyone.

I am American. I want everyone to do well. I don't mind paying taxes to help everyone through rough patches.

Why has this sentiment been lost over the libertarian value of just helping yourself?

Ethical Bean Coffee - Mellow

I thought I would dive into this review right away. I picked this up
 in TJ Maxx yesterday on a whim. I won't lie and say I was not swayed by the packaging and labeling. Mellow and Ethical, I could not help and grab it.

In short, this is a great coffee seemingly made by people who are really into their coffee. The ethical bit doesn't seem to be a line of BS either. Everything is fair traded, with ways of going back and tracing the coffee you bought a bit. I like that in a coffee company. It is like buying from Sweet Marias without having to do the roasting yourself.

Another nice bit with their packaging is that the bag has a small opening that has a zipper seal. This way, it keeps the coffee as fresh as possible, longer. I will get to why this little bit of trivia matters to me in a bit.

This blend truly is a mellow blend. Either through the French Press or the Chemex, I don't get overwhelmed by boldness. However, the resulting coffee is not acidic, nor is bitter. Drinking this coffee is like settling into a warm robe in the morning. There's caffeine, and it is an eye opener. However, this coffee is not a smack in the face. It's
many other pleasurably methods of waking up to reality.

It is bright and has a hint of sweetness to it. I don't taste some of the notes in the description, and that may purely be from my extraction methods.

Here's the rub. They're a Canadian company, and they do ship to the United States. However, it is not available in stores here. I liked this coffee well enough that I'd easily buy it again, and again, but the shipping for it is insane just for one bag.

You can find the coffee on their website. Check it out.

http://www.ethicalbean.com/coffee/roasts/

Record/Play and the Ghost on the Tape.




I found this on io9 today. One of the little things I enjoy are Science Fiction short films. They create a little world, or play with a specific idea the way a flash fiction story does. Generally, the best short films linger in the back of the mind, letting the audience fill in details for themselves.

As a for a general vibe, this reminds me a bit of something you might expanded into a full story on a show like Black Mirror.

This story is a bit more fantastical, but I am always intrigued by how recordings link us to a specific time and place. Physical media like vinyl or audio cassettes seem to ground us into that experience even more.

There is something about the craft and care that is put into a mix tape, the effort into getting it right, and rewinding to start over when you don't that feels a little lost in the era of perpetual digital media.

Not that I am willing to give up the convenience of digital. But it is nice to think that an imprint of a loved one before they died could be used to reach back into the aether and rescue them.


http://io9.com/a-walkman-lets-a-man-travel-through-time-to-save-his-lo-1444174603

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Change in Focus with Southern Pecan Coffee

Unfortunately, it looks like I will need to change some of my coffee focus for this blog for a while. I have given home roasting a good, solid go, and there is nothing more satisfying than my own roast.

However, because of issues with ventilation, and allergies, I cannot keep it up like I was. It was simply too physically painful. It is fine, and something I will have to accept. Because of this little adventure, I have learned a lot about coffee. I have learned a lot of about identifying traits in a coffee from the smell and the look of the beans.

Most importantly, I have learned a lot about what I like.

Because of this, I am going to start shifting my focus to trying different coffees and reviewing them. There is a wider array than just what is on the shelf in WalMart. I will principally be focusing on drip and press methods rather than focusing on espresso. However, if I can do it, I'll talk about coffees prepared using espresso extractions.

Which is amusing and slightly ironic that I am starting out officially with this new mission with a coffee I have only tasted from several lungo espressos made in a Jura.

To preface, you should not put flavored beans in a machine with an integrated burr grinder. Let me repeat, do not put flavored whole beans through the grinder built into an automatic coffee center. The oils in the coffee can do some bad things to the grinder and potentially clog it.

However, someone had brought this in, and we had to try it, so we were able to abuse the pre-ground options in one of these machines.

Normally, I do not go in for flavored whole bean coffees. I like coffee, and I like the taste of coffee. However, when I was younger, I thought flavored coffees were the way to go. In the fifteen or so years since, I really have not messed with them as my tastes have changed.

Enter Michael's Gourmet Coffee Southern Pecan. Since it is a flavored coffee, and we put it through a pump espresso machine, the flavor oils were forced into the crema. That caused the flavoring to linger in the nose, but never quite make it to the tongue. If you like pecans, or butter pecan ice cream, I think you really would like this coffee. All around the tasters, it seems like there is a fifty-fifty split. The coffee itself is light and mild, just how I like it in espresso. There is no bitterness or burned quality. The beans are more of a light, ruddy brown.

I like it, but I like butter pecan ice cream.

I am curious about the coffees and the roaster this stuff comes from. Pricing doesn't seem too bad based off their website. This coffee runs $7.49 for a standard three quarters of a pound bag. The person who bought the bag, picked it up on clearance at Gordman's in Avon, IN for a lot less than that.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

European Wildlife and Natural Settings

I have a fascination with wildlife documentaries over the past couple years, particularly the ones produced and narrated by David Attenborough. One of my favorites was one where they chronicled the seasons in the Arctic and Antarctic regions of our planet.

However, every now and then I will come across a nature documentary covering some part of Europe and I will always be a bit surprised.

Europe and Britain are probably the most well explored, well covered parts of our planet. Even more so than our own continent where there are still regions where the maps are fuzzy (without government intervention). It is easy to think of Europe as being completely and utterly settled with a perpetual mark of human settlement and impact. Anywhere that isn't, must be because of it being war torn in some way.

As I watch these documentaries showing animals, being animals, while humans are not involved, I am struck by the diversity that is there. The animals of Europe, while different than what we're accustomed to seeing in nature documentaries are fascinating. They seem common and everyday, just like described, but there is a unnaturalness because people just do not film Europe as a natural setting.

I recently watched a documentary on the Danube, and I was shocked that it was a river much like the Nile or the Amazon. Another documentary was about the formation of the continents, and had a bit of ho the Alps are merely a part of the long string of mountains that stretch across the southern portion of Eurasia.

I suspect, it is because the natural documentarians tend to Western or European, and they looking to film exotic locales like the Galapagos. It leads to the exotic around us being lost. Average people know more about the animals of Australia or Africa than we do in our own backyards.

We could argue the same for the United States, while we are so willing to clear cut our forests for new tract housing, and save the Amazon in next breath. And thus, like the Amazon, we lose something. We lose something remarkable.

I grew up in South Florida, and there was much there that I simply took for granted. One day trips out to the Everglades, I would always be captivated, like we were being taken to a completely different part of the world. We were taught in school about the importance of its conservation. Yet, somehow, it never connected just how critical is was to our survival. How it helped protect us from hurricanes and flooding. This would be the same when we would be taken on snorkeling trips, or to see the coral reefs.

This diversity, this life was right there, but we were determined to bulldoze it before we knew anything about it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Balzac on Coffee

I saw this today on Open Culture, a blog that chronicles much of the cool stuff that is free to enjoy around the web. They link up an essay by Balzac that discusses the pleasures and pain of our chosen vice. Apparently, his consumption was epic in the way red bull drinks can only dream of.

Here's a bit from the essay.

“The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee”

by Honore de Balzac

translated from the French by Robert Onopa

Coffee is a great power in my life; I have observed its effects on an epic scale. Coffee roasts your insides. Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring. Think about it: although more grocery stores in Paris are staying open until midnight, few writers are actually becoming more spiritual.

But as Brillat-Savarin has correctly observed, coffee sets the blood in motion and stimulates the muscles; it accelerates the digestive processes, chases away sleep, and gives us the capacity to engage a little longer in the exercise of our intellects. It is on this last point, in particular, that I want to add my personal experience to Brillat-Savarin's observations.

Coffee affects the diaphragm and the plexus of the stomach, from which it reaches the brain by barely perceptible radiations that escape complete analysis; that aside, we may surmise that our primary nervous flux conducts an electricity emitted by coffee when we drink it. Coffee's power changes over time. [Italian composer Gioacchino] Rossini has personally experienced some of these effects as, of course, have I. "Coffee," Rossini told me, "is an affair of fifteen or twenty days; just the right amount of time, fortunately, to write an opera." This is true. But the length of time during which one can enjoy the benefits of coffee can be extended.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Turin Brakes - We Were Here



http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/av/2013/09/watch-turin-brakes-premiere-video-for-time-and-mon.html

I stumbled into this one while surfing the internet this evening. I've never been a huge Turin Brakes fan, but I have generally liked what I have heard. However, in listening to this new album, I am really liking what I hear.

You got Pink Floyd at their breeziest, lightest in here. You've got some folk melodies that put Fleet Foxes to shame. We Were Here is a long, slow exhalation after one of the shittiest days you can have.

I mean proverbially. Despite some crabbiness and coffee-less-ness, I'm doing fine.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Meatspace Law

Recently, because of a cool site I stumbled onto, I joined Twitter. I did this so I could post and participate in this new site called Medium.

So, tonight, in a fit of "why the hell not," I posted a flash fiction I've been messing with off and on for a couple years "Meatspace Law"

Check it out.


My client is waiting while I walk up to the cafe. It looks like his midlife crisis settled into the usual cliches as he hides behind a pair of dark sunglasses and a black leather jacket. What is about getting old and retiring that make men want to become Mick Jagger or James Dean? There’s just no rented Porsche or Bugatti sitting out front.

If he’s is missing that crucial part of a midlife crisis, can he afford lawyer’s fees?  More

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Testing Post for Facebook and Twitter Feeds.

So I'm trying to have this feed into my Facebook and Twitter accounts automatically. I write this blog, I should publicize it a little bit more.

I am @themadterran if anyone's interested.

I'm just trying to share this adventure with everyone.

For now.

In the meantime, here's a video.


It really is freaking amazing what we can accomplish with modern technology. Privacy and spying concerns aside, its pretty damn cool.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hario Reusable Filters

There is not much to really say about the previous blend other than it was pleasing. My roasting has fallen into a comfortable groove, and I feel like I am getting somewhere with it. Allegra and dust mask seemed to do the trick to prevent the worst of the allergies.

I also picked up some Hario Woodneck reusable cloth filters. I was reading that they make a suitable replacement for the Chemex coffee filters. The paper filters for the Chemex have always bothered me. I jut don't like throwing them out after every use.

Unfortunately, the ones I purchased are about half the necessary size for the 8 cup Chemex. However, despite the size they work out, and are easy to clean. Even with a finer grind, the coffee comes out as nearly as clean as the Chemex filters, which is what I want. I thought the Chemex filters simply filter out too much coffee goodness in search of drip coffee perfection. They actually drip faster, but gets a darker coffee.

Ultimately, I recommend the filters. I have been using them almost exclusively this week with the Chemex, and set the Press aside. I prepared both my roast and the Blue Mountain Blend I picked up.

I'll get more up soon. I have been busy, busy, busy lately.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Lounge



I dug this out of the archives on my server today. Here's a great little album by a band on Jamendo. They are instrumental progressive rock that reminds be a lot of Explosion in the Sky. Though, I think I find them a little more accessible.

Worth a listen, worth a download. Please tip your band this evening.


Blue Mountain Coffee

This morning at TJ Maxx, we made an impulse buy and picked up a Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. It is one of the lower end ones by Magnum Exotics. We got a deal, getting it for a few dollars off what you would get for the coffee on Amazon.

I assume, I can trust the origin, and I fell it was a good, budget conscious introduction to the highly regarded variety. For those who do not know, Jamaican Blue Mountain is one of the best varieties in the world. Prices for this coffee, both green and roasted can be astronomical. Probably, its closest, well known competitor would be Kona from Hawaii

Given that this a budget friendly premium coffee, I was not expecting to be blown away.
And I really wasn't. However, I made two French Presses with it. I like it. It is not too dark, and not too bold. It is super smooth, and was easy on my stomach. It is not as flavorful as my own roasts, particularly my latest blend, but it is still better than the Columbian 8 O'Clock coffee.Eventually, when the budget allows, I will be looking to get some of the better roasts.

I might buy it again the Magnum Exotica brand, especially given the price. Magnum also produces a Sumatran Mandheling that I would not mind using to bench mark my own roasts with a similar coffee.
The more I begin to dig into this hobby called "Coffee" the more there is to learn.

The roasters will be open tomorrow with dust masks!

Edit: After reading a bit more about this particular brand, giving a good look at the packaging, this is just a blend where Jamaican Blue Mountain is included as part of the profile.  As a blend, its not bad, but I can do better. I do want to get a hold of a bag of the real thing. It might be a mission to get some of that and eventually Kona from Hawaii. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Roasting and Allergies

Since I had a couple days off this week, I wound up changing my coffee plans up a bit. I intended to do a bit more roasting over the couple days, but it just did not work out that way. I did, however, throw together a nice blend of the coffees I had up in the cupboard. 

Unfortunately, I didn't get around to writing exactly what went into it. 

I got a nice woodsy blend, with more hints of chocolate and fruit. It cupped nicely in the French Press and in the expensive espresso machines at work. It was tangy and a bit acidic in an espresso extraction. It was brilliant. 

Its gone now, but I could reproduce it and will over the next couple days. 

It seems, however that I really am allergic to some of the fumes the coffee roasting puts off. I am going to try roasting with some dust masks to see if that helps. Based off some of the forums, that maybe the way to go. 

If not, I may have to rethink the roasting set up.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Get Lucky - Mario Paint Composer - Daft Punk



I remember a lot of time fumbling with Mario Paint in my youth. I also remember a lot of time fumbling with the VCR trying to save my "creations."

I can't say any of them were as worth saving as this.

This really is pretty cool.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My New Happy Place


I really don't know what it is about this video that keeps me chuckling. It is silly, but it is from a comedy duo in Norway. It is nice to just enjoy something well made and intentionally funny rather than laughing at some random crank on the Internet.

I know this is a coffee blog. But come for the coffee, stay for the music. I do like my music.

The Guatemalan

Because of a puncture wound to the coffee baggie by my probe thermometer, this week's coffee is the Guatemalan. After checking for it on Sweet Maria's website, I don't see it listed under Guatemala, so I think I got some of the end of the batch. Which is fine.

Last week, after roasting it and doing it up for a week in the French Press, I was not too impressed. It was grassy, it hung onto the husk. It was acidic, and I think it was giving me a bit of a stomach ache. 

This afternoon, I roasted it a bit darker. I intended to mix it with the Sumatran coffee to see what it would do. However, my darling lady got overwhelmed by the fumes, and I had enough coffee for a few days just with the Guatemalan. 

Since it was roasted darker, it revealed a lot of new notes to it. I also made a little bit more of an effort to remove the chafe. Rather than trying to roast based off the time, I used the sound of the cracking to guide me with each batch. It took me a while to realize that as I go, the inner chamber of my popper will stay hot, and be hotter and hotter at the beginning of the next two teaspoons. 

Doing this way worked out for the best, and I would up with a much more even roast. Of course, I only let the coffee rest a few hours before putting it in the French Press. It is smooth with a dark caramel flavor to it. There is a bit of a rounded nuttiness to it, but not to a lip smacking extent. 

It will be interesting to see how this coffee matures over the next couple days.

Magic in Threes



This is one smooth way to end a night.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Blackfield "Jupiter IV"



There is this too, and it is absolutely beautiful. I keep forgetting to share it.

Tricky "Parenthesis"


Not much to this song but a nice loping riff. Still, I have been a fan of Tricky for years, and I like to show a little support. The album is absolutely killer, even if this video isn't much.

However, since it is pretty spare, it can tell a million different stories. Sometimes, that is all you need.

Monday, September 2, 2013

No Quarter by Quidam

Here's a great track from a Progressive Band from Poland. It is probably one of the best covers of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" you will hear. I actually think it is better than the original for how tight and subtle it is, but there is just no arguing with the Zeppelin faithful. Borrow a riff from the king of all cover bands, and you are banished as being inferior. 

This video is far from official. and something I stumbled into on YouTube. It is just a cool series of images. Since the band is from Poland, somehow it makes me think of the little I know of Poland and Eastern Europe. 

This one is for headphones, kiddies. Definitely wear your headphones.

I'll have some coffee stuff up soon. I am just deciding what to say and report. 

Weekly Roasts and Tablet Writing

Over the weekend, I made a good effort at two different roasts.

I first started with finishing off the bit of the Brazilian and the El Salvadoran coffees off. I mixed in a good base of one of the new ones. After finishing it off and letting cool, I promptly dropped half of the mess on the floor. I saved what I could, and took it to work the next day.

Even though, it had only degassed a few hours by that next morning, it kicked ass. It made a lovely, slightly tart espresso. The evening before, I put a bit of it in the Aeropress, and the brownie I ate with it highlighted the subtle chocolate tones to it.

I also roasted up the Guatemalan coffee to about a City + or Full City roast. I was able to let it sit for the full two days. It is a good coffee, full of fruity flavors I cannot quote describe. So far, I have only been able to brew it up in the French Press, but I think it would work out better in the Chemex.

On a side note, I am typing this out on my tablet, and I am impressed with how easy it is to get words out on it. I need to go back and correct a bit, but writing has been a little less intimidating. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Last Week's Blend

Last weekend's roast was another experiment. Overall, I was pleased. I took four different coffees, roasted them to their maximum optimal range, and worked through it over a week.

I did a few pots in the Chemex with it, and it was good. It was nothing spectacular, but good. I think it might not have been a great coffee for the French Press, even though it was the one I was using the most. I  am out of Chemex filters, and need to pick up another batch.

In the Chemex, I had a strong cocoa overtone flow through the coffee. It light and smooth. Through the Press though, it just felt too heavy. I suspect I might have gone a bit overboard with it, or the last remnants of the Vader coffee, because I have been battling a bit of an upset stomach after really digging into my day's coffee.

(It might also be time to get rid of the Britta and get a new one.)

I used some from the new batch from Sweet Maria's, and some from the old batch I need to use up.

I plan to use up the rest to try to copy my perfect blend from a few weeks ago. Then, do something with the new ones. I have a Central American coffee that I am really curious about, and another batch of the infamous Sumatran I would like to try again.

In the meantime, here is "In the Meantime" by Spacehog. It is one of those songs that just keep me in a good mood. Somehow it is what life is about... maybe. I have never been much on listening to lyrics.

It is just a good song to get stuck in your head when you are faced with life's petty bullshit. And one to have stuck when you are glad you are only dealing with its petty bullshit.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Coffee in the Atlantic.

Here's a little article from the Atlantic that really gets into a lot of what I have been looking at and trying to explain in coffee making. It particularly handles extraction and percentages well. It seems they came to this the same way I did, by drinking a lot of swill until it just wasn't good enough anymore.

"How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee" by Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez.


http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/how-to-make-perfect-coffee/278944/

Friday, August 23, 2013

Computer Gear and Other Late Night Mutterings.

So I've got a wide screen Acer laptop running Xubuntu that has a full sized keyboard. Before that I was almost exclusively using a netbook for everything. Occasionally, I would hook up an extra monitor to it for fun, but it rarely helped.

I feel like I got more done with my tiny netbook than I do this machine. It is huge, wide. The white page just looks all the more daunting on it.

I am sure there are many other factors contributing to writer's block, not the least of which is from a part of my day job that involves responding to emails. I haven't totaled all of that up, but that is a good thousand or so words a day right there. Generally, the same words and phrases over and over, but still....

It can cause hand strain.

However, back to this beast of a machine. It is daunting to stare at a big, white screen and conjure up words. With the netbook, it was more like jaunting things down in a notebook rather than actual formal writing. I just wondering if those few years also contributed to worsening vision problems.

Luckily, upon coming back from Gen Con and listening to a few of the writers there, and the recent honors for Ray Bradbury and Elmore Leonard, I have come away with a few new ideas.

Well, they might be new for me, or variations on themes I have been looking at for a while.

I am only writing in Blogger because this is just mutterings, rather than committing to some words in Google Docs.

In the meantime, watch the AMV of VAST's "I'm Dying" using clips from Cowboy Bebop. It is a song that I can't get out of my head lately. Gregorian Chants always take me back to a special period in my upbringing called The 90's.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brazilian Blends.

I have been wanting to write about this for about a week now, but I just have not been able to settle into it.

The intent was to make a darker roast with a coffee that is supposed to be perfect for espresso. I was going to mix it with a few other things, but that did not happen. Instead, I roasted the Brazilian Fazenda at multiple roast points, trying to bring out the whole flavor profile in the coffee.

It was meant to be best for the Aeropress. Instead, it worked out perfectly in the Chemex, resulting in a dark amber colored coffee that was full of nuttiness and chocolate and hints of fruit. Sadly, it was too much to be properly enjoyed in the French Press.

I was drinking it all through the Con while I have been finishing off the Darth Vader Roast. Sadly, I finished it yesterday, but it was a week old. The previous blend was better, and this was a worthwhile experience. I still was not able to get the coffee to truly dark roast. However, with the notes I have during the process, I will find that right point.

I have a new load from Sweet Marias, and a bit left over from the other coffees.

Tomorrow, we roast!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

GenCon Coffee Adventures Part 2

When I was researching Wifi options at the convention center, I saw rumors in the forums of a coffee shop across the street. Unfortunately, the forums said the place had closed over the years. In my few trips into downtown Indianapolis, I rarely had a reason to go by Lucas Oil Stadium or the Convention Center. At least, if I had, I never bothered to look around at the neighborhood. It was a part of town I would shoot through while I looked around for a decent parking garage.

Since this time, we were able and encouraged to walk around to find reasonably priced food, I spied a coffee shop right where it should be. Luckily, up and down the block, there were some of the best food trucks in town. I cannot say I ate anything terrible this weekend. Tacos, Italian beef sandwiches, cupcakes, brownies, pizza, and so many other wonderful things were enjoyed and consumed.

Now, once the itch finally hit, I avoided the two Starbucks that were in the neighborhood, and went to this coffee shop. I was glad I did.

Bee Coffee Roasters is the real deal. They seemed to be missing two options for coffee: French Press and Regular Machine Drip. I cannot say I missed the sitting vats of drip coffee. However, I was surprised about the missing French Presses.

However, they have traditional espresso, milk drinks, Aeropresses, and  Chemexes ready to go. They also have smoothies that Delle enjoyed, and wonderfully crafted teas. At their main location in another part of Indy, they roast their own coffees. On their board, they have recommendations for each method of preparation.

Since I was excited to see someone else use a Chemex, especially someone who uses one all day, I had to have one. The largest size is a 16 oz coffee. I respect that, I like it. As the cup sizes grow, I feel like I am racing through a bucket of hot liquid, and not savoring perfection.

At Bee Roasters, every coffee is made to order, and you will have to wait for the preparation. This attention to detail, even when it is as manic as a Convention, is wonderful. The coffee blend they used in the Chemex was great.

Later on in the day, I went back for an espresso shot for comparison. I would like to say that was entirely for this blog entry, but it was also the monkey on my back demanding its tribute. Surprising, the slow craft, locally roasted espresso double shot was cheaper than the one inside of the Convention hall. I understand the reason for the markup for a captive audience inside, but for the price they need to step up the coffee.

Bee Roasters espresso had a wonderful crema. It also had a slight tang and flavor. I really did not get a chance to really savor the flavor profiles since I was also geeking out on other things. I was enamored and still am regarding their coffees. Next time I am downtown, I will be stopping in.

I recommend checking out their Facebook page, since that seems to pass for a website right now. Their pictures are great, and I remember seeing all those costumes. I appreciate how they got into the spirit, and were both supreme baristas and geeks.

Another cool thing I saw there, every cappuccino and latte they make gets latte art. I think that each variation they made, when they use syrup has its own design. I wish I had gotten pictures, and I wish I had gotten to ask them some questions. Unfortunately, there was just no time for it given the lines.

GenCon Coffee Adventures Part 1

We are finished with Gen Con here in Indianapolis, and I am trying to unpack all of our experiences to distill into a few blogs. Even though, I was expecting this weekend to be mostly about geek stuff and writing, I did come across some killer coffee related experiences.

Since this is a coffee blog, I will start there.

Since we were at the Indianapolis Convention Center for the duration, and because I was tired, I ventured to their concessions. Arguably, they have decent concessions for the typical concessions stands for the masses. I assume that this is the same concessions you would get at a Colts game. Since they had little "coffee shops" in the building, I figured I would give it a shot. Or really, three dollars for a double shot of espresso.

They have reasonably sized commercial espresso machines. I did not catch the make and model, but I assume it is something designed for big events. The first time I went by, I was told by the woman behind the counter that no espresso because the person who made them was gone. As annoying as that was, I did begin to hope a bit. A commercial espresso machine can be intimidating to someone who has not used one before. Also, people are picky as hell, especially in such a setting.

I left, but eventually I wandered back when my need for a fix peaked again, and I was tired of waiting while Dellessa (my significant other, and main coffee beta victim) was waiting to have a book signed by Mercedes Lackey. The employee that acts as a barista was back by then. Three dollars and some change was exchanged for a double shot.

First off, the coffee that was in the cup had exceptional crema. It was thick,, but not particularly flavorful. I kept sipping, working on the coffee. It was a dark, Italian style espresso roast of a variety that I am always surprised people love. From seeing a few bags around, I believe it was a Lavazza Italian Roast. The more I mull it over, it makes sense. It was bitter, packed full of a Robusta-ness that could not be avoided. It was all an excellent presentation that just fell flat when it counted.

Increasingly, I cannot figure out how people can like these coffees and hold them up as a standard. Do lesser grade coffees just taste that bad? Or has my palate changed that much?

Of my previous three coffee blend, it was best as espresso. I took a fair amount of it to be used in the Jura, it was stellar. In fact, it was even better as a latte or cappuccino. The flavors all balanced perfectly that way. More important, it had flavor, bit a bitterness that lingers on the tongue, burned into my memory. It was not really burnt, but just bitter. Even the smell from the first sniff carried this overwhelming impression. It is the same impression I had with the Kimbo coffee I drank from the DeLonghi coffee center training from a few weeks ago.

Does this mean I don't like traditional espressos? Or is there something odd with the common coffee drinking world? Even Starbucks espressos seem more tolerable than these.

For comparison, I got down the old can of Bustello I had up in the cabinet. Before, I would make it up in the Moka Pot. In a certain time and place, it did the trick. Even though the can is old, I made up a shot in the Aeropress. It was smoother than I remembered, but that would be the filter. Dellessa said it was the nastiest thing she had ever tried. Aside from the lack of crema, it was still better than the Lavazza and the Kimbo.

As I work towards darker and darker roasts, these are things to consider in what I like.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Than a Feeling

This is how to start your day. I have always thought this is one of the best songs and albums ever made. It tells a story and is a jumping off point for a million stories.

It is a beer in the morning, bottle smashed into the wall. More glass added the growing pile from several days of depression.

After all, screw it. She's gone.

It is the song played on endless loop in your head. You play it one more time from your phone to forget, but you remember. Every chord change is her smile, the twinkle in her blue eyes, the soft texture of her hair as it runs through your fingers.... That last lingering kiss.

Shaking your head, you dispel the ghost. You'll be damned if she fucks up your favorite song, the first song you remember hearing after you first made love.

You shake free and light a cigarette. She was on your ass about quitting from the moment you met. You suck hard on the butt, staring out the window. The neighbors mow the lawn, water the grass. The mailman hikes past on the sidewalk across the street.

Holding the butt, you study it. Smoke drifts off the end. You take another drag. You'll quit tomorrow.

You'll win her back tomorrow when you see her at the bar with her new man. He'll screw up. She'll throw a drink and slap him. Your eyes drift close and you kiss again when she runs into your arms....

"Marianne," you whisper her name one more time. Somewhere behind you, a buzzer goes off next to an old mattress you scavenged. All the furniture was hers.

You kick the alarm, yanking the plug from the wall. There's a spark as it comes loose. You try not to imagine her fucking him in that bed, the one whose outline is still visible on the wood floor. Resisting the urge for a second helping of breakfast beer. You scramble into a polo with a logo on it. You pull on some khakis that were in a heap from the night before.

Time to earn that bread. Besides, you're out of cigarettes.

Hours later, you're back at the bar. You lost the polo in the back seat of the car.

There's this girl, you don't know. She smiles. Somehow, you meet her eyes and smile back. You walk over and get her name. She asks for your number and texts you.

"XOXO." You read on the screen. She peers up at you. You peer down at her. You don't even notice whatshername and the big break up over by the bar.

You're too busy smiling at Amanda.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Vader's Dark Side Roast

Photo from Think Geek
As part of the bundle with the Aeropress, I got this. It reviewed pretty well on Think Geek's website, and as a Star Wars fan since I was a wee one, I couldn't resist.

However, as snooty as I have become when it comes to my coffee, I really was not sure what to expect with this one. I knew it was going to be a dark roast, and possibly ideal for an espresso taste test.

Since it was established, and not really experimental like my own roasts, it was a good testing coffee for the Aeropress, the Chemex, and the French Press.

The Dark Side Roast is comprised of three roasts. Naturally, the packaging does not really say where, aside from Africa and Indonesia, but it promises to be reasonably well sourced. Similar to Nespresso, it is not Fair Traded, but they seem to cut out the middlemen and source the coffees directly from the farms. I suspect it is also to keep the same flavor profile.

In retrospect, they also claim that Droids do the farming.

I ground some up to use the Aeropress for the first time. I spread out the instructions, made sure I understood the plunger aspect to it, and heated the water to about 170 Degrees F. Both the Aeropress and the Chemex require specific temperatures. So do French Presses, but this is just getting through my thick head, honestly. I stirred it around, and took the plunge. Even though you need a fair amount of coffee, you can make an espresso shot very quickly. Unfortunately, because of the paper filter, and the fact I need a hell of a lot more pressure than my arms can provide, there is no crema. The filter removes those oils, and consequently, the flavors in those oils. In a pump based espresso machine, it floats to the top in a foamy layer, similar to frothed milk.

I was not too impressed with this coffee with the Aeropress. There was something that was missing from it. There was a lot of flavor, and it did not taste burnt in anyway. I did taste a hint of something metallic, like iron.

A little later, after finishing the last of my own El Salvadoran/Burundian blend, I put it the Dark Side into the Chemex. I heated the water to 200 Degrees F. The Chemex filter pulled out quite a bit. It made my own roast from a week ago taste almost entirely like almonds. The Dark Side roast was still very metallic. It probably was even more so. It was still very clean on the tongue. Probably cleaner than any drip coffee I have ever had.

Both methods for extraction created super smooth coffee. The Aeropress was still a bit of a thick coffee like espresso, but there was no sediment.

This afternoon, I tried the Dark Side Roast in the French Press. The metallic taste was gone. It was a nice, fine coffee with a bold taste. I think I missed the sediment.

Overall, I would certainly recommend checking this coffee out if you like dark roasts.

In a day or so, I will have some comments on my most recent blend. I just need to let it degas and full develop. In both the Aeropress and the Chemex is kicks ass. However, I think I will most like it in the French Press,

Even with these two upgrades, I think I prefer the French Press.

Now, just because... Enjoy.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Shit People Say at Record Stores


This was pretty true even when I worked for a major chain that didn't sell records regularly. It is probably true in one form or another in all retail. Sometimes, I find it maddening.

I read on a comment thread on G+ today that people don't want cheap prices, they want fair prices. People really would like it to be as cheap as possible, unless the intent is to show off their wealth. They usually consider cheap to be fair, since so many people just do not know how much things are really worth.

Or even, how much anything is truly worth.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Geekery - The Black Adder



With all the recent media involving the Cousins War and the Tudors, I needed a little afternoon with everyone's favorite alternate history: The Black Adder.

It took me many years to get around to this show, but when I did, it stuck.

Since Gen Con is coming next week, and the Renaissance Faire is in a few weeks, it makes me want to cosplay as King Richard IV from the first series as played by Brian Blessed. I have the time to grow my hair out until next year.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Tech Upgrades.

We have a couple new toys around here at the roasters.

I was really luck and won a Chemex 8 cup from my employer. Also, I finally broken down and purchased an Aeropress.

The Chemex has been around for years, and is one of the prettiest coffee makers on the market. It is a pour over drip coffee maker, designed for a nice, slow kind of coffee. Similar to a French Press, you need to heat your water before hand. However, it is a drop maker rather than pressed. Supposedly, the filters absorb more of the oils, and you get a different kind of cup. As soon as I get up tomorrow, I will be bench marking this thing with my special blend from last Friday.

It is pretty nice that both of these items fell into my hands today. This afternoon, for my coffee, I finally felt like I mastered the French Press. I have begun using a thermometer to gauge the temperature before it comes to a boil. Properly heated, then allowed to sit for 3:45, rather than a full four minutes, hit the mark. I had two, truly sublime pots of coffee by the time it was done.

We are going to be going to Gen Con here in Indy next weekend, and we searched a bit for a lanyard for my badge. I could not find anything I liked, so it was off to Think Geek to look for something appropriate. The lanyard was pretty cheap, but shipping was pricey, so I needed to justify it. That lead me to their Darth Vader's Dark Side Roast Coffee and the Aeropress.

We will be testing both out as well soon.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Blends

I have tried doing a couple of blends before. One, at least to me, seemed like a spectacular failure. It was a blend of El Salvador Majahual and a Brazilian coffee we will be writing about later on. I tried it during my first batch. It came out sunny, in that it was a bright and highly acidic blend. It was a burst of tropical fruits like pineapple and papaya. Neither coffee were roasted too far past the first crack.

Some of my testers thought it made the best for chilled, sweetened espresso drinks. Once it was put through the Jura, it really stood out. In time, I might try it again since I have both coffees from the most recent Sweet Maria's batch. The betas loved it enough that I might try it again.

When I roasted up the El Salvadoran coffee by itself, and roasted it darker as it was recommended, it came out beautifully. It was a great learning experience in how one coffee can be different between levels of roast. The El Salvadoran coffee, when roasted properly has a bit of a creaminess to it.

Since I had a good deal of the Burundi, and knew that when roasted to 3:45 minutes, it had a nutty taste to it, and a lingering almond quality, I was curious what it would do to blend it with the El Salvadoran. I roasted the El Salvadoran to its supposed peak at about 4:45 minutes. Then I mixed the two coffees together in the canister. I let it degas for about 24 hours. It was a 2 to 1 ratio of El Salvadoran to Burundi coffee.

I made two French Press pots. My prime beta tester, my girlfriend, was not all that impressed, but she did agree that imparted both taste qualities to the coffee. Overall, I felt it had a nice finish, not too bold, and no weird aftertaste. It was nice and smooth.  However, it did not Wow me.

Though, I think that will be hard to do with all of the experimenting I have been doing lately. It is a shame I am out of the Javanese coffee. I think it might have added a nice compliment to both. We will see how it matures over the next couple days, along with an espresso test.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Earth by Cassini

This is just so unbelievable cool. It is mind blowing that this is real. This is not CGI. This is not an artist's rendering.

This is from something we built, put on a rocket, launched into space, and let fly to Saturn to turn back and take a picture of the whole way back.

It is like the shots taken in color from the probes on Mars.

We really do live in interesting times when we take the time to be curious about the Universe around us.