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

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.