Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Bodum 12 Cup Electric Vacuum Coffee Maker.

I Give You: The Electric Santos

I know it sounds a bit like a sex act, but I was able to get one of these today for about $10.00. I cannot say exactly how or why, but it was not in a Goodwill. (Nor is this for sale.) 
After doing some digging online, I found out that it is a bit of a collector's item. After my first use, I can see why.
I have always been a bit wary of vacuum coffee preparation because of the glass and boiling, but this is a good way to dip my toe into it. I will dive into a proper review once I get more accustomed to the method and the machine. 
Currently, this brings our preparation count up to 9 different methods and makers.
Here's a link to the product description on Amazon. Sadly, this machine is simply no longer made by Bodum.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Pink Floyd Mix

I don't write enough about how much I love this band. Its been a life long, sometimes obsession with Pink Floyd since I was a misinformed teenager. Tonight, after a re-install of my operating system and tooling around with the new version of Clementine, I came across this mix by doing a Floyd search with Soundcloud.

So far, about a half hour in, its been a smooth tour through the early years, pre-Dark Side. If you've got an hour to while away, this is the mix for it.

Lots of props to the DJ on this one.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tears in the Rain

We were discussing this speech this evening. Time to post it up just because I can.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

On K-Cups and DRM.

Here's an article from Ars Technica that goes into some detail about the new Keurig Cups and their proposed product revision that locks their machines and pods to their proprietary technology. Truthfully, I'm not a fan of the K-Cup in any of its iterations. I generally find the coffee weak. Therefore, I tend to roll my eyes about anything involving K-Cups.

There article is worth a read, simply given the state of the mainstream coffee business and where its going. Music, and increasingly movies and books demonstrate how useless Digital Rights Management protections really are. Building it into coffee pods its phenomenally dumb.

With the increasing droughts in coffee producing regions, and the rising price of coffee, we don't need anything else to drive up the price of our favorite fix.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ice Caves in Alaska

Bigger Than Life - Ice Caves from Firefight Films on Vimeo.

This is really cool, though not everything I hoped when I initially clicked the link. The song is pretty good too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nespresso VertuoLine

Some Thoughts on the Latest and Greatest in Coffee

I have been meaning to write about this new machine and coffee system for a while. Because of the unnamed company I work at, I have been fortunate enough to try quite a bit of coffee from this machine.

I will admit a Nespresso bias, since it is a coffee system I personally sell for work, and something I have been to their specialized training for sometime ago. My destiny is somewhat tied to this doing well.

Therefore, I will not get into a heavy review, and I spent few weeks waffling about what I want to say about the machine. After all, this blog is a portion of my personal "journey with coffee" or some such nonsense.

For those who have not seen it, or had a chance to sample it, the Nespresso VertuoLine is Nestle's attempt at winning over America's drip coffee drinkers. The United States still has not fully been won over by pure espresso. The bulk of American's first instinct to a shot of espresso is to pour in enough milk and sugar into 1.3 ounces that it swells to two cups, and one more ticket in the diabetes raffle. Crema is a foamy substance on the top that is fairly alien to the average drinker.

With the VertuoLine, they created a new proprietary capsule with a bar code reader on it, then changed the extraction method to centripetal force to reach the usual 19 Bars of Nespresso pressure. When I heard about this machine, and the details, I thought that Nespresso is copying, or adapting The Remington iCoffee (a machine I'd like to get and try out for myself, honestly.) However, the VertuoLine is still not this, and could be something better. The coffee pods themselves make up for the difference.

What you get with the "coffee" coffee pods looks like 8 ounces of Guinness with a thick, foamy head that would impress any barkeep in London. The resulting coffee is still the dependable, excellent coffee that most people but the snobbiest of coffee snobs consider great.

No matter how they sell it, it is not drip coffee. It is not even amazing drip coffee that one would get from a Chemex.

With any of the coffee Grand Cru's, the resulting cup is closer to an Americano with a thick, two inch crema, or a a French Press with the mythical crema on the top. The coffee is thicker and silkier than anything out of most drip machines. (One of the reasons my mind went to the iCoffee.)  Nespresso recommends folding the crema back into the coffee itself to rebalance the cup. I haven't seen anyone do that, yet. The crema holds just too much wonderful aroma though.

The few purely drip coffee people I have talked to about the machine report that they are getting upset stomachs after drinking the coffee. I chock it up to that big difference in intensity. Potentially, due to the method of extraction, the VertuoLine has a hell of a hit of caffeine. It will be surprising to regular espresso drinkers.

So is this American style coffee? I really don't think so, and I think calling it that is a mistake.

For marketing towards a traditionally conservative portion of coffee drinkers, I think the VertuoLine is too much. For drip, the VertuoLine does not beat the purity of pouring a cup from the Chemex.

The VertuoLine is a new experience in coffee, and Nespresso marketing it the way they are could be a mistake. Secondly, I wonder about its price point in comparison. The machine is pricey, outside my range, even discounted through my employer. The coffee at just below a dollar a pod is pricey for cup of joe, and a capsule based system. Its still cheaper than McDonalds or Dunkin, and tastes better, but still not as convenient, nor is it quite the portion size of either. Also, the crema maybe too much if a change to bear, even as wonderful as it smells.

For espresso drinkers looking for something a little different, or looking for a cup they can enjoy a bit longer than a shot, this is the real deal. I honestly can't wait until someone reverse engineers this so someone can use their own beans, and coffee people can tweak and play with it.

CNET has a comprehensive review of the machine and some comparisons. If you're looking at this machine, I'd recommend checking it out. It is the first fully fledged consumer review I have come across.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Good Science Fiction.

This is how much fun good science fiction can be, even in a short form.

Found at:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Eight O'Clock Central Highlands

 I deride Eight O'Clock coffees a lot. For a while, it was shorthand for the pseudo-good stuff, only suitable for people who want to look like they know what they're doing with coffee.

Its not a coffee hipster brand, kind of like the Strokes or Imagine Dragons of coffee. Its cheap, but it comes in whole bean! It also has a market share and saturation that probably keeps its price down.

When I first got my press, I started buying some of its simpler blends because it was what I could afford at the time. Still, its affordability is a big part of its appeal.

Back during the coffee spree, I started to second guess myself for the Turkish coffee, and grabbed this.

Its a Rain Forest Alliance, ecologically sustainable, blah, blah blah, (keep reading the corporate assurances...) coffee from Central America.

I was more interested in the flavor profile, and I had recently had a coffee representative from the one of major coffee maker companies talk about how surprised she was by their coffees. I also have another friend that is often impressed by Eight O'Clock.

I thought I would give it another shot. I've used it for espresso, and I just don't like it there. Somehow, it makes a weird, acidic shot that makes my mouth hurt.

For discussion purposes, I took it back to my beginnings with this coffee and put it in the French Press.

This is a dark roast with spikes of flavor through a predominately mellow flavor on the tongue. It is spicy but not in an overwhelmingly peppery or cinnamon kind of way. Black pepper comes to mind in the way it activates the tongue. I don't get the cocoa described by the company, but it does remind me of the softness I find in coffees that are heavily cocoa. Again, it goes to that mellowness.

I did use this coffee to make Turkish and Vietnamese coffees, but I buried the coffee under so much sugar, sweetened condensed milk or other stuff that I cannot adequately describe coffee because of it. The French Press is simply the best way to get to the coffee. There's very little filtering, no removal of essential oils, no trickery because of pressure or crema.

Eight O'Clock seems to be re-branding, and they are trying some new things for their company to meet a certain market share.

Would I get Central Highlands again, sure. Am I enjoying it now? Yes. This is a good coffee if you want to surprise your coworkers who aren't big, serious coffee drinkers, or a good one for your group of friends who just don't know better. Sometimes, its just not worth wasting the good, good stuff. Its a bit like the Magnum coffees that are made more for the commercial market rather than specific palates. However, I might snag the African Plains coffee if it is ever released in whole bean.

This is a coffee that will most certainly do.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

She Drives Me Crazy

Tricky put this up on his Facebook feed today. I don't know why, but it put me in an unbelievably good mood.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Video from Save the Children UK

Here's a somewhat frighteningly good and poignant short film from Save the Children UK. They are using this to draw awareness to the plight of kids in war torn regions, especially the ones caught up in the Syrian Civil War.

I am not really sure what they would like us to do, because no matter what, the best and most effective way to save these children is the end the conflict without more bloodshed. Frankly, that is a lot easier said than done.

However, this piece also works as an effective bit of near future science fiction as well. It does what science fiction can do very well: based off an extrapolation of our world, illustrate a certain path. In many cases, the hope is that we can turn back from that path.

The effectiveness of this piece brings to mind a lot of great science fiction, such as 28 Days Later, Children of Men, and Black Mirror.

Of course, the most effective way to save the kids in any strife-ridden region is to come back down from the histrionics, and think about how it looks to your kids.

Is your cause important enough to sacrifice your children? Even in America, where acceptance of violence in our culture is part of our lives, it would serve us all well to think about it, at both a macro and micro level.

We say "Will someone please think of the children" as both a platitude and a joke. But does anyone really think of the children, and our future as a society?

(Sorry, no much coffee stuff today, my blood stream needs a break.)

Scott Listfield on The Verge

I cannot describe just how much this painting speaks to that inner 6 year old hunkered down with his toys. That was where the real fanfiction crossovers happened.

We're just missing some Legos.

In any case, check out the whole series and the scattered pop culture ephemera. This guy's work somehow frames a Geek's world very well.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Tamping How To

I was checking out the Instructables email and I came across this primer for espresso shot tamping by Paige Russell. If you have questions, or what to do it right, I recommend this one. I have read a lot of how-to's across a lot of websites, and this is more or less the same information. However, this one seems to bring all of that together, and skips some of the more esoteric coffee discussions.

Also, it has pictures of someone actually doing as its being described.

Check it out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Coffee Industry in South Florida

Here's a great, long story about the coffee industry in South Florida with a lot good, general information on coffee, and the international business as well.

I highly recommend it.

Even though I'm no longer there, its still hard to do without WLRN.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Radioactive Toy

Here's one of my all time favorites. I'm putting this live version up, just so I remember to come back to it.

I'll have more coffee related stuff soon!