Saturday, February 01, 2003
today i had the distinct pleasure of receiving an email from well-respected ashtangi eddie stern. proving that he is a sensible fellow with the correct priorities, he informed me that he drinks lavazza blend coffees at home from his own giannina moka pot.
long-time readers are aware that lavazza is the favorite espresso brand in italy; it's said that nearly 70% of italians drink lavazza. this leads some of lavazza's competitor's to sneer that it is the folgers of italy.
however, as all of us who've had the pleasure of taking an espresso in italy know, fresh lavazza can be mighty fine indeed. which you can never say of that stuff in the red can. . .
the question that immediately leaps to my mind is: where the heck is he managing to get fresh lavazza beans and not that stale stuff that's been sitting too long on the grocery shelf? does he mail order from sovrana? whole latte love?
or does he have a source i don't know about yet? this, dear readers, is the burning query of the hour!
Friday, January 31, 2003
the coffee corps, redux
jason baca, call the coffee corps today. it was created just for people like you, those devoted to alleviating the human misery of the coffee crisis!
it's heart-warming to see people really devoting themselves to charity work, unlike the rich society ladies here in new york that throw fancy parties and let their checkbooks do the talking. that's what karma yoga is all about: really working for others as if they were yourself.
sure, it takes money to help others -- but when you write those checks, do it with true concern. too often here in new york charity is an excuse to buy a designer dress and have champagne with those as socially connected as you'd like to be. . .
but since it's plain reality that we can't all go down with jason to oaxaca, i encourage you, dear readers, to mindfully write a check for that great charity coffee kids.
now to get off my soapbox -- the height is dizzying. . .
ok, back to earth. well, that's where this man ended up after his fit of air rage over the lack of coffee on a morning flight. naturally i disapprove of such behavior -- especially considering how bad airline coffee is. bring a thermos next time, big guy?
and a nissan thermos in the briefcase it will have to be for high-tech fans of starbucks' ummmm interesting experiment in ordering coffee to go over the internet. you could log on, order, pay an extra fee, and trot down to your local shop to pick it up.
great -- so you could get your over-priced, poorly prepared coffee cold too! it's a no-brainer why this service wasn't destined to be the internet's killer business model. what were they thinking?
need more comic relief on a cold, drizzly friday? i just love pix of bikram in a speedo -- wowza! can't believe they left that out of the online version. (log your bad self on in.)
just imagine -- this woman took a huge road trip just so a half-naked guy could leave his rolls-royce long enough to stand on her back while she's in seated forward bend. . .and everybody wears spandex!
Thursday, January 30, 2003
intriguing new yoga concept
i'm very interested in the philosophy of a new yoga center opening in manhattan around the first of march. called the breathing project, its mission is a little different than many yoga studios, and its outlook is certainly unique. since it's a very new idea, parts of its website are still under construction.
however, when i read the mission statement, right away i felt a sense of excitement. the project's aim is to create 1-to-1 relationships between students and teachers, instead of the large, impersonal, aerobics-like classes we in new york are so familiar with. of course the 1-to-1 relationship was the traditional yoga teaching method.
it will also appropriate the self-practice concept commonly seen in ashtanga -- go there, throw down your mat -- but instead of doing some set series, you use the time to discover an inner-directed yoga.
teachers will be there to assist, not to impose. the emphasis is on the student discovering their own yoga, the practice that speaks to and through them. no more being led through some whack sequence irrelevant to what's happening with you that day.
i also was interested to hear that the project will promote a rational way of thinking about yoga. no new-age talk here. so often you go to classes and see unqualified or simply poorly guided teachers presenting a mishkabahble of new-age thinking, garbled hinduism, and life-denying, anti-body, pro-pain concepts.
frankly, i've read the gita, some upanishads. . .all that. and i just don't see how we get to the aim of yoga, which is said to be peace and joy, through a life-hating journey of pain.
that seems to me like that pain-loving, anti-life ideas are a movement away from yoga, not toward it. this is one reason i'm still trying to learn more about the medieval yoga philosopher abhinava gupta, who among other things, thought of yoga as a theory of beauty embodied.
if you examine the list of teachers, you won't be surprised to see punk yogi j. brown (flash required) teaching there, as well as my gentle friend zack kurland. further you'll note that the beautiful amy matthews of amrita yoga and the intense carl horowitz are also teaching there.
(the spirit of mark whitwell lives! you'll find all these teachers on mark's certification page. )
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
chocolate in taos, philly
as a former resident of taos, i was thrilled to hear about a new chocolate shop there, xocoatl. and what's even better, they're using my fave chocolate, el rey.
and we should also note a relatively new artisan chocolatier in philadelphia, jubilee, which prides itself on using all local ingredients. their information on child slavery in the chocolate trade will be old hat to you long-time readers.
and finally, a really nice article about one of my nabe's treasures, brooklyn's own grimaldi's pizza. i'm still stunned by how many residents of the gap- and pottery barn-choked mall-hattan refuse to cross the bridge to experience what is supposed to be the inherent right of every new yorker: real pizza.
and while few of us have a coal or wood-fired oven at home, home-made pizza can be surprisingly close to grimaldi's heavenly pie. . .
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
we here at bccy are frankly at the very fore-front of the wave -- we're way out ahead of everybody. but the u.s.a. is beginning to follow us.
"nowadays, there's particular interest in specialty tea, chocolate, cheese, ginger products and artisan bread, as reflected in nasft data. according to the packaged facts report, the coffee and tea industry leads the market, with sales of almost [US]$4.3 billion in 2000. specialty coffee/tea is predicted to remain the fastest-growing sector of the market through 2005." (emphasis added!)
so says a write-up of this recent marketing trend report, written for grocery clients. yes, dear readers, we're no longer whack-o freaks.
we're early food adopters, and our lifestyle preferences may soon be diluted, packaged, and watered down for general consumption. in other words, you may soon be able to buy semi-decent bread and fresh coffee at a grocery store near you -- but it's better to keep it real.
stick to your local independent roaster and make your own real bread at home. . .
Monday, January 27, 2003
coffee. . .the real thing?
as long-time readers have surely noticed, coffee is a strange industry. it moves slowly; it's tied to very old-fashioned methods of doing things; and the largest coffee corporations seem to actively resist modernity in all matters except in the race to the bottom line by using the very cheapest beans whenever possible.
partially as a result of the general decline in coffee quality, coffee consumption in the western world overall has been dropping. but the savvy marketing of soft drinks, like coca-cola, has also contributed -- people who used to drink coffee with their meals now often open a can of coke. even for breakfast!
this is what makes your local independent specialty roaster so valuable; they are devoted to keeping coffee quality high. and this is why starbucks has been such a huge success; they do in general use high-quality specialty arabica beans. they have re-introduced a certain level of quality coffee to the u.s.a, and are now busy spreading it around the world.
due to the success of starbucks, and what seems like a new generation of coffee-drinkers on the horizon, coca-cola is now interested in the hot-coffee business. readers in japan and india of course know that coke already sells iced canned coffee and self-heating canned coffee from vending machines and fast food places there (the drink is called georgia [in japanese]). so the venture into coffee would not be entirely new for coke.
but it would be a wake-up call for the slow-moving coffee world, that's for sure. coke isn't looking at selling canned coffee at the supermarket. no, it's focusing on extending its brand at restaurants and fast-food places.
like competitor douwe egberts, coke is interested in a new form of coffee -- coffee concentrate, an already brewed liquid that restaurant employees can simply dilute with hot water and serve. while concentrate doesn't taste quite as good as well-made high-quality coffee, alas it does taste better than the poorly made low-quality coffee that most americans are now used to from restaurants and fast-food places. plus, it's less work for the food service employees, and can be made more quickly than traditional brewed coffee.
to my mind, coke is thinking too safe here. they should go head-to-head with starbucks by opening coke stores, at which you could get all kinds of coca-cola beverages, everything from the teas to the sodas to the coffees. the power of the coke brand, and its endless global popularity, is a force that only a fool would deny. . .by serving only cold snacks, they could create a huge market for themselves without stepping on the toes of their fast-food customers.
once coke enters the coffee market, and if this first foray is successful, i'll be on the look-out for those coke storefronts in just a couple of years. . .if i were a coffee executive, i'd mark this on my calendar as an interesting day. . .