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Saturday, August 16, 2003


black(out) cat & cups

spending the afternoon with a delicious black cat, which is lovely served in intelligentsia's own logo cups.

these are the great italian-sized bar cups from ancap; sturdy, comfy, fit snugly on the saucer. all good. cute.

for those -- what, the 3 coffee lovers left maybe? -- who haven't yet tried the "new" black cat, it's a sweet, full coffee, with a roasty anise fragrance, great dutch cocoa & spicy-thyme thing going on. long dry finish.

creamy, lightly syrupy body that thinly coats the back of the demitasse spoon. soft, generous crema.

the batch i got was roasted to some oil -- not really oily, but more than patches of oil. beyond what i'd call medium-dark maybe into lightly dark dark?

more than other coffees i've had recently the black cat coats the tongue. actually colored mine an amusing milk-chocolate-on-the-face hue.

i made it on silvia after 20 mins. and again at about 60 mins. that is a maybe slightly cool silvia, and a maybe slightly hot silvia.

black cat didn't seem too picky, and was good both times in a classic 27 second double.

it grinds very nicely. i set the mazzer at 4 notches to left of the arrow decal and went to town. it's just an easy coffee to work with not finicky.

plus, i love that doug gave me a born-on roast date: 8/11.

iirc, doug likes the black cat at about 72 hours rest, so maybe mine was a bit past absolute perfection, still within the realm of ideal.

did i forget to say doug zell rocks?

now let's talk about black cat in milk. the cappucino cup doug sent is just a joy to hold, with a good no-dribble rim.

the cocoa taste of the coffee sings out in milk, so in an italian-sized cappucino, there's almost more of a hot-chocolate feeling than a coffee one.

i made the cappucino in carlos expobar, just shoving the cup under the spouts and pouring for 18-20 seconds.

what's interesting is that no matter how fine the grind, i'm discovering that carlos pours faster than silvia. that is, the time before the coffee "mousetails" lightens is always shorter than on silvia.

i wonder if this is caused by carlos' professional-style pre-infusion? it's not his filter hole size, because i am now using the stock silvia double basket in carlos as an experiment. . .

what's new is that with his lower temperature i am slowly and painfully coming closer and closer to the level of microfoam i can achieve on silvia.

which causes my husband to complain that i should just switch back to the rancilio for good (hey glenn surlet, have you been talking to mr. right?) because he loves the foam probably more than the coffee!

however, i did manage this afternoon to pour a sloppy heart latte with carlos' foam, so i am perhaps getting somewhere at tortoise speed. . .

let me just repeat that i'm loving the black cat and the cups. in wilder moments i perhaps fitfully consider decamping to chicago to sit on doug's doorstep and asking him to autograph the saucers for me. . .

then i remember -- chicago. . .!

posted by fortune elkins | 9:31 AM | top | link to this |


Friday, August 15, 2003


coffee during the great blackout

so i was in my office at ground zero at 4:08pm yesterday with a project due at 4:15. entire day had been a mad scramble.

then, boom. the blackout. we lost all power immediately. since by now we at the great little company i work for are well-practiced in fleeing manhattan over the brooklyn bridge on foot, we did so.

i happened to be wearing isaac mizrahi straw mules with wooden kitten heels. perhaps not the best shoes for such a trek. but about 500,000 people went over the bridge with me at that time, and i must say the view was lovely.

along the way people were good humored, telling jokes, stories. . .some young african-american men were singing a frankly vulgar impromptu rap song about the blackout, 'hos, and bush. . .(the president i think but perhaps it was a double entendre) anyway you probably can figure out the gist.

on the bridge the general consensus was that mayor bloomberg has definitely lost any hope for re-election now. not that it was his fault, or that the city agencies were unprepared. (long-time readers know bccy is absolutely no fan of bloomberg.)

but really -- new york needs more power strategies and he should have figured that out after 9-11. same goes for gov. pataki too.

all in all it was a tremendous day to run over the bridge light-heartedly with your fellow new yorkers in all their fabulous and fascinating variety.

got home to bklyn finally at about 5:26pm. i love isaac and his shoes, but my feet hurt.

mr. right and i decided to hang upstairs in our still house until dinnertime, when we strolled down the street to a local turkish restaurant with a pleasant garden.

the local wine store was pouring the last of its somewhat-kinda-chilled italian white and handing out cheese on the street corner. a few people had set up bbq grills in the street.

the atmosphere was decidedly festive. everyone hung out along the brooklyn promenade to see a dark manhattan -- except for downtown below city hall, where most wall street buildings had acquired their own generators after 9-11. there the lights blazed merrily.

catch a clue, bloomberg! but eventually everyone treaded home, dreading the usual blackout ritual: the ceremonial eating of the ice cream before it turned to soup.

mr. right and i had a pint of super-primo dark chocolate gelato, which we devoured with great sorrow and anguish by candle light. we listened on our battery-operated radio to the intrepid reporters of wnyc as they phoned it in: "yup, no lights."

then bloomberg spoke, promising power in "3 or 4 hours." in your dreams, mean mayor mike.

amazing. i awoke at 7:15am to no power and desperate for coffee. but naturally, i have no pre-ground coffee in the house! and no way to grind it short of mortar and pestle!

thus i dug out my trusty bodum french press, heated some water, and cracked open a tin of illy espresso pods the wonderful todd of wholelattelove had given me.

you guessed it -- 6 coffee pods into the french press, measured in the water at 200 degrees, let 'em steep for 4 mins. and wa-llah. best use of coffee pods ever.

as i was drinking my morning coffee, the phone rang. my boss; no work today. as i hung up the phone. . .power! everything lit up like a movie set at exactly 8am.

posted by fortune elkins | 6:29 AM | top | link to this |


Thursday, August 14, 2003


up dog sir yes sir

i imagine camoflauge sticky mats. but seriously, proof that yoga is totally mainstream now.

and here's a woman who's made the right move!

i wish her all success in the coffee business, which, as far as i can tell, is just about the most female-friendly and supportive trade there is.

she needs, however, to hook up with one of my favorite groups, women in coffee. . .

and her new shop will definitely succeed if she serves these fabulous chocolate cookies (and with a nod to bruce cole today, log on your own bad self in: saute, wednesday) from jacques torres. mr. right adores 'em!

posted by fortune elkins | 11:42 AM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, August 13, 2003


4 reasons doug zell rocks

doug zell rocks because he's sweet enough to take time from his day to chat with a coffee lover;

doug zell rocks because after he's been sweet enough to take time from his day to chat with a coffee lover, he sends you the latest greatest black cat blend;

doug zell rocks because after he's been sweet enough to take time from his day to chat with a coffee lover, he sends you the latest greatest black cat blend, and tosses in a cappucino cup and a demitasse with the cool intelligentsia logo!

this isn't some kind of unusual thing either, apparently. it's the corporate philosophy over there. that's just the way intelligentsia works.

and that's the 4th reason doug zell rocks.

in other coffee news, that silly show queer eye for the straight guy briefly embraced coffee yesterday. it was pretty amusing to watch "jai," the so-called "culture vulture," run over to buy some flavored "swiss chocolate" whole bean coffee from new york's chelsea coffee company.

well, i delivered my flavored coffee spiel yesterday. add the straight guy to that 25%!

then jai attempted to teach the truly hapless straight guy how to use a cafetiere, or french press. amusing. "french press: makes the boldest coffee," proclaimed the intertitle.

while jai showed him how to boil water, pour it on the grounds, and then press down, i started to freak out. wait jai!

he's supposed to time the thing for a couple of minutes! stir the coffee! let it bloom! and what about the water tempera. . .

oh, never mind. i do measure the temperature of my water with an instant-read stick thermometer every time.

more seriously, we haven't done people any favors by introducing them to coffee equipment if we don't tell 'em how to use it correctly. still i do applaud jai's effort.

and i have a special little bodum timer that sits on the shaft of the press below the knob that dings when the coffee's done steeping. why they don't sell this useful little gadet on their website, i have no idea.

of course, this is how i enjoy that yrg from gillies i keep rambling on about. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 10:22 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, August 12, 2003


horse latte-tudes

but how does it foam? can you pour a heart or rosetta latte?

and what's interesting about this release is not the new fabulous snickerdoodle macaroni mustard flavored coffees, but rather the fact that flavored coffee is the fastest growing sector of the market.

i knew about 20-25% of coffee lovers adore their morning french vanilla-hazelnut (hello, hy chabbott, wherever you are!) but its increasing popularity speaks to me as sign from heaven pointing to the public's dissatisfaction with the poor quality of most people daily coffee experiences.

i mean, if your regular cup tastes blah, why not the liverwurst and mango chutney? still every coffee has its own audience, and that's all good. coffee culture is a big tent to which we welcome everyone. . .

if people move from boring commercial coffee up to flavored specialty, at least there is the opportunity for them to learn about and be exposed to finer beans.

and then maybe when they taste a wonderful caramel cup of truly premium coffee, they will experience the epiphany. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 6:24 PM | top | link to this |


Monday, August 11, 2003


weeping, gnashing, weeping

we here at bccy try to keep abreast of new coffee developments, which unfortunately means we run into some real horrors.

for example, i have spent most of this summer actively avoiding the new nescafe "coffee" concentrate product.

since i never go to the coffee aisle in my local supermarket, i am fortunately spared the sight of such things. but sometimes they sneak up on you: this steamy morning i came into work to discover a colleague actually had a bottle of this stuff on their desk.

while i was brewing up my usual morning yrg from don schoenholt's gillies, she was happily shaking up her french vanilla cafe in a travel cup with her thumb over the sip hole.

the web page on this product is just fearful. i was relieved to discover that the so-called "chocolate mocha" flavor does contain real cocoa. the question the faq doesn't answer: does it contain real coffee?

or is it that grade 8 by-product trash? i mean, this is exactly the application for this kind of "coffee."

i so sweetly asked my colleague what she liked about this product.

of course, it is cheap and theoretically convenient. and more importantly, almost unbearably sweet. . .made as recommended with whole milk or half-n-half, it delivers that fat-n-sugar combo americans everywhere crave. as ted lingle of the scaa cleverly observes: "this is the ice-cream market."

dear readers, please resist these crimes against actual pleasure. take time to enjoy your life with premium specialty coffee instead of stirring some chemicals into a dash of milk with your thumb at your desk while you simultaneously attempt to peruse an excel spreadsheet. . .

these supposedly convenient products are actually robbing you of the quality coffee experience you deserve. think about it. . .

it takes only minutes to make stunningly lovely iced coffee drinks -- if you don't trust me, trust don schoenholt!

posted by fortune elkins | 10:23 AM | top | link to this |


Sunday, August 10, 2003


another case where it all comes together like pizza dough

long-time readers know i've written about colombian president uribe before. he's interesting to me from a number of angles: yogi, comes from a coffee family, in charge of a number of interesting programs to develop higher-quality coffee in his country. . .

for example, his plan to open juan valdez coffeeshops around the u.s.a. the first was originally planned for miami last year, but actually i think may instead open here in new york next year.

this article highlights his success as president and notes his habit of practicing yoga nidra. this yogic technique has also long interested me.

in the "it's a small world category" actually i recently discovered a lovely lady with whom i often do yoga is an old school chum of uribe's sister, and her mother works with a charity for disabled people that has long been associated with the uribe family's support.

those of you who don't practice much yoga, and may not have time for meditation, might enjoy trying yoga nidra at home. it's true it takes about 20-40 minutes, which seems like a lot of time for crazed new yorkers.

for you, i've suggested trataka, or candle-gazing. i understand k. p. jois takes this practice seriously himself.

once again, i was discussing this with yoga regular and massage therapist seth asher when a newer yoga student piped up that her husband swore by 3 minutes of trataka a day.

if only my smoke alarm wasn't so sensitive. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 12:36 PM | top | link to this |

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