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Saturday, January 17, 2004


scaa hangs with meetup.com

and i learned some really cool news yesterday! the scaa is hooking up with meetup.com!

this means we scaa consumer members are now all set to hang with the coffee.meetup.com crowd!

the next coffee meetup is feb.2 at 7pm at a coffeehouse near you. i've placed an scaa c-member-related item on the agenda for approval.

so no matter who you are or where you are, run over to meetup.com and sign up to vote on where to hold your coffee meetup. signing up to meetup.com is totally free. all you need are 5 people in your area to agree to attend, and your coffee party's on!

as soon as i can get the supporting documents, i hope to place an item related to specialty coffee month there as well. the theme i think will be "adventures in coffee."

and adventure is the right word; certainly nothing can match the exotic and romantic reality of coffee. at first this may seem like hyperbole.

but the more you learn about coffee the greater the lure and excitement you appreciate in the world's most intellectual and seductive beverage!

i know some scaa pro members -- roaster/retailers & coffeehouse owners -- hang out here on my blog, which i deeply appreciate. so while you're here, let me encourage you to sign up with meetup.com so we can organize events at your locations.

i believe there is a special rate for scaa pro members to list themselves at meetup.com as a venue -- iirc, it's just US$59 a month. you'll quickly make this back in US$4 lattes in a single meetup, i think!

i'm so excited about this i can hardly sit still long enough to drink this morning's "platinum blonde" blend (from gimme) cappuccino!

the platinum blonde is a medium-roast espresso with a strong sweetly spicy fragrance and a caramelly-syrupy aftertaste. it has some darkish roasty notes as well. yummy!

in other fantastic news, i had a great talk with jessica from batdorf. one of my many coffee articles came out last week in which i recommended her coffee, my much-beloved dancing goat blend, among several others.

i think c-members should be excited about the ideas batdorf has for working with us and offering us benefits -- such a pro-level educational coffee tastings, known as cuppings. these would definitely happen in their olympia, washington location, and possibly also in their atlanta, ga. branch.

stay tuned! also on the cupping front, peter of counterculture seems to have firmly committed himself to holding speakerphone cuppings for scaa c-members this spring.

it might work out that we go over to his new website once it's up, sign up for the cupping, buy the cupping sample for a nominal fee plus postage, and then dial in to cup along in a giant conference call.

everyone can talk and discuss the coffee(s) as we follow along with the cupping at home. i've done this with peter myself, as long-time readers may recall, and it is much more fun and effective than you might at first suppose.

highly recommended!

posted by fortune elkins | 9:39 AM | top | link to this |


Friday, January 16, 2004


coffees gone wild

today i got a great email from peter of counterculture. he's currently in el salvador, searching out new coffees.

we were discussing his ethiopian moka harrar, which he actually thinks may be a sidamo. and what we were discussing was the concept of "wild" and "stinker" in coffee.

professional coffee tasters, known as cuppers, generally use the term wild to mean coffees that don't taste the same throughout a sample. it's common to take 1 lb. of a coffee, roast it, grind it, and place samples in 3 or 5 cups when you cup it. if these several sample cups taste different, the coffee is deemed wild.

some people use wild to denote any extreme or unusual flavor in a coffee, good or bad (scroll all the way down), but i think this usage is in the minority.

if the coffee has taints or defects, they might show up in all the cups. but some coffees are just naturally inconsistent; wildness may be due to their climate, the way they're grown, or the way they are processed.

one roaster i know no longer carries harrars: "there's wild," he says, "and wild, and then there's harrar -- out of control!" inconsistent coffees can be difficult to roast, and certainly don't provide the kind of reliable product most customers demand.

as i wrote earlier, this harrar has tremendous raspberry notes that i loved. but there was also in the aroma a decided raw potato-groundy thing. it wasn't in every cup. but when it appeared it was there and it was unpleasant.

this sometimes-there / sometimes-not is the wildness in the cup. and while perhaps a touch of that potato-earthy thing might be a note adding unique character to a coffee, in this case it was all bad.

peter wrote that he believed this was the taste of the defect known as "stinker bean" (see pic here). he said:

"These are all too common in naturals [ed. note: a.k.a "dry-processed"], and the way you describe it is perfect -- between earthy and potato. This comes from a bean where the fruit is broken either on the tree or as it is being picked, which as it dries (remember, on this coffee the cherry dries on the bean) gets moldy.

This is one single bean which can affect an entire cup. I really liked this coffee this year, however even one defect is over the level acceptability for me.

This is the first year with this particular coffee (it was a risk - the first year this particular Organic Sidamo was available). Next year, I have contracted an extra sort to try to avoid such things. Ohhh, the perils of being a coffee buyer."

it seems like peter was apologizing for his coffee, but i have to say, as someone used to drinking the perfect coffees of don schoenholt at gillies and other specialty roasters, i never ever see a defect. to find one is a thrilling experience for me! i'm happy to have found it and been able to identify it. . .

recently i wrote about the midnite espresso cocktail. now it seems like various espresso cocktails are everywhere, like this one with espresso, vanilla vodka, and kahlua.

posted by fortune elkins | 8:42 AM | top | link to this |


Thursday, January 15, 2004


sounds like a great talk

i almost wish i was in ohio to be able to hear this great lecture on how coffee farms affect the environment.

what's a "teracaf?" it's funny until they mention folgers. . .

more info on men & yoga.

i really have a lot of uses for this, but alas, it appears to be in milk chocolate, so. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 9:23 AM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, January 14, 2004


scent of coffee, chocolate dreams

trendy perfume-maker jo malone debuted her coffee cologne just before the holidays. surprisingly, it's taking off like a rocket.

the scent combines the fragrance of dark-roasted coffee, along with spicy notes of incense, vetiver, sequoia, and a light touch of florals.

i am still avoiding strong colognes for my coffee-tasting experiments and have lately resorted to linge st. barth's simple but delicious vanilla & caramel perfume.

you can buy it of course at aedes; since they don't sell it online you'll have to call! robert, karl, or miguel should be happy to help you.

now the best way i can guarantee to keep chocolate on my mind all night. . .

finally, yogis and yoginis, you can run over to yrec's new forum and chat about yoga with serious and respectable teachers.

since this site is run by the reputable and renowned indic scholar dr. georg feuerstein, i expect the quality of discourse to be high. membership is free!

posted by fortune elkins | 7:48 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, January 13, 2004


do students have too much homework?

"for students, whose schedules include tons of homework and not enough sleep, caffeine isn't just a buzz -- it's a means of survival."

but you can't blame the coffee for the lack of balance in modern life!

for some reason, i've pulled out an old album by the the: decembersunlight is just a great song. . .even tho' it's now january!

posted by fortune elkins | 3:54 PM | top | link to this |


Monday, January 12, 2004


regional coffee culture, part xvi

"coffee shops in [continental] europe are offering greater varieties, where the long tradition is the classical cup of strong black coffee. "

when it rains it pours: contemporary coffee culture in germany. this piece demonstrates that young people the world over are into the flavored latte.

also, let me right now step up and take responsibility for apparently starting yet another innocent soul on the purist route to making their own pizza. soon i'll have them making their own mozzarella.

i'm a dangerous dance partner when it comes to this stuff. . .

and finally, swiss chocolate takes shanghai by storm. when i began bccy from my own notes that i had developed as aids to my own interests, some encouraged me saying "you'll find a lot of people are into this too," while others thought i was insane.

but now we see chocolate, coffee, and yoga have fast become global obsessions. . .


posted by fortune elkins | 1:14 PM | top | link to this |


Sunday, January 11, 2004


de tocqueville comes alive: regional coffee culture, part xv

"i drink it just to be sociable."

and today finds another article discussing the coffee and café culture of small-town u.s.a.

note the groups: golfing buddies, men, drinking flavored drip coffees while they meet daily to discuss life and politics; "empty-nest" moms drinking espresso-based milk beverages, lattes and mochas.

the article doesn't seem to cover the teen/student population, but if they follow national trends, they're drinking vanilla lattes too.

one of the things de tocqueville noted early about americans was our propensity for "civil society," informal voluntary social groups.

recently it's been faddish (as in books such as "bowling alone") to argue that these associations -- bowling leagues, the elks, whatever -- are in decline and that this has some dire meaning for american democracy, besides leading to increased depression and the whole "prozac nation" thing.

but i am beginning to disagree after several years of scanning google for coffee culture info and contacting and being contacted by others via bccy, i think civil society is just shifting.

shifting back to coffee, to the coffeehouse or diner as the place americans create social networks and civil space.

further, as long-time readers of bccy and these regional coffee posts can attest, these coffee-based social networks are expanding in almost every area of the planet.

the global population seems spontaneously to be building starbucks civil societies, fueled by coffee, camaraderie, and often wireless internet access.

it's just an interesting point to consider. not that we here at bccy are very political -- beyond the world-price depression known as the coffee crisis.

but we have to note that there is currently discussion of immigration reform in the u.s.a. we ought to mention that this reform is aimed primarily it seems at mexicans who have braved the dangers of crossing the border.

who are these illegal immigrants? here in new york, at least, many appear to be from veracruz. that's right: many seem to be former coffee workers, unemployed and forced north by the crisis.

while we here in the u.s.a. debate how reliant our economy has become on them, and how to bring them into some kind of legal status, i feel it's important to note that if our policy addressed the coffee crisis in latin america more vigorously, it might be less of an issue.

the collapse of rural coffee-growing areas in mexico and latin america, the social dysfunction, the family separation, the fatalities at crossing, all that. . . .think about it!

as the loss of the coffee sector continues, it depresses the entire economy in coffee-producing regions, leading other areas to fail, and driving non-coffee workers north as well.

i think you can see where i'm going with this, so i needn't continue. except, of course, that as a new yorker, i think anyone with the chutzpah to ship themselves north in a boxcar and work like a dog in queens is the kind of person we want.

i say legalize 'em, get their kids here, put 'em school, and salute their belief in america and their amazing work ethic.

these people have put their lives on the line for a piece of the american dream and are slaving to get it in way that shames the whining, white conservative talking-heads on cable news: the indigenous mexican delivery guy as possibly the last great american patriot.

but politics is inevitably boring. what's interesting is the way richard donnelly's chinese-5-spice-infused candy, with its sweet star anise note, completely matches the sweetly spicy fragrance of gimme's platinum blonde espresso blend.

it's even better than the fennel bon-bon yesterday. . .for those too impatient to mail-order the blend, you can hop the l train to billburg and visit the new gimme location there!

posted by fortune elkins | 11:08 AM | top | link to this |

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