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Saturday, February 07, 2004


regional coffee culture, part xvii

not too long ago i predicted "one world under specialty coffee's passionate sway," and every day it seems this prediction is rushing towards reality. . .

will the venti vanilla latte soon replace the traditional turkish brew? the mermaid's on her way!

and in this vein, i have to say, it's really not that mysterious. . .specialty coffee tastes great, not to mention being loaded with lots of groovy antioxidants, as long-time readers know.

but it's the social, intellectual, and romantic qualities of coffee that endlessly fascinate all devoted coffee lovers. and the coffee that held my full attention this morning was batdorf's espresso vesuvio. the more i drink this coffee, the more i like it!

and in that joyful spirit, practically burning with optimism's flames, i discarded my prejudices and attended this afternoon's 2-hr. baron baptiste hot power yoga workshop at yoga people here in bklyn.

it wasn't taught by mr. handsome himself, but rather one of his devoted babes. long-time readers know that ashtanga yoga makes me grumpy; trademarked ashtanga probably makes me angry. it's just not the sadhana for me, you know?

but, hey, i'm happy if it works for you. with this idea in mind i took my extra towel and water bottle, put some intense conditioner in my hair (why not take advantage of all that moist heat?), and trotted off to the studio.

despite the hype, lemme say that this workshop was not difficult particularly. sure, i was soaked head to toe at the end, but the room was hot. it was basically ashtanga-lite, without the set primary series, no lotus poses and just one quick inversion.

on the down side, the teacher never asked if anyone had injuries nor did she ever offer a modification for any of the poses to anyone. on the amusing side, she did keep mentioning -- a lot -- about how "challenging" it was, and what a great j. lo type rear we'd all soon have.

with all due respect -- i mean, i know baron is said to have awesome shakti and that a lot of people love this practice -- it felt close to gym yoga to me. and it does advertise itself as "boot camp yoga."

but i think there is some real yoga spirit there; i'm not gonna diss it as calesthenics with sanskrit. . . i think most guys would just adore baron's yoga style. so if you're a guy flirting with the idea of yoga, you might try it.

posted by fortune elkins | 1:59 PM | top | link to this |


Friday, February 06, 2004


ferns & orchids

"hundreds of coffee farmers have turned their traditional farmhouses, distinguished by mossy red-tile roofs and wide verandas dripping with pots of geraniums, ferns and orchids, into comfortable bed-and-breakfasts where rooms usually cost less than $20 a night."

as the most miserable sleety rain continues to fall today, it's easy to dream of agro-tourism on a beautiful coffee farm in colombia. . .

and once again in yoga news, at be yoga in midtown manhattan, carl horowitz, (a.k.a. "upside down carl"), is holding an inversion workshop saturday, feb. 21st 2-4 pm. cost is US$50/60.

carl describes the workshop as a practice focused on strengthening and lengthening the core for inversions. headstand, forearm stand and handstand require strength and the ability to lengthen from a powerful core in to balance over a stable base. carl will explore ways of developing these qualities to enhance a feeling of float in jumps, as well as steadiness and control in a number of inverted variations.

i highly recommend this workshop, since the viniyoga approach taught by both punk yogi j. brown and carl horowitz (scroll down) taught me forearm stand and headstand in the middle of room much more quickly and with a grace and ease frankly unknown to the standard vinyasa method.

in fact carl and i are now working on pressing up into handstand at the center of the room from downward-facing dog. no hopping, no jumping, no leaping; just pick your own bad feet right up off the floor. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 10:29 AM | top | link to this |


Thursday, February 05, 2004


as beautiful as the moon

and a big bccy thank-you to phil hand of supreme bean / joe-to-go for the bella luna espresso he sent me today! can't wait to pull shots of this. long-time readers, stay tuned this weekend for a review.

"what can students do to help address a crisis that affects so many rural farmers in the americas, africa, and asia?"

the crisis under discussion is of course the world-price depression known as the coffee crisis. and right now, fair trade coffee is indeed part of the answer.

all over the world, students are organizing for fair-trade coffee. for example, oxford is holding a debate on the subject between the "c.e.o. of a massive multinational" (i think nestle) and an e.u. commissioner (who'll probably be for it only if the e.u. can write the rules and there's kickbacks for all the bureaucrats involved. oops! did i say that? i am actually pro-e.u.).

in yoga news, i am grooving on french author daniel odier's desire, a book on kashimir shaivism, a.k.a. tantra. there are a few translation problems, however, but they're fairly minor.

you may know odier better by his nom de plume delacorta, under which he wrote the novel that became the 80s cult movie diva.

posted by fortune elkins | 12:21 PM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, February 04, 2004


coffee crisis made real

"for the past five years, dominguez rodriguez, along with 25 million other coffee growers around the world, has been fighting a losing battle that threatens the growers’ already meager incomes."

the coffee farmers of mexico are fighting to survive the now-4-year-old world-price depression known as the coffee crisis.

and another article on this subject. . .

finally, here's a more upbeat article on a renowned coffeeshop in portland, ore. -- stumptown.

posted by fortune elkins | 11:43 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, February 03, 2004


dean & deluca improves their coffee!

a lot of people write me asking where they can get don schoenholt's gillies coffee retail. and now i can tell you of another outlet: soho's dean & deluca has begun carrying his famous yrgacheffe at their main store on broadway and prince here in nyc.

they may also have a little of his kona left. i don't think it's presently available on their website, but if you want to order it that way, i guess you could call their customer service 800 number and ask for it!

for those of you who can't make it to soho or would like to buy direct for best freshness and great personal service from the renowned olive herself, there's always gillies coffee by mail order.

speaking of kona, i had the great privilege today to get an email from suzanne at lion's gate. what a sweetie! don't those chocolate-covered kona peaberry beans sound luscious?

finally congrats to bccy friends and scaa consumer member supporters gimme coffee on their nice mention in this article.

posted by fortune elkins | 7:41 AM | top | link to this |


Monday, February 02, 2004


material culture

reflecting on the fact that coffee is the world's second most heavily traded commodity and that cacao's also an important commodity good, no one can doubt the importance of coffee and chocolate to the global economy.

the introduction and adoption of these foods around the world has dramatically changed the situation of mankind in all spheres: economically, socially, and politically. even sometimes religiously, as when popes, princes, and muftis have banned and/or accepted them!

an indicator of the actual importance of items that may seem banal or merely quotidian to us at first glance is the material culture surrounding them. and both coffee and chocolate abound in this material culture -- dedicated pots, grinders, cups, special bowls, unique brewing devices, spoons, beaters, trays, etc. etc.

all this household stuff, these artifacts, show how important coffee and chocolate social rituals are. most people do expect to come to your house and see coffee served in a proper kind of mug or cup.

you wouldn't serve someone coffee in a cereal bowl or measuring cup, would you? it wouldn't even occur to you to do so. the graduate student jam jar is about as far as you might dare go.

this is a case when anthropologists perk up their ears, because this kind of unthinking social ritual is what's most telling about how we actually live now or how we lived in the past.

long-time readers will recall i recently linked to a serious academic study of the coffee cup. and to follow this up is an exhibit at the met on the material culture of coffee, chocolate, and tea.

it opens tomorrow and runs through the mid-summer. don't miss it!

posted by fortune elkins | 11:38 AM | top | link to this |


Sunday, February 01, 2004


we understand completely

". . he realized that there would be no decent cappuccinos, maybe no decent coffee at all, in this high desert country. . ."

two former starbucks employees run an espresso bar in afghanistan. i hope the mermaid's marketing department is listening! they should definitely be sending these people coffee.

actually, if i could figure out the shipping situation -- how do you send coffee to these guys anyway? -- i'd donate 'em 3 cases of don schoenholt's gillies myself.

however, that there's no decent coffee there might not be right. islamic countries have an ancient and beautiful coffee culture, altho' it is not based in the italian model, naturally. so our intrepid baristas might seek out fine turkish-style coffee. . .

we could bridge many cultural differences here by understanding each other's mode of java, don't you think?

finally, some alties were discussing making risotto in their beloved pressure cookers. long-time readers know i love my kuhn-rikon, which makes beautiful risotto in 7 minutes.

and thus in this hyper-cold weather talk turned to the coffee-flavored dessert risotto. think hot sweet rice pudding. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 11:14 AM | top | link to this |

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