Saturday, February 14, 2004
happy valentine's day
i hope everyone enjoys their chocolate today, unless of course you live in brazil, where apparently the equivalent holiday is celebrated in june.
of great interest to me today -- besides the hour-long talk with the great doug cadmus, who patiently listened to me prattle -- is a new coffee trade magazine, coffeeworld.
published in london, for a mere US$735 a year, this journal causes me to shake my head with both puzzlement and glee.
puzzlement, in that the majority of the magazine consists entirely of stories you could have google news' automatic email service send to you, with the exception of a few pix of business types.
the magazine does have a few original articles: the one that makes this first issue sparkle is by the founder of that great charity, coffeekids.
the magazine is mostly commercial java; the space given to specialty is small.
so i'm not sure what you really get for this huge price. but this newsletter also causes me glee in that it contains technical coffee market charts from someone i've been seeking a long long time.
i mean russian prince serge cantacuzene, who is supposed to be a hedge-fund rock star in europe. his analyses are said to move the market.
he caught the eye of coffee lovers a while ago when he predicted the beginning of the end of the 4-year-long world-price depression known as the coffee crisis.
this is a guy we cafénauts need to know. why are we coffee connoisseurs interested in someone like serge?
coffee is a unique and beautiful product. your morning cup of joe sits at your elbow -- and with it sits the coffee farmer who grew it, the roaster who roasted it.
we coffee lovers are more closely connected to coffee growers than we are to the producers of most other products. the farmers are not distant from us; the roasters are not distant from us.
and i would argue from my new perspective -- one i have developed thru education during my time with the great people at the scaa -- we are not distant from serge either.
those of us who love coffee and realize the depth of the problems the coffee crisis presents must ally ourselves with coffee professionals, coffee roasters ("brownies"), coffee importers ("greenies"), and finally with development agencies and market people such as serge.
this is a radical shift in coffee-thinking, but very crucial, very crucial. . .
on a less serious note, today i'm drinking americanos from batdorf's vesuvio espresso blend. yummy.
Friday, February 13, 2004
coffee loves women
"[caffeine] tended to reduce ratings of stress in women."
this from a u.k. study on the effect of office coffee on men working alone or in teams. after you read thru all the various combinations, it's interesting to note that those who received the placebo coffee with no caffeine still reported feeling more stressed.
once again, it's psychological. since people "know" that caffeine is a stimulant, they react as they are "supposed" to, not as actually affected. the famed placebo effect.
thus, i think that this study proves only that stress causes stress! or maybe it just proves that office coffee, which is pretty much uniformly terrible, causes stress. . .
but seriously, i do like the fact that more and more studies seem to show that women and coffee have a special affinity. for females, coffee reduces pain, reduces suicidal thinking, helps lift depression, etc. etc. all those things long-time readers have seen reported here.
more on students who demand fair-trade coffee, this time in canada.
and finally, i confess: i'm helpless before suzanne's lion's gate chocolate-covered kona coffee beans. helpless.
Thursday, February 12, 2004
the yoga questions & suspicious packages
"it would take centuries to learn hindu religious philosophy anyway -- why bother?"
thanks to the intense viniyoga teacher carl horowitz (a.k.a upsidedown carl), last night i watched a remarkable 30-minute interview with renowned yoga teacher t.k.v. desikachar, as interviewed by one of my favorite yoga teachers, mark whitwell.
desikachar's above remark just sent me howling to the floor. it was that funny. and so darned refreshing!
desikachar, son of legendary teacher krishnamacharya, comes across as a plain-spoken, charming, common-sense, and avuncular guy. by far the most down-to-earth and practical talk i've ever heard by a yoga luminary in like, forever.
get your hands on this tape, "the yoga questions," and watch it twice! highly recommended.
um, maybe those basketball-crazed people in salina, kansas should relax and try a little yoga of their own. coffee for the office isn't really quite the same as, oh, anthrax. . .but then again most office coffee is pretty lethal. . .
coffee lovers, rebel! persuade your office manager to switch to specialty coffee right away.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
resistance was futile.
yoga & depression
quite a few people i've met claim that yoga aids in recovering from depression. don't throw away your anti-depressant quite yet however; yoga is a tool best used in conjunction with medication, therapy, and other standard treatments.
also, long-time readers may note that several times i've written about my puzzlement as to the anti-yoga attitudes expressed by some christian denominations. here's one that seems to get it.
finally, we have to note that valentine's day rapidly approaches. the ultimate chocolate holiday. and just in time, yet another piece on how amazingly healthy chocolate is.
i think i might just have another handful of those delicious chocolate-covered kona beans from the lovely suzanne of lion's gate. i have the bag right next to my computer where i can look at them, and they at me.
but i've done my damage for the day. . . i hope! i can resist. i can resist. i can resist.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
and what wonderful thing came today? two bags of beautiful green, unroasted kona coffee from our pal suzanne at lion's gate. i know all home coffee roasters reading this are drooling at the thought. . .
the amazing scent of coffee flowers lingers around these jade-colored beans. not at all like so many of the slightly grassy-smelling green i've seen. for those of you who haven't had the luck to smell coffee flower, it's similar to jasmine: delicious, sweet, potent.
and in her total wisdom -- her complete understanding of the bccy mindset -- she also sent some of her chocolate-covered kona peaberry coffee beans. ymmmm. but as suzanne says, it's important to remember that just 5 of these babies are basically equal to a cup of coffee.
that's how marvelously decadent they really are. so i'm being good and will save my first handful for tomorrow afternoon.
long-time readers know i can't home roast here in my nyc apartment, so i'll be trotting these beans down to a friend of mine in the financial district who has a nice sample roaster. with luck, i can get these roasted next week. . .
thanks again suzanne! you're the best. i can't wait to cup this coffee.
and in a minor footnote, coffee lovers, please note that as i've been saying for a while now, coffee consumption's on the rise. . .it's reached a new, 30-year high.
Monday, February 09, 2004
i never had any trouble with the mer-talian, but then i'm handy with languages. that pidgin the people manning the superautos are required by corporate policy to speak is apparently so intimidating that the mermaid is handing out cheat sheets.
it seems also that some customers are insulted by the "call-back," whereby the counter-monkey calls out the drink to the superauto-slacker in the correct ergonomic order for faster service. many people appear to mistake this for a "correction."
when i first came to new york, i went to one of the last old-fashioned diners in new jersey, where they still used that old short-order language. "two eggs on toast" was "adam and eve on a raft."
this was considered so charming that my pals had actually dragged us all out there just to hear it. (what is it with new yorkers, diners, and disgusting limp home fries? they just love 'em. . . .)
i fail personally to see how the mer-talian is any different. but again, maybe i'm just good at dialect.
Sunday, February 08, 2004
rush me to the hospital
news flash: i think i just hurt myself laughing. i might have hit my head when i fell outta my chair.
it's the mermaid of course. it takes 4 mins. to download and requires flash, but it is truly hilarious.
think a south park for coffee. . .
bags are for tea
leave it to kraft to take the coffee pod and run with it.
yup, those pre-ground and thus stale paper raviolis we see too frequently in the espresso arena are now spreading to drip. kraft will soon move with larger coffee pods, like big tea bags, for home coffeemakers.
no fuss, no muss -- but most importantly, inferior taste. and the best part is that these things will actually require an entire new appliance! you won't be able to use them in a standard drip maker.
kraft must just be rubbing its hands with glee. why sell relatively low-margin ground coffee in a can when you can sell "value-added" coffee in a bag and also get a cut of the coffeemaker people will have to buy for it?
do people wonder why i hold commercial coffee in contempt? just because they are out to completely rip off consumers by offering a low-quality, stale product at an ever-higher price, why that's no reason to shake your head. is it?
with this news, i'm heartened to read about dunkin donuts espresso roll-out. i think by now nearly everyone has seen the new ads on tv for their "authentic" drinks.
the camera lovingly shows caramel and chocolate sauce drizzling on stiff foam, then cuts to harried mom in a huge drill-the-arctic-now vehicle rolling thru the drive-thru to find a moment's peace.
notice that the coffee is never shown. alas, my dear friend spencer turer, the head coffee honcho for dunkin who's actually also a former chef, isn't selling beverages here, but rather calgon. escape into a hot milkshake, o working mom!
despite my minor niggles, i still have to applaud spencer for working to bring espresso to a larger audience, even tho' i wish he would sell on quality. which he could do, since he is using specialty coffee that's even fair trade. long-time readers know that kimberly easson of wica and transfairusa is a dear bccy pal.
this dunkin effort is of interest in other ways: for example, another old bccy friend, dom chieco of liemco, is supplying the schaerer superauto machines. and so it was nice to read this article about the dunkin espresso roll-out hitting new york state, esp. since it has a great quote from one of bccy's personal coffee heros, scaa chief ted lingle.
again, we here at bccy remain convinced that once people (condescending advertising to women aside) cotton to specialty coffee, even in the flavored latte, they will soon discover that coffee can get better still. and thus coffee appreciation overall will rapidly increase. . . .
let me repeat myself: one world under specialty coffee's passionate sway.