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Saturday, March 13, 2004


scaa conference update

recently had the most detailed talk about the consumer track at the atlanta scaa conference april 23-25 yet. it's seriously coming together!

the list of equipment is awesome. the tireless genius david haddock of counterculture has assembled all the bunns and technivorms you could dream of for the how-to brewing lab.

plus it seems like every single one of those brewers will go as door prizes to attendees! even the most casual coffee lover will be amazed at this seminar on perfect coffee brewing in the home.

the espresso lab with well-known altie / scaa consumer member jim schulman also seems amazing from the equipment list: unless disaster strikes, you will be putting your own hands on the la spaziale, new gaggia equipment, la valentina, isomacs, many others.

i'm aiming for 18 machines and may get 'em all! still rounding up extra grinders for that case. there should a wide variety of espresso blends available for this lab. scaa professionals are promising to deluge us with espresso samples!

look for the le'lit at least to go as a door prize there, thanks to jim p. of 1st line! so you all had better come with plans to deal with shipping home equipment just in case. . .

i know a lot of you are hot on the hands-on coffee homeroasting session with ken davids. it looks like we have quite a few rostos, swissmar toys, and other smoky stuff. there should be a door prize there as well!

not to mention the chance to talk to ken. the tour of the show floor with don schoenholt of gillies is new this year, different stops than last year. that should be really great too.

the "meet the authors" talk is a can't miss in my eyes, and should offer a great opportunity to talk to mark pendergrast, ted lingle, and others. finally you can pose the questions you've always wanted to ask about coffee!

and i shouldn't forget the coffee crisis and sustainability discussion either. or the consumer social reception. . .or the formal zen coffee meditation, which is going to be fun and really different!

most importantly of all, the coffee tasting (cupping) class with don schoenholt of gillies and lindsay bolger of green mountain. this class is already so hyped other coffee pros are working to crash it!

while the glorious cindy chang of counterculture, the efficient theresa macguire of scaa, my personal goddess kimberly easson of transfairusa, and others were pondering where the electricity goes in the room? how much water to order? will dish pans do as drains for the big espresso machines? all that, i couldn't help thinking: this is going to be just great.

if i can live through it!

most of these rooms only hold 30-40 people, so space will be limited. i hope you all make your plans to be there; i can't wait to meet you. but even if the workshops are crowded, it will be fantastic to be there!

i'll offer more information as it comes out! you can get the conference brochure and info at the scaa website.

remember this event is opent to all coffee lovers everywhere! just US$40 gets you a multi-day ticket to all consumer-track events and the exhibit show floor.

posted by fortune elkins | 3:12 AM | top | link to this |


Friday, March 12, 2004


neural network

last night i was so privileged to have dinner with isaac grody-patinkin (nyu) of the united students for fair trade and a seed group of students who working to bring fair trade coffee to their campuses.

isaac is a wiry, energetic, soft-spoken but quick-thinking dynamo with a curly ponytail. he can also cook up a storm!

the group included a high-school student from the elite fieldston in the bronx; law students from cuny; activist students from fordham, the new school, and columbia, among others.

the room was just filled with people -- particularly young women -- who will clearly be leaders in the future. the place oozed talent. of course, i came to meet students as consumers and offer scaa support in whatever way i could to help.

the dinner was supposed to last just two hours, but stretched past 11:30pm. (sorry, issac's mom!) and i hope they don't blame me too much for that!

one of the results is that isaac will start a listserv on yahoo, so that further meetings can be easily coordinated. i hope they will start a blog or website for this new york group to make sharing materials and documents a cinch and to make it easy to find and join the group.

it soon became clear to me that while these charming and idealistic students were spot-on on fair-trade issues, they may not have had all the basic coffee knowledge that will be needed for them as leaders to communicate effectively with the coffee industry.

coffee professionals, i have found, truly respect those with superior coffee knowledge. also, it's my first belief that coffee lore inspires passion in and of itself, passion that is so critical in communicating the message to others, not just fellow students, but also parents, friends, and larger social networks.

thus i hope not only to find hotel rooms for the students at the scaa conference in atlanta so that some of them can come and participate in the consumer member education programs there, but also to help them acquire a better brewer for their own events.

i also think it would be tremendously helpful to hold a cupping for them. . . .but the students must determine their own course. what's crucial is that they understand that the scaa is here to support them, not only as consumers, but also in their quest for sustainability.

the students plan to have various events around the first week of may. if you are interested in participating in this group, email isaac. he travels a lot, but will get back to you.

posted by fortune elkins | 9:34 AM | top | link to this |


Thursday, March 11, 2004


not news to us

that coffee contains anti-oxidant compounds and that these appear to prevent diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, etc. etc. is scarely news to long-time bccy readers. still we love to see confirming studies.

more news of this came across my computer screen as i was rocking out to one of my favorite musics, the amazing artistry of kayhan kalhor.

those who know me have long understood that my music collection is quite odd, and that i have a long, long time thing for persian classical music, especially the instrument known as the kamancheh.

classical persian music is rather like modern jazz: improvisational, passionate. actually, it's also deeply reminiscent of jimi hendrix in its ecstatic flights, which is probably why the kronos quartet is also drawn to it.

it is usually accompanied by wild hand drumming on the tombak, meaning it has an incredible beat. watching the tombak player is rather like seeing keith moon in action.

the songs are, as with jazz, often referencing "standards," and then shredding them at the outer limits to find the emotional purity of the piece. in the case of persian music, the standards are often the poems of rumi or hafiz, all of which have long been associated with musical modes or patterns.

the kamancheh in particular is a fascinating thing, in that it can sound like a violin, a lute, a viola, a viola da gamba, a guitar, even a flute. in the more "classical" moments, listening to kalhor play is like listening to itzhak perlman in his most dramatic passages.

and yet the stuff rocks out. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 8:44 AM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, March 10, 2004


midwest coffee event

the scaa invites all coffee-lovers to take part in one of the nation's most exciting coffee events this year. i mean, the midwest regional barista competition hosted by the roasterie, coming to kansas city, missouri, march 26-27, 2004.

all scaa professional members, consumer members, competitors, judges, volunteers and all local baristas are invited to a special barista guild of america reception on thursday, march 25, 2004, 6:00-8:00 pm. not yet an scaa consumer member? become one now!

but all coffee lovers in the area should go and hang out at the competition. you can also volunteer: provide staff support and network with local coffee professionals or spectate: catch the action first-hand and cheer for your favorite barista or meet some baristas.

posted by fortune elkins | 7:36 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, March 09, 2004


coffee culture, part xx

"had we been a little less jet-lagged, we'd probably have realised we were in an upmarket version of one of santiago's famous smutty coffee bars."

yes, upscale espresso bars in chile's capital often feature barely clad young things. but you'll be happy to note that the reviewer remembers to say that the coffee's great too.

what i like best about the recent time magazine article on fair-trade coffee is how it quotes so many long-time bccy friends, like paul rice of transfairusa and mark inman of taylor maid. these are also scaa people, so you know the good stuff is going on.

"you're not imagining it: everyone really is doing yoga."

and more power to us for it!

posted by fortune elkins | 10:06 AM | top | link to this |


Monday, March 08, 2004


too good to be true?

could you stand to lose 2 centimeters off each thigh with coffee-soaked hose? sounds bizarre!

that they take 3 weeks to supposedly work is at least reassuring. instant fat loss would be too spooky.

recently i was talking to some people who were interested in beginning yoga. i know a lot of people start yoga because they have back problems.

i personally have troublesome lordosis, which yoga has helped alleviate. and several women in my yoga class swear it has helped them with their scoliosis. so if your back is bothering you, i highly recommend you give yoga a try.

6 weeks of yoga 3 times a week helped my back immeasurably.

posted by fortune elkins | 8:56 PM | top | link to this |


Sunday, March 07, 2004


ziti & coffee, redux

since everyone understands that the sopranos will begin its last season tonite, i'll once again offer my baked ziti recipe.

it takes little time to make, so you can still plan your own party scene. . .however, i'm having pizza, as usual.

speaking of the sopranos, tony drinks a lot of coffee, but almost no espresso. doesn't that strike you as odd?

after all, italians know how healthy espresso is. but then, who doesn't? everyone's falling into agreement on this nowadays.

of course, the best reason to make and drink coffee is that specialty java is a fine beverage. each coffee-producing region offers a unique bean, with lively, interesting flavors.

the more you as a coffee-lover explore the world of specialty coffee, the more your eyes are opened. the variety and flavors of coffee are so wide even people who think they don't like coffee will find something to their taste. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 12:18 PM | top | link to this |

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