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Saturday, March 20, 2004


under a tuscan moon

today's a beautiful spring-like day, in contrast to the lousy weather we've been having this week.

so i'm sitting here in my sunny golden living room so near the bklyn promenade watching the helicopters dart like dragonflies around the towers of wall st. drinking two espressos: the supreme bean/joe-to-go bella luna and the counterculture toscano while listening to david hykes' "hearing solar winds" on headphones.

every time i play this for someone their immediate reaction is, wow, great theremin. that the music is entirely improvisational vocals amazes them. however it's a very meditative music and great for drinking coffee.

a coffee pro i completely respect -- the florida-based, total-quality rebel al critzer -- is bringing the bella luna to the mass market. he swears it's the best american espresso he's ever tasted.

and i have to agree it's a great espresso, albeit a tad more darkly roasted than is my idea of perfection. but it's great in milk drinks, very dark caramel taste, and makes a killer americano. all good.

the indispensable people at counterculture -- i suppose one could exist without them, but why? why? would it cross anyone's mind to do so? -- have their own delicious blend in the toscano.

again, this is roasted a hair beyond the northern-italian moment where i prefer my espresso (as the name suggests, it's reminiscent of a tuscan-moving-on-to-lazio color) but is still an excellent cup. there might be a sort of hint of pipe tobacco in it. . .

to be fair to it in comparison to the bella luna, i also tried it as an americano after dispensing with a shot in my morning cappuccino.

yum-mers. these espressos both make delightful afternoon americanos. highly recommended.

i guess it's the combination of bella luna, sunny day, and harmonic solar winds that give today a unique ha-tha, optimistic breath-based espresso yoga. . .whoops! almost time to go stand on my head!

posted by fortune elkins | 12:59 PM | top | link to this |


Friday, March 19, 2004


speaking of relationships

those of you reading the comments recently have discovered the little discussion of relationship coffee. this concept has many components; today the mermaid announces another arm in its relationship coffee strategy.

i'm not going to criticize deans beans here; even tho' he has somewhat unjustifiably tangled with my pals, like catie baril at gmcr. the students for fair trade like dean, and i like them, so i'm calling it a transitive friendship right now.

dean is a very small biz; he's not a public company, which means certain changes are easier for him to make. there's no doubt the mermaid can do more, that the mermaid can do better. and it will.

but you will get farther with both gmcr and the mermaid by working with them. there are executives in both of those places who are on the right side; we should help them, not provide ammunition for those on the wrong side to undermine them.

gmcr is not the enemy; the mermaid is not the enemy. i must remind my friends that our enemy is the big four: kraft, sara lee, nestle, p&g, those who blend subpar coffee-by-products and robusta in the supermarket cans!

("good food, good life!" they say. but for whom? the moldy, worm-eaten defective beans they peddle to us consumers at high prices aren't "good coffee;" and the coffee farmers certainly don't see the "good life!")

the world-price depression known as the coffee crisis is now four years old; it shows no sign of seriously abating. we no longer have time for squabbling among ourselves. politics is the art of the possible; not a referendum on moral perfection.

and speaking of coffee, today i received an interesting but somewhat mysterious blend of african coffees. i'll describe it as a full, nippy coffee, with a coriander seed fragrance, a toasty, roasted hazelnut aroma, and a slightly dutch chocolate aftertaste. i made it in a french press, giving it a medium body.

surprisingly yummy. a tablespoon of light cream and a pinch of turbinado sugar emphasized the candy, nutty tones. . . but there's something about the aroma, a little wild note, what is that? it's driving me crazy. . .

tasting the coffee dead-cold reveals a slightly different picture: a slightly winey taste, a deeper chocolate finish.

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


Thursday, March 18, 2004


ok, ok, so they're not evil

thanks for all your nice emails and phone calls today, dear readers! avid followers of the new york times no doubt saw today the little article about superautomatic home espresso machines, where the reporter so kindly quoted me and many of bccy's closest coffee pals.

i'm really not as against superautos as the article makes me sound. they are great for the house-proud; for those with small children who don't want a lot of hot equipment around; for those with tiny kitchens; and for those who want a good cup of coffee but lack time in the morning.

i've played with a cute spidem divina myself in my own house. (thanks again to jim of 1st line!)

like all things in life, there's a trade-off between coffee quality and ease of use. you have to decide what's best for you. . . .

posted by fortune elkins | 9:53 AM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, March 17, 2004


coffee grows trees

not just on them. tomorrow, canadian coffee lovers can drink to improve the environment. toronto's second cup will donate C$1 to tree canada's project maple day fund for every cup you buy.

second cup was recently named toronto's best specialty coffee. i haven't had their beans, but i know from this project that their heart's in the right place! this is just another reason to support the specialty coffee industry.

i can't think of any other major industry that encourages charity and environmental initiatives as much as specialty coffee. it's just in the social nature of the drink.

the mermaid is getting in on the act, by offering to sponsor coffee lovers to join an earthwatch forest restoration project.

and speaking of initiatives, i have the great privilege to talk to john bush of direct pictures today about his new trilogy of buddhist documentaries, called the "yatra series." this includes some of the most breath-taking footage of asian buddhist and buddhist-influenced countries i've seen: gorgeous pictures of bali and java.

if you can get your hands on this series, i highly recommend it.

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


Tuesday, March 16, 2004


acid jazz with that venti latte?

i think this is a brilliant idea: for the mermaid to begin selling custom coffeehouse music cds.

last night, thanks to the kindness of rainforest alliance's sabrina vigilante, i was privileged to snag a ticket to their demonstration cupping at the french culinary institute.

it was led by my hero, scaa chief ted lingle. many noted cuppers and coffee personalities attended, such as linda smithers of susan's in ohio; former scaa prez steve colten of atlantic (flashing his famous gold travel cupping spoon and offering the most macho thundering slurp-n-spit in da house, which made the audience laugh hilariously); david dallis and steve schulman of dallis coffee; karen gordon of coffee holding and the charity cup for education; marty diedrich of diedrich coffee; and big name greenie klaas van der kaaij of rothfos, among many many others.

the audience was mostly foodies, so ted's presentation was pretty basic. the prize-winning coffee from the cupping? la esmeralda from panama.

posted by fortune elkins | 9:58 AM | top | link to this |


Monday, March 15, 2004


what the gov't doesn't see

everyone has heard how obesity is an epidemic among the wealthier countries, not just the u.s.a, but all over the world. the u.s. gov't is launching yet another expensive and ineffective program to hector americans into watching what they eat.

as if they don't know who americans are? oh please. long-time readers no doubt know what i'm going to say: the gov't should give up the nanny finger-wagging and instead encourage exercise, such as yoga.

i mean, actually encourage it, with tax incentives for starting exercise, or for businesses to offer fitness programs in the workplaces. in the meantime, the gov't natters on about regulating food labels. as if most americans read them?

the problem is, most americans don't understand calories. the packages say, 500 calories out of a recommended 2,500 a day. which leads people to believe they can eat 2,500! (that's like 4 fast food burgers a day or something!) when in fact, most shouldn't eat that much unless they are in aerobics class every day.

but who wants to go to the ear-pounding pick-up joint that is the modern gym, with its snobbism about body types and fancy workout clothing? thus, yoga.

americans continue to flock to yoga -- now an estimated 20 million, or said to be about 1 in 12 adults, do yoga. yoga will do the body thing, gradually over time, with ease. it's less stressful than the gym, and it has mental and emotional benefits that make people stick with it when they won't stick with a boring, repetitive spinning class. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 11:03 AM | top | link to this |


Sunday, March 14, 2004


what occupies the mind

is not only the scent of plump, sun-kissed apricots, the intoxicating scent of apricot preserve, as you find in ethiopian sidamo.

but also the bewitching music of david hykes' 2002 rainbow dances.

the 6-qt. kitchen-aid mixer makes so much noise as it kneads the pizza dough. yet over this drone, there's signal: channel one, sidamo; channel two, hykes.

altho' often filed as new-age music, it's not. not. not at all.

one of the reasons i began studying viniyoga was to develop that floating quality so many elegant yogis and yoginis have in their moment, particularly in their sun salutation and standing poses.

they are there in warrior 2 looking neither asleep nor awake, but as if caught weightless in a moment between dancing and stillness. this place is exactly where hykes' music plays.

like a yoga pose, it inhabits the body and you are (about to be) moving in another direction without effort, in that floating style.

that this sensation is voluptuous goes often unremarked. it's a secret, i think. i've asked yoga teachers about it and they just don't like to chat, because i think there's an unspoken bias against the term "sensual" in yoga.

i don't know how to describe this to those who don't do yoga, so i will try apricot preserves, or the elegant and sensuous sidamo.

today in brooklyn is just a day for music, that floating yoga, and a cup of exhilarating ethiopian coffee. . .

i do not have an advanced yoga practice by any means, so i will have to ask: is this floating thing, the wacky brain radio, WHED, called turiya?

posted by fortune elkins | 10:11 AM | top | link to this |

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