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Saturday, March 27, 2004


regional coffee culture, part xxii

it's not that a group of retired men in the rural midwest stopped a petty act of vandalism. it's that they are known as the "coffee guys."

that's what's interesting. long-time readers recall that i've often written here of this interesting and native part of the u.s.a. coffee culture. nowadays if we talk about american coffee culture, people often think of the mermaid, or the burgeoning sales of pricey home espresso machines.

rarely do we stop to think of the authentic, older, post-wwii coffee culture, preserved now mostly among the retired. yet this is the beautiful small-town america i personally recall from my earliest childhood in ft. scott, kansas.

as i've said many times before, in ft. scott we never locked our doors, and if a neighbor wanted to visit, they felt free to come in thru the kitchen, sit down, make a pot of coffee, and wait for our return. everyone was naturally welcome in everyone's house.

of course this world has vanished forever, the only remnant being this coffee culture. i'm sure in ft. scott people now lock their doors and would freak out if you appeared in their kitchen. the town has grown and changed, as the website will tell surely reveal.

of course i couldn't now live there. but there were some good values even in those days (along with the reprehensible discrimination); and we see how coffee was the glue that supported a vanished openness and sense of community.

there remain groups like the coffee guys all over the midwest and in the south. they may not have yet discovered specialty coffee or the scaa -- they may never make it to the upcoming consumer events at the conference in atlanta -- they may drink maxwell house -- but yet the true spirit that coffee represents is there.

coffee lovers. gotta love 'em. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 4:38 PM | top | link to this |


Friday, March 26, 2004


what's not to like?

"that's what i like to do: make people happy through pizza."

i love this guy's attitude, altho' i wouldn't personally be so crazy about his prize-winning potato pizza. long-time readers know i prefer the tried and true v.p.n.-style.

but that doesn't mean i'm against all the california-style pizzas. that famed peking-duck pizza with hoisin, spring onions, and shiitakes -- when done with restraint -- can be great. it's when you add the cheese and the noodles that it gets stupid, to my mind.

the classic "quattro stagione" pizza can also be terrific when it incorporates contemporary ingredients.

finally, there's no doubt i love chocolate in almost every form. but maybe not deep-fried. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 1:01 PM | top | link to this |


Thursday, March 25, 2004


fun blog site & smell the coffee

so our pal q. (not that q!) is getting his great new nyc-oriented site up and running, and naturally it has a fun list of new york blogs. since several of us he's been kind enough to list live in bklyn, i'm not sure exactly why it's called manhattan.com. . .i suppose it's just another acknowledgment that bklyn remains the chicest borough.

here's a big bccy hug to q; trust me, his site's gonna take off like a rocket.

maybe this should be called "regional coffee culture, part xxii:"

"we linger forever in a state of dreamy nursing, suckling our mother's breast to a very late age, finally graduating to the slightly more independent bottle. even this, some of us have not given up too easily, the transition made more palatable as our parents sometimes spiked our bottle milk with grown-up coffee. 'you want a café con leche?' is still our first question to a friend or relative needing a little nurturing."

this charming piece on coffee culture in cuba is a prize, a total prize. . .

and this looks like a fascinating yoga workshop: the founder of mcafee anti-virus software -- who's now a yoga teacher with his own center -- on tour with former kripalu guy amrit desai. that's an unusual pairing. or is it?

what's a little confusing to me is mcafee's stated emphasis on the so-called siddhis. why?

why would you want them? patanjali in his yoga sutras frankly calls them obstacles to progress in yoga (for example, pada 3, 38).

they are also a form of "citta vritti," or "mental constructs, fluctuations," and so are dead-ends. i mean, they aren't even worth talking about if you have a serious yoga practice, you know?

i remain more in line with mark whitwell's famous statement about yoga, asana, and various so-called states of consciousness: "pointless movement, tourist consciousness."

when he says this i think he means that it's a trap to become too fixated on perfect form in the postures, and that the pursuit of supposedly altered states of mind in yoga is tourism: maybe amusing for a day, but not a serious goal worth pursuing in our yoga. . .

i agree with him when he says we should avoid an attainment yoga. i'm pretty sure that leslie kaminoff feels the same way.

to seek after these supposed and dubious "psychic powers" (which i doubt even exist!) seems just another avenue of greed. once you had them, wouldn't you just be a total ego-monster, even if you played the role of mind-reading, invisible superhero. . . .?

there's nothing we need but what we have. everything's already here, you know? in fact, most of us are burdened with more than is useful --- as erich schiffmann says, "love's what's left when you let go of everything you don't need."

posted by fortune elkins | 6:44 AM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, March 24, 2004


it's official

devoted readers will recall my recent attendance at the rainforest alliance cupping event at the french culinary institute. today finds the publication of the official press release.

when i saw this coffee recipe, i couldn't help but shudder with fear. i am not a big fan of flavored coffees, but i understand the reality of life -- they are nearly 25% of the u.s. market.

therefore i encourage flavored coffee lovers to skip dubious concotions like the one above and instead focus on quality and freshness. buy a fresh, lovely, mild coffee from your local independent quality roaster/retailer -- say a truly beautiful colombian or brazil -- and add the vanilla syrup of your choice after you've brewed it with care.

long-time bccy fans will recall my love-song to da vinci syrups, but i also like routin 1883, which you can easily buy from the sovrana store. nowadays these syrups almost all come in sugar-free versions as well. . . .

unsure how to brew great coffee at home? come to the scaa atlanta conference on april 24-25 and let my pal david haddock of counterculture teach you how! remember, we're also giving away a pile of state-of-the-art coffeemakers while we're there. . .you can become a consumer member too!

posted by fortune elkins | 11:37 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, March 23, 2004


regional coffee culture, part xxi

"the culture of coffee house debates - central to the 18th century scottish enlightenment - was recreated yesterday, as students discussed the role of young people in the democratic process."

people new to bccy are sometimes taken aback by my grand statements about the passionate history of coffee and its place in the world. simply because many remain unaware of the monumental economic and social role coffee has played, and continues to play, in the destiny of the planet.

it's really quite amazing! but we coffee lovers understand the true nature of our favorite beverage. . .it changes every life it touches, if only that life is willing to open its eyes and look with mindful awareness.

from the grand, the paradigm-shifting, to the personal, almost banal: which side is my coffee cup on?

also, the yoga-in-the-schools movement heads on to the u.k. it's no news to bccy readers that a carefully structured yoga practice can be beneficial to children and teens, particularly those with weight and attention-deficit issues.

finally, there is a lot of truth in this article. . .how to spot a yogini a mile off by her hair and shoes. . .it's amusing in a certain way. i have to cop to it, there's no denying!

i am frequently seen about town in my capri-length yoga pants, the cropped tanktop, flip-flops or cole-haan mules, my hair in a chignon high on my head. . .those who know me can attest i rarely leave the house without my huge black yoga mat in its rip-stop nylon bag.

recently one sarcastic pal told me to stop loitering on the subway downtown lest the police come to believe i am carrying a mortar. . .

i may have to become a yoga teacher yet. could you imagine? with my bad sanskrit?

posted by fortune elkins | 11:05 AM | top | link to this |


Monday, March 22, 2004


and here's a big bccy shout-out

to our pal, scaa board member, and committee chairperson, kimberly easson of transfair. today finds her incredible spirit highlighted in a great article.

naturally, she's active encouraging students to get into fair trade. thus her recent speech in florida. . .

did i forget to mention she also does some yoga?

posted by fortune elkins | 9:28 AM | top | link to this |


Sunday, March 21, 2004


more faith-based groups get into fair trade

students and churches have been driving the fair-trade coffee movement in a serious way and it looks like that trend continues.

as usual today i made the famous bccy pizza, although i did vary the recipe a tad by using semolina flour in place of the durum wheat flour. to my mind it does improve the flavor considerably, but unless you take care to roll it thin can make the dough too "bready."

i'm still searching for a pepperoni worth eating; i'm surprised at how hard this is to find! if you dear readers have any leads on a great artisanal pepperoni, please please please send 'em on to me. french saucisson just won't do on a new york crust pizza, you know?

these are the little worries that i carry through the day, which frankly is why i rely so much on yoga nidra. . .and a great cup of coffee!

posted by fortune elkins | 7:17 PM | top | link to this |

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