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Saturday, June 12, 2004


it keeps growing & growing

remember not so long ago i swore to maintain my chef? feed it 2x a week?

well, i have. and now i have a nice chunk of it. unfortunately, mr. right has been remiss in his share of bread eating. my freezer is still packed with bread.

but i must bake before this chef takes over my kitchen -- thus the sweet people in 7C (and maybe even 6D) will benefit. . . i'm baking a loaf i doubt i will eat more than 1 slice of.

i mean, i have to taste it before i pawn it off on my neighbors, right? let's just hope it rises, ok? 4 hours to proof this puppy, and then we'll know!

in the meantime, i'll rush off to 5pm yoga and make up some coffee to serve iced. i still have my great coffee iced cubes i made from the last of k's grade 2 sidamo; they've been sitting patiently in my freezer in a bag all this time, waiting for the hot weather to strike.

so much to do! i think i'll just have to delay that russian coffee cake another week, much to my regret.

finally, careful readers may have noticed i have made a slight change to the search pages. after the recent design change, people appeared to be getting too many hits when they search, and giving up the hunt.

so now i've put a copy of the advanced search form right on the fast search results page to allow you to more easily refine your searches. i know that after pushing 5 years of this website -- before it was a blog it was a flash website with quarterly seasonal recipe updates and wacky fractal art -- there's a lot to discover. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 12:16 PM | top | link to this |


Friday, June 11, 2004


how memory works & barista champ of new zealand

as most people know by now, ray charles is dead. i wasn't a huge fan, but who knows why, reading his obits reminded me for no particular reason of what's perhaps frank o'hara's most famous poem, written the day another famous musician died:

this is an audio post - click to play i won't annotate it; while the references are mostly literary or new-york based, like the old ziegfeld theater, what's important is the tone, the rhythm of the thing. new yorkers still talk this way you know.

poet elaine equi once wrote that the reason frank o'hara hasn't been canonized as a great poet is that his intense, idealized sense of personality and emotion are unfashionable these days. and that's probably true.

only young people now respond to frank o'hara, she argues, because grown-ups know better than to be so passionate. but that's where she's wrong.

grown-ups have only learned to be over-cautious, and their cool irony is only a defense against possible heartbreak. they lack the strength to be real new yorkers.

but they should just give it up and have the courage to fall in love, with new york, with the people around them. to listen to themselves speak, and embrace that. . .

but enough free association. today's article on new zealand barista champ carl sara reminded me that the world barista championship's coming up fast.

the reigning champ, paul bassett, is from australia -- could the folks down under keep this prize? it's likely.

sara's work is tremendous. . .on the other hand, the scandanavians are always fierce competitors!

posted by fortune elkins | 12:25 PM | top | link to this |


Thursday, June 10, 2004


update on june 27-28 nyc scaa consumer member event

don't be left out! i have 2 places left; if you want one, email me below. scaa consumer members come free; non-members pay US$20.

since joining at the basic level is only US$18, i think you see where i'm going with this!

here's the current event situation -- on june 27:

  • 11am -- cupping erna knutsen coffees at oren's daily roast at his 58th st. store in manhattan. oren will also discuss his unique roaster technology, which is really neither drum nor fluid bed.
  • 1:30pm/2pm -- lunch. i guess we're doing a jewish deli thing?
  • 3:30-5:30pm -- tour, discussion, and cupping at the coffee exchange grading room, with john stefenson, vice prez of the green coffee association and former scaa prez steve colten.
    all coffee questions answered! interested in green coffee? market issues? whatever you wanna know, these are the guys to ask.
  • 6pm/6:15pm -- gimme in bklyn. gimme closes at 8. we will have a chance to drink gimme's fabulous espresso, pull shots and learn about gimme's fabulous mirage espresso machine, built for them by kees van der westen.
  • 8-8:30pm -- dinner! probably italian. maybe thai.

on june 28:

  • there may be a tour of the active exchange floor in full cry, if enough people are interested.
  • otherwise, the swanky scaa cocktail reception at 6pm, hosted by peter longo of porto rico now moved to the exchange grading room; see here.

don't miss out! reserve your place now.

posted by fortune elkins | 8:27 AM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, June 09, 2004


australian iced coffee

since it's going to be about 95 degrees f. today in new york, i'm presenting this ripped straight from the pages of alt.coffee -- a fantastic recipe provided by one of bccy's heros, ozzie coffeeman alan frew:

"iced coffee

  1. Brew strong Costa Rica Tarrazu in a vac pot at a ratio of 100g [note: approx. 3.6 oz.] of medium ground coffee per litre [note: approx. 32 oz.] of brew water, 'up' time 2 minutes.
    [note: this is roughly 'double strength' coffee, according to scaa chief ted lingle's brewing control chart.]
  2. Chill resultant brew in sealed glass container at 2C [note: approx. 35 degrees f., but at home most of us just have our fridges at about 50 degrees f] for 12 hours.
  3. Serve in chilled 400ml [note: approx. 14 oz. tall] glass with 1 scoop vanilla ice cream and 100ml [note: approx. 1/3 cup] cold whole milk, sugar syrup on the side.

I know it's not 'American' iced coffee but it certainly passes current in the rest of the world. . .

--

Alan
Coffee for Connoisseurs"

posted by fortune elkins | 6:34 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, June 08, 2004


note from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous

as is my practice, the links and notes are mine, inserted to help readers who may be newer to these issues:

"Enjoyed your tirade on Walker's column which was, indeed, incredibly weird and offensive.

It's just loaded with loaded phrases and illogical statements.

'... according to a nonprofit called TransFair USA' [Of course you've never heard of this group, so we'll call it "a nonprofit called"]

'if they pay more, they have to raise prices -- and risk losing customers' [How about, "If they (note: they, the so-called "big four" multi-national firms who roast the coffee in the supermarket cans: kraft, nestle, p&g, sara lee) collude to help bring about a crash in the price of green coffee, they can keep their prices right where they were and rake in buckets of cash."]

'. . . such coffee, which can cost twice as much as Folger's' [Now why in the name of God would anyone pay $8 a pound for coffee when they can get coffee for $4 a pound? (note: there are those in the specialty coffee community who wonder if that's really coffee in that can, or more properly, "coffee-by-products." it's a pity, because there was a time when folger's was decent coffee.]

'How many Fair Trade buyers also stick to free-range chicken?' etc. [Okay, Rob. What, exactly is your point here? If the people who buy Fair Trade coffee don't follow through with this thinking in every facet of their lives, they're obviously idiots and should be ridiculed. If they had any brains, they sit back and wait for that legislative solution that's just around the corner.]

You know the really amazing thing that I can't believe he didn't get into? TransFair is based in La La Land [sic]. That's right, it's one of those weird California deals. I think he should be given five demerits for missing a chance to make fun of California in the pages of the Times yet again."

posted by fortune elkins | 6:28 AM | top | link to this |


Monday, June 07, 2004


banish your blues

"according to the world health organization, by the year 2020 depression will be the second biggest world killer."

this is a sobering thought: that after the heart disease and diabetes caused by the growing level of obesity, untreated depression will also take an enormous toll.

what's fascinating is that yoga is proving useful for both disorders! i was deeply interested in this article on a new book about using yoga in conjunction with standard therapies to treat serious depression.

readers with long memories may recall i've touched on this subject before. (and here's a link to the proposed theory on how yoga works to help depression).

posted by fortune elkins | 8:28 AM | top | link to this |


Sunday, June 06, 2004


not that i'm a crank or anything

maybe i should entitle this post ". . or how i strive to engage with the new york times." because today's thumb-sucking article in the ny times on fair-trade coffee just had me laughing the portafilter off carlos, my expobar.

that this piece, which made no effort to discuss the arguments for or against the fair-trade economic idea, but pondered only guilt and "consumer ethics," appeared at all was perhaps hilarious.

i mean, after all that's happened, the times has the noive as we say in brownstone bklyn to devote an entire magazine to ethics! that's chutzpah!

to use the pidgin of noo yawk, which i am firmly convinced will soon evolve into a rich creole of charmingly decrepit neapolitan italian, yiddish, urdu, and spanglish.

being the times, it can't help but sweetly, arrogantly, get-it-all-wrong-while-missing-the-point. poor paul rice.

long-time readers know that both kimberly easson and paul rice of transfair are long-time friends of this page, even as we here at bccy admit the current fair-trade implementation could be even more successful after some reform.

the times' think piece -- that's too kind to it, i know, but i do so seem to enjoy the struggle of attempting to still respect my fishwrap -- concludes that if fair-trade coffee sales continue to grow, it will be because lazy americans see it as an easy way to believe they are doing good.

the vanity of philanthropy, let's call it.

i know the times disdains normal people of any political persuasion; i know "the institution" -- the times recently admitted few actual human being appear to work there; it's just a "system," albeit one that appears to need a reboot and an upgrade to os x -- disdains those of us stupid enough to still buy it.

but there are great people at the times, who understand issues, write well, and deal seriously with their subject areas.

since my circle of knowledge is quite small (you know, bccy) i can judge only from that perspective. thus i understand that for every dopey amanda hesser there's an unheralded gem, a deborah baldwin.

these good journalists are whomped by the time's culture of touting smug "we-know-it-last!- but-since-we-never-heard-of-it- how-could-you-poor-benighted-in-the-boroughs-have-heard- of-it-at-all?" idiocy as wisdom and expertise. they are really in the same boat as we readers, who have long accepted this insult as our due.

after all, it's the times! the journal of record!

but i'm not some pontificating just-add-hot-air pundit or political war blogger. everyone knows i'm another tiny worm in a container-load of nestle's grade 8.

no, what i find most comic about this coffee piece is its proud laziness, its light-weight refusal to take the subject seriously.

"the world-market price of coffee has fallen so low that, according to a non-profit called transfairusa, millions of third-world farmers are being crushed by unfair competition and cannot survive."

those readers who stop be here even on rare occasion can't help but be floored by that sentence.

the times has never apparently heard of the coffee crisis (and here), despite many mainstream articles on it, including one 2 years ago in the wall st. journal, of all places!

the times apparently cannot bother to discover or explain what transfair is, or its connection to the issue!

the times apparently cannot bother to take a look at its own market and financial reporting to discover the price of coffee, and its trends, over the past few years!

the times apparently is unaware of the series earlier this year on its own editorial pages on the "unfair harvest," or how first-world economic and agricultural policies disadvantage third-world farmers. (for example, here.)

the times apparently cannot be bothered to do any independent research to supply facts about the world's second most-traded commodity, which would allow it to do more than vaguely float "millions of farmers" but rather concretely note "25 million families," or about 70 million people, in 50 coffee-producing countries.

as a prominent green coffee broker (a.k.a "greenie") and former scaa president famously remarked to me: the world runs on coffee just as it does on oil.

but ssh! don't let on that we know. allow the times to discover that for itself. . .

stridency is really unappealing in a yoga student, so let me note that my actual emotion is more a resigned dismay in the face of absurdity. i hope the times does better next time.

and in that mood, i'm going off to have an americano made of the batdorf dancing goats espresso.

not only is this a fantastic tasting, caramel delight, but batdorf is a company committed to doing the right thing by both consumers and coffee farmers.

their pioneering efforts on relationship coffee and sustainability issues are well known.

so while the times scorns us consumers for "buying ourselves ethics," i can say that batdorf, like many scaa members, actually has a better understanding.

we specialty coffee lovers are caught with the farmers and roasters in a chain, an illogical commodity system for coffee that shouldn't exist, that is structured to work against us.

but our choices can disrupt and end this system, by demanding and purchasing better-quality specialty coffee, sustainable coffee, and yes, if you like it, fair-trade coffee.

farmers and consumers are actually in control of the trade, if we would act. we don't have to hang about and let the market eat us all for lunch.

scaa roasters like batdorf understand that the current system isn't sustainable. thus they act in their own self-interest by partnering with farmers and consumers alike.

you can purchase fresh, delicious, premium coffee from your local specialty roaster and do everyone a favor. that's positive action, not warding off guilt.

or if the plight -- and that's not too strong a word -- of 70 million people attracts even your brief attention, you can also support that excellent charity, coffeekids. i do.

posted by fortune elkins | 9:31 AM | top | link to this |

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