Archive for July, 2007
Roasters who bought Esmeralda at the now famous Best Of Panama auction a mounth or so ago paid $130 per pound. The same coffee could also be aquired directly from the farm, when and if available, at it’s regular price, which I don’t know. The retail cost to the consumer for the 12 oz bags from Counter Culture Coffee was $30. Is this price worth it? Ask yourself this, how much did you pay for your last hair cut? How much did you pay for a glass of wine the last time you ate out? How much did you pay for your cool shoes, boots, Abercrombie shirt? Stop worrying about the cost of damn good coffee.
I made a french press of the Esmeralda the other day, my first encounter with it, and I thought it came out a little under done. It seemed tea-like, but with a perfectly clean and crisp acidity and beautiful finish. The next day I had some as iced coffee and it was like the most fantasitc thing iced tea wished it could be, with a good coffee foundation to boot. Then when I made another press pot I over shot the mark and it came out bitter and a bit flat. Then I cupped it and it was the most delightful fruity chinese Lychee and pink fruit. Then the next day I cupped it and the after taste was a displeasing tartness. Later that afternoon it was a delicious plum. I’m torn. Do I like it or not? The fragrance is always the most fantastic coffee aroma I have ever known. The flavor changes on me from day to day depending on too many factors to grapple at once.
All coffees have a sweet spot when it comes to time, temperature, turbulance, and throw weight. It is never a simple mecanical excercise to hit the bulls eye. What I have found difficult with Esmeralda is that it is a moving target. This is simultaniously the best, and most fickle coffee I have known.
Maybe my expectations are that it must always be great. This hasn’t been my experience though. This morning I felt kind of like a chump in a room with 20 people cupping Esmeralda, and I was the guy who didn’t like the after taste. Every body else was like “I love the after taste, I wanna carry it around all day!” I was like “um, does anybody have any gum?” But after lunch, while giving samples to some wine experts, it was transending.
It just goes to show you, a Jaguar may be a fine automobile, but it will be in the shop often, and it will cost a fortune to get it fixed.
What do you do when you have several hundred pounds of hand picked coffee cherries and only a few hours to get it to the mill before it starts to turn? Do you load it up in your beat up Toyota pick up? Do you pack it up on the back of your Buro? Do you send it UPS? Not if you live in Rwanda. You carry it by bicycle, but not just any bicycle; by wooden bicycle.
If you are handy and you are willing to put out the human resources you can build your own.
Tim Hill, Head Roaster of Counter Culture Coffee, (and a friend of his who’s name is not known to me), built this crazy American version with rubber wheels.
If you want to learn more and help support the manufacture of steel framed bikes for the farmers, you can get up with the people at BikesToRwanda.
I don’t know….. Maybe I am too old to be hip anymore, if I ever was. Maybe I am just not on the cutting edge of cool. The kids like their lingo, and the lingo morphs from one generation to the next. Hell, it changes from one graduating class to the next for that matter. Everything has been shortened or abstracted. If you are in the know you will get it, otherwise you just some old geezer, or at least over 35 years old.
Peeps, scrilla, the shizzzz, tat, the ‘Tane; almost anything can be shortened, abrieviated, or altered for added hip value. With the exception of the timeless “cool”, the relavence of any given piece of slang is restricted to a period in history that lasts about as long as adolesence. You will easily be spoted as an older poser if you try to whip out an expression you think is cool, but has already gone out of style.
“Yo G, slap me some skin, ’cause you look crazy stoopid in all the Bling!” You get the gist.
Maybe I am just to old to appreciate creative language. Am I a stick in the mud, or is the term “‘Spro” just the most juvinille sounding thing? Do you walk into a sophisticated establishment and turn to the Somallier and say “Dude, pour me some Vino!” So why would you walk into cutting edge modern day specialty coffee bar and say, “Gimme a ‘Spro, Bro!” Maybe the torn and un-laundered jeans and ratty T-shirt with a Kitchy silk screen allows you to let down the guard you normally reserve for interaction with civilized and cultured individuals.
The long and short of it is, wheather I am too old to be cool or not, I just think it sounds bad. It is not that I think it gives the coffee industry a bad image, or that the Barista community needs to clean up it’s act. I am not advocating any sort of social correction. The expresion istelf is just crude and awkward. And besides, it is very reminiscent of the term “Spooge”.
I found this on flickr.com. This doodle represents everything we are trying to do in the specialty coffee industry. One should look forward to, and think fondly of one’s coffee break. One should dream and fantisize about it. Coffee should creep into the frontal lobe via the reptilian stem, touching all memories real and ancestral. The welling up of coffee from the subconscious should cause the limbs to move, tracing the outlines and causing to take shape the image on one’s self reliving the moment when that beverage was transporting. The added bonus is the feeling of being enveloped in a shroud of love.
I have spent a full week and a day packing, loading, boxing, renting turcks, driving trucks, caging cats, moving furniture and appliances, signing documents, signing more documents, sitting in DC traffic, signing documents, selling coffee and setting up coffee brewing equipments, packing more boxes, unloading more boxes, pulling the ocaissional all nighter to pack more boxes, signing documents, telling my realestate broker to stop patronizing me and generally go screw himself with roughly textured items, hearding cats and strapping cat cages down in cramped truck cabs, backing up a big truck into tiny driveways, and of course signing documents.
All of my worldly possesions are now up North and I am the owner of a residence in the town of West Chester PA, but still living Raleigh NC in my Uncle’s basement. This weekend I am in PA with my inlaws closing on the new house and visiting one my future clients up here. Milkboy, on the Main Line just outside of Philly, is a tight space with a GB5 and nothin’ but French Press. I went in incognito and got a cup of press and a shot. The preparation was with full attention to quality and freshness, and this is a huge deal. So often the little things are overlooked, but these guys were operating with both eyes open. Then I was off to the second land transfer settlement of the week for me. That was completely exhasting, but it put me in my new house. The new place will be livable after the kitchen, winodows, and roof are all completelly replaced. More moving updated to follow, as they say.