Archive for the ‘ Coffee philosophy ’ Category

The Wooden Bikes

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.

Don’t be a ‘Spro, Bro

     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”.

This is What it’s all About

I found this on  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.


 This was doodled and originally posted by lebonbonmulticolre, also known as Izzy from the street style blog Mtl Street.  BTW, Montreal is my hometown too.

Update Nibblets

A long and grueling weekend of Coffee Fest in Atlanta has left me depleted of the energy to write up something long-winded and socially insightful at the moment. You can use these nibblets to snack down and be satisfied, (I say that as though I have a reading public clambering for more material, but you know what they say, built it and they will come).

Octane Coffee Bar & Lounge is pulling off the balancing act of being coffee bar, liquor bar, Internet bar, art hub, haven of house music, social gathering point, shining star of coffee excellence, and high crime location all at the same time. Nice Job.

-Laptop and camera stolen, life is meaningless when disconnected from the outside world. We are accused of creating a “Crime of Opportunity” by parking a locked vehicle on the street, under the street light, next to a busy location, while “security guards” patrol the area.

-Creating a big atrium inside of a hotel with a restaurant, reception hall, and liquor bar is a bad and noisy idea.

Intelligentsia‘s Sarah and Alex are lovely and dynamic, Jay Cunningham’s hair is very curly, and the rest of the crew are great folks (sorry for forgetting the other names) and made me some great coffee. Ellie was also nice and hospitable.

-Phillip Search is a cornucopia of technical knowledge, and works a fine looking copper clad lever machine. Dan Griffin was also working the 49th Parallel booth; I thought he was from NYC.??

– The coffee consuming public wants to participate in cuppings, but they just need a little tug in the right direction.

Chemically Imbalanced‘s Ben Szobody is surprisingly calm in person.

-Dan Griffin wins $157 dollars on the spot in the spontaneous Latte Art smack down at the Dirty Dirty South CCC party.

-Most of  Peter Giuliano’s stories about sourcing coffee in remote locations of the world go something like this:

-I was cupping many coffees in ______________, and it turned out that all the coffees I liked came from the same place, the village of _____________.

-I asked them to take me there, and we began our long and arduous journey crossing the __________ in a makeshift ___________,  and were in real danger of being _________ by the __________.

-All the villagers knew we were coming, so when we got there all the people were in the street to greet us with their hands in the air, cheering and signing while someone wearing a _____________ began the ______________, which is the local custom.

-That night they served roasted ______________ which I ate anyway, and it was delicious.  Then they poured me some _____________, which is a fermented ale made from ______________.

-They threw the big party because it was the first time since the ___________ that they now have the ability to sell their crop for good price, and now they can afford to feed their children.

The Gold Filter Revolution: The Movie

This will change the way you look at coffee, for the rest of your life.

Or at least give you something to think about, another option to contemplate.

Note: the music  is Shopping, by LipKandy, used under creative commons license.

Gold mesh will filter out the Fines

A while back, when I had expressed my affinity for brewing coffee one cup at a time in a gold mesh filter cone, someone asked me if it was true that they do not produce as many fines as brewing in a French Press. My immediate response, without any thought, was to say that all metal mesh filter will let fines through. But after close observation I have been noticing that the basis for his question comes from a kernel of truth that lies in the simple design of the cone.

Pour over brewing relies on gravity to pull water through the ground coffee at a constant rate and with a consistently low force. Brewing coffee in a gold mesh filter creates a bed at the bottom of the cone where much of the fine dust particles get trapped. The gentle force of gravity can not pull them through.

At the beginning of the pour, when all the grounds are still floaters, there is a healthy quantity of fine dust that gets through the screen. Towards the end of the dwell time, about the last third is my guess, the liquid comes out as clear as it does through a paper filter. There is already a good deal of oil and silt that have passed at that point, so the flavor profile remains bright with great aftertaste (depending on the coffee), very similar to the French Press method. But with the Press, you add a great deal more force by plunging, even if you plunge slow and gentle. By applying a little extra force by tapping twice on the plate the fine particles can be seen coming through the screen.

All this dust would have come through in a Press, but was held off by the coffee itself. The coffee bed becomes very static towards the end of the brewing, thereby holding smaller particles in place in the spaces between large particles. This also serves the purpose of extending the dwell time, by slowing the flow, to bring out more body in the cup. This means that you can use a much, much finer grind than you would for a Press. This also slows down the dwell time. At a grind size that is just about right for most paper filter settings on most grinders (think Mr. Coffee), you can strike a great balance between particle size and dwell time for an extremely clear, full bodied, brightly flavored brew with oils swirling on the surface.

One more characteristic of the gold mesh filter is the speed and ease with which you can clean up. Tap it upside down in the rubbish bin, give a rinse, and you are ready for the next cup. A regular cleansing with some surfactant will keep it from imparting any flavor to the coffee. I don’t mean this as a replacement for the French Press. It is much faster to prepare and clean up, so I do this at work, where time is money. But I do also enjoy the heavy mouth feel that Press can deliver, or whenever the mood hits me. There is definitely the potential for retail application. If you have the time serve Press pots in a coffee shop environment, you could be brewing these just as easily. It does require a little more personal attention from the Barista, however, because you do have to pour the water in slowly and deliberately, whereas you can set a timer and walk away from a Press pot. But I for one would like to start the gold mesh pour over revolution. Who among you can I count on as my allies?


A couple of strapping young men come into the shop Friday night and ask me if they get a Guinness, will I put a shot of espresso in it. It is nice that they were concerned with my idea of aesthetics concerning the manor in which I serve the coffee, the average customer may not give a rat’s tukis. I told them, hell, not only can you have a shot in your beer, I’ll take pictures for cryin’ out loud.

I have never personally done this before, or seen this before. I was not sure what the most dramatic way, visually speaking, of serving this would be. So I just had them pour the shot into the Guinness head (after I told them to observe the Guinness effect in the shot glass first). It looked like this:

These guys were calling it the “Big Ben”, because their friend Ben was the one to turn them onto it. I called it the Guispresso. Any suggestions for serving it up, or for a more creative name, made up or pre-existing, would be appreciated.