Saturday, December 11, 2004


blanche in hospital, the great unexpected

let me note that i took blanche down to the repair place where there was discussion over whether they would charge me again or no. we'll discover what the manager says on monday.

i did receive a strong lectures on sifting dark brown sugar. i usually do not; but the repair people claim that even a small nugget of hardened dark brown sugar is death to an older kitchenaid.

i don't think i had any lumps like that, but again -- i didn't sift! so i dunno, one could have been hidden in the spoonfuls when i scooped the stuff outta the bag and into the bowl on the scale. . .

comments as you see are still not functioning. i thank you again for your patience!

you know, the blogosphere never ceases to amaze me. for example, i think the controversial stuff is when i post coffee prices and slam the commercial coffee greed-heads. but no!

i guess that's progress when we all agree that p&g needs to improve its act considerably -- like, by embracing coffee purity! the controversial comment appears to be -- who'd a thunk it? -- pod machines!

those pod people! but seriously, i didn't expect the flood o' mail: i ignore the ones that begin "you b****y coffee snob," but do enjoy the most reasonable. (that's you, peter r! hiya!)

please let me remind readers that i have had pod machines in my house, the nicest of which was the spidem divina jim from 1st-line brought by for an afternoon. a pod machine and a superauto in one!

this is really a fairly high-end machine. the coffee it made was drinkable, but indeed stale -- all pre-ground coffee stales in minutes. pods, like all pre-ground coffee, just can't be truly fresh, no matter what the salesman says.

the divina pods came out of their special little package. it wasn't bitter or nasty, but did have that "flat-stale" coffee taste, altho' it didn't have the truly objectionable "cardboard-stale" taste, as if you're drinking pulverized shirt boards you've pulled from your dry cleaning.

the coffee wasn't syrupy or gravy-bodied, and the "crema" was a 1/8" skin of pale khaki froth. i've had pod-water from illy and other places as well.

i confessed long ago the illy pod-water can be superior to truly awful shots from truly bad cafes. that's not the standard to which we specialty coffee lovers aspire, though, is it?

what surprises me is how often pod people drag out this comparison -- "better than my local coffeeshop." yikes!

we accept that most non-scaa coffeeshops -- and alas a few scaa member places too -- serve undrinkable tar. this is why we joined scaa chief ted lingle's consumer program to begin with, so that we could stop complaining and start making positive change.

thus of course you can make better than coffeeshop coffee at home. you always could, even with just a US$8 thermos, a teakettle or saucepan, fresh whole-bean coffee, fresh clean water, a US$15 whirly-blade grinder, and a clean tube sock.

i guarantee that properly used the above equipment will make drip coffee much better than 99% of coffeeshops. you don't need a pricey pod machine to achieve that small goal.

look, superautos and pods have their place -- for example, if i have a small child, i probably don't want a heavy doserless commercial grinder that said child could stick its fingers into, or an exposed e61 grouphead that said child could burn itself on.

but at the same time, i won't say -- because it isn't true -- that pod machines make great espresso, good espresso, or even reasonable espresso. because they don't; they make minimally acceptable coffee with a layer of foam that isn't true espresso.

it doesn't look like espresso, taste like espresso, behave like espresso an i'm pretty sure it doesn't meet illy's scientific descriptors for espresso. (we won't go into the proper refractive index for espresso right now, ok? you can get that from illy.)

instead, these machines make something that's rather a short café suisse/café crème/schüemli. and that may be fine for you if you don't know much about coffee and intend to drink it in 18 oz. of milk.

however, i optimistically think -- no, after years of doing this for ted lingle, i know -- that people actually want more. they just don't know how to get there.

it seems so similar to the bread machine thing to me; people love fresh bread and got bread machines. but the bread quality from those machines was mostly quite poor unless you really spent a lot of time with the things tweaking the recipes all about.

and so people abandoned their bread machines. this will most likely be the fate of the pod machines as well.

as long as people understand that they are giving something up -- and what exactly they are losing -- when they "go pod," they can make that choice. but the slate article didn't make any of this clear at all, which may at bottom be my real objection to it.

let me close by once again thanking you, peter r, for writing an intelligent letter. you and i aren't going to agree on this, but i appreciate that we can discuss it like grownup people!

it's an important talk to have and work through -- just another reason i'm so bummed the comments are down!

posted by fortune | 11:14 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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