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Saturday, July 13, 2002

new coffee arrival

it's true. i adored the max orsini organic wood-roasted espresso "gold blend" so much, i ordered a pound of his all arabica "black blend."

can't wait to try this 6-bean creation out tomorrow in a latte. tune in then; you'll be the first to know. . .max may be quite a character, but his coffee is superb. when this pound is gone, i plan to try the much-touted caffe vita from, of course, seattle.

posted by fortune | 8:18 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Friday, July 12, 2002

i heart chocolatiers

long time readers know it's true. . .jacques torres, richard donnelly, and also michael recchiuti.

the rose caramel bon-bon just sounds so scrumptious. as soon as the heat wave ends, i'm ordering! but could anything really equal donnelly's incredible honey caramel? doubtful, very doubtful. . .

posted by fortune | 7:55 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Thursday, July 11, 2002

eloquence in defense of nature is a virtue

it's with great pleasure that i reprint in toto an email from danny o'keefe of the songbird foundation on the recent article in the wall st. journal [reprint on] addressing the world coffee crisis:


The WSJ article was a watershed piece that will be read by executives and board members alike. We are coming to a realizition that the way we have been doing business is so near-sighted that it may spell enormous problems for us in the near future. We are not alone on the planet and without a balance of relationships we shall surely fall. I often think of us like Rome, which was built on great principles learned from the Greeks and others and then corrupted by greed and over-reaching military power. In the end, the savages outside the gates brought it down. We are our "brothers" (and "sisters") keepers as they are ours. Often when we're talking about the plight of poor Latin Americans (we're all Americans in this hemisphere) eyes fall shut and ears cease to hear. Racism runs very deep in this country.

You start talking about the "war on drugs" that is being fueled by Latin America (it isn't, but it's always made to seem that way) and everyone gets up in arms and gives Congress a blank check. Paying fair prices and wages alleviates much of the dependency on drug cropping by people who were never enthusiastic about it because it destroys their communities as well. It also preserves economies hovering desperately on the brink of disaster.

I'll step off the soap box now as I've got a lot left to do today. Stay in touch.

Danny O'Keefe

The Songbird Foundation

posted by fortune | 6:08 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

tweaking, tweaking

as in my hamstring. it happened last week doing a fancy yoga pose and it hasn't gotten any better.

it's time to admit i need a rest -- so yours truly is going to skip yoga for the next couple of days, as much as i hate to do that. but, as mark whitwell said to me not long ago, "yoga is about freedom." being pointlessly obsessed over a couple of days of yoga isn't freedom! especially when triangle pose makes me wince!

so you'll find me in a quiet corner reading the thoughts of ramana maharshi, the jnana yogi, instead of tangled up on my mat. . .we'll see what i can learn about this introspective "yoga of the intellect." hopefully this way i'll be good to go next week!

posted by fortune | 7:23 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

strain no more

like most people nowadays, i type and type and type and type. i often find that the area right between my shoulderblades gets a tad tight, which is uncomfortable until i make it to my normal yoga class.

in times like these i resort to the famed my daily yoga site for desktop yoga. i think most people have heard of this site, but just in case. . .i'm doing exercise 13 right now!

i also want to point out yesterday's article by reporter peter fritsch in the wall street journal on the world coffee crisis and its attendant problems. i've written about it here often enough (for one of the least boring examples), so i won't go on now. it's just nice to know that the big media is finally starting to pick this up.

In lush coffee-growing regions from Central America to Africa, the collapse of world coffee prices is contributing to societal meltdowns affecting an estimated 125 million people, fritsch writes.

i'll offer the link, but since it's a subscription only site, you won't see anything. . .you'll have to make a run down to your local public library. . .or check out this thread on

and yes, this is the shakeout of the new, new look. there are a couple small issues i'm working out, particularly with the commenting. but if you see any major problems, please use the link below to email me so i can see if this design will finally take! thanks. . .

posted by fortune | 6:30 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Monday, July 08, 2002

"guilt stirs me, but only to self-pity."

there's been a lot of discussion about the recent initiative in berkeley to mandate that all coffee sold in the city be certified fair trade. . .

that the citizens of berkeley themselves seem to be resisting this idea is telling enough; it clearly will not pass. and even if it did, it would clearly be too difficult to enforce. while the young lawyer backing the initiative is obviously well-meaning, i think well-intentioned liberal people have finally realized that there's a limit to what you can do with guilt when it comes to changing people's behavior.

guilt won't work, and it shouldn't be the primary means of creating change. there's no doubt that the current system's failing. but until coffee-producing countries offer serious governmental reforms, far-sighted coffee traders offer an alternative to the commodities market for high-quality specialty coffee, and international development agencies work out helpful policies, fair trade is just about the only means concerned consumers have to make a difference.

this doesn't mean that fair trade is a perfect vehicle; in fact, right now it has many problems and drawbacks. but we have to start somewhere, somehow. . .

recently, i was speaking about this problem with a well-regarded coffee roaster. he believes that the solution to the wild swings of the coffee exchange are for growers and producing countries to sign long-term, 3-year contracts with corporations and roasters. these contracts could be traded on the market themselves, perhaps, with a fixed bottom price, and hedged with tradable instruments to handle political and weather risks.

this method would combine the elements of a floor price to help protect farmers and yet the important market-making and risk-management functions needed in a modern economy. as i've said before, i don't have an advanced degree in economics, but this basic idea sounds reasonable to me. . .

posted by fortune | 6:23 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Sunday, July 07, 2002

is everything we know about food wrong? the new york times thinks so!

maybe i ought to rename this blog steak and chocolate. . .it's all too confusing for my little head.

so mr. right and i took advantage of the excellent weather and hopped down the hill to the brooklyn water front at the fulton landing for a small scoop of artisanal ice cream from the brooklyn ice cream factory. it's a cute little shop nestled in the old ferry building. but what makes it truly worthy of our attention is the hot fudge, which comes from nearby over-priced wedding-trap, the river cafe. pastry chef ellen sternau turns out stellar hot fudge made with michel cluizel 72% chocolate. it's probably the best thing at the river cafe!

the chocolate ice cream is decidely above average; all they would tell me about it was that it was made with cocoa. however, i have to confess that i'm an ice cream purist. true ice cream comes in one flavor alone -- vanilla. and sad to say, the ice cream factory's vanilla is anemic. so have 'em spoon a bit of fudge over a child's scoop of chocolate, and enjoy the skyline. . . the breeze off the water. . .the beauty of new york. . .

posted by fortune | 7:36 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

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