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Saturday, June 07, 2003


the rain was so horrendous this afternoon that even the rats at the essex street market on delancey looked miserable as they huddled under the dumpster by the subway stairs.

i was of course running late to have my eyebrows done by christine, who alone is able to coax perfection from them. as i dashed up rivington -- you are never never never late for christine -- i passed paul's, opposite moby's teany. (i love moby, but no offense: you're not gonna catch me in a tea-only joint any time soon. . .)

paul's has a beautiful antique chrome elektra 2-group espresso machine and i thought about dropping in just long enough to get a macchiato to go. i turned to cross the threshhold -- until i saw the portafilters lying about, cold, on the counter.

so disappointing! i did a quick turn again on my heel and off down the street in the downpour. you'll be pleased to know i actually made it 5 minutes early. . .

why? again my heart cries why? what does it take to teach people to be baristas in this town?

all pbtc (person-behind-the-counter) types should be forced by a mayoral act to attend a real coffee training workshop! who would want to be a mere pbtc when you could actually transform yourself in to genuine barista?

why do baristas get so little respect? we coffee lovers must let coffeeshop owners know the value of hiring or creating real baristas!

speaking of coffee training -- 14 people have now reserved for the scaa nyc membership event at dallis coffee on june 28. you can still make it if you email me soon to reserve your space. . .

posted by fortune | 7:39 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Friday, June 06, 2003

is new york iced coffee a rip off?

would you be stunned to discover some people think so?

iced coffee is being watered down by dishonest baristas and people are not getting what they paid for; on average, a new york iced coffee costs 70 cents more than a hot coffee but contains 60 to 200 mls (2 to 10 oz.) less actual coffee, charges a coffeehop owner here in gotham.

to combat this in his own shop, joe rinaldi of bklyn's caffe capri in billburg (serious roaster john gant's own beatnik review here) counteracts the diluting effect of ice by making cubes from strong coffee to use in all iced coffee and espresso drinks.

those doing the math think iced coffee should cost US$0.21 cents less than hot, not more, as is the usual custom here in nyc.

that ice cube thing's a helpful hint for those of us who make our iced coffee at home. . . .i tell ya, mark my words, while all the marketing surveys show that the massive coffee growth will be people ordering to-go drinks over the counter, i think that will be soon be followed by a surge in people returning to making their own coffee at home.

this is the same thing we saw with the recent food revolution, both on the west coast and here. for a decade, people flocked out to eat; then once they had built up some expectations, they began to cook at home. . . .

first you eat at mario's -- then you wanna buy the wild fennel pollen for your own table! i predict the same will prove true with coffee.

posted by fortune | 4:07 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Thursday, June 05, 2003

kona drought & more healthy chocolate

as a big fan of kona coffee from smith farms and john langenstein in the bodum santos vac-pot, i'm deeply distressed to hear about the drought that is currently devastating the kona area. up to 50% of the crop could be lost. . . meaning lost revenue for farmers as consumers balk at the naturally higher prices. . .

what's great is that the article actually quotes bob smith of smith farms, whose wife cea is not only a wonderful wonderful person, but also an regular and scaa e-member.

i can't go a week here without another book or serious peer-reviewed research study proclaiming the health benefits of dark chocolate. green tea? red wine? nah, it's the chocolate i turn to when i need to boost my supply of heart-healthy oils and cancer-fighting flavonoids. . .

and on this note, i ordered another two bars of slitti lattenero from our pal clay gordon at chocophile, who alas has stopped shipping for the summer already. we'll catch up with ya in the fall, clay!

while we're waiting for safe shipping temperatures to return, we new yorkers can spend our summer days wandering through the chocolate exhibit set to open next week at the natural history museum. long-time readers may recall that i've written about this exhibit before.

posted by fortune | 5:48 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

everything's going mainstream

yup, it's true. after years of riding the curl, dear readers, the mainstream is catching up to us.

for example: better coffee. finally, even convenience stores and truck stops are realizing that they need to improve their coffee. hoo-ray! it's a small step, but we hope it will accelerate rapidly. . .

"quality begets price begets quality," as a friend of mine likes to say. and i think that as these quick-stop places realize how better coffee can make 'em more money, then the quality and care they put into the coffee will evolve, creating more better coffee sooner, even at this level of the market!

another example: i noted myself not so long ago how everyone has taken to basically living in their yoga clothes. this is because yoga clothes are slenderizing, attractive, comfortable, and functional.

this trend has now jumped the pond to the u.k. my advice for you new yorkers, however, still stands: be a thrifty yogini.

don't pay retail. you can get these stylin' garments now in all the chic colors for less than you'd believe possible at our beloved century 21.

posted by fortune | 3:44 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

coffee traders agree to sustainability

in deeply interesting news, the globe's 2 largest coffee trading companies, volcafe and neumann kaffee, have signed agreements to support sustainable development and progressive coffee practices with the rainforest alliance.

it's a market-changing story.

and in other great coffee news, here's a fine interview with this year's world barista champion, paul bassett of australia. plus he offers some basic brewing tips!

posted by fortune | 3:25 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Monday, June 02, 2003

only 7 spaces left!

for those of you following the massive june 28-30 nyc scaa consumer membership event, i'm here to remind you that 13 people have now confirmed. only 7 spaces left! don't get left out of this tremendous event! email me to reserve, please.

the entire idea of scaa consumer membership is to share our coffee passion and appreciation, to learn more about coffee, and to support incredible quality coffee roasters and retailers, like the berres brothers.

read this lovely piece about their commitment to high-quality specialty coffee in wisconsin. you go, peter and jeff! we here at bccy support ya 110%.

there should be a shop like berres in every city, town, and hamlet. there should be better coffee for all!

and while we're at, here's an ode to small-town coffee culture -- the old-fashioned local coffeeshop, with that bottomless cup of black joe. the coffee wasn't always that great, but the company is. i love that culture, and i just wish the owners would improve the coffee a tad. . .

and finally on the chocolate front: well-known moonstruck chocolates intends to expand a la starbucks. i won't object, even tho' i prefer true artisanal chocolates. the more better chocolate -- well, the more better chocolate, that's what i say. read about it here (log your own self in: bccy1, password).

posted by fortune | 3:07 PM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

Sunday, June 01, 2003

more dancing goats

one of the things patrick from the victory gave me yesterday when i went to pick up the batdorf dancing goats was a couple of batdorf's fun coffee pamphlets.

they nicely reprint a lot of classic scaa information, and include a fun set of instructions for the basics of cupping and tasting, aimed at their coffeehouse retail customers, most of whom don't really know so much about this level of coffee.

however, what intrigued me most was the tidbit of information, tucked away in the corner of their material, that they think the dancing goat blend should be pulled to an 18 second shot, not the "classic" 25-30 seconds.

this was news to me! but i have to say that as a straight, no-milk espresso on the rancilio silvia, i have to agree that the dancing goat is much better at 18 seconds. but because of what i think are the number of "hard beans" in its make-up, i don't like the way it grinds on the mazzer as a ristretto.

nice 1-1/4 oz. 18-second espresso can be had, tho'. but i can't help comparing it again to the gillies blend i keep talking about. one of the highlights of that blend was its particularly mouss-y crema that yielded a sweet coffee taste when licked right off the side of the cup.

the batdorf offers nice crema, but it's heavier, somehow inert. . .

posted by fortune | 11:51 AM | top | link to this | | email this:   |

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