Saturday, July 31, 2004
tasting the future
"as the younger generation trades its tea cups for coffee mugs. . .
well there we are. taiwan is adopting the coffee lifestyle.
when i first read this article, i was dismayed by the emphasis on low-cost, low-quality or "value-price" coffee, until i reached the statement: "it's natural for consumers to demand higher quality."
indeed it is! and we coffee lovers are hanging out here at bccy, doing that very thing: demanding higher quality, specialty coffee.
in what has to be my most reluctant post ever, i refer you all to this. i'm very skeptical of all this kopi luwak nonsense.
i mean the article can't even get it right: the luwak or civet cat lives in indonesia, not africa. those i trust who have had this coffee insist it's all marketing hype.
most supposed luwak coffee is fake anyway, they say, bad beans force fed to caged animals kept in terrible situations. i don't know why people even talk about this nonsense; i won't, ever again.
if you don't want bitter coffee, just use a medium or lighter-roast fresh coffee, freshly ground and correctly brewed!
the internet sometimes makes life fun. for example, yesterday i had the great pleasure of communicating with a pal about what translation of patanjali's yoga sutras to buy.
he was standing in a bookstore in new mexico with a blackberry, while i was on my lunch break in new york. why don't i have one of these?
he was attempting to decide between iyengar, woods, shearer, and hartranft. personally, i've decided i like desikachar's contained in the heart of yoga.
and while we're on the subject of desikachar, his brother is yoga teacher too. check him out at yoga k. shemam.
and last but not least, another big bccy thank-you to jessica of batdorf for the fresh dancing goat espresso! she doesn't know it but she does more than just about anyone to keep mr. right happy.
Friday, July 30, 2004
a new coffee hero
"the small shop, called bi-mi-nam-kyung, looks ordinary, but it roasts its own green coffee beans after employees sort them by hand. those steps enhance the quality of its coffee drinks."
striving to make unforgettable coffee: yes! coffee lovers the world over applaud independent coffeeshop owners like south korea's lee dong-jin, for whom freshness and quality come first.
we can usefully compare and contrast this focus with that of the nca. they are most amusingly having their fall meeting just a few blocks from my house in bklyn.
i'm stunned actually because it's so far from the nearest golf course; where will the coffee executives of the so-called "big four" multinational coffee roasters who are responsible for the junk in the supermarket cans -- p&g, sara lee, kraft, nestle -- go to escape the facts of the world-price depression known as the coffee crisis they do so much to perpetuate?
on the other hand, i might finally be able to find nca big-guy robert nelson's missing soul. . .however i have to say i'm amused at the notion of the nca having "educational sessions."
what will they really teach? "advanced techniques for smothering your conscience" or maybe "pelletizing chaff for the marketing hack?"
oh oh oh: "insect parts & moldy beans can boost your stock price!"
Thursday, July 29, 2004
barista competitions going big time
you know when a heavy-hittin' mega-corp like bmw gets involved, the idea of the barista championship is going beyond the world of specialty coffee.
and i think it makes sense to start in australia, since as i've remarked earlier, the scandinavians and down-under baristas own the majority of the top slots.
i was particularly impressed to read that oz boasts a million household espresso machines, considering that the population of australia is just about 20 million people. (imagine that: there's a new australian born every 2 minutes. . .does the hospital give them the espresso machine on the way out?)
when will the u.s.a. gain such a coffee awareness? soon i hope, since this is the goal of the scaa's consumer membership program!
finally, today i'm enjoying the last of don schoenholt's gillies dns private reserve. yummy!
it's just the most pleasant, easy-to-drink coffee you can imagine. i know the gillies website is currently down; a new one is coming in its place very very soon!
in the meantime, you can order from the form linked above. . . call the toll-free number and ask for the fabulous olive!
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
colors on your palate. . .
"i've always loved coffee, for instance, but until recently i would have been hard-pressed to tell you why i liked a particular brew. after participating in a side-by-side tasting, however, i awoke to the differences."
this is the beauty of attending a cupping. and i frankly agree with the author's basic advice here. (again, if you get bugged for a password, bugmenot!)
what i love about this little article in a local chicago newspaper is that it's covering yoga as a sport! maybe this will finally help those last hold-out guy-types to take off their shoes and step on a yoga mat.
finally, i have such good news: due to popular demand, the formal zen coffee meditation will once again be held at the scaa conference in seattle 2005. 2 sessions this time!
many, many thanks to rick peyser of gmcr; kimberly e. of transfair; and of course, scaa chief himself, ted lingle!
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
specialty coffee rules!
"this coffee is spicy and nutty," the 20-year-old rwandan coffee farmer and newly trained gourmet says, seamlessly mixing the english words "spicy" and "nutty" with her native kinyarwanda."
and today the ny times offers a nice article on the subject of specialty coffee. (again, the nytimes blog link generator doesn't seem to be working, so you'll have to use bugmenot.)
let me also offer a nice shout-out to our pals at economy candy. it's getting harder and harder to find callebaut callets for chocolate-chip cookies here in nyc.
so the nice people at economy gave me a break on some merckens. . .
Monday, July 26, 2004
pod people, think again?
"new machines that brew individual cups of coffee in seconds are not likely to lure consumers away from coffee houses, according to a study that could signal a blow to the coffee marketers and appliance manufacturers that sell them. . . .only about 27 percent of those who drink coffee would consider buying the machines for themselves."
yikes! some of these new single-cup pod/capsule brewers are pricey! if this study's true, i might hesitate to buy one if they are just a passing fad.
the unknowing consumer might be stuck with a proprietary machine that takes proprietary pods, which then become unavailable as the manufacturer abandons the device. i mean, these brewers are definitely a "sell the razor and live off the blades" marketing strategy, yes?
on the other hand, that 27-percent figure does make my little specialty coffee heart glad. it seems to indicate how many coffee lovers understand that no pod can replace fresh coffee freshly ground, as created by a local independent artisan roaster or coffeehouse.
sometimes the coffee professionals who honor me by reading bccy express surprise that consumers could be interested in or even understand the coffee price situation, that world-price depression known as the coffee crisis. oh but we do!
we completely understand that it degrades the quality of the coffee we drink; it forces us to pay higher prices for what's too often mere sludge; and it causes suffering in coffee-producing countries.
and once again proof of this comes from bccy reader helliemae, who was kind enough to forward this wsj article on brazilian coffee production to me this morning. (if the site bugs you for a password, go to bugmenot!)
we clearly understand that specialty coffee is a boat: the only way we consumers can continue to enjoy delicious high-quality coffee is if we crew together with farmers and roaster/ retailers!
we are prepared to toss the multi-national firms who roast the junk coffee-by-products in the supermarket cans, the so-called "big four" -- sara lee, p&g, kraft, nestle (we have to add tchibo in here!) -- to the sharks. . .
occasionally a coffee professional will ask me, "why are you so adversarial?" and i have to say: 'cuz the big four ain't gonna change none 'til we consumers make 'em.
Sunday, July 25, 2004
sometimes people write me to ask why i don't scribble more here about yoga poses per se, or why don't i post pictures of my own practice.
i guess the answer is that i'm more into just talking about yoga in a friendly way than intimidating new people with descriptions of pretzel poses or impressing more experienced students with all the supposedly "fancy" stuff i've "attained."
because that "attainment yoga" is pretty phoney stuff, right?
but today i'm going to talk about a fabulous and surprisingly comfy way toward a so-called "advanced" pose, shalabasana with the legs over the head (known as "full locust" or "flying grasshopper").
we did this yesterday in keith's class at yoga people.
it looks scary, sure, but it's very accessible. what you need: 3 blankets or a really cushy bolster; 1 block; 1 towel; 1 wall.
put your yoga mat at the wall and get into half-chatarunga (also known as "knees-chest-chin," "8-point prone pose," "ashtanga pranam," "catepillar pose" or sometimes "awkward pose") with your feet against the baseboard of the wall. note where your chest falls.
that's the place you want your blankets or bolster. depending on, um, the physique of your chest, you may want to roll the blankets into a thick sausage, or leave them flat -- the idea is to be comfy. you don't gain any points for suffering, so don't waste your time!
if you're a computer user you may have a slightly stiff neck. so place the block where your chin fell and cover it with your towel for extra cushiness. use whatever side of the block that feels best for your neck.
now get back into the knees-chest-chin position. your chin should be on the block, your chest comfortably on the blankets/bolster, and your hands will probably fall so that the fingers hide under the edge of the blankets/bolster a bit -- maybe even all the way!
pressing firmly into your hands, walk your feet up the wall as high as you can without discomfort. press into your feet as you move them up.
most people will be able to get high enough that they can point their toes and place the tops of their feet against the wall.
this is a deep backbend, so be self-aware and gentle with yourself! but once you're there, it's really strangely easy and light.
hang out as long as you like, breathing as deeply as possible. . ..supported full locust. ah!
if you like, carefully move one leg at time, bending it over so your toes point down toward your head.