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Saturday, October 16, 2004

not too bad

back from carl s.' lead ashtanga class at yoga people. it's not too bad.

he is in fact, a very sweet guy who also studies anusara yoga, which is a tad unusual for a devotee of p. jois. and he does have a sense of humor.

but i still just don't get the ashtanga primary series. it's the only form of yoga i've ever done that leaves me tighter than when i began. . .

however, ashtanga usually also makes me quite grumpy. not so for carl's class.

if you like ashtanga, this could be for you.

posted by fortune | 1:38 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

ode to the triple ristretto

yes, brian of espresso parts' portafilter fits great on both silvia and carlos expobar. yes, the coffee's fantastic.

i spent the morning luxuriating in rich, soft drinks made with fresh batdorf dancing goat (thanks, jessica!) from this new custom portafilter. it's just a thing of beauty, as you can see.

those of you with e61 or thermosyphon groupheads can use the triple basket; you just need the custom portafilter. (i mean you, marshall fuss!) brian at espresso parts can easily make one up for ya in just a couple of days.

and no, it's not expensive. it's just exciting: mr. right reports the coffee seems more like what we were drinking in italy!

on the yoga front, i'm the eternal optimist, and so i'm going to go try another lead ashtanga class, taught by one carl s. at yoga people. he's said to be a good teacher, willing to modify the poses.

and most importantly, it's reported that he has a sense of humor. will report back later today.

posted by fortune | 9:10 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, October 15, 2004

ethiopian coffee ceremony

"the smell of incense and the rich aroma of roasting java beans filled the air . . .as members of the ethiopian community demonstrated a traditional coffee ceremony."

long-time readers may recall that i had wanted to hold one of these ethiopian coffee ceremonies for consumers at the 2005 scaa conference in seattle.

but alas, no fire allowed there! i guess the arlington, va. public library is more adventurous. i noticed immediately that the ethiopians serve their fresh coffee with fresh bread.

"in ethiopia, coffee is not something you just go and grab, or something you get and go out on the highway and drink as you drive to work. . .it's for people to get together and talk about the community, about politics, about life."

we here at bccy couldn't agree more: fine coffee is the most social and intellectual beverage! read about it here.

when i comes to ethiopian coffee, i freely confess i'm a bit crazed about sidamo. here, for example, here, and so memorably, here.

posted by fortune | 7:10 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Thursday, October 14, 2004

the facts

"what is the most valuable item of international trade in the world today? no surprise for anyone who's read the headlines for the past decade or two: it's oil. but you might be surprised to discover that the second most valuable item is coffee. . . .

four companies control the majority of the global coffee trade -- at least 60%: nestle (makers of nescafe and several other leading brands), philip morris (maxwell house) [sic], procter & gamble (folgers) and sara lee (chock full o' nuts). . . . the global coffee industry earns some $60 billion annually, and yet less than 10% of that $60 billion actually ends up with the people who work on the farms."

well, i think the author is confused about maxwell house, which according to their website, is a kraft product (as by the way is the coffee labelled starbucks in the supermaket; kraft makes and distributes that under license).

p. morris used to own kraft, did various corporate gyrations to spin off kraft and itself, and then formed a new parent as altria, so as to insulate its food brands from negative tobacco backlash. confusing, no?

so technically i believe you have to say altria owns maxwell house thru its majority control of kraft. still the gist is true: it's the bare bones fact of the so-called "coffee crisis."

the author forgot to mention another significant player: tchibo, but otherwise is exactly on target.

as you might expect from the source, the piece has an interesting perspective on the concept of organic and fair-trade coffee too.

if you are interested in this wild idea of eco-kosher -- which is actually an inter-faith effort, like the equal exchange program -- let me quietly note that long-time bccy-pal gillies coffee has for years been providing kosher, fair-trade, and organic coffees. . .

posted by fortune | 7:38 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

disappointment superseded by joy

it's not often you can pinpoint the person who all by themselves turns your day around. but today it's brian of espresso parts.

but this post is more than another love-song to the guy who sent me my custom-adapted commercial la marzocco triple-basket ergonomic portafilter with a single spout. altho' i have to confess that when it arrived i tore thru the bubble wrap and clasped it to my bosom.

will rush home and frantically make sure it fits my various espresso machines! but i'm already pretty confident it will.

it's also a gentle butterfly sigh of disappointment in old-friends-under-new-management, da vinci syrups, now owned by the irish kerry group. (no no no, not the candidate.)

old-friend da vinci usually took a couple of days to pack and ship your order, especially if was sugar free.

this new-management da vinci took more than an entire week! just to fulfill the order! delivery will be another 5-7 business days!

i'm telling you, i placed my order on the 5th and just received my shipping notice today!

dear da vinci: mr. right lives on your sugar-free white chocolate syrup. please speed this process up before i switch over to routin's 1883 sugar-free white chocolate syrup, which can be ordered from upstate new york. . .

the routin distributor ships the same morning -- not same day, but same morning -- for a 2-day delivery! shipping cost: US$5.95.

posted by fortune | 10:43 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

having problems reconciling to autumn

sunny naples always calls! and so for the purposes of mutual nostalgia, i'm posting pix of the beautiful art nouveau gambrinus coffeehouse.

but autumn does seem to call out to me on the coffee cake front, and this recipe seems worth a try. . .

"we're trying to represent the common person and real coffee -- a genuine, good, solid, everyday cup of coffee."

long-time readers know that ever since i met 8-o'clock prez barbara roth at the rainforest alliance dinner, i've been sympathetic to her goal to relaunch the brand and improve quality. but marketing "retro-chic" alone won't do it.

canning specialty coffee is a trend, there's no doubt, and this is my advice to ms. roth: go with specialty beans! alas, with the world-price depression known as the "coffee crisis" still in swing despite some recent market increases, any savvy executive can move to specialty without taking a big hit on the bottom line.

even coffee farmers themselves recognize that improving quality and growing specialty is the only way to go. i'm sure ms. roth will come to the same conclusion.

everyone knows i love these "coffee as a health food" stories, which have the benefit of being basically true. the only better thing perhaps are "chocolate as a health food" stories; long-time readers recall we here at bccy are big fans of dr. joe "square dance" vinson.

i'd love to go to his latest lecture, wouldn't you?

posted by fortune | 7:02 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

new decaf, oaxaca protest & a consumer event

in an interesting tidbit that could change the coffee industry, scientists are working on a new method of decaffeination, using bacteria that naturally "eat" or break down caffeine.

combined with the recent discovery/creation of a coffee plant that naturally produces almost zero caffeine in the tree, the coffee landscape could shift in just a few years.

many coffee professionals have told me that their experience in the retail market leads them to believe that a good-tasting decaf coffee would fill a market void and significantly increase consumption. and i personally do hear from many people who love coffee, but for various reasons can no longer take any caffeine.

these people to the last one inform me how disappointed they are with the taste of most available decafs. so i agree: a good-tasting decaf would indeed be a great thing!

"they also say instant coffee makers buy lower-quality beans."

listen to them! learn from them! the mexican coffee farmers know whereof they speak!

if after reading this piece, you're interested in buying some fair trade mexican coffee, you can get it, to offer just a couple of many possible links, here, here or here. . .

and speaking of counterculture, those coffee lovers living in the southeast should seriously consider attending their november 20 "espresso fest" consumer coffee event. learn more about it here.

posted by fortune | 10:33 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Monday, October 11, 2004

i think new york, sorry

several readers have kindly sent me various versions of the "punk rock yoga" story, which i believe originated in seattle before it went out over the a.p. wire.

sounds like a fun class, right? i'm all down with these fun seattle people, who have been holding classes for about a year, but i have to note with all due respect that i believe the notion is a new york invention.

long-time readers of course recall that in early feb. 2002 i myself used the term punk yoga to describe j. brown, and it wasn't original when i did it. the moniker "punk yogi" had already glommed onto him. . .

anyone finding an earlier citation of this term on the web, please shoot me an url, ok? just for curiosity's sake.

anyway, small historical matters aside, while i was away in italy, the long-awaited -- i mean, long -- juan valdez coffee shop finally opened here in new york. i believe both don schoenholt of gillies and oren himself were present at the opening bash.

now that it's fully fall here, i'm going to check the amount of bread still in my freezer. if supplies approach low, i'll pick up a recipe from carol field's the italian baker and make the famous italian whole-wheat bread, casareccio.

i was fortunate to see an actual loaf of this at rome's upscale bakery, panella. they way they made it there, it is in fact just about more raisins and walnuts than actual bread -- yummy!

i think you also often see it stuffed with olives and nuts, as well. (i'm surprised i can't find a picture of this on il forno: albiston bakes a lot of italian bread there, but i can't find this one. . .)

posted by fortune | 10:34 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, October 10, 2004

is too a coffee guru!

i spent the morning sitting here drinking a lovely americano made from the jolly, and planning to chat about today's
new york times magazine article on chocolate research
, as well as mention the wild stainer chocolate from tuscany (and here) with its intense, bold -- maybe overwhelming -- flavors.

but i really can't. . . because i have to kindly thank the "is too a coffee guru" alan frew of oz for the sweet mention in his monthly newsletter. i completely agree: don schoenholt of gillies coffee is a leading light in the specialty coffee world planet-wide, as if being a co-founder of the scaa wasn't enough.

but alan, you're no slouch either! no false modesty allowed: i know your iced coffee recipe has changed quite a few lives!

seriously, everyone appreciates the effort and dedication you exhibit in raising the bar for all coffee lovers world-wide, not only in australia. it doesn't go unnoticed!

posted by fortune | 10:50 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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