Saturday, June 04, 2005
doug welsh breaks his vow?
long-time readers may recall that i was for many many years an avid peetnik, having been introduced to peet's coffee by the late, great beat poet, zenshin philip whalen of the hartford st. zen center. his darshan with me always included a cafetiére of peets.
i mail-ordered peets for years and years after that, at a time when being a specialty coffee lover was much more freakish than today. in fact, i honeymooned in northern california, and did go at that time to every single peets store that was then open.
it got to the point that the staff of one store was calling ahead for me to the next . . .that's how great the people at peets were.
when i came back to nyc, the only place to get peets was at macys or, later, at au bon pain, and that was a mistake. neither of those places took care of the coffee.
in fact, at both places it was often sold stale in the bag, and brewed improperly in the cup. so peet's wisely ended their distribution with both of those outlets.
i emailed peets and asked them when they were going to open a store in nyc. i received back a rather high-handed reply from now-bccy-pal doug welsh.
doug airily and somewhat condescendingly explained that peets would never stoop to become the mermaid, that it didn't wish to have retail stores of indifferent quality on every street corner, and if i were a true peets devotee i would understand that.
massive expansion and wide distribution just wasn't their goal, he stated.
i was a little surprised, and even a tad miffed; i stopped mail-ordering from them immediately actually -- that's how stupidly hurt i was that doug had deemed me inadequately devoted to peets. isn't that silly?
i heard just a few months later they were opening in boston. . .then they went public. . .then expansion has had its inevitable effects . . .and now this.
but let's let bygones be bygones. we're all members of the scaa!
my only question is how doug and jim -- i do adore jim reynolds; i give him a hug at conference every year and love his big tickly mustache -- intend to keep the macys debacle from repeating itself.
when you go into that kind of gourmet store and supermarket deal, you're letting someone else gamble with your most precious commodity -- i mean freshness. peets even today still is notable for its freshness.
it will be very interesting to see how doug and jim keep quality up in this new effort. that aside, there's no doubt that despite peet's growth, it has maintained a much higher quality standard than the mermaid.
when i read what the times article above stated as starbucks' supposed in-store corporate quality practices, i had to laugh. not at any starbucks location in nyc i've seen, guys!
i won't drink 25 min. old brewed coffee, much less one hour old coffee!
and that bagged starbucks coffee is usually pushing at least 6 months old, in my experience here in nyc -- check the date. i don't even wanna think about it. . .stale coffee gives me the heebie-jeebies.
i'd love to be wrong on this point. really. it would make me so happy to be completely and thoroughly wrong. . .
maybe someone from the mermaid will come along and comment to restore their good name? why do i doubt this?
Friday, June 03, 2005
about that yoga mat
yesterday when i went to yoga, pedro wrinkled his nose and nearly left class. why?
he's a long-time fellow yoga student who often rents a mat, and he was frankly disgusted at the state of the public mats. it's true: many yoga studios don't wash those rental mats and blankets as often as they should.
of course mat-care products are legion: cleaning sprays by vermont soap, etc. are common sights. many budget-minded yoga students even make their own.
but the spray bottle is a pain to carry about and then the mat takes time to dry. that's why these new, easy-to-carry & almost-instant-dry yoga mat wipes piqued my interest.
has anyone used these? i'd love to hear some feedback. . .
in other news, i recently overheard a discussion as to whether prayer was effective. in my case this week, i can say yes!
as always, i'm grateful to jessica of batdorf for sending without fail mr. right's favorite coffee, the sweet, heavy, walnuts-n-caramel dancing goat! you have no idea how much this contributes to a happy home here in bklyn. . .
Thursday, June 02, 2005
trey moves to tribeca
and the quality of coffee in nyc is about leap up another notch! trey from intelligentsia is sailing the prairie schooner outta chicago into tribeca, bringing the famed black cat espresso and many superb cup of excellence coffees with him.
trey is starting out wholesale, but does anyone doubt that an intelligentsia retail location is far behind? nyc coffee lovers, start asking your favorite local nabe coffeehouse to add black cat to its bean line now!
i also was extremely excited to finally catch up with scaa conference committee chair rob stephen this morning about the consumer member track for charlotte 2006. yes, we are planning it already.
what's fantastic about rob is that he gets it! he's a blue-sky, outta-da-box thinker who's willing to look at every aspect with a fresh eye, while realizing that in the end, of course, there will be a budget.
but this is exactly what scaa needs, and it completely fulfills the optimistic confidence i've had. in this spirit i'm throwing out the "safe" list of options i'd made and completely putting in the "dream" goals.
we consumers might not get all of that -- or even a lot of that -- but that rob is willing to enlarge the meaning of the conference track system is fantastic! i'll be making my new list over lunch and sending it to him pronto tonto!
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
regional coffee culture, part xxxxii
"esther leong is totally smitten with coffee."
it goes without saying that she's just a bccy kinda girl. malaysia does have a rather unique coffee culture -- often the beans are completely charred in butter or oil -- and there is the unusual "white coffee" -- but it looks like esther is also offering a more european style along with her traditional asian ones.
the london-type weather has passed for good it seems, and we here in new york finally experienced 2 days of spring before summer began. yuppers, this means it's getting close to iced coffee time.
and, as i do every year, i offer a couple of takes on the iced coffee situation, for those who aren't satisfied with the simple shakerato:
needless to say, the improved weather also helps my yoga tremendously. i'm one of those rare people who loves hot and humid weather, so i can't wait for full summer to roar.
alas, this means it's too hot to ship any chocolate. thank goodness i got 2 boxes of el rey 73.5% apamate while there was still time. . .
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
regional coffee culture, part xxxxi
"a new report suggesting tea is declining in popularity should come as no surprise to pubs cashing in on the u.k.'s growing coffee culture."
and it comes to no surprise to us here at bccy, either. but i do recoil at the term "vanilloccinos."
and long-time readers know full well my spiel on how much revolutionary social change -- in fact the modern world of capitalism and liberal democracy -- was created at the london coffeehouse. and it's also been a point of discussion how this coffee-rooted change has happened only in the west, despite the long-standing tradition of coffeehouses in the middle-east.
but today presents a story that forces us to wonder if the transforming social power of coffee is finally asserting itself in turkey:
"a group of istanbul women have taken to the city's men-only coffee houses to promote human rights reforms introduced by the government. at the same time, they're reviving a centuries-old tradition."
this fascinating story's a must read for all coffee drinkers and thinkers!
Monday, May 30, 2005
may it rain coffee
yikes! due to the vagaries of federal holidays and delivery services, the worst has happened: i am completely out of fresh coffee. generally i'm not a princess in need of rescue -- the problem with rescue fantasies is that after the "white knight" in question has saved you, what then does he need you for? -- but in this unusual case i'm looking for quick help before i'm forced to buy a can of illy. . .
also, while bccy is not a political blog -- politics are boring; coffee, interesting -- i must today, as an american espressohound, deeply thank the french.
your "non" vote on the e.u. constitution has probably had the opposite effect you intended: you thought voting no would preserve your post-war french welfare state. but economic reality in the global age is a real if ugly master.
*no* has most likely doomed tighter linkage among e.u. countries for a good 10 years, thus allowing the chinese to devour you, your beautiful language (whose literature i do dearly love), and your social service paradise much sooner than later. the so-called "polish plumber" is the least of your problems, alas, altho' you don't appear to understand this at all.
but! in the meantime, it has driven the euro down, and some commentators expect the euro to continue to fall over the next week or so.
since better espresso equipment tends to be made in europe, and has soared in price along with the value of the euro, i'm hoping that a lower euro will make nice coffee machines more affordable soon for all non-european coffee lovers.
in this vein, i'm also praying that the practical dutch -- being a small country of rather savvy people who one would expect to understand their own real peril when they see it writ large on a piece of brown bread -- will likewise be foolish enough to vote no. this will surely cause the euro to plummet.
with this situation in mind, i personally advise all long-time bccy readers to consider holding off on any major machine purchases for just a little bit. . .
Sunday, May 29, 2005
will this arrive?
one of the advantages of good ol' blogger is that you can mail in posts. unfortunately, not only is blogger usually quite slow to post mail-ins, if they arrive at all, it also tends to screw the links and formatting. . .but we try, we try.
due to a confluence of circumstance, i'm mailing in today. one of the things i despise about the local bklyn yoga scene is that all the studios overly cut back on classes during holidays.
hello? holidays are the very best time to be in nyc -- the obnoxious have fled and the commuters aren't taking up precious space in better restaurants.
so the smartest noo yawkerz hang during holidays, because it's the best time to enjoy the town. but alas it's tough to take a yoga class, even tho' it appears most yoga students and teachers are actually around. . .
on these long holiday weekends i tend to do yoga at home with erich schiffmann's trusty tape with ali mcgraw, punk yogi j. brown's fun homemade cd (despite being cut in an afternoon on his ibook, it's as professional as shiva rea's!), or shiva rea's still-classic "yoga sanctuary" practice cd.
today this alternative is denied me because the people across the street are having their townhouse steam-cleaned. it's a tremendouse noise, pure skronk.
i tried to mitigate it some with aimee mann's new cd, which like all her other cds for since "whatever" are slowish-tempo, gram-parsons-country, melancholy ballads about, yup, love and loss.
critics have dished this puppy as "same-y," which is quite fair. i'd put it at same-y, but worse: her lyrics have lost their admirable and ironic wit this time 'round.
so i'm calling this cd one only for hard-core mann completists. in the meantime, i think the parsons estate should sue, not that mann makes enough to feed herself, much more less pay her moral and artistic debt to "grievous angel."
thus in lieu of yoga, i finished off the last of the newly-repackaged weiss 64% mendiant bar. these have only just reappeared here in my bklyn environs.
i've always had a soft spot for the particular mix of sultanas, hazelnuts, and pistachios in these, even tho' it's not the greatest chocolate. certainly the old packaging wasn't secure -- it used to be common to see the adhesive on the old weiss wrappers completely non-sticky and the bars basically exposed on store shelves.
the new packaging seems better. all good.
and in the all-good category, i really have to thank chocolate luminary david lebovitz for linking to me from his site. altho' i probably disagree, as long-time readers know, with his assessment that m. recchiuti is the best artisan chocolatier in the u.s.a. . .those rose caramel bon-bons just leave me cold, sorry.
but i want to like them -- rose caramel (with some honey, yummy) should be exquisite, no?