Saturday, July 23, 2005
bill fishbein: ironic, visionary
"coffee is the largest traded food commodity in the world, but it has no nutritional value. . . .it is also not a coincidence that the price of coffee is determined by a few speculators in new york and london, rather than set by the producers who, under normal economic circumstances, would determine their prices based upon their cost of operation. do you know of any other business with a product that is priced by the buyers regardless of the cost to the sellers?"
if you haven't read bill fishbein's powerful letter in the latest coffee kids newsletter, you don't know what you're missing. what you're missing is one of the most insightful and passionate critiques of the coffee business, end of story.
and i think every word he says is true. i've often said here that the coffee market is neither free nor fair, and desperately cries out for reform.
as scaa chief ted lingle also has strongly argued, coffee just shouldn't be a commodity. it must be de-commodified as soon as possible.
fortunately people like willem boot with the recent ethiopian internet coffee auction are finding ways to experiment with new ways to buy and sell and coffee in a normal, transparent, and equal way at prices actually reflecting the real quality of the coffee.
in the meantime, what can coffee lovers do? of course, donate to coffee kids. buy your coffee from your local independent roaster who understands the issues and is committed to the new business models.
and of course, whenever possible, in those cases where it's now possible -- i admit these are currently few, but should gradually expand -- buy fresh, high-quality specialty coffee from a farmer direct. . . .
Friday, July 22, 2005
got my gimme
and a big bccy thanks to kevin c. of gimme coffee, for so kindly sending his french roast, leftist, and piccolo mondo espresso blends. he also very sweetly sent some mesa de los santos, from scaa board member and new chair of the consumer member program oswaldo acevedo.
i'm especially interested in checking out the new mesa de los santos, which i haven't had in several years. this coffee is certified organic, bird-friendly, rainforest happy, all those good things. . .
plus it has that yummy, rich colombian taste so many coffee drinkers enjoy!
Thursday, July 21, 2005
90 years for sri jois
"the 90th birthday of k. pattabhi jois, the internationally known exponent of ashtanga yoga . . .is being celebrated today by his large number of foreign and indian students, family members and friends at the h. kempegowda memorial hall. . ."
congratulations to you, k.p.j. even tho' i am not a student of ashtanga, all yoga enthusiasts must recognize the contributions sri jois has made to yoga education worldwide.
in traditional indian thinking, 90 is an auspicious number -- for example, in vaastu, the indian version of feng shui, building plots should have a 90 degree angle in the southwest corner.
also, traditional indian time divides itself into 90 minute periods, which are considered lucky. so a big bccy happy birthday to sri jois on his important 90th birthday!
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
coffee consumption rises 4% in one year!
"The U.S. daily consumption of coffee rose to 53 percent of the population in a 2005 survey, compared with 49 percent in a 2004 survey, the National Coffee Association of USA said on Tuesday.
The annual survey, based on nationwide random-telephone interviews of nearly 3,000 people, found daily coffee drinking among those 18 to 24 years of age reached a record high 26 percent of the respondents, up 4 percentage points from 2004.
Other age groups showed growth but not of the same magnitude. . ."
well, the evil nca is all about commercial supermarket coffee, but we do love them for this annual survey, which is expensive to perform.
and for those who wonder about the plight of the pod people and the single-cup brewers who use 'em:
"The survey found that six out of 10 Americans were aware of single-cup brewing technologies, although only 2 percent of the respondents said they had owned a single-cup brewer."
this just puts the spike through the heart of this pod vampire, to my mind. this technology is being rejected by the coffee-drinking public, despite the fancy marketing campaigns!
long-time readers may note that i told you so. . .not to say i told you so.
thus my message for those engaged in the spirited debate on dougie's blog: why don't you all just get yourself some fresh, delicious coffee and a nice french press, chemex, or vac pot while there's still time?
people see these commercials but they aren't fooled, and they aren't buying 'em. to my mind this is a victory for specialty coffee and consumer coffee education.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
it's a media empire, not a coffee shop
"Last year, the company also opened a sprawling combination coffeehouse and music store, called Hear Music Coffeehouse, in Santa Monica, Calif. Customers can shop for prepackaged CDs or burn their own on 'media bars' using Starbucks's 200,000-plus song library. The company plans to open similar stores in Miami and San Antonio, later this year.
Starbucks plans eventually to install media bars in most of its traditional coffee shops as well. Already, at 45 coffee shops in Seattle and Austin, Texas, customers can pay to burn CDs. The company also says it has heard from movie studios and television networks about someday setting up online video downloads.
In music, the company has been careful to cultivate what its executives call 'the Starbucks Sound' -- an aesthetic that's recognizable, if difficult for even those executives to articulate. Music sold at Starbucks tends to appeal to the chain's mostly adult customers, and generally reflects a sensibility similar to that of National Public Radio stations like Los Angeles' influential KCRW: moderately eclectic, often jazzy, and never noisy enough to disrupt a quiet cup of coffee."
well howard, good luck to your media business, and may you give the itunes store a run for its money. but isn't your biggest customer growth market in the teen and young adult segment, who will be put off by norah jones and a "my parents' npr" slant?
just asking. . .meanwhile, for those of us who actually are focused on the coffee, it seems like the mermaid has less and less to offer!
Monday, July 18, 2005
new york might never ?
"new york might never become the espresso mecca seattle is, but there are a few die-hard coffee connoisseurs in our neck of the woods determined to make an exquisite cup, seattle-style, every time."
and congrats to long-time bccy pals, kevin of gimme, kenny of 9th st., and jonathan of joe for this nice press mention.
however, i will make one tiny nit-pick: the espresso these fine noo yawk gentlemen are after isn't seattle espresso per se, but rather northern italian espresso. i would disagree with the article that most seattle espresso is in this style.
in fact, the majority of seattle espresso seems an american concoction; another large set appears to emulate southern italian espresso. few are the seattle outlets that aim for the true northern italian style, in my experience.
you can see this in the very dark roast colors of most seattle coffee, as well as in the blend types. the northern italian espresso is for the most part much more lightly roasted than the southern models -- it's always important to remember that coffee, like most italian things, varies by region!
Sunday, July 17, 2005
chemex filter feng shui, part iii
when in doubt in coffee matters, my tendency is to take it to alt.coffee. thus today i posted my general chemex situation with them.
one long time member of the newsgroup suggested that i may have a problem with too many fine particles migrating to the bottom of the paper cone. and these "fines" might be clogging the filter.
i guess that's a rational possibility -- to counteract that tomorrow i'll try going back to a slightly coarser grind on the saeco 2002, clicking it up to "14.5."
gotta rise 'n shine tomorrow to check this theory out! i don't really wanna have to sift my ground coffee to remove the "over-fines" however. . .