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Saturday, August 06, 2005

gimme that piccolo mondo!

for some reason today, blogger just isn't letting me log in (sigh) and so i'm mailing this post in, praying the not-so-reliable blogger mail feature will actually work. . .

this morning i decided to make good while the coffee was still fresh and poured the morning cappuccini with gimme coffee's piccolo mondo organic, fair-trade blend.

altho' it's more darkly roasted than the famed gimme leftist, i actually like it much better! which is saying a lot, since i'm quite fond of the leftist.

and to my surprise, mr. right rather liked it too. in fact, it may be his second favorite coffee after batdorf's dancing goat, tied with the stumptown hairbender.

the gimme description says that the piccolo has a "jungle sweet tobacco" aftertaste, but actually i think it's more a clove-y, woody spice thing. likewise the fresh grounds smell less "clover" to me and more like sweet green cardamom.

but let's agree it's all good. this may be my favorite gimme espresso for the time being.

it gives a wonderful heavy crema and gloops out of the portafilter like motor oil. just a fine coffee for a great cappuccino.

suitably prepared, i braved the various subway route changes (every line this morning seemed to be diverted to take you in the direction exactly opposite from where you'd want to go) and zig-zagged my way up to oren's 79th st. store.

there oren's kevin (not to be confused with gimme's kevin) had a rare coffee item: the little-seen chemex pot lid. it's just a small round glass stopper kinda object with a squat blunt handle on the top.

since the chemex oren so sweetly sent me is a kind with a pour spout, the lid doesn't really fit so well, but may go way to keeping the coffee warm after you make it, which is my main concern.

now that i play with it, it might actually fit a tad better upside down. . . now at least i understand why almost no one has one or feels they need it.

but i'm happy to have it, and it was great to see kevin. if the subways hadn't been such a dakar rally (can you get back to brooklyn in less than 14 days without spending 6 days lost off course??), i would have loved to hang out and chat, but the transport situation being one more suited to indiana jones than myself, i settled for taking a quick iced coffee and heading back.

unable to face yoga class after that adventure, i settled for creating my own private yoga practice at home using shiva rea's great 2-cd set, yoga sanctuary. it allows you to mix-n-match tracks to create a practice that matches your mood.

which is exactly what i did. a nice 65 minutes and 6 tracks later, i felt much better. (in case you have this cd, i did the sun salutation, dancing warrior, standing pose, balance pose, yogic bicycle, and shavasana tracks.)

whew. now i'm all better!

posted by fortune | 2:56 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Friday, August 05, 2005

lose weight & the velletri

"the slow stretches and meditations of yoga don't burn calories like a run on the treadmill. but a new study suggests it might help people keep weight off in middle age.

researchers found that overweight people in their 50s who regularly practiced yoga lost about five pounds over 10 years, while a group in the same age range gained about 13-1/2 pounds over the same period."

of course what this study documents is simply true, as any yoga student can testify no matter what your age. however, i do take issue with the "slow stretches" that supposedly "don't burn calories."

do these researchers always base their studies on a level 1 iyengar class? have they never seen the more common sweat-breaking jivamukti- or om-style vinyasa, nor the athletic ashtanga?

level 3 iyengar apparently does sun salutations that are even more rigorous and tumbly than ashtanga.

recently i watched renata smenda (you will always know her by that great brown mane and those fantastic arm, stomach and leg muscles on display in that pic!), a certified iyengar teacher at yoga people, demonstrate an advanced iyengar sun salute vinyasa -- which involved moving from up dog back to crocodile, leaping forward with the hips travelling high in the air to a ball, placing your head on the floor and doing a backwards summersault to down dog.

i've never seen an ashtangi do that trick -- for every repetition of the salute! she was moving at a constant medium pace, to the breath, and appeared to float through the air during the flow.

even tho' she wasn't leaping about frenetically, she was moving at a speed similar to a brisk walk, but never lost her co-ordinated breath. and of course her vinyasa appeared graceful, easeful throughout, like a ballet.

as yoga students can attest, this grace, ease, breath coordination and constant speed requires decent aerobic capacity and amazing strength, especially in the center of the body, as well as both a strong sense of balance and limb placement in space.

since you're moving backwards as well as forwards, you have to have a "sixth sense" of where your body is in space even when you can't see where you are going, and this is something a long-term yoga practice develops.

i'd also like to report another chemex success, this morning with the caffe d'arte velletri tim so sweetly sent me. i've long been recommending this wood-roasted, all-arabica coffee for those who like darker roasts.

usually i make it in the cafetiére, but actually i've decided i like it much better in the chemex. more yummy!

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

Thursday, August 04, 2005

chemex success

at long last i can report an unqualified chemex success: with andrew barnett's ecco brazil from yesterday!

this 7-day old coffee emerged after 11 mins. with a surprisingly substantial body, and a pleasant molasses or really dark maple syrupy kinda thing. the freshly ground beans were scented like a spicy flower: dutch iris maybe?

it wasn't too bitter nor was it overextracted. in fact, i might have made it a tad too strong with 3 oz. ground coffee -- i might move that down to 2.75 oz.

i immediately added a tablespoon of cream, a dash of splenda, and had a second cup. . .yummy. it'll be interesting to try his espresso this weekend.

posted by fortune | 1:28 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

more ecco and excuse me but we know coffee is a health food

there are so many studies that confirm the various health benefits of moderate coffee drinking, it's almost scary. in particular, drip filtered coffee (paper) seems to be best, as the filter absorbs the chemicals that one study suggested might affect blood pressure.

i foolishly neglected to mention yesterday that fabulous bccy pal andrew barnett of ecco sent more wonderful coffee! another bag of that incredible espresso and also a bag of the 2004 cup of excellence winning brazil itself, the fazenda esperanca.

i absolutely can't wait to brew this up. . .i think this super-premium brazil comes from stephen hurst at mercanta!

this coffee is also available at anita's; otherwise i don't know offhand of any other bccy pals who offer it.

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

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

ok ok ok

so after my post dissing chocatal, outta da wordwork come some bccy readers who say they like the stuff and it has to be made in the caftiére to appreciate it. thus today i delay the promised gimme piccolo mondo and make the chocatal for breakfast.

ok, so i brew this concotion at 55g per 1 liter water, 198 degrees. i steep it for 4 mins.

no bloom. but what would you expect from a pre-ground supermarket product, and one that's not 100% coffee to boot?

the color of this mixture is quite dark, not only due to the roast level on the coffee, but probably also due to the ground cocoa nibs it contains. i think this product contains a lotta sumatra. . .

anyway, similar results as before: it smells nicely of chocolate while steeping. in the cup, it has a huge thick gelatinous body.

when you drink it, you get a gritty, chalky sensation, probably from the bits of cocoa nib suspended in the coffee. very slighty gritty, that's all.

black, it tastes like indifferent indonesian to me. with light cream and raw sugar, it does achieve a more chocolate aftertaste.

the body is fun while you're drinking it, if you can overlook the minor emery-board feel if you rub the stuff across the roof of your mouth. i'm sorry, dear readers, the allure of the chocatal is just lost on me.

if you want hot chocolate, drink it. if you want coffee, well, you know what i'm gonna say. . .

posted by fortune | 11:56 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Monday, August 01, 2005

chemex in the morning

ok, so i hopped up early outta bed to make up kevin c's gimme roast of scaa board member oswaldo acevedo's mesa de los santos in the chemex.

it took me 15 mins. to make a 48oz. pot under the conditions i discovered yesterday, but it wasn't overextracted this time.

however, surprisingly, it also had zero brightness, altho' the citrus feeling came through. interesting no?

tomorrow i move onto kevin's piccolo mondo blend. . .

posted by fortune | 3:07 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

Sunday, July 31, 2005

chock full o' arabica

for the first time in a little bit, i've had a moment to get back to tackling the chemex. i'm still trying to get great coffee out of it.

oren has suggested that i need a grind that looks like chock full o'nuts. well, the burrs on my 1999 saeco 2002 could be worn out, or maybe i just need to do a visual re-check on what a chock grind really looks like!

with that in mind, i wandered down to my local low-end grocery and -- can you believe it -- actually bought a can of ground chock. i choose the 100% colombian so that i knew i was getting an all-arabica coffee, at least.

while there i also picked up another product i'd heard a lot about, the chocatal, a strange blend of so-called "estate" coffee (hey, if it is an estate coffee, why won't the company tell me which one?) and cocoa nibs! this product is intended for the cafetiére but i tried it in the chemex anyway, since it was out. . .

ok, so using 48oz. water to 3oz. ground chock, the chemex finished brewing in 9 mins. 30 seconds. the brew wasn't overextracted, but of course it wasn't drinkable either -- i mean, we are discussing chock here.

i did actually sip some, and it seemed plausibly colombian (it bears scaa 2nd v.p. mary pettit's juan valdez logo and so has to pass her logo enforcement cupping program), but it just had a nasty aftertaste that reminded me of hot pennies. yuck.

this wacky chocatal brewed in the same way took 11 mins. 30. the aroma of the coffee did have a slight chocolate thing going on, but it wasn't really detectable in the brew -- so that was a waste.

the package suggested drinking it with sugar and cream, and that did seem to bring out a stronger chocolate flavor, but honestly, i've had harrars that are more intensely cocoa than this stuff.

what i learned from this experience is that the grind that is closest to chock on my saeco is about "6.5" or "7," meaning my previous attempts with grind had all been waaay too coarse, and that those people telling me i should be brewing 48oz. coffee in the chemex in 4 mins. were frankly day-dreaming.

with this in mind, i will tackle another pot of chemex if i have time tomorrow morning. if i can't get joy then, i'm definitely ordering a new set of burrs for the grinder to see if that's the problem.

oops! must run to preheat the pizza stone!

posted by fortune | 2:25 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments

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