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Saturday, July 15, 2006

fortune & the spangly pink tamper

barbie & tampie
so after oren and i rocked air america this afternoon, i got to play with all toys that long-time bccy pal terry z. kindly sent me. thanks, terry and espressoparts folks!

of course of the many wonderful things terry sent was the above spangly pink tamper. it's a thing of beauty -- a little lighter in weight than either my rosewood-handled reg barber or the all stainless espressocraft tamper from kenny nye. the pink's shorter handle and slightly lighter weight make it very fine for those of us with somewhat smaller hands.

plus, it sparkles in the sun like a fun hello kitty sticker. ooh, but that's not all!

i also had amazing amusement with the joeglo espresso machine wipes -- great for wiping the espresso crema drips off the top of my italian princess silvia -- and the joeglo machine cleaner.

this cleaning powder claimed it would quickly soak encrusted, burnt milk off the steam wand. and in the interest of pure testing, i left some milk on the wand in the morning to get rather nasty.

i mixed up the powder in a steaming pitcher according to directions and let the wand soak for 20 mins. wa-llah!: the dried gunk wiped right off with damp paper towel.

there are so many other toys in this sweet care package i could go on. and i will, later. but right now, i have to waltz around my living room some more with my spangly awesome. . .

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posted by fortune | 8:07 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 6 comments | leave a voicemail

reminder -- we spangly radio stars

just a quick reminder to you all to check out nyc's wlib 1190 radio
station -- you can listen on the net at their website -- this afternoon
from 3-5pm est. that's at

oren bloostein and i will be live on the wild salmon food show,
"tackling the world one cup of coffee at a time," as their home page
says today. we're sharing air-time with a vintner and a food critic.

honestly, i guess we'll get about 20 minutes of airtime, but i don't
know in which segment. i believe we will be talking about the importance
of buying fresh, whole-bean coffee and brewing it at home.

oren i believe is bringing some of his kenya aa and we'll be chemexing
it live on air. there will probably be the usual discussion of basic
coffee facts, but you never know where the host will direct the
conversation. . .

posted by fortune | 8:31 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Friday, July 14, 2006

mark inman's taylormaid farms rancho san antonio, take ii

leapt outta bed this morning to brew this up as a single-origin espresso on my beloved italian princess, silvia. as i suspected earlier, this is bean is best flat-out as espresso.

now serious espressohounds are at this moment squinching their noses at the screen -- because they know this bean, at 9 days old, should be rather elderly for good espressi. but!

mark inman and i had a rather interesting discussion on this very topic: the peculiar qualities of these pulped natural super-premium brazils. and one of them is that they don't seem to develop their best flavor for a few days after roasting.

devoted readers may recall that when world barista champ tim wendelboe (hiya tim!) sent me his stockfleth's blend last year, he specifically insisted that i not pull a shot with it until it was 9 days old -- for this very reason, i suspect.

they also have seem to have, as a class, a habit of spilling out more oil than their roast level might normally develop. i've noticed this myself with these -- that they seem so lightly colored for the amount of oil or sheen on the beans.

and mark says he finds this a typical behavior of these beans.

anyway, i found the organic rancho san antonio very easy to work with -- no dialing it in, the classic zero-point at the mazzer mini's arrow decal produced good coffee the first time. wonderful.

remember, my silvia doesn't have a pid; i still temp-surf. but for those of you with temperature control, mark says he recommends you brew this coffee at 202 f.

further, while i pulled it as a 30-sec triple, mark does actually seem to intend this coffee as a straight double.

mark noted as well that he thought the coffee was best as a plain espresso, finding it perhaps a bit quiet for a cappuccino. but i disagree: pulled triple, it made a lovely cappa, to my mind.

despite its 9 days, the san antonio gave great guinness effect during the pull. no crema shortage here.

when i tested its body with a demitasse, the brew coated the back of the spoon like heavy thanksgiving gravy, leading me to call it a great, buttery coffee. very sexy body.

tasting the espresso, i found the same basic flavors i did in the chemex brew from my previous attempt, but this time they worked together much better. it's lightly bright in taste, slightly orange oil, with a long lovely caramel aftertaste.

one important note came out much more clearly as espresso. and that was a delicious candied hazelnut quality.

i think this is key to why the triple made such a nice breakfast cappa -- there's something about this hazelnut that really reminds me of the cappas at the tazza d'oro (if you ask for the all-arabica blend).

however, mark mentioned that there should be some dried cherry in the aroma here, and i missed that. this could be a grind issue, or it could be a double vs. triple thing.

the point is: this is quite an impressive espresso on its merits, quality through and through -- as well as being sweet enough to not require any sugar. suitable for hardcore espressohounds, who will understand the clean technical virtues of the coffee, but delicate enough so that normal coffee lovers and those new-ish to espresso will be able to enjoy it with ease.

another knockout from mark inman!

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posted by fortune | 8:46 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Thursday, July 13, 2006

to fisk or not to fisk?

that is the question: whether 'tis nobler to let misinformation and misconceptions stand or to engage in the strenuous parsing of phrase? seriously, there are a couple of people i'm tempted to completely fisk re recent coffee controversies.

except, who has time? esp. for the inevitable dull counterfisking. . .i think it's better just to drink the java you got.

which is why i turned my cafetiére this morning back to oren's yemen moka sanani. these beans come to oren via mohamed moledina.

and let me say from the start, it is without a doubt the cleanest, best quality sanani i have ever had. i could easily say -- as i usually do -- get your scaa flavor wheel.

or i could say, imagine a lovely clean yemen that tastes the way a sanani should. the way you've always heard it could be, yet so rarely is -- a yemen without groundy or clay tastes.

not woody. not thin-bodied. not bug-chewed.

the beans show just a little oil, so i'm calling this roast a full-city+, thank you very much.

it's pleasingly winey in taste, with a sweetly spicy fragrance, caramelly, and with a nice dry dark dutch cocoa aftertaste. when i opened the bag and just sniffed the beans today, i thought -- hmm, raspberries? -- but i haven't yet managed to get that delicate scent into the cup.

i gotta work out the grind issue for that, imvho: i think it's so light and volatile it just drifts away from the hopper, leaving the freshly ground beans smelling sweetly spicy. anyway, oren calls it a "fruit basket."

what is this fragrance in question? if we look at flament, he doesn't list raspberry per se in his organoleptic qualities of coffee, but instead uses the term, "red fruit."

however, red fruit is usally more a rounder, sweetish cherry-type quality, according to don schoenholt of gillies.

and going through his list of the compounds that naturally exist in coffee, his mentions a variety of Β-damascenone, a well-known chemical naturally present in rose oil. but that's probably not my raspberry.

don thinks it's more likely to be found headed towards the blackberry side of the aromas category on the flavor wheel. don thinks this is an acid taste (meaning i think it may find origins in something like an ester of pentanoic acid?).

and he says a list would be like: raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry as the coffee wanders down the line between wine-y and fermented.

but that's a different discussion. . .oren's sanani also offers a fantastic body, medium-heavy.

anyway, if you're a yemen lover and not a crazed romantic cupper, you'll be impressed by the positive qualities of this coffee. i urge you to pick some up before oren runs out; he told me there wasn't too much left. . .

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posted by fortune | 8:25 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments | leave a voicemail

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

mark inman's taylormaid rancho san antonio

i did brew this coffee today in the chemex, but i wasn't happy with the result. i started with 1.75 oz. fresh ground coffee to 28 oz. water, but i think this might require bumping up to the full "oren proportion."

what i got after 4 min., 25 sec. was a nicely balanced, slightly bright, slightly citrus brew. but i think it should have more body -- a lot more body -- this may be a bean best for single-origin espresso.

because most of the beans have either patches or pinpricks of oil, i'm calling this a vienna-; but mark didn't give me an agtron on it. . . i want to give it a proper description, so i'll wait until i've figured out how to brew it!

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posted by fortune | 8:12 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

in desperation, mailing it all to ya

well, when you can't log in to blogger, there's always the bizarre formatting of the mail-in post. . .forgive me.

in more ways than one, because today i had so truly planned a wonderful description of oren's yemen moka sanani. which is just one deliciously winey, sweetly spicy, well-bodied delight.

i'd call it a full city+ roast, since most of the beans show a pinprick of oil. i don't have a roast date, due to the situation.

i mean, oren slipped me a bag of this treasure during the recent scaa fancy food reception, and i buried it quickly in my marc jacobs bag before anyone could notice. no way was i sharing it!

because, as long-time readers know, me big yemen fan. i brewed it up in the cafetiere this morning. yummy.

tomorrow i have to turn my attention to mark inman's taylormaid brazil from yesterday, which was roast-dated the 5th. so the clock's ticking on it, and i owe it my time.

in other news, i did pick up at the csa this evening. every week we members dread the bizarro offering, the wacky thing you have no idea what to do with, short of feed it to the domestic critter of your choice.

tho' actually i've lucked out and managed to find something great for each of these. one week it was sunchokes, another lavender; this week, thank goodness, everything is edible in a normal manner.

assuming you love to peel favas, of course. but seriously, i just picked up my poundage (5 bags!) of local organic veggies and reveled in the beets.

oh yeah: i just dragged out my trusty kuhn-rikon pressure cooker and steamed 'em up. these will find themselves diced up with mint and such in a persian salad i've always heard called shamander, altho' my beautiful persian colleague shabnam has a different name for it, which you must forgive me, i have no idea how to spell!

the rosemary, the favas, the radicchio -- it's all good. i had no idea when i began this adventure in community-supported agriculture that i was going to spend a mostly italian summer, but here we are.

anna del conte and marcella will come to my aid!

oh, and ms. foody eats, whoever you are, pleased to make your acquaintance -- but next time please just link to my posts. there's no need to steal them outright.

(compare this to mine. imitation's the sincerest, and all that, but i don't feel so flattered. . .)

thanks for your support, but, foody eats, you will fail your advanced calculus if you crib all your answers from elsewhere, don'cha know? and thanks to the alert reader who pointed this out to me!

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posted by fortune | 8:02 PM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Monday, July 10, 2006

awesome arrival: mark inman's organic rancho antonio

very few things are as welcome as mark inman's cute little yellow cans from taylormaid. long-time readers remember mark as the author of the best dark-roasted espresso ever.

so today finds me with 2 cans of his organic, shade-grown (under banana trees) rancho san antonio, a pulped natural.

the estate's in minas gerais, brazil. i can't seem to find an url for it, which once again makes me consider whether i should apply to cqi to get usaid funding to teach growers to build websites for their great coffee co-ops and estates.

anyway, this coffee comes to mark from another long-time bccy pal and former scaa prez, david griswold, who's a famous sweetheart. it's completely of the famously sweet and heavy yellow bourbon variety, grown by the goncalves da costa family.

they've been coffee farmers for 120 years. i'm very excited to brew this up -- it should be a fantastic single-origin espresso as well as a terrific chemex pot.

thank you mark!

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posted by fortune | 8:55 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

are coffee lovers smarter than other people?

"scientists discovered that the caffeine present in strong coffee alters the brain's electrical activity. by boosting gamma rhythms, produced by the synchronised firing of nerve cells 40 times a second, it aids memory and learning.

dr martin vreugdenhil, from the university of birmingham, whose team made the discovery, said: '. . .research has shown that it increases alertness, cortical activity and speeds up information processing.' . . .

dr vreugdenhil said drinking coffee on a regular basis could increase gamma rhythms up to three-fold because of the way caffeine was concentrated in the brain."

interesting study, hmm? and in accord with the recent australian study on central route brain processing.

in short, it seems that drinking coffee makes you smarter by literally improving brain efficiency. cool.

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posted by fortune | 8:27 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 0 comments | leave a voicemail

Sunday, July 09, 2006

reprinted here as a polite reminder about tonite's coffee event. . .

Hiya Coffee Lovers!

In response to many queries, I'm emailing you all to suggest that you consider wearing "business casual" to tonite's SCAA event.

Please, I beg you all, esp. those of you new to the group, to remember that these professionals have invited us kindly to their party. They are our sponsors, and make our group possible. We are their guests at every turn.

Our group is much different than most meetup groups. Due to the support of the SCAA, we can do things like borrow the Exchange Grading Room, or ask professional SCAA members to donate expensive equipment, like espresso machines and grinders, as door prizes.

Unlike other meetup groups, we have a close connection with the SCAA member coffeeshops that host our meetups. This is especially true of this evening's venue, Juan Valdez. Mary Petitt, who is in charge of this space, has long supported us, and she is the coming president of the SCAA.

Thus I am sure you all understand the importance of good interaction between ourselves and the professionals at the party. The specialty coffee family is welcoming and open. But a good impression and good manners count!

I wouldn't emphasize this so much, except that many of you are relatively new to the group and have not yet met Mary or the professionals. So please forgive me if I seem insistent on this point.

I will arrive slightly before 6 myself to help arrange things. Do look for me by the door for the first part of the party, where I will be greeting. However, this party tends to be large, crowded and loud, so you have to hunt for me a bit if you arrive late.

See ya later and happy coffee,

Fortune Elkins
NYC Coffee Meetup Organizer
All that groovy SCAA stuff you know about. . .

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posted by fortune | 8:50 AM | top | link to this | links to this post | email this:   | 2 comments | leave a voicemail

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