Friday, October 26, 2007

everybody likes free stuff

for those of you who still inexplicably think baseball is a sport played by scruffy fat men, eat this. taco bell announces prior to the world series that if and when any player on any team stole a base (a feat that requires skill, speed and agility) they would give a free taco to everyone in america on 30 october between 2-5p your local time. (presumably, folks who live near time zone lines can take double advantage of this offer.)

well, i'm here to announce that last night, in game 2's red sox victory, it was the wing-footed rookie, jacoby ellsbury, who stole a base, thus opening the door for everyone in america to claim that free taco. so eat up, america. and thank jacoby ellsbury when you do. (pic hat tip: boston dirt dogs)

still, i guess this might be a less expensive publicity stunt than the boston area furniture operation that told people back in march and april that if the sox won the world series this year, all purchase price of the furniture bought during that time would be refunded. in either case, whether eating junk fast food or loafing on your new couch, it's you (not the baseballers) who are lazy, slow and probably getting fatter by the moment--a probability enhanced by the fact that you sit around and read obscure coffee blogs.

p.s. the sox beat the rockies again, and are now up 2-0 in the best of seven series, with the venue now switching to denver for at least two more games.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

pass the sugar

i see it all the time. i saw it today. you taste coffee--supposedly good pedigree stuff--that tastes like it was stir-fried instead of roasted. quick and hot instead of done carefully like the slow food movement would dictate. seems people are going for cocoa and caramel instead of honey and fruit and are all up in a hurry to get there. and in their mad dash to the finish line they leave a lot of sweetness on the table. people want to attack density and moisture with fast heat, the end result of which is only a shadow, an outline, a facsimile of a glimpse of what that bean could tell you if you only took your time drying appropriately and finding a sane profile that actually made sense.

roasts may look even enough but the visual is not the only empirical tool the careful roaster has in his toolbox. sometimes it takes common sense, a sheet of paper and a trusty pencil. and common sense says taste what you've made and capture some notes and try to figure out if it's what you want, and if not, why not? i honestly think some roasters must never actually taste what comes out of their machines, or they don't know how to isolate the mistakes they've made, or don't have a clue how to defeat them. and i'm not saying i've achieved all wisdom and knowledge in this respect--cause the good Lord knows i've made just about every roasting misstep that can be made--but please, people. take some pride in what you put your name to. if it's crap, can you take it to decent? if it's decent, can you get it to pretty good? if it's pretty good can you step up your game and shoot for noteworthy? if it's solidly good can you force yourself through patience, practice and persistence to pull yourself up into the level approaching excellent the majority of the time? no one production roasting manually will roast perfectly one hundred percent of the time. life happens and simply gets in the way of that. but if you can consistently produce mediocre stuff at least try to consistently produce fine coffees roasted watchfully in a way that respects the labors of the good folks who toiled all year to get it into your hands.

try this one on for size when tooling with a new roast for profile (heh!):
people just seem bent on going for "roastiness" and forcing the sugars out of the equation, which only forces the customer to feel the need to add sugar after the fact.

anyways, just my thought/rant for the day

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

brown's first real, er, employee

everyone, meet j.r.

he is Director of Awesomeness at brown. j.r. comes to us by way of last year's texas barista jam, whereupon he took it upon himself to come out from behind the counter of his then coffee job at ruta maya san antonio to join our festivities and quickly leave ruta in the dust, figuratively and in actuality (read: he actually got serious about coffee).

and now the news from him that he has recently hired himself as brown's southeastern u.s. rep at the currently going-on southeast regional barista competition.

so he calls me tonight and says, "man, have i been itching to talk to you for a few hours," then proceeds to tell me how he accidentally discovered--by awesomeness or luck, he wouldn't say--that said serbc was going on just a half mile from a little coffee place he had been meaning to visit for a while since moving to florida but was never really "in the neighborhood" (and i thought he was just politely putting me off when i suggested he might find decent espresso there).

anyways, he shows up at the serbc, schmoozes his way around, meeting coffee industry folks, trading stories and gathering information, all under the premise that he is, indeed, in the employ of brown. which is fine. i told him i'd probably have done the same. and it's fun to think he's leveraging brown so hard out there, getting in touch with farmers and other industry types. he represents well. so i promoted him from Awesomeness Intern all the way to head of the department.

oh, yes. he's also a closet republican. (he's ultimately too smart to buy all the current drivel and drone and no-actual-sound-argumentations that pass for liberal positions these days, which only reinforces the old adage that if you're not a liberal by the time you're twenty you have no heart; but if you're not a conservative by the time you're forty, well, you have no brain.)

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

now is the time

i now this is a coffee blog. but those of you who know me know that i am a die-hard boston red sox fan and have been since boyhood. i can see the connection betwixt the two. coffee is a drug. baseball players use drugs to enhance their home-run hitting prowess.

anyway, i was tempted to post something here when they clinched a playoff spot earlier, then when that playoff spot was not just a back door wild card spot but the a.l. east division title (for the first time in--what?--13 years?). then i was going to post something when they finished with the best record in baseball, securing home-field advantage through the world series (should they get that far, and courtesy of the all-star game's outcome).
i waited and waited and now i can't/won't wait any longer because in the cleveland indians (the sox' opponent for the right to represent the american league in the world series) the sox are facing a mighty nemesis that actually matches up quite well with my beloved sox. first is pitching. sabathia and carmona are as good a one-two punch as any in the league and that will be a difficult proposition for the sox hitters. but on our side we have the indomitable josh beckett, who crushed the angels last series, then curt schilling, who has the best playoff stats of any pitcher, ever. and then the "fall-off guy" is daisuke matsuzaka, who, believe me, is no slouch.

in the batter's box we could go down the lineups but i just want to say that david ortiz and manny ramirez are both so locked in right now for the sox that i cannot see anything the indians put up there at the plate rivaling that. a month ago when we were crying foul at manny for waiting out his injury we should've been thanking him in advance for getting nice and healthy so he could c.r.u.s.h. the ball in his series against the angels. that walk-off homer he hit to end game two...i'm not sure it has actually landed yet. advantage: red sox.

and the bullpen. yes, you've got some guns in the cleveland pen. but look at the cannons in the sox pen in timlin, delcarmen, okajima (japan's other great export this year), gagne and papelbon and you'll realize the advantage boston has in keeping either a lead safe or keeping the other team from running away with it. in the end, however, i think the series goes to the sox because of those intangibles like heart and drive. sure, cleveland has that in spades--which is why they actually tied boston this year for best record in baseball (though the advantage goes to boston because of their 5-2 head to head regular season record versus cleveland). but all you need to do is watch carefully the likes of lowell, pedroia, crisp, youkilis and you will see that boston will not be denied a second trip to the dance in three years. and maybe, just maybe, their second world series ring as well.

but that's another post for another day. meantime, because this is an eastern time zone series, let's enjoy a great series with some great coffees. maybe next time i'll post about which sox player best correlates to which great coffee of the world.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

words of wisdom

sometimes people give you unsolicited advice that is basically worth little more than the hot air it took to expel the advice from the giver's oral cavity. other times the advice is spot on and worthy of all acceptance and you, under whatever circumstances you find yourself in at the time, are unable or unwilling to internalize that advice and profit from it.

and then there are the times when someone drops upon you a little nugget that is both accurate for your condition and timely and it falls on your ears like needed rain on dry land. such were the words i got the other day from a friend.

he said (as i paraphrase him): in the life cycle of every business, there comes a time when one of two things will happen. the first is that your business will exhaust its current client base and you will need an infusion of capital to capture a wider client base. this can seem both daunting and frustrating at once because it often seems like you're spending dollars to try to get more people to do the same thing--buy your product. the second scenario is the opposite. your current client are keeping you so busy that you cannot keep up your current production rate to satisfy their needs without a major infusion of capital to either upgrade your production capacity or hire a larger labor staff. again, a daunting and frustrating experience

i am in the latter space, currently. i'm living in the place where capacity is still not operational and current bankroll does not allow for a sufficient layout for more a needed boost in inventory. because of the addition of several key wholesale accounts i find my inventory depleting itself all too quickly and my little roaster running constantly to keep up. this is a good thing in my estimation, let me assure you. and when the paid invoices really get rolling this plateau i'm currently on will be but a learning experience, a significant turning point in the life of my business. thankfully, both of these issues (needing both larger roaster capacity and a boosted inventory) will seemingly be accounted for within the next 30 days. or so goes the plan.

and so meanwhile it's peck, peck, peck all day long, and pondering the sage advice that called this one loud and clear. now all that's left is the doing of it.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

have you seen this place?

i recently was pointed to a new coffee company that is turning a lot of heads by way of the star power they have in their lineup. by that i mean, star power as in people
(see pic, right) and star power as in coffees. so you might imagine i found it a little like seeing one's "stranger twin" in the grocery store looking through their coffee lineup looking eerily similar to mine. for one, it is a smallish lineup. nothing wrong with honing your sights on a few coffees that you know you can do well rather than trying to represent the whole world in a mediocre way. but a closer look reveals that not only are they carrying a focused roster of coffees, one of their five coffees is from the exact cooperative as i carry and another is from the exact farm. coincidence? i don't think so. i think someone over there in denmark has been secretly studying my strategy of finding great coffees to represent to the world and has tried to go public with a page from my very own playbook! no doubt a serious conspiracy is afoot. they have a coffee blog; i have a coffee blog. they like talking coffee with the great minds in coffee and so do i. word is, one klaus thompsen even considered going on that fabled trip to guatemala back in january...the very one i went on....hmmmmm. and now they have a new roaster just like me, too. i must dig deeper to reveal the dastardly layers of nefarious actions these crazed danes are willing to stoop to scoop the story on some fine coffees out from under my feet.

all kidding aside, i'd like to think that what this says is that great minds think alike (if that's what you can call mine!). and i'd also like to give a hat tip to klaus and friends with their new endeavor. i'm sure good things are in store for this crew. i'd say i'd like to get my hands on some of their coffees, but, um, right. at least maybe we'll meet one day in person. Lord knows we seem to have lots in common already. all except for the me not winning the world barista championship thing. oh, and the master's degrees and all that. and also probably the money thing. still, what does that matter between friends?

do check out the website and blog of the coffee collective and show them the love if you find yourself over on that side of the pond.

(photo hat tip: matt riddle via flickr)

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