Monday, June 09, 2008


i'm a skeptical soul by nature. i meet people very slowly and trust them even more slowly. i don't know why. on the contrary, i consider myself something of an early adopter of new ideas, always on the lookout for the next major improvement or the newest promising trend. it's funny, but perhaps the internet helps magnify my particular personality mix: if i had to take new ideas directly from people i might never get past my impressions of that person's in-person persona, and down to the idea(s) they were espousing.

my point? i'm just thinking about new ideas and what people are thinking when it comes to the directions coffee is heading. someone i just met once said that coffee auctions are a price discovery mechanism, not quality discovery. at first blush that sounds heretical to the latest received coffee wisdom out there. but there is more than a nugget of truth to that when the usual top lots in auctions like the c.o.e. and b.o.p. tend to outpace their lower-ranked brethren, sometimes by obscene amounts, when surely the coffee at the top can't be that much more amazing than the number two, three, four and so on.

this is not a new discussion. it's actually just an example of ideas and how reading them sometimes gives me pause to think in new ways.

what are you thinking about in coffee? are we still edge-pushers? what's new in your coffee world?

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Monday, June 02, 2008

monday morning observations

monday morning, 10:30am. i'm at the roasterie preparing the third in a series of five+ cuppings of five samples i received last week from el salvador. i am prepping the table, grinding samples and heating water when it hits me: i really enjoy what i do. i'm able to scratch out an almost honest living. and in this setting it's difficult to imagine doing anything different in life.

back to the coffee. when samples arrive i typically cup them over five or six days, comparing notes not only on defects and dominant flavor characteristics, but also tasting the maturation process that happens as each of the coffees degasses and begins to show age. this is a time consuming process but vital to what i do because 99% of my customers don't drink coffee from me that is only one day off the roast.

as the coffees age i also am able to concentrate more on the one or two i think i might like to purchase (if any), using the others as controls. i fidget with possible retail descriptors, imagining how i will phrase what i find to be a peculiarly delightful taste characteristic with a certain coffee on the table. i furrow my brow because a coffee i had relegated to the proverbial minor leagues after two days of cupping has pulled itself somewhat back into the horse race--probably not all the way back in, but enough to make it more of a complex operation than before.

as i work my way down the line of the single cup samples (no need for three or four cup samples by day three, as i pretty much know already what i'm getting into) i swallow most of the spoonfuls early on, as i still haven't had my morning cup yet and need a little push for the rest of the day.

i look up and see my two beautiful children at the computer, my lovely daughter working her way through simple addition sums on the computer while her older brother not-so-patiently tries to save her from the error of her ways. "Aden, six plus two isn't seven!" he says with all the force of luther or calvin, rescuing heretics from the flames.

i am a blessed man. i have a lovely and amazing wife; two incredible children who mature me and sharpen my vision of what is important in life; a challenging career starting and growing a still very small business. you realize from this plateau that money is really not as important as you hoped it would (could) be. yes, it is necessary. but it is not beautiful and inspiring and able to cause such lucid reflection on how life is and how it should be. it's just money.

it's a coffee tasting exercise. nothing more. not much less. but this day it helps peel back the veil between the plain material world we trudge through daily and the magical, spiritual and effervescent life that tingles and shines just behind that material mask if we only use the right eyes to see it.

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