Coffee is a Four Minute Novel

Customer Number Nine at Blue Bottle

Brewing coffee is a four minute novel.

Pulling a shot of espresso is a mere fraction of that.

You grind, you heat, coffee blooms, and then it dies. The novel, the ceremony, takes on the seriousness of a game.

For example, coffee is like a game of pinball. Pinball, like brewing coffee, is random, encased in glass, and an event, once the ball is launched, almost entirely beyond the player’s control. We have this human desire to beat the odds by telepathically imposing our will on the ball or shaking the machine. In coffee, especially, espresso we are all players. We have a history of loss, and the occasional high score.

Daily, every morning in fact, the thrill comes from not knowing whether your efforts will produce a good cup, a good shot, or something destined for the sink. As people, our strong suit is reflection rather than prediction. We are better at mourning than prophesying. Since we seldom see the end result in our mind’s eye, we have this deficit that gives us hope. We hope to just keep the ball in play, hope to brew the cup, and hope to extract the perfect shot.

Pat

© all photographic and literary rights reserved 2009 Pat Riggs

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A Holiday Coffee Gift For You or a Friend

My Bodum 3 cup primed with Ritual Snow Cone Seasonal Espresso

Coffee is best served small.

Although this is a contrarian position in today’s holiday market, it’s a bet you can lay down on your kitchen or holiday dinning table. If you place this bet, you will cup a winner every time.

My small brewer of choice is the Bodum Chambord French Press 3 cup model. It sells retail for $29.95, and brews coffee with taste. If you see it, you should buy it. Maybe that command is a little two much in the imperative grammatical mood, but seriously, the 3 cup will not disappoint. I already have one, our kitchen has had as many as two at any given time to prevent divorce. I buy these to give away to family and friends, especially for Christmas gifts.

When you take this small Bodum out of the box, and see how small it really is, you will think that it’s small, you will think small is bad, but you’re wrong . This post is an encouragement that small is good. This negative first impression forming in your mind is only evidence that you have been brain washed by the culture to think BIG. The personal growth seminar you attended last year, the no-money-down real estate tapes and books you purchased, the buy 2 get 1 free offer, the trips to Costco to buy pallets of food and drink—put those thoughts out of your mind, relax, and enjoy a little cup of coffee.

The Bodum 3 cup is a 12 oz. instrument. The simple math is you will be able to brew three 4 oz. cups. The reality however, is that with the grind absorption and expansion one 4 oz. cup fits nicely within the Bodum power band for best results. Downsizing to a 4 oz. coffee serving will change your world. Downsizing in general will change your world, and for the better. Regarding downsizing, I noted recently that when Gandhi died his last possessions were his famous round-rimmed spectacles, one pair of leather sandals, one silver pocket watch, and a brass bowl and plate for meals. My list for life’s important possessions would include my Bodum 3 cup, a conical burr grinder, a 4 oz. ceramic mug. Nothing else.

The Bodum 3 cup is the IPod in a coffee lover’s life. It allows you to brew the beans you enjoy with ease, little hassle; all in 4 minutes. The drawback to the Bodum is, just as the IPod has changed the way we relate to the world around us—everybody off in their own musical world—you will enjoy retreating to your own personal coffee world. You may begin to withdraw from that popular coffee destination and loose some skills of socialization. More importantly, though, you will loose the self loathing about your own brewing abilities. You will loose the delusional thoughts that brewing coffee can only be performed by those in flannels with tattoos and piercings. A thirty dollar Bodum and a thirteen dollar bag of Micro lot co-op beans will rank you in the NBA of brewing.

Finally, resist the desire to buy the bigger Bodum models until you have purchased this personal work horse. My own experimentation during a side by side comparison of the 12 cup vs. 3 cup concludes that flavor, acidity, body, etc. are lost in the bigger presses. Please don’t interpret this as an indictment against any of the other Bodum Models, just make sure you keep the 3 cup cleaned and ready to go any time of the day.

Or if you really want to go all out for your holiday guests, buy a Bodum 3 cup for every place setting. Offer a variety of beans. Let your guests experiment with personal choice. Convert them to the world of real coffee. They will love it.

Happy Holidays and Keep Drinking!

Pat

Copyright © 2009 all graphic and literary rights reserved Pat Riggs

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Weekend Report Java Kai Hanalei From Daniel

hanalei

Java Kai Hanalei HI Photo Courtesy of the Internet

A subscriber to this coffee blog writes:
Just though I’d drop a line to Mr Coffee for no particular reason other than I just got back from Hanalei, Kauai, perhaps the happiest place on earth. That’s right, it ain’t Disneyland.

My all time favorite coffee shop is Java Kai. Love this place. Blair Estate Kona is out of this world. Coconut milk instead of cream. If ya ever hit the neighborhood…..

Daniel

Editor’s Note:

Daniel is an attorney who is a certified specialist in family law and one of the best attorneys I know of. His area of expertise is fraught with emotion, and strife. Any rest this guy takes is more than well deserved. I am glad to see he was taking a break…a coffee break. His unsolicited weekend report from Java Kai is a great reminder that vacation and coffee are a great combination.

Thank you, Daniel!

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Four Barrel Coffee Early November Roast

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Four Barrel Kenya Catugi

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Four Barrel Kenya Catugi

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kenya Catugi Zen Ponding in the Chemex

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Weekend Review of Bloom Coffee and Tea

Bloom

Bloom Coffee and Tea Roseville

When I have court in Sacramento, or visit clients at Folsom State Prison, I make the usual SF to Sacramento pilgrimage to Temple Coffee and Tea over on 10th Street in downtown Sacramento. Today, however, an old buddy gave me a call and encouraged me to meet him at a place he was raving about called, Bloom. I took him up on his offer.

By the way, this is how the majority of reviews begin of Bloom Coffee and Tea. Such testimonial word of mouth is the order of the day, and it’s all good.

I had done my homework on Bloom before my patronage. I was already familiar with the fact that their beans originate from Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz. This fact, in and of itself, was motivation enough to make the trip, and make the choice for something new. So leaving those gloomy granite walls of Old Folsom Prison, my trusty Honda Accord headed for 100 Eureka Road in Roseville, California which is a very short hop off of Interstate 80 (for you Tahoe ski types).

I was introduced to Luke and Jacob, the two brothers who created the place. These guys are young, but don’t let that fool you. Watching them reminded me of those Russian gymnasts you know…those young kids, but they take on the world. They were beyond their years when it comes to creating a place where coffee comes first. Their demeanor was definitely all about coffee, and tea. I say coffee and tea because they are knowledgeable about both, and behind the bar they could walk the walk, and talk the talk.

Luke and Jacob

Brothers Luke and Jacob Creators of Bloom

In my typical addictive approach I usually drink alone, especially when I am reviewing a café. However, at the invitation of my friend, we bought lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant, and brought the food into Bloom to eat. That seemed pretty casual and my buddy is a local so when in Roseville… Eating, drinking, and relaxing with friends is all a part of the Bloom vibe. The outside design is what I would call Mediterranean, and the inside is well apportioned with casual sofas, and hardwood tables and floors. They are committed to local artists and display exhibits which rotate through out the year. I was told that in the past the décor had included an old school phonograph, and that friends would bring personal vinyl to play on the old set. I am sorry I missed that.

Analog Coffee

Analog Coffee Timing is next to everything

Bloom has a unique way of offering water to their friends. Water is stored in wine bottles with wire tops. It is cold, and the bottles are clean. You take a bottle to your table or couch and enjoy it at your leisure. It is a great aid to the palette. There is a raging debate in the world of specialty coffee about the presence of water when drinking espresso. Some say offering water with your drink is offensive, and can list their reasons accordingly. Others appreciate water with shots and I happen to be one of them. I believe water is a great compliment to espresso, especially after the shot, because with water you can extend the taste experience well past the brief moments in time of consuming the shot.

Elida Estate Panama Shot

Elida Estate Panama Shot

Immediately after introductions, I wanted to see if they were pulling shots with mere blends or did they have what it takes to create with something more complex. They easily passed my single origin test. Luke piloted the La Marzocco Linea pulling shots of Elida Estate Panama from the Alto Quel, Boquete region. This is the natural process Elida Estate from Verve, and it was a pleasure to order not just one but several doubles, even late in the afternoon. The dried fruit notes were present in spades (strawberries). Jacob and Luke are artists with their Linea, and they use an old analog stop watch in the creative coffee process. Art was served in black ACF espresso ceramic. Enough said.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bloom and highly recommend it.

Coffee Cups in Bloom Coffee and Tea

Keep Drinking!

Pat

Copyright all rights reserved 2009 Pat Riggs

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Coffee Germination Project…In the begining

My friend Alfredo sent me some coffee cherries from his finca so that I can try my hand at cultivation. Thanks Alfredo!!

Coffee Cherries From Alfredo's coffee farm.

De pulping.

Green Bean Shot

Bean in cherry

Beans vs. pulp

Now on to the drying rack. To be continued.

© 2009 Pat Riggs All Rights Reserved

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Will Work for Coffee

stumptown Indo

Stump Indo

My wife left me and went away to Portland. I watched the kids.

My labor rates are cheap. Simply pay me what I am owed. I demand coffee. My contract requires that you go to several coffee stops in Portland. It further states that you buy me 1 pound sacks of beans, grab all the brochures, and graphics so that I can study not only the coffee; but the marketing as well.

So when Jen goes away, she treats me right. She buys me coffee from Stumptown and Ristretto Roasters. I mean this is pretty nice, I know it’s not a Rapha Jersey, or a Vanilla but I look forward to these selections.

This time the coffee gift was among other things Stumptown Coffee Roasters Indonesia Gajah Aceh Peaberry Organic.

I am not a real fan of Indos, but thought I would give it a try. She told me that she asked the barista if they had a good single origin espresso, and this is what he sold her. He said he didn’t really care for Indos, but this was an exception.

I thought OK. I will pull a shot on the La Pavoni.

Surprisingly the end result was a creamy-smooth mouthfeel, like a banana. When it flowed slow from the spouts like honey, and displayed the color (pre crema) of dark chocolate I knew it was special. That is one of the great benefits of a manual machine, you can feel the pour, and manipulate it to your liking. It also did well via Chemex brewing.

I could taste grapefruit notes, and it had a long aftertaste of citrus and grapefruit.

In my opinion, this is one of those roasts that makes it to the number one priority in my coffee supply. It is one of those roasts that cause me to look in the bag, and worry that the supply is running out. You put the other beans on hold, and that causes more distress because the freshness clock is ticking away on what you were pulling before, and you tell yourself that your going to finish this 1 pound bag before you drink anything else.

These beans are Tip Top.

Thank you Jen!

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