Category Archives: Coffee, Tea, Drinks

Writers Drawn to Drink

The intersection of writers with Prohibition was at its most intense in New York City — the mecca for all talented young men and women in the 1920s. Seven thousand arrests for alcohol possession in New York City between 1921 and 1923 (when enforcement was more or less openly abandoned) resulted in only seventeen convictions.

For some writers, Manhattan, with its habitual speakeasies and after-hours clubs as well as its famous flouting of the law even in restaurants, became synonymous with drinking too much. Eugene O’Neill and F. Scott Fitzgerald were two writers who were only able to stop drinking, or at least moderate their drinking, after they left what one minister called “Satan’s Seat.”

Apparently Prohibition was too much a temptation for many writers, some of whom became well known. Of course, Chekhov said, “A man who doesn’t drink is not, in my opinion, fully a man,” so maybe O’Neill, Fitzgerald, and others were his disciples in this way.

Is Third-Wave Coffee Selling Out?

Peet’s Coffee & Tea recently bought out Stumptown Coffee Roasters and became a majority shareholder in Intelligentsia a few weeks after that. Does that mean delicious third-wave coffee companies are selling out?

“Many in the core community of specialty coffee cite Peet’s as something of a Moses figure, guiding coffee appreciation out of the Egypt that is burnt-rubber tasting commodity-grade coffee,” Jimmy Sherfey explains on Eater.com. Peet’s was a pioneer in developing a market for rich, flavorful coffee. The company has even trained many of its now competitors

 puts an ugly spin on the recent decisions. “Peet’s move is similar to that of the titan Saturn in Roman mythology, who devoured his own children so they would not overthrow him. In Peet’s case, it’s the grandchildren who are trouble.”

But company execs tell Sherfey they are “looking to fill the fast-growing demand for their coffee, which both Stumptown and Intelligentsia cite as reasons for the mergers. ‘Frankly, we were just running out of space,’ says [Matt] Lounsbury. [Doug] Zell cites “restrictions on resources’ at Intelligentsia leading up to the acquisition. ‘We could only grow at a certain rate given our internal economics.'”

Now, the new, large roasting family hopes they can create opportunities for producers to deliver great coffee at great prices that will sustain and renew their farming communities.

Stories You Won’t Want to Miss

Here are some articles on a variety of current topics.

  1. 50 Books J. I. Packer Thinks You Should Read
  2. Refuting 5 False Theories About Jesus, including theories he was just a pagan myth or violent revolutionary
  3. 9 Truths About a Multi-Generational Church, such as the young should follow and the old should humbly lead
  4. Like bitter foods, like coffee, beer or dark chocolate? You might be a psychopath.
  5. Porn can’t be sold ethically. “The truth is that when a feminist performs the role of sex object in order to transgress and/or reclaim heteronormative constructs of femininity, her audience is excluded from the alleged meaning of her work. Men don’t go to peep shows so that they can self-critically reflect on women’s sexuality and the politics of desire. To ignore this is not an act of radical female autonomy, it’s an act of dangerous and narcissistic irresponsibility.”
  6. Porn and the Gospel, a talk by Joseph Solomon

Piñon Coffee, the Taste of Albuquerque

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014

When Folgers declined to sponsor Albuquerque’s 2015 Balloon Fiesta, a family-owned roaster stepped up. Albuquerque’s own Piñon Coffee brought an estimated 200,000 cups of coffee to the hot-air balloon event that started last weekend and continues through the week. It is the fiesta’s first local company to be coffee sponsor.

“A lot of handcrafting goes into every part of our coffee from the coffee all the way up to the bags to the fill the bags to the roll down of bags,” Piñon Coffee President Allen Bassett told KRGE News 13.

Bassett has been working on several strategies for building his brand and competing with national companies. He has recommended local coffee shops collaborating in order to hold their own against national franchisees.

(Photo of The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta 2014 by Duncan Rawlinson)

Are K-Cups Old Hat Now?

Day 161: The Chai Latte K-Cup.Quarterly earnings for Keurig Green Mountain are “disastrously bad,” according to this week’s reports, and with consumer complaints about the price of a Keurig 2.0 and its rejection of off-brand coffee pods, analysts are wondering if the single-serve coffee craze is over.

If you haven’t heard, the latest Keurig coffee machine, released last summer, was designed with a scanner in order to detect whether you were using Keurig-brand coffee pods or off-brand pods. If you were trying to save money by using cheaper, off-brand pods, the machine would say, “Oops! This pod was made in North Korea and will probably kill you, or worse, insult your palate. Throw it out, fool! Use only Keurig Brand coffee pods with coffee as fresh as if Moses, standing on Mt. Sinai, ground it himself.” Not only did the new machine of coffee magic reject off-brand pods, it also rejected K-cups that didn’t have the special Incan runes on the label.

Coffee drinkers found this design feature unhelpful and began to complain. Some joined a resistant movement to take back their freedom of brewing.

But these may not be the only reasons for the company’s earnings report slump. In a partnership with Coca-Cola, Keurig will soon release a single serve soda-pop machine that will cost way more than even a single can from an amusement park vending machine (if that’s possible). I’ve heard New York City has already taken steps to ban it. In a world that is decreasingly buying cokes (that’s what we call them in the South), who will want a custom coke machine in their man cave when they can have a fridge-full of craft beer for less.

Or water, which is what I’d ask for.

The Most Expensive Coffee Anywhere

I found a new-to-me coffee retailer this morning while casually browsing for coffee-related sites and was surprised to notice a price category for $350.00 – $400.00. What do they offer in that price range? Ten pound bags of Jamaican Blue Mountain? No, this site, named Coffee for Less, offers one pound bags of whole Kopi Luwak beans for $350.00.

You may not think you’re the type to drop over three Franklins on a bag of coffee beans, but wait ’til you hear the reason for the price. Kopi Luwak beans are personally processed by luwaks, small mammals in Southeast Asia, who eat coffee berries off the plant and pass them neatly into a farmer’s poop-scooper, giving them a can-u-believe-it, yowza-yowza flavor!

I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat something preciously prepared by this cute, little guy? Don’t look at me like that. You know you would.

Naturally, knowing you like I do, you may have already gone out for another variety of poop coffee blend from Thailand called Black Ivory Coffee. These beans have been especially excreted by elephants, which produces a reportedly smoother flavor than the Luwak variety. There is a difference, and it may be in the animals’ diets. Luwaks are omnivores; elephants are herbivores. Theoretically, your Kopi Luwak could brush up against some squirrel carcass on its way to your Best Part of Waking Up, whereas your Black Ivory beans may be fondled by foliage. Plus, every cup of Black Ivory comes out looking like this:

Waiter, there's an elephant in my coffee...

That’s straight from the elephant’s mouth, as they say. Who wouldn’t pay $$$$ for that?

The Hunt for Michigan’s Best Coffeeshop

I don’t know if any of these places ship their beans via civilian drone, but if you’re in Michigan, you may want to look one of these up. “For the last 5 days,” John Gonzolez writes, “I traveled to 22 shops that were nominated and voted on by the readers of MLive. Along the way we discovered some true hidden gems, and some coffee shops known for roasting incredible, award-winning coffee.”

KFC To Offer Edible Coffee Cups

KFC in the UK is running the final tests on their new Scoff-ee Cup, an edible cup to be offered with Seattle’s Best Coffee brand beverages. “The 100% edible cup is made from a special, wafer-like biscuit, then wrapped in sugar paper and lined with a layer of heat-resistant white chocolate.”

Naturally, this is a fabulous idea, but they want to make sure it works well in many circumstances before releasing it to the public. No one wants their little dessert cup to melt in their hand while chatting up a cute girl they just met. No plans for US release yet.

Third Wave Coffee, New Orleans’ Style

The coffee of New Orleans is gaining popularity. This article by Sarah Baird may provoke you to seek it out. She mingles among aromas at a Zephyr Green Coffee Importers cupping.

“Crouching like a swimmer poised on the high dive, I position my nostrils over the edge of the miniature cup, close my eyes and take a firm whiff.

“It doesn’t work quite right. I proceed to inhale a small latte’s worth of grounds and fall back into a sniffling, sneezing mess. Clearly, I am a first-timer.”

New Orleans has a history in coffee, and it’s changing as new consumer sophistication rises. She explains, “Zephyr’s foray into the specialty green coffee trade marks the latest wave in a long stream of coffee importers who have made their homes in New Orleans, which has had the premier coffee port in the U.S. for almost two centuries. The Port of New Orleans and coffee are inextricably linked, with 15 warehouses devoted solely to java, and the world’s largest coffee silo — Silocaf — located inside Orleans Parish lines.”

Now specialty coffee crafters are building their business by guiding drinkers into the wonderful realm of flavorful coffee without cream and sugar.

Starbucks Opens the Coffee Temple

“These days, Starbucks stores function more like gas stations: They’re everywhere, and frequented for fuel,” writes Margaret Rhodes for WIRED. But to compete with third wave coffee roasters for high-end coffee, Starbucks has restored a one-hundred-year-old building to host its Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle. See the article for lots of pictures.

I’m thinking they keep the golden bulls in the back.