Donny Brown and I joined up some eight years ago — both of us computer geeks — as successful associates in a consulting company that not coincidentally belly-flopped within a few fiscal heart-beats of our more or less concurrent departures, each for more promising pastures. We’ve been getting in and out of trouble ever since.

He is a self-described Texas boy, though these days he’s about as much from Texas as I am from Seattle. Donny’s Lone-Star heritage is mostly constrained to his taste in hot sauce [he has been known to travel with a tiny bottle in his glovebox… for emergencies] and his tendency to wear boots — still perfectly acceptable dress in Kansas City, which prides itself on it’s own cow-town roots. Me, if I show any Seattle proclivities at all, it’s perhaps my love of rainy weather, or the insistent tug that the Pacific Northwest still has on my soul.

Together, Donny’s wife and my own form something of a mutual dread society. As lovely and generous as each of these women are, they have come to fear those times that Donny and I get together, as they generally come at a price. Often as not it will cost money, or time, or both. It’s not really competitive one-upmanship so much as a pooling of mutual interests. Donny introduced me to the world of MUDs and online gaming. I taught him that there was more to beer than the pale stuff brewed in Colorado. Donny brought about the phenomena of the insatiably upgradeable computer… and I introduced Donny to specialty coffee. [You knew I’d get there eventually, right?]

Just as I have been irrevocably bitten by the coffee bug, so too has Donny. Only a few years ago he didn’t drink coffee at all, save for the occasional, heavily adulterated cup. Yet in the last few months he’s found himself on the very slippery slope of buying a Bunn drip brewer, migrating from Gevalia coffee to beans roasted by Riley’s [and, on occasion, beans roasted by me] and upgrading from a whirly-bird grinder to a Solis Maestro. And today — what will surely be remembered by the mutual dread society as a day to live in infamy — today we took turns pulling shots on my espresso machine [more on that later], cupped coffees from the Mystery Cup Challenge [more on that later, too], and schemed of partnership in a coffee house.

Certainly, many of the schemes we’ve dreamt up over the years have never come to fruition. But some of them have… and some that didn’t, should have. And I imagine that some will, even yet.

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