T. S. Eliot had it wrong… it’s not April, but September that’s the cruelest month.

Whatever the reason — and there are usually many — my writing suffers in September. Looking through the Bloggle archives, there’s paltry few posts in September. Why that is, I can’t really say. I have other projects aplenty, sure, and distractions of all sorts. But even when I find I have the time, I also find I’m just not motivated to use it. This September I resolve to break through.

It’s fitting, maybe, that I ponder my own foibles over a bad cup of coffee. It’s not a bad lot of coffee, mind you. In fact, it’s a perfectly laudable Kenyan AA with a great pedigree and a lovely roast. I’ve enjoyed several cups of coffee from this particular roast batch. This cup, however, has been tainted by a stinker bean.

If you’ve ever had a cup with a stinker bean, you’ll remember the experience… though you’ll likely wish you could forget. It smells like a sewer… or maybe the droppings of a goat that’s eaten something that even goats have no business dealing with. Its taste is much the same. It is ferment gone wild, it is fungus-among-us, and it is resolute in its intent to ruin your day. It’s all that is foul in a convenient carry size.

That most any origin — any batch — can produce a stinker says something about the precarious dance of harvesting and processing coffee. It’s entirely too easy for something to go wrong… to over-ferment a batch of coffee cherry, or to have a few beans loiter ’round the ferment tank and get a double-dose of fermenting, perhaps a bit of mold or fungus. Yeah, I know… ick.

In the world of specialty coffee it can be every bit as challenging and difficult to produce bad coffee as it is to crank out the good stuff. After months of nurturing your trees, picking and sorting only the ripest and the best coffee cherry, all it takes is a moment’s inattention — or just a bit of bad luck — to make a good bean go bad.

And that’s September. It’s a good month, I’m sure. Well-intentioned. Hard working. But just you get distracted for a moment, and it’ll go bad on you, mark my words.

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