O, Coffee. Is There Nothing You Can’t Do?

O, Coffee. Is There Nothing You Can’t Do?

Coffee has been a frequent subject of scrutiny by the medical community… perhaps because it’s so widely consumed, yet offers no apparent nutritive value. Or, maybe doctors are just looking for a really good cup of coffee.

Three Cups, Three Origins, One Winner

Three Cups, Three Origins, One Winner

There’s learning to be done here. If the roasts weren’t everything I hoped they might be, at least I might try to figure out why. And — to keep things interesting and to keep myself honest — I included a control: the latest batch of beans from Tony Konecny’s spiffy flash-sale like bean business at Tonx.org.

Zombie Coffee is for Zombies

Zombie Coffee is for Zombies

Let’s examine for a moment the typical conference attendee: bleary-eyed, having stayed up too late the night before catching up on the day’s accumulated email (which stacked up at an alarming rate when the conference’s wireless connection foundered under load); discomfited by foods foreign to his constitution, containing both carbohydrates in abundance, mostly fried, and perhaps one more glass of wine than was truly necessary; made grumpy by lines, queues and coveys of slow-walkers, chaffed by the lanyard that his credentials pendulum from, and bent from days of sitting in straight-backed chairs.

Hotel Coffee: Just Brew It

Hotel Coffee: Just Brew It

Unless you’re staying at Portland’s Ace Hotel and thus have a Stumptown Coffee bar in your über hip, bohemian lobby, when you’re in some far off place hoteling in a name-brand tower or a teensy, boutique inn, you’re entirely at the whim of those oh-so-fickle gods of hospitality for your in-room coffee. Chances are further that this in-room coffee service is a frac-pack of ground coffee of questionable freshness, to be brewed at  questionable temperatures in a likewise questionable brewing device. It really doesn’t have to be this way. On this trip I packed a coffee bag. In it are two half-pound valve bags of just-roasted beans (Panama Los Flores de Boquete, and  W.P. Ethiopian Jimma Doromina, ’cause sometimes you want a juicy Central and sometimes a peachy African), my trusty Braun hot water kettle (tough plastic, not glass), a Melitta cone pourover basket and filters, a measuring cup and spoon and a whirly-blade grinder. Yes, I said whirly-blade… this is just the scenario where the grinder you wouldn’t choose to have on your kitchen counter is just fine, thanks. So equipped, making coffee in your room is much the same as you’d make at home. ‘Course, you could also order something to go with from room...
Coffee Notes from All Over

Coffee Notes from All Over

With a travel week ahead I need to be well-stocked for the road… because as we know, conference hotels are constitutionally proscribed from serving palatable coffee. To the roaster! Meanwhile: In an impressive array of review and ratings carnage, Consumer Reports smacks down specialty coffee powerhouse Starbucks in favor of Walmart-brand Colombian coffee, lauds the Keurig brewer’s convenience while offering a firm “meh” on the resulting cup, and thoroughly pisses off independent coffee houses everywhere for offering them not so much as a by-your-leave. (Gloria Jean’s and Newman’s Own Organics get top spots with “Very Good” ratings.) Speaking of Keurig, Boston.com has a big fat expose on the machine’s founding inventor-engineers, and the company’s prospects. (Why yes, I do have a vested interest, thanks for asking.) The Atlantic is apparently urging people to air their grievances more publicly than they already do, in What People Just Don’t Understand About My Job (or, #AboutMyJob.) In this most recent edition, one barista laments, “Working for a coffee shop, an extremely popular one mind you, has made me realize that most people lack any shred of decency or common sense; all they care about is their double tall no foam latte at the end of the line.” O, sweet barista… it’s tough all over, but look at the insight you’re gaining on the human...
Insert Groundless Starbucks Reference Here

Insert Groundless Starbucks Reference Here

If you could get past its provocative title — Is Stumptown the New Starbucks — or Better? — you might think Time’s Josh Ozersky has penned a decent enough article on the leading edge of specialty coffee today. But… damn, the phrasing here is loaded for bear. Coffee aficionados have been asking the question over and over again: Is Stumptown Coffee Roasters of Portland, Ore. — the most conspicuous exponent of coffee’s “third wave” — the new Starbucks? Um, no. Coffee aficionados *haven’t* been asking that question. Coffee aficionados are pretty well versed in the routinely awesome coffee that Stumpies has been cranking out year after year after year. Coffee aficionados don’t have to question Stumptowns’ authenticity, or transparency, either. Coffee aficionados have probably noticed, too, that Stumptown Coffee Roasters hasn’t had to cover up its logo like a scarlet letter when it opens a new storefront like, well… You Know Who. Wait, you haven’t heard of the third wave? Get with the program! In cities across America, a fervid generation of caffeine evangelists are changing the way we drink coffee. They tend to be male, heavily bearded, zealous and meticulous in what they do. Hey, lookit that! It’s another funny stereotype. We’re only just two graphs in and we’re two for two, already. And gosh, it’s pretty much true, too, save for James Hoffman who really should consider sporting a soul-patch at the very least. (He’d banish the Harry Potter look thataway, I’m certain.) And pity the non-hirsute women of coffee who — apparently by way of not being zealous enough to grow a beard — are missing...
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