Oh Crap I’m Tired And So Can You

Oh Crap I’m Tired And So Can You

Or, how I spent my time at the 2008 SCAA conference and expo. Day 1. Depart Burlington International and arrive at LaGuardia. Hike between terminals to change airlines. Send a prayer winging to the airline gods that my luggage makes the same trek. It does, but at a cost… as I pick up my luggage in Minneapolis my back makes a *twoing* sound. [Oh, crap.] Arrive at hotel and am shuffled immediately into a lovely cocktail reception with many familiar faces — and some soon to become familiar — from Green Mountain Coffee, Transfair USA, Sustainable Harvest, Grounds for Health, and Root Capital, as well as friends from origin: Peru, Colombia, and Kenya. Have exceptionally productive conversations about content sharing, and the like. Eventually I have to make my apologies, take a muscle relaxer, order coffee from room service and fall asleep before I can drink it. Day 2. Do the registration shuffle. Am impressed that SCAA is *really* taking the “green conference” thing to heart… it’s the first time in a long time I’m not saddled with a worthless bag of swag and paper I don’t need. Begin the day with a press conference featuring Green Mountain’s Lindsey Bolger and Dr. Jane Goodall. Save the day (or at least make the presser go more smoothly) by solving a potentially devastating A/V issue. Why yes, that is a spiffy way for a geek to start his day… I nearly forget that my back is out. By the way, Dr. Jane is just about the sweetest, most present person that I think I’ve ever met. [I’ve mentioned before that I’m...
Green Mountain’s Gombe Reserve Gets Tasted

Green Mountain’s Gombe Reserve Gets Tasted

Folks from all over are commenting on Green Mountain’s Gombe Reserve, a coffee offered in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute. My own notes were from a pre-production roast and — honestly — were at least as much about the process of producing the coffee and had little to do with the finished product… I haven’t taken the time to capture my own tasting notes of the roasts I have sampled since. But fair’s fair… I’ll present some of the other points of view I’ve seen of late, and then I’ll add my own thoughts to sum things up. The first review comes by way of Coffee & Conservation, a blog with a point of view that is all about the relationship between coffee and the environment in which it’s grown. By those standards alone I’d expect the Gombe Reserve to fare pretty well in their review… With its proximity to Kenya, I think we all expected this Tanzanian coffee to have the wine-like tones so characteristic of Kenyans. Instead, we were surprised by the little citrus kick when piping hot and the undertone of fruit that followed that was so reminiscent of an Ethiopian coffee. Finally, when cooler, came the tart wine finish. I’m in accord… the Gombe presents itself as something of an enigma in terms of origin, being neither of Kenya or of Ethiopia but with characteristics of each. This coffee was marvelously complex, but not jarringly so, as some Africans can be. It harmoniously went from one flavor to the next, each nicely balanced. The bird song it evoked for us was that of the...
Gombe Reserve and a Curious and Interesting Path

Gombe Reserve and a Curious and Interesting Path

When I was growing up I mowed lawns and raked leaves for pocket money, as most Midwestern boys do. I often worked for Mrs. Werkley, a dainty sexagenarian who tended toward the eccentric. When confronted with the seemingly ordinary — a big-eyed bug, a volunteer plant, or even a weed she didn’t recognize — she would clap her hands with delight and exclaim that it was, “Most curious and interesting!” Folks considered her a bit of an odd bird. They had no idea. In her parlor Mrs. Werkley kept a plaster maquette of Australopithecus Africanus (wearing a whimsical yet decorous, embroidered fig-leaf.) On her mantle, between framed photos of the late Mr. Werkley and Dr. Loren Eiseley, was the skull of a sabre-toothed cat… just the thing to capture the imagination of an eleven-year-old. Loren Eiseley, of course, was a respected naturalist, ecologist and author. The eccentric Mrs. Caroline Werkley had been Dr. Eiseley’s research assistant for some 20 years… which might have explained a lot to the folks in that small-town neighborhood. Mrs. Werkley introduced me the work of Loren Eiseley, Raymond Dart, Louis and Mary Leakey, and a great many of their contemporaries, including a little waif of an English girl (to quote Mrs. Werkley) …who with Dr. Leakey’s encouragement was doing some very interesting work with the great apes in Africa. Though, sadly, she never knew it, Mrs. Werkley set me off on a course that has kept me curious and engaged in both amateur and professional studies of anthropology, sociology, natural history and philosophy for 30 years, and gainfully employed in fields related to cultural...

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