January 7, 2009

It’s true!  I’m leaving La Prima tomorrow for different coffee-colored pastures.  Look for me on the East End come early February.

BUT!  The primary reason for this post was to tell you about what happened in an airpot this morning.  I was cleaning out my desk area and came up with about 25 pounds of sample remainders from all over.  Dominican!  Ethiopia Lekempti!  Costa Rica!  Papua New Guinea, both conventional AND organic!

So what did I do?  I did it.  I did.  I roasted them all together, and then I BREWED them this morning.  The result?  A bizarrely bodied coffee, hitting different spots on the tongue in a way that can only be described as…novel.  The same for the acidity, too.  Very strange.  I expect the next cup to be different.

Hurry down!  There’s only 3/4 of a pound left!


Mayhap some of you have heard about Starbucks’ purchase of the Coffee Equipment Company and their now-proprietary rights to the Clover brewing system. Mayhap some of you have heard about Starbucks’ unveiling of the new Pike Place Blend. Mayhap you’ve wondered what this bodes for the future. Well, my friends, wonder no more. Lucas (of 21st Street C&T) brought back some of this very blend from his wayward excursion into the Pacific Northwest. In the good company of Stumptown‘s Hairbender, Vivace‘s Dolce, and Victrola‘s Streamline, this little roast came to me in an unassuming package on my birthday

with an invitation to bring it by some morning to give it a go.

So I did. I did it this morning. I watched them make this new and glorious blend in the method it may or may not be made in the future. Behold, the cake of shame.

And I drank it. I drank it up. And it tasted just fine. Not good, but there was a nice aroma to begin with, followed by pretty much a big pile of nothing. But it wasn’t offensive. Until it cooled. Now, I like my coffees cooler than warmer; some very interesting tastes usually come out when a coffee cools down. But this here blend started to taste like chalk. And finger-paints. Which is not really that tasty, to be perfectly honest.

So, dear reader, be advised that the wave of the future is chalk and finger-paints, brought to you by a large, publicly-owned coffee juggernaut headed by a self-important, narcissistic megalomaniac Howard Schulz.

So I just got back from Chicago where I visited these fine folks, among other things. Many other things. Like buying used books and records and seeing my old roommate be a blue man in a big theater.

Thought about things to do and what they meant. Couldn’t really get more specific than that, and I wasn’t trying to. I hope things come into focus (into the open) a bit more, though.

I am curious, intensely so, about how to get people doing what they love, or how to get people to love what they do. How, I suppose, to get people to enjoy life a bit more. I think this is a carry-over from my own current experiences; not being a psychologist, however, I’m not sure what it means if I’m trying to fix my problems in everybody else instead of looking to my own life for solutions.

I would like to not be bored to tears at my job, is all.

“So I had this idea: that I would try and make sense of something. For me, i think, this is a pretty lofty goal. I mean, I spend most of my time wondering if anything anywhere actually makes sense or if everyone but me is faking everything. I wonder whether people think about their actions. Do they measure themselves in judgment against their self-perceived potential? Like I do? I want answers. I want my confusion to mean something.

So with that said, I would like to treat the topic of insanity. Definition as not-sane. Definition of sane as the way everybody seems to be MORE than OK with how things seem to be going these days oh did you get your kitchen redone yes thank you i would like another and don’t forget the five hundred you owe me for the time I’m sorry I forgot about your birthday I didn’t know it meant so much to you otherwise I’ll just stay in tonight and you didn’t want to come so I figured it was in your court don’t you love this shirt would you look at those and no one will ever know that I think you’re…

That, my friends, is what I am declaring myself in opposition to. Un-sane. That is what passes for sane and don’t you think it’s time we got over ourselves and our games and meet each other for the first time REALLY I mean we have so much inside I have so much inside so how much more must you all have inside.”

November 2005. Seems a bit heavy-handed, but apparently sometimes, we just have to be heavy-handed. Please understand. I don’t have anything against casual conversation per se, but when all you have is casual, when you have little of substance, of things that are pregnant with meaning, I guess that up there is what you get. Frustration and Hope.

Pls. be well.

Oh, Toby.

August 23, 2007

Why you gotta go and break my heart? 9:46 ante meridian on a Thursday morning, and I should be five batches deep by now. But we got a pilot light issue. Won’t stay lit, you see. So I gots to let it cool down so I can my hands all up in his guts.

We here at La Prima use two San Franciscan 25lb drum roasters, gas-fired. The newer one, Abby, is on the left, see, and she’s got a fiery temper (but I know how to sweet-talk her). But the old boy, Toby… I thought we went way back. I thought we were friends. Toby, Toby, Toby.

Why can’t you be like your little sister Abby? I mean, I know she’s newer, but don’t let that get you down. You know I like you more. You know I save all the best coffees for you. So why you gotta go and break my heart? Thank God Toni Braxton already said it for me, otherwise, I don’t know how I’d ever make it through the morning.

Hopefully, you’ll come back to me soon. and we can do some more of this. You know, for old times’ sake.

FTO Honduras Cohorsil.
Half batch, 11:13 (min:sec), 450 at 06:42, held at 420 from 7:45-10:15.
I’ll let you know how it turned out.

Coffee roaster or coal miner? You be the judge.


August 2, 2007

I recently remarked that I had been feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and underwhelmed.  Overwhelmed by the sheer collective force of nature and people, especially their souls.  I haven’t yet been able to enter into it again, to have it direct me and take me by my little child hands like I’ve done before.

But I’ve been underwhelmed, too.  By myself, mostly, and my apparent surrender to apathy.  I’d like to blame summer, really I would.  I’m just not sure this apathy can be attributed solely to the season and the hot-ness of just sitting, my God.  You would think I could get myself moving or something, but I haven’t seemed to be able to muster up enough energy to do anything but work, sleep, drink, sleep, repeat.  And I’m alright with all of those things, but I think there are some pretty significant things missing in my life:

  • Time spent doing absolutely nothing.  I thought this is what summer was for: sitting, lying down, just allowing your body to be.  Seems like I’m with people, talking, being loud and drinking, ken?  I mean, I love those things, but I think I should probably take some time to sit and not sleep.  Not do anything.
  • I am not writing anything.  Thus, you are maybe reading this.
  • I would like for all conversations to include the following questions: how are you doing, what do you want to be doing, and how can we help each other do those very things?

With my goals for the rest of my summer vacation (jokes!  I work in the summer!) put thusly, I would like to move on and speak about the point of all of this.  This is an introductory and exploratory post, so bear with me if I ramble or list.

I’m going to write about coffee and how I think it’s important to the world.

I’m going to write about how I can make myself a better person.

I’m probably going to blather on about music.

I might write about a couple of books I’ve read.  I will definitely not shut up about Wendell Berry.

But you may be curious about the title of this here we-blog.  I had an idea four years ago, and it was a name: The Madness Collective.  And this name was a feeling more than anything.  It was a desire, too.  A desire to do more than stay connected with people, it was a desire to feed people and to light fires beneath them and to look at clouds with them even though we were going to live in cities that seemed too far apart.  It’s still a desire to be abundant and full and all of that.  I think that’s mostly it, to be full and somehow together, even though we’re far apart.  The madness collective is an attempt to harness and appreciate the enormous amount of potential energy waiting in all of my friends and acquaintances.

So there you go.

Sometimes it won’t make sense.  Sometimes it will.  Sometimes it will do both.

Welcome to the Clearinghouse.