Sunday, December 30, 2007

   from Nick

Podcast #74 - "2007 can kiss my a$$!"

From Arlington, Virginia. Special Guest: The incomparable Ms. Liz Zamorski, General Manager, murky coffee capitol hill.

From a retrospective on The Year of Specialty Coffee that was 2007, to dating and relationships, to traveling... with a little coffee-talk mixed in... disjointed and haphazard... and I hope you have as much fun listening to this one as we had recording it!

2 hours and 8 seconds - MP3 format, 55 MB

See the sidebar to the right for more information and how to subscribe or download.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

   from AndyS

The Tail of the Comet

I stopped by Carriage House Cafe recently to share lunch, beverages and conversation with my main man Chris Deferio. After a while we got around to the subject of R Miguel and his ultra-pricey ultra-high-end coffees.

I'm just a regular consumer, so I pay retail prices for coffee most of the time. And while Jay, Tacy and others may be cheering the changes that $200/lb roasted coffee will bring, as a consumer I am anything but enthusiastic about it. But I appreciate the business strategy Miguel has undertaken to develop a luxury brand.

Actually I find the whole situation vaguely amusing for a couple of reasons:

Vaguely Amusing Point #1: Undoubtedly there are rich people out there who are happy to pay very high prices; in fact, paying $200/lb validates (to themselves) their transcendent good taste. But in a blind tasting, how many of these people could even tell which coffees were $200/lb and which were $12/lb?

Vaguely Amusing Point #2: One of the terms championed by Counter Culture, Intelligentsia and others is "transparency." In our context it means (among other things) that the consumer is educated in detail about where, when and how a particular coffee is sourced. The concept, I believe, is to develop a consumer awareness of the remarkable variety and richness that coffee origins have to offer. Yet when R Miguel names his coffees "Ambrosia" and "Nectar," it is the precise opposite of transparency. I guess you'd call it "opacity" instead.

Is opacity the next step in our coffee evolution? In other words, will roasters with a proprietary offering "let the coffee speak for itself," but only from behind a black curtain, so that no one can tell who's talking?

It will be interesting to see how these two opposing approaches play out in the marketplace. Actually, although their marketing approaches are very different, I'd bet that Miguel, Peter and Geoff differ a lot less in the way they deal with farmers.

At one point in our conversation I repeated to Deferio a comment that Mark Prince had made. In a cup of excellence auction, it wasn't a good sign that one coffee sold for an outrageous price per pound ($30, $50, $100, etc). A good auction was when ALL the coffees sold for $5 a pound, or perhaps more. THEN we'd be assured that there would be plenty of quality producers that could stay in business.

That's when Chris responded with his beautifully apt comet metaphor. Without its tail, a comet appears to be just a smudgy star among thousands of look-alikes. But once a tail appears, dragging through millions of miles of empty space, it becomes something really special.

R Miguel is that star. All by himself, his fancy-shmancy coffee isn't very important. But if his efforts produce a tail -- if a dozen or a hundred quality coffees are dragged in his wake and the market prices each one high enough so that a quality coffee producer can survive -- then the world of coffee will be broadened and illuminated by the light of a truly fantastic comet.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

   from chris baca

Crazy Portafilter Cleaner

So the gentleman from Pallo dropped this thing off for us to play with today. It a portafilter cleaner that you would use to clean out the basket between shots instead of using the normal bar towel or the like. It has a rotating brush that activates when you put pressure on it and scrub-a-dub-dubs your basket. At first I was very creeped out but we threw it in the mix for a bit and it worked really claned the basket to a sparkle in about a second; all up in that ridge area too. Well, then the brush got slightly wet and things got a bit sloppier. We couldn't get it to dry off that quickly and the baskets were a bit more messy until it finally did dry. The video is after we got it all wet and nasty (and was shot with a point and shoot cam so it's kind of hard to see). The basket was actually cleaner than it looks in the video...the lighting makes it look like it has this crusty brown ring wich wasn't really there. So we rocked it for about ten minutes then, we broke it. I'm not sure how; it just stopped working. Whoops. Thought I'd share this contraption with everyone. Oh, and it's my first post here so: Howdy. Good to be here.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

   from AndyS


Your two favorite podcast hosts are back at the mike!



Next time, Jay, a little less makeup. But I LOVE the hair!