Category Archives: Not Coffee

My own March Madness

Birthday tiki

To say things have been crazy lately, well, that’s an understatement.

The month started under duress as my wonderful wife and I were informed that we had to move from our wonderful place in the Temescal neighborhood in Oakland. We knew this was coming and had hoped to have a long and leisurely search for our new home. Instead we did a whirlwind, two-week hunt of possible leaving quarters, settling finally on a place near the lake and close downtown.

I know there are some of you out there that have an ill impression of our fair city, and for good reason. It’s not without trepidation that we embark on this adventure in urban living, but we’re hoping for the best. The sun still shines, if only indirectly.

And the timing was excellent, because we found an secured the apartment the day before I celebrated my 30th birthday. We celebrated in style with our families and then headed out to Alameda to one of my favorite local drinking holes, Forbidden Island, where I was treated by the owner to the flaming concoction pictured above.

The following week we celebrated in even grander style, in a combined 30th Birthday/Bye-Bye Backyark BBQ which featured many of my very good friends, a firepit, and a “tremendous in every way” bottle of wine.

These evidence of the ridiculousness in nadja.robot‘s flickr stream, and there’s a podcast that involves the great-singing talents of Drew and Ryan from Ritual. I’m in there too, singing something about puppies and Christmas. Yay wine!

Somewhere along the line, Louis “Louie” Poore came on the scene and decided to compete in the WRBC using Ecco. He’s that kinda guy. So with all that extra free time during my roast days, we worked on a new espresso and some fancy sig drinks.

Then, on last Thursday, Louie cooked up a batch of the Nic CoE which ended up being my 1000 consecutive Firstcup. Way back when, I had planned that this would be the end of the series, but I realized that there’s always new things going on. And now that the camera with the coffee is a habitual thing, I think I’ll stick with it. Maybe I’ll quit at 2000.

1000!

Also, big ups to Chris Baca for finally taking the title at this years WRBC. I unfortunately had to miss it due to moving, but I knew he had it in the bag when he texted me last week that his sig drink was the best tasting thing in the United States. I think it would have been even more of a blow out if he’d stuck with my raspberry espresso butter idea, but there’s still time for nationals.

photo taken without asking from tonx.org who just had a birthday so you know

See you in a few months!

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Hitched

 

Steve and Abby (Doobie) Ford

September 29th, 2007

(more photos)

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Gettin’ Hitched

I have to apologize for being so delinquent in my posting to this site. I changed the look a while back and haven’t touched it since. For good reason though as tomorrow Doobie and I will be exchanging our vows before friends and family assembled. A couple of days later we’ll be off on our honeymoon to Vietnam. Can’t say when I’ll be back here to tell you about it, but there will be pictures. Hopefully they’ll be up before Christmas.

 

Cheers everyone!

 

Firstcup September 28, 2007

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So Much Drama at the USBC


I’m told via text message that our new US Barista Champion is Heather Perry from Coffee Klatch.

I had to leave yesterday, but my pictures thus far are here.

Highlights include:

-Meeting Gabriel Carvahlo Dias (producer of our Screen Dried Yellow Bourbon from Fazenda Cachoeira)

-Jay Caragay’s Quarter Finals Performance

-Jay’s Coffee and Cigarette specialty drink that he served at the BGA booth

-Kyle Larson’s Quarter Finals Performance where he had time to pour a shot for the El Injerto Farmers

-The Latte Art Smackdown at the Intelly Party

-Meeting a bunch of my Barista heros

-The shot Chris Baca pulled for me backstage on Sunday

-my 3 new tampers

That is all.

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Gettin’ Hitched (engaged anyway!)

First Cup December 17, 2006

Yesterday, I asked Doobie to be my wife. She said yes.
The long of it goes like this.

Doobie and I met 4.5 years ago when I was working as a barista a coffee shop here in Oakland. I had just moved back to California from Seattle and was content to be living like a hermit in my studio apartment. But there was this girl that kept coming into the shop. She was always smiling. In spite of my attitude, I found myself smiling back.

I finally got the nerve to talk to her. She was my age, also from Northern California, and had coincidentally gone to school in Seattle. We marveled at the fact in all the time we had been living just miles from each other, we had never met. She had travelled all over, and was about to depart to Gabon in Africa for a stint in the Peace Corps. I was hooked.

For our first date, we drove to the lighthouse at Point Reyes. She picked me up from work and we set out. Doobie brought sandwiches of avocado and cheese. A safe bet, thinking I might be vegetarian, but never knowing that I hated avocados. Or at least thought I did. Not wanting to ruin the moment, I started in, suprised to find every bite more delicious than the last. This would be the first of many foods I would come around to under Doobie’s watch.

Needless to say, she didn’t go to Africa. Instead we lived in each other’s company, introducing friends and family along the way.

So after all this time, we found ourselves back at that lighthouse in Point Reyes. We walked to a secluded spot that overlooks the Pacific, and with a shaggy deer in attendance, I asked Doobie to be with me always. We laughed and embraced and began to dream.

Love!

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The Shame

So last week, I waltzed into Ritual hoping to bump into some of those good time folks. Turns out most of them are already in Portland for the Northwest Regional Barista Championships (you know, for “ideas”) and those who wern’t were leaving that night.

While sipping one of the best Gibraltars I’ve had in a while, one of the old-skool Ritual employees came to me in distress. It turns out in the absence of owners, one must take it upon themselves to sneak through their belongings. What this employee was not expecting to discover was a lens into the sinister heart of that operation.

In horror:


It gets worse:

Jeremy! How could you! And when did you learn how to read?

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Olga Lara’s La Virginia

Last week, Ecco got in our one bag of the #3 La Virgnia from the Colombian First Harvest CoE. When I first tried the cupping samples of this coffee back in April, I was pleasantly surprised by the complexity. See, Colombian coffees to me has always been a thing of disappointment. Best when very hot, but any distinguishing characteristics quickly fade or turn as the cup cools, leaving something rather sour and insipid to contemplate. Dark roasted Colombians made sense, cause who’d actually want to taste the coffee.

Yes, I realize that’s a rather ignorant line of thinking, but until Andrew left the sample bags at my apartment shortly after my fall, I figured the best thing Colombian coffees had going for them was Juan Valdez, and and even he’s clearing out from that scene.

Those samples set my thinking on it’s head. These coffees are distinctly fruity, almost winey in flavor with a sweet and pleasurable finish. Complex but graspable. At that sample roast level, the flavor was surprising and distinct, so I was eager to get into this bag.

Finally, a couple of months later, it arrived.

The green smell out of the bag was intense and floral. I kept sticking my nose into the opening and taking big whiffs. Andrew roasted up a batch the next day and sent it out to a few of our friends.

I was so excited about getting my mouth around it, that I made a press of it just a couple of hours out of the roaster. Needless to say, the coffee wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped for.

Unwilling to be discouraged, I returned to this coffee the next day with Andrew at my side. With a little time to calm down, those latent flavor began to stick out. There was an immediate citrus this that resolved sweet, similar to my impression from the cupping sample.

There’s also this creamy sweet thing going on which is new and weird and exciting. Andrew, with that amazing tasting thing that he does, says “Honey. Tupelo honey. “

Yeah, I get that for sure. But not being a honey man myself, that distinction is a little obscure. And to get a little further into left field, what really jumped out was this sweet white wine thing. In the description on the website, this translates to that Muscat dessert wine reference. Now not everyone is lucky enough to have a vine of said grape growing on the back deck of their parents home, but our little Muscat vine yields a bunch of little yellowish berries that begin to shine golden as they ripen. If you can beat the birds to the fruit, you’ll get a flavor that is simultaneously warm, sweet and rich. Kinda like honey, only not as syrupy.

This will not be everybody’s coffee. It isn’t organic, and that it is one of the most expensive coffees on our list. However, in a scaled down press or even as a pour-over drip, the flavors just pop. Similar to our Bolivia, this will be a flavor geeks coffee.
It might be difficult to let your prejudices about Colombian coffees go, but believe me, it’s worth it.

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