Friday Morning Coffee Break: Tom’s Coffee and Blue Bottles Cold Brew

TOMS is applying their one-for-one model to ethically traded coffee

Oh the times are a-changing. At least that is what some people think. Or at least what Bob Dylan thinks. I know for me, these last few weeks have been hectic. You see in between all of my family stuff, work stuff, and life stuff, I have been going through my quarter-life crisis. You know, the 20-something equivalent of enlightenment but with a more narcissistic focus. It has made it difficult to want to be open about life and the world and talk about things to make me feel better. Because I am not an adult and it sucks. But enough of my personal griping. Grab your favorite coffee and brew method and let’s delve into a break today to discuss the biggest buzz in coffee right now.

TOMS Coffee Roasting Company Continue reading

Friday Morning Coffee Break: Tools of the Trade “Hario Drip Kettle”

I love the holidays. I get presents, I give presents, and I get to drink some damn fine coffee.

Hario Buono Coffee Kettle

This year my ladyfriend was amazing. She bought me stuff to help build my coffee crap craft collection. On Christmas I was given a Hario Buono Coffee Drip Kettle. It is stylish, metallic, and looks like a beehive. It is sexy, gives me complete control over my water pour and just looks elegant on the counter. Being able to look like a piece of art is important when something takes up counter space. You don’t want your house to look like a mess. You want it to look like an architects/designers wet dream full of tres chic designs and shapes. This pot is made in Japan. Along with the pour over and coffee sock, I can say that Japan’s coffee renaissance has been improving the craft coffee scene for all.

What I like about the Hario kettle is, like I said before, control. When you are making coffee there are many variables that you are working with. Water quality, water temperature, grind of coffee, quantity of coffee, water flow, filtration, coffee age, brew time, etc. etc. The list is enormous. But what the Hario does is it allows you to control at least a few variables. Namely water heat and water flow. Now heat you are constantly losing from when you pull the water off of a heating element but the bee hive design of the Hario allows for longer heat retention in the pot maintaining a more consistent near boiling temperature.

The Hario also lets you control the amount of water that you pour onto the grounds. This controlling of water allows you to 1. Fully saturate the grounds during the blooming stage 2. Fill up your coffee to the desired level/weight 3. Control the pour so that you are not over extracting your coffee. Think of coffee beans like a peanut M&M. On the outside layer is the color which when extracted gives coffee it’s nice brown/red hue. Inside of that is the chocolate, all of the great flavors that you like. Finally there is the peanut. In an M&M it is good, but in coffee that is the bitter bland part that we don’t want to pull into the actual coffee liquid. The Hario allows to properly extract the good parts of the coffee and leave the bad parts in.

*I should not here that skill is still required to not pull in the peanut, but the Hario helps.

When we think about over extracting, a lot of manual brewers are gravity based. Meaning that when you pour the water over the coffee, the liquid is pulled down. The water will also look for the path of least resistance  and if the coffee grounds have an opening say on the edge of a pour-over, than that is where the coffee will go. Or the water will direct itself to the edge of the pour over thus over extracting the outside grounds and under extracting the inside.

The science is too difficult and too long to explain here so I will do that at a later date but needless to say. This is one of the best gifts I ever received. I really love it and love my ladyfriend for it.

You can purchase the Hario Drip Kettle here.

Music for Mondays: Joy Division

photo (2)Happy 2014 everyone. We have finally done it. We have finally traveled into a non-unlucky year. For the last year I have been avoiding cracks, the centers of ladders, and every mirror I can so that I would be okay. But now I have little to fear. Except for the freezing cold. Colorado like everyone else was hit hard by the cold front. Dipping into the negatives and being cold, the walk to work was miserable. Grey clouds, slippery ground, it was not nice. But even for how bad it was I loved my walk today. Because today, I slipped my music on and listened to Joy Division. The music for a bleary snowy day, Joy Division will put you in the right mood of grumpy to bear the freezing tundra and get through to the next beer  day.  Continue reading

Feliz Navidad all you Hipsters and Beatniks

Video

There is nothing I like better than when Irony meets the holidays. I hate the benevolent Hipster Culture, which has definitely been changing into this weird girls wearing Han Solo outfits thing, like a lot. I think it is because it is constantly either trying to hard to be too cute or not enough to be looking like it tries too hard. In fact my lady friend opened up to me and thoroughly hates my pretentious ways in coffee. She doesn’t get coffee because she likes it, she just likes that I have guy friends.

Well even with your handlebar mustaches and your commitment to Arcade Fire (Reflektor was a big “meh” this year) I salute your indelible ability to laugh at yourself. As we wind down for the year and prepare to celebrate our commercialized pagan holiday, take refuge in this video about Hipster Santa. Revel in the fact that this year he bought you Settlers of Catan and a new mason jar set. Enjoy your soy based kombucha drinks with quinoa “chocolate” chip cookies and just laugh at the humor of the holidays.

I have always denied my hipster tendencies but I still feel that it is important to laugh at the absurdity of a trend that you occasionally fall into. It is just fun, and isn’t that what life is all about? Happy Holidays everyone and I look forward to the 2014.

Music For Mondays: Christmas Standards

I’m like a Cat when it comes to Christmas Decorations

If you do or do not already know, I am an Audiophile. That means I love music. I am actually slightly addicted to it. I think that music is our portal into the soul. It connects people and spirits in a way that nothing else can. Maybe it is the harmonics, the unheard notes that aren’t played, whatever it is music is what gets me into a good mood. I really like to use music to create my holiday cheer and spirit. In fact, last night I was listening to some holiday standards, The Charlie Brown Christmas Album by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, Rosemary Clooney’s rendition of “Snow”, or good ‘ol Dean himself singing “White Christmas”.

All great songs, but to get you into the mood of Christmas I wanted to give you my top10 Christmas songs ever:

#1 Otis Redding- Merry Christmas Baby

I love Blues and Soul music. Always have, always will. I believe that it is the second most American style of music behind Jazz. It is rooted in the songs of our forefathers, of the hard working men and women of American spouting their pain for the world to hear. It is magical and ever since I watched Martin Scorcese’s Blues anthology on PBS I have lived in that blue kind of world. Otis Redding has always been a soft spot for me. His song “Merry Christmas Baby” was released in 1967, the same year he died. The song is a beautiful praise of his woman and how much happiness she brought to him this time of season. It warms me up and makes me feel good about my woman and is something that I feel like I can dance to all night long.

#2 Vince Guaraldi Trio- Skating

This is a hard pick. Every song played on this album is good. In fact it was one of the albums that inspired me to play Jazz. I really like Skating the most because the song reminds me of snow falling. Any time it snows and I can sit at the window I like to turn this song on and watch it fall. It is a song that is lighthearted but at the same time slightly ominous. You love the snow and have fun but you still feel that chill running up your legs as the day goes on. I can get lost in my thoughts with this song, a good cup of coffee and the snow falling outside of my window.

#3 SNL Cast (Chris Kattan, Jimmy Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Tracy Morgan)- I Wish it Was Christmas Today

Oh man. Every year the SNL Christmas special is on I sit and wait patiently like a wide-eyed kid on Christmas day for this skit to come on. I wait with anticipation and every skit that isn’t it, I start to cry. But than, just when I don’t think I’ll see it. I see a giggling Horatio Sanz and Jimmy Fallon pop up with Tracy and Chris in matching red sweaters and goofy smirks and they sing the BEST CHRISTMAS SONG EVER! I love it so much. It is childish, simple, catchy, and just pure fun. Exactly what Christmas is supposed to be about. Who cares if it was done by the most unprofessional goofballs on SNL. I love the song and it isn’t Christmas till I get it.

#4 Mountain Goats – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

#5 Walkmen- Holiday Road

#6 Louis Armstrong – Christmas Night in Harlem 

#7 BB King- Merry Christmas Baby

#8 Vince Guaraldi Trio- Christmas Time is Here (More orchestral than vocal version)

#9 Charles Brown – Please Come Home For Christmas

#10 Bing Crosby – White Christmas (Pry the best holiday movie that I watch with my family)

Excuse me boys and girls, I think that as much as I enjoy sharing my music with you, get out there and listen to some of your own. Or check out my post on the Polyphonic Spree’s Christmas album. Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year.

 

Turkey Day Libations

Turkey day is a great day for food.

Happy Turkey Day ladies and gentlebeans!

Today is the day to celebrate gluttony, family, and laziness. Not shopping. If you shop today you are a fool. And I hate you. In fact, I think that everyone hates you.

But I have to tell you. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I think that this is because it’s all about food. AND I LOVE FOOD. I love the preparation, the ability to come together, and especially to share. Something about the idea of sharing, of experiencing life together with people using all 6 senses just titillates me. When I get to labor over a cranberry sauce with whiskey, cinnamon, and citrus and have it shared with family and friends, it sparks something in my life and makes me feel, well, whole.

But as much as I love food. The food isn’t my favorite part. My favorite part of Turkey day is the libations. Turkey day has a lot of staples and standards. Mashed potatoes, turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing, the list can go on and on. When you have Thanksgiving once a year, I always hate when I don’t feel surprised. Especially with my family who is very comfortable with bland food. Drinks are able to liven the food up. And the guests.

Libations at Turkeyday serve dual purposes. Firstly, libations add and enhance the flavor of the food. They bring out certain flavors in your food. A really peppery wine will help enhance meatier flavors. A great whiskey cocktail can enhance your pies or citrus like dishes. Libations are the accent to a well made dish.

Here are some of my favorites:  Continue reading

National Novel Writing Month

When you are at a job in front of a computer all day, than you are at home in front of a computer all day many things get pushed to the wayside. Including working on your blog. But, when you have a really good excuse, you use it and you justify only posting here and there. No why am I using excuses this month? Well because this month is NaNoWriMo! Or Novel November, and for the first time, I am participating.

For those that aren’t in the know, NaNoWriMo is a national event that brings professional and amateur writers together. The goal is very simple. Write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. That is pretty much the only rule. Other than that, you have complete creative freedom. You can write any type of book, fiction or non, mystery or fantasy, and include any type of historical fiction twists and turns you want. I was inspired for my book by reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. A historical fiction book that looked at the early days of the comic book business. I loved that it was able to keep me enthralled and had so many layers. It made me want to write something that was so sincere and honest but so fantastic at the same time.  Continue reading