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August is a Coffee Month?
August is a Coffee Month?
Posted August 19, 2003 5:55pm
hyperlink comments (2): read | write
Cupping coffees at home

Recent home cupping event being set up.

Another hectic coffee week(s) for me, these past several days.

I guess the first news I want to get out is that a new First Look is published on the CoffeeGeek site, the First Look at the Capresso CoffeeTEC. And in the system, ready to publish at a future date (that date being August 27), the First Look (finally) of the Isomac Millennium will be visible to all. It's on the site now, but locked down for future publication. You'll see it on the main News Page at CoffeeGeek on the 27th.

And there are two other surprises on the CoffeeGeek site soon (this isn't the major upgrade either, more on that below). First, we'll be retooling comments on First Looks, Detailed Reviews, and Columnists articles soon, and porting them over to the main Forums section - that's right - after the change, if you want to comment on an article or detailed review, you'll be able to do it in the Forums, where you can post more laid out thoughts, pictures, etc.

The second surprise is that there will be a flurry of Detailed Reviews soon. I've got a little secret. Three are written and done. They haven't been published yet because I was hoping to stall them for the Version 2.0 rollout of the website, but that's going excruciatingly slow, so I'm going to make the necessary changes to the reviews (mainly formatting layouts), and publish them on a 3 week cycle starting this weekend.

Coffee Happenings.

Click for larger image
Ken Davids
At a recent cupping session in Seattle, Ken shares a laugh with Sherri Johns (off camera).

Probably the coolest thing that happened to me in the last several days was that I was invited to a coffee cupping thing in Seattle, hosted by Ken Davids, the book author and veteran cupper. It was an extremely worthwhile experience, though it was a very informal cupping.

I also got to talk to Ken about a variety of subjects, including companies that say he endorses their products when he in fact does not. If you happen to see some microwave-roasting-coffee company saying Davids endorses their product, he doesn't. Ditto on a few other devices that are claiming "approved by Ken Davids". I think Ken's going to get a handle on this soon and lay down the law with a few companies.

In fact, I've been doing a lot of cupping in the last few weeks. My skill level at cupping really sucks, all things considered, but I'm working hard to improve this, and the only way to do it is by practicing, and practicing with experienced pros.

Along with cupping with Ken (and Sherri Johns, and Jeff Babcock, all experienced cuppers), I've cupped with several friends in informal gatherings, and at JJ Bean with Aaron De Lazzar and John Neate.

Cupping's a social thing, and it's great to taste these special coffees then discuss the nuances with friends and associates.

CBC Radio thinks cupping is an interesting thing. So much so that they're coming by this Friday at 11am to tape record for a new show in the fall - and they're going to be getting a cupping lesson from me, in person. It was supposed to happen last Friday, but the blackout delayed it.

I made it very clear to CBC that I am not a cupping expert. I know the nuances of cupping, the motor skills stuff, "what to do", etc, but my palate is far from being developed for it, and I don't hold a candle to pro cuppers, even the "average" ones who are roasters or roasters in training.

I've also gotten some new coffees to try lately. One batch was from Intelligentsia, who continue to impress me as some of the best roasters in the US. I particularly liked the Yirgacheffe and the Yemen Mocha they stock.

BTW, Doug Zell from Intelligentsia doesn't want me to say this, but what the hell, I will. I tried some Black Cat again a few weeks ago, and when I next talked to Doug, as is his custom, he asked about the BC. I said great as usual, but a bit darker than I remember. He said that it should be the same as always and hypothesized it was getting a bit oily in the summer months and when traveling via plane.

But I talked to him again and he goes "remember you said it was too dark? We found that the Sumatra was roasting darker, so we took it a few notes lighter - you were right". Heh Heh. I love living the illusion that I've got better coffee sense than Doug or Geoff Watts (the head roaster at Intelligentsia). Notice I said "illusion".

This September looks to be busy for me, but it might not be. Confused? So am I. the NASCORE show is going on in Portland again this year, but I have to miss it because I'm going to a close friend's wedding in Ottawa that same weekend. I also get to visit my mom. The next weekend is the SCAA's annual fall conference and board meetings, and as a Committee member I'm supposed to go. But I'm re-evaluating that decision, based on economics, and partially based on discussions with my partner and employees at WebMotif.

See, when I travel to coffee related things, it's a CoffeeGeek.com expense (and thus, a WebMotif expense, since CoffeeGeek is owned by WebMotif). When I go to trade shows and such, it's a justified expense because I get content for the website and meet with potential advertisers. But the fall meeting is pure volunteer stuff, and has no real benefit to CoffeeGeek or WebMotif.

Regardless of that, I'm a serious volunteer, and was all set to go, but we recently lost a major job that would have paid us our revenue for a couple of months, and another job we were thinking might happen looks like it may not happen; as such, money is much tighter right now, expenditure-wise for the CG site. The trip will cost me a minimum of $1,600 USD for the flight and hotel, and about $100 in "expenses". My partner at WebMotif has called into question this cost, as have some of the employees. The result is, if I want to go, I have to pay it 100% out of my own pocket. And this week, I'm trying to decide if I want to (or can afford to) do that.

CoffeeGeek Version 2
I keep talking about it, I know. But it is coming. I've put it aside for a few weeks recently, as I had other paying projects to work on, but this Saturday I was back on it. I'm getting tired of it now. It's so cool, and so full of new gee whiz stuff, I'm getting tired and impatient looking at it. Right now the goal is to have all design cut off and finished by Aug. 28, and then the programmers have at it for the month of September. We may actually meet this goal.

And that's about it for now.

hyperlink comments (2): read | write

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