Late August Coffee Musings
Posted August 29, 2003 5:40pm
First off, check out what I picked up in Point Roberts today… Illy Nude. Two boxes' worth. I'm blown away.
Back in June or thereabouts, I was interviewed by a major NY paper about my fascination and love for illy art cups. I think there's 72 or 73 "sets" out there, and I've managed to obtain about 42 or 43 of them, and in some cases, I have two or more sets of a specific collection. Because of this, someone from illy thinks of me as one of the premier collectors in N. America (who at illy, I don't know).
The article only featured two paragraphs about my love for illy cups, but it was the last two paragraphs out of about 30 or 40. I was happy to do it. For me, illy coffee may not be my first choice when making espresso, but I have all the respect in the world for what illy does for the world of coffee, and especially for what illy does for the world of espresso as art and culture. The cups embody that.
Illy Italy and Illy USA were very pleased with my fascination and obsession, as it were, so I got a call from Bernie at Illy USA soon after the article came out. He thanked me profusely, and said "hey, whatever you want, let me know…"
I said three things. First, if and when you get the Illy 10th Anniversary book in stock, let me know, I want to buy it. Second, whenever you get the Illy Nude cups in stock, let me know, I want to buy several sets and I want to use them to photograph future shots done with the machines I test for CoffeeGeek. And third, it would be extremely cool if you could somehow open up the Illy USA commerce site so Canadians could order from it as well as Americans… especially since Illy USA now handles distribution in Canada. My only intent was to be able to purchase these exclusive items, and not miss out.
Well, my third request (setting up the Illy USA estore site to accept orders from Canada) may be a ways off still, but for the first two? Bernie and Illy went way beyond anything I asked for. First, a package arrived in Pt. Roberts in early July… it was the Illy 10th Anniversary limited edition book… in the special box, with the ceramic cup on the cover. And a thank you note.
Then a week or so later, another box. This time, there were six Illy Nude espresso cups and saucers in a non-descript cardboard holder. These were the "preproduction samples" the US office got, and they sent them on to me.
Then just today, a third parcel. It actually arrived over a week ago, but I only just drove down to Pt. Roberts today. Two complete box sets of Illy Nude cups.
I'm blown away. I almost don't want to accept these gifts, it's almost too much. I've bought (or traded) for every other set of Illy cups I own. But this wasn't some payoff to say kind words about Illy - I'd already done that. This was a thank you, and in that case, I graciously accept them.
Illy's an amazing company.
Other Coffee News
A lot of amazing coffees have dropped by my door in the past few weeks.
Last week, after a slight delay, I got a super care package from my fellow SCAA Consumer Marketing Committee member Colleen Crosby of Santa Cruz Coffee Roasters in Cali: 2lbs of their roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Organic Fair Trade coffee, and an unprecedented 5lbs of it green (note: they DO NOT sell green coffee, pls don't order any). The green was sent so we could do some private cupping for Colleen and ourselves (Aaron and I). Colleen also sent a very informative and sometimes sobering video that her company produced about the coffee crisis and what can be done.
That Yirg blew my mind back in May when I first tried it. It was easily the best drip brew coffee I've had in a year.
Right now, it's not as good, but don't read that the wrong way - it was just slightly better in the late spring. It's late in the crop now (or early?) and coffee is seasonal. Still, this current sampling is easily in the top five of all the coffees I've tried this year. What makes it even better is that it is organic AND Fair Trade.
And just today, a very special package arrived from George Howell and Mark Bishop of GHH Select… for those of you who don't know, George was (and is) to the east coast what Alfred Peet was to the west coast in terms of the revival of quality coffee, and the resurgence of specialty coffee.
I had the immense privilege of meeting George last fall in Boston. I knew who he was - I read Mark Pendergast's Uncommon Grounds history of coffee in the US, and George figures prominently. The problem is, I didn't know who I was chatting with in Boston at the Hilton that day… for the first 45 minutes of the conversation. I just thought this was a great guy I was having a convo with - he certainly knew his coffee, but he was fascinated by what the younger generation was learning about the beverage. I gleaned his name was George. It was only when Mark Bishop dropped by and I had a side conversation with him that I realized I was speaking to George Howell, all so casually.
Mark works for George now, in the GHH Select mail order biz. And Mark and George sent me seven pounds of their primo stuff to cup this weekend. It will be a singular pleasure - George is one of the best cuppers on the planet, and an amazing roast master. I'll be cupping the coffee with my buddy Aaron De Lazzer and with John Neate from JJ Bean tomorrow.
You know, I also was sent some coffee from a couple of other sources, and I'm kicking myself - I can't recall the company's name at the moment. I'll mention it in my next update.
And last but not least in the coffee news thing, I'm in the midst of a heavy edit on my Francis! Francis! X3 Detailed Review for the CoffeeGeek site. I was ready to publish it over a week ago, but during my final read, I realized I was way too over optimistic about the machine. Chalk it up to the fact that I was surprised and happy to see how much they've improved their lineup, but the review is way too happy and in many cases, too rosy coloured. I'm doing a rewrite which is still very positive about the machine, but a bit more down to earth.
Update on the Dog Named After an Espresso Machine
Marzocco is just past 13 weeks old now, and man, is she growing big. She went to the vet earlier this week and got her next round of immunization shots. She weighed in at 14lbs, and what's scary is she is not even half way to her full adult weight!
She's at what is probably the most hyper point of her life. Her adult teeth are going to be coming in any day now, she's a maniac in the back yard and on walks, and she's giving Jeanette and I a hella lot of exercise :-) I certainly don't mind - I could use all the exercise I'm given.
She's finally starting to respond to basic commands, like sit and stay, but come here is still a challenge. She knows her name now, but she also knows the other dogs' names as well, and she's at the point where she's getting really jealous of the other dogs getting attention :-).
And she's discovered coffee beans, and she likes them. But don't worry dog lovers - we don't let her eat them. I'm now very careful when I roast, and no stray coffee beans hit the ground and stay there.