10 December 2008

TJ's El Salvadorian Peaberry

I finally brewed some of this coffee purely by itself this morning. Here are some interesting noticeable traits:

The origin is unquestionably Central American; light, fruity firsts in the nose. Banana leaf; hibiscus; crisp; clean; anticipation of feeling one's feet in the mud; bright; faint tangerines. You know that smell you get when you peel off a piece of bark from a redwood tree, and you put the back  of that piece--the part that once was against the tree--up to your nose? That smell. Finishes with an unexpected white cane sugar hint at the sides of the tongue, lemon and orange hints leave the tongue lastly at the front of the mid-palate. 

The product leaves room for improvement, especially in bean quality; however, the roast is consistent and the tastes delightful.

All told: 3.5 out of 5.


29 November 2008

Tea-Housing Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Peace to you [gobble-gobbles galore].

It was a nice quiet holiday for me. In addition to being thankful for the precarious but fulfilled family situation, and the attendant hand-turkey etravaganza, I found myself taken in by a few new truths; both sides of the same coin.

Firstly, I was reminded how the original settlers of our country, indeed even the political founders themselves, were enamored with tea. Of course, the Boston Tea Party will be quoted unto me here; in response, I offer this: does not the Tea Party prove how important it was to people? Why in the world would you start a conflict by doing something about a substance completely inconsequential; and what kind of "conflict" would result, exactly? So, I enjoyed Assam with my turkey/stuffing/sweet potato/cranberry meal progressions. Like a real pilgrim.

What I've also found is that I have a desire to blend tea. With no knowledge of how to do so. Utterly trial-and-error. A good practice, sometimes off. Any tips would be welcome, naturally, but there's no reason to suppose I shouldn't attempt it on a case-by-case basis. Some people are actually quite good at it, as well, such as (surprisingly) big-enterprise Bigelow. Bigelow has just put out a few mixes that not only combine black and green (and delicate ambition), but also makes one feel festive: natural flavorings for gingerbread and eggnog. I did buy the "Eggnogg'n" style, against my usual purist style, but I found it worth it for the noveltly, especially at recession prices. And I like eggnog. And the box has penguins on it, animals that my son loves. No-brainer. If you wish to try something new, a holiday where you feel at-ease overall is no time to pass the opportunity up. Here's a chat about it. The post's title will give you product details.

In other news, I may be allergic to coffee. Oh well; tea is more peaceful, I no longer have the prospect of a stuffed nose in 90-degree weather, and my thoughts are more exacting. Much turkey, some meditation, and some jazz also help. Yay for dopamine, in whatever form it may come.

Full tummies and restful minds be upon you.


14 November 2008

Monrovia Coffee Co. and "The Test"

This is my first post in practically three months. That means this post will either by highly good for the subject of the title, or wildly poor. It is not the former.

Everytime a new coffee shop opens up around me, I have a series of tests for it. Most of the time, these tests are unvoiced and subliminal. But this one gave me cause to explain such a process, and now those qualities have been abdicated, if only for a short time.

The first line of testing is relatively simple, though there is reasoning to each step.

1) Show up in the middle of the day. This tells you how the company performs when "no one's watching". Anyone can be on point in the early morning or late afternoon, when the business is busy. And anyone can use that busy timing to excuse poor service, quality or behavior. So, for the Monrovia Coffee Co., I showed up around noon.

2) Order something simple. This will show you not only if they know the coffee basics, but if they know enough to get out of the mentality that pervades this industry, namely "sugared promotion" drinks. For the MCC, I ordered an Americano. It's a espresso and hot water. That's it.

3) Don't wait around by the counter; take a look at the place, make yourself noticeable but not unforgettable. This tells you (a) how they track their customers, and (b) if they remember you. I took a little walk around, waited for about five minutes, and then slowly walked towards the counter. Then I moved to the counter directly. And leaned on it.

4) Tell them it's your first time, and that you're gently "testing it out". This lets them know not only that you're interested directly, but it puts a little pressure on them without expecting too much.

Here are my conclusions:

The company is understaffed; one girl is not enough to handle even an amorphous, relaxed, five person "crowd". The girl took my order, and when I told her #4 above, she flustered immediately. Asked me what I meant by "small" or "tall"; I had to tell her I wanted the lowest-priced size of the Americano.

Then I waited. And I watched her take three more orders. Then I watched her make two sandwiches, get a cookie and a slice of pie. Ten minutes later, I leaned on the counter (breaking rule #3).

She looked at me funnily and then asked me if I had ordered anything! It was a _____ing Americano. She apologized, but the damage was far from fixable at that point. The Americano was already slightly cold, and it was nothing but run-of-the-mill institutional.

In other words, on all four tests: FAILED. Failed MISERABLY.


19 August 2008

Coming Soon!

After what I think I will call my "Blog Summer Break" (which is really just a positive term to cover my laziness and lack of tasting varieties), I have a nice moderate lineup of review ideas. They run the gamut from cheap to pricey, tea to coffee, rare to "grocery-shelf".

-Bigelow's "Green Tea w/ Pomogranate"
-Arabian Mocha-Sanani
-A "Gold Coast" Blend
-Starbucks' "Sumatra"
-Any of the coffee blends from Trader Joe's that I haven't already tried

If you have any ideas or requests yourself, please let me know; I'm always in the mood to try something different!

In the meantime, please enjoy the title-link, and this completely random (though delicious) picture of my "fish 'n' (literal) chips" meal:

The caption in my mind is, "OMG, FISH 'N' CHIPS ARE SO HOTT!"

All the best,

12 July 2008


... for the break. :)

It's been a good vacation, and of course you can tell what I've been distracted by, given my Bay Area bias for baseball. I also haven't had the occasion to purchase more coffee, but I'm due up for a new acquisition.

I'll pick something of my own free volition if no outside input is available, but I'm open. Any suggestions for review are welcome!

All the best,

04 July 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Enjoy your holiday; we'll be out a few more days. For your enjoyment:

Unfortunate 4th of July Cards

Thanks for reading! :)

All the best,