Soul Coffee


posted by on 01.21.2010, under Misc.

Watch Black Gold


I recently watched Black Gold, a documentary about the global coffee trade and it left me feeling enlighted and guilty as hell. Anyone who drinks coffee should see it(while remembering most documentaries show a specific perspective). It focuses on a co-op in Ethiopia and highlights the staggering facts regarding coffee trade and the ridiculously low pay farmers get for their coffee. Even with Fair Trade certification, the contrast in price is obscene.

While I believe direct trade is the best way forward, the number of roasters who acquire their coffee this way is limited, so Fair Trade is the best widespread option available until things change. Intelligentsia (one of my favorite roasters) has trademarked the term “direct trade” and pays their growers 25% more than Fair Trade prices. I’m willing to pay extra for good coffee, especially if I know it’s improving the lives of the farmers who work their asses off to give me something I love so much.

posted by on 01.21.2010, under Misc.

Brew Methods


Brew Methods is a beautiful new site launched by the blog cleanhotdry. It’s essentially an evolving collection of coffee brewing resources. It links to various tutorials and videos for the average person to learn all they need to improve their home brewing as well as increase their appreciation for the art of coffee. If you’ve got a brewing method they haven’t covered, or a tutorial of your own, submit it and share in the great enlightenment.

The premise is simple:  To provide anyone and everyone with access to the best coffee brewing guides in the entire universe.

Home brewing is an interesting subject in the industry.  People have all this great coffee, they have the proper equipment, but how do they learn to brew it?  If you have never worked in coffee, where can you properly learn from?  I’m often asked by friends and customers all sorts of home brewing questions and this is a way to answer them…read more

Visit Brew Methods and start learning!

posted by on 01.20.2010, under Design, Misc.

Coffee and Cigarettes


I’ve been told countless times by many people that I must see this film (Coffee and Cigarettes). Consider this a public reminder to myself.

posted by on 01.20.2010, under Misc.

Mad Cap Michigan


MadCap Coffee December 2009 from Thomas Valdez on Vimeo.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a well shot video is worth a million. This is a great “review” of MadCapCoffee in Grand Rapids, Michigan, without a single thing being said it makes me want to visit. I’ve never seen this done before, but it’s definitely inspired me to use my Flip camera for something similar in the future.

Found on the Taste Blog

posted by on 01.19.2010, under Misc.

It all began with a mug*


I started this site for one reason, coffee fuels my inspiration. It is the times when I have a mug of coffee in my hand, whether alone in the morning or in a cafe talking with friends, that I have my most inspired ideas. Because of this, I began writing a daily ode to coffee last fall that I planned to self-publish into a fun little book of poetry. After some thought, I realized that many of the people I know have the same adoration for coffee and are inspired to do many things in its presence. So I created a place where I can share that collected work inspired and fueled by coffee—as well as reviews of the fuel I’m running on.

Significant Objects is one of those great projects that began with a coffee mug(*partially). The project, started by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, has  created an entire library of fictional stories inspired by items found at yard sales and thrift stores. The items are then sold on eBay to see how much value the accompanying stories have added. The sites latest round of objects being sold will support 826 National(another great project).

As I’ve mentioned in a few interviews, a mug was partially responsible for inspiring this entire project. Specifically, the mug above. I bought it years ago on a trip to Baltimore with my now-wife; and in 2005, I broke it. Obviously this mug had no particular marketplace value at the time I accidentally smashed it — yet I was quite stricken. To me it was irreplaceable, precisely because there was a nice story to it. (I’ll spare you.) And that got me thinking. . . (Why did I photograph the mug? I knew that some day I’d cross paths with Joshua Glenn and we’d create Significant Objects! But I threw the actual object away. C’mon, it was just a busted mug.)

Read stories over at Significant Objects and support 826 National by bidding on an object!

posted by on 01.18.2010, under Misc.

An open letter to Red Diamond


Dear Red Diamond,

This was meant to be a review, but I found your coffee unreviewable. I chose to reframe my efforts as an open letter to your company instead, which claims to be one of the three oldest coffee companies in the US. If this is true, I must know, how can you be so terrible at what you do?

Maybe you’ve grown content over all these years and swept aside all concerns of quality and reputation. Maybe you built your company on unbreakable contracts with diners, drive-ins and dives that continue to generate revenue, despite the poor quality of your product. Or maybe in light of the current economic conditions, you’ve cut back on expenses by collecting your beans from the remnants strewn among the putrid floors of international shipping warehouses. I could speculate all day.

The size and shape of your 100% Arabica beans can’t even maintain the illusion of consistency and their leather brown skins are speckled with leprosy. I should have known that paying the price of a medium coffee for an entire 12oz bag of beans would yield mediocre results; but I never imagined coffee could leave the same taste in my mouth as the morning after vomit from a night of heavy drinking.

I will however give you credit for infusing your roast with an aroma that could convince a child they had a mug of Swiss Miss hot cocoa in front of them. The sweet smell of caramel coated s’mores is endearing—enticing even—but as soon as said child takes his first unsuspecting gulp of nostalgic winter comfort, he’d be kicked in the mouth with a carbon footprint flavored beverage unworthy of the shadiest gas stations.

While you offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee of your product, for $2.99, it’s not worth the check you’d print my refund on. The only thing that would satisfy me is never having to taste your coffee again. I also exhort you to remove the distinction of “the south’s finest” from your bags; this title belongs to one of the other fine Birmingham based coffee roasters.

Thank you for ensuring that I truly appreciate every cup of coffee I have after yours.

posted by on 01.15.2010, under Coffee Reviews, Recommended Roasters



posted by on 01.14.2010, under Design

15(ish) things worth knowing…


I love this illustration. Lots of fun facts that every coffee lover should know. Go see the other 11(ish) things over at the Oatmeal!

posted by on 01.07.2010, under Misc.

Coffee Coffee


…inspired by my love for coffee and the Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Of course.

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posted by on 01.06.2010, under Misc.