The best spam comments (March-September 2015)

Coffee Cantata is my first real website, and one thing I have learned is that websites and spam go hand-in-hand. Some of the spam is pretty hilarious, too! Most of it consists of links to questionable prescription drugs and SEO marketing, but every now and then I get a comment that makes me laugh. Here are some of my favorites so far. All grammar and spelling mistakes are courtesy of the commenters!

These infusers are the perfect trade off for Kung-Fu tea connoisseurs

I had no idea tea drinkers were so hardcore.

What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious know-how regarding unpredicted feelings.

I read this five times and I still don’t understand this sentence. Go home, spammer, you’re drunk.

I don’t know who you’re however definitely you’re going to a well-known blogger if you happen to aren’t already.

I don’t know who you’re either, but I love contractions too!

Keep tuned to them by name in your order with tao of badass vs mystery method the most common and consistent element in your life

Wait, wait, wait… there’s something called the “tao of badass”??? Sold!

My brother recommended I may like this web site. He used to be totally right. This submit actually made my day!

Hold on, hate mail or compliment? I need to know if I should feel burned or not.

WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for achieve weight loss

HA! When you find the answer, can you let me know?

Of course, when it comes to losing weight, being discipline is probably the secrets to achieving your ideal weight.

STOP JUDGING ME! *cries into my ice cream*

I think the Giants offensive line is very overrated.

I don’t follow football (the Giants are a football team, right?), so someone else out there, chime in and let me know if this is something that’s supposed to offend me!

He also provided extensive news story is told about how herding cats is one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs

I can’t argue with this.

Thank you a lot and I am taking a look forward to touch you.

Are you going to at least buy me dinner first?

Drink Water– The only liquid you need to drink is water.

This is a COFFEE blog. GTFO.

Keep ’em coming, spammers. I’m enjoying this.

A love letter to coffee

Dear Coffee,

You have been with me through much of my childhood and almost all of my adult life, and I foresee my love for you lasting a lifetime. Through all the late nights, the early mornings, the weeks that I’ve been forced to give you up and the days following where I’ve come back as if nothing had happened, you’ve always been a constant in my life, like the North Star in a cup.

Like any relationship over time, the way we appear and relate to each other has changed. I first met you around the age of seven through my mother. You came in a glass jar and were very easy for my child’s hands to handle. Your freeze-dried crystals dissolved instantly in hot water, and it gave me a lot of satisfaction to be tasked with the responsibility of making a cup for my mom. I glowed with pride when she said the coffee I made tasted good (though I suspect I probably added too much sugar!). Your aroma was something I found irresistible, and I began to enjoy small cups occasionally as a treat. I felt very grown-up.

During high school, when academic and musical pressures started building and I felt at times like I was drowning, I took breaks from my reality and entered yours in the form of Starbucks Frappuccinos and lattes. I wasn’t ready to try and experience your true self yet, so I dressed you up in lots of milk and sugar to make you into something you really weren’t at heart, but you had no complaints. You helped me through those hellish years with the promise that a better day was waiting at the bottom of every cup. You made me feel like the impossible might be possible, and I felt stronger with you around. I loved you for that, though I really didn’t know anything about you at all.

As an adult, I started to wean myself off of the sugar and milk. What I had once found alluring was now cloying; I started to want to get to know the real you, underneath the artifice. What a surprise and a joy to find such a complex, multi-dimensional explosion of flavor waiting patiently for me. In you, I taste the highs and lows of life. I taste the character of the places you’ve grown up, the way that people handled you as you matured. I taste the difference when you’re handled with care and loving attention, and when you’re uncaringly treated like a disposable commodity. I am embarrassed to think about all the years that we’ve spent together where I didn’t consider anyone but myself. Coffee, it used to be all about me – what can you do for me? How can you help me through the day? How can I get you when I need you?

Now, I am resolved to make this more than just about me. There are depths to you that I am only beginning to discover and that I want to share with the world! You still make me feel like the impossible is possible, but nowadays I’m not living as much in the future, constantly striving to get somewhere else. I am learning to appreciate living in the present, and as we spend time together each morning, I am reminded of what a blessing it is to savor life in the moment. Our time on earth is fleeting, and every moment that we have is precious. I am lucky to be able to spend as many moments as I do with you, who brings such joy and energy to so many people around the globe.

Thank you for always being there for me, and though you’ve never asked me for anything in return, I will show my appreciation by appreciating those people that treat you like you deserve to be treated, with care and respect. I will write about all that I see in you, from season to season. And most of all, I will give thanks every day that it is another day that we both exist in this world.

xo

Coffee Destination: Clive Coffee (Portland, Oregon)

There are a few purveyors of specialty coffee equipment in the USA, and Clive Coffee is one of the most highly regarded. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit while I was in Portland! I used to volunteer regularly at an animal shelter; I was told by friends that I would want to take all of the animals home. This trip felt sort of the same – so many espresso machines that need loving homes!

Pretty unassuming (but attractive) exterior.  

When I walked inside, the showroom was a bit smaller than I had expected but also reminded me of a Crate and Barrel store in its aesthetic.  

This was about the extent of their showroom, but it had plenty to occupy me for a while… especially once I spotted some truly beautiful machines. Sorry about the sunlight making it hard to see the first two machines (yes, Portland DOES get sun from time to time!).

La Marzocco GS/3 with glass panels

Single-group Slayer

Lucca M58 by Quick Mill

Izzo Alex Duetto 3.0  

Yama siphon brewer

Chemex Ottomatic (turns your Chemex into an automatic brewer)

I had a very nice chat with Ben, one of the team members at Clive, and it was great fun geeking out about coffee with him! I must thank him for clueing me into the fact that I don’t NEED to use a triple basket in my bottomless portafilter – my double basket will work perfectly. The huge triple basket was stopping me from pulling shots in the bottomless portafilter regularly… things will be changing at my house going forward.

Ben also taught me a bit more about grinders, and showed me what I would consider the logical next step if I ever decide to upgrade from my Baratza Vario.

This is a Macap MD7 large conical grinder. Looks a little like a Dalek, doesn’t it? (Note that the bean hopper has been removed.)

Large conical grinders are what the best coffee shops use, and upgrading the grinder will often make a much bigger taste difference in the cup vs. upgrading the espresso machine. I was happy to hear that Ben’s opinion was that my Vario had good value for its price point (which agrees with my research that it was the best “bang for your buck” espresso grinder out there), but if I ever want to spend more than three times as much, I may start looking into a large conical burr grinder. Dreams….

Clive Coffee also sells accessories like filters, tampers, cups/saucers, etc. They offer free shipping on purchases over $75 (which is an alarmingly easy price point to hit when you start seeing all the cool stuff they have on display!). I managed to buy just a $40 tamping stand and felt virtuous.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try or buy any of their house roasts because I already have SIX bags from PDX roasters to go through, but maybe another time.

In short, if you’re in Portland and want to talk about coffee equipment with people that really know their stuff, visit Clive Coffee. And if you’re in the market for an espresso machine, I can vouch for them really taking the time to get to know you to recommend the best equipment for your specific needs!

Clive Coffee

Review: Novel Coffee Roasters Ethiopia Idido (Dallas, Texas)

Novel Coffee Roasters is a Dallas-based company that is starting to gain a national presence; their coffees are currently available for purchase in coffeehouses in eight states, as well as online through their website (with FREE shipping!). I did a little googling on Novel and was charmed by the story of how they picked their name. The founders liked the double meaning of the word “novel,” both used as a noun (reflected in their slogan: “Every Coffee Has A Story”) and as an adjective (new, fresh, surprising, unique). The company has only been around since 2013 but have quickly racked up accolades; this Dallas Observer article features them in more depth.

You may have noticed that this is the third Dallas-area roaster I’ve featured in a row on my blog; this was on purpose, as I have a trip to Portland, Oregon coming up and I plan to collect many bags of PDX-area coffee to review! But before I leave, I wanted to show Texas roasters some love. I picked up this bag from Roots Coffeehouse in North Richland Hills.

This is the second Ethiopian coffee I’ve had recently from the Idido region (the first was the Kickapoo Coffee I received from Craft Coffee). I remembered that particular tasting being difficult because I hadn’t sufficiently adjusted my grind settings to compensate for the increased density of heirloom coffee beans, so I made sure to keep this in mind this time (it worked pretty well for the Tweed Staycation blend, which is also comprised of heirloom beans).

Whole bean: Subtle, milk chocolaty aroma combined with a lovely honey fragrance!

Chemex: I deviated from my usual tasting procedure here and started with the Chemex, because this method makes the most coffee and I needed a full travel mug for my 1.5 hour commute this week. I was pretty entranced while sipping this during my drive; the dominant note was of caramelized sugar, like the beautiful top of a creme brûlée. It also reminded me of Earl Grey tea, and the combination of those two flavors was stunning. I was sorry when I drained my mug (though no one can say I didn’t savor it; it kept me company for over an hour).

French press: Clean flavors. A little nectarine tanginess that quickly smoothed out to dark chocolate.

AeroPress: I brewed this at 185 degrees F and drank this as a concentrate. It had the most acidity of the four methods but was paradoxically very smooth going down! Notes of red grape and honeydew melon dominated this cup.

V60: Crazy amounts of sweet honeysuckle aromas wafted from this cup. Light body, bright floral flavors. Sunny day in a cup.

Summary: I enjoyed every single cup that I made with this batch of beans. What a lovely example of a washed Ethiopian coffee!! It had a lot of personality; it had brightness and darkness; it showed new perspectives and flavors over time and in different methods. It tasted like the sort of book that I could happily get lost in for hours. Bravo, Novel! You haven’t seen the last of me, that’s for sure.

From the roaster: The town of Idido is an epicenter of quality in the Yirgacheffe region. Heirloom coffee grown and milled here is so good in fact, that it became famous under more than one name: Idido, Aricha, and Misty Valley are all sourced from among the same farms, all operating at elevations over 2000 meters.

The coffee we selected is fully washed and flawlessly sorted, presenting nectar-like flavors of white peach, summer melon, and honeysuckle.

Novel Coffee Roasters Online Store

Review: Tweed Staycation Ethiopian Blend (Dallas, Texas)

On my most recent visit to Houndstooth Coffee, the baristas used me as a guinea pig and had me try an interesting concoction that was espresso + tonic water + lemon ice cubes + a sprig of rosemary. It was quite sweet and I told them it tasted like liquefied lemon LifeSavers, which they seemed pleased about. The espresso didn’t make its presence known until the latter half of the drink, but when it did, it added a nice complexity to this cold beverage. If that sounds up your alley, visit the Dallas location soon – I didn’t catch the name of this drink but they’re rolling it out shortly (it’ll probably be on the menu by the time I publish this)!

The Tweed Staycation blend is made up of Ethiopian heirloom coffee beans; the bag listed the proportions as 70% Yirgz, 30% Ardi. On the website, they get into a bit more detail; 70% of the blend will be either Kochere or Yirgacheffe, washed, while 30% will be Kilenso Moccanissa or Sidama, natural-processed. The current Yirgz/Ardi blend probably just reflects what is “in season” now and what Tweed was able to procure from their producers.

Whole bean: These beans smell like blueberries and raspberries. Sweet and mild. On a blueberry scale of 1-10, 1 being “no scent” and 10 being “Violet Beauregarde,” this bag rated about a 5.

French press: Flavors of blueberry and melon rind with a piquant aftertaste. I brewed this for my usual 4 minutes but I was missing a certain depth in this cup; it was a bit bland, which is odd for an Ethiopian coffee! However, I tried brewing it again for 5 minutes the next day and it brought out a mesmerizing honeysuckle aroma and flavor.

Chemex: Berry bomb! Deliciously sweet with a bit of citrus zing. This had a very thin body (which could be expected thanks to the thick Chemex filter), and could be super-refreshing as an iced coffee.

AeroPress: The concentrate was too strong to drink straight, but adding just a bit of water brought out muted berry and rich cocoa flavors. Very sweet and satisfying.

V60: This particular cup wasn’t to my taste, as it mostly tasted of lemon and lemon pith. It was a bit bitter, even at only a 2:40 extraction time.

I didn’t know going into this tasting how the coffee was processed; it wasn’t until I looked up the website in order to write this review that I found out it was 70/30 washed/natural. Based on the blueberry aroma I detected from the whole beans, my assumption was that it was mostly natural-processed beans, so my expectation was that I would get much more berry flavor than I did (which makes sense if that was only 30% of the batch).

Summary: This is a nice blend of the two predominant processing styles of Ethiopian coffee, and I think it features the best of both worlds. Natural-processed Ethiopians have strong berry flavor but can come off tasting a bit like plastic. Washed Ethiopians are cleaner in finish but can go too far in citrus and floral flavor for some. This blend had no plastic in it, and strikes a lovely balance that brings out blueberries, raspberries, a little cocoa (in the AeroPress), a little refreshing zing of lemon on the finish (in the Chemex), and sweet floral notes (in the French press).

From the roaster: Berry, melon, lemon zest

Tweed Coffee Online Store

Review: Ascension Brazil Rainha Farms (Dallas, Texas)

Sometimes, when I talk to people about the flavors in coffee, they get confused and think that I drink flavored coffees… you know, stuff like Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Peppermint Mochas, Red Velvet Frappuccinos. I admit that I enjoyed some vanilla lattes in my youth, but I haven’t had a “flavored” coffee in quite some time. You won’t find any flavored syrups in my house! What I’m referring to are the different flavor characteristics inherent in the different bean varietals, grown in various parts of the world. This post on single-origin coffees gets into this topic in more detail.

I’ve been drinking a lot of African and Central American coffee lately, and I’ve been awash in flavors of berry, citrus, flowers, honey… lots of bright, interesting tastes. But you know how sometimes all you want is something simple and comforting? I love being challenged musically as much as the next musician, and I find complexity to be irresistible… but sometimes you just want uncomplicated pop or stadium rock. Sometimes, after months of listening to Joy Division, John Adams, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sufjan Stevens, Shostakovich, of Montreal, Steve Reich, and Radiohead, nothing else will do except for some Journey, preferably while driving with the windows down and singing along at the top of your lungs.

(I can’t believe I just admitted this.)

(And for anyone out there making fun of me right now, would you be comfortable with me opening up your iTunes collection and letting me see EVERYTHING you have in it? I am guessing I’m not the only one with musical guilty pleasures out there!)

Brazilian drip coffee is not something I seek out on a regular basis, because to me it’s like a coffee version of stadium-rock; big, crowd-pleasing flavor that has mass appeal. I generally prefer more complex, layered coffees. But, for those days where you don’t want to be pushed or stretched, it’s comfort food in a cup. I stopped at Ascension Coffee’s Dallas location the other day for lunch, and this bag was among the freshest coffee (at 3 days old), so I opted to give it a try.

Whole bean: Creamy, malty, milk chocolate aromas.

V60: At a 2:50 extraction, this cup was a bit bitter and it “smelled like coffee.” In my book, because I typically look for layers of flavor, it struck me as a bit boring. However, drinking it was like a throwback to a different, less complicated time. Adding a splash of cream took away the bitterness and made this cup taste like Nestle Quik. Hello, childhood!

AeroPress: Rich, nutty flavor that had a fair bit of acidic bite to keep things awake. Just for fun, I added a glug of heavy cream and a bit of sugar. This cup became a chocolate milkshake. Holy cannoli, it was rich.

Chemex: Light-bodied but smoother in flavor overall than the V60 and AeroPress cups. This was pretty easy to drink black. 

French press:  As I expected, this cup was smooth, full-bodied, and the richest in nut/chocolate flavor. Comforting. It enveloped me like a fleece blanket. Uncomplicated and soothing.

Espresso: Out of curiosity, I chose to pull this as a single-origin espresso. I actually think I liked it the best in this preparation! Though I didn’t experiment much, the shots that my Silvano produced were complex, a little brash in their acidity, but sweet. Very drinkable!

Summary: Get this if you like chocolate milkshakes, or if you want a coffee that will hold you and tell you everything will be all right. It’s not a coffee that will make you question things, or that will push you out of your comfort zone. Rather, it is mac and cheese. It is Journey’s “Faithfully.” It is a hug from an old friend.

From the roaster: Brazil nuts, toffee

Ascension Coffee Roastery Online Store

Review: Counter Culture Kenya Kamavindi (Durham, North Carolina)

In the 6 months thus far that this blog has been around, the coffee review with the most page views has been the Counter Culture Hologram Espresso. I figured it was high time I revisit Counter Culture’s offerings, but this time I opted to try a single-origin versus one of their blends.

Kenyan coffee has a reputation as being coffee for coffee connoisseurs. It’s not a coffee that has mass appeal, or one that people are likely to appreciate without a certain level of knowledge and experience with coffee. Obviously, there is no Billboard Top 40 chart for coffee, but if there was such a chart, it’s unlikely that any of the top sellers would have much cachet among “coffee snobs.” Music that is marketed toward a mass audience will have a wide appeal and will translate to lots of sales, but may not inspire the same kind of vocal, passionate, devoted following the way that “indie” artists might. There is a Brian Eno quote about the lackluster sales of the Velvet Underground’s debut album, saying that it only sold 30,000 copies in the first five years after its release, but “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.” Now, I’m not necessarily saying this coffee tastes like “Venus in Furs,” but it’s not easy listening/easy drinking compared to some other coffees!

My first experience with Kenyan coffee was this Victrola Kenya Nyeri Tambaya Peaberry, which, frankly, I really didn’t like. It was too swampy and savory and off-putting for my taste. I certainly am used to “sweeter” coffees, so tasting something that had so much funk/mushroom/seaweed in it was a shock. However, I did actually rather enjoy the Kenya Kirinyaga from thirty-thirty Coffee, and trying it made me resolved to research more Kenyans. I am not necessarily trying to make myself like Kenyan coffee because I should — I more want to expand my horizons and discover what others see in it.

I was a little surprised to find this Kenya Kamavindi sold in a box rather than a bag, but apparently Counter Culture recently started packaging their single-origin coffees this way. The bag inside the box still has a one-way valve to let air escape, but can’t be resealed; I ended up putting the remainder of the beans in an Airscape canister to keep them fresh.

Whole bean: heady, rich aroma that smelled like molasses and red wine. Ground, it smelled just like blackberry cobbler.

V60: Not too sweet – this cup had a savory, tangy character that reminded me of cherry tomatoes. The finish had some lovely meyer lemon notes.

AeroPress: Sipped as a concentrate, it tasted like straight lemon juice (but thicker-bodied). Once I added water, it added enough sweetness to make the cup pleasantly tart. The lemon-custard flavor and body lingered pleasantly on the tongue.

Chemex: Medium-bodied but surprisingly rich and sweet flavor of lemon and cream with a hint of berry. Delicious stuff! The finish tasted like brown sugar. This might be the “hit single” of the album – the most accessible track that hooks the new listener. Hey there, Sweet Jane.

French press: Raisin aromas in the cup. This particular cup was thick and not very sweet. It most reminded me of red wine (probably something like a Shiraz); complex flavors with a dry finish.

Summary: I am constantly evolving. If I revisit this coffee in a couple of years, maybe I’ll be all about cherry tomato and wine flavors! But at the moment, I like the Chemex itieration the best. I do appreciate the layers and the multi-dimensional character of this coffee. It’s a cup that reveals layers over time, for those who take the time to “peel slowly and see.” (Sorry, couldn’t resist! I’ll stop with the VU references now.)

From the roaster: Blackberry, currants, citrus fruits

Counter Culture Kenya Kamavindi

Review: Lexington Coffee Roasters Guatemala Waykan (Lexington, Virginia)

Thanks again to my friend Sarah for these beans! 🙂

I consider my tasting skills to be decent, but I can’t hold a candle to the fine folks at Coffee Review. I purposely did not pay attention to the tasting notes on this coffee until after I was finished, and I’m always interested to see where I agree with others and where I diverge. More details in the summary.

This particular coffee features top-quality beans from 55 communities in Guatemala.

Whole bean: In the whole bean format, I didn’t detect any particular fragrance that stood out, but once ground, they had a beautiful fragrance of bittersweet chocolate.

V60: My extraction time was a bit on the short side (2:30), and this particular cup tasted mostly like black tea with a bit of bittersweet cocoa and lemon.

AeroPress: In its concentrate form, this cup was pretty sour – it tasted like a combination of lemon juice and pith. However, once I added water to the concentrate, it smoothed out and had a more iced tea-like quality (but hot, of course). Rich body.

Chemex: Smelled a bit like the smoke from blown-out matches, but it tasted like milk chocolate. This also had a little bite of acidity at the end to keep things interesting, but overall it was markedly smoother than either the V60 or AeroPress cups.

French press: Dominant flavor was one of marshmallows, followed by hot cocoa. This is a nice cup for cold winter mornings when looking for a comforting way to start the day. Too bad it’s currently August in Texas! 😉

Summary: I liked this coffee. It reminded me a fair bit of the Coffee del Rey Guatemala Huehuetenango without the graham cracker flavor. Most of the flavors I noticed in this coffee were chocolate, marshmallow, black tea, and lemon. However, the reviewers at Coffee Review had this to say:

“Gently crisp, cedary, complex. Tobacco-toned cedar (think cigar humidor), vanilla, raw sugar, narcissus-like flowers in aroma and cup. Brisk, dry acidity; lightly syrupy mouthfeel. Vanilla, flowers and cedar carry into a resonant finish.”

Yeesh, I need to work on my tasting game!

From the roaster:

Aroma: Candied Fruit & Chocolate

Flavor: Apricot, Pecan, & Milk Chocolate

Acidity: Brisk

Body: Silky

Aftertaste: Tangy Fruit, Nut, & Cocoa

Lexington Coffee Roasters Guatemala Waykan

Mini Review: Lexington Coffee Roasters Colombia Huila (Lexington, Virginia)

The next two coffees I will be reviewing were gifts from my lovely friend Sarah. Thanks, Sarah! 🙂

I usually will talk a bit about the individual roasters at this point, but instead, I’m just going to link to Lexington Coffee Roasters’ “About Us” page, because I think it encapsulates their personality better than I possibly could!

V60: This brew took a few minutes to open up. Initially, my first thought was of peach pit… a little bitter and nutty in flavor. I usually don’t eat at the same time as doing tastings, but I was hungry so I cooked some eggs (overeasy). Oddly enough, drinking the coffee along with the eggs really brought out a sweet milk chocolate flavor! It’s making me think about optimal food/coffee pairings. Hmmm…

AeroPress: Beautifully smooth and balanced flavor… not too fruity, not too floral, not too overwhelming in any particular flavor characteristic. Nice dichotomy between depth of flavor and a bit of acidity to keep things interesting!

French press: If the coffee I sampled from the AeroPress was a voice speaking in a normal, conversational volume, the French press coffee was someone speaking just a LITTLE TOO LOUDLY for the space. The acidity was more pronounced (which I happen to like, but I know a lot of people prefer “smooth” coffees), and the flavors grabbed you much more robustly from start to finish.

Summary: Delicious example of a carefully crafted Colombian coffee. The AeroPress cup was the most gentle start to the day but if you need a coffee version of someone yelling, the French press might fit the bill!

True story: I typically will have some sort of background music playing while I’m brewing. When I was making the AeroPress cup, Japancakes’ cover of My Bloody Valentine’s “When You Sleep” was playing. When I was just finishing the French press cup, my iPod had switched over to Japandroids’ “The Nights of Wine and Roses”. Appropriate for what was in my mug!!

From the roaster:

Aroma: Caramel, grape

Flavor: Green apple, grape and milk chocolate

Acidity: Nippy

Body: Medium

Aftertaste: Dry and lively

Lexington Coffee Roasters Colombia Huila