BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “Coffee.”

Nice back focus

Wednesday, October 26th, 2022 Alive 18,810 days

A cup of coffee in Central Texas

Todayʼs coffee is “Coffee,” possibly from Celebration Catering.

I write “possibly” because I donʼt have any pictures of the folding table from which the coffee was vended, but “Celebration” seems familiar, and the “Catering” portion, Iʼm sure is right.

This is the coffee that was on offer at The Compound, a ranch-themed events center in Round Top, Texas. The other option was “Decaf.”

The coffee is good. Smooth but weak, like that guy in high school who was always convinced that he was a ladies man, and tried too hard. I added some French vanilla creamer, which improved the texture a bit. The same would not have helped my high school friend.

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Lou Grant approves

Saturday, September 24th, 2022 Alive 18,778 days

Vanilla Bourbon coffee from Piñon Coffee

How does one get both drunk and sober at the same time? Booze coffee!

This isnʼt that, but itʼs what I imagine such a drink would be, if such a drink existed. Other than Irish coffee, which is more like coffee-flavored booze than booze-flavored coffee.

It will surprise no one that this gustatory confusion spews from the ever-reliable roastmasters at Piñon Coffee in Albuquerque. Iʼve tried hundreds of coffees from all over the world, and I keep going back to Piñonʼs larder. It must be something in the water. Free shipping doesn't hurt, either.

As promised by the fonts on the label, the vanilla flavor is smaller than the Bourbon flavor. It sneaks up on you like the guy pretending to be drunk at the end of the bar who picks your pocket while youʼre engrossed in your iPhone. The Bourbon flavor, on the other hand, smacks you on the side of the head like the stench of high-octane pee from the subway-tile-and-fly-poser-lined bathroom at CBGB.

On a scale from Never Again (1) to Sell a Kidney For More (10), this is about a 2. Four if it's on sale.

Itʼs fine for what it is, but even though Iʼm a quick riser, I like my coffee to be friendly in the morning, not to bite me on the leg and knock stuff off the coffee table with its tail.

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I was saving it… for later

Wednesday, September 14th, 2022 Alive 18,768 days

Harrodʼs #08: Knightsbridge Roast.

Since Iʼm going to spend most of the morning watching Queen Elizabethʼs cortège on Sky News, I guess itʼs time to tuck into my Harrodʼs Knightsbridge Roast #08.

Unlike The Queen, who was a very strong woman, this coffee is rather weak. Itʼs very much diner coffee, similar to that which is served by the Omelete House in Las Vegas. Which was the last restaurant in which Jerry Lewis ate.

Perhaps it's only appropriate. The coffee is as weak as tea. And tea would have been a more appropriate choice this morning.

A still frame of the Queen's cortège from Sky News.
Iʼm watching on Sky because it is the only British broadcaster with an AppleTV app that's available in the United States.
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Weʼre number what?

Monday, September 12th, 2022 Alive 18,766 days

Those Methodists make a fine cup of coffee

Iʼm always trying to explain to my coworkers the importance of future-proofing what you publish.

Here we see a happy coffee sleeve touting Houston Methodist Hospitalʼs rank as the number 16 hospital in the nation. Except that it isnʼt.

Methodist is actually number 15. Sixteen was last year. But some middle manager thought it was a good idea to order fifty brazillion coffee sleeves flogging the #16 position, and now itʼs stuck under-bragging until they run out.

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An idea percolates...

Saturday, September 3rd, 2022 Alive 18,757 days

Today I learned the local nursery sells Arabica plants. The sign says they grow to be eight feet tall, but have to be protected from the cold. Of course, the ceiling in my library is ten feet tall, so maybe...

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Remember the flavor of the Alamo

Friday, September 2nd, 2022 Alive 18,756 days

“Taste of San Antonio” coffee

If youʼve ever wondered what San Antonio tastes like, H.E.B. has you covered.

Taste of San Antonio sounds like a Summer food festival, but it's actually a flavor of coffee, available in regular, decaf, K-cups, and decaf K-cups, for those of you care more about the look of your coffee maker than the quality of the coffee it spits out.

Apparently, San Antonio is “Medium-bodied with cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla flavors.” I only know one person in San Antonio, and Iʼd say that describes her correctly.

It's both naturally, and artificially flavored. For your safety.

To me, it tastes a bit like Biscochito coffee from Piñon Coffee in Albuquerque. But weaker. But that last part might just be because itʼs from a supermarket, and not a place that draws milk foam cowboys on top of your drink.

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Coffee math

Sunday, August 21st, 2022 Alive 18,744 days

After months of research involving 1,0000 Splenda packets, 400 H.E.B. “Sweetener” packets, and 1,640 cups of coffee, I can personally confirm that it takes three H.E.B. packets to do the same job as two Splenda packets. You're welcome.

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Leaf me alone

Friday, August 19th, 2022 Alive 18,742 days

A cup of coffee with leaf latte art from Greenway Coffee

I wonder what kind of leaf this is. To me, it looks like a philodendron, left in the corner office of a skyscraper after everyoneʼs switched to work-from-home.

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“G” is for “coffee”

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 Alive 18,740 days

A cup of Greenway Coffee coffee from Greenway Coffee

I tried Greenway Coffee for the first time today. Itʼs a solid cup of joe. Better than some, but not as good as others. But in its favor, it's on Main Street in downtown Houston; and the price is a little bit less than the Starbucks 40 feet away.

I recommend the Texas honey and somethingorother. That's what I got. Too bad I donʼt remember what itʼs called.

Bean bags are on the pricey side — running ~$20. But that includes a free cup of coffee, which brings the price down closer to $15. Which isnʼt awful in 2022.

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More like an onion

Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 Alive 18,740 days

Latte art from Greenway Coffee. I think it looks a bit like the iris growing in my garden.

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Coffee underachiever

Sunday, August 14th, 2022 Alive 18,737 days

A repair guy working on the super-duper high-tech coffee robot machine. Which is almost always broken.

The Costa Coffee machine at Whole Foods is broken. Again. I've been to this particular Whole Foods in Midtown Houston nine times. The coffee machine has only been online and functional once.

It's either bad timing for me, or a bad machine from Costa. Either way, it's bad news for Whole Foods.

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I remain uncaffeinated

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

A sign at Midway airport listing coffee options

This sign at Midway Airport helpfully lists 18 coffee options in the gate area. I had a couple of hours to kill, so I went looking for a cup of joe. No luck.

More than half of the locations were closed, either temporarily or permanently. Most of the rest had lines 30 people deep. Probably because so many of the other restaurants were closed.

When I did finally find a place with a reasonably-sized line, they had no coffee. Didn't know they were supposed to have coffee. And were surprised to see their location listed on an official airport sign as having coffee.

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Memories of life in Seattle

Saturday, July 16th, 2022 Alive 18,708 days

A package of Starbucks Veranda coffee

The coffee of the day is Starbucks Veranda roast. I got this bag for free with my wife's Starbucks points/stars/thumbs/whatever. It's very hard for free coffee to be bad, so it must be good.

My memory is that Starbucks used to have a Veranda coffee, and a Blonde coffee. This is labeled both. I know that blonde is a type of roast, so I'm a little corn-fused here. Maybe Starbucks comnbined the two products into one to cut down on SKUs.

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Wolf got your tongue

Thursday, May 26th, 2022 Alive 18,657 days

Iced coffee from Mr. Wolf

Thereʼs a coffee shop inside the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans. Itʼs called Mr. Wolf. And it makes some pretty darned good iced drinks.

What you see above is the result is my inability to clearly communicate what I wanted. I wanted an iced coffee in a paper cup. The reason was simple: Mr. Wolfʼs cold drink cups are boring unadorned plastic, and lack the cool wolf logo. I wanted the dapper wolf on my drink.

The baristas were nice enough, but perhaps it was heat stroke that prevented me from explaining what I wanted.

In the end, we compromised on the pictured frankendrink: Iced coffee poured in a plastic cup, and the plastic cup jammed in a paper cup. Close enough. Still good.

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Grab your PJʼs

Thursday, May 26th, 2022 Alive 18,657 days

Morning joe from PJʼs coffee

PJʼs Coffee is one of New Orleansʼ hometown brews. Itʼs basic, but has the virtues of being consistent, pleasant, and ubiquitous. Food offerings seem to vary widely from store to store, but a bit of hyper-local flavor is a good thing.

A lot of people compare it to Starbucks, but itʼs a different animal. Itʼs more akin to Peetʼs Coffee, or a better grade of Dunkinʼ Donuts.

PJʼs is also one of the very few coffee companies that sells beans specifically for cold brew. It has the virtues of being consistent, pleasant, and in my refrigerator.

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Chicory dicory hot

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022 Alive 18,656 days

A 9pm cup of Café Du Mondé

Café Du Mondé coffee is an acquired taste. And try as I might over the years, I haven't acquired that taste yet.

Millions of words have been written on and about chicory coffee, and thereʼs nothing I can add to that volume. You either like it, or you donʼt. I drink it when Iʼm in New Orleans, because itʼs the local flavor, just like the kick in the kidneys of Turkish coffee in Istanbul, or the diabetes-in-a-cup that flows on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.

I think Café Du Mondé persists, in part, because it is the location where a lot of peopleʼs good memories were begotten.

If youʼre drink Café Du Mondé under the original expanse of awnings late on a rainy night with someone you love, youʼre bound to be in a good place, even if for only as long as the coffee lasts. And in the future, when you think of pleasant memories, and the pleasant places where they were spawned, just like the rain, sticky powdered sugar, and inadequate napkins, the coffee — as bad as it is — is part of that memory, and elevated in oneʼs mind.

Café Du Mondé coffee was special when I first had it, but today itʼs available in almost every supermarket in America, and in places all around the world. So itʼs not unique. But that doesnʼt mean it isnʼt special. If not on the tongue, at least in the mind; which is usually all that matters.

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Small on beignets

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022 Alive 18,656 days

Coffee at Cafe Beignet

For a coffee shop with “beignet” in its name, beignets seem to be an afterthought at Cafe Beignet.

The coffee is fine. Good, even. Itʼs below Starbucks, but above PJʼs. However, the pastry offerings are paltry, even when it comes to its namesake.

I suspect that this chain does well because it has excellent placement, magically appearing at the right time in all the right places. But if beignets are on your mind, keep walking. There are better options.

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Wednesday, May 25th, 2022 Alive 18,656 days

A pod of Metropolitan coffee by Farmer Brothers

Even for K-cup coffee in a two-star hotel, Metropolitan by Farmer Brothers isn't a very good coffee. It's the sort of coffee that you make in your room on your first morning in town, which then causes you to wander the streets each subsequent morning looking for better coffee.

Considering the catalog of cost-cutting measures employed by the Hotel Saint Marie, perhaps this was a deliberate choice to keep from having to spend an extra 75¢ servicing the room.

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Rebel without a clue

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022 Alive 18,655 days

An artist at work in a CCʼs Cafe

The sign on the outside reads “No loitering or sitting here.” The artist on the inside is clearly both sitting and loitering as he works his watercolors.

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The D.L. on C.C.ʼs

Tuesday, May 24th, 2022 Alive 18,655 days

A cup of CC's coffee

CCʼs Coffee House is another local slinger of joe in Louisiana. The “C” and the other “C” stand for “Community Coffee,” the Baton Rouge company from which this small chain originated. So, really the full name is “Community Coffee's Coffee House,” which entirely fails to roll off the tongue.

CCʼs is good, and the Pelican State could use more of them. Itʼs a reliable cuppa, and the cafes I visited are both spacious and low-pressure.

Since theyʼre both local, itʼs natural to compare CCʼs Coffee with PJʼs Coffee. CCʼs is perhaps a scosh below P.J.ʼs in terms of flavor, but while P.J. seems to aspire to replicating the Starbucks proliferation model, CCʼs has a serious local vibe. Even its drinks have names like Mochasippi, embracing its location in a way that PJʼs only does in a token fashion, like offering café au lait. Even Dunkinʼ can do that.

I did purchase beans from CCʼs, and they were unremarkable. Not bad. Not good. Diner grade coffee, if thatʼs what youʼre into.

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It does not look… délicieux

Sunday, May 22nd, 2022 Alive 18,653 days

Coffee service in an Amtrak Sunset Limited sleeper car

I have often said thereʼs no such thing as bad ice cream. The same cannot be said for coffee.

Amtrak coffee is bad. I've had it on the Empire Builder, on the Coast Starlight, on the Hiawatha, on the Lincoln Service, on the Texas Eagle, on the Sunset Limited, and on the Cascades. I keep trying it, but itʼs bad every time.

Government train coffee may be the only drink worse than bank lobby coffee.

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Saturday, May 7th, 2022 Alive 18,638 days

Specs-a-doodle coffee from Specʼs

Sometimes Iʼm a little slow before Iʼve had my sixth cup of coffee in the morning, so it took me a bit realize that “Specs-a-doodle” is a play on snickerdoodle.

Does the coffee taste like a snickerdoodle? Maybe. Kinda. Sorta. As much as any coffee thatʼs been sitting in a see-through plastic bin under florescent lights in a liquor store for the last dozen months or so. Or, perhaps the idea is that this is the perfect brew to sip with an actual snickerdoodle. Iʼll have to try that.

Specʼs coffee isnʼt great tasting. But it has other redeeming qualities. Primarily, that it exists and is easy for me to get to by train. Also important is that there are over a 120 varieties of the stuff available. Yes, I counted the bins.

Part of the wall of coffees at Specʼs
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Awww, fudge

Saturday, May 7th, 2022 Alive 18,638 days

Specʼs Chocolate Fudge coffee

Thereʼs something about chocolate fudge that makes it the go-to flavor when coffee companies want to flavor their beans.

Itʼs no secret that chocolate pairs well with coffee, but so do lots of other flavors. I wonder if chocolate flavor is really cheap and easy to find since so many things in the food industry are flavored with chocolate.

Like every other beanery with flavors on offer, Specʼs has a chocolate fudge coffee. In my experience, chocolate-flavored coffees tend to be smoother than regular coffee, but not this one from Specʼs. It manages to have a tinge of chocolate flavor while still retaining the bitterness and acidity of plain old dark roast.

If thatʼs what fills your cup, bully on you. For me, the current chocolate-flavored coffee champion remains Piñon Fudge from Piñon Coffee in Albuquerque. Strong chocolate flavor, and itʼs smoother than Mel Torméʼs satin pillow case.

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Tell me no lies

Wednesday, May 4th, 2022 Alive 18,635 days

A cup of 3Fibs coffee

3Fibs is the sort of coffee joint that Iʼd love to love, but I canʼt. Itʼs just not for me.

Although I consume about a hogshead worth of coffee each month, itʼs rarely of the highest quality, never made correctly, and certainly not tasted with the care and respect it deserves. I brew with a Keurig, for Godʼs sake.

I like sweet, and chocolate, and filberts, and all those things that made Starbucks famous, and drive absolutists absolutely mad.

3Fibs is expert-level coffee. The menu is sparse. There are no flavorings. There is no Frappuccino, or its equivalent. Itʼs coffee for people who are serious about coffee. Thatʼs not me, but I'm glad that there are people out there who are defenders of the faith. Without them, there would be no caffeine coattails for sots like me to ride upon.

The space has a good vibe. Very much a coffee house, and not a café, or a store. And the baristas manage to be both friendly and knowledgeable without also being condescending. Those three attributes rarely go together, and disappear altogether as you progress northwestward within the continental United States.

The coffee was good. I think. Very strong. But it was obvious that this was a drink that I donʼt have the refined taste buds to appreciate.

The exterior of 3Fibs Coffee on Main Street in Houston
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But they made you a lilly

Saturday, April 23rd, 2022 Alive 18,624 days

A lilly made of milk foam

Itʼs always a shame when bad people happen to good coffee. That seems to be whatʼs happening at the Canary Cafe location on Fulton just north of Cavalcade.

The store is nice. Good decoration. Good furniture. Even a cozy backyard in which to savor and chill.

The coffee is good. The sweets are excellent. I had something that was something like a cross between a peanut butter sandwich and baklava. Trés scrummy.

But the people running the place donʼt really seem to know what theyʼre doing. Itʼs like they came from another planet where everything they know about serving coffee came from watching reruns of Friends. As if theyʼve never actually been to a coffee shop, themselves.

Maybe itʼs a new location, and these are just growing pains. The newspapers are full of stories about how restaurants canʼt find quality workers, so maybe this is evidence of that problem.

But Iʼll certainly go back. The coffee is solid, and the pastries would make a firefighter bite a Dalmatian. Hopefully, the people problems will be worked out by then.

Peanut butter, then filo, then peanut butter, then filo, then peanut butter…
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Itʼs not her

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022 Alive 18,614 days

The window at Two Hands Coffee

Hole-in-the-wall joints are very often the best joints. If the food isnʼt great, the atmosphere makes up for it. In the case of Two Hands Coffee, one doesnʼt need to make up for the other, because both are great.

It's a diminutive space. “Small, but perfectly formed,” as the Brits would say. Good coffee. Good service. And speedy.

Also, what do you do when the woman at the coffee window looks exactly like your high school girlfriend who you heard moved to this part of the world? Because that totally didnʼt happen to me.

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Note to self: Let it go to voice mail

Friday, February 4th, 2022 Alive 18,546 days

Fire trucks. Many many fire trucks.

One of the work-from-home workforce in my building answered a call from his boss while cooking lunch. You can see the rest.

When we evacuated the building, I grabbed my work laptop, but not my shoes, so I ended up working the rest of the day from Day 6 Coffee in my pajamas and slippers. However, this being downtown Houston, I was the least-oddly dressed person there.

Interestingly, both the Metro Green and Purple line trains were suspended because the nearest johnny pump to my home is across the street, and the firefighters had to run hoses across the train tracks to connect to my buildingʼs risers.

That train isnʼt going anywhere
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Someoneʼs gotta do it

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022 Alive 18,530 days

Coffee from The Italian Job

When I think of fine coffees, I donʼt usually think of Michael Caine and Benny Hill. But I might from now on.

Thereʼs a coffee shop down the street called The Italian Job. Itʼs run by a couple of guys from Italy who decided that Houston could do with a bit of civilization, and decided to contribute by importing enormous chrome-plated espresso machines.

Itʼs located in one of the new skyscraper apartment buildings, and across the street from a park, so it has an audience built-in. But it looks more like a bar than a coffee shop, and based on the paraphernalia behind the counter, Iʼd say that booze is its bread and butter.

Still, you never see a bar without coffee, and if youʼre going to be the sober one in the bunch, the coffee proffered here is really quite good.

The space is tight, which is great for rubbing elbows on a night out on the town, but not so great for people trying to dodge COVID in the middle of the day, so I got mine to go.

It's a quality brew, made in the Italian tradition — meaning produced in no absolutely no hurry. This isnʼt Naples, so itʼs an indication of care, not contempt. And the extra time comes through in the flavor. This is not push-button global chain espresso.

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Needs to perk up

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021 Alive 18,439 days

The Costa Coffee machine at Whole Foods being repaired again

If you ever want to know what the inside of an automatic barista machine looks like, just head to Whole Foods in Midtown Houston. Thereʼs a good chance itʼs inner mechanism is open and available for you to examine.

Iʼm not sure how many times Iʼve been to this Whole Foods store — maybe a dozen times — and the coffee machine has never been working.

Every time I go, thereʼs a repairman busy tinkering with it. Which seems like quite a coincidence. Either Costa Coffee has an employee whose job is to repair this one machine full-time, or thereʼs something about me going to Whole Foods that causes the machine to kill itself.

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Latte, how are ya?

Sunday, September 19th, 2021 Alive 18,408 days

A Texas latte from Day 6 Coffee

Today's coffee is the Texas Latte from Day Six Coffee in downtown Houston.

This coffee is probably best taken hot, but even though it's only 93° today, my body still believes it's a hundred-and-bullshit outside, so I got it iced.

It's pretty good, but should be well-swirled to make sure all the good bits at the bottom get properly distributed throughout.

The Day Six menu describes it as a "double shot of espresso with vanilla bean flavoring, caramel sauce, and steamed milk." I usually associate vanilla with Madagascar, and caramel with England. But Texas has milk, so we'll go with that. It's a solid drink, but forgettable. The sort of thing that you can get pretty much anywhere. And at $5.50 a pop, it's not really value-for-money. $3.99, and I'm there.

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Coffee cops

Saturday, August 14th, 2021 Alive 18,372 days

A sign advertising free coffee for police officers, firefighters, and hospital workers

Thereʼs a weird kind of hybrid bar -slash- epicurean bodega near my home called District Market that gives free coffee to cops and other essential workers. Thatʼs nice.

People make a lot of jokes about cops and doughnut shops thinking that itʼs nothing more than a lame stereotype, but few understand that thereʼs a historical reason for that association.

America used to be littered with all-night coffee shops. This was because people used to stay out later, as they didnʼt have much entertainment at home. People also used to work later because a lot of once-massive industries demanded it. And more people worked overnight shifts than they do now. Stopping at a coffee shop or a diner on the way home at 2am was a perfectly normal thing to do. People also used to work harder, so in some cities there were 24-hour cheap steak joints, but thatʼs a story for another time.

Because these coffee shops were open in the small hours, they were often the targets of criminals. A clever way to attract police officers to your late-night noshery in order to repel criminals was to offer the badged free coffee, and sometimes free doughnuts.

Whether District Market is giving away free coffee in lieu of paying for improved security doesnʼt really matter, because itʼs still a nice thing to do. And the whole notion of “free coffee” which used to be ubiquitous in American society has almost disappeared today.

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Spicy and our of this world

Sunday, July 18th, 2021 Alive 18,345 days

Biscochito coffee from Piñon Coffee in Albuquerque

Todayʼs coffee is Biscochito, from that place in Albuquerque again.

A biscochito is the official state cookie of New Mexico, and you can really smell and taste the cookie flavor, though itʼs not overwhelming. A biscochito is similar to a butter cookie, but the recipe has evolved over the last 400 years to be every-so-slightly spicy, with the flavors of anise, cinnamon, and space launches. But thatʼs OK, because I like my coffee the way I like my women: spicy and our of this world.

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Syrupy and Canadian

Sunday, July 11th, 2021 Alive 18,338 days

Maple Artificially Flavored Coffee from Tim Hortons

Todayʼs coffee is Tim Hortons Maple (artificially flavored) Coffee. Why Timʼs, and why K-cups? For the same reason I buy most of my coffee — it was on sale.

A lot of coffee claims to be flavored with everything from chocolate to cinnamon to lavender. And itʼs almost always a hint of a suggestion of a note of a whisper of a nod in the general direction of a particular savor. This coffee doesnʼt play that game. It hits you square in the face with a hockey stick dunked in maple goodness. I have a jug of pure maple syrup in my refrigerator that feels inferior to this product. If you like maple flavor (And on a 116° day like today, who doesnʼt?), this is right grind for your gears. Itʼs like twisting a K-cup into a maple tree and letting the sweet, caffeinated nectar drip into your favorite Canadian Tire tumbler. While wearing flannel. And listening to Rush.

Does it taste like real Tim Hortons coffee from a real Tim Hortons shop? I donʼt know. Itʼs been so long since Iʼve slurped black and dunked Timbits in the Great White North that Iʼve forgotten what itʼs supposed to be like. But Iʼm going to declare it “close enough” because I like my coffee the way I like my women: Syrupy and Canadian.

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Wholesome and surprisingly good

Sunday, July 4th, 2021 Alive 18,331 days

Goose Bumps coffee from Vesta Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Goose Bumps from Vesta Coffee in Las Vegas.

The coffee is pretty good, considering it comes from a city that prides itself on being artificial, superficial, and doing things “good enough.” Itʼs very smooth, which might be attributed to the relentlessly mineralized water that Vegas siphons from Lake Mead, before returning it to the lake after being processed by four million kidneys. The stated notes are “chocolate, graham cracker, sweet.” I certainly get the chocolate, and a bit of the sweet. But Iʼm not sensitive enough to detect graham or any other type of cracker in my coffee. Still, this desert coffee isnʼt a dessert coffee. Itʼs a nice weekend morning coffee, or a good reward in the afternoon after accomplishing some minor, yet dreaded, task. Iʼd buy it again because I like my coffee the way I like my women: wholesome and surprisingly good.

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Sweet and smokey

Friday, June 18th, 2021 Alive 18,315 days

Maple Walnut coffee from Piñon Coffee in Albuquerque

Today's coffee is Maple Walnut from Piñon Coffee.

It's not exactly maple walnut season around here. This week has been wildfires, not fireplaces; and 117° above, instead of 17° below. But this place never sees a proper autumn or winter, so you make your own.

Like other Piñon products, it's very smooth. And when freshly ground, it smells more like maple and walnuts than the maple walnut cookies that I get from my neighbors fresh out of Canuckistan.

Why Piñon again? Because I'm a sucker for free shipping. And because I like my coffee the way I like my women: sweet and smokey.

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Nice can

Sunday, May 30th, 2021 Alive 18,296 days

Hacienda Esmerelda Bourbon Pointu coffee from Mod Cup

Todayʼs coffee is Hacienda Esmerelda Bourbon Pointu from Mod Cup Coffee in Jersey City, New Jersey. Why would anyone buy coffee from New Jersey? Thatʼs a tale for another page of the calendar. For today, letʼs just focus on the coffee.

Iʼll start by saying itʼs bad. Not bad in the way that James Brown was bad, or the way that playing hookie from school was bad. I mean bad as in I brewed two cups and threw the rest in the trash. And this is coffee that costs four times what I ordinarily pay for coffee. I didnʼt just want to stop drinking this coffee. I wanted to divorce this coffee, move to a new city, get plastic surgery, and change my name to get away from this coffee.

Mod Cup has a very long web page championing this coffee which starts out by proudly declaring that this is “A coffee so rare and revered that in 2016 even Starbucks could only get one small harvest of it.” Well then, it must be good, right?

No. Iʼm convinced that the reason Starbucks only got that small harvest is because it didnʼt want any more.

Hacienda Esmerelda Bourbon Pointu (Weʼll call it “Ezzy” for short) is described as “Citrus and floral.” when I drank it, I didnʼt get any floral, but I got an awful lot of citrus. Like lemon. Like someone couldnʼt decide if they wanted tea or coffee to drink, so the made both in the same pot at the same time. And then threw in some Halls cough drops because it wasnʼt lemony enough. And then threw in an actual lemon.

What kind of Citgo refinery fumes are wafting through Jersey City that someone thought lemon coffee was a good idea? This coffee reminds me of some of the women I dated in New Jersey: full bodied, sour, and likely to key your car for not noticing their new shoes.

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Inky fingers

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,289 days

Mise en place

Coffee and seven newspapers (thereʼs a Chicago Catholic under there somewhere). My day is set.

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No more squishy chairs

Sunday, May 16th, 2021 Alive 18,282 days

I went to Starbucks today. I havenʼt been to Starbucks in 18 months. They spelled my name wrong, and screwed up my drink order, so really the only thing thatʼs changed is the furniture.

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Unbalanced, and hopped up on goofballs

Saturday, May 8th, 2021 Alive 18,274 days

Decaf coffee from Firecreek Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is the blandly named “Decaf” from Firecreek Coffee in Flagstaff.

I wonder if the curly flourishes on the label are supposed to be sarcasm quotes, because this “Decaf” hits me like a Reno-bound trucker hits a sleeping burro on U.S. 95. Maybe someoneʼs having a laugh, but this decaf is the sort of coffee that makes you want to take up smoking. Itʼll invite you to the movies, pay for extra butter on the popcorn, walk you home, give you a goodbye smooch at the door, and then never call you again. Iʼve slept better after being mugged. But I guess thatʼs OK because I like my coffee the way I like my women: unbalanced, and hopped up on goofballs.

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Aggressive and unpredictable

Saturday, April 24th, 2021 Alive 18,260 days

Storm Chaser coffee from Firecreek Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Storm Chaser from Firecreek Coffee in Flagstaff.

Firecreek is a small café that was a couple of blocks away from the hotel where we stayed our first time in Flag. Itʼs a place that doesnʼt know what it wants to be. Thereʼs a stage at one end that looks spooky on nights when nobody is playing. All the tables are too far apart, making the place look deserted. The baristas were pretty hostile, because we were outsiders, and when I tried to pay with my phone they looked at me like I was from outer space. The coffee can also be described as hostile.

If a coffee can be passive aggressive, this is it. Originally, I was going to say nothing more than this was a smidge above average. But then I noticed that when I drink this stuff, I get really agitated. I think it must have a lot more caffeine than most other coffees. Many people think that decaffeinated coffee is heresy, but with my activity level, I have to switch to unleaded in the afternoon.

Storm Chaser sticks with you. I even cut back to just one cup of this in the morning, and decaf for the rest of the day, and I could still feel it. Fortunately, I like my coffee the way I like my women: aggressive and unpredictable.

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Easy, and ready to go

Sunday, April 18th, 2021 Alive 18,254 days

Caribou Blend from Caribou Coffee

This weekʼs coffee is Caribou Blend from Caribou Coffee.

I was introduced to Caribou when it came to Chicago. There was a shop down the street from my apartment, and next door to the place where Darcie worked. Darcie already knew about it because it originated in Minnesota. Now itʼs owned by an Arab government fund, which is why the only stores are in the upper Midwest, and the U.A.E.

I got the Keurig cups simply for convenience. If I feel like having a fifth or sixth cup of coffee during the day, I probably no longer have the patience to deal with grounds and brewing. I guess the Keurig machine is good for something, after all. Which makes sense because I like my coffee the way I like my women: Easy, and ready to go.

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Alliteration interrupted

Monday, March 15th, 2021 Alive 18,220 days

Nerd mise en place

Now for a quiet evening of coffee, cookies, classical, and Zork.

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Mild and reliable

Sunday, March 14th, 2021 Alive 18,219 days

Ralphʼs Blend from Ralph Lauren

Todayʼs coffee is Ralphʼs Blend from Ralph Lauren, the guy whoʼs been filling the New York Times with full-page ads trying to bring back pinstriped suits.

The coffee is OK. Itʼs pretty much what you would expect from someone who opens a coffee shop inside a clothing store. Fine for Aunt Tillyʼs china, but not going to put any hair on your chest. Thatʼs fine because I like my coffee the way I like my women: mild and reliable.

One note about the Macyʼs coffee I mentioned in a previous missive. Unlike every other coffee in the world that comes in a foil bag, it comes in a paper bag. Like a paper lunch sack. So the beans are not protected from the air at all. I could smell them before I even opened the mailbox, and had to keep them in a big zippy bag because they stunk up the kitchen.

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Fancy and Indonesian

Sunday, February 28th, 2021 Alive 18,205 days

Decafe Sumatra from Macyʼs Coffee

Last weekʼs coffee was from Ralph Lauren. Todayʼs coffee is from Macyʼs. But not the evil Cincinnati mega retailer that ate Foleyʼs red apple for lunch. This one is Macyʼs Coffee in Flagstaff, Arizona. (Simply “Flag” to the locals.)

Macyʼs Coffee is run by a guy named Macy, and the department store chain doesnʼt seem to notice or care. Unlike Microsoft that sued a kid named Mike Rowe who registered the domain name years ago. But thatʼs another rant.

The specific type is “Decafe Sumatra.” Why itʼs “decafe” instead of “decaf,” I donʼt know. I checked, and “decafe” is not Indonesian for decaf, so maybe Mr. Macy is just trying to be extra fancy. But thatʼs OK, because I like my coffee the way I like my women: fancy and Indonesian.

The coffee is good, as decafs go. A little better than average. Slightly smooth, but not noticeably so unless youʼre looking for it. Decafs are getting hard to find these days. A lot of the independent roasters seem to be cutting down on SKUs, so I either have to search harder or get more exercise. I think you know which option Iʼll choose.

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Short and thick

Sunday, December 27th, 2020 Alive 18,142 days

Peaberry Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee from Macaw Coffee Roasters

Todayʼs coffee is Macaw Coffee Roastersʼ Peaberry Jamaican Blue Mountain. It comes from a husband-and-wife team who seem to take a lot of pride in their little operation. Enough that they include a letter with the coffee explaining their background, and how they roast the beans.

The beans are a lot smaller and lighter than every other coffee Iʼve bought this year, so I wasnʼt expecting much, but itʼs really quite good. I guess the small size yields the “Peaberry” appellation. And the light color is because itʼs a blonde roast, which I recently learned means roasting the beans only until they just start to crack.

Darcie asked me why I think itʼs good, and I couldnʼt give her a proper answer. I donʼt have the coffee sommelierʼs vocabulary for it. I usually use a Splenda in a very small cup, and then add a little cream to improve the viscosity, because I like my coffee the way I like my women: short and thick.

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Just put that everywhere

Friday, December 18th, 2020 Alive 18,133 days

Today I learned that when you see a vacuum cleaner making perfect clean lines through a patch of dirt in a television commercial, itʼs not actually dirt. Itʼs 20 ounces of freshly ground coffee.

I learned this by accidentally dumping 20 ounces of freshly ground coffee on the kitchen counter. And the floor. And the cat, who bolted out of there like a four-wheeler at the start of a cross-country mud race, spewing coffee everywhere.

Still, the vacuum works pretty good. And making perfect clean lines through the debris is very soothing.

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Ordinary, but elusive

Sunday, December 13th, 2020 Alive 18,128 days

Christmas Blend from Starbucks

Todayʼs coffee is Starbucks Christmas Blend. Not to be confused with Holiday Blend.

Holiday Blend is much more widely distributed than Christmas Blend. When I lived in Seattle, you couldnʼt find it at all. Here, itʼs available if you hunt for it, and I managed to get this one delivered.

Itʼs good. Iʼm not sure what makes it Christmassy. It doesnʼt taste of peppermint or elves or anything. Itʼs heavier than Blonde, but not going to mug you in an alley like Italian Roast. Itʼs just a shade darker than Pike Place, in my estimation. Itʼs a good coffee since I like my coffee the way I like my women: ordinary, but elusive.

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Strong and aggressive

Sunday, November 29th, 2020 Alive 18,114 days

Espresso Blend from Starbucks

Todayʼs coffee is Starbucks Espresso Blend.

Before Starbucks came out with the Blonde Roast, this was my go-to brew. I havenʼt had it in at least 15 years, and I can say that I understand why people who are used to Dunkinʼ Dishwater think Starbucks coffee tastes burned. Of course, itʼs not burned. Itʼs just a lot stronger than theyʼre used to, and itʼs espresso, not coffee, which they often canʼt wrap their brains around.

It took a little bit, but I think Iʼm used to it again. Itʼs certainly stronger than what Iʼve been drinking for the last year or so. It needs more sweetener than regular coffee, and doesnʼt take to Splenda or skim milk well. Youʼve got to go for the real stuff: Sugar and cream. Maybe thatʼs why people think Starbucks drinks are too tarted up. In reality, itʼs compensating for stronger bean taste. Thatʼs what we drink coffee for. After all, I like my coffee the way I like my women: strong and aggressive, like my college girlfriend who could beat six people in a bar fight and then spend the rest of the evening sewing herself a new dress. That was a fun six months.

Fun fact: Houston was where I first started to drink coffee, and Starbucks in River Oaks was my first Starbucks.

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Smooth and bold

Sunday, November 8th, 2020 Alive 18,093 days

Dark Piñon from Piñon Coffee

Today’s coffee is Dark Piñon, from Piñon Coffee in Albuquerque.

It’s very similar to the regular piñon coffee, but in a dark roast. I like darker roasts in the colder months. Maybe it has something to do with hibernation. Maybe just because I like my coffee the way I like my women: smooth and bold. It’s a good coffee if you want a lot of coffee flavor, but also have to nurse an ulcer.

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Bones broth

Sunday, October 25th, 2020 Alive 18,079 days

Jacked ʼOʼ Lantern coffee from Bones Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Jacked ʼOʼ Lantern. Another Halloween-themed coffee from Bones Coffee in Cape Coral, Florida.

The flavor is labeled “Pumpkin spice,” and for once, it's delivers. With no syrups or additions, it provides strong pumpkin spice smell before and after grinding, as well as strong pumpkin spice taste after brewing. Definitely would buy again.

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Tall and fruity

Sunday, October 18th, 2020 Alive 18,072 days

Frankenbones Coffee from Bones Coffee

Today’s coffee is Frankenbones from Bones Coffee in Florida.

From the label, one would assume that this is some kind of mint-flavored coffee. Don’t let all that green in the label fool you. We’re back to chocolate and filberts again.

It’s OK. The flavors are a little muted, but at least the coffee, itself, is low-acid. I’m a big flavored coffee guy, so it’s a little underpowered for me. But then I like my coffee the way I like my women: tall and fruity. If you’re someone who likes an occasional dash of flavor, or if you’re used to Dunkin’ Donuts, this might be a good choice.

It does bring an interesting thought to mind: Why do we associate the color green with Frankenstein’s monster? The film was in black-and-white. The movie posters of the era were either black-and-white, or he was tinted yellow or red. It wasn’t until the re-release in the 1950’s that he took on a greenish tint, and that was pretty subtle. I suspect there’s something about decay that we automatically associate with the color green, though in my memory, I can’t think of anything I’ve ever seen that was both rotting and green. Maybe lettuce.

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Sunday, October 11th, 2020 Alive 18,065 days

Adobe Morning from Piñon Coffee

Today’s coffee is Adobe Morning from Piñon Coffee.

It’s supposed to be a little like cinnamon and filberts. I call hazelnuts filberts, because as Darcie will tell you, I grew up in 1940.

I don’t really taste either flavor in the coffee. There’s something there, but I’m not sure what it is. And I’m not sure how either cinnamon or filberts are supposed to relate to waking up in an adobe, since the nuts are from the British isles, and cinnamon is from southeast Asia. But it’s a nice mental picture.

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Bold and salty

Sunday, October 4th, 2020 Alive 18,058 days

Maple Bacon from Bones Coffee

Today’s coffee is Maple Bacon from Bones Coffee in Fort Meyers. For a gimmick roaster, this isn’t too bad. The beans don’t smell like maple or bacon. The ground coffee doesn’t smell like maple or bacon. But the brewed coffee definitely tastes like maple and bacon. Which is good, since I like my coffee the way I like my women: bold and salty.

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Warm and full-bodied

Sunday, September 27th, 2020 Alive 18,051 days

Essence of Santa Fe from Pinon Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Essence of Santa Fe, from Pinon Coffee.

It supposed to have “subtle hints of creamy caramel and vanilla [to] transport you to the heart of New Mexico.” When I think about coffee in Santa Fe, I think about the seven-foot-tall barista who wrote “Stupid effinʼ latte“ on my cup at breakfast one morning.

The caramel and vanilla are subtle. Almost barely detectable. I tried it both hot-ways and cold-ways, and hot was best. But that may be because I like my coffee the way I like my women: warm and full-bodied. Itʼs good stuff, but I will buy it again if other varieties are sold out.

A Stupid Effinʼ Latte from a since-closed coffee shop in Santa Fe, New Mexico
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Rich and bitter

Sunday, September 20th, 2020 Alive 18,044 days

French roast from Tullyʼs Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Tullyʼs French roast.

I started going to Tullyʼs when I lived in Seattle. There was a Starbucks next door to the building where I lived, but I liked Tullyʼs better because it attracted nerds and I liked to listen to their conversations and get inspired.

There was a Tullyʼs in the Xbox/Bing building across the street, and one in the REI headquarters across from where Darcie worked. Tullyʼs only existed in the Seattle area, and because of foreign investment, South Korea. Much like how Caribou Coffee only exists in Minneapolis and Saudi Arabia.

Tullyʼs is gone now. Starbucks ate Tullyʼs after it ate Seattleʼs Best. But because of those investors, Tullyʼs still exists in Seoul, and those people licensed the brand to Green Mountain, which is Keurig, which explains why I was able to find a box of Tullyʼs pods at Safeway.

Even though this is both French roast and decaf, it was really strong. Like needs an extra half-a-Splenda strong. But thatʼs OK, because I like my coffee the way I like my women: Rich and bitter.

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Zenith coffee

Sunday, September 13th, 2020 Alive 18,037 days

Colombia Sugar Cane from Duluth Coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Colombia Sugar Cane from the Duluth Coffee Company in Minnesota. Itʼs mild. Boring. Unremarkable. Much like Duluth, itself. Not much different than youʼd get from any other random coffee company.

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What a mug

Saturday, September 5th, 2020 Alive 18,029 days

Annie on a bag of coffee

Todayʼs coffee is Kitty Coffee from Populace Coffee in Bay City, Michigan. Of course, your coffee can be Doggie Coffee or whatever you want, since Populace will print whatever you want on the bag. Upload a photo, and add some text, and youʼre done.

The price is pretty reasonable, considering that itʼs a one-off printing. I think itʼs around $22, including shipping.

That said, even though the coffee is good, this is an operation to avoid. When I shop online, I use a different e-mail address with each merchant. Thatʼs how I know that Populace sold my e-mail address to spammers, and also sold my phone number to text message spammers trying to push coffee grinders on me. This is not how you win a repeat customer.

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Nobody likes you

Sunday, August 30th, 2020 Alive 18,023 days

Morning Blend from Cowboy Joe

Todayʼs coffee is Morning Blend from Cowboy Joe up in Elko again.

I actually ordered a single Buckaroo Blend from the web site, but they ran out. Since Cowboy Joe is literally a one-person coffee shop, Joe sent me two Morning Blends as compensation.

Every roaster seems to have a “morning blend.” Iʼm not sure what it is about any of them that is supposed to evoke morning, but this is a good coffee. Basic, but nice and smooth and low-acid, the way I like it. Itʼs the sort of coffee Iʼd give to someone visiting the house if I didnʼt know what kind of coffee they liked, or if I ever had visitors.

Iʼve lived in Las Vegas for seven years now, and had exactly one visitor — a friend of Darcieʼs from Poland. This, even though pretty much every person Iʼve ever met has come to visit the city since I moved here, but then only told me after they left. Perhaps thatʼs meaningful.

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Sunday, August 23rd, 2020 Alive 18,016 days

Guatemala from from Old Bisbee Roasters

Todayʼs coffee is Guatemala. Itʼs another selection from Old Bisbee Roasters. Like the others, itʼs not great. Youʼd think that a company would put its best stuff in the sampler pack. It seems like in this case, itʼs the leftovers.

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Truck stop coffee

Sunday, August 16th, 2020 Alive 18,009 days

Flores from from Old Bisbee Roasters

Todayʼs coffee is Flores. Itʼs from the same sampler pack I got from Old Bisbee Roasters in Arizona. Itʼs less bad than the last one, but still not great.

I consider it average. Or maybe baseline, as in “try not to drink anything worse than this, if you can.” Itʼs like Stuckeyʼs truck stop coffee, but less watered down.

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Brazil nuts

Sunday, August 9th, 2020 Alive 18,002 days

Brazil from from Old Bisbee Roasters

Todayʼs coffee is Brazil from Old Bisbee Roasters in Bisbee, Arizona.

Old Bisbee offers a sampler box for $32, which includes four random coffees. I went with Brazil first because I arranged the bags in alphabetical order.

Itʼs not to my taste. Itʼs kind of like Dunkinʼ trying too hard. Better than Folgerʼs crystals, but definitely below average. Avoid.

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Savanna pollyanna

Monday, July 27th, 2020 Alive 17,989 days

Almond Bliss from Lola Savannah

Todayʼs coffee is Almond Bliss from a place called Lola Savannah in Houston. Itʼs another dessert coffee.

This one tastes like an Almond Joy bar. It has little slivers of almonds in with the beans, which you might think would add to the flavor, but I think is just a gimmick. Itʼs good. Not one of my favorites, but Iʼll order something else from LS in the future.

Lola Savannah has a metric ass ton of coffees available because itʼs also a contract roaster for lots of other coffee companies. However, in spite of cutting out the middle man, the coffee doesnʼt seem any cheaper. Still, with all the types it has on offer, whatever you want is probably available.

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“…his middle name was ʼTrouble!ʼ”

Sunday, March 1st, 2020 Alive 17,841 days

A copy of the book Two Gun Trail

Iʼm at a coffee shop with nothing to do for four hours. Good thing I keep emergency brain-rotting material in the car.

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Saturday, February 29th, 2020 Alive 17,840 days

Today I drank coffee in the shower. Iʼm either a genius or a madman.

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Itʼs a hand job

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019 Alive 17,640 days

Part of a Keurig machine

The Keurig machine reads “Hand wash only.”

If I wanted to do things by hand, I wouldnʼt have bought a Keurig.

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Donʼt fly off the handle

Sunday, July 21st, 2019 Alive 17,617 days

A broken Cincinnati Zoo cup

A piece of the handle of my favorite cup broke off.

I got the cup at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1997.

After a mere 22 years of continuous use, how can it break? Does nothing last forever anymore?

It used to have frogs printed on it, but those rubbed off a decade or so ago.

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Friday, August 24th, 2018 Alive 17,286 days

A TRS-80 and a coffee at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

Relaxing, retro style.

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Thursday, July 26th, 2018 Alive 17,257 days

A sleeping coffee machine

If the coffee machine falls asleep at work, what chance do I have?

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Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 Alive 17,235 days

An advertisement with placeholder text

Once you’ve tried Your Text coffee, you’ll never go back to Folger’s crystals.

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