Buying coffee cups the hi-tech way

First cup-and-saucer set.

First cup-and-saucer set.

Pardon if I’m new to this thing, but I’m just one of those people who don’t get attracted to feature-rich cellphones with built-in fax machines and printers and MP3 players and videocams and screw drivers and toothpicks and multimedia projectors and surround sound.

Okay, that may be an exaggeration. But I usually have the simplest of cellphones. As long as I can call with it, send text messages, then I’m fine. I can live without infrared, bluetooth, camera, video, etc. etc. The latest, hi-tech cellphones we get free from Smart when we renew our plans automatically go to the kids. My immediate previous cellphone was, in fact, the Motorola W156, bought brand new May last year at a whopping cost of P1,500!!! It can call and it can text and has a calendar so I can input appointments, and a host of other features I don’t need. No IR, no bluetooth, no camera nor video, just a b&w screen. But it is so durable that every time friends gather and show off their latest cellphones, I simply bring out mine, and tell them, “Can your phone do this?” Then I toss it up into the air, fall into the concrete pavement, then I pick it up, and show them, how durable my cellphone is. I do that all the time. And every time I do that, they would bring their cellphones to their chest, like embracing their hi-tech gadgets as if to protect them from harm, and scream, “Oh no! My cellphone won’t survive that!”
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Wrong way to blend

Blending coffee is an art. It’s better left to the masters. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them. Most of the time, better leave coffee in its single origin form, no mixture at all. Coffee snobs usually prefer that, so you can enjoy each coffee variety’s characteristics.

There are various reasons to blend coffee. One is, um, to save. Like some instant coffees that are mostly Robusta, then they’ll drop probably one Arabica bean. Voila! “A blend of Arabica and Robusta coffee beans!” I remember pork and beans in cans. A can-full of beans, and one tiny slice of pork, so you have pork and beans! Well, at least they didn’t say porkS and beans!
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The home barista

homebarista

That’s me, just before my parents, brothers and sisters, and nephews and nieces started coming for the coffee party. Back-to-back with my son Arkay, who’s preparing his ingredients for his beignet.

That plastic cylinder on the left is the Aeropress, my favorite coffee maker. That wooden thing in the foreground is a hand grinder by the German company Zassenhaus, which I use during blackouts. To its right is the Moka pot by Bialetti, the Italian way of making coffee at home. Behind the Moka pot is a Bodum Antigua, the burr grinder I regularly use at home. On the right is the French press, aka plunger, made by Bodum and rebranded by Starbucks.

Ready for a coffee party!

Wohoooo!!! I’ll be hosting a coffee party for the Timonera clan, and maybe a few friends, tomorrow, January 3. My coffee lineup …

fiveroastedcoffees

Panama Elida Estate, Kenya Gethumbwini, India Mysore, Colombia Supremo, Brazil Moreninha Formosa.

If you’re somewhere near … we’ll see if there’s still coffee for you. :-)

More coffee buddies!

after_asp_shoot

Eight coffee drinkers came to my place earlier this afternoon to get a taste of my freshly roasted Moka Kadir and Brazil Moreninha Formosa. We almost used up my beans, supposed to last until New Year’s Day, in this coffee session. It was my way of saying thank you to these guys, photographers all, for joining me in our volunteer shoot for the Autism Society of the Philippines (ASP).

Belated Christmas coffee!

xmaspackage Look what the delivery man brought today! 10.5 lbs of specialty grade green coffee beans, from Sweet Maria’s and GCBC. 2Go didn’t make it in time for Christmas, but still perfect for the holidays. Yummy coffees these are, courtesy of Santa Dante. Gotta invite some coffee buddies in the next few days.

Just to whet your appetite, presenting the new arrivals … Read more

What you need to start roasting

basicroaster

So you think you need big money to start roasting your own coffee? Wrong!

Roasting is basically just subjecting the beans to high heat. It’s just cooking. After the roast, you need to cool the beans fast, or it’ll continue to roast and ruin the coffee.

There are quite a variety of coffee roasters available, some dirt cheap, some super expensive. But we’re “on a budget here,” right? So let’s start with the cheapest, most primitive approach – pan roasting.

Here’s what you need to start roasting:
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Buying the world’s best green coffee beans

I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I don’t go out at night, I don’t play golf nor badminton, I seldom watch movies (just DVDs at home, coz there’s not really a good movie house around here). So, as you can see, I don’t waste money on useless things. So instead of throwing away money on vices, I spend it on something I really enjoy, something that also makes other people around me happy.

So every now and then, I treat myself by buying some of the world’s best coffee from online shops.

These coffees are usually from South and Central America, Africa, and some parts of Asia. In the US, coffee can only grow in Hawaii. Australia has also recently started growing coffee and selling them on a commercial scale.

Because the US is perhaps the Philippines’s closest business partner, I find it easier to buy from online shops there. Shipping items, in my experience, is fastest and cheapest between the Philippines and the US. So aside from coffee, I actually buy a lot of things from online shops based in the US — books, CDs, cameras and accessories, computer stuff, and anything else interesting I can find on ebay or Amazon.
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The search for local green beans

Guatemala Antigua green coffee beans

Guatemala Antigua green coffee beans

MAYBE it was a mistake on my part, getting a taste of the world’s best coffee first before trying the locally available ones. Because once you’re spoiled with the best, meaning, the top 5 percent of the coffee harvests of the world’s best coffee-growing regions, and you roast the beans yourself, and you know how to brew properly, you’d end up becoming a coffee snob. Really!

So I suggest you don’t commit that mistake, coz we’re talking “Achieving coffee nirvana at home ON A BUDGET” here. So let’s see what’s locally available.
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Coffee with Miriam

Last May 2008, I attended a workshop on narrative reporting in Davao held by my group, MindaNews. We had two really great teachers — Prof. Janet E. Steele of George Washington University and Andreas Harsono of Jakarta. I enjoyed the workshop a lot despite the hectic schedule, lots and lots of readings, and tons of assignment that I never felt so toxic in my life. It was beating deadlines more than I experienced as a reporter, even when I was still beating daily deadlines as a news reporter in Manila.

Here’s one of the writing assignments under Mr. Harsono, which shows one reason why I enjoy coffee more, more than the great taste and aroma we’re getting from freshly roasted specialty grade coffee:
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