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Sunday, 09 June 2013


Helpful David is "helpful".

"Sometimes it seems like every good book I know about is out of print.". There has to be a way to work that into an article on limited editions for photos :)

Had a tick bite recently?
Especially with a red ring-like rash?

Take the risk of Lyme disease seriously - tiredness and mental fog are common early symptoms - and it's a life-changing illness.

Mike, nice to hear that you stuck with it. I roast in a pan, not as good as a dedicated roaster - perhaps that will be next - but still a satisfying process. I do buy ready roast as well, if nothing else it keeps me honest.

I've also pretty much moved back to filter coffee from expresso - chemex large in my case.

I've found the key to this is not roasting too dark by and large. Even the slightly over dark roast I made last week was much lighter and more flavoursome than the cup of ash various 'favourite' coffee houses seem to serve over here in the UK.



I find if I have a good feed of pasta I have exactly the same symptoms. No energy in the evening and then night sweats. Sucks because I LOVE pasta. And it loves my waistline. Grrr.

I assume the Hugh suggesting lyme disease is Hugh Laurie, and the good news in his idea is that it isn't lupus (it's never lupus)!

But seriously, I've got nothing here except cracks of the wise variety.


Is your CPAP mask sealing properly?

I just switched to the "nasal pillows" kind, and I noticed a marked difference in energy almost immediately. (I had to have my mask loose, because it had irritated the bridge of my nose).

14-years of CPAP - and my wife is quite grateful for it.

For a bad typing day, Open Mike: Indexer has no typos or worse, albeit chock-full with parentheticals and links. Style-wise, it's vintage MJ, I think. Indexer's diction, syntax and paragraph organization make it a good piece for inclusion in an anthology of exemplars, which used to take up the bottom half of English 11 textbooks on grammar and composition. (Mine was a hardbound tome, Freshman English by ___ Shaw. That was pre-world-wide-web; before the PC was invented, even. I wonder how present-day composition textbooks address the use of links.)

In context, Indexer explained everything, not least it's delayed posting. (I don't know if it's only me. A delayed—"around-the-clock"(?)—TOP blogpost, especially when pre-announced, provokes the following "symptoms": dismay, irksomeness, worry, unease, forboding; then, relief and exhilaration when it finally comes out!) And you'll get away with any excuse, Mike. {g&d}

As for coffee, I drink lots of it because I'm no connoisseur (and caffeine doesn't induce hand tremors or wakefulness in me, fortunately). I buy coffee grounds mostly, and occasionally pre-roasted beans (I have a Krups 75 osterizer-type mini-grinder which makes a loud racket). The best tasting coffee grounds I've had is Italian, Lavazza Crema e Gusto. Mostly its local Benguet robusta or Batangas barako.

The most exotic coffee brew I've had was made of beans excreted by a civet cat luwak). Here's how it looks, "green":

The coffee shop was located in the middle of a coconut farm in Bali which had civet cats on display in cages. I doubt the beans were local because I didn't see any coffee plantation nearby or elsewhere in the island. Their supply of "Coffee Luwak" beans was probably supplemented by imports from Sumatra or Java.

I have a poor memory for taste. It was "rich" and I could drink it black. I remember its "texture" because the filter they used left fine grounds in my cup. I finished it though, because it cost me 30,000 IDR a cup (for me and my driver-guide), USD 3 plus change each. Nicest coffee I ever had :).

I remember the last time you wrote about coffee because you changed my coffee habit for the good and I never thanked you for that. It was last year I think that you wrote about the CORRECT way to cook the coffee bean. For that I thank-you and my head thanks you because I no longer get headaches whenever I skip coffee for a day. And skipping coffee for a day is not uncommon now. Whereas before I went to a medium cooked coffee I couldn't go 4 hours without a cup of coffee.

Regarding "Everything but Espresso", tell everybody who wants to buy it to go to the Amazon listing and click on "Tell the Publisher I'd like to read this book on Kindle." Maybe they'll decide that it's worth it to spend a few bucks to cut a Kindle version. Cheaper than a new press run, I think.


Were you ever invited to a cup of coffee in a Malaysian kampung (village)? Oh my, what an experience. These people seem to know exactly how to roast coffee (and when to stop), and indeed it doesn't need any sugar or - &DEITY forbid - milk.

We always bring some when we return, but it's always gone much too fast.

Crikey! Now I understand why you need a new house.....

Hi Mike,
I hate to be sounding like a mentor, but in terms of coffee, I suggest, you forget all this bunk, and start thinking Italian. Make a search, if there is a proper italian caffe' somewhere around your area, run by real Italians, and if they do the real coffee - neapolitan style is usually considered the benchmark. Taste an espresso (I mean ask for the REAL one, not the soup you are normally being given with this name). If you catch the bug, the closest thing for your home that is easy to manage, and will supply you with endless pleasure, is a Nespresso machine with some capsules. I suggest the Ristretto, Arpeggio and Decaffeinato Intenso capsules as a starter kit, but they do some new types on a steady basis - among the latest I'd pick Neapolitano and Trieste. Let's face it, you may deride Italy for it's political crisis, but there simply ARE certain things, that the italians do better...

When you think you need coffee, you probably really need water.

I will process film in coffee but there's no way I'm going to drink that vile stuff!

In case no one else has already noted these TOP links:

Tea, or Coffee? (2012 is Coming) (15 December 2011)

OT: Syphon Brewing Coffee (16 December 2011)

Open Mike: Coffee 'n' the Car (29 January 2012)

A Nice TOP Story (21 February 2012)

TOP on Coffee ...

How much smoke does that roaster produce? That's my concern about home roasting. I used to work next to a commercial roaster and it smelled terrible.

Whoa, that was weird. In this post you mention two men called Phil. In the context of Phil's wife Martha and Phil's Kona. In my native language, Icelandic, kona means wife. Seeing the photo of the jar labeled Phil's Kona and then reading about Martha was little coincidence I wanted to share with you.

All the best,

I recently gained insight into the difficulties of indexing:


An entire paper on the subtleties of indexing "The"; who knew!?

The internet is great for teaching me how difficult everyone else's job is!

I am glad that I am not the only one who has the "Where is all this blood coming from?" problem.

And your discussions of coffee roasting earlier (linked to by Helpful David, above) is what got me started on it. My set of solutions is similar, but less expensive, than yours (popcorn popper style roaster, not-quite-as-nice kettle, hand-cranked Hario grinder), but I am very pleased with the result. It has made me sort all coffee into two categories: good coffee (what I make myself) and liquid dessert substrate (Starbucks, which is only drinkable in caramel macchiato form).

RE Coffe:


Word that the Behmor 1600 is still producing a good roast is most encouraging.

I had thought many times of giving home roasting a try, but was afraid to plunk that much money into something which could easily drop dead in six months.

But, what the hell, so could I.

Do you know whether it also produces a reliable and tasty dark roast?

[It's really not suited for dark roast at all, because it tends to start the beans on fire. Because of this tendency, the maker has built in all kinds of interlocks to keep you from roasting the coffee for too long. It's *possible* to get around them, but not...natural. I would recommend something else for dark roasts. --Mike]

I love the smell of roasting coffee, actually even my wife loves the smell on me, after I've been roasting coffee (and she doesn't drink it) see I roast in Popcorn poppers and have done so for the past couple of years, cheap of me to not just go and buy a small bench style coffee roaster but hey if it aint broke...

Eric, have you been tested for Celiac? Night sweats are one of the symptoms I have if I accidentally eat gluten, and well...

Many would think it odd, but you might try espresso with medium and light roasts. I used to favor dark roasts but am now very picky about which varieties will tolerate a French roast (though a little French in a blend can be pleasant). Now I favor light through Vienna roasts and find them very enjoyable whether prepared as espresso or in a press pot.

I will have to revisit your articles about coffee. I skipped them when first published because I wasn't a coffee drinker then. I've avoided the stuff all my life. Who needs a drug dependancy in order to wake up on week days, and avoid headaches on the weekend? Then I went to Italy.

Leave it to the Italians, motivated by their love of food, to invent a machine to perfect the extraction of flavour from the coffee bean. They are the truest modernists. Yes Ponti, Armani, Ferrari... but I think the invention of the espresso machine is their defining triumph. A machine; milled like a sports car; to make coffee! Until I tried my first cappuccino in Rome, I had no idea coffee could be as rich and complex a confection as stout, scotch, red wine or dark chocolate.

Much research and practice later, I can almost duplicate the Italian drink. Every morning I now fire up an inexpensive but effective pump driven, thermal-block espresso machine, and let whirr an inexpensive but precise conical burr grinder. The whole exercise, nuanced and craft-heavy as espresso making is, delights me the same way darkroom work used to: selection of materials, equipment work-arounds, times and temperatures, experimentation, constant honing of technique, and the reward of something well-made. But you probably already observed that in those articles I skipped!

Not sure I agree with the 'leave it to the Italiens' sentiments above. Espresso can be a fabulous drink, as well as the basis for many other espresso based drinks. However, the quality varies widley, and Italien is no guarantee.

Drip coffee, made with carefully roasted known origin beans is just a wonderful, and different. It's also much more affordable and viable to do well at home.

Nespresso is not the end of the line in coffee quality:)

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