Saturday, December 13, 2008

cupping notes 12.13.08

ethiopian sidamo gerbichu lela
kenya aa tembo
guatemala huehuetenago rio azul

all three of these coffee's had a single days rest out of the roaster. the ethiopia i've had before, and loved it, but this time steve's changed the roast profile a little so i'm interested to see how it effects the results in the cup. both the kenya and the guatemala are new to the store, so i'm excited to see what they're all about.

i'll look at the newcomers first;

guatemala huehuetenago rio azul
the best way i can describe the dry aroma is by saying it's savory. there's very little sweetness and no noticeable fruit notes. it kinda reminds me of one of those little cubes you use to make soup or stock. a non-descript savory smell.
great mouth feel, super smooth and creamy with a dry finish. milk chocolate upfront and dark bakers chocolate in the back. there's also a slight smokiness in the cup. some raw nuts and a little reminiscent of spice.

kenya aa tembo
i'm not a huge fan of kenyan coffees, and the tembo seemed to be the perfect example of why i don't care for them too much. initially it seemed pretty one dimensional, lots of dry tobacco and dark chocolate. i'd kinda resigned myself to finding nothing new or interesting in it, but as it cools, the tembo completely changes its character. lots of dried plum and some fermented grapes, not sweet but more winey. and there's an interesting brightness in the finish.

now its time for my current favorite, lets just hope steve didn't screw it all up with the profile change....
ethiopia sidamo gerbichu lela
a plethora of red fruit, cherries and citrus fruit in the aroma. i'm not sure how this is possible, but its sweeter than the last time we cupped this....steve, you're certainly earning your money....

the fragrance had the same sweet and citrus, with a slight hits of organic material and mucilage, signs of the dry processing.
great body and mouth feel with super sweet red fruit and cherries. the citrus acidity is definitely lime, its a pleasant brightness not an aggressively lemon brightness. the finish is drier with a rich chocolate.

and yes, it's still my current favorite. so so good

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

milwaukee, how you hurt me so

when i was young, i was kind of a shy kid. well actually, if i'm honest, i was incredibly shy. painfully so. you see, i have an identical twin brother (yes yes i know, a twin. isn't that weird. please no "what's it like to be a twin" comments. it'd be like me asking you "what's it like to not have a twin". it's normal), and we were both as shy as each other. we were antisocial. not in a pre-teen angst, fucking shit up kinda way, but in an isolated kinda way. we created our own little world. one that didn't really include outsiders. other people. anyone in fact. it was the two of us and that was fine.
well, it was fine until we needed to interact with the outside world. a fairly common thing, so obviously it came up a lot. and this is where the problems started. problems that i'm still working through today. remember your time at school? you were 4 or 5 or 6 or whatever, and you'd come home and tell mummy and daddy that you'd made a new friend at school? yeah, you do? well not me. i never learned how to make friends as a kid. crazy as it sounds i just didn't. i had my best friend in the whole world, my brother, my twin. why did i need to make other friends? they don't know me like bradley, they don't understand me. fuck 'em. i've got my brother and that's all i need.

needless to say, this attitude meant that bradley and i spent a lot of time alone. at home. mainly playing video games and getting fat.
and alas, a vicious cycle begins. i'm gonna stay at home because i either don't have, or don't want any other friends. i get all bent about not having friends. feels bad. do nothing about it and because i'm so socially retarded feel i can't make friends. therefore i just stay at home. fun times. this was my life aged 11-18.

around 17 years old something changed. at the time it seemed small and insignificant. but looking back it changed everything. my last year of school meant a lot more freedom with my class schedule. meaning that by 11am i was pretty much done with class. i'd head off home and put the radio on. 97-99 fm. radio 1. and there she was. jo whiley. the woman that opened the doors and pulled me through them kicking and screaming. and my life changed.

through jo whiley, and subsequently steve lemacq and john peel, my eyes were opened. these three people changed my life forever. they introduced me to music that i didn't even know existed. music that saved my life.
so much of my social and political ideology was influenced by the clash and billy bragg. by fugazi and bad brains. minor threat and mos def. jill scott and dead prez. woody guthrie and steve earle. my national identity and english pride comes from the smiths, joy division and the libertines. these are things that matter deeply to me. in times of crisis, this music was there for me. in times of need, it was there. in times of joy, it was there. jo, steve and john introduced me to new and old. mainstream and underground. the typical and the truly bizarre. they fed, and continue to feed my soul.

milwaukee, wisconsin. land of cheese and beer. the place in which i find myself right now. milwaukee and i have had a difficult relationship. love and hate. joy and despair. gratitude and frustration. one thing that has always struck me about this city is that the people from here, are proud to be from here. they are proud to be from milwaukee. its not glamorous, its not metropolitan, its not a big city. its a blue collar town and they're proud of it. and because of this, i think, milwaukee has an awesome tradition of supporting local business. if its made or grown or brewed in milwaukee. the people support it. big time. almost to a creepy uber-proud way. local independent business thrived here.
at least thats what i thought. notice the past tense in the previous sentence, "thrived".
it seems as though milwaukee has turned its back on its own. brew-city has said "fuck you!" to the indie, in favor of mass market corporations.
i found out last week, as did most of the city, that one such indie, a milwaukee institution of 20yrs, atomic records is to close in february of 2009. people here obviously seem content to buy generic, safe, middle-of-the-road top 40 hits at best buy and wal-mart. or simply steal the music from some random internet site or news group. milwaukee has turned its back on independent music.

another milwaukee institution is under threat. wmse. 91.7fm. true independent radio. the station is completely funded by its listeners. no corporate backers, no private ownership with deep pockets, no government assistance. for the people by the people. twice a year they hold a membership drive. a fund raiser to gather the operating budget for the next 6 months. $125,000. compared to other stations their budget is minuscule. the majority of the dj's and staff are volunteers. no playlists. no commercials. no hidden agenda. just music. good music. music that you won't hear anywhere else.
since moving to milwaukee this station has taken the place of jo whiley and steve lemacq. the music i hear everyday intrigues me, baffles me, confuses me, fills me with feeds my soul.

this past membership drive wmse fell short of their $125,000 goal. the people of milwaukee, again seem to have turned their backs on their own. they have forsaken them.
its for this reason that 91.7 is holding a 12hr pledge-drive marathon. this friday, december 12th. from 6am til 6pm. to try and make up the last $12,000 of their budget.

please help. don't allow this institution to fall by the way side. without your help there is no station. without your help 91.7fm will be nothing but static. dead air. 414.799.1917

don't let the music die

john peel

Monday, December 1, 2008

the new york report

so, here it is. the highly anticipated blog about my very brief thanksgiving trip to nyc.
wednesday nov 26th 3pm
kai and i leave milwaukee on amtrak headed for chicago. this is the first leg of a mammoth 24hr journey to new york city. 90mins of very uneventful travel and we arrive in the windy city. union station. with 2 and a half hrs to kill we eat some disappointing pseudo-mexican food and chain smoke, because washington dc is 18hrs away and there's probably gonna be very few smoke breaks.
its 6:30pm and they just announced that our train is boarding, and the somewhat peaceful waiting room has just been turned into an everyman-for-himself rumble to get onto the train. strollers are knocked over. babies are trampled underfoot. the elderly are left to fend for themselves whilst clutching bags so large three porters would struggle to life them...get the idea?

chicago to washington, dc.
this was one hell of a journey. 18hrs on a train. sleeping whilst sitting upright. trying not to fall over when walking down the aisle because the train is rocking so much. not exactly pleasant, but it was bearable.

any longer and i think i'd have gone insane. but we did it. and the view from the train was absolutely stunning. pennsylvania is absolutely beautiful.

this picture really doesn't do it justice, but its from a moving train, cut me some slack!

thursday nov 27th 1:30pm

washington dc. union station. wait a second....union station to union station, did we just go in an 18hr circle? washington, dc itself (well whats around the station,
anyway) is really cool.

the ride from washington to new york was fairly uneventful. only 3hrs. no biggie after the 18hr marathon we just endured. however this did keep me entertained all the way from philly into nyc

thursday nov 27th 7pm. new york city.

by rights i should be absolutely exhausted. 24hrs of travelling. sleeping upright in a chair. no shower. but i'm not. i feel great. there's something about this city. a buzz. an energy. i can't get enough of it. this was my second visit to nyc and i fell in love all over again. the city just reminds me of home. london. people. lots of people. everywhere. there's stuff going on all the time. its absolutely amazing.

after a short subway ride we dump our bags at our friend brian's place, he's also our gracious host for the next 36hrs, and head out for some thanksgiving dinner.
after trying a couple of brian's favorite spots, and finding them all closed, we settle on a traditional thanksgiving meal of sushi. kosher sushi at that.
good food. good conversation. good company. what else in the world could be better?

friday nov 28th

after a late night, its an early start. lots to see and do and very little time to do it all. after a huge breakfast at an upper westside diner we jump on the subway and head for canal st. chinatown. super fun, if a little intense. right out of the subway station there are people trying to sell you every imaginable item under the sun. some of which i question the authenticity. louis viton bags for $40. are they really that cheap now, who knew?
the side streets were a little more managable. less crowded. less noisy. easier to navigate.
new experience #1.... bubble tea. its kinda like frogspawn at the bottom of a cup of iced tea. weird.
we find a small city park and decide to chill there for a while and wait for another friend to join us. rp, a native of queens. if there is a stereotypical new yorker its rp. he's awesome. we chill in colombus park for a while waiting. watching.

chinese guys gambling at tables. doing thai chi. leaving grandma bundled up in a wheelchair while going off to do something else. whatever it was, it must have taken a while because she was still there, all bundled in blankets when we left.

coffee. we need coffee. just so happens that i know of a great little hole-in-the-wall coffee joint. up-state new york and williamsburg favorites, gimme! coffee recently opened a store on manhattan. mott st. in soho. a short walk from chinatown.
the new gimme! spot is great. standing room only,
not because all the seats are taken but because there are no seats. no tables. nothing. get in...get your coffee...get out.

after a killer espresso and a super sweet capp we head north through soho. just walking around the street of new york is so much fun. loud. obnoxious. dirty. just like home.
new experience #2... a real new york hot dog. so bad but so good.

more walking. soho. west village. chelsea. west to the hudson river and a glance at new jersey and the statue of liberty. south through the meat packing district. the food network studio and then into a cab. john's on bleecker.
truly the best pizza in new york. its absolutely awesome. some more coffee at a little bakery down the street from john's. and then pedicures for everyone... brian is one of the funniest people i know. he had us in fits of laughter the entire time.

as everyone was having fun with their feet i left to see a friend who'd just moved to new york for work. we talked all things coffee and all things new york. i reconnected with the gang in union square and decided, rather than freezing our asses off on the staten island ferry, we'd go up the empire state building to get a view of the city at night. touristy, i know. but it was amazing. in a city so manic. so fast paced. so bustling. so loud. its amazing how calm and serene the city looks from up there.

enough. can't stand the tourist trap anymore. get out get out. easier said than done. 86 floors up. 2 elevators. 2 gift shops. some abusive photographers trying to sell us a terrible picture of ourselves. and we're out. a brisk walk through time square. well as brisk as possible, with a seething throng of people all seemingly walking in the other direction. and food again. thai food. again really good. and then back to brian's place to pass out. 14hrs on the go and sleep is shouting my name louder than the honk of the cab drivers horns.

saturday nov 29th
another early start. our train leaves at 11:05 from penn station. breakfast at another upper westside diner. chalah toast. mmmmm good. then its back to brian's to grab our bags and catch a cab to the station. then its a nice relaxing 22hr train ride home.....