25 February, 2010

Oh the beautiful little....seed?

It's really not a bean...it's a seed. Coffee is a fruit seed. Nevertheless, if these seeds are done right, they carry quite an intriguingly, obsessive following. I'm one of those obsessives.

The picture above is of my ceramic single cup drip and my Stumptown mug. All the oils blooming on top are a response to hot water, making it very clear that the coffee is fresh.

Coffee is quite the complex agriculture product. Coffee cherries are grown at high elevations, picked, de-pulped, dried, shipped, roasted, ground, and carefully brewed in a number of different ways. The complex journey of this seed into your cup rivals the complexity of flavor one can experience within the cup itself. With double the flavor compounds of red wine, coffee is one of the most complex drinks we consume as far as taste buds are concerned.

**Although, too often we drink coffee that simple tastes of carbonized oil infused by the actual roaster, not the flavor qualities naturally present within the bean. Burnt toast all tastes the same ;). **

There's a wonderful balance between science & art, technique & sense, so present with coffee. It's incredibly sensual and kinesthetic, all your senses engaged. A long day preparing espresso leaves my hands ingrained with pleasant oils that are exposed as these roasted seeds are crushed, oils from remote regions of Africa, Indonesia, and Central America.

It becomes a tangible as well as emotional pleasure and appreciation. We should think twice before we easily disregard the importance and complexity of that which we eat and drink daily, of those subtleties we risk missing in the food and drink that bless us from the ground; from God. I sometimes become frustrated with how insignificant we have made food and how significant we bless technology or material possessions. Is it at all ironic that we watch football on systems of entertainment costing thousands of dollars while eating hot dogs that cost us a dollar a pack?

As I've returned to Portland there's been a slight anxiousness within me to begin making great coffee for people again. I've been working a bit at a cafe that a friend owns and just today finished a second interview with Stumptown Coffee Roasters, here in SE Portland. I should hear whether I get a position with Stumptown within a few days. I'm hoping it works out - Stumptown is a great company, committed to people and great coffee.

-Jonathan William


Ever since watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservation episode on Mexico, I've been secretly obsessed with tacos. One particular taco stand that they visited pleasantly sits in my memory. Wet tacos. Ever kind of meat simply pulled from a simmering kettle of fat and flavor. Tongue, eyes, tripe, whatever. Cut it up and place the tender goods in a warm hand made pressed tortilla -wonderful.

The meat of the poor, the food of history intrigues me. Traditions of eating and utilizing all parts of the animal were born of necessity. Anyone can cook amazing ingredients to taste well, few can cook the neglected parts and pieces of the poor. That's why a slow cooked, flavor infused tongue taco sounds so amazing.

With these pictures in my head, I bought some incredible cheap pork and decided to try a bubbly pot of something for myself. Seared pork, simmered with onions, spices, and some dried Mexican peppers. Hours later, my tacos were really quite good. A recipe I would like to build on.

I took some more of this pork and slow cooked it with some potatoes, red cabbage, onion, and more spices. It came out pretty well.

There's something about a taco cook out that seems appropriate for tradition. I plan to make some taco recipe a staple in my life....as I find the right concoction of meat and fresh tortilla goodness.