Going to Work

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

Toni Morrison
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Lavazza: Espresso Italiano

This is nice coffee, but mild. It is sweet like the Mean Mug beans but not as strong and not as distinct tasting notes. This is the first beans I’ve encountered that is visibly a blend, not all beans are roasted the same darkness. The Mean Mug is only three kinds of beans. This probably has more. The bag describes it as “Aromatic and Velvety” and Intensity 5/10. I am unclear whether that is how dark a roast or some other measure. The bag indicates it is “ideal for” Mr. Coffee style coffee makers, what appears to be a Neapolitan coffee maker, French Press, and espresso machines.

My wife and I both prefer stronger coffee than this. I can’t add more coffee in espresso drinks unless I go to a double shot and a single shot. Too much work. With brewed coffee and cold brew, I can easily add more coffee, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference. This isn’t bad coffee. I won’t be throwing it away. Just not our favorite. Like Mean Mug, it may be best as cold brew.

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Mean Mug: Espresso

Mean Mug is four coffeehouses and a coffee roaster in Chattanooga TN. Publix in Nashville carries the espresso beans on an end cap of Tennessee products. My bag listed Brazil, Guatemala, and Tanzania beans. The cupping notes I remember are: cacao nibs and lemon-lime. We can smell and taste the lemon-lime. Almost all coffee tasting notes mention chocolate in some form. Their Website lists different countries and cupping notes for the current bags. They have a half dozen coffee beans for drip coffee on their Website. Espresso is the only beans I have seen in Nashville.

This is a medium roast Italian style espresso blend. It is the sweetest and has the most depth of flavor of any beans yet. There is no bitterness. My wife normally adds 1/4 tsp of light brown sugar to her espresso drinks. She doesn’t add any sugar to these. However, it is also the mildest (least bold, meaning least dissolved coffee solids). My solution is to cut the milk to a cortado (equal amounts of espresso and milk). For drip and cold brew, I increase the amount of beans and also cut the milk. It makes good drip and cold brew as well as espresso.

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“Age of Uncurable Disease” published

Texas Poetry Assignment has published my poem in the category of Texas Age.

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“A Week of Shootings” published

Topical Poetry has published my poem about a week’s worth of shootings of people who made innocent, but fatal mistakes. This past week has been worse. Several mass shootings of people whose mistake seems to be only being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Bongo: Mystic Dark

Bongo is a local (Nashville TN) coffee roaster. I first encountered it at the Green Hills Whole Foods as brewed coffee. I pumped out a half cup and it ran out. The other coffee was Allegro’s Café La Dueña. Mixed, they were very good. So next time I was ready to try something new, I bought a bag at my local Kroger. They have a separate section devoted to local roasters. (I’ve tried Café La Dueña before and don’t care for it.)

As espresso, Mystic Dark is similar to Illy Classico, Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso, and Stumptown Hair Bender. They all are medium roasts, taste milder than Starbucks’ Espresso and Italian Roast (dark and darker roasts), and have a vegetal undertone (like green bell peppers or occasionally celery). I am beginning to think I should cut the amount of (non-diary) milk. I find that I prefer this over Starbucks Espresso Roast in the afternoon. Mornings vary with the mood I’m in (or the “phase of the moons of Saturn“).

As brewed coffee, it is similar but even milder. I will try adding more coffee, less milk, and/or grinding it finer.

It works well either way. So far all of the coffees mentioned above are this way.

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Phase of the Moons of Saturn

This is a phrase used by programmers to describe some phenomenon that presumably is predictable but the pattern is so complicated that its occurrence is hard to predict with a lot of analysis and calculation.

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Holy Mother w/ Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti

“Holy Mother” was written many years ago when Clapton was having a very dark time. I hadn’t heard it until recently. There is another video of the song on YouTube without Pavarotti. It’s good but the one (if the link doesn’t work, search on the title of this post) with Pavarotti is outstanding. Pavarotti has done many concerts with rock/pop stars. All others he is singing in Italian, which I don’t speak. This concert he sang in English. Much more powerful. And it is a very nice arrangement. The East London Gospel Choir is the background singers. And there is a small classical orchestra.

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Tough Beans

I have a hand grinder so I am aware of the effort needed to grind various beans. There is quite a bit of variation. Starbucks Espresso Roast (medium dark) and Italian Roast (more dark) are the easiest. Allegro Espresso Sierra (medium dark) is slightly more effort. The Stumptown Hair Bender, Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso, Illy Classico, and Bongo Mystic Dark (all medium roasts, i.e., lighter color and no oil sheen) all require noticeably more effort to grind. They also all have a vegetal note in lattes and drip coffee.

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Espresso: the pros vs. the home team

As I improve my espresso skills, I’ve learned that shortcomings are more obvious is straight espresso. Adding milk (including non-dairy milks and creamers) masks a lot. Every espresso I’ve tried, mine or baristas’, is bitter forward. In many that is all I can taste. At each new coffee house I’m now getting a single shot of espresso along with a latte. At the nearest Starbucks, bitter is all I taste. With Starbucks Espresso Roast at home now, there a bit of depth behind it. Before I started tamping hard, it was just bitter, i.e. under-extracted. At District Coffee here in Nashville, the straight shot had much more depth, other flavors, and a bit of acid. If I understand right, the barista over-extracted slightly. The beans, possibly the grind, and maybe the shot pull time are better than my attempts, but improvement is possible. So I’m doing better than that particular Starbucks barista and improvement is possible, but not as good as the District Coffee barista.

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Unobtainium Espresso

We had some very nice lattes today at District Coffee in the design district of Nashville. Their brewed coffee comes from 8th and Roast. I’ve passed the store and seen bags in local supermarkets. Their espresso drinks are made with coffee from The Proverbial Cup in Nolensville, a small town 20 miles south of Nashville. Since I’m trying out coffee from various roasters, I was interested in buying a bag. Their Website lists three cafes that serve their espresso. Google Maps finds a fourth site inside one of the hospitals. The Proverbial Cup Website says they will cater your event, but no way to buy their beans. District Coffee does not appear to sell their coffee. So no way to serve it at home.

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