will pretty much do anything for a cà phê sữa

Having scored Vietnamese coffee filters at Tap Phong (360 Spadina), I set about making coffee in the most roundabout way.

First, fire up the Kelly Kettle. I got this joy of thermodynamic efficiency at the Sally Anne unused for $5. I’m feeding it shredded receipts and cardboard.

Whoa! Flareup!

It gets pretty hot in there. This is the first time I used it without singeing hair.


Mmm, cà phê sữa nóng …

the perils of tidyness

The cleaner at work threw away one of my My-Kaps, which allow you to reuse your Keurig K-Cups. This is annoying, as I’d just bought two, and only having one is a pain. They never usually tidy my desk (I think I’ve lost three “Please tidy your desk for cleaning” slips in the strata) so this is mystifying and annoying.

giving up roasting for now

I’m giving up roasting coffee – too much smoke, too many smoke detectors. That, and the fuss, the mess, the occasionally imperfect roasts. It’s been fun, but it’s time to move on.

the first sign of spring in the city

So how did I know that spring was on its way today? We’ve still got huge piles of snow, it’s pretty chilly, and there are few birds and no green things. I knew ‘cos Roll Up The Rim To Win started today. And I won a coffee with my first one. Sweet.

Don’t think I need one of these, though.

our robust power system

I’m writing this during a blackout. Our little enclave, just southeast of Kennedy and Eglinton, can have the power out when the nearby streets are fine. I can see that the (formerly derelict) Coffee Time has power, as has the block the other side of Kennedy. I wonder what makes us so special?

ack bleah

I picked up a pack of Wrigley’s Doublemint Kona Creme Coffee Flavored (as they say) Gum in Missouri last week. I strongly advise that you don’t.

To use the crude but apt expression coined by Jay Primeau to describe a badly-mixed Kahlua cocktail, it tastes like coffee flavoured ass. While chewing, it causes the gorge to rise (I think it’s the slightly minty edge of the gum base), and has an aftertaste akin to latte barf.

Canada’s own Thrills Gum may still taste like soap (as it says on the package, and they’re not lying), but this is just … eww.

the end of poverty in your coffee cup?

I’m not sure what to make of EWB‘s current campaign, which features a future newspaper headline G8 Leaders Declare End of Extreme Poverty. It links to playyourpart.ca, which seems to say that we can end world poverty just by buying fair-trade goods?

I know there’s a lot wrong with the coffee industry (Free Trade Coffee: You Grind The Beans, We Grind The Peasants! Enjoy the smooth trickle-down flavour, etc) but it’s a simplistic argument. What can the extremely poor sell to us?

I don’t know what to think.

timwin

Don’t want no car, don’t need no barbecue… But I can always use another coffee from Tim Hortons.

(for those outside Canada, every spring, the Tim Hortons donut chain has a prize promotion. It always provokes a national response little short of hysteria. You can win big things, but winning a coffee is just dandy by me.)

the search for fair trade coffee @ SB’s

got a tall Estima (supposedly fair trade — they didn’t know) at the First Canadian Place branch at Adelaide & York, Toronto. It’s okay, but most fair trade coffees are too light for me.

ex dexit, or trying to be

Coo, was I really all fired up about Dexit, like I appear to have been in January 2004? ‘Cos, basically, Dexit sucks.

The coffee place I get my morning fix got rid of its unreliable Dexit machine when it changed hands. So I’ve got nearly $70 sitting on the useless Dexit tag, doing nothing.

Today I called for a refund, and discovered that Dexit won’t refund your balance. I wouldn’t have signed up for it if I’d known there’d be this in the ultra-sneaky Dexit user agreement (PDF):

Only in the event of your death (and upon receipt of such documents as Dexit reasonably requires in such circumstances as to whom is entitled to your estate funds), or Dexit closing your Dexit Account without cause, will the remaining funds in your Dexit Account be repaid to you. “Cause” will include any violation of this Agreement, any fraud or attempted fraud, any other operation of the Dexit Account or use of a Dexit Tag in an unsatisfactory manner, or non-use of your Dexit Account for over three (3) years.

So, do I hafta kill myself to get my money back?

Oh, and Dexit’s phone support staff are untruthful. I needed to speak to a supervisor. They promised one would call before 8pm this evening. It’s 9:55 now, and I’ve heard nothing.

Single Serve Coffee.com – why?!

We have to wonder why Single Serve Coffee.com – The One Cup Coffee Lovers Weblog exists. We already have th perfect ‘single serve’ coffee in the shape of a coffee grinder and a one-cup caffetière. And there’s no waste involved, unlike a pod machine.

I predict that in five years’ time, the single-serve coffee maker will be the yard sale sandwich toaster of today. The manufacturers will come out with new and incompatible pods, or stop supply altogether.

Remember, there are only two things you need to know about coffee: the perfect flavour for coffee is coffee; the perfect addition to coffee is nothing. Thus endeth today’s lesson.

dark stain ahead

To avoid the rain, and in order to become sufficiently caffeinated for work, I ducked into a Tim Hortons and opened up my Toronto Public Library book, Jane Jacobs’s Dark Age Ahead.

I thought I heard my phone ring, and in reaching for it, I upended my almost-full medium black coffee all over the book. Horrible mess, pages stuck together, much nastiness.

This evening I dragged my sheepish carcase into the local library to explain what happened. The only way I could pay for a replacement book was to “lose” the book. I have to say, it reads pretty well for a “lost” book, but the smell of cheap, over-roasted coffee isn’t so great.

illicit substance: Caffeinated Scots Tablet

I make Scots Tablet; in fact, I’m almost famous for it. I also roast my own coffee, which I get from Merchants of Green Coffee. What harm could come from combining the two, I thought?

Plenty, is the answer. By adding ¼ cup (measured before grinding) of finely-ground coffee beans to a half batch of tablet has resulted in almost black tarry lumps that combined sugar, butterfat and caffeine into a mallet-to-the-back-of-the-head rush.

Next time, I might use just a smidge less coffee. At the moment, it’s like a cross between full-on Rademaker’s Haagsche Hopjes and Uncle Ump’s Umpty Candy. I suspect that the RCMP will come knocking soon.

lyrical donuts, apologies to Basho

In Old Scarborough,
We have a new donut shop.
A new Scarborough!

Yes, the Coffee Time donut shop just north of us on Eglinton East opened today. I usually rage and fulminate over the opening of yet another fast food store, but this one has a bit of history.

A couple of years back, the building was there, but clearly had never been used. There were new, but dusty work surfaces, and unused chairs stacked up inside. There was a city work permit stuck to the window which would indicate that it had been built in 2000. Here is how it looked last summer:

abandoned coffee time
(please ignore weird pinhole dreamscape)

Late last year, the place started to get vandalized, with a few broken windows. These were quickly repaired, and then work started on the drive-thru. For the last couple of weeks, it has looked finished, and last night the lights were on, and people were inside.

I went in this morning, and was one of their first customers. No-one quite knew where everything was, and the till wasn’t charging tax correctly, but I wish them success. I bought a dozen donuts for the office, and they were good.

Update, 2017: The store lasted a little under a year, then was boarded up. While it occasionally had some nice murals on it, it was never used again. It was finally demolished in early 2017 as part of the Eglinton Crosstown construction.

too much caffeine, and Jeffrey Zeldman

Felt really grim this morning — running a temperature, headache, axious, blah. Not what you want to fell when you’re about to fly.

At 10:30, I realised I hadn’t had any coffee. Even the thought of making coffee made the symptoms lift a bit. Halfway through the cup, everything was fine. Yes, I think I’m a caffeine addict. But there are worse drugs than home-roasted organic Sumatran.

While I was recovering, I was reading through Jeffrey Zeldman‘s “Designing with Web Standards”. It’s extremely good. My only tiny nitpick — and this could be an obsolete concern — is that he says you don’t need to put in the width and height attributes in the <img> element.

Strictly speaking, you don’t. But if you include them, the browser can calculate the sizes of page elements without waiting for them to load. Maybe I’m too recently a per-second-billed dialup user to care about this.

Requiem for a coffee mug

My Centre for Alternative Technology / Canolfan y Dechnoleg Amgen mug broke today. It had been my work coffee mug for over ten years, four jobs and two continents.

It shall not grow cold, as those that are left grow cold.

Stewart’s caffeinated Sunday

After looking for about 10 years, I finally found macha again at The Big Carrot. The importer is CJay Tea.

Macha is the light green fine-ground “tea ceremony” tea. I had it in Japan, both as tea and possibly the best flavouring for ice cream ever. It’s good. I’ve read conflicting reports of its caffeine content; some people say it’s very low in caffeine, but I always got a monstrous buzz from it.

Just to make sure I’m getting enough of The World’s Favourite Alkaloid™, I also got some green Sumatran coffee beans and a grinder while I was at the Carrot. Local company Merchants of Green Coffee deserve the credit/blame.

practising detachment (badly)

As if I don’t have too much stuff already, these are things I
know I don’t need, but want:

  • Mini iPod — I can’t
    afford one of the big ones. If this can’t be used with Linux when
    it’s announced in early January 2004, the game’s a bogey.
  • Lomo LC-A
    camera
     — yes, I know it’s an overpriced, unreliable
    ripoff of the
    Cosina CX-1
    , and that digital is much cheaper to run, and that
    my Yashica
    Electro-35 GTN
    gives better performance for less money,
    but…
  • Green coffee
    roaster
     — freshly-roasted coffee tastes better than
    you could imagine.
  • Wacom Graphire
    graphics pad — because my existing cheapo pad doesn’t
    actually do much.
  • Fluke
    ukulele
     — I missed out on getting a uke when I was a
    nipper, and I’ve wanted one ever since.
  • Blondel
    Cittern Guitar
     — because if I’m going to learn to
    play the guitar, I might as well get a portable one.

I think this all goes to show what you already know:
blogging makes you shallow.