Monday, August 31, 2009

Listen to Your Heart: Latte, home

I just downloaded four songs by Heart off iTunes.
To explain why, listen to the five songs provided below.
The first time I really paid attention to Heart was when I started playing Guitar Hero III, and noticed how awesome Barracuda is. That's why I only bought four songs today. I already have Barracuda.

So after that I always kind of meant to check out more, but never got around to it. Then about a month ago, while watching Kieran's Midnight Special DVDs, I saw the following clip of Magic Man from 1976. It's hard to ignore that the guitarist on the far right is dressed exactly like Luke Skywalker.

So that's from 1976. It pre-dates Star Wars. I like to think that George Lucas was flicking around on TV one night, saw Heart blasting through Magic Man, and called up wardrobe straight away and said, "That's it! That's exactly what I was talking about today. Minus the guitar."
Anyway, I heard that song again today in the background of the scene with Trent's audition story in Swingers, which prompted my downloading frenzy. Another good one from the same era, here's Crazy On You:

Yes, Ann Wilson sure was a force to be reckoned with in the 1970s. With or without a microphone.
Unfortunately, iTunes don't seem to have a conclusive Heart compilation that takes in their whole career. I went for the buy-the-songs-I've-heard-of approach instead. Somehow, I enjoy their later material just as much as Barracuda. It gets a lot more eighties (for want of a better word), but the hooks are deadly. They'll get you. And you'll notice that Heart are another one of those bands where you don't realise how many of their songs you already know. Exhibit A:

So, as you can see, there's a shift in direction. Definitely towards making hits, and getting them to the people via MTV. But it worked, and it still sounds like the same band. The hair may look a lot more like something you'd find perched atop CC Deville, but when you hear them there's no doubt it's still the Wilson sisters and those three other guys.

That's their most-downloaded song on iTunes. Epic. The video is a little unnerving though. Maybe it's the fast editing, but it's probably the haircuts. There's so much hair that I'm having trouble telling the girls apart from the guys in a few shots in that one.
Nah, the cleavage is a dead giveaway. Let's be thankful that the trend of dudes wearing plunging-V-neck t-shirts hadn't kicked in yet.

Latte, home


Just when I'd lost all hope.

Just when I thought those days were gone.

Just when I was convinced that I didn't know how to sleep in anymore.

I woke up at 1.30pm. This is what Spring Break is all about, people.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Brunetti Stopwatch Challenge: Espresso, Brunetti, Carlton

I left my phone in the car, and so had to time this one based on frequent observations of the second hand on my watch. I must have looked crazy to the other customers.

"What's up with that guy at the bar?"
"That one? Dressed like an out-of-work jazz muso who's just been to a Jewish wedding?"
"Yeah. But it's not just the suit. He looks kinda jumpy. He must have checked his watch like eight times since he walked in."
"Clearly, he doesn't need any more coffee. Places like this should have the right to refuse service to dudes like that."
"‘C'mon sir, I think you've had enough.’ LOL!"
"Uh, dude, did you just say LOL out loud?"
"No, don't worry about it. Ryan's just imagining our conversation. None of this is taking place right now."
"Thank Christ."

It was the really young-looking barista today. He pulls a good shot. One espresso, door-to-door, came in at:

3 minutes, 8 seconds.

Not bad. Some inefficiencies could still be ironed out: my shot sat there for about thirty seconds before it was put on a saucer and handed to me. But that was probably for the best. I have no interest in scalding my throat in the name of a record-breaking BSC time.

It was a very nice wedding tonight. Nice ceremony. Nice people. Two bands. Vince Peach was DJing afterwards, but we had to leave just as he got going. I couldn't get the yamulke (engraved with the names of the bride and groom - nice touch) to stop sliding off my head though. Maybe it knew I was a gentile.

This wedding also got Ollie, Josh and myself in the one room, and we soon started talking about band stuff. It sort of turned into a band/label meeting. We decided (without Will present, but I'm sure he will agree) that we're gonna get the Genie album mastered. Real soon. That meeting, in turn, soon degenerated into a twenty-minute conversation about mastering. These things happen. Even at weddings.

Strong Latte, Gingerlee, East Brunswick

I left the house to pick up my bass amp from Meg. It's been there for a bit over two weeks. Des, her housemate, borrowed it, then moved to New York the next day. Then new housemate Ben took responsibility for getting it back into my possession, and a lengthy game of voicemail tennis ensued. But we couldn't get our timetables to work out. Then yesterday I noticed on Twitter that Meg got back from New York. Oh, I forgot to mention, she was over there too for a while. So today I finally picked it up. I can tick that off my list. And hear myself when I play bass. It turns out Ben is in Perth.

Anyway, as I was out and driving, I figured I may as well get more coffee. I also figured that, due to the amount of Latte, home and Espresso, home there has been this week, I owed it to the blog to not only have coffee somewhere other than home, but also to visit somewhere I hadn't been before. That place with the Synesso (that I could spot from my car) on Lygon St seemed like a good distance: a relaxing Sunday drive that wouldn't take more than four minutes each way.

It turns out it's called Gingerlee. I'm not sure what the significance of that is, but I'll be back here for breakfast soon, I'm sure. I'll do some more detective work then. Today the barista seemed to be doing a fine job back there, and his haircut reminded me a bit of Bishop, but I could see there might be a bit of a wait for a takeaway. Luckily, Dan was having breakfast. A bit of conversation led to the realisation that he was playing in one of the bands (yes, one of) at the wedding I was attending that night. Melbourne is a small world. Especially when you're going to a musician's wedding, you're a musician, you know a lot of musicians, musicians play gigs, gigs are often at weddings, and you're talking to another musician who does a lot of gigs. So maybe it's not that unlikely after all.

The conversation went for a long time. According to Dan, you don't usually have to wait long for food. He was right. Their food came out long before my coffee. My chat-while-waiting-for-coffee was rapidly turning into rude-interruption-of-breakfast-date. My coffee, it seemed, really was taking a long time. When it finally came out, I said my thankyous and goodbyes, made for the door, was confused by the small child almost running into me on the way in, banged my elbow on the door on the way out, and managed to drop my strong latte exactly outside the door. Exactly.

I could have cried, if I hadn't already reminded myself that it was largely only spilt milk. I sipped what was left in the cup, regained my composure, looked slightly mental as I took a photo of the scene with my coffee-soaked hands, and slunk back to the car. The complexity of the situation hit me like a bulleted list to the head:
  • The replacement coffee might take another ten minutes.
  • I only had $1.50 in my wallet: not enough for another coffee.
  • The barista might take pity on me and give me a replacement for free, but one shouldn't rely on that.
  • Technically, I had tasted the coffee, and it was really very good, so technically I could still blog about it without going back.
  • BUT I've been here for this long, I should at least get a whole cup of coffee out of it. I had to go back in.
So, with that in mind, my plan was to go in, explain what happened, and order another one. Worst case: I would spend the waiting-for-coffee time walking, in the sunshine on a beautiful end-of-winter Sunday afternoon, to the nearest ATM. Best case: free replacement coffee, under the If You Drop It We'll Replace It For Free! warranty.

"I can't believe it. I dropped that strong latte right there," I said, pointing out the front door where there was a huge milk splodge still trickling down the footpath.
"Oh no! I'll make you another one."
I reached for my wallet, but Bishop said, "Don't worry about it!"
Phew. I was relieved that I wouldn't have to perform my feign-surprise-that-I'm-broke routine and go to the ATM. I went out the back and washed the latte off my hands, and when I came back the replacement was waiting. It was much quicker than the original. And just as strong, and just as tasty. Can't wait to try the breakfast.

Latte, home

Well, today is a bit of a diary fuckup, on my part. I'm supposed to go to a wedding tonight. I also have a gig. I realised all this a few days ago, when it was too late to find anyone to fill in for the gig. So I have to leave the wedding early. It's not ideal. But it's the only way it's going to work. Damn. This is what happens when you start using iCal, and then assume it knows EVERYTHING.

My my, this 500g of Seven Seeds is lasting a long time. Yes. Roughly twice as long as 250g does I suppose.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chase: Espresso, home

So everybody loves Giorgio Moroder. For one thing, he had a habit of being photographed in front of vast modular synths, and often looked like this:

What's not to like? If you want more evidence, he produced Donna Summer's I Feel Love. He did the Top Gun soundtrack, and Scarface too. You can't really argue with any of that. It turns out he also did the Midnight Express soundtrack.
The common element with all these moments of Moroder greatness, is that Harold Faltermeyer was probably involved, as he was on the Moroder payroll as a producer/songwriter/engineer/etc. So I'm starting to think maybe Faltermeyer is the one we should really be giving it up for, if he was instrumental (geddit?) in all the keyboard sounds turning out the way they did. To see what I mean, check out Chase from Midnight Express. All 8+ minutes of it.

I'm starting to think that the music I am the most into is Moroder's 1978-79 period. I mean, Chase and I Feel Love are pretty similar. It just depends if you want to hear Donna Summer. But honestly, the flangey string pads and the warpspeed bassline and the kick drum are interesting enough. Who needs vocals?

The Heat Is On: Aeropress, home

The extra bits on the Beverly Hills Cop DVD have proven to be very enlightening. Jerry Bruckheimer reminds me a bit of Alex P. Keaton (though not necessarily Michael J. Fox), but a lot of his stories about the making of the movie are fascinating. I love hearing about how much of a convoluted bullshit process it is for a script to actually become a movie, with the rewriting, and the casting of the leads, and the leads wanting a rewrite or a new director, and the new director wanting a rewrite, etc. The amount of bullshit at play there makes me feel a whole lot better about the music industry. David Mamet's book Bambi vs Godzilla is a wealth of information on this baffling squirm-inducing industry stuff, as is Bruce Beresford's offputtingly- yet appropriately-titled and wholly riveting memoir Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants To Do This.

One example from the story of Beverly Hills Cop is that Sylvester Stallone was originally cast as the lead. Stallone did a rewrite, changing the character's name to Axel Cobretti, and adding a lot more fight scenes. The additional fight scenes ramped up the budget past what the studio were willing to go with, and eventually Sly was dropped in favour of Eddie Murphy, and the Cobretti stuff ended up seeing the light of day in Stallone's 1986 film Cobra. It's really hard to imagine anyone other than Eddie Murphy in the role now, especially seeing how much of the dialogue was ad-libbed on set. That's also fun to watch in the extra bits on the DVD: Taggart cracking up during Foley's "supercops" speech.

But the best best bit for me was the bit about Harold Faltermeyer's score, including the iconic Axel F theme (you can hear it on the menu on his website). I'm going to have to dig up some more info about this Faltermeyer character. I know he worked with Giorgio Moroder a fair bit (including the Top Gun soundtrack), and he did the Running Man soundtrack, but there's more out there. He's one of those guys you keep hearing about, and you always go, "He did that too? Woah!" But let's start with The Heat Is On, from the opening credits of Beverly Hills Cop. What a brilliant song. Not much happens in the lyrics other than repeating "the heat is on". It makes you realise, that if you want to write a great pop song, if you have one good line, you don't need much more than that.

Latte, home

Further to my current discussion with Luke regarding playing music on a scanner, here's an old favourite. The floppy drive that plays Star Wars:

Friday, August 28, 2009

Off the Grid: Aeropress, home

Well, this is my first coffee with the manual grinder. You know, where you pour beans in the top and strenuously turn the handle to grind the beans. With the grinding itself and the 20-second Aeropress workout, this could be the closest I get to integrating coffee making with regular exercise. The exercise bike-powered water boiling system is a fair way off yet, though.

Long Mac, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

In the Odd Spot today:

Proving the adage "less is more", New York City's narrowest house, a three-metre-wide, 14-metre-deep Greenwich Village red-brick, is up for sale for $US2.7 million ($A3.2 million). Real estate agent Alex Nicholas admits, "You have to be very clever in how you decorate."

I'm not sure I agree with the hyphenation, but something tells me the new owner would be wise to utilise the property as a café called The Narrowest House in the Village, complete with polished concrete floors, exposed beams, recycled furniture, room out the front for parking of fixed-gear bikes or Vespa scooters, free wi-fi, communal dog bowls, the city's narrowest farmers' market every Sunday, and plenty of single-sided bench space for people to sit alone and get out their Moleskine notebook or edit their independent documentary on their Macbook Pro.

Flat White, home

Well, I really should be catching up on the last few days of coffee blogging, but I've been distracted by the Mediawatch 20 year anniversary special that I just downloaded. I didn't see it when it was really on TV, but luckily our ABC have it available for download. This should whet your appetite.

(don't click on it, it's just an image)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

PVR fail: Espresso, home

After a day of tinkering with getting my PVR happening on my old laptop, I'm willing to say, "I'm giving up, I'll try again in a few years when the software is better."
I had some problems.
First of all, I was trying two softwares at once. MythTV, on Linux, and GB-PVR on Windows XP. They each had a unique set of problems:
  • MythTV was running pretty smoothly, and I successfully set it to record things on TV, and it successfully recorded them. It soon overwrote them, however, as my hard drive gradually filled up. You see, Myth records everything you watch, whether you tell it to or not. That way, you can pause and rewind what looks like live TV any time you want. It won't keep all the recorded data forever. Things expire, or other things take priority. So at the end of the day, after recording episodes of Bewitched, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, some interview with the original cast of The Cosby Show, and The Family Guy, unfortunately all I was left with was The Family Guy. Even more unfortunately, it was actually an episode of Scrubs. Even more even more unfortunately, it was a clip show episode of Scrubs. Fail. Also, a few things weren't working: firstly, the remote control that came with my TV tuner. If I press, say, the number 2, it comes up in the terminal as "22222222222222222222" until I press something else. With the same remote, that doesn't happen in Windows. This issue is being worked on, but seems a fair way off yet. Might just need another remote. Also, my motherboard isn't supported for waking up the system to record something in the middle of the night. Essentially, I would have to leave this thing on all the time if I wanted it to record something. Scenario: I'm going away for four days, and want it to record The Simpsons. I have to leave my laptop on the whole time I'm gone. That's not cool. Even a VCR can do better than that. Also, suspend and hibernate aren't working. So every time I turn it off and on, it has to be a full shut down. I know from experience that suspend, hibernate, and the remote control (when it's solved) will each require at least an hour of Google-searching, forum-scouring, code-pasting, kernel-building, and head scratching. Or I could give up now and just use the VCR.
  • GB-PVR seems to be a simpler, more user-friendly package. MythTV makes a big deal of its "by developers, for developers" existence, and so the tinkering can go pretty far, and there seems to be about seven places you can go to look through options and settings to find that box you need to untick to make everything work. GB-PVR has most of it in one place. But it has bigger problems. MythTV scanned for channels, and found them. Just like a TV or set-top box or dude-with-an-FM-radio-tuning-knob would. GB-PVR needs to know where the channels are. It needs an EPG source first, before it will find any channels. BUT if it had the channels already it could easily get the EPG over the aerial. This is a quite irritating chicken-and-the-egg situation: it can't get the EPG without channels, and it can't get channels without an EPG. The alternative is an online XML source of EPG data. Unfortunately, the XMLTV situation in Australia is a bit of a shitfight at the moment. EPG data is actually copyrighted, and I assume require a license fee to reproduce. The alternative is to get hundreds of volunteers to manually type in which shows are on and when, every week. Nobody wants to do that. As a result, all the free XMLTV sources in Australia that I found online appear to have shut down. There is one pay service, called Ice TV. I signed up for a free 30-day trial, downloaded a (quite hefty) XMLTV file for the next week of programming, loaded it into GB-PVR...but it still couldn't find ANY channels through my TV tuner card. Maybe it doesn't like my card. I could continue tinkering around with that for another day and wonder why it doesn't like me, or I could just use the VCR.
So I have a few options.
  1. MythTV doesn't like my motherboard or remote control. I could purpose-build a system purely for MythTV use. The cost of this will easily run beyond that of an off-the-shelf PVR. And there will still be no guarantee that it will run as well as I want it to.
  2. Try GB-PVR with another TV tuner card.
  3. See what off-the-shelf PVRs are out there these days.
  4. Just use the VCR, or
  5. Wait for Windows 7.
Commenter Ben asked on my post last week: what do I have against Windows? It's a good question. Windows is pretty bloody annoying most of the time, but at least it works. And Engadget gave a pretty favourable review of Windows 7 Media Center. After experimenting with not-quite-there-yet and not-yet-version-1.0 products I really like the idea of buying something that has been released with some sort of guarantee of being usable by its users. Then again, that was the idea with Vista, wasn't it?

We will return to coffee-related things some time tomorrow. Apologies to anyone who vomited with boredom at the content of this post. I hope you aimed away from your computer.

5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40: Latte, home

In case you're wondering, and I'm sure you are, what that highly contagious song is on the Bonds ad with the girls on rollerskates, it's these guys: The Phenomenal Handclap Band. The song is called 15 to 20. They appear to have a blog too.
I tried, but I couldn't listen through the whole song even once. That numbers bit happens a LOT.
But some of their other tunes sounds pretty good, and they sure look the part. If the part is one of Kevin's sister's friends on The Wonder Years. But I think more bands should look like that.

Speaking of The Wonder Years, do you remember the episode where Kevin bought a guitar, and joined a band, and they got together in somebody's basement, realised they didn't know any songs, and then just jammed? And do you remember what the jamming sounded like? I want to be in a band that sounds exactly like that.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Espresso, Bluebird, Collingwood

Well, this is a first. Having coffee somewhere purely because I heard about them on Facebook. Three of your friends are fans of Bluebird Espresso.

I logged on to Facebook to double check the address, but there's really no need. That incredibly blue Falcon parked out the front is all the directions you need (and that it's on Johnston St between Gold St and Hoddle). It's not the real Bluebird, after which this café is named, but it's still pretty blue.

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

I'm not sure why I have flat whites here so often.

Sorry, that was a tad ambiguous. The emphasis could have gone either way:
  1. I'm not sure why I have flat whites here so often.
  2. I'm not sure why I have flat whites here so often.

  3. or, at a stretch:

  4. I'm not sure why I have flat whites here so often.
What I was going for was number 1. I think it might be because I like their cups.
With that out of the way, let's move on to something else. I want to point out how hard it was to interrupt that ordered list and not have it start again at number 1. It just really didn't want to start with a 3. The way HTML handles ordered lists is perfectly sane, and allows people like me to interrupt them with "or, at a stretch", but Blogger doesn't handle that particularly well, and assumes that if you type something that is not an ordered list, you've finished your list and the next one you type will be a new list, and so will start at number 1.
There's plenty of info here if you're still awake.

Latte, home

I bought a new chair. From Officeworks. It has wheels. It goes up and down. The back tilts all the way from impractically obtuse to impractically acute. The seat bit (for some reason) tips back and forth. It has a "waterfall" lip on the seat to improve circulation, allegedly.
But most importantly, it has no arms. Not only is this allegedly better for posture, but I can also play guitar and use the laptop in the same chair now without sitting, if not on the edge, on the front of my seat so the guitar could get around the armrests.
Honestly, when I bought that first chair a few years ago, I assumed it could be assembled armlessly. I was wrong. Ikea have a way of doing things. Nothing is there for decoration, it also must serve a purpose. Accordingly, the arms are only there to hold the back on. So it was either an armless backless chair, or a chair I had to shuffle forward on to hold a guitar. Not surprisingly, it was hard to justify another chair.
Until now.
In what we loosely call "the office", which is really the bedroom with no bed in it, LLL has a desk and I have a desk. With all our coffee- and tea-blogging we should probably get a kettle up here too. But I guess the kitchen is only a twelve-second walk away. Anyway: up until now we have only had the one uppy-downy chair, and a much-too-low-for-either-desk Ikea stool.
So now here I am with the new chair.
It feels great, in a so-hard-it-must-be-good-for-my-posture kind of way, but there's one problem.
It smells like...well...dirt. Or fertiliser, or blood and bone, or something. I was expecting some sort of new chair smell, but this is more like Don Burke's laundry basket.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Latte with extra latte, Cafenatics QV, City

Some time between 4.30pm and 5.30pm something quite frightful happened to the weather.
"Oh shiiiiiit!" was the only reaction I thought appropriate for the sight of the grey, windy, rainy mess outside that I had to walk through. Like Butch and Sundance jumping off a cliff. It was a long way to Latrobe St, with not much shelter. Like most situations in life, I was going to need coffee.

Cafenatics's location in a not-very-coffeed corner of the city combined with their willingness to keep the machine on while they stack the tables led me in their doors once again.
A latte, takeaway.
That'll be three dollars.
I noticed "Small - $3" written on the price list.
But what I was handed was definitely not a small.
More like a medium, if not a large.
Note: a free upgrade to a larger coffee is not doing me a favour. It's not a better drink for the same price. It's just more milk. If you're that eager to get rid of milk, just throw a milk carton at me on the way out the door.

I would have taken a photo of the cup, and my arm, getting pelted with rain, but that probably would have wound up with my phone getting severely rained on.

My phone.

The very phone I'm paying insurance on.

The exact very phone I'm stuck in a contract with for 18 more months.

The same exact very phone that I could probably replace with an iPhone 3GS were something to happen to it.

Out of all the advice I've heard dispensed from mobile phone salesmen over the years, " upgrade...cough" is the most intriguing yet. It's closely followed by, "Here's two dollars. Go across the street and buy a $2 SIM. Then come back and we'll transfer your number."

Espresso, Pushka, City

A double, following my "haven't had one since breakfast" rule.
Amazingly, Dr J.Mo hadn't had a cup of tea in that whole time, but had done a whole day's work. I sure couldn't say the same.
"You know what it's like when you start at a new job... oh, clearly you don't. But anyway, you don't know on the first day what the kettle/toaster situation will be like."
I can only imagine.

Anyway, it was a lovely afternoon, considering the amount of storm warnings sent out to the people. With "storm warning" at the front of my mind I stepped out into...
...the sunshine.
That storm must have been a long way off.
After our Pushka visit it had started getting windy, but not the windy-doom-and-ferociously-precipitant-gloom I was expecting.
That would come later.

Latte, home

Ricki Lee was interviewed on Rove on Sunday night. Watch if you dare.
About five minutes in, she mentions picking up a sixteen year-old dude in Bali.

What if it was a dude being interviewed on Rove bragging about picking up a 16 year-old in Bali, citing, "she looked quite young, but most Indonesians do!"
I've got a feeling the interview would come grinding to a halt.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Latte, Cafe Milato, Carlton North

As it was the only café anywhere near me that, according to Urban Spoon, had free wi-fi, I figured it was worth checking out. This could be a whole new way to check out random places I've never been to: ask Urban Spoon.
Unfortunately, there's no easy way to search for the wi-fi tag. You have to find another place with the wi-fi tag, then click on it. I think wi-fi should be just as important in restaurant choice next to factors like cuisine, location and price. I mean, if somebody is willing to use their iPhone to find somewhere to eat via GPS, they surely won't have any problem with "Wifi: yes or no?" being one of the four questions asked.
I suppose the next logical step is Urban Spoon only listing places that have free wi-fi. Or maybe that's going too far.

The coffee here was okay, once it finally cooled down. I don't think it was hot beyond being able to taste okay once it cooled down, but still way, way, way too hot. I could be wrong about that, but only if everywhere else I've ever been to is wrong about the temperature thing too.

Foreigner vs Tone Loc: Latte, home

It's Sample Friday again, for the first time ever in our new timeslot. Accordingly, this segment is now known as Sample Monday. Our first guest today will be Foreigner, with their 1978 hit Hot Blooded. Pay particular attention to the bit between 0:33 to 0:37.

Sound familiar?
That riff was heard repeatedly nine years later, as the entire chorus of Tone Loc's #3 hit Funky Cold Medina. Written by Young MC (?!), and produced by the Dust Brothers, who shortly after went on to produce the legendary Paul's Boutique. A duo from the UK, a few years later, were big fans of the Dust Brothers, and as a "tribute", named themselves after them. The Dust Brothers came out and said, "Thanks, that "tribute" is real flattering, but we're still trying to make music too." So the (UK) Dust Brothers changed their name to the Chemical Brothers.
But let's get back to Tone Loc in 1987, with recycled Foreigner in tow:

So, hang on, Young MC wrote Funky Cold Medina? AND Wild Thing*? That's surprising that he could write two hits for Tone Loc but only one for himself. But I guess Tone Loc was in Ace Ventura, that must count for something.

* Watch the Wild Thing video to see just how far the whole Robert Palmer deadpan-girl-band-in-the-background thing really went in the late 80s.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flat White, Sweet Source, Carlton North

The cupcakes here make me want to start a cupcake blog. But that can only lead me in two directions:
  • Eating many cupcakes, or
  • Having a blog with not much content.
So I'll just add the cupcake photos to the coffee blog for now. The ones at Sweet Source are spectacular. A very high icing-to-cake ratio, but worth it. I probably shouldn't have them too often though.

Makin Soy: Espresso, home

Further to this morning's soy latte: this month's Contains Caffeine has an ad for Vitasoy Café, a new strain of Vitasoy endorsed by Australian coffee ambassador, the reputable David Makin. If he likes it, it's probably worth adding to coffee. Not only that, but it gives birth to a slew of new opportunities to use his surname in some lame coffee-related puns:

"So, I guess you'll be Makin more soy lattes from now on?"
"It's going to be a hit. Let's hope they're Makin enough of it!"
"He's Makin the most of it!"

Etc. His company is clearly called Makin Espresso, but I noticed the title of his website says "Making Espresso". Autocorrect strikes again!

But on to the actual soy: I'll be hoping to get my hands on some very soon. I hope it's available to the little people, and not just cafés. LLL and I will conduct some blind taste tests* soon, and I'll see how it goes under the wand. Let's hope this Vitasoy Café turns out to be a more widely available, and cheaper, alternative to Bonsoy. That will be good for everyone.

*(Does anyone else have trouble with typing the phrase "taste tests"? The "e" at the end of "taste" gets you on a roll and then it's pretty hard to not type "taste testes" instead.")

Soy Latte, home

This one was soy for a very very good reason.
I originally started steaming some milk (you know, milk from a cow) and it was behaving kind of strangely.
It seemed to have lots of cream floating to the surface, and what looks like the skin that would form on top of milk that was getting close to boiling point.
But it wasn't that hot.
I poured a bit out into the sink, which revealed that it REALLY didn't look right.
Then I had a sniff.
That explains why my muesli tasted a bit funny this morning.
So I rinsed out the jug like it had never been rinsed before (clarification: it HAS been rinsed before, I assure you) and started again with soy.
I'm glad I didn't pour that off milk into the espresso. Eurrgh.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Everything's Adsensible: Espresso, home

Just when you thought there was a square inch of screen space without advertising on it, Google decide to start advertising on the after-posting-a-blog page:

That space to the right used to be blank. And the ad is relevant to what I just posted. This could be even more fun than people googling weird stuff to find my blog: the next level is blogging about weirder stuff just to see what ads come up after I publish?
But seriously, once all the white space on the web has been filled, what's next? Am I going to start seeing content-relevant logos inside my mouse pointer?

(Coffee: Seven Seeds Espresso. I should mention that.)

Moneyraker: Plunger, Mum's house

TomTom have released their iPhone GPS turn-by-turn navigation app.
It's $99.99.
This price was chosen because, as we all know, the customers won't realise it's almost $100 if you keep it down to double digits.
Stupid customers.
Regardless, I think $100 (or thereabouts) is a bit steep (or "effing vertical!", rather) for any iPhone app, no matter how useful. If they sold this thing for $20 or even $50, that would make sense.
But let's face it: I'm a little biased. As somebody who wants to buy a GPS app but doesn't want to pay $100 for it, of course I would take issue with what they're charging, especially if it's more than I want to pay.
TomTom, on the other hand, probably think it's a bargain based on how much R&D went into it, how much they have to pay for license fees for all the maps, and the fact that they won't sell any hardware with it. $999.99 would be a much fairer price for them.
So, as a compromise between FREE! and infinity, maybe $100 is okay. A compromise is only a compromise if both parties are dissatisfied.
But we're forgetting about the third party here: Apple. I'm sure they are well satisfied. They get to kick back with an ivory martini and laugh uproariously at how the App Store has made them billions of dollars out of a market that didn't even exist a year ago. Whether TomTom charge $1 or $1000, they'll still be flipping through catalogues for a solid gold moneyrake for the rest of the year.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Plunger, Mum's house

My plunger routine is getting pretty reliable.

Boil water, two soup spoons of coffee per person, pour water (that should be waaay not boiling by now) in, stir after a minute, wait three minutes, plunge, pour.
The beans were from Yallingup Coffee Roasting Co, all the way from...
...go on, have a guess.

Did you say "Yallingup"?

You'd be wrong. They are in Dunsborough, but I'm pretty sure that's not far from Yallingup. They are both about one day and twenty hours' drive from where I am right now, according to Google. I'll take a plane there instead I think.

Espresso, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

I've only been awake for 85 minutes and I'm about to down my second coffee. I like to call it "productivity".

Latte, home

Well, that's the last of the Square Mile beans. RIP. We had a great week-or-so together. The taste reminded me of all the spectacular coffee I had in London in July. I should probably order some more. It's a lot cheaper than flying to London.

I just received an interesting email. I'll tell you the whole story soon in another post, but generally this is what's happening:
  • to get a faulty guitar lead replaced without sending it overseas first, I have to cut both ends off and email photos of the whole operation.
Stand by for the entire autopsy photoshoot in the next few days.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Strong Latte, Victoria Lounge, Richmond

A tray? For two cups? That's a little excessive. I have two hands, and these cups stack pretty easily. Was there an overwhelming demand from customers that they were so used to carrying four cups in a tray and wanted the same experience when they only had two cups?
Who knows.
Strangely, for two strong lattes the guy pulled a double shot between two cups, and then banged out and did it again. I guess it has the same end result as pulling a double into each cup, it's like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic really.
Dudes who walk away from the milk jug while it's steaming really make me nervous. Or maybe they use The Force, or something.

Latte, home

I'm really going to miss these beans. I might squeeze one more double out, it's hard to judge once the beans get to the bottom of the hopper.
In other news, I've been messing around with the old-laptop-becomes-PVR thing. It's brilliant. I was told repeatedly, "It will change your life!" but I always figured if I've gotten this far (since getting digital TV) without a VCR, I would continue to manage. But WOAH. Bring up the program guide, double click on the show you won't be home for, and it RECORDS IT FOR YOU. Not just that, but if you're watching The Simpsons on TV, you can pause it. Wow.
This is all in theory, though. The TV tuner card I bought is fine, but the software that comes with it is a little bit on the shithouse side.
As soon as my next broadband month starts, I'll get my hands on Mythbuntu 9.04. That should do just nicely. And if I really like that, I might assemble a new machine to run it on.
Isn't it strange how I often get the urge to spend hours trying to install something on something it shouldn't be installed on? I guess I don't own a house and therefore don't have anything to renovate if I get the urge, so I have to settle for renovating operating systems instead. The two urges must come from a similar place. But my house will be nightmarish. Trying to install a toilet on the ceiling, floorboards in the driveway, etc.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Espresso, Pushka, City

Hip cats sitting out the front on the steps sinking beers. They've gotten through two each. Do they realise how close they are to sitting in an alley drinking during the day? About 50cm and one hour, I think.

Espresso, Las Chicas, St Kilda East

I wasn't planning to sit here all afternoon, but it turned into one of those East St Kilda nexus-of-dudes-I-know moments.
Zisla turned up shortly after my last coffee, and he had just spoken to Jan, which was funny because I'd just called Jan while I was waiting. About ten minutes later, Jan turned up. Then Harry called Jan, and turned up with Hammo in tow shortly after. Yep. They should call this place Las Nexus.
But I had no quibbles with sitting there for that long. I don't think I spend enough time these days sitting around outside on a nice day with coffee and beer and crinkle-cut chips.

(Does anyone else, when they see a bowl of chips come out but the waiter can't remember which table to take them to, turn into a seagull in the hopes that the waiter will give up and say, "Who wants these?")

Flat White, Las Chicas, St Kilda East

It's the nicest day we've had in Melbourne in months. A photo pointing up may be more useful in illustrating this.

Flat White, home

This one was not great. But I was in a hurry and didn't really have time to make another one. You know when, just after you start pulling the shot, the toast pops out and you run over straight away so you don't miss the crucial but brief hot-enough-to-melt-butter window, and then when you come back you realise the shot must have poured way too fast?
Yeah, one of those. But I was out of time. Shouldn't have pressed snooze...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brunetti Stopwatch Challenge

Not a huge queue tonight: Tuesdays are pretty safe for time trials.
My espresso was ordered, pulled, served, and consumed with a door-to-door time of:

Not bad. I'm still eager to find out when their serious tumbleweed hour is, when I might be able to get this down below one minute.

Slayer Espresso, St Ali, South Melbourne

Slayer has arrived in South Melbourne.

We are of course talking about the Slayer espresso machine that recently arrived and had its launch party at St Ali last night. I was unable to attend, but felt it was my duty as a coffee blogger to get there within 24 hours to see what all the hype is about, and hopefully get to have a taste too. I was looking for an excuse to get down to South Melbourne, and then, as if by fate, Dave called and said he had the day off, and was walking the dog around South Melbourne, and would I like to grab a coffee?
Hell yes. It was Slayer time.
After ascertaining that that outdoor-looking bit is still not dog-friendly, we chained up Shandy out the front and had a seat. Even through the window, I could see the Slayer set up on the bench in there. I hadn't seen one in person before, but there was no doubt that was it. It was big, it was shiny, it was metal, and above all it was black. Very. Not only was it painted black, but it was also a source of such potent caffeinated energy that even light could not escape its surface. Every time you thought you caught a glimpse of it from outside, you were wrong. It was just a void, with two grinders next to it. Even the light from the polished shiny non-black bits actually bent on the way across the room, warping the image somewhat. I was going to have to get a closer. But later. I could see there were beans in one of the grinders, so this thing was obviously in action. According to the waitress, they have a blend specifically for the Slayer, called Black Magic. Dave rolled his eyes a bit, as if to say, "Yeah, cool name, but what's it actually like?" I sure wanted to find out, even though I thought the name was a little disappointing. Black Magic sounded more like a blend for a machine called Fleetwood Mac or Santana or something. Not Slayer. Some potential Slayer blend names:
Actually, any Slayer song or album works okay, either with or without a coffee pun inserted.

Anyhow, we ordered some short black magic. It was a whole lot of taste. I'm lucky to hang around with a lot of people who can sum up flavours pretty well in one sentence, and Dave is no exception.
"It drinks like a meal!"
He also was getting a lot of thyme and rosemary in there. I wasn't. My nose isn't quite that clever yet.
So it was fantastic, but was it the beans or the Slayer? We went inside for a closer look.
Slayer in person is a thing to behold, a marvel of design, a beautiful hand-made industrial thing, evoking at once Professor X's wheelchair, Marvin the Martian's spaceship, Darth Vader's helmet, the steam-powered spider thing from Wild Wild West, and Sputnik, while still feeling like it was all hammered together by a blacksmith. And that's just the metal bits. The wooden paddles over the groupheads are the kind of luxurious wooden craftsmanship you would expect to see on a luxury Italian speedboat. Paddles that Tom Ripley would be glad to clock someone over the head with in the middle of the Mediterranean. Paddles that Indiana Jones would think nothing of as they got chewed up by a propeller while he punches on with that guy in the fez with the tattoo. So if one had to put it in a box it would be 50s/60s/70s/80s/90s/prehistoric/sci-fi/steampunk/postmedievalpostpostmodern handmade chic.

So the taste checks out, it looks fantastic, but what about seeing it in action? Well luckily for us, our interest in the machine was noticed, and we were given honorary backstage Slayer passes.

The iPhone camera didn't quite do the moment justice, but you can see the four major elements at play here:
  • the naked portafilter
  • the barista
  • the shot (it made me want another one)
  • the angled mirror so the barista can watch the shot come out.
Okay. I'm convinced now. I'll have to find more excuses to come to St Ali more often. Oh what the hell. Slayer is its own reward.

Latte, Cumulus Inc, City

Well, I finally got down here for breakfast. I've been meaning to for a while now, mainly because I was so intrigued by the 65/65 egg (it is cooked for 65 minutes at 65 degrees) that is served with the smoked salmon.
And coffee always intrigues me. As does the challenge of getting all the way to the top of Flinders Ln in the morning for coffee before having any other coffee first. Not only is it a long way to the CBD, this place is a long way up the hill from Swanston St.

Nice. Though there was an order cockup. They forgot to make mum's coffee, twice. C'mon. That shouldn't happen here. This place is better than that.
And I've gotta say, after finally trying it, I'm not a fan of the 65/65 egg. Yeah, it's nice that the two numbers are the same, but I don't think this ultra-slow method really improved the egg. Is-it-raw-or-is-it-cooked wasn't really a texture I enjoyed, or a question I enjoyed asking while eating.
Mum and Jo, however, have chosen wisely. That Cumulus breakfast is unbeatable. I'll get it next time for sure. You get a boiled egg (that had substantially less than 65 minutes invested in it), toast, preserves, juice, a coffee, and yoghurt. The yoghurt was a highlight. Rhubarb, honey; all the good stuff was in there. But this package deal is what lead to what may have been an ambiguous order, which may have lead to the coffee's non-arrival.
"I'll get the Cumulus breakfast, but I've already had the juice, and a latte."
Without the punctuation, it doesn't sound like you are ordering a coffee. But the waiter assured us that he got the message.
"I wish it were your fault."
Refreshingly frank, really. It's nice to be reassured that it really wasn't our fault that our coffee was nowhere to be seen.
But nothing explains how it could be forgotten again after that.
But at the end of the day, I'll come here again. Or the start of the day. Whichever one has breakfast.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Espresso, The European, City

The whole band's back together in the same country, in the same state, in the same city, and even at the same table. RyanOnCoffee, LooseLeafLea, DrJMo, Dad (who is considering adopting D.Mo as his blogging pseudonym), and Mum, who as yet has no immediate blogging plans. I had the crab linguini, which was quite spectacular. If there's a linguini on the menu with some sort of seafood and some chilli involved, I usually don't need to read any further (see also: Carlisle Wine Bar). Bonus points too for being able to eat crab without having to dismantle one first. The lighting was not very iPhone-friendly, so there are no linguini photos, but the lighting was just fine for one of my trademark badly-lit coffee photos:

We also discovered how to ensure you'll get a table at the Supper Club.
  1. go there on a Monday, or
  2. start at the European first, they can book a table for later on.
We went with both of these tonight, just to be on the safe side. That second one is especially helpful, as was our waiter. Seriously, that was some diligent table-waiting tonight. No stone left unturned. These are just some of the stones, and remember I arrived after entrees were done, so I missed a good hour and fifteen minutes of stone-turning:

"There is a bit of chilli in that, but the menu doesn't mention it. Is that okay with you?"
"If you've already had an entree, the entree size should be more than enough."
"I'll call ahead and book you a table upstairs."
"When you're ready, let me know and I'll take you all upstairs."

It was amazing to watch. I often forget how good a really good waiter can be.

Fun With Fine Print: Latte, home

From Subaru's mail merge regarding their new Express Service policy, where you can get your car serviced in one hour:

“What you do with your hour is up to you, but your vehicle will be ready in just 60 minutes. And if it isn't we'll pay half of your invoice*!”

And my fictional fine print:

* but the price of that invoice is doubled.

Twitter vs Woofer: Latte, home

These Square Mile beans are still flipping spectacular.

But let's move on to the subject of this post: Woofer.
Hey kids! Sick and tired of your thoughts being limited to 140 bytes?
Try Woofer. With a MINIMUM message length of 1400 characters, you'd better be damn sure you've got something interesting to say if your readers are going to get even halfway through it. I'm all for a conscious effort to rewiden the human attention span. Twitter has only made it worse: if you only need to concentrate for a sentence and a half, why would you bother reading anything longer?

So, good luck with my first Woof. Let me know how many times your mind wanders.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Espresso, Baba Levantine Trading Company, East Brunswick

I was intrigued by the Turkish coffee on the menu, but thought it was worth getting more information first.
"What's the story with the Turkish coffee?"
The waiter was surprisingly frank, and from the ensuing conversation we assumed she also has some sort of managerial role here (in addition to DJing while waiting tables: the dude at La Paloma could learn a thing or two about multitasking here - but I guess that doesn't come as naturally to guys).
"It's not working out for us."
She went on to say they have returned the Turkish coffee machine under warranty twice, and it's not back again yet for a third try. The La Marzocco has been giving them no dramas whatsoever though. In my excitement to order an espresso I cut off most of her next sentence, but I get the feeling she was about to say something like, "I'd trade in my own mother to keep that machine."

Excellent. This cup had a lot to say. A whole lot of fun. I've not had much recent experience with Gravity beans, but based on this I'll add them to my "spectacular given the right machine and operator" list.

Baba will also go on some sort of "go back to very soon" list. I have to try one of the pides next time. I like the meat-on-a-sword approach with the lamb kofte too.

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

I showed you the elephant last time. It's worth noting that there is a giraffe (albeit an upside-down one) on the other side of the cup.

Leaving aside for a moment that it's unlikely a giraffe would ever be hanging upside down from something, that's a nice looking cup.

John West: Latte, home

It's official. I've ordered some Monkey Coffee. Available from Fiori for a limited time.

I've mentioned this stuff before. It's picked by monkeys, chewed by monkeys, spat out by monkeys, then gathered, roasted and consumed by humans. It's the circle of life. The monkeys know which beans to pick, and which ones to leave. Or in other words, the monkeys are to John West as coffee beans are to fish.
Looking forward to checking them out.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Latte, Kent Hotel, Carlton North

There was nothing particularly wrong with this coffee, but it just wasn't very interesting. That was the feeling for most of the evening here. The food was okay. There was nothing wrong with it. But it didn't make me say, "Wow, I've gotta come back here."
One of the two waitresses assigned to our table assured us she was "doing her job" by asking what was wrong with the Caesar Salad that LLL barely touched. She then proved to be doing her job REALLY well by insisting repeatedly that we divulge what was wrong with it.
But honestly, that she's doing her job well could have been proved in other ways: like maybe not totally forgetting we asked for the bill. That happens a lot; it wouldn't have been irritating if she hadn't gone out of her way to highlight what a diligent worker she is.
But the Caesar, like the coffee, didn't have anything clearly wrong with it (other than the cold poached egg that was clearly poached a few hours ago). But that doesn't mean it was good. You could say, "I don't think the pancetta is a good choice," but it's not really a FAULT as such. It's a matter of taste. They seem to regard things not going wrong as their only measure of excellence. But there's more to it than that. I wouldn't not come here again, but I like to aim a little higher than "nothing wrong with it". Somewhere that I thought was AMAZING last time sounds a lot more exciting and re-visitable.

Save Films From Their Directors: Latte, home

At considerable expense a few years ago I bought the Star Wars Trilogy on DVD. Little did I know, it included all the lameass CGI bits added in 1997 that look really cheap and late-90s in comparison to the timeless miniatures-hanging-on-wires and jerky claymation of the original films.
Even littler did I know: they would soon release the original films on DVD again, without those 1997 bits. Argh! I jumped a bit too early on that one. But it's okay, it's kind of fun to yell "lame!" when anything extraneously different happens.
Like the Emperor's voice AND FACE replaced by Ian McDarmand, for "consistency".
I mean, come on, George Lucas! Nobody cares that you switched actors for the same role! For crying out loud, we know Empire was made in the late 70s, and there was some other dude playing the Emperor in that ONE scene. Nobody cares. If anyone does care, it annoys them WAY less than you altering the original film.

And another thing: Boba Fett's voice was replaced. Jango Fett (if anyone remembers Phantom Menace) was played by Temuera Morrison. His son grew up to be the Boba Fett we all love and aspire to. But why does Temuera Morrison have to play Boba's overdubbed voice too? Is George Lucas so selectively racist that he thinks all Kiwis sound alike? Couldn't somebody else have said, "Put Ceptain Solo in the cargo hold"?

But why does he have to sound Kiwi anyway? The accents in Star Wars are plain weird, if you think about it too much. All of the Rebels have American accents, all of the high-ranked Imperial guys have British accents, and all the bounty hunters (and all the clones: let's not forget the Clone Wars were fought by dudes cloned from Jango Fett) have NZ accents, and Jar-Jar Binks is Jamaican, or something. But don't ask me which country's language inspired the voice of Salacious Crumb.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Espresso, La Paloma, Brunswick

We were in the area to drop in to Savers (the Sydney Rd branch never disappoints -- my velvet pants speak for themselves) in the hopes of finding something to wear to Kieran's Bacharach party tomorrow night. I didn't find much (where the hell can you get a skivvy these days if not Savers?) but I was a little tempted by a Yamaha Clavinova with two broken keys.
Something I always notice on Sydney Rd is that there are about three hundred places to drink coffee that I haven't been to yet. The one closest to where we parked the car seemed like a good bet.

The espresso was very very very good. The conditions inside were a whole other story though. LLL was afraid to order anything for fear of it being a potential health hazard. I honestly didn't notice the twenty unwashed latte glasses when I went in. But man, it must be hard to find time to clean up when you're doing a double shift as both a barista and a DJ.
You know those places where someone at the bar is DJing. That's the kind of thing I'd like to have going if I ever open up a cafe. It'll be like at home when I put on some tunes and make some coffee, but I'll be allowed to charge strangers for it and make them listen to my music. Perfect.
Speaking of making you listen to my music, I just remembered it's Sample Friday! Feast your ears on Mellow Mellow Right On by Lowrell. Nice. I've only heard the bit at the start that Massive Attack sampled to great effect on Lately, but I'll check out all ten minutes as soon as it's the end of the month and I have more bandwidth to squander on YouTubeJukeBox sessions.

Strong Flat White, Seven Seeds, Carlton

Even though it was a full house, my dad managed to get a table. It was nice to sit next to the windows to the lab and see how the coffee plants are doing in there. They may miss the altitudes they are used to, but they seem pretty healthy. Last time dad and I were both this close to a coffee plant was in Hawaii fourteen years ago, around the time he declared that was never going to drink instant ever again.
And that's something he's stuck to. Impressive.
He also has an Aeropress on the way. That means it's even less likely he'll go anywhere near instant coffee.
I've been here a few times now, but only today noticed the amusing tip bowl. I presume they are implying we should bang out our wallets into this:

Short Flat White, home

Short flat white? WTF is he on about?

Well, my two normal-size milk jugs were in the dishwasher and not coming out any time soon, so I was stuck with the slightly-too-small-to-be-practical one.

That jug wasn't a problem with my last coffee machine. But now that I have more steam at my disposal, it has a tendency to shoot a lot of the milk straight out of the jug onto the bench. So I wasn't left with (nor did I start with) much milk.

So it's a short flat white today. But if you scale down the milk volume with the size of the shot I had (Square Mile's website recommends for these beans a dose of 20g and a total volume of 45ml -- pretty short, no matter how you look at it) it all makes sense. Still delicious. It still makes the whole kitchen, oddly, smell like jam. There's a whole basket of fruit in there.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Espresso, Midali, St Kilda East

There is absolutely no reason why I needed another coffee. But I was only a few blocks away, so it would have seemed a crime to not get something from Carlisle St. I'm not in that 'hood too often anymore -- not like when this blog started, and I could walk here in ten minutes -- so I've gotta take advantage when I'm this close. Nothing against Wall or Batch or Chicas or Gattica...but Midali really have the coffee thing goin' on pretty seriously

That mirror on the other side of the coffee machine has a habit of optical-illusioning itself into looking like a window into the shop next door. Until, that is, I realised that it actually is a window. A window that looks like a mirror that looks like a window.

And it dawned on me: every time I've been here has been in a probably-don't-need-more-coffee state. It is logistically difficult to get here without encountering any other coffee; there's just so much of it, and it's a long way from the northside. That could explain why I've never noticed the mirror/window thing.

Latte, Apte, Alphington

That's a stop sign you should definitely obey if you want excellent coffee.
I think the other sign is new too. Nice.

Latte, North Island, Fitzroy North

Well, my original plan today was to leave home early enough to get to Dancing Goat's van in the carpark of Ray's Outdoors in West Heidelberg. But they close at 10am, and Bell St is usually much farther than I expect.

That, and leaving home at about five to eleven, is what stopped that from happening. But I'm sure I'll find myself at Ray's Outdoors that early some time soon. Why the hell not? I have done some ridiculous coffee missions: that time I walked for about two hours in Perth springs to mind. So I shouldn't have any problem with ten minutes of driving in my own actual car.

Funnily enough, I had to be in West Heidelberg anyway. But not until 11.00am. If I'd done the coffee thing I would have been an hour early. So the North Island swingby worked out pretty nicely. North Island continue to be consistently very good.

Latte, home

I thought at first that those extra few sheets of paper in the envelope might have been literature about the coffee I was about to receive, but no. It was just a friendly hello from the fine folks at Customs. One leaflet informed me that my package had been opened, and the other reminded me of Things I Can't Have Sent To Me. But receiving these along with the coffee is a lot better a scenario than my delivery being the subject of an episode of Border Security.

These beans are:
Oh hell yeah. I hard a hard time yesterday getting them to sit as an espresso. But that acidity is right at home in a latte, I just want to make another one when I get to the end of the glass. This is going to be a fun week.
It always gets me down when I waste such a huge proportion of a bag of coffee just getting the grind right. But that's another benefit of Square Mile's 350g bags: that initial experimentation takes up a much smaller proportion of the bag and you are left with a lot more to just enjoy.
And enjoy it I will.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

KFailC continued: Espressi, home


Latte, Mr Tulk, City

Once you take a seat at Tulk, stick to it.

Things get confusing if you start out in the table service area, order a coffee, then move to the order-at-the-counter area. You'll doubt that your coffee is still coming, and if it is, you won't know how to pay for it. If you order food at the counter, you'll probably still have to visit the other counter to pay for your coffee whose whereabouts are as yet unknown.


See what I mean? Stick to one seat.

Importing, human synth: Latte, home

An interesting point was raised on Twitter yesterday afternoon:

It was closely followed by a, "sorry I hope I didn't come across rude".

These are all good points:
  1. It's always challenging to not sound rude when you're limited to 140 bytes.
  2. Why would I order coffee from overseas? There's plenty to be had here.
  3. Backyard? Stop looking over my fence! How did you know I've been kidnapping all the local coffee roasters, and that they are now awaiting transportation to my underground lair to aid in the construction of the Doomsday Brewing Device?!
Seriously though, I like what Square Mile are doing, and their international shipping rates are surprisingly affordable, so it's win-win really. They'll send me something every month for the next six months, but I'm sure I'll get through that 350g reasonably quickly. I'll still be supporting local roasters. Speaking of which: I just polished off that bag of Seven Seeds Espresso this morning. It was magnificent. I'm sure I'll be back for more.

In other news, Calvin Harris turned sixteen girls into a synthesizer. Really.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Espresso, home

Hang on. I know this feeling. It's...


...too much coffee. Eurgh. As a distraction, take a look at how pleased with himself this guy looks:

So smug.
But I probably would be too if I could go around saying I "wrote the book" on THAT.

Square Mile Delivery: Espresso, home

Just as I was finishing pulling an espresso.
Just as I was thinking I'd need to buy some more beans soon.
Just when I thought it was safe to take a sip...
There was a knock at the door.
It was Australia Post.

Yeeah! That's 350g of Summer Espresso. Roasted, packed and sent on the 3rd of August. So it took eight days, including quarantine as the friendly yellow "We opened your package" tape kindly indicates. It's interesting that they opened the envelope, but didn't open the actual bag of coffee. Hmm. They obviously haven't seen Beverly Hills Cop.

Also, I should have the first installment of my subscription arriving in the next few days. More coffee. Excellent.

And if you're thinking that shot looks a bit long, well, it kind of was. Very watery and lacklustre towards the end. I'll try again later. Not just because I want to prove I can do better, but because I kind of want to empty the grinder so I can give the Square Mile Summer a go!

Kentucky Fail Chicken: Latte, home

This just in:
Reports of an apostrophe misuse on the entire-wall-of-marketing-drivel at the kind-of-recently renovated KFC on the corner of Swanston and Grattan. The usage in question is: "Colonel Sander's". We all know his name is Colonel Sanders, not Colonel Sander. There's no need to get confused and truncate his surname. Photos, soon.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wanna Be Samplin' Something: Espresso, home

Urgh. I'm sick. Not much bloggery from me today. In the meantime, amuse yourself with this Michael Jackson sample map.

#maybedon'tbringbackkyle: Latte, home

Weird things happen on Twitter. I posted this on Sunday night after Australian Idol finished:

Shortly afterwards, I got a reply:

Then, two minutes later that one got re-tweeted by a user named bringbackkyle:

Eurgh. It's no longer clear that I'm talking only about Kyle's involvement with Australian Idol. He shouldn't be let within 500 meters of a radio, let alone be allowed to broadcast to one. The "if you're offended by this then you're laaaaaaame" argument can only hold up for so long. There are limits, and it's a shame the whistle only got blown after a fourteen year old girl on a lie detector got involved. But there were no boundaries. Kyle and Jackie O ran around on the furniture unsupervised for so long, and now they have knocked over a vase just as mum and dad were pulling into the driveway.

Let's close with my favourite quote from this whole fiasco:

I think Kyle Sandilands is a figment of his own imagination, frankly.
- John Laws.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Espresso, home

I've been thinking a lot recently about brewing coffee via tea brewing methods. This was all spurred by the idea of using an empty tea bag. But just yesterday I started going in the other direction: can you brew tea the way you brew coffee? Is there any sort of really fast pressure-driven way to get flavour from tea leaves into water?

The Aeropress seemed like an obvious way to go: the pressure involved magically reduces the four-plus-minutes of plunger brewing to less than half a minute. But it seems others have revealed that tea can't get its game on even under these conditions. The pressure has no effect. You know those dudes who can only get ready to leave the house at one speed, and no matter how late they're running or what the consequences will be, they still follow the same routine? That's tea.

LLL tells me that speed is not what tea is all about. Just as tea takes time to make, it lends itself to taking a long time to drink too: the mood and pace of its drinkers reflect the time it needs to brew. So we can't get tea to hurry up. Strangely, we even have to get water to slow down to account for this. Follow that link: it seems to me like the Chemex filter is more like a giant tea strainer.

Latte, home

Leftover bedouin chicken for breakfast in lieu of toast? Sure. But a turkish delight chaser? That's pushing the boundaries of breakfast.

Note: turkish delight does not need to be kept in the fridge. It's almost impossible to eat afterwards.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Flat White, Sweet Source, Carlton North

Sweet Source again prove to make consistently great coffee, which I imagine to be a great accompaniment to all the incredible sweet things under and over the counter, for which this place has made its name (although I haven't tried them yet). Another fine example of the right things being done to Coffee Supreme beans, though I had to go and ask to find out about that. Curiously, they don't mention it anywhere. Not on the menu, not on the cups, not on the machine, not even on the sugar packets. A lot of other Supreme users have the logo plastered absolutely everywhere, and I assume there's a good reason for that, but it's interesting that Sweet Source don't, at all.

They have a $10.00 sausage roll. I have to try it one day. Just once. I won't talk much more about the food, this guy does a much better job.

(I should tag this as ryanmissesthepointandorderscoffeeataplacethatisknownforotherthings. It is at least the second such post that fits that description.)

Seven Seeds Espresso blend: Aeropress(es), home

Finishing off the Stumptown left me with an empty grinder, an opportunity to fill it with the Seven Seeds Espresso blend I bought on Tuesday, and consequently an opportunity to get my espresso on. So you might be wondering why I Aeropressed it instead.
Well, the last cup of Stumptown was kind of nasty. Probably just to do with the beans' age. So I wanted to restore my faith in the Aeropress.
It was ace. Looking forward to espressing this one.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Short Macchiato, Pelican, St Kilda

I ordered the honeycomb ice cream for dessert, and we were all intrigued when that comically long spoon came out. What sort of vessel was the ice cream going to be served in, that required such a long spoon?

Apologies for the terrible lighting in the photo, but it kind of represents what I could see at the time, still recovering from copping in the left eye some lemon juice that was intended for the calamari.

As for the coffee, it had a taste about it. I'm not quite sure what it was. It's not a bad thing, just a characteristic of some espressi I've had in the past, and I don't yet know what causes it. Migo and Quists both tasted like this. I'm going to call it The Pelican Effect for now. At some point on my coffee journey I'll find out what causes it. When I do, I'll tag that post with thepelicaneffect. That is assuming that the blog is still going at that stage. But let's assume it is.