Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blank Toilet Graffiti Canvas: Espresso, Mario's, Fitzroy

Damn. I left the phone in the car. No photos of the coffee here tonight.
Another thing there will be no photos of is the recently-repainted, and thus almost exclusive of graffiti, wall in the cubicle in the toilets. A masterpiece of toilet wall biro conversation (the door was missing one time I was here - it was taking part in a toilet door exhibition), it's a little sad to see it be repainted-over. But out of death comes new life: it's just a blank canvas that will only encourage the bored witty dudes who carry pens everywhere they go and can pee one-handed.

Tobacco Etiquette: Latte, Mr Tulk, City

(L-R: Ryan's Latte, Lea's Soy Chai)
We sat outside. Something peculiar happened between the two girls sitting at the next table.
Girl A (on the left, closest to the footpath) rolled a cigarette from her pouch of tobacco and returned it to the table. She put it in front of her. From this we gleaned that it was hers; if it belonged to Girl B (that's her on the left) she would have put it further to the right on the table.
Girl A went inside, to find the toilets I assume (as I did too after I flicked away the bit of goat's cheese on our own table, and then realised it was not from a goat, nor was it cheese), leaving Girl B at the table with the tobacco still situated in front of Girl A's seat.
A guy came up and asked us for change. We gave the same answer, with different meanings.
"Sorry," I said.
"Sorry?" asked Lea, who didn't hear what he said.
He must have mis-heard, because he kept walking. With Girl A still gone, he asked Girl B for change, and then saw the tobacco pouch on the table. He asked if he could roll his cigarette.
Girl B let him roll one. He rolled, lit up and left. Girl A came back, and Girl B probably never told her what happened. It reminded me a bit of the start of Y Tu Mama Tambien, where it shows that guy at his friend's house lifting the toilet seat with his foot to avoid germs, and the voiceover says that it's a habit and he does it all the time, but his friend would never know.

Now: I'm not a smoker, so I don't know how rollie-pouch etiquette works, but I assume it's bad form letting someone dig in without you knowing. Is that how it works? Or does the burning process eliminate the presence of wherever some stranger's hands have been?

Flat White, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

I have a confession.
I have no idea how to pronounce pide, or pidé, as it is sometimes called.
Whenever I order it, I either ignore it altogether ("Can I get the salami and pumpkin?"), refuse to even attempt it ("...toasted...bullshit...thing?") or make it rhyme with any of the following:
  • tide
  • pie day
  • d-day
  • g'day
  • hid
  • Heidi
  • giddy
I can usually figure out which of those are definitely wrong, but I'm never sure which of the remaining ones sounds more correct. I also get the feeling that different cafés prefer different pronunciations. Tre Bicchieri are firmly in the "d-day" camp, as I found out today.

Interesting Title #1

Yesterday I accidentally posted the Medium Black, home with the title blocked sites.
I noticed pretty quickly, and changed it. This really got the attention of people on Twitter: more people came to the site through Twitter than ever before.
So why was it so intriguing? The silverchair-style all-lower-case title? Was it that "blocked sites" sounded like a particularly racy topic? Or was it just because, for only the second time ever, I posted something with a title that wasn't just made up of what I drank and where I drank it?
Maybe it's time to change the titles around a bit. Latte, home doesn't sound interesting: I've posted that title on here hundreds of times. But if I'm having a latte at home and Changing a Lightbulb with a Robotic Meccano Arm, well that sounds a lot more worth reading.
Consider today's title an experiment. If more people read this one, I just might make the shift to interesting titles.
Also, please take the poll over to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ristretto, Midali, St Kilda East

Photo. Click.
"Is that going on your blog?"
"Yeah!"
"Are you Ryan?"
Uh oh. Sprung. That's a first. It was good to see the webcam installed over the coffee machine, pretty soon you're going to be able to go on their site any time of day and see them making coffee. If you go to the webcam bit of the site now, it's not live. You'll realise this quickly if you go back and watch it again. So it's not worth turning up and saying something funny in the hope that people can hear it online.
Not yet, anyway.

Latte, Las Chicas, St Kilda East

It's starting to get a bit cold for this outdoors coffee thing. All the staff here are wearing coats and scarves and as the day wears on, like some strip club from the Bizarro planet, they add more coats and scarves. It's a good idea both health-wise and practicality-wise (that latte meniscus won't stay intact if you're shivering all the way from the bar to table 32), but they don't look like staff anymore. They just look like cold people walking around outside. It's a bit weird when somebody comes up to the table and asks if you want another coffee, unless of course they look like they're at work.

Latte, St Ali, South Melbourne

St Ali. Always a hive of activity. I'm convinced that up to 400 people could be working here at any one time. With the amount of people that seem to be walking periodically behind the counter, maybe everybody except me is actually on staff. Except that 4 year old kid over there. He's gotta be a patron.
As for the coffee, it was so good that I forgot to take a photo. Or that could have just been the WD40 fumes from the guy fixing the roller door. Or was it RP7? Can anyone really tell them apart just by smell?

Medium Black, home

I'm not sure what to call this. It started off as a ristretto but then I decided I wanted a long black, so added some water. Basically, I spent too long looking for the milk jug and missed my window, thinking it would be better off adding hot water straight away than waiting a few minutes for the milk to be ready. So let's go with Medium Black. It's a long black, but shorter, with a ristretto instead of an espresso. Ristretto fans are probably choking on their, er, ristretti right now asking the computer screen, "Why is he watering down the nectar of the GODS?!" Sorry guys.

My university has just published its list of websites that have been blocked because they "may facilitate the illegal download of copyright material", and "contribute significantly to our internet traffic volume and cost." Also consider this a reasonably current list of where all the cool kids are pirating TV episodes from:
  • megaupload.com
  • rapidshare.com
  • www.zshare.net
  • www.mediafire.com
  • www.filesend.net
  • tvfreeload.com
  • wwwstatic.megavideo.com
  • www.sendspace.com
  • www.kproxy.com
  • imhb.cn
  • megashares.com
  • netload.in
  • veoh.com
  • mofile.com
  • aniload.com
  • perezjimenez.net
  • js.tudouui.com
  • adrive.com
Wow, I've never heard of most of them. Those pirates are doing amazing things these days.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Espresso, Milano, RMIT

"Espresso: 9grms of unadulterated coffee extract."


Does the word "extract" make anyone else nervous?

Flat White, home

In normal usage, the top and bottom drawers of the dishwasher seem to reach capacity at around about the same time: a sensible ratio between fooding and drinking.
However, this morning the top drawer was full of coffee-tinged glasses and the bottom drawer was almost empty.
I still ate at some point yesterday, but it's clear I had an awful lot of coffee too.
Or, tipped an awful lot of unsuccessful coffee down the drain.
Anyhow, that's the reason for a flat white this morning. I'm out of glasses.
So I filled up the bottom drawer with stuff that doesn't need to be washed every time you use it, like the coffee knock box.
Does this mean I'm washing those things more often, and reaching a full load earlier the more coffee I drink? And does that mean excess coffee consumption is exacerbating the water crisis?

The Knock Box. Sounds like it could be the name of a brothel doesn't it?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ristretto, home




Yeeeeeeaaaah!
Remember the look on the judge Amanda Holden's face when Susan Boyle started singing?
That's how I felt when this coffee came out.

Ristretto, First Pour, Richmond

I just drove here without touching Victoria St, which makes it a lot easier to scoot out here for coffee beans, which is why I'm here today.
But I really should have a ristretto too, to see what I'm aiming for.



That's how it's done.
Now, to head home and try to make one of those myself...

Espressi, home

Three this morning. Mainly because things were going wrong.
  1. Pale crema. Brew temperature was too low: I let the boiler cool down for a bit too long.
  2. A bit too much dosage, and a barely-audible "snap" when I screwed in the portafilter. Eurgh, that doesn't sound good. A bit of leakage from around where the pf screws into the machine. Uh oh. I may have just snapped something important.
  3. I decided I had to make another one just to see if that leaky thing happened again. It didn't. Pale crema again though: I forgot to heat up the glass I was going to use, and so pulled out some hot water, but this took away some valuable hotness points from the boiler. What's more important, the temperature being right inside the machine, or the liquid landing in something that is already hot enough? Both, but moreso the former.
Oh no. I hope this doesn't mean I have to get my machine fixed and have to do without for a few days. Gulp.
Here's one for you to think about: are olives a fruit? They have a stone; does that classify them as a fruit? I'm trying to figure out if this olive bread I'm having for breakfast is sweet (like raisin bread) or savoury (like, er, toast).

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Espresso, home

If you really want to kill some time today, check out Coffee Shop. It's kind of like the lemonade stand game, but with coffee. You start off with $30 and have to buy cups, coffee, sugar and milk, then set quantities for each per cup, then set your price, then open shop for the day. Buying everything in bulk Customers are more likely to buy a hot beverage, and will pay more for it, the colder the weather is. That's about as complicated as it gets. The customers will like you more the cheaper and better (ie. more of each ingredient: we're aiming for 4 scoops of coffee, 4 sugars and 2 cups of milk per serve! Woah!) your product is, and the more customers like you the higher your reputation, and the more people will spend on your product.
I played it a fair bit on Thursday and was glad to see that out of all the strategies I tried, the one that really worked was this: just make the highest quality product you can. It pays off in the long run.
The little customers who come in during the game and buy your product have an interesting way of letting you know they don't like what you're serving them: if it's really bad, they'll tip it out right in front of you.
I'd love to try that in real life.
"How was everything today? Can I get you guy another coffee?"
SPLAT.

Latte, home

Well, it looks like we've got some serious all-day rain again. It's good to see. Maybe the measures outlined in Tilt Australia won't be necessary after all.
Hmm. I don't have much to write about this morning. All I did was get up, play Braid, check my Google Adsense stats (no interesting search terms today, but a lot of traffic came in from Twitter), had our copy of The Age get rained on, marvelled at the 90s cheerleading music coming from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the next room (is that the Mortal Kombat theme?) and had a Latte, home. I may have more to write about if I have more coffee. Actually, I have to have more to write about if I have more coffee: that's how this thing works. In the meantime, watch the downright pornographic slow motion naked portafilter video Grendel posted yesterday.
I cannot stress enough that I'm not actually linking to porn. A naked portafilter has no spouts at the bottom, so you can see in how many places the espresso is coming out, whether there's any weakpoints in tamping, etc.
All sorts of Google searches are going to wind up here now that I've used "naked", "pornographic" and "porn". Honestly, I just threw that last one in the mix because I doubt many people googling for porn ever use the search term "pornographic" in its entirity.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Espresso, home

Paydirt!
I need the grinder on 13 for a single, 16 for a double.
These conditions are subject to change without notice, however, and the grinder assumes no responsibility for the quality of subsequent beverages.

Flat White, North, Carlton North


Two ferns for the price of one. Nice.

Espresso, home

To celebrate Earth Day, Phil Jones Bass announced that they have invented, and plan to manufacture, a solar-powered bass amp. From the announcement:
Charge time is 10 hours of sunlight to get the battery ready for 1 hour of playing time.

So it sounds like it could be useful for people who do 10 outdoor gigs for every 1 indoor gig. I think that's a pretty narrow slice of the bass community. It seems like early days for the tech behind solar-powered music, but it's nice to know that when the generator drops out at that outdoor gig at least now the drummer and the bass player can keep going until someone finds enough jerry cans full of diesel.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Latte, Apte, Alphington

That was close. I only just got in before they closed! But I love a place that puts the chairs up before they turn the coffee machine off. It's the chance of this that makes me still pull over and walk in and ask if they're still open when they clearly don't want to be. But Apte were happy to pull out one last Five Senses latte from the oh-so-shiny Synesso. Maybe that machine's still on for a good reason: bar staff have after-work drinks, maybe at a place like this they all sit around and pull/drink/analyse espressos after hours. I sure hope so.
The cup holders in my new car are a little disappointing. I'm sure I'll get used to it though. I've been a little spoiled by the magnificent slidey-out fake-wood-encrusted one in my old car. In the new one, two cups sit in single file alongside the handbrake. If you only have one beverage, there's a tendency for it to slide around between the two cup-holes. Do I put it at the front, or the back? Am I safeguarding against spillage from sudden stoppage or sudden startage?
My final thought for the day: most waiting rooms have something for kids to play with. The car dealer today had a bucket of Lego. Would it have been out of line for the guy buying the car to play with the Lego while he was waiting?

Espresso, Brunetti, Carlton

Today's coverage is brought to you by Brunetti. "Mmm, Brunetti!"
(cue intro)

Welcome to today's edition of the Brunetti Stopwatch Challenge, live from Carlton. There's a fair bit of water on the track today, but let's head down and check out all the action from the Faraday St end.
Today's first contestant is Ryan on Coffee, with his navigator Loose Leaf Lea. How are you feeling Ryan?
"A bit tired. I think I need a coffee. Let's do it."
Okay they're heading up to the starting line. They're going for door number one, Ryan's getting out his phone, he selected clock, stopwatch, and START! They're off!
In the door quickly past the cake stand weaving around a few old ladies on their way out, and they're approaching the first counter, coming around the corner and they should be in viewing range of the second counter shortly. First counter looks pretty clear, but second counter is...deserted! Quick decisions here now they're off to the second counter, Ryan can see the guy coming in the second door heading towards the counter, this could make all the difference! Ryan's quickening his pace to get to the counter, almost walking into the guy in the process, and he's clear! The guy is just coming in to use the toilets and leave without making a purchase! Ryan's at the counter, maybe a little too eager now..."Justashortblackthanks!"...Oh! He really blurted it out there he must really be feeling the pressure. The guy at the register confirms the order, jeez I'm surprised he even understood it, it came out so fast!
"Three dollars thanks."
The wallet was already out and ready to go and the money's changed hands, he's got the receipt now and the order is through to the barista, it's the guy who looks like Matt Bellamy from Muse. They've moved down the counter, now it's just a waiting game, we'll join the action after a short break, don't go away, we'll be right back with more of the Brunetti Stopwatch Challenge!



Okay we're back, there's been a bit of commotion at the counter here, Lea thinks it's time to get the phone back out of the pocket but Ryan is adamant that he'll have time on the way to the door. And there's the clink that signifies the saucer is on the counter, here comes the espresso, wow it looks good today, it's on the saucer...
"Number 24?"
Ryan's on the case, he was there before the guy even looked up after reading the number, he's eager today!
He's picking up the cup now, swishing it around a bit, he likes what he sees, and he's taking the sip, oooh this is gonna be a fast one, they're gonna smash the previous record! It looks like the cup is a bit hot, he's taking a while to put it away! He's getting impatient but he probably doesn't want to scald his tongue either.
Okay, one more sip...and it's clear! He's already halfway to the ramp down to the door, Lea's close behind, luckily the coast is clear they shouldn't have any trouble getting to the finish line. He's got the phone out, here's the stopwatch, he's pressing stop, here's the time...
3 minutes 23.5 seconds
That's a world record and a new personal best! This is unbelievable! He slashed his previous time in HALF, and then some! He must be pleased with that result. Let's go have a chat.
Ryan, you must feel on top of the world!
"Yeah, nah, it's surprising, I thought lunchtime would be a lot more crowded than 10.00 at night, but I guess there's always other factors at play. We never could have predicted these sorts of conditions, we were pretty lucky. You can train all you want and figure out your plan of attack, but yeah nah it's a game of two sides, it all depends on who else is there on the day."
Well there you have it, stern words from a champion, let's see how long his record holds up, that's all the espresso time trials we have for today, back over to you.

Halftte, home

I can't believe how phat TV sport themes used to be. That groove at 0.13 is pretty mean:

That's from about '86 I think. It's funny to hear the subtle differences between that and 1982. It sounds like Shaft all of a sudden:

More drum fills in the middle bit, the bass player is doing more descending octaves (something tells me this one was used in the late 70s too), the congas are way too loud, and the wah guitar is in the intro instead of the outro.
That Wimbledon music is pretty awesome too. Kudos to the commenter on YouTube who asked if it has a name, or if it's just a Geoff Harvey jam session.

A halftte this morning because I'm still experimenting with the single basket, and was worried about drowning out the miniscule amount of coffee that came out with too much milk.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Espresso, home

The Search Term of the Day today has to be fleetwood mac the chain dead prez sample, something I wrote about last February. I probably googled the same thing at the time, but wouldn't have found my blog. Unless of course Google can search for documents that exist in the future.
No fate but what we make...
"Shit!"
"Dyson."
"He's gonna blow her away!"

Espresso, home

I'm trying the single basket again. It's a different story altogether. The first try: no liquid came out. Ever. The second try:

Yikes. That's getting closer though. I'm going coarser next time - and I'm not talking about my five (six seven o'clock eight o'clock) shadow...
I finished reading Espresso Quest last night. Inspiring stuff. It really is a journey. I feel like this blog is more about that now too. After a few months of just complaining about inconsistencies in Melbourne cafe operation, I'm now on my own path to espresso enlightenment. Yoda said I was too old to begin the training. I thought it was a bit harsh at the time, but when 900 years old I reach, just as dismissive will I be.
But I'm not 900 yet. I figure I've got a good 872 years of espresso-huntin' good times left in me. Just imagine what blogging will be like in the year 2909. The machines will have well and truly taken over by then. It didn't happen on August 29, 1997, but it could still happen. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. All I'm hoping is that when I come out of the bedroom on that little conveyor belt and my robot gives me my breakfast in pill form, there's still a real espresso in a real cup next to it, fresh from a vast uranium-powered quantum espresso engine that extracts so much flavour, the only by-product is water vapor.

Latte, home

Words that David Attenborough pronounces unexpectedly:
  • crustacean: cruh-stacy-an as opposed to cruh-station
  • gymnast: gym-nast as opposed to gym-nest
  • glacier: sounds more like Lassie than lacey.
  • lichen: rhymes with kitchen
  • Krakatoa: rhymes with cracker-pow
Also, here's some cool facts about fiddler crabs:
They can only feed with one of their claws. The giant one is too big to be useful for that. It is used instead as a weapon, and to wave at female crabs.
They do this to lure them into their burrow. Is there a human equivalent of this? Wearing a big red glove (useless for feeding, but potential weapon in a glove duel) and just standing outside your house waving at passers-by? I think that needs to be roadtested.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Espresso, Brother Baba Budan, City

Exhibit A in the case of Brother Baba Budan vs whoever said "you can't make a good espresso from single origin":
The defence rests.
Another first: shortly after I took that photo, the guy around the corner from me on the communal table took a photo of his coffee.
There seems to be more of us out there!
He also seemed in a hurry. Piccolo. Multiple photos from multiple angles. Downed it. Then he and the guy next to him were out of there. Maybe they're trying to blog the whole city's cafes in one day. I'd probably look like I was in a hurry too if I was on my twelfth piccolo before midday.

Latte, Brother Baba Budan, City

Yesterday on Twitter, A. Thompson said:

@arjbarker meet @ryanoncoffee -- both lovers of fine coffee, :)


Today, at Brother Baba Budan:
And Arj Barker was sitting up at the bench. I think that counts as a real life Twitter moment. I thought it would have been a bit out of line to say, "Hey I met you via tweet yesterday, some guy introduced us."

What are the odds? Six billion people in the world; how many of them blog about coffee, get introduced on Twitter to coffee-drinking comedians from the other side of the world, and then visit the same cafe as them at the same time the next day? Weird. A lot less likely than the other cafe nexus paradox event this morning: I met my dad for a coffee and Luke and Lenny and Luci (how's the alliteration!) and her illustrator* friend just happened to be there too. Strangely, that surprised me a lot more at the time than the Arj thing.
I was introduced to Luci as "Coffee Ryan". That's a first.

* There has been an illustration scene going on for years and I never knew about it. Amazing. There's some amazing stuff on Jacky Winter Group's site. No relation to the Edgar Winter Group, I assume.

Espresso, home

Today's search term of the day is a bit scary. I posted last night's entry at about 11.00pm. Some time between then and midnight, somebody googled Tiamo Carlton and found my blog, because it was mentioned in that fresh post. What are the odds?

Oh. Actually, I didn't do my research. It turns out I've mentioned Tiamo twice before on the blog. Ah. It's not as Twilight Zone as I thought. Just a mildly titillating coincidence.

This morning's first espresso didn't work out. I thought to myself, "Wow, that's easier to tamp than usual." I also thought, "Wow, it's easier to screw the grouphead on than usual."
For some reason, I didn't see them as warning signs. I put it down to early morning superhuman Spiderman-style strength, rather than a case of not-enough-grounds-in-the-filter. No, that's not a euphemism.
It fssszzzhed out in about 12 seconds. I tipped it down the sink.
I didn't drink it, so it won't get its own blog post. But I am talking about it alot more than the one I actually drank, which I haven't mentioned at all until just before that comma. Curiously, I had a lot more to say about the one that didn't work.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Espresso, Brunetti, Carlton

I just ate at Tiamo, just around the corner. It was excellent. But then one of the waiters emptied all the ashtrays into the bin. Not four feet from where I was eating. Game over. Subtract a fucking million points for that.

So there was absolutely no way I was going to stick around for coffee. Then on the way to Brunetti, still paranoid that I stunk of 200 other people's stale cigarettes, I had an idea.

Welcome to the first round of the Brunetti Stopwatch Challenge. The rules are simple: walk into Brunetti Carlton on Faraday St, order a short black, drink it at the counter, and then leave. Time how long the whole process takes. Today's score left room for improvement, to say the least:

6 minutes 55.8 seconds

I put my slow time down to these factors:
  1. indecisive dudes in front of me in the queue
  2. me not noticing them straight away and going to the other counter instead
I think my next attempt will involve entering via the other door (the one closer to Lygon St). That way I will be able to scope out the queue at both the main counter and the secondary (biscuity) counter and judge which one will be the safest bet. FYI, the coffee orders from both counters all go through to the same barista(s), all that matters is whether your order gets through before the guy who wants a flat white, a skinny cappucino, an earl grey tea, a short black, a long mac and a chai latte. That makes all the difference.

You're all welcome to join in the Brunetti Stopwatch Challenge, by the way. Use any means necessary: any time of day, try insisting you're really in a hurry, bribing your way to the front of the queue, anything. We just want record-breaking times. Post your times below, or on Twitter if you're hip to that which Oprah is now hip to. The lucky winner at the end of the year has my permission to add BSc after their name on their business card.

P.S. It's very apt that I wound up at Brunetti today, the same day as the inaugural spinoff post.

Espresso, home

Car hunting. It's time for a test drive. Or maybe a Test Drive.

The funniest thing is I'm going to have to take the double bass case with me to see if it fits. The guy will probably think he's on Candid Camera or something.

Latte, home

This is what David Attenborough taught me this morning:
  • At any one time, two thirds of the world's river water is in the Amazon.
  • There is an island in the Amazon that is bigger than Switzerland.
  • The Amazon was discovered (by white guys) in 1499 when a Spanish sea captain, who couldn't see land, realised they were not sailing in saltwater. He headed west and found the source of the freshwater: the Amazon.
  • One capybara vs hundreds of pirahna. No contest. Pretty gruesome.
I've also noticed that he pluralises things in ways I wouldn't expect, but sound correct when he does it. Here's a few examples:
"They hide in the leaves at the bottom of the river like turtle."
"A fence is built to protect the herd from lion."
"The same can be said of the shrimps."

I'm really digging the Veneziano Bella Vita beans. I've never made anything that tastes this good before. Still doing doubles only, but I don't have a problem with that.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Espresso, Atomica, Fitzroy

Thai ordered a flat white. I should have taken a photo of it. Tamil ordered a piccolo. It's not on the menu. He's a maverick. I went for this one:

Yuri didn't make it past the counter: he's allergic to psy trance. You have to be careful about that at Atomica: any genre of music could come blasting at you at any moment.
Also, gearnewsflash: Fretted Instruments on Brunswick St has TWO Space Echoes in stock. An RE-201 and an RE-501 (they have XLR inputs, chorus, a bit 'cleaner' allegedly). Jump on it, dubheads. They don't show up in numbers like this very often. If David Attenborough were here he might crouch down and say, "Brunswick Street, in Fitzroy, in southeastern Australia: the highest concentration and diversity of tape delay machines in the entire world."

Espresso, home

It's not often that I wake up these days thinking that the first thing I must do is listen to Cypress Hill.


But it happens. I'm surprised at how good it sounds: there's nothing in there that makes you think "Ew, 1993!" which happens with a hell of a lot of other music from that era. It's not just because all the samples are so tasteful (that Syl Johnson loop in Interlude...woah!) but also we should be thankful they didn't do anything wack with the vocals. I'm surprised how many lyrics I still know from 12 years ago too. Is it muscle memory?
And the coffee: I think brew temperature was a bit high, I'd better get that temperature probe on the case. Prepare for a very nerdy photo on here soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Espresso, home

I just bought De Blob for Wii. Mainly because I know The Bamboos played the soundtrack. More games need The Bamboos. I haven't played it yet, but I'll let you know.
In other covert-Bamboos-recording news, take a look at the Run2Rhythm website. It sells music tracks at specific tempos, that people can go jogging to. Based on your stride length, speed, etc you can calculate your ideal BPM to run to, and if you're lucky it will be 165 BPM which makes you eligible to run along to Sole Power - "A band with more funk than the team laundry basket after a marathon". Funknerds will notice that Sole Power has almost the same lineup as The Bamboos. The debut album Stopwatch contains four fifteen-minute instrumental tracks, with names like Fat Burner and Cardio Cardigan. The cool thing is, the playing is a lot rawer than on real Bamboos albums. They let through all sorts of stuff they would usually redo. The production values are a lot cleaner - there's none of that crunchy John Castle crunch - but I guess that's what you get when you deal with the power of Sole Power.
We could have a successor to my Off the Wall fitness regime...

Latte, home

I can't remember if ground coffee goes stale in a matter of minutes, hours, or days. If it's anything other than the last one, I probably shouldn't be re-using the leftover grounds from yesterday that are in the jar. But it seems a shame to waste them. Mind you, if they taste like crap it would be a shame to use them.

I finally figured out how to change the date range on Google Analytics. That makes it a lot easier to find out who searched for what to find the site yesterday, which is exactly what I want to know for Search Term of The Day. Today's lucky winner:
kevin rudd's bowels
and a close runner-up:
werribee duck

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Espresso, home

Okay, I think I'm converted to Veneziano. It's really working for me. Still need to dose a bit less, but I'm not tamping as much as I used to. I think that's a good sign: the knocking/tamping levels it off, then the grouphead squishes it down a bit more, and it all flows through pretty evenly. No weird pale squirty bits from both sides. So this one was a bit slow, but I think with a slightly lower dose it should be pretty happening.

In other news, we made a tie out of gaffa tape a few nights ago. I documented this a bit on Twitter, but I think it needs to be explained a bit more. About an hour before we went on stage (with Washington at the Triple J Unearthed bash at the Annandale) we realised all the dudes in the band had a tie on except for Des. We tried to get one from the other bands, and tried to find a tie-wearing emo kid to beat up, but to no avail. Then somebody suggested we go upstairs to the band room and try to find something that looks like a tie.
"Yeah, let's improvise," said Lance, "I've got a degree in that."
He was referring, of course, to studying jazz at the VCA.
Anyway, we went upstairs. Pretty soon I found two pretty long strips of gaffa tape holding some extension leads to the wall. Perfect. We folded one in half lengthways, and then tore off a shorter bit to attach it to Des's collar. He put his jacket on, and it was looking convincing already. Then some more bunched-up gaffa became the "knot", and a longer bit to go all the way around under the collar to safeguard against the whole thing coming unstuck, and we were pretty close. Then Des got another bit of double-sided gaffa to hold the bottom end of the tie to the shirt, to stop it swinging around. We all agreed this was a useful mod for any tie, not just gaffa ones. Anyway, here's the finished product:

The first photo makes it look better than a real tie, but you can really see the shininess in that second photo.

Ristretto, Atomica, Fitzroy

In case you're getting confused, I didn't just fly to Venice on Thursday night to have three coffees and then fly straight back to Sydney in time for my flight to Melbourne. With the distances involved, that would just be impossible. What's really going on is that Dr J.Mo, our foreign correspondent on the ground in the UK, has been to Italy and France over the last two weeks. Have a read. Ordering coffee might be confusing here in Australia, but at least we don't get charged more if we want to sit down. I've had a standing-up espresso at Brunetti a few times, but instead of a discount all I got was weird looks because nobody could imagine being so busy that they couldn't even sit down to drink 30ml of coffee. But hey, I was on the way to the movies.

Latte, Atomica, Fitzroy

The coffee was magic, as usual. But I'm a little worried about the breakfast, and what I hesitate to call the "care factor". If somebody leaves most of the corncakes uneaten on the plate, I see that as a sign that something ain't right in the kitchen, and I would hope the waiter that collects the plate would at least notice and ask, "How was everything?" But we got none of that. For the record, corncakes are a lot less fun if they're cooked on the outside and still batter on the inside. The smoked salmon was added as a side, too. It would be a boring-ass meal without it. The french toast was spectacular though.

With that out of the way, let's move on to communal table politics. We got on the communal table, choosing the two stools on the two edges adjacent to one corner of the table. Another couple came and sat next to me, and without even realising, I tried to shift away from them slightly. Not because I could smell their BO, and not because they needed more room, just because it felt like separating us from them slightly was the right thing to do.
But with the stools fixed to the ground, there's nowhere to go! So I turned away from them slightly. Am I antisocial, or just not the kind of person the communal table is aimed at?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Espresso, home

The first try with the Veneziano beans resulted in about a teaspoon and a half of liquid. The second try - with a slightly lower dose but the same grind settings - gave me a bit more liquid, but about 50% of it was crema. Magnificent. I'll refine that a bit tomorrow. Here's the Search Term (That Found My Site) of the Day:
glenn a baker qantas playlist
I'd like to find a repository of those myself. I'd better get Googlin'.

Latte, home

Very nice, I think this is the latte I've been the most happy with since I got the machine. Getting somewhere now. I had to use The Force a bit with the temperature surfing, but I liked the result. It was just what I needed after my day of early-plane-flight-induced-narcolepsy. That's the last of the Allpress beans before I load up the grinder with the stuff I got from First Pour the other day. Wish me luck.

I've been looking around for more information about the monkey-picked coffee. As with most other coffee-related things, the caffeinated entity known only as Instaurator (among other things, author of the excellent Espresso Quest book that I'm reading at the moment) has all the answers. Instaurator's blog falls under the amazing but not updated yet this year category, but one of the topics that was covered last year was Kopi Luwak and Monkey Parchment. Here's one of my favourite bits:

In case of Civet cats the fruits pass through the digestive tract and hence stay in the digestive tract for more than 24 hours under going complex biochemical treatment under high temperature and highly acidic condition, before being excreted.

Yes. The Kopi Luwak beans are picked and eaten and even shat by civet cats! Amazing. I cannot stress enough that I am not making this up. When I read about this on Instaurator's blog I realised I'd seen the words kopi and luwak a hell of a lot on the Cafe Grendel blog. At the time I didn't know that Kopi Luwak was, but I should have known from all the puns Grendel couldn't help but include in every entry:

"All things must pass... And thus it is with the Kopi Luwak – both literally and figuratively."

QANTAS, Sydney to Melbourne

I got to sleep at about 1.00am and got up at 4.00am to leave at 4.30am to get to the airport at 5.00am to check in for a 6.00am flight that arrives in Melbourne at 7.30am which means I should be home at about 9.00am. Clearly, I really want to get some more sleep when I get home. But one cup of QANTAS should at least keep me awake until I get home.
This is how out of it I was: I didn't even listen when they came around with the beverages. I just wanted coffee, so I held out my cup. I watched in horror as tea was poured into my cup.
"Oh, sorry. I wasn't listening, I thought it would be coffee."
They still got me another cup though.
A word of advice: if you're on one of these flights early enough to include breakfast, save some of the milk they give you with the cereal: it's a lot more fun that those little UHT packages.
I know a guy who didn't know UHT was an acronym for Ultra Heat Treatment, and used to think a uht was a kind of goat or something, and that they served uht milk on planes instead of cow milk. Or maybe he was just having me on.

Espressi, Various, Avignon and Paris

OK, I know it's lazy to join a whole bunch of coffees together, but this is better done thematically.

1. How come crossing the border from Italy to France instantly makes your espresso watery? OK, maybe it was because my first coffee in France was at a train station, but so many more of them have that same watery taste. After the solidity of the coffee in Italy, it was a shock.

2. What is this cafe called anyway? Part of the reason it was easier to join all these coffees together, was that I have no idea what a number of the cafes were called. There's so many words plastered all over the outside of them, and most of them appear to be names of food or drink products. Or perhaps a whole pile of cafes are in fact called 'Cafe Glace Salon de The Petit Dejeuner Cafe'.

3. Do tourists really drink cafe? Yes, more on that theme, which I started in Italy. It seems that if you order cafe somewhere that's really touristy, they don't believe you, and check that you do really want cafe: outside the Pope's Palace in Avignon, at Gare du Nord in Paris, to name just a few. However, if you're somewhere a little less touristy they just go with it, possibly secretly and mischievously hoping that you don't actually want an espresso type drink. It was the same deal in Italy. The place outside the Pope's Palace in Avignon was a classic case of trying to rip off a tourist. When I ordered they confirmed that I did really want a little, black coffee. They then brought over a large cup of something, and I thought 'Damn it, they've given me Americano!' But it wasn't watery enough for that. When I got the bill they'd charged me for a double espresso. Nice work guys, twice as much money out of me!

Espresso, Caffe del Doge, San Marco region, Venice

Ah, so it's a chain. Once again, the standing up at the counter coffee, and as good as the one from the day before. I don't think they really liked me standing at the counter with my full backpack and paraphernalia on, but I was only in there for a total of about 90 seconds. The wierd thing is, even though it's a chain, the standing-up coffee in this (more touristy) part of the island was €1.50. Odd. Or clever?

Espresso, Caffe del Doge, San Polo region, Venice

Best ever. Thick as crude oil, crema perfect, and spot-on temperature. It's on a little sidestreet off R. Ravano. It's one of those excellent cafes with separate pricing for standing and sitting. Standing, this espresso was 90 eurocents. 90 eurocents! And far, far superior to the one I paid €2.80 for this morning.

Espresso, le Cafe, Campo S. Stefano, Venice

Ah, Venice. The first thing listed on the coffee menu was 'Cafe' and it was also the cheapest. I deduced from this that 'cafe' in Italy is what we know as espresso. In my best Italian accent (ie. not very good) I said "Cafe per favore".
The waiter started to walk off, then came back and said "Espresso?"
"Ci, espresso."
Does that mean you're actually supposed to order espresso? Or does that mean that cafe staff in Italy assume that tourists can't possibly really mean cafe (espresso)? Is it all tourists? Or have Americans caused this (and therefore, did this guy think I was American)? It would be quite easy to blame Americans since the second listing on any coffee menu is Americano.
Eventually an excellent looking espresso arrived, on a little silver tray, complete with a glass, a jug of water, a caramel biscuit, and a tiny bowl of whipped cream topped with two coffee beans. Most of which I left behind.
The coffee: good crema, and thick enough to almost be classed as a solid. And the taste: that excellent nuttiness.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Piccolo, Di Lorenzo, Neutral Bay

I'm not entirely sure if this place is called Di Lorenzo or if that's just the beans they use. I'm even less sure where Neutral Bay ends and Cremorne begins. But here's the coffee:



Very nice. And I had exact change and cleared all the 5 cent coins out of my wallet. That's always a good feeling.

Espresso, Toby's Estate, Sydney

Thanks Toby. Spectacular. I could smell how good it was just before it got to my table.


"Licorice" is probably not the right word, but it's the first word that came to mind. It's not aniseedy at all, but you know the texture of licorice? Imagine drinking that.
Yeah, I know, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Will another coffee help me make sense of it?

Latte, Astor Espresso, Sydney

I was a little worried when Google Maps said "astor expresso" (with an x) but that was a typo. Astor know how to spell it. This is how they spell coffee: C-A-M-P-O-S.


Very nice. As was the muesli.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Espresso, Hudsons, Melbourne Airport

Damn. I should have finished on a high note. First Pour was amazing, Hudsons is just...well...there.
I'd have gone to Macchinetta instead but I was on the wrong side of the metal detector.

Ristretto, First Pour, Richmond


Oh, hell yeah!



It's sideways, but you get the idea.

Latte, First Pour, Richmond

Wow.


That's a moderately unnecessarily fancy glass, but who cares? All rules go out the window when the contents are this good. This is going in the increasingly-crowded top five list. I'd better have a second one just to make sure

Long Black, home

Search Term (That Found My Site) of the Day:
wolfenstein iphone last level secret gold key
Yeah, I know what that's about. I haven't played the last level yet (though episode 6 level 8 may prove a more fruitful search term than "last level") but I'm assuming it's like the other levels: the map shows where you've been. If you haven't been somewhere, that's probably where the key is. If you've been everywhere, start trying to find secret passages. So it's a strange thing to Google, unless there's something really tricky about that level that I don't know about.
It just struck me that discussing these non sequitur search terms in great detail only increases the amount of irrelevant-to-coffee writing on this blog, which will lead more Wolfenstein players here. It should ensure that the Search Term of the Day section stays either interesting, or repetitive.
I'm off to Sydney tonight. Hopefully that means I'll get to go to Campos or Single Origin. But failing that, does anyone have any coffee tips for Glebe?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Long Black, home

That worked much better. Pulled the hot water first. Then let the machine cool down, and heat up, and cool down for two minutes. That two minutes also let the water in the cup cool down a bit. Rad. Much more crema love.

I'm still persevering with reading issue number one of Beanscene in small bites: as long as I can read in one "sitting" at the toilet. Unfortunately, this means that if I flip open to an interesting advertisement, I'll probably read that and nothing else. Today it was the Bare Beans ad. They sell Monkey Parchment coffee. It is picked by rhesus monkeys (free range of course), chewed and spat out by them, then collected and washed and roasted. Yeah, really. Check your calendar: it ain't April Fools Day. Monkey-selected, monkey-picked, monkey-chewed coffee! What an age we live in. Allegedly the enzymes in their saliva break down something in the coffee beans, in a good way. The beans are collected by humans, and they're hard to find. That explains the limited supply, and high price. Has anyone out there tried it?

Long Black, home

I'm working on my long black technique. I've always been a pull-the-shot-and-then-add-water approach, but I'm messing around now with the even-more-hyphenated pull-the-shot-into-a-cup-half-full-of-hot-water method.
Unfortunately, the thermostat light came on halfway through the shot. That's never happened before. Here's what's going on:
One of the idiosyncrasies of my coffee machine is that the thermostat, well, doesn't do what it should do. When the light comes on, it means it is heating up. You would think that when the light goes off, it's hot enough and we're ready to roll, right? Not really. When the light goes off, it will keep heating up for a while, and so it will actually be a bit too hot. When you turn the water on, it makes a "psssh!" (note the exclamation mark - that's important) sound that means the water is turning to steam straight away. That's too hot for our purposes: you don't want the water to be boiling when it hits the beans.
So one of the methods recommended by some guy on the internet was to wait TWO MINUTES after the light goes out. Sounds like a long time, huh? It is. I use that time to clean up the bench a bit, change radio stations, get the milk out of the fridge, etc. It's not wasted time, just re-organised time. Anyhow, after two minutes, it's espresso o'clock.
But today, during those two minutes, I pulled my half-a-cup of water out of the steam wand for the long black. Bad idea. That 100-ish ml of water sped up the cooling-down process in the boiler, and so when I came to do the actual espresso, the water wasn't hot enough, announcing itself in pale, unenthusiastic crema. I'd better do this stuff in a different order next time.

Okay, enough serious boring coffee machine talk. Here's today's Search Term (That Found My Site) of the Day:
curb your enthusiasm script kidney foundation
Not surprisingly, that guy spent 0:00 on the site.
Listening to Sly and Robbie's Raiders of the Lost Dub. Another fine example of the replace-one-word-with-"dub" tradition. In other news, I realised how much of a stupid fuckwit (there's that SFW acronym again) internet fanboy loser I sounded like when I said, "I listened to the 30 second previews on iTunes and I wasn't into it." Jesus. What was I thinking? Listening to the free previews hardly qualifies me to diss an album. For that privelege, I should at least download it and listen to it once.
So I downloaded Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band. My one sentence review would be, "The bits that work on Sgt Pepper's work great here too." I'll post a slightly more lengthy review on here soon.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Latte, North Island, Fitzroy North




We saw a dog that looked like a backpack. Check it out, it even had straps built-in:


Another question: are there any legal issues associated with taking photos of other people's dogs? Is it the same rules as other people's kids? I hope not.

Espresso, home

Watching The Living Planet.
This is the beginning of what could be a quite lengthy David Attenborough marathon. I'm digging the soundtrack. It's like Doctor Who to the power of Blade Runner.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Strong Flat White, Rochford Wines

Caption this:


I'm sure SFW could stand for all sorts of things. For example:
"Some fuck wit ordered a strong flat white."

Soy Short Macchiato, home

Soy short mac?!
This translates to: "Didn't do enough soy for two lattes; I'm certain I won't intentionally make this beverage again."

Soy Latte, home

Okay. I just had my first Twitter freakout moment. You have to be more careful what you say than you might think.
Yesterday I kind of dissed a certain Germany-based reggae band. I may have used the word "shite" in connection with their second album. They are now following me on Twitter.
Hopefully they have some bot running that automatically follows dudes who mention them.
If not, this is very weird. Like giving someone shit when they are not around, and then realising after five minutes that they are actually well within earshot.
And they've hired a stenographer.

Yeah. It's weird. Remember the first time you recognised someone in public because you saw them in the top eight on The Bamboos Myspace? Remember the first time you changed your Favourite Movies a few times in one day on Facebook, and then realised each change comes up separately in your friends's newsfeeds, and it made you think everyone must think you are a narcissist? I put this in the same category. On Myspace you know people you don't know, and on Facebook everyone sees your every move. And Twitter? It seems to be a combination of the two: someone you don't know starts watching your every move when you mention them.
Yikes.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Espresso, home

The dishwasher has dishwashed the measurements off the side of that nifty 30ml/60ml glass I got free with my coffee machine. Now I don't know where I stand. I think it's somewhere between 30 and 60, in about 30 seconds. Yeah, a bit slow. I'm kind of aiming for 60 in 30 at the moment.

I can't decide whether to see Easy Star All-Stars at the Corner tonight. On one hand, I'd love to hear them play Dub Side of the Moon in its in entirety. On the other hand,
  • The vocals annoyed me on that album, and they'll probably have people singing them at the gig.
  • Radiodread was shite. Dub Side sounded authentically dub: like Lee Perry had just blown ganga smoke in your face. That feeling was totally missing on Radiodread.
  • From what I've heard of the 30 second previews of Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band on iTunes, I'm not into it. I'd rather listen to the Beatles.
There are some pretty serious guests on the new album (Michael Rose! Woah!) but generally it sounds like they haven't quite figured out how to get heavy dub and the often intentionally twee harmony of songs like When I'm 64 (come on, that's a daggy song: as daggy as Paul McCartney when he actually was 64!) to breed in captivity.

OMG. That's a great name for a chiptune Beatles cover: When I'm Commodore 64.

Long Black, home

The water that I top up a short black with to make it into a long black comes from the steam wand, and is usually pretty hot. I tend to dilute it with a bit of cold water before it gets added to the short black, to arrive finally at roughly drinking temperature. I sometimes add too much cold. Today was one of those days. I drank it at a rate at which one would drink a Jagerbomb.

A lot of people on the internet are getting excited about the iPhone 3.0 software. It won't be released for a while, but an early version has been released to developers. Stephen Fry's solution was to just sign up as a developer for $99 and download it if you REALLY can't wait for the official release date. People doing just that have fueled countless "Look at all the new features!" articles. Video recording isn't something I'll use very often (although it may come in handy on the blog). Neither is the find-your-iPhone feature: I don't plan on losing my phone. What I'm really excited about is tethering.

Tethering is, just briefly, getting your computer/laptop/Wii/fridge/etc on the internet via your mobile phone's data services. A few years ago, people sacrificed download speed and paid through the nose for the convenience of getting online anywhere. These days it's much faster and cheaper: my internet access at home comes in over the 3G network (I wouldn't recommend it: it's complete shite compared to a good ol' copper wire). The word "tethering " also always reminds me of Ralph on The Simpsons in the pool after he signed up for Tethered Swimming. "I don't feel right!" he said, as he struggled to swim away from the ladder but was held back by the tether. Unfortunately, this is also how the mobile phone carriers feel. For some reason, they don't like the idea of people using their phone data allowance for anything other than their phone.

I don't at all see why. I routinely go WAY over my data allowance at home, but no matter how hard I try I can't get ANYWHERE near my 700 meg per month on the iPhone. If I used it with tethering, I would use a lot more data. If I went over my limit, Optus could charge me accordingly. Where's the downside for them? Why does technology that will undoubtedly lead to more excess data charges not "feel right"?

Soy Latte, North Island, Fitzroy North

We picked up some hot cross buns from Dench, a few doors down. I would have tried a coffee from there too, but it would have taken too long. The place was packed with people who had seen that Dench had come out as the winner in Epicure's surprisingly bitchy hot cross bun taste test on Tuesday.
We unfortunately incinerated the first two, but the rest were magnificent. It was like a party in my mouth, and everyone turned up with a bag of raisins or some other sort of dried fruit. Amazing.
And North Island are friends of Bonsoy too. Good to know. I should compile a list of Cafes I Recommend Soy Drinkers Go To.
Accompanying this list should also be a Soy Haters list. Marios is one of them. I don't think it's a big deal: if you want to drink soy, just go somewhere else. They're not being racist. They just don't have soy. There's no reason why they have to. But I'm sure a list would be useful.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Espresso, home

Last week the Ten network launched its new One HD channel, to slightly overzealous fanfare. It even had a countdown on the screen leading up to the launch, with occasional interruptions from Sandra Sully talking about how it was a new age, and groundbreaking, and all that bullshit. I must admit, my first thought was this:
"Ugh, I never noticed Sandra Sully's crow's feet before, but now here they are in glorious high definition! Stop doing so many close-ups!"
My second thought was, "Hang on, it's just sport? Who gives a shit?"
Not me. It may be another HD channel of content that is not getting played on channel Ten, but it's all sport. And crow's feet.
Even more alarmingly, it has replaced Ten HD (here is a story from last year about it). The only thing Ten is broadcasting in HD now is sport. This seems pretty arse-backward to me. And not just because I never watch sport (ever). And not just because I'm a fan of House, Smallville, NCIS, Monk or One Tree Hill (I've never watched a whole episode of any of them) which all used to be broadcast in HD on Ten HD. I'm more worried about local content, and the sense of pride it gave me that we weren't years behind the rest of the world in just one technological area.

Locally-produced content for channel Ten. I'm talking about Rove. I'm talking about Neighbours. I'm talking about Australian Idol. I'm talking about 9am with David and Kim (yeah, I'm clutching at straws now). Again, I don't watch any of them very often. But when I do (or when I did before the introduction of ONE HD) I thought to myself, "Bloody hell that looks good, I'm so impressed that Ten has the facilities to make local content of that (technical) calibre. Well done Ten, and well done Australia."
When whoever decides these things at Ten decided - on the toilet while reading a motor-racing magazine - that we need more 24-hour motor racing and to hell with the rest of Ten's HD non-sport content, he was flushing what was left of my tech-patriotic-pride too.
Thumbs down, Ten.

Soy Latte, home

This is the first time I've tried to stretch soy milk into a latte in, er, about five years. I'm using Bonsoy; as far as I can tell it tastes a lot better in coffee than other brands. This comes at a price though: $3.99 per litre at Safeway. Yikes. No wonder most cafes pass this on in the form of a soy tax. At Kent St the other day my soy latte was $3.50 and Yuri's cow latte was $3.00. I have no problem with this. Bonsoy is pricey, and soy drinkers are weirdos: they should be charged accordingly to how overpriced the ingredients they require are. Tre Bicchieri were out of Bonsoy when I went in a few days ago, and were using (much cheaper, much not-nicer) Soylife. I wasn't really paying attention, so I'm not sure if there was a soy tax rebate involved. I sure hope there was.
Anyhow, it turned out pretty good. The Bonsoy was straight out of the cupboard (that's what really freaks me out about soy: it's not refrigerated at the supermarket!) which is not ideal. If it was colder, I'd have more time to stretch it before it heated up too much. But it was still pretty good.

We saw Daniel Kitson's work-in-progress show last night. It was like one of his completed shows, but he occasionally got out his notebook to either check where he should be up to, or write down something funny he just thought of, ie. him being by far not the only one in the room who almost dry retches when he sees a teenage boy with a wispy moustache. He also covered a lot of coffee-related material, quite a bloody lot of coffee-related material actually for someone who only just started drinking coffee recently and used to automatically think "fuck off!" whenever he heard somebody say "latte".

Now, let's move on to Search Term (That Found My Site) of the Day. I hastily decided that this would be a daily event, but then realised the next day that not as many people were discovering the blog via search as I thought. I was about to tell you, "Let's make this a weekly thing," but then I had a look at yesterday's results, which yielded this:
lick steve martin unzipping

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Espresso, Sousou, Fitzroy




They have chocolate crackles. And those things made from Corn Flakes that are always around whenever chocolate crackles are.
They weren't $3.00 back in my day, but they also never used to involve that groovy postmodern long-grain coconut. Hip.

Soy Latte, Kent St, Fitzroy

I really should do my tax return for last year. I actually have an incentive: Kevin Rudd is only giving $900 to people who did their tax return! I should check out the rules, but I think that's how it works.
It's just like in Futurama when President Nixon's head gives everyone $300. Fry spends his on 100 cups of coffee, all over the course of one episode. I should do the same.
If we learned anything from that episode, it's that the price of a cup of coffee in the year 3000 is much less than today, and also that drinking more coffee stimulates not only your mind and your bowels, but the economy as well.


Strong Soy Latte, Kent St, Fitzroy




The new album by Easy Star All-Stars (who brought us Dub Side of the Moon) is out in April, and will be called Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band.
I'm sure you'll agree that Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Dub Band sounds much better. But they just had to slap their name all over it didn't they...

Long Black, home

It's not often I use a big font on this site, but today I think it's appropriate. From now on, point your browsers to:


Yes, I've got a real web address now. This is exciting.
That was the culmination of days of umming and arghing about what to do with the site. At first, I wanted to move to Wordpress.com for three reasons:
  1. I really like it. The backend of the site is a pleasure to use, and the blogs extremely customisable. Things just look great on Wordpress. Growing and pulsating behind that beautiful facade is a big many-armed MySQL database too, so I'd feel like I was actually putting some of my studies to practical use. Wordpress also throws statistics at you much like a monkey throws faeces at tourists. One of my problems with Blogger is that it is devoid of site usage statistics. And faeces.
  2. It's really easy to host a Wordpress.com blog on your own domain. That would be cool.
  3. Wordpress have their own (really good) iPhone app for mobile publishing. Blogger do not. I was stuck with BlogWriter and all its annoying bugs and barriers to creativity.
I also felt the need to be able to publish other pages on the site, ie that story I wrote a few years ago about God calling tech support. Wordpress has a thing called Pages. It's easy. With Blogger, you're stuck with a blog.
Now, the last thing I want to happen is to get my blog deleted because I wasted too many column inches pointing out how much I like Wordpress. So I'd better get to the point.

Moving a blog with 1000 posts to Wordpress is both immoral and a pain in the arse. There's a nice streamlined process with a white background and it all looks pretty easy, but then you actually go and have a look at the new blog with all the old posts in it. It was like those remastered versions of the original Star Wars Trilogy: same content, but a few things didn't look right, and a few new bits were just annoying:
  1. Where did the YouTube videos go?
  2. Wtf is this Snap! bullshit?
  3. My commenters have been hijacked.
  4. The old site looked nice. This one looks a bit lorem ipsum.
Let's go through these one at a time.
One. YouTube videos. You may have noticed that I embed a LOT of copyrighted material in my blog. I didn't know why the videos weren't coming up in Wordpress, but I knew it would be a major pain in the arse to go through and fix them all. That's almost a dealbreaker in itself: no pretty interface or nerd fanboy underground following is going to convince me to stick around if I have to change so much of my content.
Two. Snap! When you move your mouse over a hyperlink, a little window pops up showing a preview of the target page, and some relevant sponsored links. While in practise this could be useful (you don't actually need to follow hyperlinks - just mouse over to see what I'm talking about), that won't be immediately apparent: the first time you visit my shiny new blog and can't move your mouse around without bullshit popping up everywhere, you won't want to keep reading. As far as I know, Snap! is advertising that Wordpress.com puts on your blog, and in return they will host your blog for free. If you pay a small annual fee, the advertising will be gone, and you are allowed to add your own ads to make some sweet click-generated cashish from. Blogger currently does just that for free anyway.
Three. Commenters. I love you guys. You log in, if you're bloggers already, or create an account on Blogger just so you can sign in and comment with a name other than Anonymous. You spend valuable time writing comments. It would be a bit weird to just take all that and duplicate it somewhere else on the web. And you'd need a Wordpress account to comment after that. Guess how many commenters I'd have then? Not a dealbreaker, but certainly not a great idea.
Four. I would have to start again with making everything look nice. And I don't know how. There is a learning curve. At this point, I don't have time to learn. If I was starting a new blog, I'd be happy to put some time into learning how it all works. But right now, I feel that time is better spent writing 2000 words about the long black I made this morning.

And so I figured I was better off staying with Blogger. When I realised how easy it was to buy a domain, I was sold. $10. I also realised that includes Google Apps, including Gmail (I know that's usually free - wait for it...) and the ability to have email addresses on your own domain. Yep, you can email me at ryan @ ryanoncoffee . com . Wordpress doesn't do that. But this isn't a competition.
The final piece of the puzzle: BlogPress is a much better iPhone app for Blogger blogging.
So this is the new version of the blog. The old address will keep working (it will forward to the new one), and the new one should be in full swing in about three days. I also finally settled on a name for the blog: Ryan on Coffee. Sorry if that's a bit confusing as the old address included the almost-identical ryancoffee.

Search Term (That Found My Site) of the Day:
mcdonalds near brisbane airport

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

1000th Post!

Cheers everybody!


Thanks for reading! If you weren't here the blog would still be, but it's still nice to know this thing actually gets read.
I clearly should be dedicating more time to magnetic poetry than blogging, but hey, I only just discovered that the coffee machine is magnetic. Stay tuned for tomorrow's search term of the day...

And what about the coffee? Not bad-ish. A bit long (don't panic, it is a double, it's not THAT much too long) and a bit fast, but I'm working on it.

Espresso, Carlton Espresso, Carlton

These guys are well Italian. I just heard the barista answer the phone in Italian. He hung up shortly after. It must have been somebody who called to enquire about their opening hours, but panicked and hung up when confronted with another language.
That's what I would have done.



Long Black, home

I often start writing an entry for this blog, but reach a roadblock along the way and never finish it. I end up replacing them with something much shorter, just so that coffee can be accounted for and I can move on to the next one, but the unfinished posts stay there saved as a draft. I thought I was very close to coffee number 1000, until I realised that number includes all the drafts I never finished too. I went through them yesterday. Here's some of my favourites:
  • A lengthy "where are they now?" piece on the cast of Beverly Hills 90210, which I began writing around the time of the premiere of the new series 90210. I abandoned it due to lack of interest.
  • A list of unconvincing gadgets in Underbelly season one, which I started writing when Carl's van got bugged by the police. A white disc with two wires hanging out, I recognised it as a piezo buzzer ($1.35 a piece at Dick Smith, or $1.30 if you buy more than 10) and wondered why somebody had tried to install a very quiet doorbell in the car. The bottle top off a West Coast Cooler stubbie would make a more convincing-looking surveillance device.
Anyway, you get the idea. If I set myself a task where the amount of research required is disproportionate to how interesting the finished post will be, I never finish it. So we're still not at 1000 yet. But, just in time for the impending caffemillenium, I signed up for Google Analytics. This means I'll actually know how many people are reading, where they're from, how they found the site, etc. It's far more comprehensive than the Adsense statistics: "0 people clicked on your ads, you earn 0 cents". I'll be able to waste all sorts of time with the new data, but it will actually be useful too. It's inspired a new daily segment on the blog: Search Term of the Day.
Adsense now tells me what people have Googled to find my site. The only thing more surprising than the broad range of searches that this blog shows up in, is that people still click on the "Ryan Blogs Coffee" when that is clearly what they are searching for. I'll post up the most confusing ones here. Today's term:
iva davies p2p
In case you're wondering, I've mentioned Iva Davies once, two months ago when I was talking about singers who mispronounce words so they will rhyme with something they shouldn't. What's more surprising is the p2p bit: someone wants to find a torrent for not just Icehouse, but Iva Davies solo material? Yeah, the crisis is affecting everyone...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Soy Latte, Tre Bicchieri, Carlton North

Check this out:


That's right. I can now put text in BEFORE the photo. BlogPress is amazing.

Espresso, home

Yesterday I referred to the Frankston Shuffle. I told you to look for it on YouTube. I did the same. I didn't find much. If you were as curious as I'd hoped, you wouldn't have found much either. But what I was hoping to find was the following video, which I only found because it was in the top ten most-viewed videos on YouTube for a while. Yeah, really. Over 8 million views.

It's the Melbourne Shuffle.
Surely when Jethro Tull sang, "In the shuffling madness," in 1971, it was because they had just travelled forward in time, got on Youtube, and watched that video about 7 million times.
But this got my curiosity going: what exactly is the Frankston Shuffle, and what does it have in common, or rather not in common, with its Melbourne counterpart 38km around the bay?
As usual, the extent of my research is Wikipedia. The word "Frankston" is not even mentioned in the Melbourne Shuffle article.
Other than that, I've already tainted my own research: Google says there are 192 documents mentioning the Frankston Shuffle, and unfortunately number 10 is the one I wrote yesterday.
Don't dig too deep on YouTube with the words "frankston" and "shuffle" though. Pretty soon you'll find dudes at Frankston High School shuffling on free dress day. Unless things have changed since I was there, there's a Footloose-style rule that bans any kind of shuffle on the school grounds.
Free Dress Day being the only exception. Cast off your bumblebee jumper, stick some gaffa to your shoes, get to it, and hope somebody videos it for YouTube before the bell rings and they play a few tracks from The Swing over the PA before you have to get your arse to the Senior Campus for Science to watch Mr Stuchbury re-open that program everytime the screensaver comes on because he doesn't realise it's still open in the background and pretty soon there's 15 instances going and then his Toshiba product-placement laptop melts under the stress and runs down the sink.
Or that could be because somebody lit one of the gas taps.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ristretto, Soto, Perth


Where is the crema?
Oh well, after two direct hits this morning I don't mind having a miss.
Madison Avenue was on when we came in. It's at times like this that I wish I knew how to do the Frankston Shuffle (look on YouTube) but according to Harry, if I don't know how to shuffle now, I never will.

Short Mac, Ristretto, Perth


The force is strong with this one.
I should have ordered a ristretto for two reasons: I think they would do a very good one, and the title of this post would look hilarious.
Excellent work guys. Strange location (arcade leading to a food court) for coffee of this calibre. Or rather, it is incredible coffee for a location like this. They had quite a crowd gathered around: people obviously know it's worth the walk for this place.
I would have asked about their blog too, but I've lost my voice and ordering was hard enough.
Well done, Ristretto peeps.

Latte, Cafe 54, Perth


They have a Synesso AND an LM.
They have a blog (espresso54.wordpress.com - not updated since last year, but still good to see).
They have a phone number for SMS ordering - I'm still yet to see a cafe that takes orders via Twitter direct messages, but SMS is still impressive.
The milk they use comes in squishy foil bags, not unlike the Ribena containers that Cheeks taped to his ankles yesterday to smuggle vodka into V Festival.
They sell Voss: easily the most bourgeois bourgeois bottled water.
So, yes, they tick the boxes of most of the things I look for in a cafe. I'm glad I finally caught them during open hours. The milk seemed a little hot: not scaldingly, but more eye-wateringly. According to Loz (who just got a job as a barista around the corner) there is a tendency to get milk up to 70 degrees around here. But that's not TOO hot at least.
I also heard somebody order a topped-up long mac. The plot thickens. See my last round of Perth posts for the story on that.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Espresso, Amano, Perth


It's a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon in Perth. I really needed something to counteract the sleep-inducing effects of the combination of sun, chicken parmagiana, and a pint of Heineken. Unfortunately, Sunday means all the good coffee places are shut.
But this ice cream place had enough cannoli in the display case to suggest they knew what an espresso shouldbe like.
The suggestion was correct. Very nice. This should keep me going until the morning, when I plan to embark on a serious coffeetrawl of the CBD and surrounds. Suggestions welcome.

Can


Yep. Never seen this one before. Nice colour scheme: similar to Cheeks's '85 Holden Jackaroo really.
This can lends more credence to my "canned coffee from Japan is better" theory.

Latte, Macchinetta, Melbourne Airport


In the Sunday Age today:
The solution for yesterday's Target puzzle includes aunt, cant, cent, pant, punt, uncut...but there was another four letter word made up of those letters that I correctly assumed would be omitted from the solution.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Long Black, home

I must have miscalculated something: there's no way I'm getting to coffee #1000 this weekend. Unless I have NINE tomorrow. No, that's not going to happen. Unless we're flying QANTAS tomorrow, I could probably have one at home and put away seven cups of coffee on that flight...
No, it's Virgin Blue. That's probably for the best.

Latte, Green Grocer, Fitzroy North

Downhill.
Nobody brought us menus. Dude came to take our order way too soon, then went AWOL when we asked for a few more minutes. My smoked trout with scrambled eggs was more like scrambled eggs with smoked trout. Loud bogan at next table.
You would have to be a serious nitpicker to let any of these things get to you.
But that's just how it is every day before I've had coffee...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Espresso, Gertrude St Enoteca, Fitzroy

The latest version of the much-derided (mostly by me) BlogWriter app for iPhone contains a useful new feature, that users of Tweetie will be used to by now: you can add a photo you've already taken, OR take one right now. In reality, this means you can start writing the new blog entry, then take a photo, then write a bit more, etc. So I sat down at the bar at Enoteca, ordered my espresso, started typing, and then when it came out I took the photo.
And then my phone crashed.
I sure won't try that again.

Kudos to Enoteca for keeping the coffee machine going this late.

Long Black, home

Let's return to April Fools' Day news for the moment:
  • Twitter releasing hardware that looks like an old Motorola pager with Twitter written on it.
  • Fake new Nine Inch Nails album. Produced by Timbaland. This is joke is clearly a reference to what Trent Reznor said on his Twitter about Chris Cornell's Tim-produced new album.
And from the "man I really hope this press release isn't a joke!" department
It's a Doepfer synthesizer, but smaller and affordabler. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I want one of those now.

As for my todo list that I wrote in the last post, I've done everything except Wii and tax. Hmm. I wonder which I'll get onto first.

Long Black, home

  • play Zelda on Wii
  • transcribe level eight from Skyroads
  • tax return (yes, 07/08 - I should have done that last year)
  • listen to Bad Brains and play air guitar
  • watch some more of Arrested Development season two
Yep, that sounds good. I could dedicate a whole day to either one of those, but I'm sure I can fit them all in. Except maybe the tax return...what's the point? Even if I finish it today and mail it, it's Friday: nothing will happen to it for the whole weekend. Should I hold off until Monday? Then they'll get it on Tuesday. I save three days but it only costs me one day. No that's probably not a good idea. I'm flying back from Perth on Monday and sure as hell won't want to start taxing when I get home.
Ah, that's a good point: flying from Perth to Melbourne on Monday is probably going to be confusing. I'll fly over there on Sunday, lose two hours, then when I come back gain two hours but it won't be daylight saving anymore. So that means I...er...gain? Lose? One/two/three/four hours? Do they have daylight saving over there? It's times like this I'm glad my phone figures out what time it is every time I switch it out of flight mode.
In other news, rain can quite easily go straight through a fly screen. Shut your doors today, people.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Long Black, home

Oh no.
I just realised that I am NEVER going to read that inaugural issue of BeanScene.
It's a shame. It has at least five things in it that I really want to read.
But unfortunately, it went straight to the toilet magazine pile.
And you know what that means.
It STAYS in the toilet magazine pile. It's contaminated.
The articles are far too long for a toilet magazine. I don't want to sit in there any longer than I have to, and it's unlikely that I'll remember where I was up to last time I read it. So if there's a hope it's going to get read, it has to be somewhere else.
But the toilet pile is the end of the magazine life cycle; from there it has nowhere else to go but the recycling.
Unless, of course, I can convince myself that a magazine from ANY pile can be read outdoors. As long as I wash my hands afterwards.

P.S. I should have a coveredmuchbetteroncurbyourenthusiasm tag for posts like this.

Long Black, home

Still sick, still playing Wolfenstein.
Also trawling the internets for any hilarious April Fools' Day press releases.
The winner has to be the one about Bjork joining Led Zeppelin.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Espresso, Las Chicas, St Kilda East

In the news: LA-based reggae artist Mishka not only has the exotic backstory of growing up on a 40-foot yacht while sailing around the Caribbean (this could herald the beginning of the yacht rock revival), but he can now also say that actor and serial trashbag Matthew McConaughey was such a huge fan that he started a record label.

"Actor Matthew McConaughey became familiar with Mishka on New Years Eve of 2000 after he had been up for three straight days and was still unable to sleep. When Mishka's music came on downstairs that night, McConaughey admits he "slept like a baby for 5 straight hours" and was immediately hooked." (ctv.ca)

Yeah, you couldn't make that up, could you? If I'd been up for three days I'd probably want a bit more than five hours. Also, is "it was so good that I fell asleep" a good endorsement? It could hold up the A&R process somewhat.

"Hello?"
"Hey Matt, it's Mishka."
(clatter of bongo drums falling over) "Dude! What up, bra?"
"I and I Jah Rastafari big up selectaaaah."
"Yeah, sure, me too."
"Did you get the CD I sent you? Of the rough mixes?"
"Oh hell yeah bra!"
"What did you think? We did some more guitar overdubs on track two, what did you think?"
"Sorry man, I've got no idea. I fell asleep again."