July 24, 2009

Caribou Coffee... Shopping and Friendship

Picked up some coffee today at a Caribou nearby. There was a time I drank there daily, sitting with a book and laptop, or just relaxing by the fire. I would see old friends and acquaintances there: the piano teacher/philosopher hiding from his dreams, the recent divorcee is her 60s lamenting what she gave up, and the college kids with books they never read, but use as prop to look intellectual while they gab about things which matter more to them in the moment.

The coffeehouse gadflies are there too, like Cliff Clavin, but with less purpose (dear Cliffy was passionate about good mail delivery). They arrive, chatter about with other guests, and move on, never quite connecting with anyone but themselves.

Good friends are there too, and we lift a mug of whatever's brewing. We break from something else and renew our friendship over a bagel and coffee. We discuss projects, literature, art, and the latest goings-on in our lives.

Billy Joel - Piano Man (music video)

July 13, 2009

Coffee: It's What's for Breakfast: A commentary on the average man's coffee.

At a favorite cafe, I might order just one thing: coffee. I might add a bagel or slice of toast, but it is usually just a simple cup of coffee. Let's pretend nothing here: The coffee is not the same quality as in a finer coffee shop. The ambiance is what a diner's is... filled with everyman, from all walks of life. You get what you pay for, but this is the life of the average coffee drinker. They are not interested in syrups, whip cream, Kona, brown vs white sugar, pull technique, or any other factor in coffee or a coffee drink.

That's what you see. The average man's $1.50 mug, basic sugar and flavored creams. America drinks this everywhere. The brown cup is hazelnut, the blue is vanilla, and the white is plain half-n-half. The white envelopes are plain sugar. The blue envelope is some kind of non-sugar sweetener. I took the picture a week or two ago.

The job gets done. A basic coffee and a basic set of flavor options. Much of life happens at the table pictured above. I have met with friends, clients, vendors, old, new and potential.

It may lack the romance of a misty cafe in Vienna, but Vienna misses the romance of an intimate table in America's heartland. No Austrian accents or talk of Beethoven, but conversations about city politics, traffic and baseball teams fill the air.

What I See
A waitress who thought skipping college was the best choice so she could make quick money wistfully looks at the men in suits, wondering if they will notice her in her new sundress beneath her diner apron. The men in suits argue about the cost of real estate, only glancing at the girl who, at 19 is half their age not realizing she knows this, but is OK with it.

A few men in from a construction site working on the interstate rush in for a late morning early lunch, and eat too fast to notice any of this.

A retired man in a rich blue shirt with a golf logo reads a newspaper where he sits every day, and the waitress calls him Tom.

A young buck brings in a Bible and discusses its finer points with a friend, see the young waitress and tip her more than their meal was worth. That $20 will help her more than they know. An older waitress sneers at her, because she has given up hope. This coffee shop is her bitter life, and she is afraid the younger one will leave before her. When she was 19, she got those tips too, but did nothing with them.

All on a Monday. Tuesday will be much the same. The coffee is good enough.

July 06, 2009

Perfect for Shooting Free Throws in a Park with a Lovely Woman: Black Composite "Explosion" Basketball review

Perfect for Shooting Free Throws in a Park with a Lovely Woman

Black Composite "Explosion" Basketball

The Baden "Explosion" basketball didn't sit long after purchasing it. We bought it to use, and to labor we have put it. We brought it to a park just a ten minute walk away in early July.

Nancy and I shot for hours. I took ten shots; she took ten shots, neither of us gaining an advantage as we repeated this game throughout the late morning.

The Baden "Explosion" basketball bounced well as we tossed it between us. Perfectly balanced, it never went askew... always into her welcome hands as I made a pass.

Black, but almost navy blue, with orange lines, the ball rolled straight and true. With each revolution, the lines flickered like an old movie film. We stood mesmerized as we watched it settle in soft grass, ready to be shot again.

Whether the board deflected it, or points were scored, the game didn't matter. The shared smile, knowing we are shooting together, meant more than the tally.

A rain shower brushed by, but the composite leather basketball was unaffected. A few bounces, and a shot piercing the net was enough to shake off the dampness.

We have returned to that park a few times since, and will many times more. May your basketball bring you into the company with someone as beautiful as Nancy.


July 02, 2009

How to Make a Toasted Marshmallow Espresso

Coffee is good food. That's a known fact. Espresso, being a high concentration of coffee, is, then better food.

What else can be done? Make a toasted marshmallow espresso.

Whipped cream... that's the trick.

  • Heavy Whipping Cream. For one serving, try two-three fingers high.
  • Stewarts English Toffee Flavoring. A teaspoon is plenty.
  • Table sugar. I use two teaspoons.
  • Coffee ground for espresso. I used a Kona blend this morning.
What to do
  • Mix cream, flavor, sugar.
  • Whip until thick. I hand whip it with a small whisk in a coffee mug.
  • Pull two shots of espresso. Do this last, as you want the espresso as hot as possible since the whipped cream will cool it.
  • Pour shots into whipped cream.
Drink quickly. Tastes just like a marshmallow, with more caffeine.