Rum Flavored Coffee

“I was not proud of what I had learned but I never doubted that it was worth knowing.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary

Es café macerado en ron, posee todas las propiedades organolépticas del ron, pero tiene grado de alcohol

If you have been reading this for a while you already know that I have (although I didn’t want to/plan to) fallen way down the coffee rabbit hole… serious gourmet shit.

Even though I have, for all practical purposes, almost quit drinking alcohol (for no known reason) – one thing I have been experimenting with is making rum flavored coffee. More specifically Ron Flor de Cana flavored coffee. My experiment of adding some rum to a container of coffee beans and then drying them in the air fryer was a spectacular failure. The beans became soft and I can’t get them to grind properly. A waste of coffee beans and of Flor de Cana.

Now, finally I have figured it out. Make the coffee and then add the rum to it. Makes the morning better. We’ll have to see what it does to the afternoon.

There Is Nothing More Expensive Than A Free Sample

“I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

Coffee and morning pages.

For her birthday I bought Candy a six-month membership in a tea of the month club. Every month she gets two samples of gourmet tea from a different country – along with information on the tea and the place of origin. She liked it and it seemed to be a good thing.Unfortunately, the tea company also had a sister organization that sold coffee. They sent along a free sample – enough for two cups – of fresh beans which she gave to me. I ground, brewed, and drank.

Goddamn it… it was good. Really good.

It was from Costa Rica – from the flyer:

origin: Tarrazu, Costa Rica
farm: San Isidro
type: Catuai

This fruit bomb with lush notes of cherry, black currant, passion fruit, and cocoa comes from Hacienda San Isidro Labrador Project, a farm is located 1900 meters above sea level on the hills of Dota, in the Tarrazu region. It is a small, family-owned farm overseen by Johel Monge Naranjo and his son Matias. The pair focus on specialty and traceable coffee. Their product have consistently placed atop the annual Cup of Excellence competition that identifies the very best coffee being grown in Costa Rica.

It was an anaerobic fermented coffee – which means it was stored in barrels or tanks with no oxygen exposure and allowed to ferment to some degree. That gave it a unique, wine-like flavor – complex… that I really liked.

So I ordered some coffee – it was expensive, but not ridiculous. The order arrived promptly and it is a really nice treat every morning. So now, I’m hooked. That was an expensive free sample.

At any rate, I’ve been reading about anaerobic fermentation for coffee beans – here’s an interesting YouTube video (among many).

It Does Taste Better in a Pulp Fiction Cup

“Don’t you just love it when you come back from the bathroom and find your food waiting for you?” — Mia, Pulp Fiction

My Morning Coffee

I woke up looking forward to my morning coffee even more than I usually do (If that is possible – does a heroin addict look forward to certain fixes more?) because I would drink it in my swag Pulp Fiction coffee cup.

Most mornings I make a double strength coffee in my Aeropress , dilute it with hot water, and put it in a vacuum container (either a thermos or, as today, in a Contigo insulated cup that fits in my bicycle water bottle holder). I like that because I can pour it into a real cup a bit at a time and control the drinking temperature.

So, the question is, did it taste better in the swag cup?

Sure did, I mean this is some serious gourmet shit.

Fruit Bomb With Lush Notes of Cherry…

“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup”

― Gertrude Stein, Selected Writings

Mojo Coffee, Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana (click to enlarge)

There are few things more expensive than free samples.

Candy ordered a new iced tea pitcher from some tea place online. That tea place also had a coffee subsidiary and they sent her a free sample – 2 oz. of whole beans in a little envelope – for me to try.

It was some Catuai Anaerobic, from Lardera Coffee Roasters. It says about my sample:

This fruit bomb with lush notes of cherry, black currant, passion fruit, and cocoa comes from Hacienda San Isidro Labrador Project, a farm is located 1900 meters above sea level on the hills of Dota, in the Tarrazu region. It is a small, family-owned farm overseen by Johel Monge Naranjo and his son Matias. The pair focus on specialty and traceable coffee. Their product have consistently placed atop the annual Cup of Excellence competition that identifies the very best coffee being grown in Costa Rica.

So I measured some out, carefully, ground it in my hand grinder so it would be pure, and brewed it up in my Aeropress (the sample was enough for two generous cups).

And damn… it was good. I’m not able to describe coffee flavors – so I don’t know about cherry, black currant, or especially passion fruit but I know a tasty, unique cup when it passes my lips. I think it’s the aerobic fermentation that gives it something that your bitter Starbucks lacks.

So now I want to buy some. It costs about twice what regular but good coffee costs. I’m torn, but I know I’ll eventually give in.

There are few things more expensive than free samples.

Grams

“In all my experience along the dirtiest ways of this dirty little world, I have never met with such a thing as a trifle yet.”
― Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone

Aeropress, from Williams Sonoma

I am such a hopeless loser – I even have a piece of paper with a list of things I need for some reason, that I know I have, but that I can’t find. Because these are on a list they stay in the back of my mind and usually I will stumble across something from the list when I’m looking for something else (this is what all of my life is like). Then I check it off.

I knew I had a tiny little battery-powered digital scale. I don’t know how I came to own it – I found it somewhere. I’m pretty sure it was abandoned after some drug deal went bad – that’s what tiny precise scales like this are good for. But I kept it around and would tare my fountain pens before I inked them – to figure out how much ink they hold.

But the thing disappeared. At least it disappeared in reality – existing only virtually on my list of things that I’ve lost that I know are around here somewhere (discussed above). Then, today, after having a dream about fountain pen ink last night I dug out an old box of obscure home mixes of ink I had given up on I found the scale.

One more checked off the list.

Why did I want the thing? Well, as I continue to fall down the endless rabbit-hole of coffee nerddom, I had a thought of being more precise about my beans-to-water-ratio. I’ve been digging out an approximate scoop and not paying much heed to the water. Here’s the king of the coffee nerds, James Hoffmann, on the subject:

So, I watched the video – did a little more research and thought it all out. I decided to go with 250 ml of coffee (a little less than I used to drink, but I’d make it a bit stronger) and a 75gm/liter coffee/water ratio – in my Aeropress. That works out to 19 gm of coffee beans ground up and 250 ml of water (heated in the microwave – for that small amount it works better than the kettle). I used my hand grinder rather than my electric Braun – that way I can select the beans for that individual cup – depending how I feel today.

And it was pretty damn good. Stronger than I am used to and with a hint of bitterness (which is not bad -just a hint). So I think I’ll keep going this way.

On down the rabbit hole.

Mochinut

I’d rather get a hot dog or a doughnut than write a song.

John Prine

Ceramic cat at Mochinut

The other day I wrote about having to drive between two donut stores on the way to work every day. Due to medical conditions I can’t eat donuts… not even one. I’m used to that, but still I can dream. I am especially interested in the one on the south – a new Japanese fusion donut shop called Mochinut. The donuts look like a circular string of donut holes and are made with rice flour. Best of all, they come in tantalizingly oddly different flavors.

We were coming back from Mother’s day festivities in Downtown Dallas and my son expressed an interest in something sweet to eat. I suggested a quick stop at Mochinut – we would be passing by soon.

Even if I can’t eat it, I can see… and dream.

They were very good (I’m told) the shop is bright and simple – the flavors varied. Here is what they offered:

Mochinut flavors: Coffee, UBE snow, Original, Dark Chocolate, Strawberry W/Poky, and Churro – the flavors change ever week.

The place had a nice attention to detail. For example, on the dark chocolate Mochinut – there was a little chocolate bear sleeping on a marshmallow pillow. Cool.

Chocolate cake bear sleeping on a donut.

Flavored

“What’s a rainy day
without some delicious
coffee-flavoured loneliness?”
― Sanober Khan, Turquoise Silence

Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

I had to drive down to our facility on Love Field at work today and deal with some paperwork. It went quickly and smoothly so on the way back to North Dallas I had time to stop at the Central Market at Greenville and Lover’s Lane.

I passed the vast rows of perfect exotic vegetables, past the long cold row of waiting fish, past the display of bright red beef, past the beer and wine and into the land of bulk food items – long vertical plexiglass chutes with a sliding gate at the bottom. These are filled with everything from nuts to grains. But I headed to the end of the winding displays – there there was coffee.

As a certified and certifiable coffee snob I’m not supposed to drink flavored coffee because the added artificial essence disguises the delicious perfection of the roasted beans. But I can’t help it. I like to have a selection. I like to open my tiny plastic tubs of beans and sniff them – choose the infusion of the day. I like the smell of flavored coffee in the whole bean, in the grinder, and in the cup.

So I picked up a bag, opened the valve on the Banana Nut flavored accumulation and let a little bit over a pound slide out. Off to the the side there are two banks of coffee grinders – one labeled “No Flavored Coffee” and the other “Flavored Coffee Only.” I ignore those – I like to grind my beans right before they go in the boiling water. I’m not sure if it really makes a difference, but I think it does.

I had to stand in line a long time clutching my tiny single bag – the Express Lane labeled “15 items or less” seemed chock full of folks with fourteen items each. But I eventually made it back to work and was able to re-fill my container with Banana Nut goodness.

My coffee ritual – bean selection, measurement, grinding, water heating, loading the aeropress, brewing, filtering, pressing, and finally drinking – that’s the high point of my day.

Aeropress, from Williams Sonoma

Between Scylla and Charybdis

“Fancy me between Scylla and Charybdis.”

― Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

There is a lot of food at the ends – Por Ejemplo – the King of Candy Apples

For a couple months now I have been eating Keto – no carbs at all. I always resisted this… for several reasons… but now have arrived at the point that it is the only way that I can keep my blood sugar under control.

It’s working – we’ll see how it goes long-term – but there is one bad side effect. I absolutely crave certain things – pasta, pizza,tortillas, and other starchy or sweet things. I know there are substitutes, but it isn’t the a same.

Every morning I drive to work and enter the straights between Scylla and Charybdis. One Beltline, only a few blocks from my house – in a spot where traffic is heavy so I can’t speed through – there is a brand new Dunkin’ Donuts on the right and a brand new Mochinut on the left (that’s a shop that sells a hybrid Japanese/Hawaiian style of donutish pastry).

It drives me crazy. The thought that I will spend the few years I have left and never eat another donut is more than I think I can stand.

And then, last night, I dreamed I was eating a chocolate donut. It was so real. I wonder if, years from now, I won’t remember enough to know what it is like.

I Forgot How Good

“Even bad coffee is better than no coffee at all.”

― David Lynch

My Aeropress at a campsite, Lake Ray Roberts, Texas
Aeropress, from Williams Sonoma

As I’ve said before, I did not set out to be a coffee snob. But it is what it is. There is the Aeropress… and a grinder (fresh ground beans do really make a difference).

I actually have two grinders – an electric one at home and a hand grinder at work. Also, two Aeropress (what’s the plural of Aeropress?). I have the original one at home and the portable Aeropress Go at work.

The Aeropress Go, collapsed inside its own coffee cup.
The various parts of the Aeropress Go

And I have my routine(s). I’m afraid on most days, my morning cup of coffee is the best part of the day. At work, I particularly enjoy opening up the plastic container I use and sniffing the aroma of the beans. In a month, when I have more time, when I’m at home all day, I plan on making a little stand with three bean containers and each morning sniff each one and decide what beans to grind.

I did forget how good it was.

We had a big inspection at work – weekend work preparing – shelves of paperwork – hours of preparation. The whole thing threw me off my game and I wasn’t able to hand-grind and brew my usual morning cup.

But we had it catered from the cafeteria – including two big steel cylinders of fresh coffee each morning. So I pushed the little black plastic handle and poured out a mug.

It was awful.

Awful! Bitter as hell but otherwise flavorless. Nasty, Nasty stuff.

The next day, I moved my alarm earlier to an obscene time (I am not a morning person) so I could get to work early enough to grind my own beans, heat my own water, and brew my own cup.

It was the best part of the day.

Christmas, Bistro B

“when I left her to-day, she put her arms around me and felt my shoulder blades, to see if my wings were strong, she said. ‘The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.’ ”
― Kate Chopin, The Awakening

Everyone has their traditions. The best traditions, especially the best holiday traditions… are the ones you establish yourselves.

I don’t remember how we started… probably inspired by the ending (after the disaster where the Bumpass’ dogs ate the turkey) of A Christmas Story….

Our Christmas tradition is to eat at Bistro B – a (one of many) Vietnamese restaurant in our city.

I’ve written about it before:

2018 Another Christmas, Another Bowl of Pho

2017 What the Pho?

2011 Bistro B on Christmas Day

The other members of my family order various things (the menu at Bistro B is literally a book – the menu items run into the seven hundreds) but I stick to the Pho. Today, I ordered number 37 – the beef and meat ball Pho.

This year’s Pho at Bistro B

It was too much food. I have been trying to eat less. With most of the broth, most of the noodles, and all of the beef consumed, I was full. But, what the hell… it’s Christmas. I went for it.

Empty bowl of Pho

There aren’t too many empty bowls left behind at that place.

I felt like I had swallowed a football. The rest of the day… well, it’s a bit of a blur.

Bistro B, Richardson, Texas

We did open presents – not the wild blowout of rending paper as it was when the kids were little.

My son did buy my a cool and interesting gift – Tickets to the January 15th Kansas-West Virginia Basketball game – so we will have a weekend road trip to Lawrence in our future. That should be fun – I’ve only been back once in the last twenty years or so.

Merry Christmas Everyone!