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A drop more coffee geekery

I won’t keep doing this, I promise, but this thing came in the mail today and I’m excited. It’s a Kalita Wave, all’a way from Japan.

I know what you’re thinking. “Pff!” you’re thinking, “it’s a drip coffee maker, Weasel!” Well, yes…but it’s got a flat bottom with three holes. Supposedly, this keeps the coffee in optimum contact with the water as it brews.

Eh. This exact model secured a victory in the Coffee Masters competition at the London Coffee Festival two years running. So there!

Here’s what you do, distilled from various sources on the net:

1. Pour boiling water in it to warm everything up and wash off the paper taste. Empty it.
2. Grind the coffee and put in. Make a little well in the middle.
3. Pour just enough water in to get the grounds wet. This makes it ‘bloom’ – swell up and give off carbon dioxide. CO2 apparently makes it harder to extract flavor from the coffee (bonus: makes Greta cry).
4. Wait 10 – 45 seconds and maybe even stir it, depending on who you believe.
5. When the water has cooled to the desired temperature, slowly drizzle water around the sides until the grounds are evenly wet.
6. Do this (~twice) until you filled the cup.

It’s a tiny one-cup maker. It’s kinda small in there to ‘drizzle around the edges’, but the point is to pour slowly and meditatively while thinking pretentious thoughts.

I’ve used it once today. It made a very nice cup of coffee.

February 28, 2023 — 7:45 pm
Comments: 17

The adventure continues

Still playing with fancy coffee. I got this book, and it’s been a big help (I didn’t pay that much for it, though).

One thing he said has stuck with me. In coffee terms, he says, bitter is the opposite of acid (sour).

Not in absolute terms. I can think of things that are both bitter and acid. Lemon zest comes to mind.

But in coffee, dark roasts are bitter and light roasts are acid. Or so he says. Starbucks is all dark roast, and I think I’d describe it as acid rather than bitter (I hate Starbucks).

In fact, I’ve thought about this so much over the past few days, I’m not sure I understand what bitter *or* acid means any more.

Does this resonate with you?

Interesting tidbit: he says the lightest roast Starbucks sells – the Blonde Roast – is darker than the darkest roast most small artisanal roasters offer.

I’m just grateful I’m not into espresso. That’s the real money sink.

Hoffmann has a YouTube channel, if you’re innerested. I haven’t watched many of his videos, though.

February 27, 2023 — 8:41 pm
Comments: 5

Gimme that old time leak detector

I had a visit from Southern Water at the office this morning. Seems there’s a water leak on the path that runs past the building and they were looking for the origin. I had to fetch keys and open up storage rooms so they could test the pipes.

Funny pair. It was an older woman, graying at the temples, and a young man who was on the phone the entire time. I don’t know if he was doing something important related to finding the leak or if it was a kids these days situation.

She had a device with a wooden cup shape at the top and a long thin metal rod. Like the picture above, except her wooden bit was larger and look like it had worn down over decades of use. I thought it was solid, but the description I found online says it’s hollow. Anyway, it’s flat, not pierced in any way at the top and the pipe is solid, too.

It works like a giant stethoscope. She held it against a pipe and she could hear if water was flowing through it. She let me fiddle with it for a while and frankly I want one now.

I tried to find it online for you, but I didn’t know what to search for. I used all kinds of combinations of sono- and aqua- and probe and meter and I finally found it and do you want to know what it’s really called? Do you? I swear to dog, it’s called a Water Listening Stick. They’re about £35.

Here’s the article that picture came from, about a young man who is a leak detector in Cornwall. Here’s a more general article about what water sounds like leaking out of pipes (but using the sort of electronic equipment you’d expect). It’s oddly interesting.

We weren’t the leaker, by the way. She said they’d find the pipe, put a stopcock on it above the leak and turn it off. Then they wait to see if anyone yelps about their water being cut off. There’s so much stuff down there, apparently, that it could be a pipe that hasn’t actively carried water to anyone in a hundred years.

And now you’ve learned something utterly useless. Good weekend!

February 24, 2023 — 6:25 pm
Comments: 10

Want to go

You see, Pratts Bottom and I have a history. When I first met him, Uncle B had a house in London and, a few years later, bought a small holiday flat on the coast. Whenever I came over, we’d more or less immediately pack up and head South.

I enjoyed that trip, in a way. It was neat watching the transition from urban to rural – which happens surprisingly quickly. Not too far from the urban nightmare that is modern London you find yourself among rolling hills and sheep.

One of the places we passed on the way was Pratts Bottom – or a signpost to it, anyway. And I always said, “please, can we stop and have tea in Pratts Bottom?” and then I’d laugh like a drain. Probably because I was jetlagged.

We never did have tea in Pratts Bottom and we probably never will. It’s a long way to go if you’re not going on to London.

Note it is in Orpington, where the excellent Orpington chicken originated. When I was first shopping for chickens, my first choice was buff orps. They are, however, gigantic. Gazing upon them and thinking of his garden, a tear formed in the corner of Uncle B’s eye.

That’s how I ended up with bantams. The chicken seller rather acidly said, “oh, I thought you were looking for real chickens.”

February 23, 2023 — 8:02 pm
Comments: 10

Missing my audience in two important ways

Those of you (which is most of you, I suspect) who don’t play a certain kind of computer game will not recognize a character creation screen. This is how you build a persona in games. Maximizing your sliders is never a good idea.

And those of you not on Twitter (which is most of you, I suspect) may not recognize Emily Kohrs, the grand jury foreman from Georgia who decided to go hard for her fifteen minutes of fame. This is the grand jury that heard the proposed election interference case against Trump. No decision on indictments yet, and she’s inadvertently handing big fat wins to any potential defense.

Seriously, watch this clip and tell me this chick is all there. Foreman, huh?

February 22, 2023 — 7:43 pm
Comments: 12

Shiny squeezy

LED tweezers, y’all! I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, but I had to have them. At the model railway exhibition, yes.

Changing the subject, the Daily Mail is bigging up food shortages today, particularly fresh vegetables.

‘There was hardly any fresh produce in Tesco. In Morrisons I asked a young staff member what was going on and he said there was nothing in the back stores.

‘It was the same in Aldi and Lidl, it seemed to be affecting all the supermarkets.’

Coincidentally, we did our shop today. Uncle B went by himself into Waitrose for a few special bits and pieces and he said there was plenty of everything. They are, of course, more expensive than the rest. Tomatoes, if you can afford them.

But we went into Aldi afterwards and – hoo boy! – it was thin. I bought the last iceberg lettuce (and a very sad specimen it was, too). There were no tomatoes at all, no sweet peppers, (no eggs, but that’s different). I’ve never seen the veg so empty.

Meat was okay (phew!) and canned goods and all that sort of stuff. Just fresh produce. They’re blaming the weather here and in Spain and North Africa (where a lot of our fresh vegetables come from in Winter).

Oh, well. We’ll be in hobby growers season soon. I can deal with canned tomatoes until then.

February 21, 2023 — 8:26 pm
Comments: 5

Land of the Giants

Yes, we went to a model railway exhibition this weekend. It was a big one. Well, a bigger one than I’ve been to before, anyway.

This is a real thing here. Uncle B points out that we have plenty train enthusiasts in America, model and otherwise – and it’s true – but I don’t think trains are quite woven into the fabric in the same way.

They were advertising any number of other shows in the area in the coming months. We could do this all year.

I love going to these because I love anything in miniature…plus all the little tiny tools and pots of paint. Yes, I bought a couple. I don’t know why; I don’t do any kind of anything any more.

Phew, this would be an expensive hobby for real, though.

February 20, 2023 — 8:06 pm
Comments: 7

That baleful eye

Visitor at work this morning. I don’t think she’s a one-eyed cat, but only one eye is showing in all the images. Except the next pic: the cat’s butt going over the wall as I tried to get closer.

Well, I guess that’s technically one eye, too.

I know who owns her and where she lives, but that doesn’t means she’ll give me the time of day.

Not much to say for myself. Have a good weekend, everyone!

February 17, 2023 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 7


Welp, one kilo of green coffee beans arrived today. I paid way over the odds for it, but it’s from a local roaster with a good reputation.

Imagine my surprise when it came with a gift of Costa Rican coffee and a handwritten welcome note from the owner. Also that chatty newspaper in the photo (which Uncle B assures me was extremely expensive to print).

Is this what happens when you knowingly overpay? Is this what it’s like to be rich? Hoo! I could stand having my butt smooched on the regular.

I got Monsoon Malabar, which I’ve had before and liked. Wikipedia says: “The harvested coffee seeds are exposed to the monsoon rain and winds for a period of about three to four months, causing the beans to swell and lose the original acidity, resulting in a flavor profile with a practically neutral pH balance.” Yup, that’s how I like it.

The plan is to roast in mall batches as needed. I’ll let you know.

February 16, 2023 — 8:01 pm
Comments: 6

Hm. Not really my style.

Etsy wants me to know this thing is so hot right now. I gather it’s a “super sized statement bag” – whatever that is. It’s blue, anyway.

I knew the wonderful website Regretsy was no longer with us (2009-2013). After a little poking around, I regret to inform you that an archive of it has never been put on the internet. The URL points to a coming soon placeholder, but no way to know how long it’s been there.

Not that this bag is Regretsy-worthy, it just put me in mind of one of my favorite reads, back in the day.

If you missed it, Regretsy was a delightful blog featuring the weirdest things found on Etsy. According to Wikipedia, when April Winchell started the site in 2009, she got 90 million hits in four days. What a thing to walk away from!

There’s a Regretsy-themed Reddit group, but it hasn’t been active in two years. There’s a small selection of posts curated here. There are other bits and pieces scattered across the web. But mostly, it’s gone – unless April decides to post the archive some day.

Oh, and so is Raquel Welch after a short illness. No, nobody had her.

February 15, 2023 — 7:54 pm
Comments: 4