A Better Cup

Some Observations On Making Good Coffee

My daughter starts school an hour later now. Also, the last box that I received from Bespoke Post was coffee related and included a lovely French Press. These two events have given me the excuse to try to make better coffee in the morning. I’ve found the results OK so far but have come to realize that good coffee is an art that I need to work at. Which I’m fine with, actually. I’ve been open to suggestions and done some research on this but have come to realize that it is highly subjective and I just have to find the right process, measurements, and ingredients for me. That "good coffee" is a matter of personal taste and there is no right way.

For instance, despite my wife’s graciousness in giving my attempts at making a better cup of coffee this weekend a fair shot, it was discovered (by me at least) that she just plain likes coffee made in our old drip machine. And that is fine. As I said, the best lesson I have learned through this is that people like what they like.

I have found for myself that I never add sugar to good coffee. With coffee I make in the drip maker I almost always do. It’s too bitter otherwise. Because of this, my standard has become "Would sugar make this better?". I’ll know that I have reached a better cup for me when the answer is consistently "no".

This morning, I dug out my Aeropress. I have likely not used it in a couple of years. Yet, inspired by my coffee research and new found time, I decided to give it a spin. Yesterday, I purchased some Honduran beans recommend by the coffee shop I frequent. The results were excellent. A really good cup of coffee. Smooth, rich, and flavorful. No sugar needed.

My friend Garrick once interviewed Twin Cities coffee expert Jeremy Raths of The Roastery for his podcast on the subject of brewing the prefect cup. I find it interesting that, right off the bat, he pretty much summed up the subjective nature of the perfect cup. That one can only judge what seems best to them. That it is not for others to say.

One of the other things mentioned in that podcast is that most coffee is touched by over 80 people before it gets to you. From the planting, to the growing, to the picking, etc. At any point along the way, any one of those people could screw the whole thing up. When it reaches you, you are holding the work of 80 people who did their best. They didn’t screw it up.

That’s all I want from a better cup of coffee. To do my best and not screw it up. I’m getting there.

I’m a writer. Writing is how I make this world better, friendlier, stronger place. If these words improved your day, please let me know by contributing here.

Random Notes and Recent Thoughts #1

In a further effort to get me back to posting here more here is the first in another regular series — Random Notes and Thoughts. Some of these I may loop back around to in the future with a longer dedicated post but I need to park them for now.

  • I’ve actually been working and writing a lot since I got back from vacation. Just not here. I wrote a thousand words about the camera in the new iPhone 5S over at Minimal Mac. I wrote a forward for my friend Julio’s upcoming book. I have recorded about half of the audiobook version of my Apple Consulting Guide which I hope to complete the recording of this week. Plus a flood of client work. So yeah, I’ve been busy.

  • I’ve also been working on a lot of personal and professional development stuff. I’ve been thinking a lot about my current consulting rate, current service offerings that have become burdens or not cost effective, and potential new services I could/should be offering. I’ve been reading Value-Based Fees by Alan Weiss but I’m not quite sure if it has the answers that apply to me and what I do. Which leads to a more interesting question which is, perhaps I should be doing different things.

  • I think it is really good, especially if you work for yourself, to take a step back every once in awhile and evaluate your business top to bottom and ask the hard questions… Am I charging enough for the value I provide? Am I providing the right value to the right people? Am I in the right business in the first place? Is Starbucks hiring and do they still provide healthcare to their employees? These are all valid and worthy questions.

  • But, the fact also is that I’ve let all of that get in the way of the commitment I have made to myself (and you) here and this makes me feel bad.

  • Be happy with the things you can do. Don’t focus on the things you can’t.

  • The fanciness of your process only reveals your resistance to the dirtiness of the work. Only the work is The Work. Everything else is an excuse.

  • I don’t believe I will ever get used to not wearing a wrist watch. Mainly because when I need to know the time I never remember there is a device in my pocket that can tell me.

  • I don’t quite know what it is "the kids" are listening to these days and, on the odd occasion I hear it, I just can’t understand why anyone would listen to such crap. I always imagined I would grow up to be the "old guy"’who was "down" with "the kids". I now ready to be content with being just old and not having a clue what or why the kids listen to what they do these days.

  • I think that Blossom), played by Mayim Bialik in the 1980s hit TV show of the same name, would be an appropriate fashion role model for my daughter. This also makes me far more comfortable with allowing her to dress herself.

  • Replace every hour you will never get back with two you wish would never end.

  • Most days, I’m not sure I will ever be as satisfied by most technology as I am with a good pen and nice paper. Nor will it inspire the same feelings of possibility, expressiveness, and creativity.

  • I become enamored with ideas. This site proves that.

Items of Interest #6

It has been a pretty busy past couple of weeks but I still have lots to share. Let’s get to it…

Writing and collaborative editing site Editorially is now open to the general public. I was invited to join up quite some time ago but have not had the chance to really play with it as I have been actively and happily using Draft for another project. That said, I’m really impressed by what I saw and especially impressed that Mandy Brown (the CEO) reached out to me personally to ask why I had signed up but not yet used it. That. my friends, is the sign of a product you should support. So, go check it out.

I had the chance to handle and briefly play with a ZTE Open Firefox OS Phone that a friend of mine purchased, carrier unlocked, for around $100.00 on eBay. Seemed like a nice enough little unit. I liked the build quality (think low end but sturdy Android phone), the hand-feel, and size (smaller than an iPhone but comfortable rounded shape). The Firefox OS has the advantage of being truly open instead of Android “open” which would make this a nice little Freedom Phone (carrier free, free as in open, free as in non-three letter agency compromised, etc.). That said, the OS itself was a bit clunky and laggy, the software keyboard almost painful to use, and the third-party apps are all webapps which all seemed to take a bit too long to launch. As my friend said, “If someone were to tell me that this were an unfinished prototype the original iPhone was based on about 6 months before it’s release, I’d believe it.”

While we are on the subject of smartphones and speed, if you really want to have a fast note taking option for your iPhone just get some of these Paperback Notes. Sticky notes that attach to the back. Way faster than launching Notes.app. Not nearly as elegant as DODOcase Notes but sometimes speed trumps beauty.

I really enjoyed the latest (and final?) installment of Put This On which was filmed in Milan. This episode discusses what happens when long storied artisan shops become multi-national brands and what is lost in the process. A whole lot of intersections here with the idea of Final Choices and choosing high quality and longevity over fast disposable fashion.

The Epic Privacy Browser is based on Google Chrome. Unlike Google Chrome it is designed to provide privacy from advertisers and others that wish to track and collect your online behavior. It has always-on Private Browsing, blocks trackers and third-party cookies, routes searches through a secure proxy, uses https whenever the option is available, and Epic clears all of your browsing data on close. It wont protect you from the everything but it will provide a measure more privacy that your current browser likely does not.

I recently went shopping (in that modern, online, sense) for a nice leather cover that would hold a Field Notes notebook, a few index cards, and some other essentials (business cards, stamps, etc.). After looking at many options I first settled on The E2 Field Gear Leather Pocket Notebook Cover because it looked good and the price, at $30.00, was pretty good. When I received it I was happy enough. Nice quality, seemed solid, and was up to the task. That said, with one side being a slash pocket the index cards and other items were less secure inside. Then, just a couple of weeks later I saw the Hellbrand Leatherworks — Chromexcel Field Notes cover for sale on Huckleberry for a decent price so I snatched it up. Turns out, with the full pocket on the opposite side from the notebook, it was better for my needs. So, now I have the first one I bought (the E2 Field Gear model) available for sale. I’ll let it go for $25.00 and will include the shipping in that to anywhere in the US. Please shoot me an email if interested.

That’s all for now. Over and out.

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