I was too busy for blogging these many weeks, but I was drinking coffee, and so my record here will have a gap. There was a roast from Verve that was quite tasty but is no longer available, and I made it through a couple of rough weeks with the delicious Peet's Holiday Blend, which my wife carried back from Los Angeles. She was spending some time there with her mother, who was ill but recovering, Then Nancy died unexpectedly from a stroke just before Thanksgiving. With that and all the other troubles this year, 2009 will not go down in our memory as a good year.
On the positive side, I returned to a more regular practice of zazen, sitting meditation, which has a calming effect though I do not appear to have gotten any closer to being a bodhisattva. In this age of sleep deprivation, a secret to staying awake on the cushion is strong coffee. Like this one. Coffee: Helsar de Zarcero, West Valley, Llano Bonito de Naranjo Micro-region, Costa Rica.
Roasted: Dec. 11 by Café Grumpy in Brooklyn.
Purchased Dec. 12 at Grumpy's Chelsea location at 224 W. 20th St., between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
Description "Medium, creamy body. Fresh blackberry aroma & mellow acidity. Finishing with honeycomb sweetness."
In the Cup As I mentioned earlier this fall, Grumpy has started roasting its own beans, a positive development. (The Chelsea shop is also offering classes, something a few of its competitors have been doing for a while).
This coffee is fresh, and tasty, and pretty much matches the creamy description on the bag, reprinted above. It's an excellent coffee, though lacking a certain something that keeps it off my "wow" list. I've tried it as a regular coffee and an espresso, brewing at home. Yesterday I filled a thermos full of nearly the last of it, and took it to my daughter's gymnastics class. It was deeply satisfying to pour a full mug and watch the kids. I am a little surprised to be running out already. Either I'm drinking more coffee than usual, or these bags are lighter than I realized. Luckily I also bought a bag of the Finca El Carmen from El Salvador, another variety the chain is roasting these days. I may not get around to blogging that one separately, but the bag promises nutty undertones, a sweet citrus aroma and "effervescent sweetness with dark chocolate finish."
According to Grumpy's informative site, the Helsar de Zarcero is 100 percent Caturra, aquapulped and sun-dried. The coffee comes from a "micromill" started by three families (now 10 are involved) in Costa Rica "with the goal of adding value and providing traceability to the high quality coffee grown on their land." The farm uses sustainable agriculture practices, including the use of organic fertlizers that are "fermented on-site by mixing coffee cherry pulp and molasses, along with mined zinc, boron, and other minerals. Micro-organisms are cultured from soil collected on nearby mountains and added to the natural fertilizer in order to provide disease protection to the coffee plants.”
I bet it's warm there right now.
Here in New York City, the snow is still fresh and white, after the snowpocalypse rolled through on Saturday. I'm at home sipping the last of this coffee, while my wife works quietly elsewhere in the apartment and our daughter is off sledding in Central Park with friends. I hope to get back to reading "Buddha's Brain," by Rick Hanson, or "Chronic City," by Jonathan Lethem, the two books I've sworn to finish before year's end. There's a hush over the city, except for the taxi whistles of a hotel doorman below, and a hush is over the city, and I'm pleased to steal this quiet moment to fire up the blog. I don't really know who reads this, apart from a few Twitter followers and friends, but let's hope together for a better 2010.