Monthly Archives: June 2013

Summer in Rose Park

The airplanes ascend, through orange streetlights and “Compramos Oro” white neon signs, backlit by turquoise dusk skies that make me think of Mexico. The telephone wires stretched across the street. A man riding his bike. Another skateboarding. The Miami Heat win the championship. And I wish I was somewhere by the beach. But I am in Rose Park in the city of salt. Cars drive by. Bumping rap or mariachi music.

In our neighborhood, people still sit out on the porch. 

River White, Like Elephants

ImageThe river was white, like the ivory from elephants, and its bank was lined with fallen trees stretching their branches into the river, like the bones of elephants, the sky was hazy blue and the clouds slightly wispy, there was some sun, bright—especially through the haze, but it was getting late. We were tired from the day of work and drank beer along the rocks. The rocks were black on bottom and white on top—from the river below and the sun above.

“What will you do after this?” she said.

“Work.”

Where?”

“Somewhere. Coffee shop maybe, maintenance.”

“For how long?”

“Don’t know.”

“Will you go back to school?”

“Maybe.”

The river sparkled even brighter white, when the sun shone on it. It was probably minerals of some kind. We stared for a while into empty spaces, and the empty spaces stared back at us, mirroring.

“Why do you think the river is like that?”

“You mean all white?” she said.

“Yes.”

“I don’t know. Minerals maybe, runoff of some kind.”

“There’s not a factory up the river is there?”

“Don’t think so.”

“Hmm.”

“Who knows what causes these things.” I said.

“Well, scientists do.” We opened new bottles, filled with beer. A sunshine ale, because it was still hot.

“You think so? I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone knows about these things. I mean really knows, even about the simplest things.”

“Someone has to know.”

“Why, why does someone always have to know?”

“Because someone has to know.”

“I don’t know if anyone does.”

“There has to be answers. What would you tell people?”

“I don’t know.”

“No really what would you tell them if they asked. If you had to answer.” She took a sip of her beer.

“I don’t know.”

“No! If you had to answer.”

“No that’s just it, I would tell them, ‘I don’t know.’”

She looked at me hard, trying to read me. I took a sip of my beer. We continued staring into empty spaces, and she was nervous.

“Well what do you want to do in the fall?” She was getting slightly perturbed.

I answered, “I don’t know.”

She gave me another look, grittier. The river was still white but the trees began to look black, because the sun was going down.”

“Something of value.” I finally said after a few minutes of silence.

“Like what.”

“I’m going to say the same thing, you know, so please don’t be angry.”

She took another sip of her beer, this time in spite, because she knew the answers. She kept looking at me and I said it again. She got up to leave.

“Are you being honest or are you just being some sad, pathetic creature?”

I said it again.

The birds flew in the air, high, like kites. We continued to sit on the bank, dry from lack of rain. She sat back down.

“It’s not like I want this,” I said. “I don’t. If I could change I would.”

“You can change. It’s not that hard.”

Her face looked irritated, mine tired. She wanted resolution. I didn’t know what I wanted.

“I wish it was that easy. This honesty bleeds into doubt which bleeds into a lack of faith.”

“But if you’re honest you would find the truth… you would find what you’re looking for.”

“You’d think so, right?”

She looked away, into the hills—into the river, white like elephants tusks.

She got up to leave, this time for good I think. I wanted her to stay, I really did. But I also knew that she had to go. And I had to stay. Not that I wanted to. But I had to. I really did.

And she left, for good I think.

 I drank the final sips of the beer. The sun was going down fast now. The bright orange was fading to a dark purple haze.

I sat there not really sure what to do. So I drank and I lit a cigarette, slowly, with care.  I breathed in deep, inhale.

And I tried to exhale. I really did. 

Tagged , , , ,

Let There Be Light!

And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light.

Genesis 1:3

 

Every so often my coffee world and my writing world line up and I can do both at once. Here’s an article I wrote for my friends at Caputo’s about Light vs. Dark in coffee.

For many years now, dark coffee has reigned supreme in coffee shops, grocery stores, and restaurants alike. To order a large dark drip coffee is almost as American as McDonald’s or baseball itself. .

Many of us equate “dark” coffee with “strong” coffee or full bodied coffee. What we are saying when we order a dark coffee (or French Roast/Vienna Roast) is that we don’t want a watery cup of coffee. We want coffee that’ll stick hair on our chest and wake us up like a shot of cold water to the face. The truth however, is that 80% of the time dark coffee is not synonymous with “strong” coffee but with burnt coffee.

The majority of coffee roasters are not as concerned about quality as you might think. They’ll buy inferior beans or poorer quality beans to mix in with the other beans to “cut” the coffee (in drug slang.) However they can get away with it because the darker you roast coffee the more it “burns” out any flavor deficiencies and provides a consistent, albeit, smoky and dark taste. Drinking coffee should be like drinking wine or eating cheese. You should be able to tell the basic difference from a Pinot to a Cab or from a Cheddar to a Swiss. Coffee after all is a crop. A crop with a specific taste and flavor profile dependent on the region it comes from. Coffee from Hawaii should taste different than coffee from Ethiopia. Roasting coffee lighter can accomplish this.

In the past decade we’ve seen a major switch of coffee roasting companies who are sourcing higher quality beans and roasting the beans lighter so you can actually taste them. Darker coffee, while one may still prefer it, is generally burnt. There can be such a thing as a “dark” roast that is not burnt, but it will not be as nearly ashy and flat tasting as one might be used to. For many years light roast coffee has been equated to “weak” or “watery” coffee, while in fact light roasted coffee has a considerably higher amount of caffeine than dark roasted beans. Light or medium roast coffee is not weak coffee, but rather roasted so that the true flavor and terroir of the coffee can come out.

In reality the terms “light” and “dark” are not accurate measures for how we should be describing coffee. For anyone interested in learning more about coffee and trying “specialty” coffee, you’ll find that factors such as region, country and processing provide a better measurement of what coffee will and can taste like. 

It’s not bad to be a fan of a darker roast, but once you get a taste of what really good coffee can be, it’s hard to go back. Like any other specialty food item, coffee is nuanced and for us in the coffee world this is what makes coffee great—the ability to taste differences from bean to bean and region to region—and it’s hard to get that from low quality beans roasted dark.

             

Tagged , , , , ,