Wednesday, October 9, 2013

More Life at 12 MPH . . .

Seeing the world at 12 mph makes it much easier to stop and gaze. In the past while driving that might have meant I was wasting time because I needed to be somewhere else . . . soon. The minute or two that I can spend looking at something or taking a picture is time well spent.

Today, I stopped and looked at these . . .

That Tree Over there
Solitary trees, especially are compelling to me; simultaneously powerful and alone.

That Chimney
Remnants of the past can be small, visual treasures.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How Does Coffee Relate to Bicycles?

Maybe because I ride a bike and truly live locally that I find the idea of buying locally more relevant. It is especially uplifting and satisfying when locally produced stuff is competitively priced, but frugality and indulgence create conflict. I have resolved any conflicts regarding cheese, goat milk, soap, honey and herb plants. The quality of each of these locally produced products settles any discussion about value. Each is well worth their cost. That none are remarkably more (and sometimes less) than other more commercially available things makes it even better. Sometimes you have to do the math. Sometimes you have try the alternatives.

I met the namesake of Carmelo's Coffee one morning recently. He lives locally and was in my neighborhood grocery store (Publix) promoting his products. I bought a bag of his "House Roast, Delicious Blend" which he said contained a significant percentage of Central American beads. The cost was under $8 for a 12 ounce bag. It makes decent coffee that is certainly as satisfying to me as any other up-scale coffee.

I'll digress briefly about me and coffee. I enjoy it, but I don't drink much. A cup each morning is often all I consume. This fact alone makes the amount of money I spend on coffee pretty insignificant, so buying "better" coffee is not going to create a financial hardship. I lack the taste and qualities necessary to be a coffee connoisseur. I may appreciate the "full bodied fruitiness" of a coffee variety, but I wouldn't know how to detect and describe it. Lacking those abilities does not prevent me from recognizing that I do not care for Indonesian or African coffee and do like Central and South American.

The other thing about me and coffee is that it's "sweet and greasy," meaning I use both sugar and half and half. Some coffee aficionados insist that I drink coffee incorrectly. The roaster (and co-owner) at the San Francisco Coffee Roasting Company, many years ago, offered that anyone saying there is a right way to drink your cup of coffee is an effete intellectual snob. A bit harsh, but an attitude I have accepted.

After having several cups of Carmelo's I went looking for more information, especially related to his statement that he'd found people in suburban Cleveland to do the roasting. Cleveland, GA, isn't local to G'ville and Cleveland, OH, is almost foreign! Carmelo's Coffee is roasted and packaged by Generations Coffee Company who make private label coffee for numerous entities, so while Carmelo is local his coffee isn't.

There are two truly local coffee companies; Sweetwater and Tree City. Sweetwater still maintains there business locally, but their website says that legal issues will be resolved in Sumter County, Georgia. Doesn't make 'em Bulldogs, still . . . ? I haven't purchased any Sweetwater yet, but will when next I make it to Bo Diddley. Because Tree City is in Haile every Saturday I did buy a bag of their Mexican.

I like Tree City's coffee. Is it better than Carmelo's? Will it be better than Sweetwater's? Aside from liking how it tastes, it offers two significant advantages over Carmelo's and other single origin coffees. Most coffee producers have switched to "relative pounds." It's a common approach to manipulating prices. Ice cream did it a long time ago. When's the last time you actually purchased a half gallon of Breyer's? Tree City packages a pound (and so does Sweetwater) and sells it for $10, meaning it's cost no more than Carmelo's or other upscale brands. Adding to the extrinsic value of what they do is their paper bags!

So, here's what I say about this unscientific study of coffee. Tree City wins. It fulfills all my taste preferences, is made locally, maintains as green a foot print as is practical and is reasonably priced. I enjoyed conversing with Razia and will add Tree City to my regular stops on Saturdays. It's a multiple level win for me and I get to have one more neat thing to experience when I take my Saturday morning ride.