The Solstice Soliloquy

On any reasonable listing of the most traded commodities in the world, cotton and wheat, steal and plastics, gold and silver, natural gas, opium, and sugar are all variously placed near the top, but the two most traded goods on the planet are crude oil and coffee. My opinions about oil are as negative as they are positive about coffee. I could wax grimly poetic about the abhorrent place oil has been allowed in global domination, but the two most reasonable words to use would be manipulation and sacrosanct. Given that, I’ll just paraphrase how it was summed up by someone more religiously inclined than myself: Regardless of your own religious positioning, Oil is the Antichrist.

Coffee then might be a Messianic fruit.

My interests in coffee go far beyond the reviews of its body, briskness, and acidity; of whether or not it pulls well as espresso; of its Fair Trade, Organic, Shade-Grown Bird-Friendly statuses. I am interested in the history and culture of coffee, of how its geography and politics are linked through literature, revolution, and science. In two direct steps, Sumatran Mandheling coffee can be connected to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Edvard Munch’s The Scream. French Symbolist poetry is connected to 18th Century slave trade in North Africa through Ethiopian Harar coffee. And the inalienable part cafés and coffee houses have played in fomenting revolution and civil rights is staggeringly evident but remains greatly unacknowledged [these sort of evidentiary aspects that nonetheless remain partly erased from awareness are what I term cultural palimpsests, a theory I developed through years of peering through the cracks in the façade of the sepulcher white towers of academia].

This blog will chronicle my travels, experiences, thoughts, and discoveries about coffee in general, as well as the individual coffees I roast, brew, and drink. I have been a connoisseur of this drink for some and twenty years, and for a couple of years when working as a barista and roaster, kept a pen-and-paper journal (mostly humor and rumination), but the focus of this will not be how marvelous that cup of Indian Mysore was 7300 days ago, but rather how I found it to be this week (well, proverbially, anyway. This week I’m preparing my soliloquy on Timor Maubesse; I haven’t encountered Indian Mysore in at least 3500 days), and—as much to the point—how it found its way to me.

Comments and criticisms are welcome.

This begins as a soliloquy, but it needn’t remain so.




20 Jun. 2013

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