Gastronomy Domine I*
Ever seeking the ultimate coffee experience, Karen bought a roaster. We already fork over $$$ for 100% Kona, but that's not good enough for my lovely arabicatroph**. Now she can buy green Kona beans and roast them herself. I'm not sure I understand this. Isn't Vietnamese iced coffee already the ultimate coffee experience? Imagine a cup of liquefied Dreyer's coffee ice cream with all the punch of a triple espresso. It doesn't get much better than that . . . right? Wrong. Turns out I've been drinking stale coffee all of my life. While green coffee beans will stay fresh for many months, roasted beans start losing it within two weeks of the roast. Hence the desire to burn one's own beans. The desired end product is something between a full city roast and a full French roast. You want it just past the second crack stage. Yes, that's how I love my beans: with two cracks***. Theoretically, if we start with 100% Kona green beans and roast 'em just right, we'll get the perfect cup of coffee. Well . . . maybe not, since these Jamaicans claim their stuff is better than Kona. And then there's Indonesian crappucino. This is not an urban legend. (Technically, it would be a third world legend, but it's true.) The world's rarest, most prized, and most expensive coffee is Kopi Luwak, which owes its distinctive "earthy, musty, syrupy, smooth and rich [flavor], with both jungle and chocolate undertones" to its passage through the bowels of the Asian palm civet, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus. Mmmm, musty and chocolatey. Only William S. Burroughs reaches such rhapsodic heights in describing the smell of bowels. What? You don't believe my Kopi Luwak story? Here's a link at Nature.com. (The quote above comes from this Nature News story.) Thousand-dollar-per-kilogram coffee wouldn't ordinarily rank a Nature News piece, but the story has a more serious side, as it covers Canadian food scientist Massimo Marcone's efforts to reproduce Kopi Luwak under alternate circumstances. He reasoned that in Ethiopia, a different species of civet coexists with wild coffee beans, and thus: "In a forthcoming issue of Food Research International, Marcone describes how he brewed coffee from beans that he personally picked out of the faeces of African civets (Civettictis civetta) and compared it with a mug of Kopi Luwak." Now, that's dedication. So here's what I'm thinking. We have a bag of green Kona coffee beans. We also own two cats, one of whom will eat anything . . . Knowing Karen, she will be content to roast her Kona green beans and call it the ultimate coffee experience. But I know better. D. *If you need an explanation for this title, you're either too young, or too old; in any case, this joke loses all humor in its explanation. Sorry, kids (gramps), ask your 43-year-old father (son). **Just because I shun neologisms in my writing doesn't mean I can't do 'em. By the way, a quick search will show you that www.arabicatroph.com is available, so if you're an obligate coffeaphage, you might consider setting up a website. ***Hey, Maureen: betcha didn't think I could sexualize coffee beans!