Simon Fell > Its just code > June 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

The One Northwest folks are building a Plone / Salesforce integration, using Beatbox, should be interesting to see how it turns out.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The green LA Girl blog has an interesting email from Geoff Watts (of Chicago based Intelligentsia) about Direct Trade (aka Relationship Coffee), Fair Trade and the Cup of Excellence, its an interesting read. The Cup of Excellence (or CoE) seems to do an awesome job of getting great prices for some great coffees (often from small family owned and run farms), and seems to be good for all involved, some of the lots have fetched serious money, see the Brazil results where the #1 lot went for $49.75 / Pound!. I drank some of the #2 Brazil lot while up at Stumptown (the Fazenda São Benedito) an amazing drink, especialy when made on the clover, but even at home made on the $3 melita manual drip it was a great cup. I have some of the #1 Bolivia on its way to me from Ecco cafe, can't wait to try it out. The Ecco folks have a good selection of various CoE lots, I'm looking forward to trying out some of the others too.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Yes, gasp, an actual web services blog post!. Anyway one of the sforcer's noticed that Indigo WCF client's don't send a HTTP User-Agent header (WS-UserAgent here we come). Apparently that's the way its going to stay, from our point of view a rather unfortunate decision we track our web services usage by user agent to help us understand what tools our customers are using to access our web services, so that we can provide samples, quick starts etc for those tools. I've heard it argued that this is for security reasons, which I could understand if tools like IE didn't send a highly detailed (down to IE patches installed) user agent. I live in hope that someone will see sense and this changes before GA, but I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I've mainly been drinking the Ecco Caffe Daterra Estate Reserve the last few days, its tasty, a little more laid back than the Northern Italian Reserve Espresso, surprisingly given its laid back nature its really good in milk drinks, the sweetness of the milk really helps bring out the coca and almond notes. It also works well outside of espresso, great as drip or vac-pot.

I've had the Daterra's reserve before from Caffe Fresco, who also do an excellent job of roasting it. (I haven't had it recently enough to give a head to head review), the Fresco folks are currently having a summer sale and have the Daterra reserve on sale at $10/pound which is an absolute steal.

I've been drinking the Brazil Carmo Estate Peaberry that I roasted last week, had a couple of french presses of it at the office, it wasn't that good in the press, in particular when hot it had a slight acidic off taste, it went away as it cool, but I found it off putting. By far the best result was in the melitta drip where it had a great berry note. I think I fudged the vac-pot that I made of it, it didn't have the clean crisp taste that I normally get, I think I let it brew too long. (I'm still dialing in my vac-pot skills). Next time I'll be stopping the roast sooner that I did in this batch, probably try and get it just before it goes into second crack.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I pulled some shots today of the Ecco Caffe Northern Italian Reserve Espresso, boy, the first shot after I'd dialed in the grind, freaking mind blowing, really thick sryupy shot, beutiful bittersweet chocolate and honey tones, one of the best shots I've had all year. I also tried it in a macchiato (shown above, you can't tell the scale very well, but that's a 3oz cup), which was also great, the milk bringing out more of the chocolate and almond tones. Wow, highly recommended, I can't wait to try out some of their other stuff.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

If you hang out on Coffee Geek for any length of time you'll realize that lots of people are into home roasting, buying green beans and roasting/blending themselves. I was intruiged and a whileback picked up an iRoast from home roasters central, Sweet Marias. To date I've only really roasted their pre-blended espresso blends, mainly espresso monkey and moka kadir. After the Stumptown trip, I've decided to branch out more into single origin coffee, so tonight I roasted up a batch of Brazil Carmo Estate Peaberry beans. I haven't kept any roast notes thus far, but now i think i'm going to have pay more attention and keep better track of what i've done and how things turn out, and my blog seems as good as place as any for that. (I really need to write the category support for my blogging engine)
I roasted a 5.5oz batch, however i noticed that the beans weren't really moving as well as the other roasts I've done, and I'm assuming that's a side effect of their smaller size, so next time i should do a smaller batch size (probably 5.0oz). I believe the movement problem resulted in the final roast not being as even as it could of been (you can see the variations in roasted colors). It was hard to hear second crack over the noise of the iRoast, but I'd guess I was about 10 seconds into second crack by the time I hit the cool button and this was 7:30 mins into the roast. We'll find out on friday what it tastes like.

My order from Ecco Caffe turned up today, these folks have an awesome reputation, and I'm looking forward to trying out the Northern Italian Reserve Espresso tomorrow. I was really impressed with their customer service, I ordered online last thursady, and Steve emailed me to say they wouldn't be roasting some of the beans needed for my order until Monday, was I ok with the wait (which was only 2 business days anyway), or did I want to try something else, which they could ship out that afternoon. Nice, personal touch. I also liked the fact that they actually seem to get that if you order over the internet, then email is probably your primary choice for communication, so many of the other coffee internet retailers I've delt with don't get this and any time you need to ask a question or confirm something, you're left chasing people around by telephone. To date I still don't understand this mentality, its got to be significantly more expensive and less convienient for you to interact with me over the telephone rather than via email. Anyway, back to Ecco Caffe, the new issue of Barista Magazine has a Q&A with Andrew Barnett, head honcho dude @ Ecco Caffe (the intro is available online)

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

I asked "BTW, what's the equivilent to Paint Shop Pro on the Mac ?", Brad pointed me to gimp.app and the X11 support on the OSX install disk, and Keef Wright suggested Photoshop Elements, thanks guys for the tips.

Saturday, June 3, 2006

I've been chugging away at a version of relaxer (my RESTLog blogging client) for OSX by writing it in Java using SWT. I started out with an X-Code / Cocoa-Java version, but after 2+ years of living in eclipse to do java work switching to X-Code was like a trip to the dark ages, which is a pity because SWT on the Mac (or at least my Intel mac) still seems pretty raw, I don't know if you can see well on the screen shot, but there are issues with label background colors on a colored background, you'll also notice the group boxs are all textless, because it renders the text in the wrong position, and more complex widgets like the toolbar seem even more broken. Then there's the aqua widgets i want to use, but don't seem to exist in SWT. I might try a python/wx-widgets based version next, not sure in which direction to head next. Apple need to work on getting their dev tools out of the 90's.

BTW, what's the equivilent to Paint Shop Pro on the Mac ? For all the iLife vs Calculator jabs in the Apple ads, where's Paint ?

Regardless of how you brew coffee, one of the important factors is making sure the water is the right temperature, for your regular auto drip coffee maker this is really its only task. Its a pity that so many of them suck so badly at the one thing they need to do right. My $3 melitta manual pour over will smoke your auto drip machine everytime (unless you have the king of auto drip machines, a Technivorm). Here it is lined up for action with some of Counter Culture's Papua New Guinea.
Turn the kettle on, as its nearing the boil, go ahead and grind the coffee. (Yes, I'm using the Mazzer Mini E for this, which is insane overkill, something like a Solis Maestro or Capresso Infinity will work just as well. Remember the coffee geek mantra, don't skimp on the grinder, its just as important as everything else)
As soon as the kettle has boiled go ahead and pour just enough to wet the grinds, and let the coffee bloom.
Once its bloomed (i don't like to wait longer than about 10 seconds, otherwise the water will be too cold), go ahead and pour in more water, keep an eye on the amount of coffee that's in the cup.
There you go, a couple of minutes tops, start to finish, for one of the best cups of drip coffee you've ever had. Uber coffee geek Mark Prince has a really good more detailed write up, How to use a pour over brewer

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My journey into home espresso started about 18 months ago with the purchase of a gaggia coffee deluxe espresso machine and Inova grinder. I'd stumbled across coffee geek while tracking down reviews of espresso machines, and took the standard advice they give, don't skimp on the grinder, I upgraded my grinder selection from a Solis Maestro plus (which at ~ $130 I figured ought to be a decent grinder, but the coffee geeks consider it barely adequate), and settled on the Innova I2 grinder (a $200 coffee grinder, this I figured should be a good investment, something that'll last). Things really took off though 12 months ago, when I visited Espresso Vivace while in Seattle. This really opened my eyes to how good espresso could be, and I headed back to SF with some Vivace beans stashed away in my bag. With a fired up interest I headed back to coffee geek to learn that SF had just gained 2 awesome espresso joints, Ritual and Cafe Organica. Many trips ensued, as did trips down to Bafefoot in santa clara, I also scoured coffee geek for recommendations, over the last 12 months I've worked my way though a lot of the recommend roasters & beans. The gaggia held up well, and could pull a decent shot, however the grinder didn't last, one of the plastic gear wheels stripped and spare parts seem to be impossible to come by. Back when I brought the grinder I thought it was an insane amount to shell out for a grinder, but now with dead grinder in hand, upgraditus strikes, and suddenly I'm handing over a big chunk of change to order a Mazzer Mini E, at that point I was a lost cause and a couple of months later a new LaSpaziale espresso machine is winging its way to me as the gaggia heads to craigslist. Now I only have to go as far as the kitchen to get one of the best espressos in the city :)

The Metropolis folks should get an award for coolest labels.

That's not even everything I tried, others that I don't have labels for include Taylor Maid Farms and Doma Coffee, shown above are Counter Culture, Stumptown, Ritual (who use/sell Stumptown beans), Victrola, Zoka, Barefoot, BlueBottle, Metropolis, Caffe Fresco. There's still more to try, Ecco Cafe has an awesome reputation and will be next on my list.