This great 2011 post by Roy Rapoport tells the story of how a software company created and incrementally improved a chat-bot that collected and organized the team's coffee orders -- and how the system grew, drip by drip, into a full-fledged bank. Rapoport presents it as a cautionary tale about feature creep -- but it's also a neat parable about how all currency arises from debt, which is the thesis of Debt: The First 5,000 Years, which is one of the most provocative books I've read in years.
Read the rest
Dan Gillmor's got more to say
about the news that K-cups are getting coffee DRM
and what it means in the wider world: "Just as the police and security agencies are racing deploy all new technologies to spy on everyone – whether the law permits it or not – private industry is racing to retain as much control as possible over the products and services it sells, and thereby control over us."
I've been thinking about the news that Keurig has added "DRM" to its pod coffee-makers since the story first started doing the rounds a couple of days ago. I've come to the conclusion that while the errand is a foolish one, and the company deserves nothing but contempt for such an anti-competitive move, that there might be a silver lining to this cloud. As I've written recently, there's not a lot of case-law on Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the law that prohibits "circumventing...effective means of access control" to copyrighted works. In the past, we've seen printer companies and garage door opener manufacturers claim that the software in their devices was a "copyrighted work" and that anyone who made a spare part for their products was thus violating 1201. But that was 10 years ago, and it's been a while since there was someone stupid and greedy enough to try that defense.
I think Keurig might just be that stupid, greedy company.
Read the rest
NBC's Sochi headquarters includes a secret, prohibited Starbucks with a crew of 15 imported baristas that keeps the NBC crew fuelled and in good spirits.
NBC and Starbucks say that having drinks dispensed by a non-sponsoring organization (Starbucks) doesn't violate the Olympics' corporate lickspittlery rules because the Starbucks, being located inside the private NBC pavilion, is a "personal item." The Starbucks presence at the Olympics is larger than 57 of the national delegations, and there's a whole elaborate supply-chain of beans being specially imported.
For me, the bewildering thing about this whole deal is that they went to all this trouble to import what is ultimately pretty shitty coffee. I mean, go big or go home -- bring in some beans from Tonx or Intelligentsia or Square Mile, get some of those badass baristas from Melbourne or Wellington, and really go to town. It'd probably be cheaper, and it'd taste about ten million times better.
(via Super Punch)
(Image: Starbucks: Breeds Like Rats, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from hillaryandanna's photostream)
I'm not usually one for novelty mugs, but the prescription coffee mug seems to reveal a deep and important truth about my relationship to coffee. It's kind of the caffeine addict's equivalent to the skull on a poet's desk: a reminder of your own mortal fallibility.
"Spyhouse Orion espresso being extracted from a La Marzocco FB80 @120 frames per second." (video link)
Photo: Stefan E. Jones
Boing Boing reader Stefan Jones shares a photo of the "Boing Boing Wake Up Cake" recipe from "internet chef" Tyler Capps.
"There's no better way to start the work week than a chocolate/coffee cheesecake with chocolate covered coffee beans on top," Stefan says.
"I followed the 'Wakeup Cake' recipe from Boing Boing to make six of them for my co-workers."
Woohoo! We aren't kidding about the Boing Boing part.
Tyler Capps is a chef from the Internet. His 2AM Chili recipe blew up on Reddit back in 2011. Then his comical recipe comic for The Bananarama did too. So Tyler launched Cooking Comically where he posts illustrated HOWTOs for Hobo Pies, Trustfall Chicken, Happy Little Hash Browns, and dozens of other noms. Tyler has just published an excellent new cookbook too, titled, what else, "Cooking Comically: Recipes So Easy You'll Actually Make Them." When we asked Tyler to create a recipe for Boing Boing, our only request was that he base it on one key ingredient, caffeine. That was enough stimulation for Tyler to come up with a magical formula for… Wake Up Cake! Here's the recipe:
Read the rest
Cold brewing has recently become my preferred method for brewing my morning cup.
I love my coffee iced, but I never loved my typical approach: brew hot coffee, cool it, store it until I’m ready to drink. Half the time I forget to brew ahead and I end up drinking it hot.
Cold brewing coffee works like this: combine ground beans with room temperature (or cooler) water and let steep for 12 to 15 hours. That’s it.
I love the smoother flavor of cold brewed coffee. From what I’ve read, some folks consider the resulting coffee to be a concentrate in need of dilution. Not me. Maybe it’s the ice.
Read the rest
Ben Marks of CollectorsWeekly
As part of our modern obsession with artisan-everything, today’s pickiest coffee drinkers insist upon a hand-brewed cup made right before their eyes. At the cornerstone of this trend is the undisputed king of pour-over coffee, the Chemex Coffeemaker, which graces the counters of hip homes and cafes around the globe. But this ingenious device is nothing new: In fact, the Chemex company has been making the exact same brewer for more than 70 years, proving the staying power of great design.
The man behind Chemex’s functional-chic was Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, a scientist with a larger-than-life personality and a strong perfectionist streak. During his lifetime, Schlumbohm patented more than 300 different devices; at least 20 of these “Beautilities,” as Schlumbohm called them, eventually made it into the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection—everything from an electric fan to a cocktail shaker.
Schlumbohm developed his products by stripping appliances down to their essentials and making them work better. In the vein of modern inventors like James Dyson, Schlumbohm didn’t overload his creations with a jumble of new features—he reshaped the industries he entered through the sheer force of innovative elegance. Maybe that’s why the Chemex still feels so fresh; in a world of overly complex and smirking technology, the Chemex remains a quiet anomaly.
See also: "With the Chemex, even a moron can make good coffee."
Today on a very special Diesel Sweeties webcomic installment, an important dialog for coffee-drinkers to practice with their faithless peers.
NO EXIT : diesel sweeties robot webcomic & geeky t-shirts
How do you know if your kopi luwak
coffee, made from beans collected, swallowed, and crapped back out by civets, is the real deal? Japanese and Indonesian biotechnologists have developed a chemical test to authenticate your pricey cup of joe. Their scientific paper, titled "Selection of Discriminant Markers for Authentication of Asian Palm Civet Coffee (Kopi Luwak): A Metabolomics Approach
," was published in the Journal of Argicultural and Food Chemistry.
"Now A Test Can Tell If Your Pricey Cup Of Cat Poop Coffee Is Fake" (NPR)
Image: "Indonesian farmer shows coffee beans already digested by Asian Palm Civet, but before cleaning and roasting" (HaztechGuy/Wikipedia)
I've just finished teaching week four of the amazing Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop at UC San Diego; in addition to spending a week working closely with some very talented writers, I came up with a new and cheap way to make astounding cold-brew coffee.
I bought a $10 "nut-milk" bag and a plastic pitcher. Every night before bed, I ground up about 15 Aeropress scoops' (570 ml) worth of espresso roast coffee -- the $20 Krups grinder is fine for this, though I wouldn't use it with an actual espresso machine -- leaving the beans coarse. I filled the bag with the grind, put it in the bottom of the empty pitcher like a huge tea-bag, and topped up the pitcher with tap water (distilled water would have been better -- fewer dissolved solids means that it'll absorb more of the coffee solids, but that's not a huge difference). I wedged the top of the bag between the lid and the pitcher and stuck it in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, I took the bag out of the pitcher and gave it a good squeeze to get the liquor out of the mush inside. Add water to the pitcher to fill to the brim and voila, amazing cold-brew. You can dilute it 1:1 or even further.
Cleanup was easy: invert the bag over a trashcan or garbage disposal, rinse off the bag, and you're ready to go.
This produced very, very good coffee concentrate, with only a little grit settled into the bottom 3mm of the pitcher (easy to avoid). It may just be the cheapest and easiest cold-brewing method I've yet tried.
See also: HOWTO attain radical hotel-room coffee independence
Cuppow is a a reusable lid that turns a glass canning jar into a travel mug. They have versions for regular and wide mouth glass jars. It's made in the USA from BPA-free, Phthalate-free plastic. What a great idea! Amazon has the regular mouth size for $8; you supply the jar. Cuppow Regular and Cuppow Wide Mouth
The handle on Superstaar's portafilter cracked, and he couldn't get a replacement: "Luckily, my son keeps a good collection of sticks. Sawed one off, drilled a hole, stuck in the portacafe, fixed the crack with tiewraps, et voila. Works better than the original, and is insanely stylish."
Form Follows Function
(via Boing Boing Flickr Pool)