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Coffee associated with the opposite of death, according to new scientific study

"Sexy girl in coffee beans," by Marcel Jancovic, via Shutterstock.

A large prospective study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that "coffee consumption was inversely associated with total and cause-specific mortality."

In other words, data showed that there is a connection between drinking coffee and not necessarily dying. Sort of.

"Whether this was a causal or associational finding cannot be determined from our data," the summary concludes.

Boing Boing science editor Maggie Koerth-Baker is on the road today, so I can't enlist her science-fu in interpreting the details of this study. But I think what they're trying to tell us is that while drinking coffee does not necessarily cause you to live longer, it is associated with the opposite of dying sooner. I'm going to have a cup while you all argue it out in the comments.

Thermos-Nissan 61-oz Insulated Bottle

Three times a week I get up early to go lift weights with a colleague. One of the main motivations for getting out of bed is the knowledge that I'll have ample coffee throughout the day to keep me going post-workout. In the past I've carried the previously reviewed Contigo (which is still the best travel cup around) but found it held too little, especially if I share coffee with my work out partner. I've also used my fiancee's grandfather's old Thermos built around an insulated glass bottle which, while larger, is too fragile for daily use that involves rolling around in the trunk of my car. I realized I needed a replacement.

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Barista plunges three Aeropresses at once

Johanna writes, "Carlos Aguirre, a trainer at Academia Barista Pro, stunned audiences worldwide when he pushed not 1, not 2 but 3 aeropresses at the same time for his signature drink during National Salvadoran Barista Competition."

That's a lot of aeropressin'. The key scene starts at 20:41.

SUBCAMPEON de Baristas en El Salvador GANA Mejor Espresso del País - Entrenador Carlos Aguirre (Thanks, Johanna!) h

Ambiguously ironic superfluous grocer's apo'strophe

Alice spotted this coffee cart from the (above average) London coffee chain Apostrophe, which includes a superfluous apostrophe. It's either ironic or too clever by far.

Oh the irony.

Japan's high-detail coffee, booze, food, and fashion simulacra

Writing in the WSJ, Tom Downey describes what he perceives as a new shift in the way that Japanese food, coffee, cocktails and fashion relates to the outside world; according to Downey, the ideal now combines the much-vaunted Japanese attention to detail and precise copying with a kind of remaking that produces a "replica" Brooklyn coffee that's better than the best coffee in Brooklyn, a "replica" vintage pair of jeans that look more vintage than the actual item, and so on. It's Baudrilliard's simulacra, with more denim and espresso.

"It's not so difficult to make something that's 100 percent the same as the original," he says. He holds up a heavy, metal zipper, American-made new old stock. "I've got 500,000 of these. Enough for the next 40 years.

"But the key isn't just getting the details right—it's knowing when to change things," Tsujimoto continues. "My style has to be an improvement: With 1 percent more here, 2 percent less there, we create something that looks better. You have to change the fit because all these classic garments were designed with extra room to carry tools or weapons."

He takes a deerskin-lined flight jacket off the rack and points out the colorful American military design stitched onto the back. He passes me what appears to be a standard-issue '50s-style gray cotton sweatshirt until I actually touch the thing. The heft of the loop-wheeled cotton makes it the thickest, heaviest sweatshirt I've ever felt.

Made Better in Japan (via Kottke)

(Image: downsized crop from a photograph by Tung Walsh)

Cat-butt coffee: A critical review

Kopi Luwak is the most expensive coffee in the world. At my local specialty coffee bean store, it sells for $420 per pound—or $10 for a 10 oz.

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HOWTO make a home-made pocket-sized espresso machine with tiny alcohol stove

Instructables user Urant decided to create a pocket-sized espresso machine that could be built using simple tools and parts from a local home-improvement store. He came up with a tiny, soldered contraption with its own tinsy winsy alcohol stove that uses a filed-down syringe to deliver a very slow drip of fuel for a boil that goes long enough to extract a single shot. It's a great design.

Design constraints are some of the most important points of any product design; they tell us what the limits are. The tighter the constraints, the more limited the design, and we have to be more creative to be able to meet them.

On this project, I set the following ones.
1- The product had to fit in the pocket of my jeans.
2- The product had to be made out with common, cheap and easily obtainable materials from any home improvement store or corner hardware store.
3- The product had to be made using simple tools that most makers would probably already have, or could easily borrow or buy cheaply.
4- The product had to be self-contained.
5- The budget was maximum 30 dollars.

Pocket size Espresso Machine with integrated alcohol stove. (via Make)

HOWTO attain radical hotel-room coffee independence

I travel a lot — book tours, sf conventions, paid lectures, activist visits — and I am no stranger to jet-lag (I even wrote a novel about it).

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Great old letters: 19th-c. Smithsonian Institution Secty. on "superior excellence" of a good cup of coffee

Samuel P. Langley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Photograph by R. H. Lord.

Boing Boing pal Isabel Lara of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum sends along a fantastic little gem from the museum's Archives Division, unearthed during their ongoing epic move to the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center.

Within their collection of the aeronautical papers of Samuel Pierpont Langley (1834-1906), the third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, a letter of note to coffee lovers.

This intellectually curious man, whose interests ranged from "astronomy, astrophysics, aeronautics, and bird flight, mathematics, and the reckoning of standard time," was also really into "observing and describing all sorts of processes — and then suggesting improvements."

One of those processes, which he describes in loving detail here, is the preparation of of a really good cup of coffee at the Posthof café in the spa town of Carlsbad in Bohemia, then part of Austria-Hungary (now Karolvy Vary in the Czech Republic). The letter is addressed to his niece Mary.

Dear Mary, I hope this will interest you.

Your Uncle Samuel

The best coffee in Carlsbad is at the Posthof, and is as good as I know of anywhere. I have been looking into the kitchen this morning and seeing it prepared. The statement that figs or anything of the kind are employed is legendary. There is absolutely nothing but coffee, and it owes its superior excellence to the freshness and the pains taken in its making.

1. The coffee in the berry.

There are four kinds of coffee bean employed: the Menado, Ceylon, Java and Preanger. I do not know the English equivalents for the first and last. They are of very different sizes indeed, and this difference in size of the berry must make it difficult to burn them equally.

2. Roasting.

The roasting is done in a rotary wire mesh over a slow fire. The coffee is renewed three times daily. Each time 10 to 20 pounds of coffee is roasted, a girl turning the handle, and the process occupying in each case nearly an hour. In spite of this care, when the beans come out some of them are very dark and these are picked out.

Read the rest here.

Coffee: An antidepressant and religion preventative?

A recently published study found a correlation between higher rates of coffee drinking in women and decreased risk of depression. Naturally, that finding made headlines. But blogger Scicurious has a really nice analysis of the paper that picked up a significant flaw in the way the data is being interpreted. There was a correlation between drinking more coffee and a lowered risk of depression. But that wasn't the only correlation the researchers found—just the only correlation they made a big deal of in their conclusions.

On her blog, Scicurious lists the other correlations and explains why it's hard to draw any solid conclusion from this data set:

1) Smoking. The interaction between depression risk, smoking, and coffee consumption was “marginally” significant (p=0.06), but they dismiss it as being due to chance because it was “unexpected”. Um. Wait. Nicotine is a STIMULANT. It is known to have antidepressant like effects in animal models (though the withdrawal is no fun). This is not unexpected.

2) Drinking: heavy coffee drinkers drink more. But note that they don’t say that drinking coffee puts you at risk for drinking alcohol.

3) Obesity: heavy coffee drinkers are, on average, thinner, but not more physically active. They do not conclude that coffee drinking prevents obesity.

4) Church going: heavy coffee drinkers are less likely to go to church. Less likely to go to church, less likely to develop depression…heck, forget depression, maybe coffee prevents religion now! Now THAT would be a heck of a finding.

Here’s the thing. I do believe that high coffee consumption correlates with decreased risk of depression. But a lot of other things do as well. I am not convinced that the high coffee consumption wasn’t part of a lifestyle that correlated with decreased risk of depression, maybe they have stronger support networks or less incidence of depression in the family. It could be many other things.

Image: Coffee, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from dyobmit's photostream

Caffeine hallucinations: Why "Letters to the Editor" matter in science

Letters to the Editor are an interesting feature of peer-reviewed scientific journals. The function of this section varies from journal to journal, but, in general, this is where you’ll find things like critiques of research published in previous issues, and short write-ups on findings that don’t yet warrant their own big, formal research paper.

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Barista's "Starbucks Rant" song gets him fired

Chrissizle was a barista at Starbucks who wrote and recorded a ranty, funny song about his job and posted it on YouTube. It "went viral" (oh, how I hate that phrase!) and he got fired.

Welcome to starbucks
my name is Chris
I'll be your barista for the day
Can i make a drink for you miss?

I know you've had a shitty day
well so have I
I really don't want to care
but I get paid to try

Hello rich white lady,
I already know what you want
you want a skinny vanilla latte
young debutaunt

Barista fired after 'Starbucks Rant Song' goes viral

The Mean Men of coffee advertising

Shaun Clayton compiled a collection of scenes from old coffee commercials, which often shared a theme: "men being jerks to their wives about coffee." [via Peter Serafinowicz]

Clever Coffee Dripper

Clever_Coffee_Dripper4_1 WEB.jpegI've used this manual drip cone for a year now. It adds yet another twist to the seemingly simple task of brewing coffee. I've used the previously reviewed Melitta cone as well as everything from the previously reviewed Aeropress to a French Press. This drip cone is, well, clever. It combines the ease and cleanliness of drip brewing with the long extraction of french press brewing. The difference is a spring loaded stopper on the bottom of the cone. To brew coffee you add a paper filter, coffee and hot water. Instead of placing the cone over your cup immediately, the spring loaded stopper keeps the coffee inside until you place the cone on a mug to lift up the stopper and drain your brew.

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Coffee Common: roasters roast one other at TED


Last week I was excited to announce the birth of Coffee Common, a project of coffee enthusiasts (one of them being me) coming together to improve the experience of coffee for both industry and consumers. I mentioned that to kick off the launch, the project organizers and a handful of baristas from around the world will be spending this week in conjunction with the TED conference talking about (and serving) a few noteworthy selections from a select group of roasters.

We narrowed our list to the roasters we know have beautiful coffees with clarity and balance on their offering menus—and, who would be able to produce, roast and ship enough coffee to meet the needs of the thirsty TED attendees, at their own expense.

Normally, these roasters would consider each others competition, but the Coffee Common project is about collaboration. So we had an idea. We could write a short introduction for each included roaster, or we could assign each participating roaster the task of writing the intro for one of the others - knowing very well that one of the others would be writing theirs as well. This sounded much more interesting to us. After all, your fans can gush about you, but what your competition says may be more telling. So with that in mind...

Intelligentsia - introduced by James Hoffman of Square Mile Coffee
Stumptown - Introduced by Benjamin Kaminsky of Ritual Roasters
Has Bean - Introduced by Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee
Square Mile - Introduced by Trevor Corlett of Madcap Coffee
Ritual Roasters - Intriduced by George Howell of Terroir Coffee
Terroir Coffee - Introduced by Steve Leighton of Has Bean

More introductions will be posted soon. As TED kicks off today and everyone will finally be together in person, we'll be posting interviews, videos and dishing out the info throughout the week on and on twitter @coffeecommon.
(photo of Ritual Roasters by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)

The new Starbucks cup holds an entire bottle of wine

Rob Cockerham of says: "Its not the largest cup in America, but the new Starbucks Trente is big. Thirty-one ounces.

"That's about 5 ounces more than a bottle of wine.

"Today after work I stopped in to get a giant iced coffee. In the evening, I replaced it with something more appropriate for dinner."

A visual aid for the Starbucks Trente cup

Caffeine Kills

caffeine_sucks.jpg What is the lethal level of caffeine consumption? Apparently, it's somewhere below "spoonfuls" of a caffeine supplement that a British man purchased over the Internet. Papers around the world are abuzz (sorry) about the death-by-stimulant of Michael Lee Bedford. The recommended dose on the packet is 1/16th of a teaspoon--I know I have my 1/16th teaspoon measure handy at all times--and he took substantially more. The accounts of the coroner's inquest say his consumption was 70 times the amount found in an energy drink. He even washed down the caffeine powder with an energy drink. He became ill nearly immediately, and died shortly afterwards. Add this to a report in my state of Washington of a party in Roslyn October 9th, when a dozen mostly college students were sent to the hospital with what appeared to be poisoning. The suspicion initially was that someone had slipped roofies or the equivalent into the alcohol. A few days ago, however, the toxicology reports came back and pinned the blame on Four Loko, a caffeine-enhanced malt liquor with 12-percent alcohol. The caffeine apparently masks the effects of the liquor packed into a 23.5-ounce container. It and similar beverages, some sold by major brewers, are nicknamed "blackout in a can," and try to leverage the way in which some people binge drink by following alcohol with Red Bull. I'm starting to develop a list of things that were either unavailable when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, or I was simply too naive to be aware, that I now need to be sure my kids are aware of. When I grew up, making most stupid mistakes with commonly available products didn't lead readily to death. Unless I really was naive. Image via Creative Commons from Bryan Gosline.

Melitta Perfect Brew Cone

melitta-64007b-single-cup-coffee-filter-cone-black.jpeg This simple plastic cone coupled with a filter is the best tool I have found for quickly making great tasting coffee. I have tried a French press but found the coffee to be gritty and bitter. Automatic drip coffee makers are expensive and don't provide much control over water temperature, not to mention the amount of wasted coffee when all I really wanted was a single cup. And honestly, I picked up this cone because it was affordable when compared to the previously reviewed Yama Vac Pot or Aeropress. This cone is so simple that it almost defies the need for an explanation. Put a #2 cone coffee filter in and fill it with the desired amount of ground coffee (I use extra-fine), and pour as much hot water over it as you like. You may need to refill it if you like larger cups of coffee. In less than 60 seconds you will have made a fresh brewed cup of coffee that tastes better than any from an automatic machine, or the bitter stuff from Starbucks that's been sitting around all day. The one thing I don't love about this cone is that it uses disposable filters. Despite that, the filters are cheap and can be found in most grocery stores. I was convinced that these cones were the best when I went to Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco and watched professionals make great coffee this way. They use a more expensive ceramic version, but the basic idea remains the same. Small, simple, easy to clean, and cheap. Cool. -- Oliver Hulland Melitta Perfect Brew Filter Cone $5 Available from Amazon Comment on this at Cool Tools. Or, submit a tool!

My quest for the ultimate travel coffee setup

Hotel set up I am a coffee snob. I offer no apologies for this. I really appreciate good coffee, and have zero tolerance for crappy coffee.

I also travel a lot. So when when traveling to places that don't tend to have great coffee at the ready, I've learned that bringing your own brewing setup is mandatory. Combine that with some strong technomadic leanings and the search for that ultimate travel coffee setup can become an obsession.

A recent trip to Japan, a place where designers and engineers are even more detail-focused than I am, provided an opportunity to refine my toolkit. I thought I'd share those improvements with you here, in case you're looking to build your own kit for on-the-go-get-up-and-go.

First, two details. When given the opportunity, I tend to drink espresso. Truly great espresso requires the sort of serious gear I have no intention of dragging around the globe with me. (yes I know about the Aeropress, I'm just not a big fan) So when traveling, I default to drip coffee and focus on the details to make each cup better than the last. Also, I want to note that the setup I've been using is bad ass and made many cups that shocked me with their sheer deliciousness. There's nothing wrong with the stuff I had, and you could just copy my old set up and never be disappointed. But I'm obsessed: I believe that all things, particularly coffee, can always be tweaked and improved.

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Cold-brew coffee maker

One of the most delicious cups of coffee I ever had was cold-brewed -- the coffee flavor slowly diffused into cold water. No bitter, acid taste, just sweet and aromatic awesomeness. I have no idea if Hammacher Schlemmer's cold-brewer makes a decent cup of joe, but you get the idea.
The hourglass does not require any electricity; simply combine 2 1/4 cups of coarsely ground coffee beans with 3 1/2 cups of water in the brewing chamber and allow the coffee to infuse with the water for 12 to 24 hours. When the infusion process is complete, turn the hourglass over and 16 oz. of extract instantly drains through a reusable stainless steel filter and into the extract chamber. Combine some of the extract with hot water for traditional coffee or cold water for iced coffee. The extract can be kept in the included carafe and stored in a refrigerator for up to two weeks.
So, I don't know about that two week business. All those aromatics are, by definition, volatile. Calling food chemists -- that can't be right, can it?

The Acid Reducing Flavor Enhancing Coffee Hourglass. (via Red Ferret)

The sad fate of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster

Last night my friend Colin and I went to Meltdown Comics & Collectibles in Los Angeles to listen to comic book historian Craig Yoe's (center) presentation on the weird, sad life of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster.

Here's my glossed over summary of Yoe's fascinating presentation (which included lots of great slides that you can't see here but are in the pages of Yoe's fantastic book, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-creator Joe Shuster):

Boyhood friends Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel created the Superman character in the late 1930s. They sold a 13-page story about the superhero to DC comics, which bought the story and all rights to the character for $130, which Shuster and Siegel split. The story appeared in Action Comics #1 (1938).

Superman immediately became a huge success. Issue #7 of Action Comics sold a half-million copies, and soon Action was selling a million copies a month. This irked Shuster and Siegel, but the publishers soothed their tempers by giving them the lion's share of the Superman newspaper strip syndication revenue. Thanks to this, the young men each made today's equivalent of $750,000 a year.

This went on for about seven or eight years, with the boys riding high, but then they met a sleazy lawyer, Albert "Zuggy" Zugmsith, who told them he would sue DC to get them back the rights to Superman. The trial ended in 1948, and it was a devastating loss for Shuster and Siegel. DC stopped paying them, and they were blackballed from the entire comic book industry.

Shuster had to scrape by sweeping floors and doing other odd jobs, but finally found work doing fetish illustrations for a cheaply produced sado-masochistic fetish magazine called Nights of Horror. Many of the characters in his fetish illustrations for these booklets bore a striking resemblance to Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Lex Luthor.

Horswhip In 1954, the Brooklyn Thrill Killers, a gang of Jewish neo-Nazi teenagers who sported Hitler mustaches, were arrested for killing homeless men and horsewhipping girls. They told the court that they were acting out scenes from Nights of Horror. The publisher and dealer of the magazine were imprisoned, as were the members of the Brooklyn Thrill Killers. Joe Shuster was able to stay hidden from the media furor because he hadn't signed the work and no one recognized his style. Shuster went back to performing menial jobs and died poor.

This story might never had come to light if it weren't for Craig Yoe's ability to recognize cartoonists by looking at their work. In his book he writes that when he came across a copy of Nights of Horror by chance several years ago "in a dusty old cardboard box in a used bookseller's stall, these words leaped in a single bound to my mind: "Oh, my God, Joe Shuster!" That was the beginning of a multi-year-long research project that took Yoe all over the world, and led to the writing of Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-creator Joe Shuster. The full story in the book is even more bizarre, and there's even a movie deal in the works.

After the presentation the Suicide Girls (above) acted out several of the scenes from illustrations in the book. I've uploaded photos to my Flickr account, but they should be viewed by adult intellectuals only.

Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman's Co-creator Joe Shuster

In praise of Kitchen Aid's customer service -- UPDATED

I've mentioned my beloved Kitchen Aid espresso machine here before, but I need to mention it again. Last week, I noticed that the enamel had started to flake off, peeling away in big strips the size of business-cards. Dreading a bureaucratic runaround, I dug out my Amazon receipt, then called up Kitchen Aid's warranty number. Apart from a small problem getting the correct number (the number listed on their site is out of service), it went amazingly.

The operator asked for my serial number, asked me to describe the problem, then asked if I could be at some address the next day to receive my replacement unit and ship back the defective one. I gave her my office address, and yesterday at around 2PM, a DHL guy showed up with a brand new espresso machine in its package. I lifted it out, replaced it with the defective one, watched as the DHL guy slapped a return sticker on it, and then he left, leaving me a shiny new coffee machine that I brought home in a cab (two people on the street and the cabbie all stopped me and asked me about this beautiful coffee machine and whether it worked as good as it looked and where they could get one of their own). This morning, I enjoyed a perfect cappuccino with breakfast, and ruminated on just how damned good the customer service from Kitchen Aid had been, and I figured, man, that deserves some public approbation.

Update: Canadians beware! Multiple commenters to this post have weighed in to describe nightmarish treatment from the Canadian Kitchen Aid service department, who seem well and truly awful. My experience recounted above was with Kitchen Aid UK.

Nitrous oxide espresso maker -- Boing Boing Gadgets

Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our Steven reviews the MyPressi TWIST, a portable espresso maker powered by nitrous oxide cannisters.

A typical regulator might be two inches in diameter. Much too large for the TWIST. The task of shrinking the apparatus down without losing efficiency and safety went to Gecko, a firm that collaborated on the Herman Miller Leaf Lamp and has built pneumatic devices on cruise control missiles for defense industry contractors (really).

Their creation: a regulator that's about the size of half a grown man's pinky nail. Once the pod develops its own pressure, the regulator in the handle shuts off the pressure. And there's also a secondary safety valve, in case you put in too much coffee. In time, too, their small, main regulator could be applied or licensed out to other hardware.

For now, O'Brien is focused on the TWIST. And as we continue to chat, all I'm focused on is the taste. He takes a preloaded cup, gets some hot water from the cafe, puts in 3.5 oz., pulls the trigger to release the gas (it's cold, but expands rapidly from the hot water), and begins the pour...

Hands-On With A Whippit-Powered Travel Espresso Maker

Discuss this on Boing Boing Gadgets

Starbucks Twitter campaign hijacked by documentary about Starbucks' union-busting

Filmmaker Robert Greenwald's documentary about sleazy unionbusting at Starbucks debuted the same day as Starbucks new Twitter campaign, so he hijacked the campaign to spread information about Starbucks' bad labor practices.
On a blog post published at the anti-Starbucks website Brave New Films created, people were encouraged to take pictures of themselves in front of Starbucks stores holding signs targeted at the company's "anti-labor practices." These users are then told to upload these photos onto Twitpic and tweet them out to their followers using the hashtags #top3percent and #starbucks. According to the post, these are the official hashtags that were designated by Starbucks itself for those who wanted to enter its contest. Within hours, several people had followed these guidelines and there were dozens of Twitpics in front of stores across the country.

As of this writing, the anti-Starbucks YouTube video has amassed over 30,000 views and was featured on the front page of social news site Digg. Greenwald said that Brave New Films is not done with its offensive against the coffee company, but he was hesitant to reveal his next steps.

Anti-Starbucks filmmakers hijack the coffee company's own Twitter marketing campaign (Thanks, Simon!)

Lacy tablecloth made from sweetener packets

Becky Stern sez, "I made this cafe tablecloth using packets of Splenda, Equal, and Sweet'n Low, plus packing tape. I gathered the packets while getting coffees. I still need help coming up with a title for the piece, though."

Artificial Sweetener Tablecloth (Thanks, Becky!)

Boing Boing tv faves from 2008: Mark's Tour of Intelligentsia Coffee

Another installment in our "faves from 2008" BoingBoing tv retrospective -- this two-parter in which Mark Frauenfelder gets an exclusive tour of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea. Above, part one, below, part two, and MP4 links for download here:

* A Morning at Intelligentsia Part 1
* A Morning at Intelligentsia Coffee Part 2

Snip from the original post:

Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea is based out of Chicago, Illinois and has recently opened up a new store in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles. Kyle Glanville, head of research and development at Intelligentsia and winner of the 2008 US Barista Championship shows Mark how they acquire and roast some of the finest coffee in the world.

The word intelligentsia derives from the Latin word intelligentia, meaning a group of people engaged in complex mental and creative labor directed to the development and dissemination of culture. Kyle Glanville has been laboring to promulgate a new coffee culture with Intelligentsia to combat the "get up and go" mentality, and Mark is along for the ride to learn the careful art of roasting coffee.

Intelligentsia is located at 3922 West Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90029 and is open 7 days a week.

And see also this related BBtv episode: Looking for the Perfect Bean: Kyle Glanville's World Coffee Tour, part 1 - Brazil (direct MP4 Link).

(BBtv) Looking for the Perfect Bean: Kyle Glanville's World Coffee Tour, part 1 - Brazil.

Boing Boing tv's global coffee correspondent Kyle Glanville is looking for the perfect bean, and you're invited along for the ride. You may recall his earlier appearances on the show when the 2008 US World Barista Champion introduced us to coffee roasting and espresso brewing at Intelligentsia.

Today, we debut a series of episode featuring Kyle on a world coffee tour, and we join him as he visits plantations to learn about the growing, harvesting, and processing techniques of Intelligentsia suppliers around the globe.

In this first episode, Kyle visits the Fazenda Conquista plantation in Minas Gerais, Brazil where Ipanema Coffees grows, dries, and roasts their goods, with lots of weird agro-gadgets and machines you probably haven't seen before -- some low-tech, some high-tech, but all really cool to watch. This plantation is one of the largest in Brazil, with 12 million coffee plants spread out over about 25 square miles of varying terrain.

One of the most fun things about producing BBtv is working with people like Kyle, who share their expertise and life experiences with us in video through their own eyes. I learned so much watching this first installment with the BBtv team -- I especially loved the giant machines that look like AT-AT walkers, lumbering through the neatly trimmed rows of coffee plants. Also, for someone who drinks as much espresso as I do -- how did I never know that coffee beans are surrounded by an edible, sweet fruit, that when dried intact with the bean, make the flavor richer?

Oh, and you have to check out the aerial tour of the plantation, which you can do in Google Maps or Google Earth: Link to Fazenda Conquista / Ipanema Coffees .kmz.

Get ready for more of these java adventures with Kyle -- we're working on more, as he wanders the planet, looking for the perfect bean.

Previous BBtv episodes featuring Kyle Glanville's Coffee explorations:

* A Morning at Intelligentsia Coffee Part 2
* A Morning at Intelligentsia Part 1

Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and daily podcast subscription instructions.

Homebrew espresso machine

On the Home Barista Forum, user Matadero210 is posting running progress reports from an heroic effort to machine and construct the perfect espresso machine:

The design itself: take a Pavoni head, build an adaptor to connect to normal plumbing. Add a machined plate with water inlet (this is a plumb-in system), thermometer, and heater. Mount all in a brazed steel base.
Robo-Pavoni ; learning to make espresso machine from scratch (via Make)

HOWTO Make a perfect cup of coffee -- the science of ferocious black madness

Salim sez, "Professor Mark Miodownik of Kings College Materials Research Group teaches us how to process raw beans to a perfect cup of coffee using every day using a collection of household & DIY implements." This was amazing -- I've always wondered about the chemistry of espresso and coffee roasting -- I've become a total coffee bore since I got serious about my home apparatus, and this has armed me with many useful factoids for understanding the imperfections in the shots I pull. Also, he uses Monmouth beans, which are all we use at home. They are superb. Dr Mark Miodownik - How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Coffee (Thanks, Salim!)

Chicago cop suspended for screaming at Starbucks, demanding free coffee, flashing her badge and gun

The headline says it all, doesn't it?
A Chicago Police officer has been suspended and ordered into counseling after she was found guilty of demanding free Starbucks coffee from five different stores on the North Side from 2001 to 2004, sometimes flashing her badge, displaying her gun and screaming at employees.

Officer Barbara Nevers of the Belmont police district was suspended for more than 15 months, according to records the Chicago Police Board released today.

Cop demands free coffee, but not at this Starbucks (via Starbucks Gossip)