our own worst enemies?

we've all been seeing the slow creation and growth of a true professional coffee community here in North America. we've all been witnessing the tentative contacts we've begun with European and other world communities like ours.
it's been incredibly cool and heartening to see all this happen.
i love going to some event (house party, barista jam, coffee cupping, trade show, whatever) and seeing the developing connections, relationships and friendships.
it all gives me hope.

so it's particularly painful when i witness behavior counter to this positive development. it's hard to see old, paranoid and competitive mindsets in action. it's unpleasant to witness petty back-biting and whisper campaigns and slander.

i honestly believe that, if the quality-focused coffee businesses want to not only get ahead but survive in this market, we need to co-operate. if one of us wins we all win. really. i mean, good-natured competition like you see at some barista jams or in CoE auctions or the like is one thing. but once it breaks down into cliquishness and nastiness and rumour-mongering and trying to actually do damage to eachother and our businesses it's just no good. i mean, we're facing an uphill battle against ignorance and miseducation and enormous, well funded, branding and marketing machines of companies.

we need to pull together if we want to push this forward.

on a personal note... i just got back from the doctor and it was mostly good news but there was some bad news.

i've now got a stylish black cast (good news) but it's not a load-bearing cast (bad news). i'm not going to be able to put any weight on the foot for at least the next month (bad news). the break didn't get any worse since last week, looks just the same in fact (good news). they still feel that surgery is not the best option (good news). i do, unfortunately, have some ligament damage as well (bad news). the conclusion is that this doesn't require surgery either (good news). as a result of the ligament damage, the hope is that they'll be able to take the cast off in 4 weeks and put me in an orthopedic boot so that I can start physical therapy (good news). this, however, depends on how the bones heal in the next 4 weeks. if it's not healed enough, they'll put another cast back on for 2-4 weeks (bad news).

i'm actually feeling kind of positive about the whole thing right now.


BGA Elections

i just got my ballot for the BGA elections. these are the first elections for the BGA ever. we'll be electing regional reps as well as board members. i'm really hoping that the BGA can become a real force in the industry and the community.

i knew that i was going to be a candidate for the Northwest regional rep. i feel a bit weird about it. i mean, not only did i just move to this region - this is probably the strongest region (when it comes to baristas and the coffee industry) in the US. there are so many people who could be great reps from this region. i mean, i'm confident that i can do a good job - and i'm flattered and honored - but i feel a bit unworthy compared to some of the luminaries and superstars in the PNW. when it comes right down to it, there are better baristas than me right here at Stumptown and there are people here who humble me with their coffee and espresso knowledge on a daily basis.

what i did not know was that i was going to be listed as a candidate on the board slate. i'm rather shocked actually. i mean - at a certain level i think i'd probably be better suited to a board seat than to being the PNW regional rep (given the strengths of this region) but it's still a total surprise. i guess i should be really honored - and i am. it's not really sunk in yet, to be honest. but... whoever nominated me -- thanks. i cannot see myself getting elected given some of the big name barista stars on the ballot, but you never know. and given that i complain a lot - this would give me a chance to try and make some of the changes i'd like to see.

i've been kept really busy by Duane and Jodi working on various things that i can while sitting down or lying down or at least not moving around much. it's making everything a lot better. i'm really grateful to them. i think i'd be going totally insane right now if i had nothing to do.

i really want to take the opportunity (now that i'm somewhat immobile) of learning more about coffee. as soon as my leg is in a cast i want to spend some more time learning about roasting if i can, and reading the new edition of the Illy book, and learning how to use a manual lever machine.... yeah, right. i'm sure the list of stuff Duane and Jodi have for me is mighty long. but if i have free time, i'm going to try and squeeze some self-improvement in there.
it's either that or follow Mike Squires' advice and start cruising up and down Mt Tabor in a racing wheelchair.


i'm in far less pain -- in fact, i've cut back to only one or two prescription painkillers per day as of yesterday.

this has resulted in my being able to get up off the sofa at last.
and that has resulted in my being able to get out to the coffee bars again. very nice indeed.

after a couple of days without espresso i've had a couple really good macchiattos in the last two days. yesterday's (at Belmont) had lovely dark malted chocolate notes and a very heavy mouthfeel. today's (Downtown) was softer, with fantastic sweetness and a milk chocolate caramel finish.
in a sense, it was really good to get away from the cafes for a couple days. i don't know how or why, but i'd lost the ability to just experience the cup and instead was dissecting and evaluating it for flaws all the time. i'd lost the ability to enjoy the espresso.
those couple drinks were so enjoyable it is crazy.
it makes me really really proud to be a part of Stumptown when i get drinks like that.

at a certain level i feel like a lot of people who are serious and passionate about coffee have lost sight of the simple, visceral enjoyment of the drink. we're like cabinetmakers at a furniture museum -- looking at the joinery work on the back of the Stickley armoire instead of just enjoying the beauty of the object.