"...the old, sore heart, the battered, foundered, faithful heart, snorting again, stamping in its stall."-CKW

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ROAST LOG (#1): Fragments

Some days ago, I wrote that the first roast log would be arriving soon. It took longer than expected. There were a few false starts. I’d get something down, and a morning later it wouldn’t sit well with me. Finally, pen swiped paper in the right way, and I liked it. I had written something I liked.

On biblical interpretation.

Oh well. It was on my mind, so fair enough- it was going on here. I folded it up, stuck it in an envelope, gave it to a young woman named Hadley for safekeeping, and took off for Switzerland. Details are fuzzy, and involve a train station and a briefcase, but I never saw it again.

Or something like that. The important thing is that it’s gone, so in the interest of getting something, anything, down, here are some cut-up thoughts. For you.
…..

I’m fascinated by collectives, and the arts, and culture, and spirituality. I’m fascinated by their intersection. I don’t have much interest in coffee in a sterile, industrial context, but when I consider roasting in terms of the aforementioned, I get excited. I get excited to learn, to study and craft and excited in knowing that I can, and will, do that this very day. I imagine my heart rate goes up, and I smile much more easily.
…..

I used to give myself pause in writing certain things for thought of not having enough to offer. I thought you had to have a complete picture and understanding, and your work would carefully expound that understanding, and feed it to whoever was reading. That style though… That belongs to technical manuals- the least imaginable works around. They may be practical, but they’re better known for putting men to sleep than waking readers up.

Now, I work through things as I write, aware but not threatened by my lack of grasp or understanding. And I tell you, regardless of whether or not it wakes any readers up- it’s good for my soul.
…..

A few mornings ago I had my best roasting experience to date. The mountain valleys dark green, and ranges beyond grayer as distance increased. Selective mists coupled with the morning light made the scene surreal. Every “walk to daylight” while checking roast progression was beautiful.

And what I heard… Normally, here at Sandra Farms, roasting is accompanied by the sounds of beans tumbling in the drum and the faint whirring of mechanization. This is what many roasters prefer. When asked what music they listen to while roasting, about three quarters of the competitors profiled in 2013’s World Roasting Championship revealed that they never listened to music while roasting. Auditory cues can be very important, such as in detecting first crack, and music can be awfully distracting.

And worth it. If you’ve driven in a car with me, you probably know how stubborn I can be in my insistence upon listening to music. This morning was no different.

1.) Phosphorescent- Song for Zula
2.) Red Tail Ring- Katy Came Breezing
3.) Isaac Joel- Take Care Of
4.) Propaganda- Forgive Me For Asking

Six batches were roasted that morning, many milestones were reached on target, the smell of slight caramelization unparalleled. All of this to say- it was quite nice.

Update

Unfortunately, as of 10/22/14 or so, my phone is kaput. I’m not sure if I’m going to try and work something out to get another or not, but in the meantime, I’m sorry for not responding to texts or calls. I haven’t received them. I can still be reached by email or correo. 

On the other hand, I’m looking forward to sharing some words and stories from time spent here. Expect the first “ROAST LOG” soon. 

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9/14

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8/14

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COFFEE AS RITUAL

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Take a few moments to take in the words in the article linked below.

Craig Damrauer’s short piece points to an aspect of what meaningful coffee looks like.

As I apprentice as a roaster, and find myself increasingly in coffee circles, I ask how we can best view coffee as a catalyst, rather than an end in itself. Splitting hairs and elitism are not what coffee is about. As Kevin Sinnott writes in The Art and Craft of Coffee, “I’d prefer the worst cup of coffee with my wife to the best cup with her mother.”

Joking aside, there’s much more to enjoying coffee than simply drinking it. To land too far on either end of the spectrum- whether it be contentment with the supply-chain abuses and cardboard cuppings of commodity coffee, or the belittling of others for not being able to detect and define razor’s-edge subtleties, is unfortunate. Are we willing to sacrifice a bit more to provide security and dignity to third-world farmers, enter into their story and find out what good coffee truly is? Can we forego endless innovation for the sake of innovation, and pursue a more attainable contentment with what we have?

As with all things, there’s a balance to be sought. Enjoy Craig’s reflective words, preferably with cup in hand.

https://medium.com/re-form/how-the-coffee-is-made-25addefe7d5c

BEING SHAPED BY WILDERNESS (9/5/14)

Is I. Is complicity shedding
First felt as anxiousness. Recoil.
But now welcome absence.

 

Absence welcome. Beheld in common with few.
Compañero? Drink of this cup? De café.

 

Cultivated in difficult/ path/ building.
In rest broken (awake?) as unknown
Sniffs, examines and scrapes
Intruder/ or venturer/ who takes nights away.

 

Though unnecessary by some measure
Still nights/ unstill nights, a/way are chosen.

BEYOND REACTIONARY

OR

CONSIDERING GREY

Bill McKibben’s 2005 article “The Cuba Diet” creates a brief, yet accurate, portrayal of various aspects of Cuban life. A primer: contemporary Cuba has a number of features which create an unprecedented case-study in various divisive subjects including politics, poverty and sustainability. It’s been painted as the world’s foremost self-sufficient, ecologically-responsible, food-growing nation, as well as a daunting example of the stark conditions and oppression that non-democratic states can foster. Accordingly, one’s first inclination is probably to place Cuba, regardless of whether a conscious or sub-conscious decision, on one end of a spectrum- utopia or hell- depending upon one’s previous understanding of the world.

We do this with nearly everything. We simplify in order to make our world more manageable, whether it be spiritual understanding, classification of individuals, thoughts on nutrition, so on and so forth. This is understandable, and not necessarily harmful in and of itself. To ask that one withhold from making decisions or passing judgment until one not only has access to all facts, but understands them, is to require the impossible. The variables involved in the affairs of reality are infinitely complex and ever-developing. Facing this impossibility, is paralysis the answer? No. To be rendered powerless by the complexities of the world is unnecessary. In this case, with complexity comes hope.

Rather than despair or inaction, an awareness of this process, and consequent humility, in dialogue especially, should be produced. We do what we can with what we have in front of us. And we do this with the hope that others will do the same. The whole of reality doesn’t easily fit into a box of our own creation- precisely because reality is much bigger than ourselves.

(3/20/14)

Passive Reception/Vague(abond) Thoughts

All too aware, I found myself anxious. I didn’t want to do much of anything, but felt the need to do something, something to redeem myself.

“But why? Hadn’t I done enough? What am I even supposed to do now?” My mind was tired of the grappling.

I lay down. Time continued to flow, but I was imperceptibly removed. The passing of cars through puddles outside lulled me away. That’s all there was.

Cars coming and going and faint music from another room.

I woke to a clear mind and a healthy sense of being. I hadn’t done much, but I certainly had received.

What’s more refreshing than accepting that which is freely given? What’s more refreshing than grace?

“To be human is to learn to live with faith. We must die, but also learn to be okay.” (“Attachment”, Jeff Pianki)

——————————————————————————————-

Yesterday I visited an old spot in a wooded area. I had been there one year before.

Frustrated with different events, I barreled from the Spring Arbor dining commons with reckless abandon, not caring that I was flying on a road bike on wet grass or that there were pedestrians milling about ahead of me. I knew I was done. I didn’t know where I was going, but I sure was going to get there fast.

I ended up in some woods. I sat, I listened, I wrote and I made up my mind. I wasn’t going to force anything anymore. And I was at peace with that.

I took a twig to remind myself of the promise, which to this day sits on the dashboard of my car.

While the twig lasted, my resolve on the decision did not.

Regardless, it was good to get back to that spot. It was good to be reminded of why I keep that stick on the dash and think about what it means now.

“All circles presuppose they’ll end where they begin. But only in their leaving can they ever come back around.”
(mewithoutYou. Or Hegel)

11/01/13

“You like the struggle more than the progress,” she said, referring to a pieced together quote I’ve come to cherish and return to often. Truth has a way of hitting heaviest when it’s succinct.

 

I sat reflecting upon that moment at a cafe across from MSU’s campus in East Lansing. I was using their outdoor patio, chilled, my clothes wet from cycling in the rain. I could have driven. But I chose not to. My only regret was not packing along a dry pair of pants. There are certain things that I have done or am doing that lend credence to what she said that evening. And I’m not going to pretend that there’s a simple reason behind those things.

 

For instance, for over a month now I’ve been telling people that I was going to write about sleeping in my car. I’d tell them that it would be better to write something clear and concise and then direct them to it, in order to save time and evade misunderstandings. I told two coworkers just that today. But I’ve changed my mind.

 

I don’t completely understand why I choose some of the struggles that I do or cling to some of the pain that I do. There are words that I can bring up that are true and defend certain actions- simplicity, solidarity, faith, frugality, self-discipline, trust, sustainability, freedom, minimalism- but they don’t completely encompass or express what is.

I’m going to paint something further with two broad strokes. I choose it because:

There is something in the struggle.
And there is something beyond the struggle.

Something in it: It’s choosing to live. I can feel it. The negative ramifications of my choices and perceived effects upon my own value come strongly and frequently. These are easy to fall into, but altogether serve as a beneficial reminder than I’m not simply following. I’m confronting something.
Something beyond it: It points beyond itself. It’s made whole by something that has yet to occur. It’s fulfillment is not completely encountered in the present. This has much to do with why I can’t fully explain it. I don’t know where it leads.

I walked briskly towards the Refugee Development Center this afternoon, a bike with two blown out tires at my side. As I strode, a bearded African-American man appeared in front of me. He was bundled up and washing the store-front windows in the November cold. He asked how I was. I said “fine, thanks”and asked how he was doing.

 

“Peaceful”.

 

The truth of his response was audible as the word passed beyond his lips. The winds quieted, and I continued my walk.

 

If you have the ability to be contented in your circumstances, and offer perspective to others, you have much. Words may not always be the best way to explain why. You may not need to defend your actions; maybe only persevere. I can’t explain why this man was as he was. But it’s what I want. The ability to show something; to have something to offer. Something more than empty words and rhetoric. Progress?

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