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

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Contrasts (June 5th, 2015)

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The plane drifted in its slow-motion descent, but once we’d touched down, I moved even slower. Making way through the small modern airport, I glanced up in time to notice what seemed to be old-world wooden accents. A man, his daughter and their dog greeted me from the luggage bay. I collected my belongings and we walked out into the first piece of Alaska I’d ever know- a parking lot.
The first thing noticed was the sheer number of Subarus and Toyotas, as well as bumper stickers to match. They looked like they’d been places; as if they’d seen more than asphalt and tar. The second thing noticed was the light. It was eleven P.M. The air was heavy and sky was shaded deeply, but it was certainly still awake. It seemed to me a junction between two states, and I had to ask whether the sun was about to set or about to rise.
It hadn’t yet set. In fact, nearly a month and a half later I have yet to see the night sky. But I hear it comes. I hear it comes with a seeming permanence, and brings with it a halt to the summer rush. I hear folks spend more time inside, Blaze Kings ® blaze longer, books grow thicker, and skis and dogs, sometimes together, fly trails like you can only imagine. The time is full, but its fullness is of a different sort than that of the summer. It almost sounds to me like a time of rest. Fallow, if you will.
Over the winter, Calypso’s soils seem to be dormant. This period allows for future vitality. Things are going on, however. It’s more than inaction. This distinction is patterned in the pace of some of our activities here in the Farmer Training Program, while others mimic a different pace. We can be found working our hands into soil, reflecting on readings, tearing down trees, building up buildings, etc. There is time alone, and there are times of community. Some moments are frenzied, others are meditative. The sun heats. The cold bites. And, as with the plants that thrive in the fields after having been hardened by their intentional removal from the singular set of greenhouse conditions that they’ve known, we’re bettered by the contrasts.
This evening, most of us have returned to our respective abodes. Solstice comes in two weeks, and with it slowly will come darker nights. Rain falls and dings on the roof- a living stillness. I rest my head on my pillow and am drawn to think about what comes next. What will June of next year look like? I have to remind myself, though, that I’m here now, and here for a reason, and when I’m there, I’ll be there for a reason.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”
-Ecc. 3:1-8

Thirteen Stars on an Ink-Smudged Page (June 19th, 2015)
Last night I wrote down thirteen bulleted phrases. It was my weekend to do list.
This morning, however, I heard from a friend, and her words prompted me to add one more. Albeit more a reminder than task, at the very top the words were added, “Everything in Light of What’s Most Important”. With that in mind, the list read much differently.
Some tasks were removed in total. Others were reworked and reoriented. Without exception, all were put into perspective.
Part of the Farmer Training Program consists of a Whole Farm Planning exercise. Throughout this process, we’ve been encouraged to think not only about potential production methods, farm locations, and resources that might be available, but also about bigger questions.
These bigger questions, ranging from visions of what a better world might look like, to unique aspirations within one’s own individual life, have the effect of reorienting our specific farming ideas to deeper drives and currents that are easy to lose track of in what can be busy, tumultuous times.
Beyond that, I myself am thankful simply for the space to work out those ideas. Taking the time to reflect on not just what one can and might do, but why one might do so has the possibility of not only affecting future choices and actions, or even the decisions of that very day, but the lens that one sees the world with that very moment, or so I’ve found.
I’ve found a lot of things on this farm and amongst our community to be very humbling. So much to learn. So much to do.  This reminder, intentionally worked into our curriculum, has served, possibly beyond its intended use, to put myriad ideas, opportunities and convictions in the right place. For me, a restless one, this is important. Less frantic action, more moving forward. Aiming not only to do things, and not only to do things well, but aiming instead to do the right things well.

FAREWELL FORTY-EIGHT

Denali

Alaskan Cabbage

He would pull a chain on a broken clock and a small door would

Swing open and an ornate little bird would sing to him until he

Understood the bird mechanical and had no song to sing 

And it was only himself pulling a chain and his

Hand had grown weary and after

That he only pined for, while resting, legs crossed, 

A bird crashing his window crowing, "I want you."

ROAST LOG (#2)

Batch 1.
 Bottoms out at 213
 FC@ 380, 13:44
 Pull at 402, 17:30
 Rd is 3 min 50 sec
 Too long a roast! Next time open cyclone, close airflow. Appearance: average SF
 roast. Tastes like it too, although slightly bitter, not as exciting.
Batch 2.
 Bottoms at 213, 1:55
 Open cyclone was bad choice! Beans lost.
 FC@ 381, 11:49, opened air a bit more to prolong RD.
 Pull at 402, 14:53
 Unbelievable. Lost half batch?
 Better timing. Stick with orig plan. First roast always long?
 Look good. Taste more exciting. Only slight, slight bitter trace.
Batch 3.
 Bottoms at 207, 2:03
 Cyclone half, air duct open so you can hear.
 Bread strong at 346, 9:40
 FC@ 380, 13:00
 Air already flowing a bit. Left as is.
 Pull at 403, 16:29
 Look good, taste pretty good; sugars, oils, acids could be better.
Batch 4.
 Leaving bean gate closed cyclone at half. Hoping for shorter roast time with no
 negative effects.
 Bottoms at 203, 2:14 (forgot to raise heat after dumping last batch.)
 FC@ 383, 12:17
 Pull at 402, 15:08
 Slightly light for profile, but look good. Taste great. Lasting, sweet, have good 
 crack of flavor to them.
Batch 5.
 Keeping bean gate closed, cyclone at half.
 Bottoms at 211, 1:25
 FC@ 382, 12:05
 Pull at 403, 15:16
 Got it.

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.

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