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.
In late February of 2011, I made the trip that I’ll be making today. I arrived at the San Francisco International Airport, spend the night there, woke before dawn and took the BART to the Embarcadero, bought Amtrak tickets to Yosemite, enjoyed a bit of San Francisco and then rambled on into the park via a series of buses and trains. I’m thankful for the chance to do that very thing again. I’m looking forward to slow coffee in the airport (which I’m sure I’ll never be able to view in the same way again), people-watching and getting people-looked-at, briefly touching upon San Francisco (w/ aims of picking up some decent to good tea) and arriving in Yosemite, being hit with the fresh scent of what some would call “home”, and seeking out familiar faces.
Unfortunately, today I also leave Sandra Farms. I leave with fondness of heart as this mountain coffee plantation and roastery is wonderful, as are the owners- Israel and Sandra Gonzalez. They’ve been very good to me, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to become part of their livelihood and lives for this all too brief period of time. They’ve certainly lived quite the lives, and enjoy telling the stories of their experiences, whether they be of serving in the Peace Corps in Bolivia, escaping the Cuban revolution, the beginnings of becoming a specialty coffee producer, starting a family while living in the Bronx and attending Columbia Graduate School on $10 a week, and much, much more. Here are a few pictures from my stay. I still have a book to finish and a bit of packing left to do before I take off, so I’ll be leaving this one brief, and unfortunately, doing my stay a great injustice. Fantastic people, fantastic place, and I look forward to visiting again, and hope for others to be able to come along as well.
If you’d like more information on Sandra Farms Coffee, check out http://www.sandrafarms.com.
One of my Favorite Lookout Points
Coffee. Yet to ripen, yet to be picked. The aroma of the bloom is wonderful.
The Washing and Hulling Equipment. An Ecological Engineering Feat from Colombia. Fueled by last year’s coffee hulls, uses minute amounts of water, produces byproducts of a sugar that can be converted into ethanol and coffee mulch fertilizer.
Green beans in bulk. Heading to the co-op.