Saturday, December 25, 2010


MUGS: Waechtersbach classic mugs, Made In W. Germany. One winter themed (for my wife), one Christmas themed with cat theme bonus (for my mother-in-law), and one natural/mud colored (for me). Perfection in mugs.

COFFEE: Organically-grown Colombian Supremo, San Antonio-roasted, medium roast beans, purchased yesterday during the Exodus to Central Market. Burr-ground for cone drip.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I don't play like Robert Johnson

MUG: Unknown country of origin (I should have looked, but you know the old joke about turning over a coffee cup), but branded Illy, and designed by Matteo Thun in Milan, founder of the Memphis Design Group. Nice ceramic heft and lip, but a poor handle that appears to be an Illy trademark (circle shape only allows one finger, and is uncomfortable due to the mug's weight). Probably works better for an espresso cup, not a mug. An example of anti-Bauhaus design (form leading function).

COFFEE: Illy dark roast. Brewed correctly and fresh. A superior cup of coffee.

NOTES: Breakfast at Crossroads Diner on Walnut Hill Lane near Presbyterian Hospital and the DART rail station. The grits and pancakes came from Heritage Homestead (a Christian agrarian community near Waco), and the chorizo from a local vendor. Good stuff.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Blown away.

MUG: Not. Mexican hand-blown glass.

COFFEE: Not. Buffalo Trace bourbon.

NOTES: This glass was a gift from my parents, deceased now an average of twenty years. It's a wonderful vessel for spirits, as were they for the Spirit. 

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, October 03, 2010

How to make a better cup of coffee on the road.

MUG: Double-walled stainless steel French-press travel mug. It get's too hot to hold, so I added a beer bottle sleeve. 

COFFEE: Cafe Olé prepackaged Colombian Bucaramanga Supremo from the H.E.B. in Odessa. 

NOTES: I use the hotel's in-room coffee maker to heat the water, pour it over the grounds in my French Travel Press, wait four minutes, and then press and drink. The little coffee packet says it contains enough coffee for a "perfect pot", which in my case means one mug.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy un-Camper!

MUG: German-made Waechtersbach "happy man" mug, possessing all the virtues and qualities of Waechtersbach coffee mugs that I have extolled in the past. Simply the world's best commercially-made mugs (speaking for the ones made in Germany).

COFFEE: Fresh ground at O'dark thirty from Colombian Supremo medium roast beans, sourced from Central Market. Familiarity breeds contentment.

NOTES: After several days of on and off travel (with a couple more yet to come), staying in other people's homes, historic hotels, and run-down motels, and eating in restaurants and with hosts, it's indescribably wonderful to be home, enjoying a pot of my coffee. Strong stuff, and soul satisfying (combined with morning temperatures in the mid-50s). I'm home, and I'm happy to be here. I like it here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lodging my observations.

A USA made (I forgot the manufacturer) china naval mug. Heavy, thick-rimmed, wonderful mug, worthy of a robust, manly brew. A champion "big finger" mug.

COFFEE: Thin diner-brew coffee, perfectly typical of what's served nationwide, totally devoid of all the characteristics that make coffee more than simply a habitual breakfast beverage. The coffee is supplied by DeCoty Coffee in San Angelo, and is served all over West, Texas. The coffee itself may be fine, but the accepted brew-strength is just pathetic.

This example was obtained at the Black Bear Restaurant at Indian Lodge Resort in the Davis Mountains state park, close to the McDonald Observatory. You gotta love a restaurant that serves grilled liver-and-onions, and has both black bear and mountain lion warnings posted on the door.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Whoa Nellie.

Commercial diner mug by Buffalo. Sort of a Mid-Century Modern design. Odd "contemporary" handle shape, really nice decorative band.

COFFEE: Big Blend coffee from Big Bend Coffee Roasters as served at Nel's Coffee Shop in Ft. Davis, Texas. Brewed too weak (standard diner strength), so there's no way to tell if the coffee's any good.

NOTES: Nel's is connected to The Bookfeller used book store, both physically and by marriage. Good breakfast, however.

Limping on.

MUG: Paper cup. What can I say?

COFFEE: Hotel Limpia House Blend, from Big Bend Coffee Roasters. Good body, brewed stronger than one might expect, but a slight undertone of 'sweetness' that I find unnecessary.

Waiting in the empty lobby at 5:30 a.m. Drinking it on the Hotel Limpia's front porch. An altogether nice way to start the morning.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Debris field

Paper cup, with a plastic lid and a corrugated paper sleeve. I forgot to remove it, and so the aromatic and tactile experience was diminished considerably.

COFFEE: Starbucks™ Anniversary Blend. Touted as "bold and spicy", I found it thin and underwhelming.

NOTES: The debris field represents my using a Starbucks™ as my early morning home away from home in Tulsa. A plastic cup of water (the best thing I had there), the wrapper from my apple-spice muffin, an empty pill bottle that held my vitamins and prescription meds, a used, tightly folded paper napkin (as is my habit), and the coffee.

Am I the only one who is noticing a thinning of the brew-strength at Starbucks™? This has happened a few times, recently (usually when I am traveling). Lowering the bar, perhaps, to gain market? Or is it just me?

Monday, September 13, 2010

End of days coffee

MUG: Styrofoam cup. As styrofoam cups go, this one is very attractive, and I did appreciate the sanitized wrapper.

COFFEE: Mello-Cup blend from Farmer Brothers. Suitable for pouring on cockroaches, I suppose.

NOTES: This is the coffee that was supplied with the coffee maker in the Tulsa Days Inn motel I stayed at last weekend. I brought my own coffee, but made this as a demonstration. The little packet is designed to make 4 cups (I used it to make two cups, which was still too weak). I compared it to the four cups worth of coffee I brought from home, and mine had a 4:1 volume ratio over the motel coffee. Cockroaches beware!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mugga Java

Well, cup, actually. It's a Japanese decorative porcelain cup. Nice touch, good lip, comfortable handle. The decoration includes gold glazing, and the artwork is from a 18th Century celestial illustration (sun, moon, stars, comets, planets).

Mocha Java beans from Allegro Coffees. Ground this morning as lightening flashed across the sky. Mocha Java used to be my preferred coffee blend thirty-five years ago. In formulating my own private blend with Coffee Company, I finally settled on estate grown Colombian Supremo as my daily grind preference. Sometimes less (fuss) is more (satisfaction).

NOTE: Bought this because we were out of beans, we were at Whole Foods, and I didn't like the look of their Colombian. It's OK, if a little more acidic than I like. I noted that both Mocha (Yemen) and Java (Indonesia) were in the news this week. Yemen because of terrorist activity, Java because of volcanic. Colombia, on the other hand, was peaceful.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In the dark, but not of it.

MUG: Conical espresso cup. Thick, with a thick one-finger handle. The design, construction, and glaze color are exceptional (in my eyes). A beautiful treatment of a cup that too often lends itself to daintiness. I have included my A.G. Spalding & Bros. mechanical pencil for scale (The pencil is made by the same family that produced Spalding baseball gloves for decades before selling out. They are still in control of the old logo-type.). Oh look! Both the cup and pencil are my favorite color!

COFFEE: This is the dark roast my wife likes (dripped, not espresso) from The Olive Branch, a bakery/breakfast/lunch spot in Waco, Texas. The eatery is located in an old 19th Century warehouse near the Brazos River, one that is now full of restaurants (ground floor) and testosterone-free shops (up stairs). The coffee is called Downtown Dark, and is a custom blend from an unidentified roaster. Deep, rich flavor. No complaints (it ain't Colombian Supremo, but I'm narrow-minded). We bought a bag for home consumption. It's still good, made to the stand-up-and-walk-around strength I prefer.

NOTES: Traveling through Waco? This is a good place to stop for breakfast or lunch. Avoid the shops upstairs. They would drain even Floyd Landis.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Non Cogito.

MUG: Novelty mug from a company called The Unemployed Philosophers Guild. 11 ounce generic design. Standard and functional, if not outstanding ergonomically. On the bottom of the mug, there is this warning: "FOR BEST RESULTS, USE OTHER SIDE." This is covered in their helpful instructional video.

COFFEE: French Roast beans, ground this morning, procured from Tom Thumb's Grocery a few days ago under the label of Safeway Select Gourmet Coffee. Mrs. Summer has been wanting us to brew French Roast coffee for some time, and after enjoying a cup in a little restaurant near the Brazos River in Waco, she bought home 1/2 a pound. I'm not a big fan of the style.

NOTES: The mug has René Descartes' mug on it. It's one of those disappearing art mugs, where something printed disappears as the hot liquid is poured in... often things like Dr. Who's TARDIS, or the wives of King Henry VIII. In this case, "I Think, Therefore I Am" becomes "I Think Not", as René disappears.

As for the French Roast replacing my beloved Colombian Supremo?

I think not.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In the groove.

Colombian Supremo from What's Brewing? roaster.

A "naval-style" mug of undetermined origin. Great heft, lip, bite, and capacity. This example was sent to me by a friend in Seattle who knows I also love vinyl LPs.

NOTES: Sometimes I wonder if I'm in a rut because I always drink coffee made with this bean, but I really like it (made strong). Wine-y, oak-y, cocoa-y, chewy. Great stuff. So it's more a groove than a rut... and lots of caffeine certainly helps me spin.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Litespeed coffee cup

The Colombian Supremo of comfort, habit and preference (but not an especially good run/roast).

A double-wall titanium back-packing/camping mug from REI. Made in Japan (and priced accordingly). Titanium is very lightweight compared to steel, and stronger than aluminum (so it can be thinner and save weight... a big deal for back-packers and cyclo-tourists). It also conducts heat better than the other materials mentioned, so this mug has silicon sleeves on the folding handles to protect the fingers, and a silicon lid (not shown in photo) to protect the lips. Titanium is also flavorless.

An item of desire met. Notice the coffee drips on the handles, the result of my sloshing the coffee. The hot coffee on the cedar plank "coaster" released a surprising amount of cedar aroma in the pre-dawn hour.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

More craft, less art, please.

MUG: Mosaic slab construction mug, the mate to the mug seen in the previous post. "A porous coffee cup" isn't the same thing as "Pour us a cup of coffee". It leaks (no cracks).

COFFEE: Not wanting to waste good coffee, I made a single cup of Starbucks™ VIA® Ready Brew. It's the premium instant coffee ready brew coffee that comes in little tubular single-serve packets, a sample of which came in yesterday's newspaper (told you I was a Luddite). What does it taste like? Premium priced instant coffee.

NOTES: Double fail.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Roll 'em easy

COFFEE: The usual (Colombian Supremo), ground immediately prior to brewing, roasted some time in the past.

MUG: An artsy-crafty mug made by a potter in Denton, Texas (former GF of my brother-in-law). Three piece slab-construction, with different-colored stratified clay rolled into a sheet, and the bottom punched out and a handle formed. The sheet is then rolled into a tube, and affixed to the base. A clear glaze is applied inside the cup (for liquid seal), and some decorations are applied to the outside. This is part of a set (two mugs and a creamer).

Form over function, and nicer as an object than as a utensil. It drinks well, though, and has a nice tactile feel to the mug barrel, with the smooth glaze covering the lip. The handle is too narroe for me, but it does have a nice thumb indent at the top of the handle where it meets the mug barrel.

Stay tuned for Part Two.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monumental discovery.

Homer Laughlin china. Made in the U.S.A. No nonsense coffee service.

Proprietary, fair trade, locally blended and roasted by Cinfrani Coffee in Georgetown, Texas. Good, but needs to be brewed stronger to be great.

Had coffee (and breakfast) at the Monument Cafe in Georgetown, just off the town square. A high-class diner built in 1995 to be reminiscent of 1930-'50s diners. Well worth the side trip off the hell that is I-35.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Die Grosse Mug

Cappuccino from my Saeco Estro Vapore espresso machine, with a cocoa and chili powder dusting.

A giant Waechtersbach cappuccino mug (how appropriate) from the Crate & Barrel Outlet Store. Nobody does red glaze like Waechtersbach (not even the old, radioactive Fiestaware).

Temperature outside was 74F yesterday. Twenty four hours later it's 35F, windy and raining. "Mr. Summer! Your horses are out of your pasture again!"

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Jacked up.

MUG: Crate & Barrel espresso cup and saucer. Clean design, simple and just slightly elegant.

COFFEE: Community Coffee espresso roast, brewed with our genuine Italian pump espresso maker.

NOTES: Out of Colombian this morning, so I hit the hard stuff.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


COFFEE: The Colombian of preference. Stout and high.

MUG: Texas novelty bistro mug. One of my favs.

NOTE: The words on the mug are U.S. Reresentative David Crockett's parting words to Tennessee (whose citizens had just voted him out of office). Happy Texas Independence Day.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Buffalo Chips

MUG: Diner mug from Buffalo Pottery. Thick, dense, heavy, very satisfying. Made in tha USA.

COFFEE: Brazilian Estate at Cafe Brazil in Deep Ellum. Thin, weak, light, not at all satisfying.

NOTES: Lunch with Chip Seal. Cafe Brazil's coffee seems much more like normal, run of the mill restaurant coffee nowadays. The food was good, though (or so Chip said).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MUG: Generic "gimmie-mug" made in The People's Republic of China.

COFFEE: A very drinkable dark roast, freshly brewed, and of decent strength.

NOTES: Breakfast at Maxine's on Main in downtown Bastrop, Texas. I had a good plate of migas, but they were out of their home-made salsa. Can a restaurant make "home-made" anything?

All of the coffee mugs in this quaint restaurant were garage-sale pick-ups and promo mugs. No two alike.

Friday, January 01, 2010

MUG: Czech hand-blown stemless Champagne flute from Crate & Barrel.

COFFEE: Nope. A Spanish Cava, Cristalino Brut. Nice on the palate and the wallet. A great party sparkler.

NOTE: Last night's New Year's Eve Toast. Notice the clock... Happy New Year, Prince Edward Island!