Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hands up! Bottoms up! Merry Christmas!


MUG: A Christmas novelty mug I found at HEB+. Chinese-made, there were also reindeer and Santa boots models available (I passed on those). Surprisingly easy to grip with the giant candy cane handle, and stable on its three-point support (two hands and a cap tip).

HOT COCOA: Hot Cow Cow double dark chocolate cocoa from McSteven's Cocoa of Vancouver, Washington. I found this at Central Market. Very rich, and priced for the same. The packaging oddly has a cow with the state of Texas on it. No explanation.

NOTES: Speaking of "stable...(and) three-point support." In a stable, the Creator of the Universe (as the second person of the Trinity) became like us so that we can become like him... if we just surrender to his good news.

Hands up! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

O what fun.

MUG: Chinese-made 'Holiday' mug from a company called TAG, via Central Market. Pretty good 'drinker', with a manly handle (three fingers) and a slight lip for a good 'mug kiss' (lip to lip).

COFFEE: Colombian Santander organic, also from Central Market. Roasted five days ago.

NOTES: Even though I'd already gotten my annual 'Christmas Mug' (not yet featured), I saw this last night and decided it fit a current event, and therefore needed to be shared here. The backside of the mug shows what appears to be a British Austin A35 automobile laboring beneath a Christmas Tree. The A35 was followed by the Austin/Morris Mini.

I drive a MINI R55, and fetched my tree in much the same way two days ago, which made spirits bright in the Summer Home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fast Forward

MUG: Chinese-made cafe mug with vaguely French pretensions. Decent volume, thick casting but a bit light for the thickness. Perhaps not very durable. The inverted-cone design has a nice fluted foot for stability. There is good tactile lip feel, but an undersized finger handle. Sur La Table branded. Non-microwaveable.

COFFEE: Medium-roast El Tigre Costa Rican from the "Fast Forward" line of the roaster, Counter Culture Coffee (based in and shipped from Asheville North Carolina).

NOTES: A nice cup... both the ceramics and the contents. Hat-tip to my wife Linden for bringing the cup home, and to Herr Doktor Smith for his kindness in sending coffee from his Nirvana.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Day of the Dead coffee

MUG: Previously featured, a pink Death's Head with a resist block glaze. Made in Germany by Waechtersbach.

COFFEE: A new one (sort of). Colombian from Huilda, Alto Finca Guadalupe. Roasted by Tyler at Central Market Westgate.

NOTES: An excellent cup of coffee, served in a great mug.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Come and taste it.

MUG: Chinese decorator/novelty/souvenir mug. The decoration is interesting not just for the Gonzales Battle Flag design, but for the use of black trim on the base, lip, and handle. A happy coincidence or an intentional motif design? The lip is nicely receptive, the squat shape and flared base creates a sense of stability hat the fairly thin walls of the mug seem to need. And best of all, a gift from my daughter.

COFFEE: Ethiopian Sidamo, roasted by Tyler last week at Central Market Westgate.

NOTES: October 2nd, 1835 marks the beginning of the Texas Revolutionary War.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

My bad.

MUG: 16 ounce polypropylene tumbler with lid and an orange straw. That pretty much says it all.

COFFEE: Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee, something called "Dark Roast."

NOTES: On the way back from my pre-dawn cardio-rehab session, I stopped at our new Dunkin' Donuts location for a tall, cold one. I hadn't been in a DD since 1970. I mistakenly let them put 'cream' in it, but I stopped the sugar application before it was too late. Neither good nor bad, but certainly not bearing any of the flavor characteristics of a 'dark roast' coffee.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mea Maxima Cuppa.

MUG: 14 once mug made in China, mud-colored (I once painted an entire duplex's interior walls that color), and sold by Pottery Barn (one of the rare pieces of pottery in the store). Lettering by DYMO.

COFFEE: Guatemalan Antigua, Central Market West Gate, medium roasted by Tyler.

NOTES: Yet another penitential prototype. This is may be the largest coffee cup I have. But I have another candidate gigante.

P.S. They can have my DYMO embossed label gun when they pry my cold, dead fingers off of it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Death's Head Clown #64, or Skull and Roses

MUG: Uncertain origin, but made for and purchased at the Terlingua Trading Post in Terlingua, Texas. Laser-etched design (a process I like). Matte-black exterior glaze, with a purple gloss glaze lining the mug. White incised/engraved design in the Mexican Dios de la Muerte  tradition.

COFFEE: Guatemalan Antigua, roasted by Tyler at Central Market West Gate a few days ago.

NOTES: I purchased the mug as a souvenir on my last visit to Terlingua earlier this summer. The painted acrylic horn-toads gave it a good run for my tourist dollars.

As for Skull and Roses, advance the player to 52:33, and then play on.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mea culpa.

MUG: Eleven ounce barrel mug, with a course black glaze like the surface of an old chalk blackboard. It was a gift from my daughter. Made in China for Gibson-Home. It came with chalk.

COFFEE: Colombian Santander. Great stuff. Roasted perfectly, and brewed well.

NOTES: My morning coffee routine (ritual?) is intrinsically tied to my daily practice/habit/rule of observing a variation of the Benedictine daily office of Morning Prayer (pre-dawn Matins). It usually begins with these words:

Dearly beloved, we have come together in the presence of
Almighty God our heavenly Father, to set forth his praise, to
hear his holy Word, and to ask, for ourselves and on behalf
of others, those things that are necessary for our life and our
salvation. And so that we may prepare ourselves in heart and
mind to worship him, let us kneel in silence, and with
penitent and obedient hearts confess our sins, that we may 
obtain forgiveness by his infinite goodness and mercy.

There are other versions I use at times.

The text is a rough prototype for an idea I had for a 16 oz. latte-mug design. Helps to understand it if you're old Catholic.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Dated Material: Release Immediately

MUG: Chinese made barrel-style mug, purchased in the gift shop at the old Nimitz Hotel in Fredericksburg, Texas.

COFFEE: Colombian Santander, roasted yesterday by Frank at the Central Market Westgate.

NOTES: The coffee is not burned, unlike the thousands of humans who unwillingly sacrificed their lives as an offering to save millions of their countrymen's lives (as well as thousands of American lives) on today's date. Thank you, cousin Harry. I might not be here today otherwise (my dad was in the Aleutians, waiting to go).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Expercolate! Expercolate!

MUG: Chinese-made barrel mug licensed by the BBC.

COFFEE: Colombian Santander roasted by Frank at the Gateway Central Market.

NOTE: For years, before I knew better (mid 1960s to the mid 1970s), I used a percolator to make my coffee. I liked an avocado green ABS plastic model made by Regal that traveled from Grayson County to San Francisco to Austin. I preferred Seaport coffee roasted in Beaumont, Texas. It came in paper/foil vacuum bricks. It had a wonderful 1930's style graphic of an ocean freighter...not unlike the Dalek on the mug. Speaking of which, wouldn't a Dalek make a great design for a perculator?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Burns so good.

MUG: Chinese-made enameled steel cup. Nice for a sip of cold water. Dangerous for a cup of hot coffee.

COFFEE: I had an excellent Guatemalan slow-pour in a ceramic mug a the Pearl Brewery location (where you can't buy a Pearl beer) of San Antonio's  Local Coffee while photographing this foolishness. I feel hipper just typing this.

NOTES: Local Coffee makes excellent coffee. They love branded merchandize. Feel the burn. My lips are sealed, however.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

To Hell and Back

MUG: Chinese-generic.  Produced by Vistaprint as a one-off for me.

COFFEE: Colombian Supremo Santander. Roasted by Frank at CM.

NOTES: Sumer is icumen in... and it will be hell.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The road to better coffee.

MUG: Chinese specialty-advertising diner mug. A good drinker. Hefty without being cumbersome. A manly mug, in a soft ivory color with a tastefully small logo imprint in brown. 

COFFEE: Colombian Excelso Santander, city roast (by Frank) from Central Market Westgate.

NOTES: For reason related to (but not entirely limited to) my allergies to Central Texas, coffee has not been tasting especially good to me lately. I've tried various alterations in my brewing style (and beans), but without much success.

Today, I poured my morning brew into this mug from the coffee purveyors extraordinaire at Der Küchen Laden in Fredericksburg Texas. It tastes great!

If you want better coffee, may I suggest a good place to start is on US Highway 281, safely west of Austin.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The World Cafe.

MUG: A Chinese-made 'diner mug', showing signs of actual hand production (while this crudity is undesirable for maximizing profits, it's highly desirable for actually handling a mug). A 'good drinker' of a mug.

COFFEE: Beach Fire coffee from Summermoon Coffee in Buda, Texas. The politically-correct beans (organic and fair trade) come from the Indonesian island-province of Timor. Summermoon Coffee, which is quietly not politically correct when it comes to murdering tiny human beings, roasts their coffee beans 'off the grid' using no electricity. The fires are fueled by mesquite wood, and the roaster is turned by a stationary bicycle. The coffee is quite good.

NOTES: The Cafe du Monde mug came the original French Market location in New Orleans. It's a 9 ounce mug, which helps limit the amount of burned, oily coffee it can hold, thereby limiting the damage it can do. "French Roast" coffee, flavored with chicory root, is so nasty that customers demanded something to cushion both their palates and their stomach linings. Beignets do the trick nicely, and were the reason I made the trek to Cafe du Monde in the first place. I dutifully drank the coffee... with milk.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

There is no fun in Mudville, Waechtersbach has struck out.

MUG: The classic Waechtersbach coffee mug, the original 'cylinder mug', made in Germany, and glazed in a slip that matches a color we call "PMS MUD" (a reference to the Pantone Matching System and my fondness for this earth tone).

COFFEE: Colombian Supremo roasted in-house at Central Market.

NOTES: For some time, Waechtersbach has made ceramics in Spain as well as Germany. The Spanish pieces were usually less desirable, although virtually identical. They were a bit lighter in weight, and the color range was less interesting. The line of mugs were called Fun Factory, perhaps due to the whimsical (and too often tacky) decorations on them, but mainly just a reference to the 'fun' colors of red, yellow, orange, and lime.

But now I see a new line of Waechtersbach mugs being offered for sale: Fun Factory II. They are made in China, and appear to be an altogether different mug, indistinguishable from any other Chinese generic coffee mug.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wiggle room.

MUG: Uncle Wiggily cup made by the Sebring Pottery Co. Small-sized (six ounces). I'm told that's the size that's in high demand today. This one was made for a child in the 1920s.

COFFEE: Guatemalan Antigua from Central Market. Roasted (city) by Frank.

NOTES: While I noticed several roasts that were dark and shiny, my mainstays (Colombian and Guatemalan) remain roasted short of the burned stage so popular among the passing. There really isn't much wiggle room in coffee roasts destined for drip/pour-over brewing, but a rather narrow sweet spot.

This cup was produced for the Wander Co. in Chicago, an early maker of the Swiss Ovaltine breakfast drink. Uncle Wiggily was an early 20th century cartoon book series, created by Howard R. Garis.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Raven-black coffee

MUG: Texas Sesquicentennial coffee mug (from China), featuring a panel from the Texas History Movies graphic history book series.

COFFEE: Colombian Santa Minas.

NOTES: April 21, 1836: the Anglo-Celtic forging of what became known as 'America'.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Monday, April 07, 2014

Purchasey's Song

Bad news, bad news, comes to me where I shop.
Burn, burn, burn again.
Saying one of my finds is in dark trouble deep.
Burn, burn to the roast and the bean.

...with apologies to Robert Zimmerman.

Yesterday, I went by Central Market at West Gate to pick up some fresh coffee beans. While bagging my coffee, I overheard two of the roasting team members discuss plans to start roasting the coffees darker because of customer requests. The Austin coffee customer equates 'burned' with 'good' when it comes to coffee (just as they equate burned brisket crust combined with bloody meat as the sign of good barbecue). Coffee, beer, bbq, just about anything; overdone means superior in their minds.

Poseurs all.

These folks below were not poseurs by any means, even though they were trying a bit hard to be American-style folk-rockers. Turn, turn, turn again.

P.S. The tune is based on the old English folk song, The Wind And The Rain.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Where do you draw the line?

MUG: A two-dimensional rendering of a barrel-style mug, done on a 'magic erase' drawing pad I got for my two-year old granddaughter for a buck at Target.

COFFEE: A steaming hot virtual Colombian.

NOTES: I used to draw.

Interestingly, below is a picture of my grandson showing off his artwork of a steaming mug of tea at the elementary school district art show.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

I'll take mine black.

MUG: A gift from the Bob Bullock State History Museum (don't bother to ask, "Which state?"). Chinese-made, with a black-trimmed lipped rim and foot. Sort of a Neo-Classical design, but it drinks well.

COFFEE: Brazilian Carmo de Minas Fezenda Sertão, Micro Lot 2. As most of my coffees are lately, this one was roasted at the Westgate Central Market. I like the good Brazilian coffees quite a bit. As the world's largest exporter of coffee beans, they produce a lot of crap beans for crap coffee as well, and the superior beans are a bit rarer in the marketplace.

NOTES: The mug was given to me by a dear friend who who made a decision to move away. Sort of a "piece offering"... as was the event the mug commemorates.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Mini mine.

MUG: Savor Drinkware travel mug. Double-walled, stainless steel, and spill proof to boot.

COFFEE: Guatemalan Antigua roasted at Central Market.

NOTES: This travel mug is sorta mini-sized. It only holds 12 ounces, which is 6 ounces less than most travel mugs. Its raison d'être is so it will fit under a Keurig coffee maker. It was a necessary purchase for me, not because I have a Keurig (although I have used the one at work) but because when used in my MINI Cooper, it doesn't block the dash controls above the cup holders like a normal-sized travel mug.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Be still, and drink coffee.

MUG: A generic, ubiquitous Chinese-made imitation of a Waechtersbach cylinder mug. It's ubiquitous for a reason. It works.

COFFEE: Santander Organic Fair-Trade Colombian from Central Market. City roast, by Frank.

NOTES: This mug is of the Radio Free Babylon internet 'comic' strip Coffee With Jesus, and was produced in conjunction with the publishing of a book of the internet cartoons by Intervarsity Press. I won the mug, and a copy of the book, by having this mug selected as the single most tasteless, tackiest coffee mug posted on their Facebook page. A British mug of Charles and Diana came in second.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

This is my 'Happy Face'.

MUG: Nothing you haven't seen before. Waechtersbach (made in Germany). I've got nothing more to say on the matter (today).

COFFEE: Not coffee, which hasn't really been tasting very good since my case of " influenza-like upper respiratory infection" (so said the attending Physician). Today I am drinking some Taza Chipotle Chili Chocolate Mexicano, a stone-ground 70% dark "Mexican-style" chocolate in tablet form, from that renowned center of Central American cuisine... Massachusetts. It's about 500% more expensive (and not even close to being 500% better) than the authentic item from Mexico, but the word 'chipotle' causes my wallet to open... at least once.

NOTES: It's a cold morning. It's spicy hot chocolate. I have a cat on my lap. The 'Happy Face' mug is appropriate.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Local is usually best.

MUG: A 'diner' mug. Probably from China. Heavy, and drinks like all the other diner mugs I have. That's a good thing.

COFFEE: A Colombian Santander from Central Market's in-house roaster. Good stuff. Not over roasted.

NOTES: I bought this mug yesterday morning while meeting up with some fellow MINI drivers for a day's cruise. The shop was aptly-but-oddly named Local Coffee. Aptly, because it's a local company with three locations (we were at the Sonterra store). Oddly, because the coffee they serve is roasted in Dallas (the bagged coffee they sell is Stumptown from Portland). That's not a bad thing, because the coffee was excellent... and the barista made it a point to mention that the coffee isn't "over roasted" (I'm talking to you, Austin).

I sampled their daily drip, and it was the thinnest cup of coffee I have ever been served, even though it was just a sample. Seriously, it looked like tea. I made a puzzled remark, the barista made a mildly condescending remark back, and my visit was about to spiral down when I noticed the array of drip makers at the counter, both Chemex and Clever coffee makers. I looked to the menu and saw "slow drip" coffee as a $2.50 option. The coffee was a Colombian, and I bought it. It was a great cup of coffee (really almost two cups... it came in a 16 ounce leather-thermal-wrapped Mason jar), brewed in a Chemex, and it put the mystery of the coffee-tea behind me.