Michael James Photography

Occasionally updated blog about my cameras, photography, processes, coffee, and mixtures of the above

Time for a coffee rant…

I am constantly upset by people getting a drink (any drink, though I’m referring to coffee in particular) and loading it up with “condiments” such as sugar and cream before even tasting it. It’s a completely instinctual act, people have been programmed to add sugar to shit before they even check to see if it needs sugar. I have a couple different theories and a couple different people to blame. First off, “supermarket coffee.” By this I mean your Foldgers, Yuban, basically anything that is low quality, carelessly roasted, months from the roast date, and pre-ground. This goes against every element of quality and freshness that we in the specialty coffee industry strive to provide our customers with. As a result, you get coffee that is flat, bitter, boring, and overall gross. This is why these coffees leave you reaching for the half and half and Splenda. On that note, there is the “Splenda theory” as I will call it. Artificial sweeteners. They are everywhere. All shapes, sizes, colors, and all giving the impression that they are “healthier” than real sugar. Basically, these artificial compounds de-sensitize your taste buds to what sweet is supposed to be. This does not allow you to sense anything but the overpowering, chemical “sweetness” that these potentially cancer-inducing substances impart unto your palate. And now for the rant all of you can expect from me: Starbucks. Not just Starbucks, but Peet’s, CBTL, and even most “mom and pop” shops that offer grossly sweetened “lattes” and the ungodly blended drinks that dominate the American coffee service industry as of late. A lot of people are starting to consume coffee-like beverages in the time that these type of drinks are splattered across every street corner. They’re inevitable, almost everyone is going to eventually have a “caramel macchiato” (which is in fact a bastardization of the name macchiato, but another rant, another time.) Anyway, these drinks leave people with the impression that coffee is supposed to be grossly sweet, and makes them perceive any black coffee as plain “bitter.” I would assert that these perceived bitter flavors are a result of expectation of a sugar-fronted drink, and a let down on the delivery.
Basically, all I’m asking of you is to try it black, and avoid the Splenda. Try a lovely raw sugar or agave instead if you still crave sweetness, I feel you might be surprised.

I love my job. Caramel, red fruit, bakery’s chocolate.

I love my job. Caramel, red fruit, bakery’s chocolate.

"I worry about you every day, I do"

A homeless lady came in to my shop today. A lot of what she said was completely scrambled and random, but it all made sense. One of the first things was she asked how I was doing. Getting asked this question daily, I always gave the programmed response, “I’m good, how are you doing?”
She then said, “no really, how are you? I worry about you every day, I do, is anyone hurting you?”
It may have just been the ranting of a mind racked with years of pain, but for some reason this touched me. She was genuinely concerned with how I was doing. That’s definitely more than I can say about my other customers.
She stayed for a while, talked about her previous jobs, where she used to live, her ex husband, brothers, among other things. There was so much pain hidden behind her empty eyes. And to top it all off, the one customer who was also in the store said “cookoo, cookoo” after she left.
If anything, this has helped to put my life in perspective, and has opened my eyes again to the soulless, compassionless view of some.
I felt I was hearing the story of this poor lady’s life, and all he heard was the babble of someone he saw as a tweaker.

Bonavita Variable Temp. Kettle

So, this quickly moved up on my list of must-haves. Anyone who brews pour-over coffee would easily understand why, temperature control within .5 degrees of a pre-set temp with a gooseneck pour spout?? Yes please.

I’m advertising for them and not even gettin paid, sheeeeit

tinyurl.com/6mho3dc

(Source: jamesmichaelphoto)

I’ve been away from the Internet for a while

Not really, I just haven’t been active recently.
So here’s an update: my photography has taken a back seat to my coffee for a while in excitement and preparation of my new job. My pour overs are getting much better.
I bought a Chemex a few weeks ago and my other brewers were untouched for a while after, but I’m getting back into the Hario V60 and a recently purchased Clever dripper. I haven’t made home espresso in a while, since I’m working on my brew
I have been getting espresso/latte training at Beyond The Grind by an awesome and knowledgeable individual. I have also determined that BTG is kinda like Disneyland for me. So much coffee, brewers, and equipment around! And their Unic Zi3 is pretty friggin amazing. Working with the Marzocco has been significantly less exciting after one day on the color-changing Zi3…
Oh and everyone should check out the Panama coffee from Verve. I’m unsure of the specific region, but it’s killer. Blew my mind. Juicy, sweet, cane sugar, strawberries, passionfruit, just amazing and refreshing. Anyway, that’s all for now, gotta go check out the shop!

Thanks to the flavor wheel

I can now accurately place the flavor taints I get in Rwandan coffees every now and again. Mildewy, with a hint of wet paper. That sounds a lot worse than it is though, this is still a great cup

Throwdown at Cafecito Organico, Heliotrope location 
This was an awesome event. On the left is Alex from Cafe Lux, middle is Alex from Green Bliss/my new boss once Cafecito OC opens, and right is Demart from Portola. 
Overall, this was a great gathering of baristi and coffee enthusiasts. There was even a representative from the Barista Guild of America there. Also, I met a coffee blogger who is determined to try every shop in LA and buy from every single local roaster, documents of his journey can be found at http://lascoffeenut.tumblr.com 
Soon I’ll be confident enough to compete, but for now my future coworker and I were just making an appearance as the Cafecito OC newbies, meeting some great people, and talkin shop

Throwdown at Cafecito Organico, Heliotrope location
This was an awesome event. On the left is Alex from Cafe Lux, middle is Alex from Green Bliss/my new boss once Cafecito OC opens, and right is Demart from Portola.
Overall, this was a great gathering of baristi and coffee enthusiasts. There was even a representative from the Barista Guild of America there. Also, I met a coffee blogger who is determined to try every shop in LA and buy from every single local roaster, documents of his journey can be found at http://lascoffeenut.tumblr.com
Soon I’ll be confident enough to compete, but for now my future coworker and I were just making an appearance as the Cafecito OC newbies, meeting some great people, and talkin shop

Alright so someone has to come drink coffee with me.

I have all kinds of beans at my house right now. Tanzania, Brazil, Rwanda, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, and I have like 5 ways of making them. Chemex, Hario V60, French press, cold brew via French press, Mypressi Twist, and soon a La Pavoni Europiccola. Oh and of course it’s the perfect time to break a grinder. It was dying anyway but it’s definitely just done now.

So I’m moving forward in the world of coffee

I’m going to be working at the newest location of Cafecito Organico in Costa Mesa, as soon as it opens. I had a meeting with my team yesterday, we brewed lots of coffee, some S.O.s, and discussed what’s to come. Let’s just say I couldn’t be more excited. Kalita Wave, Chemex, Astoria Gloria, locally roasted beans, and an awesome location. Super stoked for the Gloria, which is a manual lever machine. Basically, my dream shop.

And to end my posts for the night (early morning?) here is some of my ever improving latte art

And to end my posts for the night (early morning?) here is some of my ever improving latte art