Archive for the ‘Caffeine Dreams’ category

A Swan’s view of the universe

August 11, 2010

Things in life can be divided into three basic categories.

There are things you can do something about. This is an almost infinitesimally small category.

There are things you can’t do anything about. This is an almost infinitely large category.

There are things you might be able to do something about eventually, but time will have to do its work in bringing that eventuality to you.

Do something about the things you can do something about.

Don’t worry about the things you can’t do anything about.

As for the things you’re waiting for time to resolve… while you’re waiting, you might as well enjoy a good cup of coffee. Or a cream soda.

You don’t have to look at your world this way, but that’s how I perceive mine.

To sleep, Peru Chanchamayo to dream

April 21, 2010

Generally speaking, I prefer a pungent, bold-flavored coffee to kick-start me in the morning. (Because if you’d ever seen me in the morning, you’d know that I need all the kick-starting I can get.)

Over the past few weeks, however, my morning brew of choice has been the latest seasonal coffee offering from Starbucks: Peru Chanchamayo. Yes, I know — it sounds like one of those faux-Mexican monstrosities Taco Bell keeps churning out. But in fact, it’s a smooth-drinking, mellow coffee that’s so subtle as to be almost unobtrusive. Not what I’m usually after first thing in the day, but it’s a welcome change of pace.

Peru Chanchamayo follows its earthy, herbal aroma with a light, nutlike flavor. The combination lingers pleasantly on the palate, making this a coffee equally suitable for sipping over long, leisurely mornings or with an evening dessert. (I’m not a nighttime coffee drinker, but I know that some of you are.) It lacks the brightness and acidity of my favorite varietals from Kenya and Ethiopia, but there’s something about Peru Chanchamayo I find appealing enough to have purchased two bags in a row… something I rarely do, given my mercurial tastes.

Like most Starbucks seasonals, Peru Chanchamayo is available for a limited time. So, while they still have it on the shelves, get yourself down to your local House of the Naked Fish-Tailed Lady and pick up a pound. I think you’ll enjoy it.

You can tell the barista your Uncle Swan sent you.

Don Cheadle not included

August 5, 2009

Using every opportunity to expand my coffee-imbibing horizons, for the last few weeks I’ve been drinking Starbucks’ new seasonal offering from Rwanda.

I didn’t even know they grew coffee in Rwanda.

I’m a fan of other coffees from eastern Africa, so I was surprised to find that Rwanda isn’t a close cousin in flavor profile. Where Kenya and Ethiopia Sidamo — two of my favorites — are characterized by a tart, tangy brightness that I find refreshing, Rwanda more resembles the herbal, floral quality of many Asian varietals. It’s a darker, earthier flavor than one gets from its neighbors to the north.

That’s not to say that Rwanda completely lacks the citrus-like notes of many African coffees. There’s certainly an undercurrent of something akin to — hang on while I take another sip — pink grapefruit here. Starbucks calls the flavor “sweet orange,” but to my palate, it’s more acrid and less rounded than that description suggests. The grassy, herbal tones are much more prominent.

Rwanda certainly will appeal to aficionados of both African and Asian varietals, perhaps the latter more than the former. Its profile is more complex than the north African coffees of which I’m so fond — whether that’s a positive or a negative is up to the taster — but what it lacks in directness it makes up in good will. It’s heartwarming to think that at least a few of the farmers in this history-plagued region might be finding a place for themselves in the world economy.

Uncle Swan gives Starbucks Rwanda three tailfeathers out of a possible five. Try a pound while it’s still in stock this summer.