January 2009

“As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered, coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle”. – Honoré de Balzac (1799-1859)

I took a deep draught of my morning coffee (Guatemala Finca Entre Rios organic – fruity smoothness combined with rich dark chocolate). For the past two weeks we’ve been struggling with colds and laryngitis so we haven’t been exactly springing into the New Year, it’s been a groaning, moaning slump under the duvet… until now.


Somehow the New Year is here… maybe we have been stirred by “Change we can believe in”…earlier this week.


I also realised it’s a year today that I bought my iRoast2 home coffee roaster.


When asked by our little gathering of friends and family on Christmas Eve “what had been the best thing about 2008?”- it was generally agreed that it had been a miserable year all round – I said “roasting coffee at home”. sweetm-irst2-tiny

Where can one buy a home roaster? As you would expect Steve at Hasbean not only supplies a great range of green beans but also roasters. He will soon have the iRoast2 in stock again. Here is a review of this roaster –



It’s not that expensive to buy, especially, it’s small and compact, I don’t find it too noisy or smoky and I have a tiny galley kitchen. I’ve now programmed a  roast profile I like so I just measure out the 150 grams of beans (enough for two of us for three days), empty them into the roaster and switch on  – hey presto some 15 minutes later .. Freshly roasted coffee!


Why am I so enthusiastic? It really is easy – to buy the beans on the net (a modest saving on roasted beans), the roasting and the rewards – the freshness and fun are great!


Coffee suppliers like Hasbean are dedicated to sourcing beans from speciality coffee growers around the world. They use importers who they trust, who have relationships with farms and farmers. Steve writes “By working on a trust basis, I know that the whole chain is getting a fair deal”; read the Hasbean ethical policy at https://www.hasbean.co.uk/pages/Ethical-Policy.html     


So if you enjoy coffee and maybe at the moment you recognise the benefits of buying roasted beans and grinding them at home I would seriously urge you to think of roasting your own…  2009 could be the year you have Coffee you can believe in…….



I was sitting on the Northern line tube this morning on my way to Waterloo and became curious as to what the tube driver kept saying as we left a station.


I tried hard to picture in my head how to spell the words I was hearing, “Minadawes?”


“Mind the doors” had changed, slowly over period of time, the repetition and London accent was reducing these ritual utterances into becoming synonymous with the very sliding action of the doors. So as the doors would rumble close simultaneously this smurge of letters and sounds were wiped off his lips; it sounded like with the back of his hand.


I recalled reading Bill Bryson’s ‘A walk in the woods’ http://www.booksattransworld.co.uk/billbryson/walkInWoodsHome.html  where he contemplates the action of a mountain stream…” the geologist James Trefil calculates that a typical mountain stream will carry away about 1000 cubic feet of mountain in a year. …At such a rate it seems impossible that it could ever cart away a mountain, but in fact given sufficient time that is precisely what would happen. Assuming a mountain 5,000 feet high with 500,000 million cubic feet of mass, roughly the size of Mount Washington, a single stream would level it in about 500 million years.”


I wondered how long it would take for the tube driver’s words to become one flattened smudge of sound. Would tourists in 2012 look anxiously at each other as the doors closed  accompanied by  “mmmmeinnnnnnnnooorreeessssssssssssssss?”


During the early stages of my coaching experience (www.davemartin.org.uk) I’ve often been curious as to people focusing upon making changes but seemingly making no progress. They are clear as to their goals, what they want, what they need to do but somehow struggling with any shift taking place. It seems like nothing’s happening – but then the factor of time plays its part… when the time’s right… maybe just a few days later…maybe weeks even months later, it all fits and the circumstances are conducive to the changes taking place and hey presto  – action!


Nowadays we are so accustomed to instantaneous results – at the press of a button, a click on the mouse, we get what we want… it’s good to remember… all in good time…



“Even when nothing’s happening, there’s always something happening”
John Cage





This morning I was ruminating over another enjoyable breakfast…I simply love my first cup of coffee… today it was accompanied by scrambled duck eggs on toasted home made bread…mmnnnn! I roasted the beans only yesterday, supplied by Hasbean they are Bolivia Machacamarca-Mario Andrade, award winner in the Cup of Excellence 2007. As the “cup description” states, “it has body, big bold body with a spicy after taste”.


For me breakfast wouldn’t be the same without coffee… coffee starts the day… its not just an accompaniment to food, whether cereal, toast, muffins or eggs.. eggs are the best…but for me it’s the coffee that makes it.


Which is why I’m so surprised that coffee hardly gets mentioned as an important part of people’s breakfast although we drink such a lot of it. In fact as noted in an earlier posting (November 10th) “While most of continental Europe still believed coffee dried up one’s brain cells, London  was the cafe capital of the world. This was about 1680.” However by the 1750’s, because we didn’t have any coffee producing colonies we traded opium for tea,  and so tea became the nation’s drink of choice.


Reading the very entertaining and informative reviews in the truly excellent London Review of Breakfasts http://londonreviewofbreakfasts.blogspot.com/  almost none mention drinking coffee with their morning meal ,indeed even the tea only gets a passing mention.


So here in deference to the LRB a review of :-


Friday 9th January 2009


My Bolivian Brew


by Mac E. Arto


The day had yet to begin.


I cut into the toast purposefully, anticipating the mouthful of fluffy scrambled egg bouncing delicately on the crisp, light cushion of bread.


Outside a pigeon hunched his shoulders, our eyes met, man it looked cold. It was still, nothing moved, my view of the garden seemed to be cut and pasted into the window.


I turned and took a sip of coffee; instantly my mouth became alive, filled with the rich, bold taste. This is the moment my day started, like a tide rolling in with flavour oily, chocolate aromas washing around my tongue, crashing through the edge of sleep and anointing my mind with consciousness.


Coffee is the impresario introducing me to the tastes, flavours, textures and aromas; eager for me to experience, transporting me, rejuvenated into the new day.


The freshly roasted, ground beans just brought everything together, perfectly orchestrated… the egg, toast, me, the day… it’s all about relationships… and coffee makes no judgements it just makes it all possible.




The New Yorker

The New Yorker


It’s that time of year again when people think of changes they’d like to make for the incoming year. According to Wikipedia – A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or the reforming of a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous. The name comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year’s Day and remain until fulfilled or abandoned http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_resolution .


The New York Times had an article yesterday http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/01/fashion/01change.html?_r=1     which referred to John C. Norcross, a clinical psychologist at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania who has studied such resolutions. He had found that after six months, only about 45 percent of the subjects managed to stick to their pledges.


“Most of us think that we can change our lives if we just summon the willpower and try even harder this time around,” said Alan Deutschman, the former executive director of Unboundary, and the author of “Change or Die,” a book that asserts that even though most people have the ability to change, they rarely do. “It’s exceptionally hard to make life changes,” Mr. Deutschman said, “and our efforts are usually doomed to failure when we try to do it on our own.”

In my brief experience of working with folks who wish to make changes www.davemartin.org.uk   it’s helpful to work through the desire to make changes with somebody… plan realistic ways to bring them about, be held accountable but most of all have a goal rather than just making the change. So if you’re gonna stop drinking… what’s the real goal? And what are you going to do with the cash saved? How will you celebrate and feel good about achieving this goal? 

As for me I’m giving up a lifetime habit of making lists everyday, this is why…….


A Happy New Year and a Happy New You! Enjoy!