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Sunday, June 20, 2004

bccy has moved. . .

due to earthlink being just hopeless, i'm now over at

please come see me there, or this page will redirect you! thanks for your patience during this transition! search & archives may be down for a couple of days as i move everything over.

posted by fortune elkins | 5:28 PM | top | link to this |

new digs & baking disaster strikes

as promised, dear readers, here i am at my temporary digs on blogspot. thanks once again to eric case for making this all happen!

overcome by a chocolate urge yesterday evening, i decided to experiment with my favorite brownie recipe by using only splenda. no "regular" sugar at all.

and this was a terrible, terrible mistake. despite what the splenda package tells you, that it measures, cooks, and bakes just like sugar, let me hasten to inform you: no.

only after prowling for some time deep into the splenda website did i discover the explanation as to why the brownies, which looked picture perfect, where dry disasters possessed of some strange chemical aftertaste.

baked goods with splenda will be drier than normal -- you have to bake them 5 mins. less. they will also have slightly reduced volume; that is, they won't rise as well. and in large quantities, say maybe more than 1-1/2 cups, splenda will add a taste to the product.

in short, it's probably not a good idea to replace more than 30-50% of the "regular" sugar with splenda in most baked goods. the all-splenda brownie is a very disappointing object!

let me make this sad experiment so you won't have to!

posted by fortune elkins | 11:58 AM | top | link to this |

Saturday, June 19, 2004

home roasting in bklyn

long-time readers know that in my snooty co-op i can't roast my own coffee, even tho' i was so kindly given a zach & dani's home coffee roaster by don schoenholt of gillies.

thus the little roaster sat mournfully about the house.

when -- ah how fate intervenes! -- what should happen but that at the recent meeting of the st. john's alumni here in nyc i run into another johnnie with an interest in coffee?

he lives in carroll gardens, and had just been given a sack of green rwandan coffee that he didn't know what to do with.

some coffee lovers are quite passionate about home roasting, because it's relatively simple and can offer the freshest coffee imaginable. if you live far from an artisan specialty coffee boutique-type roaster (a.k.a. "brownie"), and those mail-order shipping fees are piling up, home roasting your own can be a great alternative.

for those of you interested in home roasting, i highly recommend you hop over to, where the community is quite expert in getting decent coffee from the various home-roasting devices.

well there it was! last night he dropped by and i lent him the roaster. i expect he'll be experimenting with it today and possibly produce drinkable coffee with it as early as tomorrow.

i'm fortunate here in that while i can't home roast, i am close to several exquisite brownies who cater to cafénatics like myself by lovingly hand-crafting the highest quality beans. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 7:14 AM | top | link to this |

Friday, June 18, 2004

traffic cops & cold sumatra

long-time readers know that bccy lives on my free earthlink webspace, because i never had a reason to justify moving it to a paid domain.

however, with the recent spike in traffic (thank you, eric case & the blogger team!) i'm being crushed by hits.

my bandwidth is running thru my fingers. earthlink is sending me messages, threatening to take me offline.

so i'm taking this opportunity to inform you all that if you temporarily have difficulty accessing the site, it's because cranky earthlink has pulled my plug.

i am hastening to set up an alternate venue at today or tomorrow. even if you can't view this webpage for a day or two, you will probably be able to read me thru my xml/rss file. you can subscribe to this via bloglines.

please stay tuned for further developments. . .

the weather in new york continues to be hot & humid. thus i greeted this morning with a tall glass of don schoenholt's gillies grade-1 triple-picked "kuda mas" sumatra lintong over ice. the coffee ice cubes i made from k's grade 2 ethiopian sidamo work as an interesting counterpoint.

the mellow, heavy sumatra is enlivened by the bright & chocolate-y sidamo as they slowly melt into each other. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 6:51 AM | top | link to this |

Thursday, June 17, 2004

june 28 nyc scaa membership cocktail event update

yes, the plans have changed. this event is open to all scaa members, professional and consumer alike.

this means that even if you can't make the june 27 coffee cupping event, you're welcome to join us for what always proves to be a lively and fun party. last year i was the bartender, a duty i think i may be relieved of this time around.

dress is usually business or business casual, altho' a jacket is appreciated. the new location:

wall st. is probably the closest subway stop. can't wait to see you all there!

posted by fortune elkins | 12:56 PM | top | link to this |

gratitude meets the eagle

first, let me thank eric case. what a doll! i'm so grateful for his selection of bccy as a "blog of note."

and let me thank those kind enough to click on over here too. i deeply appreciate your supportive email.

that's how the morning found me when i received a call from don schoenholt of gillies, who had a customer looking for a modern espresso machine for the home with that antique copper-and-brass-eagle look.

i myself love these kinds of machines, and if i had taller cabinets at home, or a nice clear kitchen island, you'd bet i'd have one pronto. when considering these machines, the first question you have to ask yourself: lever (manual) or push-button (semi-automatic).

the lever machines look the loveliest, but take longer to learn to use properly, which is why i usually recommend that the non-patient get a semi-auto.

i personally have had experience pulling shots on two brands of these antique-looking makers: the expobar athenea and the elektra microcasa sx.

the expobar has the most authentic retro look, and in my experience expobar machines are quite reliable. however, it's really large: about 30 inches tall!

if you want a slightly scaled-down take on that same look, the elektra might be better for you at only 23 inches high.

i really loved pulling shots on the chrome version of this machine at the scaa consumer member espresso lab in atlanta earlier this year, even tho' i found that after pulling a couple of shots the machine seemed to run a tad hot. . .but both machines make great coffee once you perfect your barista skills.

another question you'll want to consider when evaluating these machines is how much milk you intend to steam. will you be drinking mostly lattes and cappuccinos or are you a straight espresso person?

both of these semi-autos are so-called heat exchanger or "hx" machines, and have large boilers, so you can steam plenty of milk to create lots of coffee drinks in good time. some might find the manual versions don't quite have the same steaming capacity.

finally, when buying a machine of this caliber, you have to remember to get a quality espresso grinder as well. the best espresso is made from fresh beans freshly ground just before you pull the shot. otherwise, you'll be disappointed with the taste and crema of the drink!

and speaking of consumer members, let me take this moment to remind you all of my nyc coffee event on june 27 and 28 -- don't miss out! email me with the link below to reserve a space.

posted by fortune elkins | 7:48 AM | top | link to this |

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

brooklyn iced coffee

last evening i returned from an organizational meeting of the st. john's alumni association, where in true johnnie fashion, we talked about aristophanes' frogs, while probably failing to actually organize anything.

and bree-kee-kee ko-ax ko-ax to you too! that was really fabulous, to be able to stand in one of the most beautiful new york apartments i've ever seen -- forget the one in auntie mame, couldn't hold a candle -- with 100 people i didn't know, including a graduate from 1949, and utter this chorus.

personally whenever the talking heads on cable news start pontificating their nonsense, i have long internally thought, "oh, bree-kee-kee," but you know, almost no one would understand what the heck i was doing if i said it aloud.

there not only everyone knew what i meant, but i think a few even agreed with me. . .

thus in good humor (thanks for that alone, daniel van doren!) i awoke this morning to enjoy my gillies iced yrg, in which k's grade 2 sidamo ice cubes tinkled happily.

chilling foods sometimes lessens their flavor, but i was cheerfully surprised that a little splenda and a splash of light cream only highlighted the strong dutch chocolate and vanilla syrup aftertastes of this refreshing coffee!

it's a great summer day. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 8:37 AM | top | link to this |

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

what coffeeshops mean, part iii

"people need a place to express their opinions, listen to others and develop a sense of identity beyond set social roles."

bingo! this charming little article gets to the heart of coffeeshop culture the world round. you can't do this over coca-cola in the food court at the local mall.

as i've said before, it's just the nature of coffee: of the world's most social, romantic, and intellectual fine beverage. it's ever been thus, as the cranky and curmudgeonly austrian author polgar so eloquently detailed nearly 80 years ago.

one of the subjects of this piece says people hang out in coffeehouses because they "don't go to bars anymore." au contraire!

look, i appreciate a glass of bordeaux, of champagne, of sauternes, of oregon pinot noir -- even a fine scotch. but none of these beverages have the intellectual and social history of coffee.

hanging out in the coffeehouse is about becoming involved in the lives of those around you, in discussing the wider world; history has proven that it inevitably results in profound social change. hanging out in a bar is about crying in your beer, even if you have friends to weep with.

but the human race doesn't go forward on misery. that the stock exchanges began at coffeehouses, not at the admittedly great last exit to brooklyn, is signficant after all!

finally, what i also like about this article is that the owners of the independents explain what keeps them thriving in the face of competition not only from the mermaid, but also peets: catering perfectly to the needs of their customer community by knowing them and the neighborhood intimately.

this is something no chain coffehouse can ever do. (sorry jim r.! i love you so very very much, but it's true, it's true. . .)

posted by fortune elkins | 8:32 AM | top | link to this |

Monday, June 14, 2004

reminder: spaces left for scaa consumer coffee cupping

life being as it is, some people have been forced to cancel their reservations for my latest coffee party. so i still have spaces left for the scaa consumer member event on june 27, which features cuppings, or coffee tastings.

this'll be a fun and unpretentious experience for all coffeaphiles, as well as a great chance to hang out with other cool people who also love java! further, you'll come away with a much deeper appreciation for our favorite fine beverage.

finally, yoga for children is definitely catching on. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 10:59 AM | top | link to this |

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