Sunday, April 3, 2011


Chris, my wonderful husband, has a tendency to overdo things. 

He once dumped a half a bottle of eucalyptus oil in his bath water producing a toxic cloud of eye watering, cough breeding eucalyptus fumes that filled our small room and gave him hours of tingly skin despite numerous showers. He applies giant mountains of pimple cream on his chin and forehead at bedtime which crack and fall off before the lights go out. He eats too fast at dinner a couple nights a week which predictably turns into a fit of rage inducing hiccups. And he once insisted I remove my red nail polish before going to a Yankees/Indians ALCS game after we'd already locked up and started towards the subway because the Indians have the color red in their logo. 

But I was aware of these tendencies from the start.

When I first met Chris he was mostly subsisting on cans of Progresso soup, turkey sandwiches from the 24-hour bodega across the street, free beer and wine at art openings, cereal and coffee. His coffee pot was a small, stained Mr. Coffee that had traveled with him through undergrad, into grad school and down to NYC. It was the saddest, dirtiest little coffee pot you have ever seen, and beside it always sat a stack of limp paper filters and a can of Chock Full O'Nuts surrounded by a light dusting of coffee grinds. 

During the first year we were dating, Chris was working part time out in Queens, giving him time to work on his art, so there were days when he just stayed home, writing, reading and sketching.

On one particular day I came to meet him for dinner in the early evening and when he answered the door, I was met with a sheepish look. 

"I'm a little jittery," he apologized. 

"Oh no, why?" I said, "are you okay?"

"Yeah, but I think I may have had too much coffee."

"Oh, how many cups did you drink?"


I don't think Chris slept very well that night.

This happened more than once but over the years Chris has cut back. He now drinks mostly tea and I stick to my one cup in the morning. His Mr. Coffee didn't last very long either, I think Santa brought him a Cuisinart programable coffee maker that Christmas. But when I got rid of my Brooklyn apartment we decided a hot water boiler was more useful so I switched to a Chemex coffee carafe, which I now think makes the best coffee period. No wires, no settings or programs, no filters and pots and lids to wash or moldy hidden corners, just a clean hourglass shape with a paper filter to toss when you're done.

About a month ago a high school friend of Chris', Keith Hamrick, sent us a variety box of his freshly roasted coffee. He and his wife, started Northbound Coffee Roasters up in Northern California and now we're spoiled for life. Chock Full O'Nuts was the choice all through college, cheap and okay, but now that I have a little more money in my pocket, I've become a fan of Irving Farm, Stumptown and other New York roasters. But I have to say, Northbound is awesome. Chris and I discuss what cup we'll have in the morning like we're selecting a fine wine. The Kintamani from Bali and the Yirgacheffe are my favorites. Spoonbender is a delicious classic French Roast and the Shakiso and Sibereon Bourbon, light and complex, are perfect afternoon roasts. 

I must say though, for all of Chris' overdoing, I am equal parts klutz and this morning after a lovely breakfast of popovers, as I raised my mug of northbound coffee to my lips (it was room temperature by now), I let out a little cough and didn't spill but dumped coffee all over myself. My pajama bottoms were soaked, coffee was dripping down my front and after the initial shock I scanned the floor and was relieved to discover I hadn't gotten any on the carpet.

"How did you do that?" Chris asked "You just threw coffee all over yourself."

"I have no idea. No idea." I said laughing as I shuffled to the bathroom. 

Bent over the bathtub washing out my pajamas in a dish bin, Chris called from the other room, "How about another pot of coffee?"

What Keith Sent us:


Inspired by the powerful forces around
the mountain that get us all bent, this 
blend is roasted on the dark side to bring
the fruit and earthiness of the cup to light. 
A classic Northern California French roast.

Siberia Estate Bourbon, El Salvador

Four Generations of the Silva Family have
tended this farm since 1870. Bourbon refers
to the cultivator, named for the Island of
Bourbon (now called Reunion) where it was
originally cultivated. Creamy nut tones with 
ripe orange underneath, and cinnamon 
accent highlight this light roast.

Shakiso, Ethiopia

A wet processed coffee that is grown in the 
Guji district of South-Eastern Ethiopia. The
cup has a clean and clear sweetness, like 
a light brown sugar taste with a mild citrus

Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia

Produced by the Oromia Coffee Farmers
Cooperative Union, the largest fair trade
coffee producer in Ethiopia. This washed 
coffee is prized for its rich floral acidity and
deep chocolate undertones. Medium Roast.

Kintamani, Bali

This coffee is a unique one. Bright, wild fruits
rule this cup. Berry-Like aromatics and flavor 
hit the senses like a fruit bomb. Earthy and 
Spicy flavors create a backbeat of body. Take
a chance on this one. You will be left wanting 
more. Medium Dark Roast.

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