I’ve been home, thinking too much.

As of 4:30 PM, on Monday, Dec. 22, my flight… that is, flight 569 from LAX to PDX was still scheduled to take off and arrive on time. I was partially in shock. I’d been watching flight for days before hand, simply hoping somehow I’d be taken away from Los Angeles for Christmas. Our departure time came and went, and it was evident this would not so easily be the case. by 5 PM, the airline had announced my flight as canceled. The came shortly after that the next available flight for PDX was not until the 31st.

As you may have seen from my previous post, I like Christmas. I like the parts of Christmas that you don’t spend with the people you work with. I like the part that pulls me away from coffee. It’s the part that forces us to be with family and to simply take a day and relax. These are things that are not synonymous with Los Angeles. However, the past few days couldn’t have gone much better. I’ve consoled myself by eating at one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles… and as if that wasn’t enough, I decided to make Christmas Eve dinner… including roasted duck filled with an apple and sausage stuffing. Some absinthe to top it all off, and I’ve been sitting pretty.

I’ve had some time to think. I’ve been formulating ideas for the Western Regional… not so much new ideas, but how to make up for the short amount of time I’ve now given myself to fully prepare. I’ve been thinking about ways to keep myself in shape… eating this much should make one question their physical shape. I’ve even been working on a financial plan for the first quarter. After all, the USBC and the WBC are right around the corner, and as great as UStream is, Ustream doesn’t take you to the parties. Nor does it put the coffee on your palate.

I’ve been thinking about home brewing beer. I was thinking about the first home brew kit my friends and I ever purchased. It was the perfect kit. It gave us everything we needed and nothing that was excessive. There were two set of instructions… one for general brew guides and one set that was specific to the brew we were trying to make. We had all kinds of odds and ends, and we had fun… In the end, the first batch was delicious. It was a lovely, balanced American Heffeweizen.

I think as coffee retailers, more of us should consider these kits. I walked in and I spent $180 to brew beer. I went home understanding how to do it, and how to have fun doing it. I think that to really push people along on understanding how to enjoy a fine COE coffee, or some crazy micro-lot, we should start working on easier ways to market and push home brewing kits. I’ve had the idea for awhile, of pitching the grinder as the place where it all starts. I like the idea of giving a 15-20% discount on a brew method when someone buys a grinder. I think it sets the priorities straight in a customers mind.

Coffee people like to talk up and down about how much coffee is like wine… The problem is you can’t run home and immediately rip open a bag of coffee and enjoy it. It must be brewed. I think 2009 needs to be a year of less throwing around our language (i.e. always talking varietals, processing, cupping, and all kinds of obnoxious descriptors that soar over peoples heads) and way more simply teaching people how to make coffee themselves.

It’s finally just us locals…

…I’m saying to myself. The last couple of weeks were crazy,  bringing us Mr. H(ead) J(udge) Brent Fortune, himself. Initially, he arrived with a few friends, including Mike Strumpf, Mike Yung, Arthur Wynne, and even the reining champ, Stephen Morrissey. All were in town to attempt to become certified WBC judges. Not all passed. Over the week, it became clear that much more is being asked of our WBC judges then in the years past. I look at this as great growth in the WBC, and I am excited to see what other changes come over the season.

Post the judges workshops, my good friend and killer barista, Jared Truby, of Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz, CA flew in for a few days of R&R. With the schedule we put ourselves on, there really wasn’t much rest to be had. We spent 14 hours at Disneyland. It had been years since my childhood visits to Disney World, and man did it bring back some great memories. We killed many pints (not at Disneyland), pulled some great espressos, consumed some rad Eva Solo coffee, and spent a lot of time talking hip-hop-&-shop.

Just over-lapping Jareds coming and going, was the coming of the newest Intelli.la barista, Mr. Nicely… Nicely comes to us from via Vivace in Seattle. The kid is passionate and professional, and I am stoked to have him here in LA. Nicely is the official first hire for our brand spankin’ new cafe opening up in Venice, CA. Anyone who has spent 5 minutes with Kyle Glanville has heard the spectacular description of how epic this coffee bar will be. Nicely, and the killer art he brings to the game, will be a major asset to the staff and store.

If you any of you out there have an opportunity to get your hands on some Intelli coffee, then please… do yourself a favor and try some of our new Rwanda Zirikana. In years past, we’ve had this coffee and it’s been good. The samples always blow minds, but there’s been trouble getting the coffee here before it fades. This year, the coffee made it in record time, and it’s really delicious. The acidity isn’t all too ‘in your face,’ but the body is huge and the flavors are complex. There’s a ton of straight raisin, all-spice, burgamont, and a touch of oak.

This years Zirikana project also brings us a microlot… and the two pair well, like different level of whiskey do… As in, the microlot is like the 12 year Jameson to the standard. It’s more complex, has a bigger body, and a longer finish. All the goodness is there, only more intense. Other microlots we’ve sold haven’t alligned as well, and have just either been better or different than the other.

I have more thoughts, but I’ll spare you all for next time. Hope the holiday season is finding you all in good spirits! If I don’t post before then, I’ll see some of you in Portland sometime between Dec. 22 and the 27th!