Want good coffee in Albany? You’re shit out of luck.

UPDATE 11/25/14: This post is out of date. Read this for the most current info.

The headline isn’t entirely true. You might have had a cup of coffee at my house.

Everyone who knows me, knows the (insane) extent that I go through to have good coffee. There’s really no secret to having good coffee either. The beans need to be good. The roast needs to compliment the beans. They need to be used within days of being roasted. The grind needs to be appropriate for how you’re brewing it. All the aforementioned steps, when stated out loud are painfully obvious; yet it’s completely baffling that Albany has such a developed collection of incompetence disguised as coffee shops.

To me, the most painful thing is that every shop has all of the necessary fixtures and equipment to do it correctly. They simply lack the knowledge to do it any way other than what they’re used to. Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg prepares every cup of coffee one at a time and they’re unfailingly busy from the minute they open, to the minute they close. Yes, this takes extra time, but if cars were cars, everyone would drive a Hyundai. For those who need their coffee right away they will go to Stewart’s and add 8oz of french vanilla CoffeeMate to make it drinkable, but that’s what they’re proud to be voting for with their dollar.

The next most disappointing thing is that most of these shops roast their own beans, improperly using machines which cost would pay off my student loans in full. If you can’t do it right yourself, get a wholesale account with Gimme!, Grumpy, Stumptown, or Blue Bottle and swallow your pride. You’ll make more money and have more people in your shop than you’ve ever had because people will travel, wait and pay for known quality. (The cost of coffee from any of these places is the same as  you’re used to, and often the beans are the same or about a dollar more than Starbucks.)

Most often at fault, are low quality beans, which are roasted to oblivion to mask their low quality. Real roasters don’t even use “light” or “dark” to describe their roasts. Brace yourself for the knowledge bomb:

In its most simplistic definition, roasting is the process by which the coffee seed is made edible for consumption. The roasting process is the means to the end, and in the end there should be no premeditated dark or light roasts, but only these 3 possibilities:

  1. The coffee is too underdeveloped, flavors taste vegetal
  2. The coffee is properly developed, flavors are revealed and highlighted
  3. The coffee is degraded, nuances masked by improper and over roasting

Of course, all of this has little meaning without the context of the quality of the green coffee (coffee seed) itself. If the quality of the green coffee is poor, then all that ‘proper development’ will do is highlight the intrinsic negative characteristics of the coffee (defects and the off tastes of cellulose). If the green coffee is of high quality and has complexity, uniqueness, balance and sweetness, then it is the roaster’s job to develop, reveal and highlight these characteristics.

Source: the Gimme! Blog

With out nerding out too much, I make all my own coffee one cup at a time. I own a commercial grade burr grinder (the things that spin with blades are not grinders by definition) and a scale which I use to weigh out each cup’s worth of beans. Rinse the filter, add beans, water and wait. Repeatable perfection. It’s not hard, and costs about 40¢ per cup when all said and done.

As far as the new Lark coffee shop and the one on Hudson & Quail, I have low expectations. Call me a curmudgeon, but all I see is business majors looking to establish an appreciating asset and flip it. Oh well, I’ll just go downstairs and make myself better coffee anyway.

‘All Business’ Event at the Marketplace Gallery

[tweetmeme] Tonight at the Marketplace Gallery (40 Broadway in Albany) they’re having an amazing show for First Friday. The show features the work of the completely amazing illustrator, Mab Graves. Somewhat reminiscent of Tim Burton, but less gimmicky, her paintings are completely enveloping. The detail work is completely beyond the scope of what I’ve seen before. Just look at the two following pictures.

See that jar in the girl with the red dress’ hands?

There’s bees in it. And they’re even more detailed than I was able to capture becuase I didn’t have the right lens with me.

On the way in, there was a bit of leftovers from the PaperGirl event, with a bit of RADICAL!’s work, which was always great to see.

Of course, in the art world, nothings ready until the very last second, but Samson always gets things done in time.

Bit more RADICAL!

Also, tonight you can pick up this month’s issue of Quintessential Zine at the Gallery.

An out-of-the-ordinary piece for Gregg Dunn.

NYC, Israel and Albany on the same wall. Nuts.

Mab’s also got a bunch of goodies. Paper dolls kits, articulated joint paper doll kits, and ready to go articulated paper dolls. Cheap too!

I won’t ruin the surprise on this, just be ready. Be sure to also check out 4 Central and catch Deep Children who will be playing some nice songs for you all night, in addition to the Existing Artists Group show there. If you can, brave the rain, get out of the house and have a fun time tonight at all the galleries. I’m going to be over in Gloucester, MA shooting for my cycling team all weekend, so do it for me! Oh, and order some TweetzzaPizza.

What exactly is TweetzzaPizza?

[tweetmeme] Maybe you’ve heard. Maybe you haven’t. Maybe you don’t care. But there’s been a lot of rumors on the internets about Albany’s illicit, via-twitter, pizza service. Albany is already laden with places to get your pizza fix, but this one, is different for a few reasons. It wasn’t until our all-giving God bestowed the best innovation of the past 2,000 years upon us, twitter, that this anonymous, sketchy and somehow amazingly well received ‘business’ would be able to exist. Seemingly modeled after New York Cities Bread.Butter.Cheese, Albany seems perfect for their own tangentially similar service.

Using better ingredients, including local and organic Champlain Valley flour for the dough, from scratch sauce from local tomatoes sourced from either a recent farmers market or the Honest Weight Food Co-op, you’re getting more than a gimmick. The food is actually better.

It basically goes the same way you acquire any other illicit item. You get the phone number from your friend, shoot off a text, they tell you what they’ve got. If that’s satisfactory, ask how long and give them an address. After an unknown passage of time, you exchange money for goods. Except here, maybe you’ll tip.

Sound up your alley? Follow them on Twitter to get one step closer.

Expect an in-depth behind the scenes look at Tweetzza soon.