Categories
coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Cerberus

Cerberus Coffee, Jacksonville, OR
Wizard Cat – Medium Roast, Blend of Brazil and Uganda
Tasting Notes: Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Balanced
Method: Pour over

Obviously I bought this impulsively because of the packaging, right? Cerberus Coffee is the featured roaster for Market of Choice stores for April and May, and it’s well deserved. Great packaging and pretty good coffee too.

Jacksonville is a small town in southern Oregon, a few miles away from Medford. I’m not too familiar with southern Oregon except for the town of Klamath from Fallout 2, but my friends who are from there tend to talk about it in a way that feels like it is a whole different land from the Willamette Valley part of Cascadia. (I’m actually traveling to the Medford area this summer so I might have some more imput later.)

I appreciate that Cerberus puts some of its money back toward the community, especially the LGBTQ community. But how does it taste?!

Well it tastes pretty … balanced. As if they blended two different origins and roasted them just enough to give a blanket taste. Not a bad cup of coffee at all, but nothing jumping out. I got more of the dark chocolate notes than the fruit. When I want a cup of coffee that tastes good and full-bodied without the sometimes pesky nuances of a light roast, this is what I would gravitate toward.

Overall, despite the confusing marketing between a Cat who is a Wizard and a Dog with Three Heads who guards the gates of Hell, Cerberus’s Wizard Cat is a tasty blend that doesn’t try anything too wild. 7/10

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films reviews

Best Picture Winners, 2022-2011

I’ve been trying to catch up on Oscar Best Picture winners over the years for a while now, and thought I’d do a lil blog with brief reviews and thoughts, organized by decade. I review movies I watch on Letterboxd if you want to follow me there.

There will be spoilers in this! You’ve been warned. It also won’t be every 11 years, I’m just getting to 2011 on this installment so the next one will be 10 years, 2010-2000. Capiche?

2022 – Everything Everywhere All at Once

This is what I wrote before EEAAO won:

I’ve watched all the nominees except for Avatar 2. I will not be watching Avatar 2.

Out of all the nominees I think it’ll be a close race between Everything Everywhere All at Once and Banshees of Inisherin. Which is fun because they are very different films. I would be happy if either one won. The other films were all pretty good, except for The Fabelmans, which was kind of a disappointment.

What I’m writing now: GLAD EEAAO WON. Great film, great performances. 4.5/5

2021 – CODA

I think this film suffers a bit by being released on AppleTV, only because it feels like a Hallmark movie at many points. But in the end I really enjoyed it, and while it’s certainly formulaic, sometimes formula is good because it creates a frame from which you can explore character, and I think this film does a great job of giving us interesting characters who must fend for themselves in the unique world of being deaf. I may not be deaf, but I understand what it feels like to be alone in a crowded room. Lots of great scenes, especially in the 2nd and 3rd acts, even if the ending part is a little contrived and probably shouldn’t have ended the way it did. 4/5

2020 – Nomadland

I had no idea what this film was going be about, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a type of people I’ve seen and talked to numerous times in my life growing up in southwest Idaho: poor, destitute, forgotten by middle-class America. People who hate the government and shit in buckets. Another film about being alone among people. Excellent performance by Francis McDormand and all the supporting cast, many of whom are actual van living nomads. I’ll always have a place in my heart for these folks, even if I spent much of my adulthood trying desperately to get away from that life.

Also, the fact that Chloe Zhao made this AND the Eternals is very weird. 4.5/5

2019 – Parasite

I honestly don’t have much to say about this film other than I enjoyed it very much. Such an interesting premise with some wild twists and turns. I watched the black and white version which was cool, and one day I’ll watch it in color to see if it feels any different. Seeing the entire family immediately go in on the con in the beginning was great too. I love films where the characters are gung ho for anything, even if it means their own downfall. Great film. 4.5/5

2018 – Green Book

A lot of controversy around this film due to a variety of things that you can google on your own. That said, I liked it. Yes it has problems and is a little tropey, but Viggo and Mahershala give such great and opposing performances that it feels like an alternate version of The Odd Couple. Juxtaposing that with the utter lunacy of the Jim Crow south made for a film with some obvious plot points and characterizations, but one that I still liked sitting through. Plus, Tony folds an entire pizza in half to eat it at one point and that’s what I aspire my life to be like from now on. 3.5/5

2017 – The Shape of Water

This was also enjoyable to watch. I liked the spin on the classic monster movies of the 50s. I don’t really think it was Best Picture worthy though, it honestly felt a little hollow to me. Like a fable that didn’t really have a moral at the end besides it’s okay to fuck fish people. But the fish guy was cool looking and the leading lady is like Amelie if Amelie jerked off every morning in the bathtub. You go, girl. 3.5/5

2016 – Moonlight

This is probably the best film I’ve ever seen. Beautiful, touching, kind, this film has it all AND is beautifully shot and lit. I appreciate so much about this film. It is a film about so many things, but most of all it’s a film about men supporting men. You think about the Chiron/Kevin stuff, but Juan from the start was so supportive of Chiron. And then to find out almost in passing in the second act that he’s dead is just such a brilliant movement in the film. That relationship could’ve been its own film!

Ah I could talk about this film for hours. I had already seen it before writing this but I’m glad I watched it again, I think I found new things in it that I hadn’t before. 5/5

2015 – Spotlight

Another movie I knew nothing about going into it. A very important story to be told, for sure, and some good, subdued acting, except for John Slattery, who was basically playing Roger Sterling with a hint of a Boston dialect. Again, not sure if it was Best Picture worthy, but I appreciated the “just the facts” style of storytelling on these types of movies, where the plot is just getting the thing done with bits and pieces of character development thrown in. 3.5/5

2014 – Birdman

I’m still trying to decide if I liked this film. I think I did. It was a little hard to watch as someone who used to do theatre (not Broadway-level, but still). I think Michael Keaton did a great job and everyone else did well, but I also kind of felt afterward that I was taken for a ride. Which is what movies do, but I’m looking back and wondering what it was I watched. Slightly bamboozled, if you will.

That said, there were some truly enjoyable moments, like the above framed clip plus almost everything Zach Galifianakis did. 3.5/5

2013 – 12 Years a Slave

I couldn’t watch this film. I started it but the brutality was too much and I don’t think I can sit and watch a Black man get whipped and tortured and be enslaved for two whole hours. (I was also honestly kind of confused by the opening, which didn’t help.) I want to watch more films with Black people now, in modern times, experiencing life now, with all the trials and tribulations that follow. We shouldn’t forget slavery, of course, but we don’t need to keep visualizing it like this. Let’s celebrate Black people and not watch them get whipped all the time!

I’ll come back to it some other time.

2012 – Argo

In a lot of ways, I think this film is pitch perfect. Great cast, a LOT of tension throughout the film, from start to finish. Everything that happens on screen is serving the plot and there were numerous times when I felt actually nervous about what was going to happen, or not happen. That’s not a common thing for me. Most of the criticism I see about the film is how it doesn’t explore the deeper issues of the Iran hostage crisis, which is a salient point, but also, I don’t think this film is as much a political thriller as it is an “escape from prison” type film. Which is reductive, sure, but it has to be to serve its point. I’m sure there are plenty of other films and media that explore the complexity of the Iran hostage crisis with sufficient depth and nuance. Argo is a movie about getting people out of Iran. 4/5

2011 – The Artist

This film was a delight to watch. I truly had a blast watching it. I’m not a big “silent era” movie fan but I think they did a great service to the genre and time. Lots of great cinematography, shots you just don’t see anymore because they’re out of style (I guess). I think Uggie the dog deserved an Oscar nomination. Berenice Bejo is … the most attractive woman I’ve ever seen? In my life? Jean Dujardin did some excellent mugging and even though the plot was thin, it was supplanted by a certain joie de vivre (France!) that other films lack. 4/5

If I had to pick a “winner” of these winners, I’d probably pick Moonlight, with EEAAO second and Argo third.

I’ll be back soon with 2012-2002, yeah? A lot of those films I’ve already seen but some of them I think I need to or want to see again. No Country for Old Men? Don’t mind if I do!

Categories
coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Skaut

Skaut Coffee Roasters, Portland, OR
Hawk’s Nest – Medium Roast, Guatemala Single Origin
Tasting Notes: Smooth, Balanced, Nutty
Method: Pour over

The Look

My first impressions of Skaut is the blurb on the back. For a moment I thought, Is this a New York roasting company? But no, of course not, it’s local. The story is just about Hawk’s Nest, New York, which is fine, I suppose. It means almost nothing to me, as it is little more than a blurb about a place and not indicative of the coffee itself. It’s fine!

I wasn’t super impressed with the roast date, being nearly a month ago. That indicates to me that people aren’t buying these as much as other brands. Doesn’t mean too much though, as there are a lot of different brands to purchase from.

The thing that got me, though, was the glaringly obvious error or wrong label on the front of the package. You’ll notice that it says this is a 3lb bag. It’s not. It’s a 12oz bag. I weighed the beans myself because I thought I was going crazy. (To be fair, it is a perfect 340g, so good work on that weight.) I do think the fact that it said 3lbs influenced my decision to buy it, for a excellent price-to-pound ratio. What can I say, it was early, and my frontal lobe hadn’t fully activated.

I just now noticed that the edge of the label is camouflage, which is really not my thing, but whatever.

The Info

The Skaut website kind of annoys me. I want to learn more about the people making the coffee and their About page says “Meet the Makers,” but then you don’t actually meet the makers. They just talk about the coffee story. There’s just little blurbs at the bottom. Again with the blurbs!

But then! I did a little digging and found that you can pick up the beans at Pips & Bounce. Pips & Bounce? Why would you pick up coffee beans at a ping pong place featured on Shark Tank?

That’s when it clicked: the founder of Skaut is Eugene Jung, aka one-half of the duo that started Pips & Bounce. So, perhaps the lack of bios on the Skaut About page is because Eugene doesn’t want to draw too much attention to himself and his Shark Tank fame.

That said, I would still like to know a LOT more about the whole setup. Where do they roast? Inside Pips & Bounce? How do they get their beans? “Guatemala Single Origin” could mean so many things. Are they part of a coop? What’s the deal, bro?

I was able to find a bit of information about the coffee cultivation process, which is nice, but I want to know about the people growing it. I want to make sure that the coffee is ethically obtained. Just add some more blurbs, dude, about the people growing your coffee for you.

I did also find that Skaut has only been around for around three years, in its current incarnation at least. So they’re pushing and fighting their way for a stake in the wide variety of very excellent roasters in Portland. Good luck!

The Taste

Taste-wise, it has the nutty and smooth profile it says it does. It’s easy to drink and not trying anything bold or fruity or tangy. It’s veering slightly into ash tastes for me, but thankfully not enough to be put off by it. I suspect future cups won’t feature that as much. I might try brewing with the French press next time, as I bet this will lend itself better to an immersion brew, though that might also release more of the ashy taste.

Overall, a pleasant cup with some warm nutty notes, if a little ashy. I wish it was a 3lb bag for the same price. Oh well. 6/10

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films reviews

Some Thoughts on The Whale & Being Fat

Last night I saw The Whale. I’m going to assume you know the basics about the movie. I’ll probably spoil a bit of it too, because I don’t know how to talk about things without talking about the thing. So be warned.

Also, obligatory CW for weight talk and fatphobia.

I enjoyed the film quite a bit–Brendan Fraser was excellent and captivating, Hong Chau was even more so (and I didn’t recognize her from The Menu! Such different characters, I love it). Everyone else did fine jobs, if a little theatrical. The script was clearly a play turned into a movie by the guy who wrote the play.

Side note: The movie/play was written by Samuel D. Hunter, who is an north Idaho native (hence the Moscow, ID references). He writes a lot of plays about Idaho and is kind of a theatrical celebrity there. I didn’t know he wrote this but to be fair he did write it around 2013, a few years after I left Idaho. Plus if Wikipedia is correct it never premiered anywhere in Idaho. (I’m fairly certain some of his later plays did premiere in Idaho though.) I have … thoughts about this, about a man who grew up in Idaho writing plays on the east coast about Idaho and having very few of those plays ever premiere in Idaho. I honestly don’t know if that’s a fault of Sam or of the dearth of spaces for world premiere plays by a Julliard graduate in Idaho.

In any case, this is a play/film about a very obese man in the last few days of his life. He is taken care of by his widow’s sister, Liz, and is visited by his estranged daughter, Ellie, a New Life church dude, Thomas, and eventually his ex-wife, Mary. Again, many of these interactions feel more theatrical than film, with the exception of Charlie and Liz, who feel like two people who are in a situation together.

That’s probably not very clear; what I mean is that sometimes when two characters appear in plays, they talk to each other in these sort of psychological status games because in a play, there aren’t many other pressures out there. In a film, you can have a scene where a man is trapped in a sinking submarine and the water is rising and about to drown him. That is a pressure outside of man. (Man vs Nature, I suppose.) You can’t really do that in a play, so plays (especially contemporary/”realism”/living room plays) tend to have characters talking to each other a lot and trying to win, or not win, in the case of Ellie, who is clearly a foil to Charlie and written so abruptly unlike him that it’s a little jarring. It’s one thing to be angsty and 14, and another thing entirely to be angsty and 17. Hunter does set up the reason why she’s like this (or a reason, at least), but it still feels like the raw angst of a younger teen.

There is also a lot of symbolism in this film, some of it very overt, which again feels like it’s straight out of a play. Charlie needing to hear his daughter’s essay before he dies is a good example. That sounds like a necessity born out of a play. It’s not a bad idea, per se, it just feels strange from a film perspective. Though, it is also a film about a man who clearly cannot or does not want to leave his house, so him having something close to cling to in his final hours makes sense. (The reveal of him having $120k in the bank also feels theatrical, but I digress.)

Alright let’s talk about the elephant, or whale, if you will, in the room: Charlie’s fatness. Charlie is 600lbs and has, at least, a disordered eating disorder, or, at worst, a food addiction. I think it’s the latter, since it is obviously affecting the people around him and he cannot and does not want to quit. A lot of people who hate this film criticize it for fatphobia. Specifically, some people seem to think that Darren Aronofsky and/or Samuel Hunter are fatphobic. I’ve seen critiques that Aronofsky’s lingering shots of Charlie’s obesity are an example of this.

So, I’ve never been 600lbs, but I have been 308lbs, as late as August of 2022. I’ve always had issues with food, which I won’t go into great detail about, but which resulted in me being fairly overweight my entire life, with a few exceptions where I was a decent weight but thought I was overweight because, you know, mental health issues. There are a couple of scenes in The Whale where Charlie binge eats, and Aronofsky intentionally alters the shot during these moments, and I think people are getting the wrong idea about why he’s doing this.

Lately I’ve been talking with my therapist about my own binge eating, and why I do it. It took some steps to get here–not out of fear, but out of my own brain literally having to make new connections to find the links. Ironically, before I watched The Whale I had binged on some ramen. I love eating ramen raw with the seasoning sprinkled on top. It’s my weird guilty pleasure. I’ve been mostly embarrassed by this until one day I was at H Mart (an Asian grocery store if you don’t know) and saw that you can buy packages of crushed up ramen noodles with seasoning as a snack. So fuck embarrassment, Asians have been doing this for a while! But since I eat it dry, I can down like three or four of them without breaking a sweat.

Anyway, one of my “breakthroughs” if you will was after I learned about “parts” and parts integration. It’s a whole other blog post to talk about parts but the gist is that some psychologists believe that our brain has different “parts” or centers which are initially separate when we’re kids but eventually form a cohesive whole. This is an explanation for why Dissociative Identity Disorder exists: because if you are subjected to intense trauma at an age prior to when your parts integrate, they literally can remain separate, forming different personalities, some of whom exist solely to shield other parts of you from that trauma. That is a simplified way of explaining it, of course; I am not a psychologist.

At some point in the past couple of years, I came to realize that when I binge eat, my desire to do so does not come from my frontal, higher reasoning lobe. It is an impulsive, lizard brain thing — a different part of my brain, if you will. And that part somehow shuts down my higher reasoning brain and before I know it, I’ve finished two bags of gummy bears and a bag of Doritos. It’s like a stupor.

When I see Aronofsky shift the camera slightly when Charlie begins to binge eat, I interpret it as this shift, from higher, reasoning Charlie to impulsive, protective Charlie. The way he looks like he’s zoned out when he’s eating is the same kind of weird zen-esque mental state I get into when I binge eat. In other words, I don’t think those scenes are fatphobic. I think they are an equivalent to the scene of the alcoholic getting drunk. They are Charlie’s coping mechanism, and Liz knows this (even if she’s a bit of an enabler).

There are other scenes where it feels like Aronofsky is playing with the grandeur of Charlie’s size, such as when he stands up for the first time and there’s this swell of music and we see just how big Charlie really is. This seems a little more fatphobic but also, in a strange way, feels like a sort of nod of respect to the human body. Like, science and biology aside, it is wild that we can become 600lbs. I’m not saying that with distaste at all. It’s a miracle that we can achieve that, just like it’s a miracle that some guy can run a 200mi ultramarathon. And both of those extremes can veer toward death. There is I think an obvious moderation between being extremely fat and extremely thin, or being extremely lazy and being extremely fit. But to watch people achieve the extremes is truly extraordinary. The human body is amazing.

It’s absolutely terrible that people treat fat people with the level of vitriol and disrespect that they do. I was fortunate that my 308lbs seemed to hang on my body in such a way that nobody said anything about it, but I could see it, and feel it. And, in a way, I was unfortunate that nobody said anything. I wish people had, in hindsight. I probably would’ve hated it at the time, but it would’ve been nice if someone had said, “Hey, you look like you’ve put on a bit of weight, is everything alright?”

One of the things I liked about The Whale is how everyone (besides Ellie) truly cared for Charlie. Charlie was the only one who didn’t care about himself, but Liz and Thomas and even Dan the delivery driver cared about him. I think Ellie did too, at the end. It was just one of those nice reminders that people are generally looking out for you, but it’s hard to see that if you’re not looking out for yourself.

Other people commented about why an obese actor wasn’t cast as Charlie. I feel like seeing Charlie in the movie explains why. Imagine being 600lbs, waking up early every morning and going to a film shoot for 10-12 hours for a month. Charlie could barely stand on his own and you’re going to ask a real 600lbs person to attempt to stand on their own for several takes? I know that people want representation in film and media but I don’t think this is the fight, because in reality being in a film takes a lot of hard work and dedication that, honestly, go against the lifestyle of most 600lb people. I’ll probably catch some flak for saying that but it’s true. You don’t get to 600lbs by doing things, that’s the whole point.

Also, think of all the 600lb people in the world and how many of them would’ve given the level of acting that Fraser did. Aronofsky already spent 10 years trying to find the perfect Charlie, don’t you think he spent at least some of that time looking at casting an actual fat person in the role?

Anyway. The last bit of criticism I read is that Fraser did okay but people are lauding his performance because it’s his big comeback. I think this is a shitty thing to think and I hope I never have to hang out with those critics because they suck.

I just wanted to write this as someone who has dealt with my weight my entire life, and dealt with binge eating and how I felt that was portrayed in this movie. Which I thought was well made and well thought out. I think the movie suffers in other ways (part of me wishes it was just a Charlie & Liz film) but by the end of the film I was awestruck and had to sit with my thoughts for a while. I think it’s worth a watch. Charlie is a difficult man to watch at times but I think it’s important to humanize fat people. We don’t need to put fat people up on a pedestal, we need to show them being human. I think Darren Aronofsky does a decent job of that in this film.

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coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Keia & Martyn’s

Keia & Martyn’s, Portland, OR
Light(?) Roast, Colombia Nilson Yunda
Tasting Notes: Sugar, chocolate cookie, dried fruit

Oh boy. Oh boy. I’m excited for this one. First off, look at this packaging:

Absolutely cute as fuck. And compact, too!

But moreover, this coffee has a bit of lore to it, which has particular interest to me. Martyn is Martyn Leaper, of the band the Minders. I don’t know the Minders, but I am familiar with who they are connected to: the Elephant 6 Collective. These were a group of musicians who created some of my favorite bands–Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, and Apples in Stereo to name a few. (Elf Power, Olivia Tremor Control, and Beulah to name more.)

To grab this coffee on a whim because it had cute packaging, only to find out that one of the roasters was a part of a highly influential recording collective, is pretty cool! Sadly, it appears that Martyn recently had a heart attack and is recovering from heart surgery. I hope he makes a full recovery!

I can’t find much information on Keia, unfortunately, though having a Black woman as a roaster bodes well for the equity of the beans, I think. I’m always leery about fair trade when it’s just a bunch of squirrely looking white guys running the roastery, you know? She has even set up an awesome Equity Pricing model for purchases. Super great.

Yeah yeah Josh, but how’s the coffee taste?

Pretty good! First sip was a blast of bright, floral notes, followed by a rounded out roasty flavor aftertaste. I’m fairly sure the beans are a light roast, which explains the floralness of it, but they may be more of a light-medium. I don’t really get any of the tasting notes, but that’s unsurprising for me. (I’m bad at tasting notes.) Perhaps the floral aspect I’m tasting is more along the “dried fruit” route, but I swear it has a bit more of an almost lavendery-esque taste to it. I thought the floral punch would stick around but subsequent sips are much more mellow.

Overall, great pro-social justice coffee roaster with a nice, pleasant flavored cup of coffee. And the Minders are a good band too! 7/10

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coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Happy Cup

Hey, let’s review some coffee beans, why not?

Happy Cup, Portland, OR
Medium Roast, Single Origin (Guatemala)
Tasting Notes: Cherry cordial, hazelnut butter, rosewater, vanilla

Happy Cup is awesome. It is a roaster here in Portland which employs people with developmental disabilities, at a competitive wave. I don’t know what else to say about that other than it’s awesome.

These beans are sufficiently roasty for a medium roast, without being ashy or sour. (I think fixing my grind helped this though.) Otherwise, pretty mellow with some fruity notes. I didn’t taste vanilla but I did get an umami flavor in there at one point, which I enjoyed. Happy Cup has never really wowed me with its beans but they’ve never been terrible, either.

Look, if you live in Portland and you like coffee, buy a bag of Happy Cup beans every once in a while. Make it part of your rotation.

Thanks Alix for my beans!

Overall, a nice, middle of the road bag of beans that you should absolutely buy so you can help support people with developmental disabilities. 6/10

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coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Courier

Hey, let’s review some coffee beans, why not?

Courier Coffee, Portland, OR
Light(?) Roast, Organic Congo
Tasting Notes: None officially

I’ve told this (mundane) story several times, but Courier Coffee was the first place I ever had a cup of coffee. Prior to them, I hated coffee. (I still did when I got my first cup.) My dad would brew a big pot of coffee every morning and pour it into a 32 or 64oz plastic gas station mug to take with him to work. Every morning I endured the horrible smell of Folgers.

Then, in 2007 or 08, I can’t remember, I traveled/moved to Portland and got a cup of coffee with a friend, who took me to Courier. I don’t remember who this friend was now. I barely remember where we were! It’s funny visiting a city and going to a location and then later moving there and really understanding where that location is now. Like, I had another friend who lived on 60th and Glisan, and I still pass by those apartment and feel a disconnect between them now, and them when I was visiting.

Anyway, Courier was and still is a little hole in the wall coffee shop. It opened in 2006 and is going strong and I believe that address on the beans is Joel’s house? I’m not sure, because the Courier coffee shop is on the other side of the river, and Google Maps points that address to a house on Hawthorne. I don’t know. This coffee is from Kivu, in the Congo. There are a lot of coffee farms in Kivu and there’s even a coffee called Kivu made by Kroger, which cannot be a good coffee.

One of the things I love about Courier is the DIY attitude. The handwritten description, the blurry stamp. It’s lovely. But it also leaves out a few bits of information, like the roast level and any info about how the coffee was harvested. I think one can assume that it’s all as ethical as can be, but it’s always good to have a blurb somewhere, you know?

This coffee is tangy! Bright and fruity. I think it’s a light roast, the seam on the underside of the bean is very light, almost white, which makes me think it wasn’t roasted long. My recent bout with covid made coffee taste like seaweed for a couple days (apparently the taste/smell issues with covid can impact your umami taste more than the others), but this does not taste like seaweed at all. It has an earthy undertone to it and a slight ashy aftertaste, but the dominant taste is tangy citrusy fruit. It’s not my preferred coffee taste, to be honest, but it’s not bad either. I think I may cut this one with milk in the future, to see if that mellows out the tang at all.

Overall, a bright, fruity, tangy taste with some earthy, ashy aftertaste. Not bad, especially if you enjoy tangy coffee, but it’s not my preferred go-to. 6/10

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coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Groundwork

Hey, let’s review some coffee beans, why not?

Groundwork Coffee, Los Angeles/Portland
Light Roast, Organic Colombia
Tasting Notes: Tangerine, Milk Chocolate

Groundwork Coffee began as a shop at Venice Beach, California, but now has two roasteries: one in LA and one here in Portland. So, despite the HQ being a state away, I still feel like I’m buying locally roasted beans, which is nice. The beans come from AMUCC, a woman’s co-op of coffee growers in Popayan. If there’s one thing I love about the coffee scene these days, it’s how hard some roasters are trying to work with local co-ops and growers and not exploit them. If buying these beans helps put decent money into the pockets of women in Colombia, I’m all for it.

First off: I upped my Bean Grams, from 15g to 20g. Groundwork suggests 1tbsp of grounds per 6oz of water. That’s 15g per 177ml, roughly. Doubling that (30g to 354ml) would actually be around the amount of liquid that one of my coffee mugs can hold, but 30g seems like too much for me. A tablespoon holds about 60mg of caffeine, and I only want to hit around 100mg. I ain’t no caffeine fiend.

The increase in grounds did improve the flavor though. It’s a much richer cup. What struck me first was how ashy the first sip was, and how each subsequent sip was more mellow. It was never ashy enough to be gross, but it was pronounced. Then came a floral, almost tangy taste (I guess that’s where the tangerine comes in), bold but not overpowering. That was the dominant flavor for me. I’d say it’s a better cup than the Two Dad’s beans, but as I mentioned in that review, I was measuring my beans incorrectly and generally getting weaker cups as a result. But I would say that I think I prefer light roasts over medium, overall.

That said, I do kind of wish this cup had a little bit more of a roasty flavor to it. The other tasting note, milk chocolate, I didn’t really get, but I’ve said before that I’m not great at tasting notes.

I bought these beans at Market of Choice for like $10.50 (on sale), which is a steal for organic, locally roasted beans. So it was worth it.

Overall: a bright, floral, slightly tangy cup of coffee. I liked it! 8/10

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coffee reviews

Bean Juice Review: Two Dads

Hey, let’s review some coffee beans, why not?

Two Dads Coffee Co., Portland, OR
Medium Roast, Guatemala Single Origin
Notes: Caramel, Roasted Almond
Brewing Method: Pour over

I purchased these beans, as I often do, at Market of Choice, a local market in the vein of a Whole Foods or New Seasons. Fancy white people store, in other words. In terms of roasts, I prefer a light roast when available, and I tend to shy away from dark roasts. Mediums I will pick up if there’s nothing lighter within my budget.

Whenever possible, I like to purchase from local roasters, ideally at their place of business, but that doesn’t always work out. Also, this is petty as hell but if I buy beans at a local coffeeshop and they don’t give me a free cup of coffee, I stop buying there. I know! I’ll even buy their beans at a store. Coffeeshops, you gotta give bean buyers a free cup of coffee!

Two Dads is, well, two dads. One from Guatemala, one from the Pacific Northwest. They seem to roast only medium and dark roasts, at least according to their website. I love the bag with all the doodles and I love the story of how these two men started their roasting business. Lovely to read a story of people finding love and passion in their work.

Anyway, I finished off this bag today. They certainly have a roasty flavor typical of darker roasts, which made it difficult for me to figure out a good grounds to water ratio. The bag says 1.5 tbsp (or around 22g) per 5oz (150ml) of water.

I brew a way weaker cup than that–15g to 300ml. At the time, honest to god, I thought I was brewing to their specifications, but again, I am dumb with math. (I even had to remind myself just now, again, that one gram is equal to one milliliter [of water at least].) I don’t have any more beans to redo with the proper ratio, but it’s okay, as I think the cups I brewed were just fine.

The roast of it comes through the most for me. I’ve always been bad at tasting notes, but I can see where one might get a roasted almond flavor. It brewed very much on the line of ashyness, though, something that I was fighting with every morning. It felt like I had to have my pour over game perfect or else it the taste would be a little bitter or ashy. I always drink my coffee black but I think this is the type of coffee you should pair with cream and/or sugar.

Overall, not a bad cup of coffee, but perhaps a bit too dark on the roast for my liking. 7/10

Categories
games reviews

Game Review: Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Well, I did it. It took me literal years, but I beat Youngblood. Not because it was difficult, more because it was … boring. The game picks up in the 1980s, where you play one of BJ Blazkowicz’s twin daughters, Soph or the Jess (the one I played), living in Paris and taking on the Nazis. It’s a co-op game though you can play it alone, with your sister being AI controlled.

The game’s not bad. The gameplay itself is pretty much identical to the previous games in the series. The guns are mostly the same, but can be upgraded, which I enjoyed. You can steal in or go guns ablazing. The enemies are difficult and you can tell that MachineGames understands how to make a good FPS fight.

My main issue is that Paris is a “hub” and so all of the missions take place in the same locations, which are all well thought out and look great, but the repetition gets annoying after a while. Wolfenstein as a series is linear, and part of the fun is going to all of the new locations. Even New Colossus, which had a hub of the submarine, kept advancing the plot through interesting locations. Youngblood feels like MachineGames ran out of plot ideas and (probably) was pushed into making a co-op game because it was popular at the time. But the plot suffers because of it. The game isn’t as fun or weird as the first two games of the trilogy, and Soph and Jess just aren’t very interesting characters. The concept of guerilla style fighting in the streets is cool, but it just gets old fast, and not enough new gameplay concepts are introduced to keep the series fresh.

SPOILERS AFTER THIS POINT:

I will say, I did appreciate the moment when they finally reunite with BJ and he reveals that he has learned of a dimension where the Nazis lost World War II. This was a huge gripe of mine with the new Wolfenstein trilogy: it sucks that the Nazis won the war. I know, the fact that they won means you get to experience killing Nazis in different decades, but it always fundamentally bugged me. It’s just historical fiction, so I shrug it off. But now the game acknowledges that BJ’s universe is different from ours. It’s kind of a corny twist, but I liked it.

The game also ends with this revelation that Hitler had a doomsday device that BJ accidentally activated, which is slowly killing (their) Earth. The scene is clearly a setup for Wolfenstein 3, which will maybe? get made? Nobody is sure. Youngblood didn’t sell well so they’ve either canned it or are waiting to release it. I hope didn’t can it; The New Order and The New Colossus are excellent games (the former is in my top ten for sure) and the series deserves a wrap up, especially since Youngblood feels like a side story, a la The Old Blood. I’m hoping we get some BJ Blazkowicz in the 90s action, trying to get his family through some portal into our universe.

All in all, Youngblood was fairly average. Good fights hampered by a lackluster story and a strange lack of humor and weirdness which permeated the first two games. Hopefully it didn’t do too bad and MachineGames gets the go ahead for Wolfenstein 3.

Rating: 6/10