Where’s Walter

A Peaberry Coffee Confession

A small confession.

Okay, maybe a big one.

I’m Geoff and … *sigh* … there’s a coffee I like.

To those who know me as a “tea”-totaler, it may come as a shock to you, but I actually started off as a coffee drinker. During my latter years of college, I worked graveyard shift at a hotel. Even then, my young, supple body couldn’t stave off sleepiness for long. The mystical powers of caffeine had to help eventually.

So, naturally, I brewed a pot on shift. For many months, this worked just fine. The coffee wasn’t…great. (Up ‘til now, no coffee had.) On one unfortunate, sleep-deprived night, though, I brewed a batch at double-strength. It led do a three-day “flu”.

That put me off coffee for years.

In the interim, I became a tea guy. To some of my friends, I was THE tea guy. But even in my most snobby of moments, I admitted there was room for coffee’s existence. The occasional dark roast did make it into my cup. Those moments were rare, but they were there. Much to the chagrin of some of my tea brethren and sistren.

Still, there was nothing I truly loved about coffee. It tasted like burnt blackness with a hint of fire-swill. For the most part. Then…I encountered one that changed my palate opinion. And I have this li’l f**ker to blame.

My cousin, Jason, introduced me to peaberry coffee. What is that, you ask? I’ll friggin’ tell you.

It’s crack. Roasted. Crack. But more specifically…

A coffee “cherry” generally only has two beans (or “seeds”) in it at the time of plucking. They are usually ovular (I think?) and flat-facing. Every once in a while, though, only one of the beans is fertilized, but the other doesn’t flatten. Think of it like a normal chicken egg…but without the chick. That is a peaberry or “caracoli” bean. These are oftentimes collected to create a different type of single origin coffee. Many different regions produce and sort peaberry coffee – Hawaii and Tazmania for examples.

I’m not sure what happens between bean plucking and roasting, but whatever it is, voodoo must be involved. To a staunch tea drinker, coffee cannot taste that good. I likened it – in tea-ish terms – to a black tea from Yunnan province, China made up of gold-tipped, fully-oxidized leaf buds. The taste was even similar, if roasted.

Peaberry coffee – at least, the Ehiopian arabica, medium dark roast stuff my cousin fed me – tasted like burnt lotus blossoms by way of a burly Assam tea brewed as a concentrate. Floral, chewy, and painfully addicting. Oddly enough, it wasn’t as jitter-inducing as other coffees I’ve had. Nor was it as offensively astringent. This might be due to the anecdotal claim that the rounder bean roasts more evenly compared to its flatter siblings.

I’m convinced my cousin fed me this stuff so that I’d never ask for an actual wage when we worked together. We hammered out a book outline, and the start of a new comic project. And that was only on one cup of the stuff. Keep in mind, I was already tea-caffeinated for the day.

What can I say, I’m a peaberry whore now.

First cup’s always free.

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Saturday, September 21st, 2013 Beverage Blog 12 Comments

Writing with My Inner Child

As most of you may (or may not) know, I sometimes take myself way too seriously. I hide it well enough through silly antics, but I – like many under the “artiste” label – are prone to moments of melancholy pretention. This often contributes to my lack of consistent updates. That has been changing recently, however. And I owe it all to my “inner child”.

Let me be more specific. I’m not talking about that quasi-psychological, metaphoric concept touted ad-cliché-nauseum. Rather, I’m referring to an actual person who might as well be my inner child, given his unwavering ability to remind me not to take myself too seriously. That and he is my informal partner-in-creative-crime. You heard right, this blog is going to be about someone other than myself. Er…for once.

My cousin – Jason Norman – is a talented artist I first started collaborating with back in ’07. Before that, I didn’t think I had it in me to work well with others. It’s not that I’m unwilling to compromise; more a matter of not wanting to share. In that vein, I’m kind of a miser. I guess that means I’m a writer or something.

To collaborate was originally his suggestion. He had the idea to put a webcomic together. Over the course of two or three really late nights, we came up with Random Access – a simple, focusless exercise where I would write a script (that he had no say in changing). In turn, he would draw the comic (which I had no say in changing). Hilarity often ensued.

For several reasons, though, we never stuck to the project. I think it was mostly because we both knew that there was no money in webcomics. Well, unless we focused entirely on videogame humor. That and my inner hermit got the better of me, and I decided to fly solo with another webcomic – Fred & Red.

The less spoken about that, the better.

Jason, however – ever the cheerleader – took a liking to the concept, and thought of a retooling. His version, which borrowed from my original concept, was light-years ahead of mine. We never launched it, but we did crank out a few test-scripts for future use.

Fast-forward a few years. Jason and I had several other brainstorming sessions about other projects. None saw the light of day due to never leaving the planning stage. We played off of each other rather well, though. My cynicism tempered his exuberance, whereas he fueled my often-spiderwebbed creative gears.

Over a year ago, though, something changed. Jason asked me if I could give him feedback on an old children’s book he did when he was wee lad – Bobo the Flying Hippo.

I looked it over, and imparted my two cents worth. He came back to me later with a proposal – a children’s book for iOS devices. A mutual friend of ours had dabbled with app programming, and my own brother had a cursory understanding of sound editing.

We did what we always did when we had new/potential projects to discuss. Junk food was procured, beer was swigged, and notes were jotted. Over the course of one evening, we had a story plotted out. Jason delivered me a rough storyboard after a week.

Now, it was my turn to write the narration.

And that’s where the problem began.

I’m not a good self-starter. (Look at the title of this blog, for Chrissake.) It took me a good month, maybe longer, to crank out anything of value. And that wasn’t much. My cousin was patient with me throughout when others would’ve pulled my hair out. One day, he just casually suggested, “Hey, let’s go to Starbucks. I’ll buy you tea.”

Not sure how he did it, but over one London Fog and three hours later, we had the narration for the app done. I typed it up a day later. A few months after that, Riverbottom Tales: Bobo Takes Flight went live. It was the first time I’d been published. I mean, published published, not just blog-published. I’m still reeling from that.

Click the image to buy the app!

Click the image to buy the app!

Which brings us to the present. My cousin has another project in the pipeline. He invited me one night to help him with the copywriting on his Kickstarter campaign. It was the first time I’d worked on any such project. Ever the cynic, a part of me didn’t think he’d get it off the ground. Color me corrected when the Kickstarter for Where’s Walter went live today (Wednesday, August 7th) – mere hours before this write-up.

Click the image to go to the Kickstarter.

Click the image to go to the Kickstarter.

I hope something comes of it. Such youthful exuberance needs to be rewarded. So does bringing out the child in others.

Oh, one more interesting tidbit. My website banner? Designed by him. Just sayin’.

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Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 Musings 2 Comments

I work for tea money.

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