Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Sun Still Never Sets

This morning, I contacted The Aceh Coffee Company, trying to get some fabulous beans directly from Aceh (rhymes with Versace), a region at the western tip of the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Immediately, my website was hit a few times from Malaysia, and then I received a phone call from a fellow whose accent was at once very British and unmistakeably Asian. The spirit of the British Empire lives on, I thought to myself.

A hundred years ago, roughly half of the Earth's landmass was governed from three cities - London, Paris, and Saint Petersburg. The empires have disintegrated, but not necessarily in the minds of their former subjects.

I grew up in one of those three cities, and that is probably why I am afflicted with the kind of wanderlust that only an empire can sate. If I cannot trek off to the faraway reaches of the empire, I want to at least be able to bring pieces of it here. Well, there is no better way to do this than in the form of coffee beans.

Green beans keep for a a long time, long enough to survive an arduous journey by sea. The way from Aceh lies, just like in the olden days, through the Strait of Malacca, where there are still pirates, and then all the way across the Pacific. Still, when the beans arrive on our shores, they are perfectly fresh, and roasting them unlocks the aroma of the terroir of their origin. The trick is to not lose any of that during brewing, and if you've mastered that art, you can have a little piece of Sumatra to go with your morning commute.

If you've been reading carefully, you must have figured it out by now - that's right, The Aceh Coffee Company only sells green beans. I am not a roaster, so buying from them won't do me any good. Instead, I have to find roasters that understand the above. Many of them do. Chicago's very own Intelligentsia and Metropolis certainly understand it, and it will likely be their coffee that I'll be buying. I suppose for the time being they'll be the ones flying off to every corner of the world, while I'll be staying right here in Edgewater.

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