Coffee’s been my new little hobby. So far I’ve tried a small handful of different coffee beans. While I had first dipped my toes into home ground coffee with a cheap Cusinart blade grinder and CafeExcellence beans from Amazon, my first foray into premium coffee beans (and a real premium coffee experience) was launched from my search for the Sumatra Mandheling.

I desired a bean that would yield a cup of coffee that was smooth, strong, and creamy. I knew that I didn’t really care for any sort of “brightness” in my coffee. If I wanted bright floral notes, I would have a cup of orange juice. My ideal coffee has a viscous mouth feel with a dark aroma and rich flavor. It’s the type of beverage that you would imagine is robust and strong like a good-natured barrel-chested lumberjack would be: a bold and undeniable presence, pleasant yet tough. That’s the epitome of real coffee really.

The Sumatra Mandehling seemed to fit the bill. I looked around for the bean, but couldn’t really find it. I ended up trying a Sumatra Bodhi Leaf from Klatch Roasting. I enjoyed that batch of beans very much. The low acid and the clean cup along with the hint of vanilla in the aroma (though my palate didn’t quite pick up on it in the cup) made for a most pleasing experience. After that batch had finished, I tried some Mexican coffee. This too I enjoyed, though not as much as I did the Sumatra. With the Sumatra, I found that it coupled well with milk. I was disappointed that the Mexican beans didn’t.Most recently, I opened up the Costa Rican beans. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite like them. They’re too bright and too clean for my tastes. I also didn’t appreciate the acidity. That’s why I went ahead to purchase some new beans from Our Coffee Barn (apparently a family business). The website could use a lot of work, but I had no issues putting in my order for a pound each of Brazil Serra Negra and Sumatra Mandheling Harimau Tiger. I went for the Sumatra again because of the low acidity and the rich coffee flavor I get out of it, and the Brazil to try its nutty bittersweet flavor.

Today I received my order. I opened up the package and was a little worried that I could smell the strong odor of coffee wafting out of the box. Accustomed to more traditional vacuum-packed bags like those from Klatch Roasting, I thought that perhaps these golden zip bags of coffee fromOurCoffee Barn weren’t vacuum sealed. Despite my closer inspection, I’m still not sure if they are. I think a couple of bags were improperly sealed since air was in the bag and I was able to squeeze it out of there. Whatever the case, their packaging certainly doesn’t inspire confidence in its freshness.

I was a little excited to see which coffee they gave me with my order. Turns out it was actually something I wanted to try! They gave me half a pound of Burundi Bwayi beans. They actually recommended these to me on Twitter when I asked for a full bodied bean, so I was quite pleased to see them in my box. Anyway, I immediately tossed out my cup of tea and brewed up some of the Sumatra Mandheling. After adding a little sugar, I took a slurp and savored it. It was a damned good coffee. I instantly defined it as one of my favorites.

In time, I’ll be trying the Brazil and Burundi. But would I purchase from Our Coffee Barn again? I’m not so sure. I don’t trust the vacuum seal, so it’s unlikely. A shame really, considering that the prices are more reasonable for regular consumption. I feel that Klatch’s prices are a little high for me if I were to drink coffee on a daily basis.

In any case, I think I’m going to settle on a daily ritual of a morning cup of coffee and some writing. I need to get into the habit of writing. People have different creative processes. It’s said that Jerry Seinfeld can sit down for eight hours and write his comedy like it’s a job while other comedians have their bits come to them as they go about their daily routines. Knowing me, I’m more like the latter. But knowing me, I also wouldn’t get anything done if that’s how I operated. That’s why I feel that I need the discipline of ritual to make me stay on track with my writing.

The novel is starting to take shape. But as it does, I also feel myself overreaching, pushing for themes beyond the scope of the novel. The themes aren’t congruent with the story arc. The novel spans only one or two brief seasons of the protagonist’s life, yet the ideas and themes that come to me are more universal and profound than the events of the story would allow for. That’s the difficult part: making it all fit together. I know all too well the feeling of a writer overextending himself and writing about things that are far more important than suits the story and its characters.