Apropos of Nothing

"John Carpenter's THE THING" was very important to us in Antarctica

Not quite time to break out the flamethrowers here...yet. (A crate from the South Pole Station's "The Thing" DIY Flamethrower Competition)

Sorry for the relative radio silence around here but, well, there is only so much time in the day. More than usual, my time has been going toward running at maximum BBotE production, thanks to all you new folks coming over to courtesy of Thrillist and SF Weekly. I’ll also have you know that the search for a new coffee from Central America to steal my heart is going in earnest. Operatives and missives have been dispatched…

In the meantime, I give you this happy tale:

Once upon a time, a pleased BBotE Test Subject received his sampler test tubes from the Pimpstress of Greater Los Angeles. He was so thrilled with them that he felt a need to let me know how wonderful they were:

I usually treat the 50ml vials as one time use because full bottles tend to disappear when I wander out to the dance floor at the clubs. Man, BBotE is my new party drug of choice, it keeps me going like speed & ecstasy combo but a without leaving me trashed with a horrible hangover for the next two days.

That’s…a nice recommendation, but not exactly ad copy I can use. “Black Blood of the Earth: just as good as Speed-X, but doesn’t leave you with that not-so-fresh feeling afterward.”

A Change In The Lineup

More South Pole Fun

Didn't even get to hold the South Pole's mascot sturgeon as a consolation prize this time.

I had a bit of a rude surprise last night when I went to one of my favorite roasters to procure more Panama to lay in a bit of supplies in light of the recent BBotE order extravaganza. I was informed that they were out of Panama, and several other Central American varieties I’ve been tinkering with, “for the foreseeable future”. This is a bit heartbreaking as I am very fond of light roasts but it’s so hard to find them with good, consistent flavor and their Panama was my winner. So, back to the drawing board hunting for good new light roasts.

Where it gets a bit more worrisome is that I started putting two and two together about the fact that I’ve told of Central American supply problems from several roasters over the last few months with no good explanation. So I started poking around a bit and discovered that this appears to be a rather low coffee yield La Nina year down there.

The current orders for Panama will be fulfilled with the stock I have on hand but as of last night I yanked it off the website. Where this will get a little tricky in the future is with the BBotE sampler 10 pack. I would like to fill the void Panama has left in our hearts with another light roast and/or a representative from the Americas but I don’t have one of those ready to go yet. Malabar is a contender for a light roast, but for the time being I will be substituting the rather tasty Colombia from last week’s experimentation which has proven itself to be replicable.

A Quick Q&A

In the wake of Thrillist saying hello, I’ve gotten some more interesting questions than normal which need sharing.

Question 1: “Have you considered getting a government contract and supplying the FAA so that they can keep all the pilots and air traffic controllers awake?”

Answer: Interestingly enough, I have seen the FAA pop up in the ol’ site traffic monitor from time to time. It always gets my attention when I see government agencies or, better yet, military. To the best of my knowledge, no one is powering  a 747 or control tower with BBotE but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened. I am aware of at least three servicemen that have decided that BBotE is the safe and sane way to survive extended watch & flight duty without resorting to more interesting chemistry.

Also, PROTIP: Turkish authorities will confiscate BBotE bound for forward operating bases. Wait until you cycle back to Germany or make friends with a pilot that can schlepp it to you.

I’m totally waiting to be told that BBotE has become a budget line item in either a grant proposal or operating budget.

The frozen Russian biplane on the berms at South Pole Station

You are as likely to get someone’s information from me as this plane ever flying again under it’s own power. NOTE: It was dismantled and flown home by LC-130 a few years ago. Don’t make me get my machete, son.

Question 2 (spelling preserved from the original text): “can u give me warren ellis address so I can send him something to? Youve sent him BBotE so u got it, rite?”

Answer Part 1: You are setting off multiple creepy alarm bells. Not only no, but hell no.

Answer Part 2: While purchasing BBotE or a Stein of Science is a far cry from HIPAA levels of confidentiality, that would be unethical in the extreme. Also, think for a second, you are also asking someone who used to hold a Q Clearance to divulge information. They tend not to hand those to people willy nilly and the obligations of the clearance don’t end until death. I like to think that I earned that level of trust for a good reason. So, double plus hell fucking no.

Question 3: “Do you accept payment options other than Paypal? After what they pulled with Wikileaks last year I don’t really want to do business with them if I don’t have to.”

Answer: Sure we can find other ways to do it, but it is likely to slow down the process of getting your loot out to you. Paypal is the only electronic payment service that I’ve established so far (mainly because it’s so damn easy) but other tinkering is in progress. I’m always open to suggestions if you have a particular favorite.

Heck, I’ll take checks & money orders if you insist but things will have to clear before I can ship things out. Email me to work out arrangements if you’d like to go this way.

Of course, cash is king but that would require you to be in My Presence. The good news is that often also means that we are probably drinking beer together as well.

The Thrillist BBotE Explosion

To everyone joining the conversation thanks to a recent piece run by Cal alum Grant Marek, welcome. You’ll all be happy to know he survived his exposure to BBotE. There’ve been just a few orders of BBotE since then, so I thought it might be time for a quick State of the Funranium Labs Address:

  1. As with everything else, orders are First Come, First Served.
  2. Production is limited to 6L/day. There’s a little bit of a backlog built right now, so gratification on your caffeination needs might not quite be instant.
  3. If you’re interested in local hand off, please contact your most convenient Pimp/Pimpstress to see what they’ve got on hand and arrange a hand off. If they don’t have what you want, you’re always welcome to order it directly here. Alternatively, if you can wait a little bit, let them know what you want and they’ll ask for it to be included in their next shipment.
  4. I have placed a pre-order up for the next run of 750ml Death Wish BBotE. Production on this will be done toward the end of this month, but there was enough demand from people wanting to get their name in the hat, I figured this was the easiest way.
  5. If you are a San Francisco Bay Area local, by far the best place for us to meet up an grab your BBotE from me is on Thursdays at the St. George Distillery, sometime between 5:30-7pm. It is an opportunity to not only pick up your caffeinated delights from me but also partake of their delicious wares with a tasting and enjoy the lovely view across the bay. Who knows, you might catch the Mythbusters playing out on the old runways.

Pimps & Pimpstresses: NYC, Chicago, and Madison

Ziggurat of Ur

The Ziggurat of Pimpery - Some Superficial Similarity to the Ziggurat of Ur

There are some truly dedicated souls out there with a dedication to deliciousness and caffeination that is above and beyond the call of duty. The volunteered themselves for experimentation, made a good case for why they should ascend the lofty Ziggurat of Pimpery and sit in judgment over their respective domains, choosing who should and who should not gain Black Blood of the Earth from their hands. To the ranks of Portland, OR, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Detroit we now add Madison, WI, Chicago, and New York City.

Serving Madison, with occasional service to Milwaukee, is Greg. You may contact him via email WisconsinBBotE [at] gmail [dot] com. You may want to move fast as you’ll have to get bottles from him before he consumes it all himself.

For the Greater Chicago Area, I present you with Senor Weiss. He displays all the depraved caffeine consumption I expect from someone who used to dwell behind Super Sekrit Fences like me. You may contact him via email BBotE [at] billweiss [dot] net.

In New York City, you have inherited an acolyte of the Pimpstress of Greater Los Angeles, the lovely Ms. Wish. Wish may be contacted via email NYCBBotE [at] gmail [dot] com.

Go forth and deplete their supplies! Madison is currently armed with BBotE, NYC & Chicago’s arrive on Wednesday. If, perchance, they do not have the specific BBotE you desire, well, you may always place an order directly here. If you can wait a bit, let them know what you want and it will go into the next shipment that heads their way.

BBotE Experimentation: Banana Republics & Tasting Volcanoes

Costa Rica and Colombia are the two primary coffee growing countries that we see in North American stores, despite Brazil out producing them, thanks to some agricultural colonization similar to that which United Fruit did (and thus the coining of the term “Banana Republic”). The monopolies and focused national agricultural production strategies, think King Cotton in the American South, from decades ago are why generations of Americans and Canadians instantly think of Juan Valdez and his burro when someone mentions Colombia. Admittedly, this is probably preferable to the other vision of Colombia as the Narco Kingdom of Medellin that sold so well on the news with the War on Drugs.

The point that I’m getting at here is that the use of Costa Rican and Colombian coffees as bulk material, blended together at port before shipping out, cut like cocaine with much more expensive coffee crops like Jamaican and Kona to help improve profit margins, does a great disservice to the fact that there are some truly fantastic coffees growing in these regions. We wouldn’t have tried to create monoculture crops with unstable puppet political regimes if we couldn’t yield fantastic amounts of coffee, bananas, etc. from their soils in the first place, right?

This is where you’re all supposed to yell at me about the importance for ethically produced, sustainable, organically farmed coffees. All things being equal, I’d prefer not to wear blood diamonds or consume blood beans. The fun thing about Colombia and Costa Rica’s coffee growers is that despite providing over 10% of the world’s arabica beans, most of the production comes from small growers…who then sell to the giant conglomerate co-op that fills the metal cans on the supermarket shelves. I’d be happier if we diverted a bit more of that coffee before homogenization to taste what those small farms can do, because my very favorite BBotE I’ve made to date is a single farm in Guatemala. Surely, the legendary volcanic soils of Colombia and Costa Rica offer similar delights.

Ah yes, volcanoes. It is time once again to discuss Herr Direktor Funranium’s tongue’s strange flavor library. When I taste a coffee and say, “Mmm…andesitic stratovolcano”, as I did with the Colombian tasted yesterday, people tend to look at me funny. Hey, pulverize enough rock samples and you’ll get familiar with their taste and smell too. In defense of my oddity, note how the map of major arabica coffee crops matches up fairly closely with regions of active volcanism (East African Rift Valley, Indonesian Archipelago, hot spot volcanism of Hawaii, the Central American section of the Ring of Fire). The arabica needs these rich volcanic soils to develop their distinctive flavors, which in turn, reflects the distinctive volcanism of these regions. If you’ve ever wondered why Panama tastes so dramatically different than Ethiopia, it’s the difference between the geochemistry of a hydrated subduction zone volcanic arc and the extensional melting of a rift valley where a continent is tearing itself apart. Very different chemistry leads to different lavas which is reflected in their flavor.

In summation, I am always looking for a new small lot of Central and South American coffee to tinker with and this week I got two, Costa Rica Doka and Colombia Paez.

The Costa Rica Doka is a cool shade grown bean that as both a hot coffee and BBotE had a very citrus, fruity flavor. This is likely due to the Costa Rican governments mandatory water process removal of the cherry. Straight and cold, I found the BBotE of the Costa Rica to have a meaty flavor to it which, combined with the citrus-like qualities, made an effect not unlike beef stew. Others declared it to be a good solid coffee flavor with some spiciness to it, which was brought out further by vodka addition.

The Colombia Paez is a supremo grade arabica (similar to the Kenya AA for coffee categorization)  that I received within two hours of roasting. The beans had hardly had a chance to cool down before I put them into process. Cold and straight, the Colombia smelled like Hershey cocoa powder or a cup of hot chocolate. When tasted, well, I already discussed my tongue and stratovolcano flavor, but others defined that as milk chocolate with a little tannin bite with a very, very, very long finish. The oils just hang on the tongue and the flavor lasts. With vodka addition, it was declared to be “smooth like butter” and “I want to spread this on toast”.

I think they are both worth experimenting with again, especially the Colombia. Keep an eye out for it appearing in the Clearance & Prototype section.