Reports From The Field

Rather than a Q&A, I have answers to questions I didn’t know existed from a couple of astute Test Subjects that need sharing. First, from Germany I have this fascinating missive:

I just liberated my shipment from the German customs office, and experienced something you might be interested in.

I declared BBotE as “coffee extract”, which seemed accurately enough, and then discovered that Germany still has a coffee tax (the things you forget…). In order to calculate this the dry coffee mass in the extract is needed. This seemed to promise some back and forth between me, you and the customs office, until I remebered to ask for the base amount of coffee tax.

4.78EUR per kilogram of dry mass.

I opted to declare the mass of the whole liquid content as dry coffee mass, paid 5.98EUR of coffee tax, and took my package home.

Interestingly, this particular bit of tax is something that is as old as the Franco-Prussian War and has fluctuated with time and government. I’m fond of the theory that the rise of chicory blended coffee in Germany was to help avoid this tax as it has traditionally been a “by weight”.

If you have interesting tales of tariffs, taxes, and customs I’d love to hear them. Generally, I hear “Got it. WOOOOO!!!” but not the travails. So far, only Royal Mail/Parcelforce (AKA Parcelfarce, as Charlie Stross likes to call them) have caused me any deep vexation, greatly delaying the delivery of a birthday stein to a certain bearded madman.

Meanwhile, in the vicinity of Seattle, Test Subject Scottie sends this:

See, I love to drink coffee, but for whatever reason (it actually isn’t the caffeine) it had a tendency for giving me headaches. Not one to shy away from a bad idea for immediate gratification, I bought BBotE anyway, and… no headache. I don’t know why, and I don’t care, because you have given me back the gift of delicious coffee.

In return for this treasure, I should tell you that I use a well-placed cup of the stuff to get my rather rotund self up and active when I haven’t done my work-out for the day. I’m not saying you SHOULD completely exaggerate that story to market BBotE as a means of losing weight, but if you did, I’d understand. It might also be of note that more than a few members of my family line were very wealthy snake-oil salesmen. You can interpret that how you like.

Whatever gets you going, sir. Always glad to hear BBotE helping folks out. Bizarre as it is to think of it as a health food, it’s genesis lays in my trying to reduce sugar intake as a diabetic. Speaking of headaches, Test Subject Jana in LA had this to say:

I’ve always loved deep, dark roasts both for taste and tunnel vision (or is it a worm hole?) effect. I’m a writer and live my life by deadlines that are less about sheer time than they are about getting to a better answer faster. Nothing does that like coffee.

Sadly, in my early 40s, coffee started not loving me. On a regular cup, within minutes, my face breaks out, eyes itch and puff up. Where I used to feel smoothly creative, my forehead feels like concrete and I just get angry. Even going into a coffeehouse where they’re pulling shots can be a problem. Tea is fine, so I assume it’s something about the coffee oils.

I tried cold drip coffee but I HATE the taste. I love green and black teas, but they don’t deliver the specific sense of concentration that coffee does. I’ve tried ingesting caffeine in just about every other way imaginable (yes, that way, too) and nothing works.

And then came Death Wish. While it hasn’t solved all of life’s problems, the smooth concentration and intense flavor are everything I love about coffee. And a bottle and a half later, no inflamed skin or itchy eyes. After Natara’s (ed: the Pimpstess of Greater LA) warnings to be judicious, I’ve found that 25ml in the morning over ice with milk and water is perfect. (More than that is like putting a vise around my head — still clear thinking, but pressurized.)

Better living through science, indeed.

I’m sure the ladies and gents out at Death Wish are happy to be part of the writing process.

South Pole Station Service Tunnels – You Probably Don’t Want To Think To Hard About What This Is

Anyway, those are a few interesting missives that have rolled in recently that I thought were worth sharing in lieu of the promised Antarctic Toilet Expedition. Fear not, procrastination will break eventually. In the meantime, a teaser.