Category Archives: Coffee News

A New Ambassador and Another Rant: Art Safety

GOOD NEWS, ALBUQUERQUE! The people of the Atomic City (not to impugn the honor of Arco, ID and Los Alamos, NM of course) now have a BBotE Ambassador of their own. When not evangelizing ultracoffee, Lee is an professor of electonic arts at the University of New Mexico. He’ll be receiving his first case next week, so drop him a line at bboteABQ[at]gmail[dot]com if you’d like to place dibs on a bottle.

Probably more important to the rest of you: the November 8th pre-order window is now open. Go for it.

And now, a rant I’ve been thinking about for a while. Let me open by saying this is hasn’t been brought on by any particular event, but enough things from all over have piled up that I want to try to put my thoughts together in hopes that it helps someone.

The rise of the maker, as social media is very happy to tell me about constantly since I theoretically am one, is nothing really new. To me it’s more a matter of people remembering that tinkering in the shop is fun, despite a world full of disposable things that are cheaper to replace than repair. Also, that it’s a good idea to have a separate building to store your highly flammable but non-potable liquids and tetanus inducing rusty tools that you don’t actually live in. Despite the abusive work practices of our grad students bringing cots and sofas to labs so they can sleep during long data runs, people rarely live in their lab spaces anymore than a machinist sleeps in the machine shop.

However, the live-work artist studio is a cultural staple. Just close your eyes, and you can imagine it. The high ceilings, the canvases stacked in the corner, drop cloths on the floor, the flowers growing from wine bottles in the windows, paint spattered coffee mug for coffee that looks identical to the paint spattered coffee mug for brush cleaning, a half finished sculpture over there on the table overflowing with magazines. Your imagined space may vary depending on your exposure to dancers and other more exotic visual artists.

But now I want you to imagine that space again with my eyes. That coffee mug for brush cleaning, is that water that for dipping the brushes into or is it turpentine? Either way, don’t want anyone drinking that because I’m looking at the paints now and it’s been a while since mercury-based vermillion was on the market, where did you even get that? Oh, you found it in a discount bin at Goodwill, of course. Is that Strip-Eaze? Holy shit, that’s the old methylene chloride based formulation. Why is your woodworking tool box bloody? Exactly how many gallons of lacquer do you have stored in the corner over there under the space heater? That sure is a lot of old fishing weights…oh, of course, you’ve been melting them on the stove and making new sculptures in cast lead using an pre-Norman Conquest technique from Exeter. No, no thank you, I don’t want any food prepared here until we decon and gut this space.

Okay, back to reality. This is not because artists are ignorant of science & technology, goodness no. They usually have a deep and intimate knowledge of their tools and medium. Sometimes entirely new tools have been made to do a thing no one even thought of before, or existing things brought together in a novel manner to make something new. But that creation can come at the cost of wider vision, the ability to see consequences. When you are focused on making the performance come together at the theater, especially if you are dealing with students, you can forget little things like fall protection working above the stage in the rafters of your 100+ year old theater.

The more concerning artistic idea that sends a shiver up my spine are people that create things with a willful disregard for consequence, that want to “challenge people’s vision and see how the world changes once I set my art free”. That is a quote from a student here at Cal. That’s fine if your creation is a painting; it is less fine if your creation is a giant kinetic sculpture made of rotating parts crush injuries and it never occurred that this might look a bit like a jungle gym to kids.

Then there is a cultural matter that I feel comes into play that I wish would stop: suffering for your art. If you feel bad that your project isn’t coming along and that drive toward self-loathing helps wrench a chunk of your soul out and present it to the world, well, that sounds horrible but thank you. NOTE: the trope is “suffering for your art”. It is not “heavy metals poisoning for your art”, “accidental amputation for your art”, “electrocution and arc blast injuries for your art”, “laser burns & blinding for your art”,  or “plummeting to your death for your art”. While I understand and sympathize with the terrible toll on mental health artistic pursuit may lead to, it’s my job to try to minimize the physical toll.

The thing is, I don’t want artists to stop doing dangerous art. I would just like them to be willing to listen to the people that are trying to keep them alive, rather than rejecting this advice as authoritarian bullshit (another student quote). At the very least, I would be happy if they’d be merely as resistant as the average chemistry researcher.

The Decembering 2014 and Stein 600

I feel this is a good visual metaphor for sending this message in October. (image courtesy of the DOE/NNSA Nevada Site Office Historical Archive)

I feel this is a good visual metaphor for sending this message in October. (image courtesy of the DOE/NNSA Nevada Site Office Historical Archive)

As the city’s contractors start putting lights up in the trees before all the leaves have even fallen yet, it is time for me to grimly face the holiday season and say the words that must be said.

The last pre-Xmas BBotE production window will close on December 17th. All things being equal, domestic or international, everything shipped by the 17th should end up at their destination by Christmas Eve. I can’t control weather doom snarling the global postal system utterly, but a week is usually quite sufficient even taking weather into account. I will put another pre-order window up after the 17th, but I make absolutely no guarantees about shipments in that window arriving before Xmas. I’ll do what I can, but that’s all I can do.

As far as steins go, I have a rather large shipment of dewars slated to show up right just a bit before Thanksgiving. The “steins on hand” should dramatically increase, so keep an eye out on that page for the fluctuating numbers.

Speaking of Steins of Science, we’re approaching another milestone again. Just as I did for Stein #200 and #400, whoever orders Stein #600 is also getting #601, a 665ml FMJ, FOR FREE. The current count is in the high 500s, so it won’t be long.

To reiterate shopping advice from the previous year, here’s a few things you should probably think about if you decide to place an order for a holiday gift from Funranium Labs:

  1. BBotE Is Perishable: When refrigerated, it has a shelf-life of about three months (possibly longer, but I’m only going to quote three).  If you’re going to wrap it up and put it under the tree, this a present to put out on Christmas Eve and the promptly put back in the fridge after unwrapping. Alternatively, embrace the idea of the holiday season and decide that give it to the recipient immediately, for all days are special.
  2. Let People Know BBotE Is Coming: I know part of the joy in presents is the surprise of what you get. However, joy is not the emotion most people feel when a bottle of mysterious black liquid shows up on their doorstep, especially if it’s been sitting there for a week outside because they were out of town. Give them a heads up, that something’s coming they’ll want to stick in the fridge. I will also tuck handling instructions in the box for a gift and a note stating who sent it if you ask me to.
  3. The pre-order slot dates date are “Ship No Later Than”, not “Ships After”. I get your orders out as soon as I can, but even in the furthest flung corner of the US with the slowest mail carrier, this means you should have your order in hand by December 21st for that last set of late order slots. If you want to order something NOW to ship later, in effect reserving a spot in a later order queue, you can do so but please leave a note with your order telling me when you want it to ship by.
  4. Yes, I will probably add a extra more slots as I get a handle on how much I can make at the last minute but shipping gets dicey in those last days before Christmas.
  5. International Shipments Of BBotE Go Out Express Mail: Because I don’t want BBotE to get stuck in postal facilities or customs, express is the only way to ship to minimize their time in bureaucratic hell. Expect it to take 3-5 business days to get to you, so time your orders accordingly to make sure things get to you in time.
  6. APO/FPO: If you wish to send something out to someone with an Armed Forces address, there’s good news and bad news. Good news – it’s no more expensive than priority mail. Bad news – I can’t guarantee any date as to when things will arrive. Outside of active war zones, things move somewhat normally; inside war zones and ships at sea, things get iffy. Also, depending on routing, some nations (I’m looking at you, Turkey) have bounced BBotE on the basis that it is, and I quote, “Morally Questionable Material” because, obviously, any liquid from the West must be alcoholic in nature. In short, I’ll do my best but you’ve been warned.
  7. Local Pick Up: Resupply shipments will go out to all the BBotE Ambassadors as fast as I can crank them out, so be sure to drop them a line if grabbing a bottle that way is convenient for you. I’m sure they’d like clean and empty refrigerators as their Christmas present.
  8. Turkey, Italy & Brazil: It breaks my heart to say this, I can’t ship to these countries. Italy, I absolutely do not trust your postal system. The level of theft shipping things anywhere south of Rome is, frankly, appalling. If you ask me to ship to Naples, I make absolutely zero guarantee of it arriving. Brazil, your customs causes shipment to languish for so long that the BBotE goes off before it arrives, even if shipped express; steins seem to be fine though. Turkey, well, I discussed those problems in #6.
  9. Steins of Science Have Lead Time Too: The steins are built to order and it sometimes takes a while to get parts in.  Generally, things move much faster and ship within a week but you have now been warned of the possibility of delays.  For some insight into which stein is the best fit for you, I rambled on that a while back. Dewars that are on hand for me to build steins with RIGHT NOW can be found here.
  10. BBotE Production Is First Come, First Served: My maximum daily production output is 12L per day. Thus, people who request 12pk cases will lock up production for an entire day.
  11. There’s No Kosher Or Halal Certification: While Robert Anton Wilson did confer the papacy upon me, and all the other people in the Porter College Dining Hall, this does not permit me to sanctify food.  Sorry.
  12. REALLY, the 4300mL Stein of Science Is Ridiculously Large: Seriously, BIG.  It will should take an entire pre-game, Super Bowl, and wrap up to go through this much beer.  Or one cricket match. You may think you are a super drankin’ badass, but consider that you may want to drink more often than once a year, so think about a smaller size. Far be it from me to dissuade you from giving me money, but I’m just sayin’…

VACATION TIME

Alright, that’s it folks. All the orders for the production window ending 5/17 have now shipped, including a restock case for the BBotE Ambassador of Chicago. I opened the next production window for people that want to make absolutely sure they’re at the head of the line for when I get back from the grand road trip, but as you may notice, that window closes on June 28th and production doesn’t even resume until the 12th. That goes for Steins of Science as well as BBotE, can’t very well take the drill press with me. Rest assured, I won’t be silent while I’m out there, though you’ll like have to be paying attention to my poop jokes and puns on Twitter.

That said, if you drop me a line and your needs just happen to line up with what I’m making for myself, it’s possible I can get a bottle or stein out the door before I hit the road on Thursday. You can always ask and the worst that can happen is that I’ll say “Nope. Time is too tight.”

And with that…

Speaking of Jamaica Blue Mountain

Because I couldn’t resist making a little extra for my own consumption and let other people have a taste, I have made a few 375ml bottles of Jamaica Blue Mountain (JBM) available on the site. Yes, I know, they are painfully expensive bottles but so are the beans. Here’s a JBM testimonial from Test Subject Hansen on an entirely new (to me) use of BBotE:

On weekends I frequent a cigar lounge in Maryland.  (I live in extreme north Virginia; Maryland’s just a hop away.)  Maryland recently enacted a law banning alcohol from cigar lounges, so I was struggling to find a good replacement for my usual Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or.  I discovered that Jamaican Blue BBotE can create a really complex flavor profile if you pair it with the right smoke — you need something that’s full-bodied enough to have a strong flavor profile, but not something so strong that it’ll overwhelm your taste buds and make it difficult to enjoy the Black Blood of the Earth.  Good cigars: Four Kicks, Guillermo Toro, Tatuaje, Macanudo Real Reserve.

As an added bonus, the remaining BBotE Sampler Pack II orders for this pre-order window ending on April 26th will get vials of JBM in there.

In other news, New York City has it’s old BBotE Ambassador back. Wish expressed a desire to resume her role, and the attendant caffeine privileges that comes with, and I happily welcomed her back. She’s putting together requests for a case now, so if you’re out there and want to pick something up from her, now is the time to drop her a line. As always, the BBotE Ambassadors and their contact info can be found here.

Last, but not least, I must again harp on the fact that the next pre-order window (ending May 17th) is going to be a long one with as much production in it as I possibly can do. After that, I head out on a month long road trip, and there will be no BBotE production at all until mid-June.  Don’t worry, this message warning you to order early in the pre-order window will repeat. And, as a reminder, the dates on the pre-order windows mean “Ships No Later Than”, not “Ships On” or “Ships After”. You will likely get your BBotE much earlier than that date.

Congo, Special Requests and Vacation Reminder

Some astute Test Subjects paying attention to the website have noticed a new variety appear in the radio buttons for selection. Others have asked “WAIT A MINUTE, WHAT’S THIS? HOW CAN I GET MORE OF THIS?” when they found it as one of the capricious whim vials in their Sampler Set II. Well, now you can, Congo Kivu is available.

I grabbed the Congo in my continuing interest in the coffees of the East African Rift Valley as a sampling of the higher, wetter eastern side of the southern Rift. It’s also a matter of sorrow at the loss of one of my chosen coffees from the Rwandan side of the Rift to resuming/ongoing violence in the region. Attempts to maintain coffee farming are one of the few industries that are friendly to women in the region, and the Rising International co-op that was able to provide me these beans are collecting a premium to make sure to support that industry. Instead of, say, gold and tantalum blood mining in the region for example. I’m willing to do some good in the interest of deliciousness, sure.

And oh, it is delicious. The baking chocolate of the Rwandan Abakundakawa is there, but rather than the brut champagne dryness there is a very fruity, dry Sangiovese red wine flavor, possibly plum wine, with a some long staying power on the palate. With vodka addition, the wine like character grew even stronger. In the words of Test Subject Zitron, “It’s a keeper. Make that a regular for as long as you can.” And so I will. Get it while it’s there.

I had another person with a Sampler II notice that their special vial was Jamaican Blue Mountain and wanted to know how why this is listed nowhere on the site. That was actually the remainder of a very special, NOT AT ALL CHEAP request from which there were a couple extra vials from the run that people got near Christmas. In general, I am willing to do custom request BBotE for people if it fits in the larger production schedule, you’re willing to make an order for at least 3L of BBotE to make it worth doing the batch, and are also willing to pay premium prices. For example, Jamaican Blue Mountain was a bit more than double the normal price, but I’m told the resulting BBotE was worth dipping cigars instead of cognac. On a somewhat less classy end, I’ve cranked out a couple dozen liters of Dunkin Donuts BBotE because people asked and I hate saying no to glistening eyes and quivering lips of  those seeking the caffeine of their youth. All you need to do is drop me an email and ask.

As a reminder, the April 26th BBotE pre-order slots are up. The final pre-order slots before my vacation will go up after that and they’ll close on May 21st. Then there will be nothing until production resumes on June 15th after Cross-Country Road Trip 2014 ends. I’ll try to make as much BBotE as I possibly can so that I don’t leave anyone high and dry; in fact, feel free to place an order now with “delay shipment until mid-May” if you like.