Yeti Summer Adventure
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Anna Canning, Peace Coffee Project Manager
I could go on endlessly about the loveliness of summer. While it's not my favorite season (that honor goes to each new season as it comes, to be replaced in its turn by the next comer), it's the one that's best suited to my chronically chilly constitution. I can't be all alone in this -- each year, the city seems to expand a little as the days lengthen. Just as there are now, as if by magic, more hours in the day, there's still more to see unfurling on all sides and conspiring to keep us all in motion all ‘round the clock.
The weekend of June 4-5 exemplified that as on Saturday night, the city turned itself into a surreal, magical wonderland for the first Northern Spark Festival. The sides of buildings realized that they were just great blank canvases that had just been waiting to be transformed into ephemeral projections of light and color. Tame bridges that usually link the Twin Cities, picturesque enough in their own right, developed slideshows and impromptu caves of bioluminescent plankton in their shadowy recesses. Sober everyday people like me roamed the banks of the Mississippi looking for an apparition of a white horse. The unreality continued for days as friends and acquaintances retold what they'd found that night, adventures worthy of Alice in Wonderland wandering onto the set of a Midsummer Night's Dream and getting caught up with a delinquent gang of magical realists along the way: a man drawing with a giant ink pen, a room where everyone wanted to hear lullabies but was thwarted because there weren't enough headphones, a chair being built on a rooftop and lowered to the street for a procession back to the neighborhood from whence the wood came. The list goes on.
The next day, a sizeable number of the Peace Crew roused themselves for a company picnic of sorts, turning out for a group bike ride. We started at our Wonderland Park location, said farewell to the baristas who were nobly closing up the shop so the rest of us could frolic, and rode off in unwieldy serpentine formation down Minnehaha Avenue. I've ridden around this city for 8 years now and know its minutiae in strange ways (seasonal tip: 32nd street is possibly the best-smelling street right now: roses & Russian olive trees are in bloom), but soon after we'd passed the roundabout near Minnehaha Falls, we were on uncharted territory for most of our crew as we rode through cottonwood fluff and between the vacant buildings of what's apparently the abandoned side of Fort Snelling. Trails turned here and there, sometimes smooth blacktop or cracked concrete, sometimes packed dirt or, twice, the swampy overflow of our share of the flooded Mississippi. Even the best-known routes show themselves a little new each time, allowing for those moments of almost-lost (how does one get down from the aptly-named high bridge to the river flat below? Does this endless road around the south side of St. Paul return us to Minneapolis, or should we just detour semi-permanently to one of the many caves to the side of the road that are just begging to be explored?) The adventure ended as many good adventures do, with excellent beer and food from our friends at Sea Salt at the base of the Minnehaha falls, a find that's not really secret or hidden just one of the fleeting delights of summer that springs up in the park each year.
The Yeti Cold Press has become our staple fuel for all the adventure that summer can hatch. This marks the fourth season of the yeti (its fourth annual migration, if one wishes to take the animal metaphor any further) and I asked Head Roaster Derek how this year's yeti was shaping up. Most of our blends fluctuate a little with the season's harvest as we strive to create a consistent flavor profile out of each year's new lots of beans. The same proportions of beans from our long-time partners at Apecaform, Cecocafen, and Cenfrocafe have, however, maintained their original caramel chocolate richness over the years: all the roasts he'd sampled, the scores he'd assigned in the lab, and his QC notes all confirmed it. The coffee was ready for release, but Derek had one final test. Last staff meeting, I spotted him in the corner, I think his legs were up (rare, since he's usually in rapid motion between a roaster, the lab, the espresso machine, and a road race) and he had a wine glass in his hand, filled with thick, black cold press. The viscosity suggested that he was drinking it straight.
The moral of the story? Take the yeti on a summer adventure, and try it at least once with your feet up too (for us mere mortals, it's advisable to cut the concentrate 1/3 water, 1/3 ice, and 1/3 yeti concentrate (some have been known to call it "crack." Don't say we didn't warn you.).