Welcome to volume one of coffee + music + books. The name says it all really, this will be a monthly look into what I’m reading, listening to and drinking. Coffee, music and books are three of my big passions and on occasion I get to indulge in all three at once, the perfect trilogy.
I am currently reading “The Overstory” by Richard Powers and I’m trying to read a classic alongside whatever else I am reading at the time, I am part way through “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac.
The Overstory is a beautifully written book. Powers has a very poetic way of writing that paints a picture in very fine detail. Sometimes I feel like I become more enamoured with the way an author writes rather than the story itself. The book is about nine Americans whose unique life experiences with trees bring them together to address the destruction of forests. Powers was inspired to write the work while teaching at Stanford University, after he encountered giant redwood trees for the first time. The Overstory was a contender for multiple awards. It was shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize and won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
I am a third of the way through the book at the moment and have mixed feelings, as I mentioned the writing style is very easy and enjoyable but the story can get a little depressing with each chapter encapsulating the majority of a person's entire life inevitably ending with death, some of the characters meet an unpleasant or unexpected end. But I will persist with the book as I hear it all comes together at the end and is quite inspiring. I’ll write more on that once I finish it!
On the Road is known as the “great American road novel”. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and Counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use. The two main characters of the book are the narrator, Sal Paradise, and his friend Dean Moriarty, much admired for his carefree attitude and sense of adventure, a free-spirited maverick eager to explore all kicks and an inspiration and catalyst for Sal's travels. The novel contains five parts, three of them describing road trips with Moriarty. The narrative takes place in the years 1947 to 1950. You can feel how ground breaking this book would have been when it was released, I’ve really enjoyed a look into this era and particularly beat culture at that time. It’s a fascinating era where young people started to rebel against the system and forge their own path creating a culture that would inspire a lot of what happened in the sixties.
I’ve been collecting vinyl for over 10 years now, I enjoy the tangible aspect that it brings to music. As a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s cassette tapes and later CDs were the only way we had to listen to music, so it’s nice to still be able to indulge in music as a physical item with artwork and notes. As much as I enjoy having all the music in the world on a device that fits in my pocket there is still something to be said for just sitting down and putting on a vinyl record or listening to a cassette, you tend to listen to a complete work rather than just a track here and there and sitting down with the intent to just listen to music is something I highly recommend.
My most recent purchase is Radiohead “Kid A Mnesia”.
Kid A Mnesia is a reissue of the albums Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001). It also includes a bonus vinyl, Kid Amnesiae, comprising previously unreleased material. The set comes with 3 beautiful red vinyls and some additional artwork by Stanley Donwood from that era of Radiohead. Amnesiac is one of my favourite Radiohead albums, I enjoy their more experimental music, so it’s great to be able to get it bundled in the collection with some additional unreleased material. It’s always interesting to hear alternate versions of songs that evolved over the recording sessions.
There are a couple of books being released alongside the album. One explores the imagery that Stanley Donwood and Thom Yorke created while the albums were being made and the other “Fear stalks the land!” looks at faxes, notes, fledgling lyrics, sketches, lists of all kinds and scribblings, as were sent between the two authors during the period 1999 to 2000 during the creation of the Radiohead albums Kid A and Amnesiac.
We hope to have these in-store at the start of February.
There are a few tracks from this collection of albums on our shop playlist so you may hear it while you are browsing books in-store.
If I’m going to talk about coffee it only feels right to start with Folk Brewers.
I spent a few years working out of Basestation, an incredible co-working space in downtown Tauranga. One of the many benefits of working at Basestation is that it is also the home of Folk Brewers. I’ve always appreciated good coffee, but Hans (the creative genius behind Folk) introduced me to new brewing methods and coffee that was on another level.
Chemex and cold brew became instant obsessions. I bought my own Chemex and cold drip setup so that I could explore these processes more. Cold brew became a particular favourite, brewing coffee drip by drip for 6 hours or more creates the smoothest coffee you will ever have, served over ice in summer it’s perfection.
Folk has expanded into roasting their own beans and their Folk blend is my go to bean. I usually brew it as a chemex or clever drip and I always get good results. They describe it as a “well balanced” brew and that’s exactly right, it is a seasonal blend and currently features beans from Columbia, Brazil and Mexico.
Each origin is carefully selected roasted and then blended together to create this well balanced brew. We find it has subtle notes of walnut, ripe plum and black cherry easing into a sweet molasses finish. Brewed best as an espresso but lovely in a plunger as well.Go and visit Hans and Job at Folk on Durham Street and try it out for yourself. If you feel like something a little different, just ask, and they will suggest something for you to try. You can also buy their beans and some great merch online at https://www.folkbrewers.co.nz/