The Grossest Coffee on the Planet?

davidd, Flickr

We’ve covered crazy high-end coffees before. One of the world’s most expensive coffees, kopi luwak, comes from Indonesia, where the beans are harvested from the feces of the wild civet. Apparently something amazing happens to the beans in the digestion process, or at least the coffee world would have us believe so.

Then there’s Black Ivory Coffee, which of course comes to us thanks to elephant dung. The elephants stomachs are apparently like a “natural slow cooker” for the beans.

But now there’s a new coffee contender on the block, and you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world. All you have to do is make your way to… you guessed it, Portlandia.

Just outside of Portland, Oregon in Estacada a man is dabbling in the effects of sending coffee beans through his own digestive system. That’s right everyone: human poop coffee.

If you’re not thoroughly grossed out to stop reading yet, you’ll be thrilled to know that there are plenty of people out there that want the stuff. Randy Goldman, a home coffee roaster, wanted to experiment with the “kopi luwak process,” advertising his beans on Craigslist. The story of course went viral – turns out people are into fecal coffee – and soon the demand outweighed the supply.

But fortunately some coffee bloggers got in on the game and documented the whole process, noting that the end result was “musky and fruit-forward,” but not really up there with the world’s best cups. Goldman agrees, noting that the fecal-coffee connection is less about the taste and more about the novel process that somehow helps with marketing. “I didn’t think it’d do much for the taste, but I see Kopi Luwak selling and selling and know that the consumer wants to drink shit. So be it.”

You’ll be hard-pressed to get some though: Goldman has over 40 people on his wait list for the next batch. Looks like you’ll just have to stick to the normal coffee shops of Portland instead.

Craigslist Missed Connection Ad The Best Short Story You’ll Read Today

Flickr user WhiskeyGoneBad

Craigslist Missed Connections ads are often entertaining, but seldom can they be considered worthwhile works of fiction.

The nondescript “Missed Connection – m4w” may have initially been overlooked by the scores of New Yorkers seeking the sultry redhead who caught their eye while browsing the incontinence aisle of Duane Reade, but it soon set the Internet on fire. At turns humorous and heartbreaking, the 1,000-word treatise touches on love at first sight, missed opportunities and regret during one fairly long ride on the NYC subway.

According to the Village Voice, the author is likely Raphael Bob-Waksberg, who was the first to post a link to the ad on Twitter.

While I’m a little jealous that my ad selling my old Craftsman lawn mower didn’t garner the same notoriety, the Craigslist story serves not only as a wonderful piece of found art, but as a bittersweet reminder to make the most of every opportunity which presents itself.

The entire Craigslist post after the jump.

I saw you on the Manhattan-bound Brooklyn Q train.

I was wearing a blue-striped t-shirt and a pair of maroon pants. You were wearing a vintage red skirt and a smart white blouse. We both wore glasses. I guess we still do.

You got on at DeKalb and sat across from me and we made eye contact, briefly. I fell in love with you a little bit, in that stupid way where you completely make up a fictional version of the person you’re looking at and fall in love with that person. But still I think there was something there.

Several times we looked at each other and then looked away. I tried to think of something to say to you — maybe pretend I didn’t know where I was going and ask you for directions or say something nice about your boot-shaped earrings, or just say, “Hot day.” It all seemed so stupid.

At one point, I caught you staring at me and you immediately averted your eyes. You pulled a book out of your bag and started reading it — a biography of Lyndon Johnson — but I noticed you never once turned a page.

My stop was Union Square, but at Union Square I decided to stay on, rationalizing that I could just as easily transfer to the 7 at 42nd Street, but then I didn’t get off at 42nd Street either. You must have missed your stop as well, because when we got all the way to the end of the line at Ditmars, we both just sat there in the car, waiting.

I cocked my head at you inquisitively. You shrugged and held up your book as if that was the reason.

Still I said nothing.

We took the train all the way back down — down through Astoria, across the East River, weaving through midtown, from Times Square to Herald Square to Union Square, under SoHo and Chinatown, up across the bridge back into Brooklyn, past Barclays and Prospect Park, past Flatbush and Midwood and Sheepshead Bay, all the way to Coney Island. And when we got to Coney Island, I knew I had to say something.

Still I said nothing.

And so we went back up.

Up and down the Q line, over and over. We caught the rush hour crowds and then saw them thin out again. We watched the sun set over Manhattan as we crossed the East River. I gave myself deadlines: I’ll talk to her before Newkirk; I’ll talk to her before Canal. Still I remained silent.

For months we sat on the train saying nothing to each other. We survived on bags of skittles sold to us by kids raising money for their basketball teams. We must have heard a million mariachi bands, had our faces nearly kicked in by a hundred thousand break dancers. I gave money to the beggars until I ran out of singles. When the train went above ground I’d get text messages and voicemails (“Where are you? What happened? Are you okay?”) until my phone ran out of battery.

I’ll talk to her before daybreak; I’ll talk to her before Tuesday. The longer I waited, the harder it got. What could I possibly say to you now, now that we’ve passed this same station for the hundredth time? Maybe if I could go back to the first time the Q switched over to the local R line for the weekend, I could have said, “Well, this is inconvenient,” but I couldn’t very well say it now, could I? I would kick myself for days after every time you sneezed — why hadn’t I said “Bless You”? That tiny gesture could have been enough to pivot us into a conversation, but here in stupid silence still we sat.

There were nights when we were the only two souls in the car, perhaps even on the whole train, and even then I felt self-conscious about bothering you. She’s reading her book, I thought, she doesn’t want to talk to me. Still, there were moments when I felt a connection. Someone would shout something crazy about Jesus and we’d immediately look at each other to register our reactions. A couple of teenagers would exit, holding hands, and we’d both think: Young Love.

For sixty years, we sat in that car, just barely pretending not to notice each other. I got to know you so well, if only peripherally. I memorized the folds of your body, the contours of your face, the patterns of your breath. I saw you cry once after you’d glanced at a neighbor’s newspaper. I wondered if you were crying about something specific, or just the general passage of time, so unnoticeable until suddenly noticeable. I wanted to comfort you, wrap my arms around you, assure you I knew everything would be fine, but it felt too familiar; I stayed glued to my seat.

One day, in the middle of the afternoon, you stood up as the train pulled into Queensboro Plaza. It was difficult for you, this simple task of standing up, you hadn’t done it in sixty years. Holding onto the rails, you managed to get yourself to the door. You hesitated briefly there, perhaps waiting for me to say something, giving me one last chance to stop you, but rather than spit out a lifetime of suppressed almost-conversations I said nothing, and I watched you slip out between the closing sliding doors.

It took me a few more stops before I realized you were really gone. I kept waiting for you to reenter the subway car, sit down next to me, rest your head on my shoulder. Nothing would be said. Nothing would need to be said.

When the train returned to Queensboro Plaza, I craned my neck as we entered the station. Perhaps you were there, on the platform, still waiting. Perhaps I would see you, smiling and bright, your long gray hair waving in the wind from the oncoming train.

But no, you were gone. And I realized most likely I would never see you again. And I thought about how amazing it is that you can know somebody for sixty years and yet still not really know that person at all.

I stayed on the train until it got to Union Square, at which point I got off and transferred to the L.

Member Of Secret Disneyland Club Tells All


A member of Disneyland’s most exclusive club has been opening up to inquiring minds on Reddit, a social news website. The anonymous user has been defending the club’s $35,000 per year price tag, and also dished about dining with celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks.

The user introduced himself by saying he has been member of Club 33, a secret feature of Disneyland located in the heart of the New Orleans Square, for more than 10 years – and that the membership has been with his family for more than 30 years. The private club was opened in the 1960s, and the waiting list for membership is rumored to be 14 years.

Describing the scene, the member noted that celebrities can often be spotted at the club. “I’ve spoken to Jack Nicholson and Tom Hanks one on one while in the club,” he noted, adding that he tends to try and give celebrities their space.

He said a membership covers up to four family members. Besides access to the club, benefits include valet parking on a private lot, automatic upgrades at Disney properties, reserved seating at shows, a private car on the Disneyland Railroad, behind the scenes tours, immediate fast passes, invitations to special events and the ability to make reservations for friends and family members.

A former Disney Imagineer who was unable to access Club 33 asked if there were any of Walt Disney’s trademark gags inside. The member explained that there is an animatronic vulture in the Trophy Room, one of two dining rooms inside the club. He also noted Disney put an elevator that comes up from an underground garage so VIPs could be ushered in and out of New Orleans Square quickly and easily.

According to Wikipedia, the elevator is an exact replica of one Disney saw during a vacation in Paris. The owner of the original refused to sell, so Disney sent a team of engineers to the Parisian hotel to take measurements and a sample of the original finish for an exact replica.

Most of the people leaving comments on Reddit questioned whether or not the membership to the club was worth it. The member seemed undecided on the matter, pointing out that he mainly keeps his membership because it is a family tradition.

“While I make good money, I consciously pay the dues each year from some inheritance that was left to me by my parents,” he said. He also explained that dinner at the club comes at a cost of around $150 (without alcohol), and he only took advantage of his membership four times last year.

“If you’re a big Disney fan and want to enjoy 33 once, the price is worth the experience and memory,” he said, but he also pointed out that the best experiences he’s had because of the membership took place outside of the club.

The member also explained that Disneyland as a whole seems a little less magical than it was in years past.

“The attention to detail is fading quickly in the park,” he wrote, adding that maintenance and repair is also slipping. “[Twenty] years ago, something would be repaired the next day if the part was handy. Now things go for weeks before [they’re] replaced. If you ever meet an original Disney employee, ask them how often they saw a light bulb out.”

The member also offered a surprising tool for those looking to get into Club 33: Craigslist.

“Some members, especially the corporate ones, have been known to charge a hefty price tag to take guests,” he explained. “Alternatively, if you know any executives in the big well known brands in the [United States], ask them. Fewer and fewer corporate accounts are joining, but I’d have to assume it’s still the majority of the reservations.”

[Photo Credit: Creative Commons]

How to find a last-minute room in Austin for SXSW

sxsw roomOver the past several years, the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Music, Film and Interactive Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas, has topped the event calendar for industry insiders, along with anyone eager to discover the Next Big Thing. This year’s festival, which runs from March 9 to 18, promises to be the most intense yet, with hundreds of panels, workshops, concerts and events on the official schedule.

But Austin, it appears, isn’t ready for the visitor boom brought on by the two-week spectacle. In December, organizers announced that SXSW rooms had sold out in local hotels for the Interactive and Film portions of the festival, with three months left before the start of the event. Last minute attendees, in particular, have been scrambling for places to crash.

SXSW organizers have stepped in with an option. In true “interactive” spirit, the SXSW Housing Desk is encouraging individuals who booked a hotel room with two beds to offer their additional bed to a friend or colleague, or swap for a room with a single bed. They’re maintaining a waiting list for people who wish to be informed when a room opens up this way; you can get on it by emailing housing@sxsw.com.

And then, of course, there are the online options. Thousands of enterprising Austin residents are making significant chunks of change by offering their homes, spare rooms, couches, and even air mattresses to desperate attendees. Airbnb reports a 44% increase in Austin host sign-ups since January, and more than 3,000 nights have already been booked. But Airbnb’s Austin listings don’t come cheap; inflation has led to nightly rates of $200 to $2000 per night. A more lo-fi option is Craigslist’s Austin vacation rentals listings, which offer up new places seemingly by the minute and have lower average rates than those found on Airbnb. Or, try issuing a desperate plea on Facebook or Twitter. You’ll certainly have lots of company.

[image by Merrick Ales via SXSW.com]

Craigslist user scams New York Times writer in London

Being victimized by internet scam artists isn’t hearsay–it’s happening all over, to all kinds of people, and all of the time. New York Times writer, Seth Kugel, published his personal testimony yesterday–a testimony of innocent trip-planning gone wrong.

While organizing his pending trip to London, Kugel found himself on Craigslist looking for attractive sublets in good neighborhoods. When he came across a Notting Hill studio available for a seemingly fair price (around $73 a night), he emailed the address in the ad and was responded to right away.

When the respondent requested that Kugel wire the money directly to his bank account, red flags should have been waving wildly in his face. But in Kugel’s defense, he’d recently lived in Brazil for two years; a country he claims utilizes wire transfers for even everyday expenses, like medical bills.

But he was duped. And that’s really all there is to it. Myriad are the ways in which internet scammers trick users out of their money, but it sure seems like accommodations, be them temporary or ostensibly permanent, are among scam artists’ favorite lures.

The good news? Kugel pieced together an insightful and resourceful list of ways in which we all can better avoid being scammed. You should read it here.

[photo by Elizabeth Seward]