The Philosophy of Coffee

The Philosophy Of Coffee by Brian Williams plus cup of coffee

The Philosophy of Coffee – it’s a intriguing title, it caught my eye after all, but if truth be told this book covers the history not the philosophy of coffee.

Having said that, it’s a great little book that gives a fascinating insight into coffee’s journey from Ethiopia via Yemen, London, Italy and America to become the global phenomenon it is today.

I was surprised to learn, for example, that espresso machines were originally created simply to allow coffee shops to sell more coffee, more quickly; yet now the majority of coffees sold are espresso based.

On the subject of espresso, I think my one-line Twitter review sums the book up perfectly: “the book is like a good espresso – short, sharp and with great depth of flavour”

one line book review on Twitter

Brian also writes a great blog detailing coffee shops around the UK and beyond – a very handy resource.

Synth Geek

Last month my son and I headed to Birmingham for The Seventh Wave Festival of Electronic Music.

Originally were going to attend An Afternoon With Wolfgang Flur, one of the original members of Kraftwerk, but it turned into a full day of Synth Geekery.

Midlands Modular Meet

This was a late addition to the programme, we were unsure what to expect, but thought we’d drop in on the way to see Wolfgang.

It was a wonderfully amateurish and low key meeting of modular synthesiser fans, one of which brought a complete early analogue Moog along to play, and a few local music stores with a great selection of devices to try out.

moog

My son creates his own music with a combination of synths, keyboards and Garage Band, so this was his ultimate sweet shop.

It was a delight to see him in his element, to see a 12-year-old confidently chatting with grown men, and getting into the kit on display without batting an eyelid.

As a parent, it was an interesting experience to not be the ‘expert’ for the first time, but one I couldn’t have enjoyed more.

An Afternoon With Wolfgang Flur

The afternoon event took place at the Blue Orange Theatre, a cosy little space that held an audience of maybe a hundred, a small stage and a large screen behind.

Peter Duggal was support for Wolfgang. I’d not heard his music before, it was great to hear something completely new. Peter combined his music with visuals brilliantly and performed a great little set.

Peter Duggal

One track I really enjoyed was Birmingham, which feels like a natural extension of 80s era Human League and Gary Human with a hint of New Order. Transpires the hint of New Order is bass provided by the legend that is Peter Hook.

The final version with Hooky on bass is not yet available online, it will appear on Wolfgang’s new album, but here’s the demo.

Wolfgang Flur is a larger than life personality, his visuals bounced between old footage of Kraftwerk and him marching in front of landmarks wearing a Prussian helmet – a self-proclaimed Musik Soldat.

Wolfgang Flur

His set was entertaining, with some great remixes of classic Kraftwerk tracks, including a version of Neon Lights with a female vocalist which we both really liked.

Wolfgang was due to give a Q&A after his set, but it was obvious my Son wanted to catch the end of the Modular Meetup.

We headed back and managed to have a really good play with our favourite piece of kit: the Moog DFAM or Drummer From Another Mother. Which rivals TWAIN  for best name in technology ever.

On the way home we priced up a DFAM, and at £1600 we’re both going to be saving up our pocket money.

Another Escape

Another Escape and Yallah Coffee

Over the last few years there has been a resurgence in printed journals and magazines. Not mass market, mass media publications, but independent, high-quality curated works created by passionate people.

Another Escape is a wonderful example – well written, with fabulous photography and beautifully designed and typeset. The latest issue is curated around the theme of wilderness, and delivers a fascinating escape from the day to day.

Underworld – Brilliant Yes That Would Be

For a while the hints have been there on Instagram, but we can now rejoice – new music from Underworld.

I would have loved to see Underworld in Reykjavik; Iceland is on my ‘places to visit’ list, and to see Karl and Rick there would have been quite something.

I love this track, restrained yet with an unrequited tension that runs through it. The visuals are brilliant, the simple mirroring of the amazing Icelandic scenery is incredibly effective.

Twelvesouth PencilSnap A Quick Review

Where and how to store your Apple Pencil is ongoing first world problem for iPad Pro users. Apple’s cases and covers don’t include a home for your pencil; except for the eye wateringly expensive Leather Sleeve.

Apple make a very nice looking Pencil Case, but I could never understand why it wasn’t magnetic allowing it to stick to your Smart Cover or Keyboard.

I guess Twelvesouth had the same thought and thus created the PencilSnap – a leather sleeve for your Apple Pencil that sticks to your Smart Cover through the wonder of magnetism.

When I saw the PencilSnap I ordered one immediately. Now, the PencilSnap isn’t cheap; it cost me £35 including shipping, and then there was a further £5 in customs charges, so £40 in all. Suddenly Apple accessories seem almost reasonably priced.

When I removed the PencilSnap from it’s rather nice box I had to check the box for details of the case as I was confused over the PencilSnap’s construction. The PencilSnap is made from leather, apparently, but it looks and feels like pleather or dare I say it vinyl. It certainly isn’t the same quality or feel as Apple’s Smart Cover, and so doesn’t match well visually.

The PencilSnap holds the Apple Pencil securely, very securely. I hope that as the PencilSnap wears in the leather will soften making it easier to remove the Pencil and a better visual match for my Smart Cover.

And speaking of holding securely – the PencilSnap’s magnets are excellent, adhering to the Smart Cover very strongly indeed, there’s no risk of the case falling or slipping off.

The magnets hold the PencilSnap in one location, which causes another issue with the case – it sits proud of the edge of the Smart Cover when I had expected it to sit flush and parallel with the edge. It’s not a deal breaker as I tend to hold the iPad by the side where the Smart cover attachs, but it’s a little annoying. Again I’m hoping that as the PencilSnap wears in it will be less noticeable.

The PencilSnap is a great idea and functions well, but is perhaps a little let down by the materials and final design, which given the cost is a little disappointing.

Should it improve with wear I’ll update this review.

The Epitome of Cool