tech & coffee

One of the first things I do when I’m in a foreign city is pull up the Maps app and search for local coffee shops. I like to think of it as my “coffee passport” of sorts. There’s a few key criteria that will influence my decision on which places to try during whatever time I’m in that location. If they’re also a roaster, that’s a plus. If they have only one or just a few locations, that’s a plus.

I’m in Washington, D.C. for the first time and have my eye on a shop called Dua DC Coffee. It checks all the boxes and is unique in that it offers several Indonesian coffee beans for sale as well.

Inevitably, there are times I have to settle for whatever I can get. This morning we were running behind after a late night, so I went downstairs to the Starbucks installation in the hotel and got a triple espresso to stop my neck itching.

My recommendation would be that whenever you travel, try to find some local joints for whatever your food or drink passion may be. It let’s you link the memory of that location and visit through both taste and smell. Most of the trips I’ve taken have some coffee shop memory associated with them.

I spent some time a few weeks back reworking the laptop and cable management setup under my sit/stand desk. Most of the components are the same, but a new desk mounted (vs. in-tray) power strip with built-in USB-C ports made things so much cleaner. My other favorite “trick” was to side-mount the under-desk 3D printed Thunderbolt dock holder to the cable management tray. I did this by using the metal folding “wing” style wall anchors to secure the mount in 3 places. If you have any questions on how this setup works, reach out.

A Brief History of OK

First and foremost, if you haven’t checked out Source Type before, you should. The design of the site is striking.

This article gets presented in typical Source Type grandeur and doesn’t disappoint. There’s this bit:

In a New Yorker review of the 2008 book Thumbspeak, Louis Menand declares “K” as likely the most common (and in my opinion, most controversial) text message. As she puts it, the single letter carries with it a powerful decree, “I have nothing to say, but God forbid that you should think that I am ignoring your message.”

An image from the article describes how I feel when someone sends me “K” as a reply in a chat:

Seeing Beauty in Basic To-Do Lists

Carl’s thoughts on to-do lists mirror my own in many ways. This feels especially relevant:

I've used quite a few different to-do apps to organise personal and work tasks. Some of them worked well but would have an ugly UI, some would be over-engineered resulting in a compromised UX, and others would find the right balance of form and function, but weren't particularly well supported or maintained.

I’ve tried so many, and often trend back to pen and paper of some sort. Using iA Writer is a great idea. I’d consider a system similar to what Carl describes the next time I decide to overhaul how I manage tasks.

James Hoffmann’s videos are always good... but this one is one of my favorites of all-time.

I'm sure I'll have more to share in my Year in Coffee 2023 post, but the quick update is that I found myself in need of a new grinder. The grinder that I'd been using for 6+ years started to have some critical failure indications, so rather than waiting until it burst into flames or finding metal shavings in my grounds, I pulled the trigger on a replacement.

The timing couldn't have better, since Fellow just released a new conical burr grinder called the Opus. It is a unique entry in that it does grinds fine enough for espresso all the way up to coarse enough for cold brew. This versatility is exactly what I found myself looking for, since I make drinks in that full range and greatly prefer freshly ground beans for all of them. I also had a 20% coupon code that made the expenditure a little easier to justify as well. While I didn't want to spend on any coffee gear, the increase in functionality and needing another 6 years of reliability in my setup made the decision clear.

The product page speaks for itself, and there are tons of great video reviews on YouTube that get into the nitty gritty details of the grinder's pros/cons. I can say it looks great on the countertop next to the Fellow EKG kettle I use. The Fellow design language is one I appreciate for it's understated, minimalist aesthetic.

In January, I experimented with using the grayscale color filter as the primary mode on my iPhone. I’ve written about the experience over at mnmlist·me, but I wanted to expand on the tech angle of how I made the process much easier with the use of two iOS features; Personal Automations in Shortcuts and the triple-click side button Accessibility shortcut.

Here’s a visual on the setup via the Personal Automation in Shortcuts. The example shows the automation for the photo editing app Darkroom, but you can create it with the same flow for any app. By using toggle in the Set Color Filter action, you avoid having to set a separate explicit “turn on” and “turn off” for the opening vs. closing the app. This is a single automation that covers both events.

Now on to the failsafe method that can be used for any ad-hoc enable and disable of grayscale mode. This is useful for when you’re on a website and need full color or for when the Shortcuts automation doesn’t behave properly for a given application (that does happen, but infrequently).

Here’s the settings for that:

In iOS, the Color Filter setting defaults to Grayscale. There are other options, but unless you have changed it in the past, the above items should all set or unset the grayscale mode. If you see a different behavior in what color profile gets toggled, just search Color Filter in Settings and tap into the menu to check that Grayscale is the option selected.

I didn’t realize until writing this post that when you take screenshots or screen capture recordings, the color profile is ignored. That’s handy, since when sending screenshots to other people, it may confuse them if they are in black and white if they aren’t in the know about your choice to use grayscale mode.

While I’d argue it could be a conversation starter, that’s better in person when someone notices that your screen lacks the vibrance that your life may not (if you’re using grayscale mode for the same reasons I am).

While most parts of my coffee routine remained the same in 2022, it’s nice to take inventory and comment on what’s working and how my gear and process has evolved over the span of a year.


The only “new gear” I acquired in 2022 was a larger filter basket for my Picopresso (more on that below) and a Hario coffee scale. I’d had a cheap Amazon kitchen scale for a long time that I didn’t enjoy much, and in 2021 I bought a minimal matte black scale on Alibaba that ended up only working for a few months. When it was time to buy a replacement, I decided to go for something that could be a long-term solution, even if it was slightly more expensive upfront. I make multiple cups of coffee each day, so having items that are reliable and enjoyable to use are important to the ritual.

Other gear purchases were not necessarily new, but replacements or backups for items I already had. My Fellow Stagg EKG stopped working, and after some trial and error with a replacement base only, I ended up ordering a full replacement of the matte black model I’ve had for several years. While I am disappointed that the original stopped working, it’s a great product that I’m satisfied with the usage I’ve gotten out of it, considering the fact that I use it 3-5 times daily for years without issue.

The mug that I’ve used at home for many years now has a neat backstory. My wife called into a radio morning show contest 8 or so years ago, and won a Starbucks coffee basket prize. Being that she’s not a coffee drinker, the basket came to me and I’ve been using the limited edition mug ever since. It’s a great shape, size and features a nice mosaic tile print in various grays and browns. It was part of an 8 design collection that Starbucks did as a limited run many years ago. My variant is labeled as the ‘07/08’ edition from that collection.

For my birthday last year, Isa managed to find two more of the exact mug via secondhand online marketplaces. I was surprised gifts of both “backups”, plus a cake and shortbread cookies modeled after the mug design. We’re not big “gifters”, but it was a gesture of love towards not only me, but a ritual she knows is so core to my routine and inner peace. If the original (or OG, as it has been coined) mug ever meets an untimely fate, I have two replacements ready for service. The rule of good backups is upheld… one is none.

Brew Methods

My “daily driver” brew method is still a V60 pour-over. When making more than one cup when we have company, I swap out to the Chemex. I still use the Aeropress occasionally at home, but it’s become my main mode of brewing while traveling. It’s so easy to pack it and a hand grinder for a hotel stay and only need to source hot water to have a consistently great cup when not in the comforts of home.

In 2021, I purchased a Wacaco Picopresso. While it is accurately advertised as a great portable/travel espresso maker, I use it primarily at home as I don’t have a full-size espresso machine. I really enjoy espresso done well, but the sacrifice of counter space isn’t a trade off I’m ready to make for something larger, even at the “prosumer” machine scale. I’ve been experimenting with different recipes using the Picopresso this past year, and I’ve dialed it in and can consistently make a double shot and something akin to a cortado or cortadito that I enjoy a lot. The key to making great espresso with the Picopresso is the grind size. I’ve found that the no-name conical burr grinder I’ve had for years just doesn’t get fine enough for proper espresso. Rather than invest in something like a Fellow Ode for this gap, I’ve taken the simple approach of having the darker roast beans I buy from a local roaster specifically for espresso at their “espresso fine” setting. The trade-off here is obviously that I’ve ground the entire bag and sacrifice some fresh ground flavor profile and freshness, but it’s the best solution for me right now.


I suspended my YES PLZ beans subscription in 2021, solely due to cost. I found that there was a local Orlando roaster (Foxtail) with a satellite location on my way to and from gymnastics with the twins. I’m able to get equal freshness of roast, but way more beans for the money with Foxtail. I like several of their single origin varieties, but have to admit that I miss the amazing sourcing and blend that Tonx and Sumi come up with over at YES PLZ. The other advantage is that they have two great dark roast options that I can have ground for espresso as mentioned above. I’ll stick with Foxtail for cost reasons, but do want to have more variety here and there in 2023. I’ll likely buy a few ad hoc bags from YES PLZ to satisfy that itch.

The Last Cup of 2022

As part of this yearly retrospective, I’ll share what my last cup of the year was. I enjoyed a cortadito made with Winter Solstice beans (a dark roast with cinnamon flavor notes that’s a seasonal offering at Foxtail). I don’t have a milk steamer/frother, so I heat up the half-and-half and sugar separately to high temp, stir to a sweet and smooth mixture and then add it to the double shot immediately after pulling with the Picopresso. It was spectacular.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no stranger to distancing myself from social media platforms. Over the past few years, I've written about my thoughts on social. I've archived my Instagram account at 500 posts. I haven't had a Facebook account for over 10 years. Don't have LinkedIn. Don't have TikTok. I stopped using Reddit actively a couple years back as well.

Twitter was my hold out. While my posting had dwindled, and I started pruning my timeline back to just the most recent 30 days of tweets, I had no plans to leave it. Then Mr. Musk came and took a shit in the swimming pool.

In some ways, I'm glad he did. Not because I think it is good for the platform, or the world... but because I think it's exactly what I needed to draw a solid line between me and any social media platform. I have no desire to check out Mastodon. I'm not looking for an outlet or place to occupy my time in a similar way. I'm just done. The time that I'll get back, I'll invest in more writing, reading or non-social media forms of leisure. My attention span will thank me. My brain will thank me.

I'm not deleting the accounts. I don't like the idea of anyone having my usernames after I've had them for so long. I may auto-post when I write something to draw interested folks to my writing. I may not... I haven't really decided. I just know I won't be logging in, reading any tweets, or posting my own with my own two hands anymore.

I may find a way to use one of my sites for short posts or quick thoughts, but more than likely I'll just journal them and see which ones turn into something worth writing about in more than a couple hundred characters.

To those I met on the platform, I am truly grateful for the interesting conversations we've had. I hope they have a path to continue via email, text or phone calls.

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