• Reader at WBEZ Event: "Don't Call Me Joe"

    I'll be reading tonight with several other writers at the largest traditional coffee "cupping" event to happen in Chicago (conducted by Intelligentsia). Don't know what cupping is? Neither did I, so I pasted some info from the WBEZ site below. The piece I'll be reading--and am still working on, oops--is an essay of my 20-year old coffee addiction, begun inelegantly with Mountain Dew, continuing with a brief, ugly Mini-Thin period in college, and now centered around my much more moderate, one-Americano-before-noon stasis.

    CHICAGO (March 15, 2011) –Chicago Public Media (WBEZ 91.5 FM) continues its live event series, the Off-Air Series, with an exclusive chance to participate in a new culinary conversation and learn just how little is actually known about tasting and brewing coffee. Designed to be the largest ‘traditional coffee cupping’ (aka tasting) ever held in Chicago, Don’t Call Me Joe, in collaboration with Chicago’s own Intelligentsia Coffee, will be held at Catalyst Ranch, 656 W. Randolph Street, on Saturday, April 9 at 7:00pm. The event has limited seating and is almost sold-out, but there will be a wait list at the door.

    Cupping is the industry standardized way of critically evaluating coffee; it is how Intelligentsia selects green coffee and is an integral part of their Direct Trade buying model. The standard procedure involves deeply sniffing the coffee, then loudly slurping so it spreads to the back of the tongue. The taster attempts to measure all aspects of the coffee’s taste including body, sweetness, acidity, flavor, and aftertaste. The amazing team of buyers, tasters and trainers from Intelligentsia Coffee, will educate about tasting terminology, coffee processing, and history, while cupping with some of Chicago’s most experienced staff: Baristas, Roasters, Green Coffee Buyers, and members of the Intelligentsia Quality Control team.

    In order to ensure full immersion in this culinary realm, the Chicago-based publisher Stop Smiling Books has arranged ‘Readings on Coffee’ for the listening pleasure. Participating authors include: Kyle BeachyPaul DuricaFred Sasaki, Gretchen KalwinskiMairead Case, and Sam Weller. “The Off-Air Series is designed to extend the WBEZ listening experience out into the community and allow people to come see what they’ve been hearing, or in this case taste,” said Event Producer Breeze Richardson. “Learning a little more about coffee – where it comes from and why it tastes the way it does – helps you appreciate it more. Just like a wine tasting, Don’t Call Me Joe is an opportunity to skillfully taste coffee with the experts. And the chance to create Chicago’s largest cupping ever makes this event even better!”

    Tickets to the event are nearly sold out, but there will be a waiting list at the door for those interested. More information is available at