Recently, I was invited to Marietta Wine Market for a tasting of Cakebread Cellars wines. Located just a block off the square in downtown Marietta, the Wine Market has a very nice selection of wines, along with local beers, a variety of cheeses, and more. They do wine tours, and in fact the owners had just gotten back from conducting a port tour in Portugal. Their tasting events are also built around having the participants make a donation to go to a local charity.
It has been a true pleasure in doing my recent product reviews to point out that Lock-n-Load Java not only seeks to provide good coffee to the troops, but that it also donates $1 on every order to a military charity. To help get good coffee out to the troops, they also make it easy for you to buy and ship coffee to the troops.
For many companies, just one part of that would be enough, but not Lock-n-Load Java. I am pleased to announce that any unit I embed with for more than two weeks will be getting coffee sent to them by Lock-n-Load. It's a way of supporting the embeds and giving a reward to a unit that is willing to have me embed with them.
Good coffee, with a company doing good things for good people -- our troops. You can't ask for more. Check them out.
Recently, I had the chance to attend a Whisky tasting hosted by the new Savi Provisions in Atlanta. Savi Provisions is the latest venture from the owners of Savi Urban Markets, and the new venue is off to a great start with a very nice tasting room and a well-stocked wine and spirit store, which will soon be joined by a gourmet market.
If you get a variety of sample packets (a great and cost-effective way to explore without having to buy whole bags) of Lock-N-Load Java, and the measure for the coffee maker you are using is more than half but less than all, what do you get? For me, it was a chance to play coffee blender on my own.
Life can never be all bad when there is good coffee to be had. And, thanks to the fine folks at Lock-N-Load Java there has been good coffee in my life. My hosts and I just have hated having to sample so much good coffee, and I fear we are getting a bit spoiled.
This week's review is of a sampler pack of their blended coffees (you can read the review of single-source coffees here). Coffee has gone the way of whisky and whiskey, in that blends get a very bad shake. As with a good blend of whiskey/whisky, the goal is to create the best of several worlds, bringing together flavors so that a rich and complext taste is obtained without negatives. In terms of coffee, the flavor should be rich and complex without excessive bitterness, acid, and other things that would detract. As with whisky/whiskey, there are indeed some bad blends out there, that are not pure product and/or are not quality product.
Such is not the case here. The blends they have are pure and high quality, and show it.
First up was the Warrior Select medium roast. The body is nice, and it has a good flavor. There was enough richness to be satisfying, and the finish was smooth and pleasant.
Second, we tried the Double Barrel Black dark roast. I really liked the full body and solid
flavors a lot. Good body, great balance, slight bit of bite on a
solid finish. For those who like it dark, a good choice.
Finally, we tried the Smooth Operator light roast. To be honest (and polite), I'm not usually a fan of light roast coffee. This, however, was full of flavor and showed some nice complexity with fruit and nut notes. To be very honest, I am impressed with it and I'm going to have to rethink some of my coffee snobbery about light roast.
As before, I want to mention that the company is veteran owned, has an option for you to ship coffee to the troops, and does other good work. There is more coming on some of those good works. Stay tuned.
Now, to see if the troll (competitor?) shows up to misquote prices and disparage things again...
Working at Blackfive does have benefits. Right after getting to meet good and interesting people, the best benefit is finding good things. Those who have met me know I like good food and drink, possibly a little more than I should. Good coffee is something I appreciate, and I know others do too -- particularly out in the field. I made friends on embed by bringing good coffee with me.
I wish that I could have had Lock-N-Load Java with me for those embeds. The kind folks at Lock-N-Load have sent me some of their products to try, and I (and my hosts) are very much enjoying the opportunity.This isn't a company that just does your standard blend and roast, but one that is dedicated to providing the finest coffees for all range of uses.
This week's review is of the sampler pack of their Task Force Zulu premium single origin coffees. As a coffee snob appreciator, I like single-origin coffee. In fact, I had a favorite for making in a french press on those days that called for a really good start to the day. Any of these coffees will give you that.
Our tour started with the amazing Papua New Guinea. Amazing is not too strong a word, as this medium roast coffee has a good body, wonderful flavor(s), clean finish, and absolutely no bitterness. The write-up talks about dried fruits and other notes, and they are indeed there. If you like complex coffees that are balanced and with no bitterness, this is a great coffee to try. My host likes cold coffee, as in iced, and not every coffee holds up to that -- and this one did with even more notes and flavors coming out.
Next up was the light roast Rwandan. As I noted on Facebook, it has a good body and flavor, with hints of plum and fruit. The body is a bit lighter, but not weak. The finish was good, and the overall flavor truly is unique. If you like a lighter roast and coffee, without loss of flavor or complexity, you should try this one.
Then we tried their Ethiopian coffee. Let me preface this by saying that a particular Ethiopian coffee is my favorite mentioned above, and I benchmark other coffees against it. Despite not being made in a french press, and being a medium light roast instead of a darker roast, the Lock-N-Load Java Ethiopian more than held its own. This is a solid coffee with rich complex flavor, hints of fruit and herbs (to me), and a clean finish. I really want to try this in a french press and compare to what I normally get/got.
Finally, we tried the Costa Rican. I put it off because my host has not had good luck with Costa Rican coffees before, but this one may have changed that for him. It has a solid body, with the hints of sweetness for which Costa Rican coffee is known. A light roast, it is flavorful and presents the best qualities of Costa Rican coffees.
Now, I know I've talked about a french press a few times here, and for more than one reason. To me, it is about the best way to make coffee there is. Sadly, my glass french press is not able to travel with me because, well, it's glass. For those in the field, that is a drawback. Well, not anymore as thanks to Lock-N-Load Java you can get a stainless steel french press to go into the field with you. And, yes, this is now on my Amazon Wish List.
Oh, did I forget to mention that the company is veteran owned, has an option for you to ship coffee to the troops, and does other good work? Well, here you go and more is coming on some of those good works. Stay tuned.
It's also not just me that likes them. Check out this review at TAH.
Posted By Laughing_Wolf There are special behind-the-scene tours, and then there are very special behind-the-scene tours. Last week, I was graced to get a very special tour of Willett Distillery at Bardstown, Kentucky. This family-owned and run distillery has a unique history, and the former distinction of being the only distillery that didn't distill -- at least on site. Now, however, after extensive renovations the family is once again distilling using a column still and a beautiful copper pot still.
The distillery house
When I arrived, I was told that a group was coming in for a tour, and asked if I would mind waiting for them. I agreed, and it was one of the best decisions I've made. The group coming in was from Longman & Eagle, a most interesting bar/restaurant/more in Chicago that takes great pride in not just selection, but a knowledgeable staff. They had arranged the very special tour, and I got to go along. This is going to be a bit long, with lots of photos, so more is below the fold.
Master Distiller Drew Kulsveen talks grain and process
Suppose one day you and some friends (most/all veterans) were sitting around talking, and trying to figure out what you were going to do with a number of spare M4 carry handles. What would you do?
The Original, The Polymer, The Battle Shot
Would you think of making what has to be the most bad-ass mug of them all, and using the handles on them? Would you think of using it to make a point (or three?)? Would you take it to the next step and using the idea to save/create jobs here in the U.S.? And, take that a step beyond? Well, that's what Joe Lundberg, the founder of Battle Mug did, but let's hear it from him.
I really do need to introduce Joe to the Ranger Up folks, and want to thank him again for an amazing time. If you live within two to three hours of Monteagle, TN, you want to go check out Dave's Modern Tavern. Food from scratch, and the bar fare beats some more "upscale" I've had to pieces.
Oink-Moo Burger: hamburger topped with Gorgonzola and home-made pulled pork
Oh, and so you know: each mug has a serial number. It starts life as a 14-pound chunk of aluminum that is machined down, and includes three rails. This is then hard anodized, and is ready to ship. You have to provide your own handle, and other gear with which you deck it out. It is not inexpensive (or cheap). Nor is the polymer version that is now out. Like the original, it too is made in America. So are their shirts and hats. The products are all a statement, about craftsmanship, pride, self-reliance, exceptionalism.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.