Enjoying Cafe du Monde Coffee and Chicory via a Moka Pot

Using a moka pot to make Cafe du Monde Coffee and Chicory requires a few special steps. And don’t forget to accessorize properly for optimal results.
There’s a trick to making it work

Love making my morning coffee with a moka pot. (We have a fully-automatic espresso machine, a french press, a pour-over setup, and a drip machine, but deploying our trusty old-world moka pot named Paolo imparts a special character.)

And I was delighted to find cans of Cafe du Monde’s Coffee and Chicory at a little grocery/everything store in Waialua called Waialua Fresh. (My favorite place to buy papayas and apple bananas and butter lettuce and arugula and mint.)

A moka pot works best with finely ground coffee, whereas Cafe du Monde canned coffee is quite coarse (and can be a little bitter).

Since the canned coffee is so coarse, and a bit bitter, there are a couple of “hacks” that I have found work pretty well:

  1. Fill the moka pot up to the safety valve with very hot water (just shy of boiling) which will help prevent over-heating the grounds during the brewing process, which will reduce bitterness.
  2. Go ahead and over-fill and tamp the grounds in the filter basket (normally a moka- pot no-no, but in this case it is needed due to the coarse grind)
  3. Use as low a heat on the burner as you can get away with (so the coffee comes out of the spout in a thick black drizzle), and remove it from heat the second it starts “gurgling” towards the end of the brewing.
  4. Even if you normally drink black, as I do, consider a little sweetener to counter-balance any bitterness. (I like condensed milk, which lasts forever in the fridge if kept in a lidded pyrex bowl.)
  5. (optional, but recommended) For a more authentic Cafe du Monde experience, enjoy your coffee while wearing Mardi Gras beads.

A hundred years before BLM – was wondering if you could do light house-keeping

A hundred years before BLM:
“Dear Mr. Watkins … was wondering if you could do light house-keeping…”
– Excerpt, March 1919, the president of a vocational college in Effingham, IL replying to a letter from Lucian B. Watkins, a black poet a who had inquired about boarding options once he arrived to study a “real” vocation (as the only black student).
Lucian B. Watkins was a black man, a poet who died in his early 40s about a hundred years ago. He was featured in today’s daily poets.org newsletter (which often features public domain works from long-forgotten never-famous poets). His bio on poets.org was only 3 short sentences. But I found an online archive with 3 scanned letters from him, the first two of which are poignant vignettes.
The first letter (referenced above), and Mr. Watkins’ dignified response ought to be famous.
And his next letter, to W. E. B. Du Bois, is equally powerful… the heartfelt testimony of a man who “tried my best to forget poetry” while enduring the necessity to learn a “sure enough bread-winning vocation” while every fiber of his being instead demanded “the making of a quatrain.”
Mr. Watkins served his country in WWI a few years before these letters. And died about a year after writing them. May he rest in peace.
Citation: Watkins, Lucian Bottow, 1878-. Letter from Lucian B. Watkins to Bissell Colleges, April 1, 1919. W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Target Disk Mode has improved (Benchmark 2019/2020 Intel Macs)

TL;DR Formerly unusably-slow for backups a few years ago, the built-in Target Disk Mode in Macs has improved in latter-day Intel models (using a Thunderbolt 3 cable), now nearly 1/2 as fast as an external USB-3 drive dock.

My test: use Carbon Copy Cloner v5.1.22 to clone an internal SSD with 690GB of data. “Find & replace corrupted files” is OFF*.

Source: Macbook Pro 16″, Catalina 10.15.7

Targets: external SSD (usb 3) vs. 2020 13″ MBP (TDM, thunderbolt 3)

Result: Direct-connect two MBP using a high-speed Thunderbolt-3 cable was 5.9 GB/minute, about half as fast as backing up via USB 3 to an SSD in an external drive dock (12 GB/minute).

Keep in mind that two “trips” are required if the goal is to move the data to a new Mac via an external SSD (first from source -> external SSD, then from external SSD -> target)… so when you add the time it also takes to restore the external SSD to the target Mac (which I did not measure), the net time difference between the two approaches is less.

For my purpose, simply cloning Mac#1 to Mac #2, the direct-connect using Target Disk Mode was simpler and adequately-fast. YMMV.

Target Connection Time (690GB)
External SSD, cheap Insignia Dual Dock USB 3 56:32
Internal SSD of a 2020 MBP 13″ Intel (updated to Catalina 10.15.7) in Target Disk Mode, writing to a new APFS volume** Thunderbolt 3, direct connect, using 40G Pluggable cable plugged into Left*** ports 1:56:23
  • FWIW the time to use CCC’s “Find & replace corrupted files” feature just to confirm file integrity, with essentially no new data being written, was 3 hours using Target Disk Mode; e.g. 50% longer than the time to clone the disk to a new volume with the feature disabled.

** Because APFS makes it so easy, I now keep the “out of box” OSX in the original APFS volume when I get a new Mac (as a backup bootable volume, updated to the lastest version of Catalina), use Disk Utility to add an empty APFS volume for work, then clone my old drive to that new work volume.

*** I didn’t test it myself to quantify any different, but have seen claims that the right ports have lower data transfer speeds.

Yet another Venmo dark pattern (TL;DR ridiculously high transaction limits you cannot set lower)

When it was time to pay, my surf instructor today asked if I use Venmo.

Venmo has IMO ridiculously high default transaction limits (thousands of dollars) and does not (according to their support rep), give users ANY way to lower them.

Which seems like some evil bullshit to me, given they offer zero recourse in the case of a transaction that goes awry.

They advertise themselves (in big letters) as “Fast, safe, social payments”.

Who in the hell makes “social payments” transactions of  $2,000, and weekly total “social transactions” of $4,999?

Okay, maybe some of you do.

But I’d guess most of us wouldn’t.

If they’d let users set their own lower limits (if desired, for example transaction limit size to say $100 or $150), I would use Venmo from time to time to make the occasional payment for coffee, splitting a lunchtab, or pay my surf instructor.

But, they are IMO too-clever, too-greedy asshats.

“No way,” I replied to to my Surfing instructor. He then pulled out his little Square reader, where I have far greater protection against transaction mistakes than Venmo’s lame policy: “Venmo Support can only reverse a payment if the recipient gives their explicit permission”

Transaction limit safeguard options are always Good.

Companies that won’t let you set them, and also provide no recourse in case of mistakes, are Bad.

If more people would “just say no to Venmo” (and tell them why) maybe they’d listen.


Does Amazon now use bare-all pictures for multi-factor authentication? [humor]

If I’m being honest, at first I might have been a little flattered when the Amazon chat support rep suggested I “bare” with him/her. It’s not my thing, so I declined, but still… nice to be asked. (Once we hit 60, those offers are few and far between.)

Then I realized, wait, maybe it’s just a new form of multi-factor authentication. After all it’s creepy how much info big-web collects about us, and webcams get hacked everyday, so maybe they just want to take a good look to ensure it’s really me, not some other geek in a button-down shirt posing as me, before they answer my question.

nice offer, but