Cooling off with coffee
Neither humidity nor blazing sun nor temperatures in the high 90s keep the sleepy public from their caffeine, according to local coffee suppliers. Crozet citizens rise early to walk their dogs, mow their yards or exercise before the oppressive heat, then stagger into local coffee shops for refreshment. “About 30 percent will go with their regular brewed coffee or espresso drinks,” said Caleb Mallory of Grit. “The other 70 percent will ask for an iced coffee, a frozen coffee, or a cold espresso drink.”
Mallory is ready for them at Grit’s Old Trail location. At least 12 hours before the morning rush, he sets the coffee to brew naturally with fresh water, steeping it overnight to bring out the flavor without the heat. At Grit, they like to use Latin American coffees from Trager Brothers: “They have really nice, rich chocolate tones, just naturally sweet,” he said. “Guatemalan is the best, and Mexican is good, too.”
Grit uses a fine cheesecloth to strain its long-brewed coffee before filtering it, and Mallory’s willing to coach his customers on how to do this at home, if they don’t happen to have cheesecloth around. “Strain it through a fine mesh, like a tea strainer before putting it through a coffee filter, so it won’t get all clogged up,” he said.
Over at the Mudhouse, manager Tim Henderson also offers a mellow, slow-steeped cold brew, alternating flavors to suit the various tastes of his clientele. He mentioned a couple of other alternatives. One is a Japanese-style cold brew, also called flash brew, where the barista does a “pour over,” with hot water, adding only two-thirds or so of the regular amount of water, with the rest supplied by ice. “That way, you don’t dilute the flavor,” he said.
There’s a third alternative at the Mudhouse. They make a blend—they call it their “Intentional” blend because of its fair sourcing—then send it over to Snowing in Space in Charlottesville to create “nitro mud,” brewed under pressure with nitrogen and returned to them in a keg. The infusion of nitrogen makes the coffee velvety and mellow.
Sean Miller at Piedmont Place, who regularly pulls tastes of craft beer from various kegs for his customers at the Blue Ridge Bottle Shop, had been intrigued for some time by the nitrogen-assisted brew popular in Charlottesville, and he and wife Colleen first introduced it to Crozet. He uses the Snowing in Space proprietary blend, and it’s available in cans or on tap at the shop. It comes out with a bit of foam, just like a beer or like champagne bubbles floating to the top, and has an interesting taste and texture. Both Miller and Henderson said that even people who swear by cream and sugar don’t always add it to this creamy brew. Cans of the pressurized coffee are also a new addition to the shelves of the Crozet Market.
Electric cars get thirsty, too
At Pro Re Nata, those passing by can refresh their vehicles as well as themselves. While stopping to enjoy the food at Braised or a craft beer from the brewery, there’s now a place to recharge their electric car.
“It’s an awesome story,” said Jared Thrasher, a PRN manager. “Somehow someone at Tesla read online about us because of our railroad car bar and arranged to donate two Tesla and two Universal chargers.” Thrasher said that several patrons plan their trip to stop at Pro Re Nata for the 1 1/2 hours or so that it takes to fully recharge. It appears to be a good move for Tesla, too. There’s a bit of an empty space on the map between the charging stations at the Boars Head Inn and the ones at the Iris Inn and Sigora Solar in Waynesboro. There are many in Charlottesville, and those heading west can find plenty of stations in Staunton and Harrisonburg.
Book release from local small press
Various groups demonstrating around the country have a long history behind them, whether they know it or not. A Handbook for Creative Protest: Thoreau, Gandhi, & King in Conversation, published a few weeks ago by Afton’s St. Brigid Press, is a thoughtful guide to responding to these turbulent times.
Emily Hancock, St. Brigid’s founder, quotes Thoreau: “A people, as well as an individual, must do justice, cost what it may,” and tracks Thoreau’s influence on Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Although Thoreau was part of the privileged class in 19th century America, and Gandhi and King were obviously born into the oppressed classes in different times, all three men came to a similar understanding of what to do when faced with injustice, Hancock said.
Released in conjunction with Thoreau’s 200th birthday, the handbook offers excerpts from the writings of these three groundbreaking figures, along with brief commentary by Hancock, who is also the editor and publisher.
The Handbook is available direct from the publisher, St Brigid Press: stbrigidpress.net/books/a-handbook-for-creative-protest
La Sunflower blossoms locally
Those looking for a natural bug repellant can find it now on the shelves of the Batesville Market thanks to La Sunflower, a Waynesboro skin care compounding business run by Lynn Ross and Barbara Swett.
La Sunflower concocts its selection of freshly made, organic skin care products in a small home operation and markets its products through outlets like the Batesville Market and Wintergreen Spa, as well as through direct mail.
Designer Lynne Ross, a student at The New England School of Science, makes her lotions and creams with natural ingredients and scents them lightly with steam-distilled essential oils, eschewing phthalates, parabens, sulfates, artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, and chemical preservatives. Ross said she started out making a few products for family and friends, but the demand increased until she now serves hundreds of customers.
Ross knew the time was right when she read that women apply as many as 200 chemicals to their faces and bodies each day, with well more than half of them readily absorbed through their skin.
Besides the insect repellant, the home business offers salves, essential oils, pain relief rubs, elixirs, lotions, soaps and oils. There’s also an educational component, Ross said, that offers seminars on body care.
Find La Sunflower at lasunflower.com.