Archive | September, 2008

Brompton World Championships – 2008

29 Sep

This weekend the Brompton World Championships were held at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England. A Brompton is a folding bicycle made in London and is considered by many to be the best of its kind. It’s of very high quality and folds smaller than other bikes with the same wheel size, making it a very useful bike for urban riding and international travel. It’s so easy to fold it up and take it on a bus, train, taxi, or airplane. I should also mention that it’s a lot of fun to ride too! I have been riding a Brompton for four years now and often take it with me on trips within the UK as well as abroad. For the complete post with photos click here.

This first photo is of my trusty two-speeder and was taken at the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park while I was on my way to meet the busses which took us out to Blenheim Palace.

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This next photo is of a Brompton that has been folded up.

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On Saturday, Brompton organised a casual ride out to their bicycle factory in Brentford. This is Will (the managing director of Brompton) wearing the official world championship jersey at Horse Guards Parade in London.


On the way out to the factory we passed by several famous London landmarks.





Unfortunately my batteries ran out before we made it to the factory – but one of the other photographers who was there, Marcus Jackson-Baker, has kindly let me use his photos here. In the first one we see one of the mechanics assembling a Brompton. Each Brompton is assembled by one person and this particular worker can assemble 22 bicycles in a single day.

A bike assembly station

And in this one we see one of the workers brazing the frame together.

Brazing a main frame

On Sunday morning Brompton organised two coaches to take us out to Oxfordshire for the Brompton World Championship race. About a hundred of us met at Victoria coach station at 8am. Who would have thought that you could fit 50 bicycles in one bus: with Bromptons you can!

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This year the race was officially sanctioned by British Cycling and the rules set by Brompton were very specific on the dress code:
All participants, both male and female, must wear a suit jacket, collared shirt and tie. Shorts and three-quarter length trousers may be worn if preferred, though sports attire (e.g. Lycra shorts/leggings, tracksuit pants, etc.) is not permitted.

Here is a selection of shots of participants in their chosen outfits.

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I placed 171st in this year’s race. I think I could have done better if I hadn’t been photographing from my bike during the race. I never did stop, mind you! My goal is to jump 100 places in next year’s race (time to start training!).

These are all the bikes waiting to be unfolded by their respective riders at the start of the race.

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Here are the riders crossing the start line on their way to unfold their bikes.

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Here they are unfolding their bikes.
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And they’re off!

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. . . towards the palace . . .

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. . . then up the hill . . .

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. . . then down the hill . . .

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. . . then up another hill. The winning Spanish team speed by . . .

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And a few shots of the other competitors.
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This is Piers Benton, winner of the junior category.

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This is Blenheim Palace.

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And here are my new friends from Curbside Cycles in Toronto, as we did one last lap before catching the coach back to London.

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Click here to see a photoset of all my 80 favourite photos.

Follow this link to see a photoset of the rest of the photos from the weekend. I feel these photos are good but not my best work – but I have put them up so my new Brompton friends can see pix of themselves.

Visit the Brompton website to see the all the results from the race.

To find a Brompton dealer near you visit the Brompton website.

To see more of Marcus Jackson-Baker’s photos from the factory day go here and follow this link to read Marcus’s blog post about the Brompton World Championship weekend.

Manhattan with the Kirkwoods

26 Sep

Last Monday I spent the day in Manhattan with my mom and the Kirkwoods.

For the full post with photos click here.

We took a taxi from Chelsea up to Midtown. Carol kindly hailed the cab while I snapped away . . .



Then we got in and had a ride . . .



. . . up to midtown where we ate in one of my favourite Japanese noodle joints, Larmen New York, on 57th between 5th and 6th Avenues . . .


After lunch we headed a few blocks downtown to the Museum of Modern Art (aka MOMA). I love this museum not only for the art but because they allow you to photograph the art as long as you don’t use flash . . .





And I saw this guy standing in front of a Botero sculpture and it reminded me of an old Jamiroquai album cover . . .


We then took a taxi . . .



. . . back to John Kirkwood’s flat where we had some beers on the roof . . .




The Barista/Photographer Guy

24 Sep

Just back from another whirlwind trip to the US. While I was in NYC I stopped in at La Colombe in Tribeca to visit Doug Wolfe – the barista we heard from in this podcast. He made me a delicious gibralter and then we talked about – you guessed it – coffee, as well as travel, and the various projects we are working on. Then Doug went into the back of the shop and brought out an advance copy of the book he did the photography for. The book is called il Viaggio di Vetri and Doug’s photos are on the same high level as the coffee he makes. I have neither read the book nor tried the recipes yet but the food, bathed in kind, natural light, looked absolutely delicious. Doug spent more than a year photographing on location in both Italy and the USA. The book itself is by chef Marc Vetri of the highly-acclaimed Vetri Ristorante in Philadelphia.

You might ask what this has to do with coffee or cafe culture – or even baristas for that matter. The very essence of a successful cafe is that it connects people over expertly-prepared drink and food in an environment that has a calculated aesthetic. Doug seems to accomplish all this whether it be coaxing espresso-based drinks from his beloved Faema e61, making photographs with his medium format camera, or just plain chillin’.

You can purchase the book directly from Ten Speed Press.

The above image of the book cover was taken from the Ten Speed Press web site.

Jenni Bryant from Gimme! Coffee

15 Sep

Starbarista recently caught up with Gimme! Coffee‘s Jenni Bryant at their recently-opened espresso bar in NYC’s NoLiTa neighbourhood. Gimme! started up in 2000 with a single espresso bar in Ithaca, upstate New York. They now have four shops in the Ithaca area as well as a roastery. In 2003 Gimme! made their first foray into NYC when they opened a location in Brooklyn’s trendy Williamsburg neighbourhood. In this podcast, Jenni talks about coffee and how it brings people together.

Taste of New Zealand Espresso at Square Mile

14 Sep

I am lucky to live in London’s Bethnal Green neighbourhood on a multitude of counts – that number has increased with the recent opening of Square Mile Coffee roasters less than a five minute walk from my flat.

One evening last week they hosted a tasting of espressos from New Zealand. The event was attended by 45 people and all proceeds were donated to charity. In just over an hour barista James Hoffman (pictured above) pulled more than 160 shots of the four espressos. You can read more about it on Square Mile Coffee’s own blog here.

Square Mile was started up earlier this year by James Hoffmann (World Barista Champion 2007), Anette Moldvaer (World Coffee Cup Tasting Champion 2007) and Stephen Morrissey (World Barista Champion 2008). These people bring a wealth of experience with them and it shows in their coffees – over the last couple of months I’ve been drinking their espresso at a few coffee carts around town and I look forward to it being more widely available as they convince more cafes and restaurants to pull their espresso.

Visit flickr to see more of my photos from the New Zealand espresso evening.

Barista Profile: Doug Wolfe of La Colombe

12 Sep

Starbarista recently caught up with Doug Wolfe, a prominent barista who works at the La Colombe cafe in New York City’s Tribeca, a place where you might see a Hollywood star rubbing shoulders with Senagalese street vendors. This podcast also features the voice of Todd Carmichael, who founded La Colombe along with his business partner Jean-Philippe Iberti in 1993 in Philadelphia.

Bedouin Jerry Can Band

11 Sep

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This summer my photography work took me to the Larmer Tree Festival in Dorset, England where the Bedouin Jerry Can Band (BJB) were playing. Being interested in music from other cultures I had long known about this band but knew little about them or their connection to coffee. When I read the following in the festival programme I knew I had to check them out: The BJB are a collective of semi-nomadic musicians, poets, storytellers, and coffee grinders. There is also an olfactory dimension to their act as a coffee grinder brews and serves coffee for the audience . . . Even though their ‘coffee grinder’ really only went throught the motions, bringing out ready made filtered coffee from backstage, their performance was true to the grand tradition of the starbarista: engaging and entertaining an audience while making coffee. (If you are not seeing the photos click here for the full post.)

First he roasted the coffee . . .

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Then he ground the coffee . . .
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He then returned the ground coffee to the pan to either roast it again (surely not) or to brew the coffee . . .

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Then out came the coffee pot which promptly went back stage. . .

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Then seconds later out came a tray of BJB branded styrofoam cups (please guys have some paper ones printed up) full of what seemed like a very light roast filtered coffee . . .

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. . . which was enjoyed by all . . .

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After their performance I spotted them and asked if they wouldn’t mind posing for a group photo . . .

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Here a few close ups of band members . . .
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Tuscany in August

8 Sep

Back in August Rachel and I went to Tuscany to stay with some friends in their rented villa. Before seeing them we spent a few days on our own in Volterra. Click here to see the full post and all the photos.

There was good coffee . . .

And bottled water . . .


Imposing (and ancient) municipal architecture . . .

Bored tourists and locals. . .

A nice sunset over the Tuscan hills . . .

After two days in Volterra we spent another two days with our friends the Welch family (Susan, Colin, CJ and Peyton) at their rented villa. Their children were very willing to be photographed.


Also in attendance was Colin’s dad, Mike from St. Louis. . .

Colin and Susan’s friend Greg from Dallas . . .

Fun was had by all in the pool . . .

We even managed to squeeze in a day trip to San Gimignano and I took this group photo . . . 080813-45

. . . just before this motorbike whizzed by . . .

When we got home Colin cooked us the best ribs, ever! Perfectly timed . . .

Then the next morning we had to get up really early to catch our flight back to London from Pisa. This was the scene at 6am as we left the compound . . .

To see more photos from this trip go here.