The Taipei Ninja

Visiting Taipei was a wonderful end to our first escapade into travel. We got there in the afternoon, bused over to the city, and explored the main train station. On the ride there, I realized that Taiwan was a tropical island in climate and culture.

The mountains along the road are furnished with the lushest of green trees, the air is moist and exciting, and the people are watercolored with that sense of ease that only comes from being surrounded by the environment of the sea and forest.

The main station is gargantuan. It goes down several floors as an underground mall, and the central hall towers several stories above street level. Windows up the height of this building let natural light pour down onto hundreds of youngsters, families, and travelers lounging on the expansive checkered floor below.

As we approached this hall, something caught my eye from across the atrium. A shadow slowly descended from the ceiling. Just as I made realized it was a man in black, struggling with rope attached to a harness, he suddenly swung himself head first. Not even a moment after this startling flip, he plunged. I gasped.

This strange, dark figure flew toward the floor. The velocity was constant until he halted, face a few feet from the ground. The man flipped right side up, feet meeting the floor, unhooked and disappeared into the crowd.

As I collected my jaw from the marble floor, I searched the crowd for this guy. My wife and I rushed toward the scene, but couldn’t find him anywhere. There was a section squared off with orange cones where he had landed. By the time we got there, everyone had dispersed and the man was nowhere to be seen.

Following the black nylon rope up with my eyes, I saw that it came from a section of the wall that was opened up near the ceiling. I didn’t have time to figure out the circumstances of this strange performance.

When you see something different like that, done boldly, it causes discomfort and awe and questioning. It reorients your perspective and acclimates you to things outside the norm.

I would never have thought someone would rappel down from the top of a train station. But now it’s possible and I think, what a great use for all that space up there!

Whatever new or unconventional thing it is that you’re discovering for your wellness, just remember that there’s always a first. It’s either going to be you or someone else.

I was one of the first people in my former workplace to drink butter coffee. At first I was shy about it. I thought people would think I was dangerous and weird. So I drank it in a covered mug so no one would see. Eventually I was so convicted with the results that I started telling people closest to me.

A few years later, it was so common that there was often Kerrygold butter in the office fridge. Someone had even brought a Magic Bullet blender, and I learned that there were occasional butter coffee making sessions.

Be different and be bold.

Live powerfully,

Steve

 

 

 

What We’re Doing

Brilliant Friends,

I just wanted you to know, last Saturday I wrote my 100th newsletter to you. When I started these letters, I wanted it to be a way to teach powerlifting and strength training in a simple way. I wanted to share with you how I got strong and mobile. And I wanted to share secrets about nutrition that shouldn’t be hidden. But my newsletter turned into something else.

It became more, because to be honest with myself, I had to write about the other things I’ve been exploring. More than strength, I was looking into mind cultivation. I wanted to become more deeply in sync with myself. I wanted to control my negative emotions, and downward spiral thinking. I was stressed out at work, I worked harder, and I tried to make things better by fixing things.

But I realized I had to stop and dig down within myself. I needed to recover on a daily basis. I needed to heal my mind. This led to meditation and heart rate variability (HRV) practices. I learn from Pema Chodron and Tara Brach.

Much of my exploration into meditating happened at a park near my home. I loved being outside on the grass, with trees all around, and birds singing from those trees. The sun gave me a kind of energy I had forgotten about since childhood. I had already known about earthing, but spending time regularly outside, barefoot, etched the benefits in stone for me.

My goal is to make known some of the basic things about human well-being that, as a race, we’ve forgotten. I want to reconnect us to the earth and bring us into a real understanding of our relationship to this planet and the universe. In addition to spending time outside barefoot, I believe earthing mats are part of the answer.

We’ve let our bodies become twisted and gnarled in pain, immobility, and incapability through sitting. Sitting in classroom and office chairs, sitting in cars, sitting on couches. That’s not how our bodies are designed to exist. I see Kelly Starrett as one of the leaders of the physiological revolution.

Food was engineered and production amplified to feed the exponentially growing population of the world. And it worked. And now we need to get the quality of food back. We just are not getting nutrients that we need. We aren’t eating the right stuff. We need to look for the good stuff. We need tons more green leafy veggies and fat and meat from animals that are raised right. We need food that is free of herbicides, pesticides, and antibiotics. There are countless leaders bringing us solutions today. Look at Terry Wahls, William Davis, Mark Sisson, and Dr. Mercola.

Life is great, and keeps getting better in many ways. But these are some fundamental things that we’ve left behind in the search for higher answers.

The more we try and the more we explore, the more we’ll be what we were meant to be. I believe we’re inclined to be good when we’re well nourished, rested, and finely tuned in every way. We’ve restricted ourselves as a race to reach specific goals. Now that humans have reached those goals, it’s time to take care of ourselves again. There’s a lot to reverse. Just take a look at epigenetics to see that the lives of our ancestors are written into us.

What I find I share with you, and it gives me satisfaction to write to you. You’ve intentionally signed up for my newsletter. You search, dig, read, and act to make life good. If my letter resonates with someone else you know, please forward it. You never know how far they may go with it. There’s a lot to work on with ourselves, but you’ll find that the more you tell people about things, the better you understand them.

So connect with the ground, eat well, get strong and get mobile, and cultivate your mind. When you find what is good within you, let it thrive. Simply doing good is the easiest way to share it with the world.

Thanks for being with me.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

Better Coffee

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What does it take to have a great cup of coffee on a regular basis?

For one, it’s about the beans. You need good, fresh beans for good, fresh coffee. They say that beans should be ground and brewed within several days of roasting. And that roasting should take place within a specific amount of time from harvest and processing. You don’t want coffee that’s made of old beans, and you don’t want beans that have been roasted far away from home. Unless you can afford the shipping costs for minimal delivery times.

It’s logical to think that anything we eat should be as fresh as possible to have the best quality. Wellness is maximized through food that is eaten close to the ground from which it sprung. And coffee grown, harvested, processed, roasted, ground, and brewed within a tiny area should be the best coffee.

Of course, not everyone would be able to have such coffee. We don’t all live in environments optimal for coffee plants. But we could be drinking coffee from places that are closer and sooner to us than they are now. So why don’t we? Because it’s not very available yet.

But that’s all changing very fast. The internet has eliminated barriers to the spread of information. It has brought information to almost everyone, everywhere. I traveled to Indonesia and Thailand recently and saw that even those who are still not connected to the web are only one or two conversations away from it. Generous people who have access to the web share critical information with those who don’t.

Seed to cup coffee shops are springing up around the world. In Chiang Mai, Graph Cafe exists to brew coffee from beans grown Doi Chang mountain, a famous coffee growing site that is divided up among several coffee shops and suppliers. Shop owners spread good cultivation practices to the farmers they work with to produce better coffee.

You can find better cold brew in Chiang Mai than in Los Angeles. Coffee shops in Bali could easily best the best in Los Angeles. After all, their beans grow within a few hours drive. Find the best roaster, the most skilled barista, and you still can’t beat locally grown beans. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t tried coffee in these places. What matters is that you know of it. The demand and the desire for better drives the rest.

So the seeds are sown. People everywhere will learn how to grow coffee. And if they live in coffee friendly climates, they can grow better coffee that can be shared with those who aren’t in such places. There may still be shipping and storing time, but it will be less than it is today. And even if we don’t live in ideal coffee growing environments, it can be done. Coffee is being grown in California.

The seed is getting ever closer to the cup. We will all be drinking coffee, and eating all kinds of food, that grew from ground within a mile and a week. If you have ever eaten a chunk of freshly grilled samgyupsal in a perilla leaf plucked a moment before from a garden ten feet away from you, you know what fresh means. And why it’s important that we are close to our food.

The value of coffee should be placed on the proximity and immediacy of the bean. Not on the shipping costs. It will make less and less sense to spend money on coffee from Sumatra when you’re drinking it in Los Angeles. Although we may not want to pay $60 a pound for Goleta coffee, we’ve seen time and again that demand can bring prices down. More and more we’ll assign quality to things that are fresh. Truly fresh, straight from the source, and meant for each and every person on earth.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

Backpacking with grass fed butter in Southeast Asia

Coffee and grass fed butter have been my staple morning diet for the past four years. It continues to be my go to while I’m traveling through Southeast Asia. I plan to have it every day as much as I can. There’s no better way to stay lean, dense, and energetic than with healthy fat to start the day.

It’s much easier and nicer to have butter coffee at home: beans pulverized by a hefty burr grinder, stove top boiled water in my Hario kettle, and brewed over a ceramic pour over cup on a nice wide countertop. Butter coffee that’s blended at home in a high tech appliance like VitaMix can’t be beat. The drink is foamy, creamy, and just heavenly. The ingredients, like chocolate powder and vanilla bean, mesh better with the coffee and butter. It comes out like a dessert. But on the road, I don’t have such luxury.What I do have is a 24-oz. Thermos, a handheld coffee bean grinder, and a small pack of all my ingredients in ziplocked bags. I did allow myself the weighty luxury of my Hario dripper kettle, to store my powders and to have a vessel for hot water. And I just couldn’t let it go.

The trickiest things about butter coffee on the road are getting and keeping grass fed butter. In Southeast Asia a lot of quality butter comes from Australia and New Zealand. Anchor and Allowrie were two I’ve used so far. Small towns rarely have these available, so I’ve had to shop in the busier areas for it. It hasn’t been a great problem, except in Railay Beach where I missed my chance to get some in Ao Nang during an excursion. I was fortunate enough to have met a French chef at a nice hotel restaurant, who gave me a stick of precious unsalted French butter. I’m still living off of that, three days later. So grateful to that man.

That’s another thing; on top of finding grass fed butter, I need the unsalted product to make my coffee. Surprisingly, in Southeast Asia it’s pretty easy to find unsalted butter in most medium-sized grocery stores. Hero and Coco markets in Indonesia, and Makro in Thailand have been stocked when I went.

Keeping butter fresh and solid as a backpacker is the other fun problem. It’s regularly between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, even at night. So when I move from one locale to the next, it’s best not to have leftover butter. I time my butter shopping for the beginnings of my stay in one place, so that I can have access to a fridge while I have it. And if I have a bit left over on the day I leave, I dump it all into my Thermos with other ingredients, sans coffee. I can then pack, keeping the Thermos accessible, and find good coffee shop later to add to the Thermos. Shake and serve.

The more difficult scenario is having a lot of butter left on the day I need to get on a bus, plane, or boat for a long trip. It does happen, for various reasons. I have been bringing a small, rectangular tupperware lent to me by my mother-in-law to store butter while on the move. The day before, I freeze the remaining butter if possible. I wrap plastic over the original wrapping, put it in a ziplock, and then in the tupperware. It’s not good to have the fat in direct contact with plastic, so I keep the original wrap on it. Plastic will degrade when in contact with fat.

I keep the butter in my day pack, or a separate bag from my pack. It goes on board with me on flights. This hasn’t been an issue at all. Packing butter into a check in bag risks the bag being left out in the sun during cargo loading. Think popcorn butter. Big mistake if you don’t have a nice glass container without wrappings. While backpacking, it hasn’t been an option for me.

The first thing we always do upon check in at our next stay is unpack and throw the butter into the fridge. Most places I’ve stayed have had freezers, fortunately. One time in Bali we had the butter kept in the inn’s kitchen freezer. It worked without any issues for the four nights we were there. A good way to interact with the staff, too. A regular fridge will suffice as well. However, plan to finish the butter before leaving, as it’s risky to bring butter that’s not frozen on long rides in the tropical heat.

One last thing about butter coffee: remember the water. You can’t make coffee without water, and it’s not fun getting drinking water from the store first thing in the morning. In this region, tap is not the best option. Even when boiled, it’s a risk for health.

When all else fails, and you can’t find butter, and you can’t make coffee? Go without. Better to intermittent fast and eat a late lunch than to eat a heavy touristy breakfast. With that being said, I have trouble passing up eggs, bacon, and pastries every once in a while. I know the consequences and have to deal with them, though. To each their own.

Live powerfully,

Steve

Butter Coffee Tweaks: Olive Oil and Cinnamon

Brilliant Friends,

I felt light of heart in the company of a good friend yesterday. Good energy like this inspires experimentation! So I dared blend two additional ingredients into our butter coffee.

Cinnamon:

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Olive oil:

  • A couple of ounces
  • Another excellent source of fat in the morning
  • Great flavor. Fruity and rich – typical good olive oil stuff
  • Would this cause inflammation, heated at less than 180F? Looking at oxidation research, I found the following.
    • Health Impact News says no, it can be used repeatedly for cooking and frying. Even at 356F over 36 hours retains ‘most’ qualities
    • PubMed says no after this testing. But it’s not clear on what the standards are of being oxidized.
    • Mercola says yes oxidation occurs if used for cooking, due to high unsaturated fat content. These fats are less stable than saturated fats like coconut oil, and heating them brings the risk of oxidation.
    • Most of the concern seems to come from cooking with the oil at high temperatures. The studies I saw used 356F at an hour to three hours to test. This seems to be way out of the zone of using it in butter coffee at or below 180C.

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Plus all the usual:

  • Unsalted butter from pastured cows
  • Concentrated MCT oil
  • Vanilla powder
  • Cocoa powder
  • Creatine

Except for:

  • Cacao butter (ran out and need to get more)
  • Collagen powder (didn’t need the extra collagen and also ran out of this)

It’s always worth trying new ingredients in butter coffee and other foods if you know they are good for you. For coffee, make sure the food you’re adding won’t be damaged in the slight heat of the liquid. And make sure it’s not sugar or carbs if you’re aiming to hold off the insulin spike!

Regarding olive oil oxidation: I haven’t felt any negative effects from using it twice in a row now. Things like acne, headache, hangoverishness, joint discomfort are common to me when I get inflammation. None of these showed.

Read, ask, study the things you try. After all that, trust your own experience with it.

The goal is focus. Mental clarity. Spurring intense creative discussion with positive people!

Live powerfully,

Steve

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Collagen or Not

Brilliant Friends,

I love collagen powder. The stuff from grass fed cows is amazing in my morning butter coffee. It makes the coffee blend better with the butter and creates a fuller consistency.

The collagen gives me a boost of energy, and works wonders for recovery from strength training. This form of protein supplement has given me a boost in recovery over the long term, helping me build flexible joints and tissue. I noticed my skin and nails seem healthier too.

In the short term, however, it isn’t as helpful. I’ve found that I get hungry and lose focus around hour four when I add it to my butter coffee. Without the protein, I can last the entire day before dinner without feeling hungry, distracted, or weak.

One possible reason for this is ketosis, the state in which we run primarily on fat for energy. Protein intake can end ketosis. This is not a bad thing at night for me, when I don’t need deep focus. But in the morning it feels more sluggish than running on good fats.

I haven’t actually tested my blood for ketone levels, but I can tell when my mind is clear and focused versus when I have lower focus and energy.

Since I’m already getting enough good collagen from grass fed or wild meats, especially the tendons, extra powder in the morning coffee probably hasn’t been missed. Other than the great taste and texture, of course.

The other thing is hunger. Protein intake signals the digestive system to start, stimulating hunger. Hunger can be distracting, although my energy level may still be high. The Bulletproof Diet suggests taking collagen in the morning for women over 40 and for anyone trying to lose a lot of weight.

I am not 100% sure of this, but I have also heard and read that women may benefit from protein in the morning without the downsides. It sounds a bit weird that men would have a different outcome. But that’s true for other biological processes, so it isn’t necessarily false.

I still add the collagen for my wife, daily. She doesn’t eat as much meat as I do and can probably benefit from the extra protein. Of course, I’m talking about a few teaspoons, not heaping scoops.

On mornings after training, I will have one or two tablespoons.

What works for one may not for another. And what works for you today may not work best the next day. So keep pivoting.

I’m curious to find out how big of a difference this makes for you. Soon, we’re all going to be using individualized amounts of fat, protein, and carbs. We’ll be fine-tuned to our needs for optimizing each day. Until then it’s just a matter of simply trying.

For us it’s more than simply putting something in the mouth when there’s hunger. It’s about true satiation, duration of focus and energy, and how we feel, think, and act.

Let me know what you’ve experienced.

To powerful living,

Steve

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Gray goes black

Brilliant Friends,

As dusk settled on my twenties, darkness spread across the top of my head. Literally. Gray and white strands gave way to luscious onyx. My wife and I were mystified, but we rejoiced.

I’ve had gray hairs speckling my head since eighth grade. I was fighting to find meaning in the midst of family tension, the pressure to get A’s, and depression. My teenage follicles perished in the struggle.

I begrudgingly sported the salt and pepper ‘do through high school and college. But then, like Lazarus and The Arrow, my follicles were resurrected.

Processed with VSCOcam with s6 preset

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We pondered over the exact root of the change (wink). It wasn’t because there was a lack of possibilities, but rather a plethora. The preceeding months happened to have been a sort of wellness expedition. I was experimenting with butter coffee and feasting on fats. I convinced my then girlfriend to do away with wheat products and sweep sugar aside. I delved into meditation. Progression strength training replaced “workouts”.

It was a renaissance, to be sure. I was stronger, brighter, and apparently richer in color than ever. The need to explain the little details became immaterial. For years since, I considered my repigmentation a fortuitous boon from the Universe. It was a small bit of reward for all the good I was doing for myself. I mean, who cared? It was just cool to have fully black hair again.

Like many wonders of the actual Renaissance, though, the world had already seen the magical recoloring of graying heads. Three years after my epic makeover, I ran into an enlightening article. Research had already demonstrated that premature hair graying was one symptom of vitamin B-12 deficiency. It was listed as a bullet point among other maladies like anemia. It made so much sense! I had been regularly taking methylcobalamin (B-12) supplements in the interim.

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This was it. I had B-12 on a pedestal as the holy hair supplement.

My belief was stoked by a number of other bullet-pointed articles and blogs that hailed vitamin B-12 as the cure for early hair discoloration. But when I started looking for the research, there was only one hit in Pubmed that made a reference to this phenomenon. I refer to a 1986 experiment on a man with gray hair, in which he was given a Vitamin B-12 injection that restored his natural color. He had been suffering from anemia caused by B-12 deficiency.

Awesome. I scoured Pubmed for more cases like this. Something substantial.

And found none.

The only other relevant study I could find involved teens in southern India. Prematurely graying hair correlated with low levels of vitamin D, serum calcium, and serum ferritin – but not vitamin B-12. This got me flustered. The articles claiming the connection refer to “studies” or “research” or “proof”. Even other Pubmed articles on the matter mention this “evidence”.

I finally came to a conclusion. They’re probably all pointing, whether or not they know it, to that one case in 1986. So it was a single gray head.

But really, I’m okay with that. Make me case number two. Whether or not a sole vitamin got me back in black, what does it matter? Intermittent gifts from the Universe make for a delightful adventure toward the spring of wellness. So onward I trek with you.

To powerful living,

Steve

 

Continue reading “Gray goes black”

Butter Coffee Tweaks

Brilliant Friends,

The Bulletproof Executive, Dave Asprey, recommends that men eat eight to ten tablespoons, and women six to eight tablespoons, of fat per day. Or, about 50% of calories from fat.

That seems like a lot.

It probably sounds psycho to most people. But not to us, who know how important fat is for cell membrane construction and function, hormone production and balance, and energy and focus.

Between my morning coffee and dinner, I eat about seven to eight tablespoons of butter, plus other fats from meat, coconut oil, etc. to satiety. That looks like around nine tablespoons for me. So, Asprey may have a good number.

But it’s not like I went from a “normal diet” to nine tbsp of fat in a day, or even a week, or even months. Over the course of the first year that I started to drink butter coffee, I gradually went from two tablespoons to four to six. I just went by feel.

How hungry, how tired, how sore was I from the previous day? How did it make me feel to blend in more or less butter in my coffee? Was I going to have a long day, an emotionally difficult or demanding schedule, or a big training session?

Butter coffee has been the start of my nutrition and daily ritual almost every single day for the past four years. Getting good fat, lots of it, changed my life in every critical aspect I can imagine. My mood, my focus, my strength have all fundamentally changed because of it. Eating this way is something that I’ll perpetuate for the rest of my life.

I don’t say this to brag. And I’m not saying you should be eating nine tablespoons of fat tomorrow. I do want you to know it was a journey of trial and error before I got it just right, to my liking and to the best performance enhancement for me. If you get it down in one try, more awesome.

Either way, getting that much good fat through each day is hard enough. Butter coffee is one of those incredible life hacks that can get you there. It’s also a hard one to make a regular part of life. Understandably so.

Portability, Butteriness

It’s hard to make it to go. The coffee cools, the butter congeals, and you end up with a lava lamp by the time you get to work.

Three things.

First, make it quick. Once your water’s hot enough, brew the coffee immediately and promptly blend everything, then pour it into the thermos as soon as the coffee is blended. No delays, screw on the tops, keep the heat.

Second, blend it for a full twenty seconds. That means if the second hand on the clock is at 12, you blend until it’s at 4. This breaks the fats down better and the coffee stays in tact longer.

Third, get a good thermos. I use Thermos. Also Zojirushi.

Butter based on feel

You don’t have to stick with a specific amount. Two tablespoons for two cups of coffee is a good starting point. After a while, your body adjusts to digesting fat and can probably handle more of it. Try more to get it creamier, if you dare.

Caveat: there is a limit to how much butter a certain amount of coffee will hold. A couple of days ago I plopped eight tablespoons into a liter of coffee. The fat started to stick to the sides of my mug. Not a bad thing, though. I just drank it faster!

Really, you can add more if needed. When you feel drained from the training session the day before, a mighty dose of fat can revamp your energy and aid in the recovery process.

Brew by the clock

Get the coffee acidity just right by playing around with how long you’re allowing your beans to steep, and how hot the water is. I don’t settle for overdone coffee. It upsets my stomach and makes me weak. Find the sweetest setting for the coffee that tastes right and feels awesome. I set the kitchen timer to three minutes for my French Press, so I don’t forget it in the midst of measuring out my powders like a mad scientist.

Increase MCT oil by increments

Now here’s where you want to be more delicate. Make adjustments incrementally. I mean a half or quarter teaspoon at a time. Other than inspiring you to excrete immediately if you have too much, MCT’s in excess can get you in a sort of brain overdrive. When I skipped from one teaspoon to one tablespoon, I got the runs and felt slightly dizzy for a couple hours.

With that being said, it is amazing fuel for your brain and the rest of your body. Sugar is not the only fuel source for your brain! C-8 and C-10 fatty acids (MCT’s) get converted into ketones and work like jet fuel. It’s the same metabolic process as when you are in fasting, when your body starts to use it’s fat reserve as energy.

You can also tinker with the type of MCT. There are C-8 isolated oils out there, which are most easily used by the brain. I’ve been using this form for a couple of years now and it is quite intense, and much more direct than regular MCT (C-8 and C-10 combined). I take just under a tablespoon of C-8 oil and I feel great.

Find your sweet spot!

I love talking with friends about how to make butter coffee better. It’s one of my favorite topics. So if there’s anything you’re wondering about for making butter coffee, just let me know. I’m more than willing to help you figure it out.

To powerful living,

Steve

Tools

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Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

I will only link to tools that I use, find meaningful, and that I believe could benefit my brilliant readers.

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Butter Coffee Gear

Essential butter coffee brewing tools

Grind.

Bodum BISTRO Burr Grinder

Duration of use: 2½ years and counting

Features: Metal burr grinder does a fair job of pulverizing coffee beans. Never jams. Grounds end up in glass beaker with silicone rubber sleeve protection. Easy to disassemble and clean.

Downside: Need to jar it and tap to make grounds empty out completely into beaker. The plastic container on top shifts out of the largest ground setting during grinding – better to keep it at the second to last setting for coarser grounds.

Application: Sits on the counter top for daily morning brew at home.

Hario Mini Mill Slim Hand Coffee Grinder

Duration of use: 4 years and counting

Features: Small enough to be a true handheld travel grinder. Adjustable ceramic burr for ground size. Removable handle for compact storage. Good for pour over brewing on the go.

Downside: Grounds are inconsistent. Requires time and effort for finer grounds.

Application: I took it backpacking through Bali, Singapore, Thailand and Korea. Stored butter coffee ingredients like vanilla beans in the clear bottom part.

Brew.

French press

Duration of use: 2½ years and counting

Features: Stainless steel French press beauty brews 30 ounces of coffee. Double walled body keeps coffee hot while brewing. Smooth lines make it easy to clean. Ergonomic handle and contoured spout make pouring clean and effortless. The lid

Downside: Some water gets trapped under press screen, but tilting all the way gets it out.

Application: Good for brewing coffee on rushed mornings. Brew hands-free for four minutes while adding butter coffee ingredients to blender. Pour finished coffee out and blend. Pour over brewing, in contrast, requires full occupation.

Pour over

Hario V60 Buono Pouring Kettle

Duration of use: 5 years and counting

Features: Light steel kettle can boil 1.2L water over all types of stove tops. No cleaning needed if good water is used. Lid fits very well and rattles when boiling. Spout is ingenious, pours pinpoint water for precise soaking of coffee grounds.

Downside: Handle angle and spout length require some distance from grounds. Difficult to brew directly into a tall blender if counter is too high.

Application: Hario is the authority brand on pour over coffee brewing. I use this every morning to make coffee. The ceramic dripper cup, featured below, can be placed on top of the blender lid opening, and the coffee brewed directly into blender and other ingredients. Paper filters are also needed. See Make Butter Coffee for the setup and instructions.

Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper (Size 01, White)

Application: Size 01 fits enough grounds for about two mugs of coffee.

Size 02

Application: Size 02 fits enough grounds for about four mugs of coffee. Officially it’s 3 cups, but I stretch it with more grounds and careful brewing.

Measure.

Duration of use: 1 year

Features: Light yet sturdy spoons. Shallow bowl fit into small package openings. Easy to clean.

Downside: Ring holding them together was flimsy and came apart. Spoons constantly fell out of ring.

Blend.

Keep.

Add zojirushi and stanley

 


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Get Rid of Slack on the Deadlift

Brilliant Friends,

Here are a couple of thoughts on a more effective deadlift.

A common point of energy waste in the deadlift is the initial lift of the weight from the ground. That exact moment the weight comes off the ground should be the first upward movement of your body as well.

You would think this is intuitive. But if you watch deadlift videos on Instagram and Youtube, you’ll notice that a lot of people start their lift with their butts. Before the weight lifts off the ground, their hips have already moved up a few inches. You might notice this about yourself, too.

This is inefficient channeling of energy through the legs, and takes away from upward movement of the weight.

You can develop a better deadlift by minimizing this power leakage from the start. The aim is absolute tension and rigidity before the “pull” (what we call the lifting portion of the deadlift). By doing this, you will be able to maintain good form throughout the lift, keeping your back neutral, knees out, and head aligned. This will minimize and even prevent your upper back from curving forward into a slouch.

Start Position

To create the most effective output, focus on the setup. Once you grab the bar:

  • Straighten your arms
  • Push your feet into the ground
  • Pull up against the bar just short of lifting it to anchor yourself into the ground.
  • Pull back on your shoulder blades, like the wings of a jet folding in after take-off.
  • Flex your butt, think of squeezing your sphincter
  • Spread the floor with your feet (see my squat newsletter  for description)

If someone came by from any direction and pushed you, you would not be budged. No looseness in any part of your body, upward, downward, or sideways. Everything should be rock solid and ready for take off.

Back

Your back should have a straight arrow pointing through it from top of the head through the end of your butt.

Eyes

As you take hold of the bar, focus on one spot on the ground in front of you and do not look away. This helps with keeping the head in a neutral alignment with the rest of your spine.

The Pull

And here goes. I like Mehdi Hadim‘s two-part cue the best:

  1. Push the ground away from you
  2. When bar passes knees, slam your hips forward into the bar

Descent

You now stand upright with bar held at arms length.

  1. Pull in a belly breath and lock it into your lungs for abdominal pressure.
  2. Let down the weight in the exact reverse way. Start with hips moving back, keeping tension in butt, hamstrings, knees and feet.
  3. When the bar reaches your knees, allow them to start parting and bending, maintaining full tension.
  4. Do not drop the weight. It’s sloppy and rude, and it will mess up your back and everyone’s eardrums. Think Batman. Be quiet, be swift, and be gone.

I’ll send one on grip next. Try these with minimal weight first. As in, just the bar. Or a broomstick.

To powerful living,

Steve

 
Copyright © 2016 Steve Ko, All rights reserved.