Full disclosure. I adore David Lynch.
The ability to articulate complex emotions through non-sequitur imagery, dream-like logic and tell a visual story, in mainstream media, while at the same time breaking new ground with such originality is not to be sniffed at. Keeping a vivid, surreal streak while still maintaining a strong and visceral emotional resonance with the audience is an incredible achievement. You may not understand everything about a David Lynch film, but you feel it a lot. Deep and responsive and resonate. They stay with you like a vivid nightmare.
Oh, sorry. This is a food blog, not a film blog. Well, the guy makes his own coffee.
Yes, that David Lynch. Twin Peaks. Mulholland Drive. Paintings. Albums. Photography. Innovative sound design. The director to that weird arty film your weird, arty boyfriend from college liked. Casually has his own transcendental meditation foundation. He makes his own coffee. It’s far from the strangest thing he’s ever done. And celebrity brands and endorsements are nothing new; actors and models can dip into aftershave and perfume without raising an eyebrow. And the likes of Gene Simmons has dined very well off his ability to endorse and brand virtually any product you care to mention.
“. . . it’s delicately subtle, light and a delicious tone. . .“
But perhaps there’s more sense to this than meets the initial eye. Let’s look at the bigger picture just for a sec. The history of coffee is vast. Especially the social aspects; and its affinity with thinkers and creatives, and its ubiquity in global trade has seen it spread through every corner of the world. When North America was still a British colony, coffee became a popular drink as a way of avoiding the tea tax. It still is a very American drink in spirit; full of speed, an upper. Aiding fast paced living. It also has a long history of creating inspiration and productivity, especially amongst the art world. Beethoven would personally count 300 individual beans in each of his cups. Wittgenstein described the aroma as “indescribable.” Kierkegaard drank the stuff with sludge like consistency, and Voltaire drank 40 to 50 cups a day. (Imagine the kidney stones!) In the late 1600s, the first British cafes had such a reputation for intellectually stimulating hotbeds and debate that they were referred to as “penny universities”, for the mental speed and dexterity that coffee produced, acting as a fuel for inspiration. And all that is just from a simple flick through of a few books and a google search. Coffee is significant and the history is vast and frankly, someone should do an 11,000 word dissertation on it!
Now, in modern times, over two billion cups of coffee are consumed everyday. And some of that is drank by our man, Mr Lynch. It was noted by David Foster Wallace when visiting the set of Blue Velvet in 1986, that he is a voracious inhaler of the stuff. The drink is a recurring theme throughout the man’s oeuvre, especially in 1990’s Twin Peaks’ main character love of it, which pretty much became a meme. So, bearing all that in mind I get the feeling this isn’t some sort of soulless brand cash in. This is coffee made by a life-long lover who knows what a coffee drinker wants.
It arrived quite thoroughly, from a 3rd party seller, in the post, wrapped in fresh newspaper, with a British Film Institute postcard from 2012 of “Lynch Season“. It’s a still from Blue Velvet, Dennis Hopper maniacally gurning, off from the camera. The package is nice and bulky in a silver/off-white bag. Somewhat plain packaging with a military type font with “David Lynch Coffee” written on the side, giving it a slightly medicinal look. It’s not a large way off the presentation of Huel. The bag boasts: ‘ideas inside every bag‘. Which I loved.
Holding the bag up to the nose and oh my, you can smell the beans inside. It’s so rich and full bodied. The Organic House Roast boasts this flavour profile: Full City, light roast. Creamy cocoa and hazelnut notes. This is a single origin coffee. High within the rugged Sierra Madres of Oaxaca, Mexico. I imagine that is a testament to the purity of it.
Firstly, we need to try it European: Just plain ole bean. When poured in it still maintained that rich scent, lush and the taste is strong, but I’d still recommend going with a nice big tablespoon. The texture is thin, which is deceptional in its potency. The flavour does indeed have a creamy cocoa taste, the viscosity of the fluid is thin and there’s a smoothness to it, a hot, buttery feel. It’s not as thick as you’d expect, unlike something like Douwe Egberts. There’s a thinness, which I suppose lets the flavour ‘breathe’, so to speak? A cup of black with coconut nectar definitely gives that hazelnut character something to work with, flavour wise. Treating myself to a strong cup with lots of sugar, pink Himalayan salt, nutmeg, and double cream, it really ‘works’ with sugar. The sweetness brings that little something more to it. And a note on that hazelnut, it is certainly there without intruding, it’s delicately subtle, light and a delicious tone, rather than just your regular latte or black with sugar. It’s this combination, a tension, of light taste and dark flavour, that’s so alluring. And cream really helps thickens out that thin mouth feel. There’s a lot going on here. This is definitely something you shouldn’t rush through. It’s almost like a dessert, something designed to be slowly enjoyed. An aperitif after a meal. Take your time, sip it, inhale the fumes, savour the taste. Treat it like a fine whiskey or cognac. However, it *is* strong. If you’re looking for a caffeine fix, DL Coffee delivers that caveat too.
“. . . This coffee works way better when adding it with something a bit more complex. . .“
The Espresso version, understandably is stronger: it’s got such a potent smell, and the taste is far harder, hence you’ll need less of it to make a full French press. This one is a blend of central American beans, ‘which include’ Honduran, Guatemalan, and Sumatra Mandeling. While the organic house roast had this dark-light hybrid motif, a cup of this stuff embraces that darkness a bit more, and you can taste it almost immediately, the comparison in flavour from the organic house. It’s not deliberately strong as in it obnoxiously knocks your head off regardless of quality or brand, but you can tell that this isn’t just the other bag but with added juice to it, it’s been carefully made up to have it’s own distinct character. It has a strange smoothness, a buttery-like taste. It really is that sleek a stuff, even from the beans. It’s not sweet but you certainly have absolutely none of the bitterness that you get a lot more with other types, particularly jars of instant.
But it still has that thin taste? Just out of curiosity I used it to make a macchiato, which was a brilliantly dark infusion. This coffee works way better when adding it with something a bit more complex than just a cup of regular joe. Just like certain meals needs an all important fat to really combine the flavours, this seriously needs a bit of sugar and cream to really send it off into the fancy,-but-alt-market it’s going for. And look, in terms of a buzz; it certainly gets the neurons firing, awakens the mind. You certainly get the feeling that this stuff isn’t messing about.
Drawbacks? Well look, £25 for a 12 oz bag of coffee isn’t for everyone. This is a delicious drink that’s going to go down well at a dinner party. Picture yourself entertaining your friends and your significant other saying “darling, get out the fancy coffee.” and this is the coffee you want.
Rather than get anxious over another soulless cash grab, like everything David Lynch has ever done, its unique, bold, rememberable and well thought out. The question should be “why does David Lynch make his own coffee?” when the answer is so glaringly obvious. The guy is an ideas machine. And Lynch has always championed “the idea” like his own white whale. Forever chasing “the idea” like creatures from the Black Lodge craving their garmonbozia. The guy lives on the stuff. A caffeine fuelled multi-talent. He’s taking coffee back to it’s roots of mental stimulation, creativity, and ideas. His very own penny university. If anything, it confirms the uniqueness and creative bravery of the man. No matter what you do in life, if you’re passionate about it, you’ll find your crowd.
Maybe I’ll do Bob Marley’s next. . .
And just as a quick digression I would thoroughly recommend this book for more social history of coffee, it’s fascinating.)