December 13, 2018

Peet’s Coffee: from Alkmaar to California, by Jasper Houtman

Filed under: Comics,Food & Drink,Literature by Orangemaster @ 2:27 pm

You know how when you learn something new or you have a bit of a fixation about something and you start to see it everywhere? Well, I’ve been listening to podcasts by Nerdrotic, which besides being a fabulous replacement for radio and having nothing to do with 24oranges (it’s mainly about television shows and comics) occasionally plug Peet’s Coffee, which I assumed was just another American coffee company from California with an alternative hipster spelling for Pete.

Except it’s not: it’s originally Dutch (Dutch-American). Editor of Het Financieele Dagblad Jasper Houtman wrote a book this year about coffee legend and founder of Peet’s Coffee, Alfred Peet entitled The Coffee Visionary (In Dutch, ‘De man die de wereld leerde koffie drinken’, ‘The man who taught the world how to drink coffee’). Someone who’s not me really needs to update Peet’s Wikipedia page.

At a time when most Americans drank coffee percolated from canned grounds, the son of a coffee roaster from a small town in the Netherlands [Alkmaar] laid the foundation for specialty coffee in the United States. When Alfred Peet opened Peet’s Coffee, Tea & Spices in Berkeley, California in 1966, and started selling small batches of on-site, hand-roasted coffee beans, the renowned roastmaster had no way of knowing that he was brewing a coffee revolution and defining the coffee culture we know and love today.

Houtman is said to have twenty-five years of experience writing for magazines and newspapers in the Netherlands. Travelling through Guatemala and Honduras in 2004, he became interested in coffee, which led to a fascination for the story of Alfred Peet, who is relatively unknown in the Netherlands. Hope this helps a bit.

(Photo by Suzette Pauwels, some rights reserved)

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September 26, 2017

Alkmaar’s world premiere live streaming cheese shop

Filed under: Dutch first,Food & Drink,Online by Orangemaster @ 12:10 pm

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For five days starting today, Kaan’s Kaashandel in Alkmaar will be live streaming their cheese shop. As I write this I can hear the local church bells and fast speaking Dutchmen talking cheese.

You can also order cheese directly and even chat with the employees who I can imagine are on their best behaviour today. The shop says it’s offering “the expertise, authenticity and experience of a physical cheese shop, combined with the ease of use and speed of a webshop.” This was an attempt to get more online notoriety and I guess it’s working.

The stream was set up together with the ABN AMRO bank as an experiment to inspire other shop owners. And there’s cheese!

(Link:, screenshot of Kaan’s Kaashandel in Alkmaar)

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May 15, 2017

Speed camera mistakenly fines a thousand cars

Filed under: Automobiles,IT by Orangemaster @ 9:56 pm

A Dutch speed camera in Alkmaar fined cars going through green and yellow lights by mistake because it literally had its wires crossed. Anyone who blew through red lights wasn’t punished at all in the meantime. This lasted a whole week in February, with almost 1300 cars getting fined 239 euro a piece for obeying the law.

After the speed camera was repaired, it simply wasn’t tested and the wires stayed crossed. The speed camera was eventually turned off in February and hasn’t been repaired since. According to RTL, it takes pictures if someone speeds, but does nothing for anyone blowing through red lights. The government has agreed to give people money back in the case of going through green and yellow lights.

Back in 2015 we told you about how rubbish Dutch speed cameras are with foreign plates, and told you that “speeding is dangerous, and apparently the Dutch government doesn’t feel that road safety is a priority.”

(Link:, Photo by Heiloo Online, some rights reserved)

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June 3, 2016

Picasso takes a Dutch holiday in Alkmaar

Filed under: Art by Orangemaster @ 10:59 am


According to the NOS, Pablo Picasso rarely went on holiday, but in 1905 he took off to the Netherlands. The 23-year-old artist fled the heat and bustle of Paris and stayed several weeks in Schoorl, at the cottage of his acquaintance Tom Schilperoort whom he knew from Paris.

The Alkmaar Municipal Museum is dedicating an exhibition to Picasso’s rare holiday entitled Picasso in Holland, which opens on June 7 and runs until 28 August. The exhibition will show a special reunion of famous paintings never before shown together: ‘La belle Hollandaise’ from Brisbane, Australia and ‘Les trois Hollandaises’ (shown here) from Paris.

According to the museum, Picasso’s painting ‘La famille de saltimbanques’, a family of circus acrobats with a desert-like background said to have been inspired by the dunes in Schoorl.

(Links:, dearkitty1, Photo:

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October 8, 2014

Film of Alkmaar painstakingly compares 1914 with 2014

Filed under: Film,Photography by Orangemaster @ 12:48 pm


Dutch photographer Frits de Beer, along with Tara Rikkers and Michael de Vreugd have created a movie depicting their native town of Alkmaar, North Holland where the old (1914) and the new (2014) are shown side-by-side and shot-per-shot for a wonderfully precise comparison between the two eras.

“After identifying many locations that remained relatively unchanged over the past century, De Beer went out with a camera to recreate the shots. In each one, he aimed to match up the exact angle and framing that was captured in the 1914 film.”

Alkmaar 100 jaar, Tara Rikkers, Michael de Vreugd from on Vimeo.

(Link:, Photo:


May 26, 2014

Man fined 237 euro for scratching his ear

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 1:11 pm

mobile-phone-when-driving-alx-chiefRobert Bloem, aged 65, from Sint Pancras near Alkmaar was fined 237 euro for making a mobile phone call while driving.

Mr Bloem was stopped by the police late in the evening on 23 April (Noordhollands Dagblad adds, “in other words, it was dark”) who fined him on the spot. The driver explained that he hadn’t been making his phone call, but was scratching his ear instead (where have I heard this before?). When he offered his phone to the police so that they might check the call data they declined on the grounds that he “might have erased them”.

The police report says that Mr Bloem was holding “an object similar to a phone”. Mr Bloem has hired a lawyer who told the newspaper the object was “therefore not a phone”.

Sint Pancras is the sort of place where people drive around with 60,000 euro in cash on top of their car (or so they claim), so I am not surprised Mr Bloem can afford the court case.

(Photo by Alx_chief, some rights reserved)

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January 27, 2013

Man puts 60,000 euro on car roof for a moment, forgets about it

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 3:39 pm

What do you do if you don’t trust the banks? You keep your money under your mattress.

What do you do next if you don’t trust the locks on the doors of your house? According to Noordhollands Dagblad, this was the dilemma that faced a businessman from Sint Pancras near Alkmaar.

Last week the man claimed he decided to bring the 60,000 euro he had saved over the years to the bank. The man claimed he left the envelope with what he claimed were 120 bills of 500 euro on the roof of his car, after which he walked indoors to answer a phone call, or so he claimed.

The envelope with 60,000 euro may be lying somewhere along the road to Alkmaar. Whoever finds the envelope and its contents can expect a 10,000 euro reward says the newspaper. Noordhollands Dagblad has a couple of interviews with treasure hunters on video.

Today the thaw has set in, so if the envelope is going to be found, it will be today or tomorrow.

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June 20, 2009

World War I museum opens in Alkmaar

Filed under: General,History by Branko Collin @ 10:25 am

A museum consisting largely of dioramas of the Great War will open at 2 pm today in the Kruithuis (old munitions house) in Alkmaar, Noord Holland. Named Le Poilu after the nickname unshaven French soldiers acquired in the war, the museum mainly looks at the Battle of Verdun, where 300,000 soldiers died and many more were wounded. The museum was founded by Peter Wories from nearby Heiloo, who has been fascinated by WWI ever since he found out that his grandmother was originally from Antwerp, but fled the city to the Netherlands when the Germans attacked in 1914.

The originally medieval museum building is attached to the old high school in which in 1914 German soldiers were interned. The Netherlands remained neutral during the war, or rather, were allowed to remain neutral, but being so close to the action the country did suffer from the fallout. It harboured many Belgian refugees, and because supply lines across the North Sea had become unsafe, suffered from food scarcity.

Museum website, via RTV-NH (radio). Photo of poilu and sculptor Jean Boucher by an unknown photographer.

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