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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June 8, 2018

Dutch PM cleans up a spill and it’s news

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte spilled his coffee at work and cleaned it up all by himself (see video). It’s news in part because a chorus of non-Caucasian women cleaners jumped up and down when he didn’t just leave it for them.

It’s normal to clean up your own mess in many Western countries, there’s no reason to think Rutte would think he’s above five minutes of manual labour. Would this film have been different if Rutte were a woman or if Alexander Pechtold (D66 party, holding Rutte’s papers) would have spilled his coffee as just a member of Parliament? Would the cleaners be jumping up and down, do you think? Would this have been of any interest without the cleaners in the film?

To be honest, I think we’re posting this because otherwise there’s not much positive to say about the Dutch PM at the moment. We will gladly tell you that the VVD is the most corrupt political party for the sixth year in a row.

Come up with your own joke about the VVD cleaning up their own mess in the comments.

(Link:, Photo by Petra de Boevere, some rights reserved)

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October 18, 2017

Sign language coffee bar opens in Amsterdam

Filed under: Dutch first,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 12:01 pm


After the arrival of cat cafés and the likes, Amsterdam is now jumping on the bandwagon of having a sign language café called the Sign Language Coffee Bar where everyone has to order their coffee by signing. The café will open its doors on 19 October at noon, and you can already start practicing your order (videos, very cool).

Of course, you’ll be able to hone your signing skills with the same short videos mentioned above at the café. The coffee bar is part of a group of companies that find work for people who have visual or hearing impairments. Locals may already know the restaurant Ctaste where you can dine in the dark and be served by blind wait staff.

It’s interesting to know that the Dutch have five sign language dialects because they had five different schools that went their own way. Even though the coffee bar’s menu has items in Dutch (‘Jus d’orange’ is French, but in common use for ‘orange juice’ in Dutch), English and Italian, follow the videos and you’ll be fine.

If you want to take your skills up a notch, learn to sign the names of Dutch cities (sure, also learn the alphabet if you weren’t in Scouts or Girl Guides and know it already). I used the one for Amsterdam once and I know the one for Rotterdam, but this guy has you covered.

(Link:, screenshot of signing video)

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June 28, 2016

Dutch language a poor choice to describe smells

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 11:45 am


According to linguists Ilja Croijmans and Asifa Majid of the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Dutch language is a bad choice for describing smells, and therefore not great for wine-tasting. However, Dutch wine experts are getting better at describing smells by using very colourful language, something the average person would not do. Then again, pointing out that experts are actually better than ordinary folks sounds odd, considering that’s usually the point of being an expert.

To drive the point home, ordinary mortals and wine experts tasted wine and coffee, to see which group used what kind of language in their descriptions of smells and flavours. The wine experts were better at describing both wine and coffee, although both wine and coffee experts were no better than novices at naming everyday smells and tastes, showing that the expertise benefits are limited to the specific smells and flavours used to train experts, and not to more general ones.

For anyone who sucks at finding words other than ‘fruity’ (calling wine ‘sweet’ is often a no-no) and ‘dry’, Dutch wine shops and even supermarkets sell wine by numbers, which represent some sort of range between ‘fruity’ and ‘dry’ for us plebs.

(Links:,, Photo of Arrogant Frog wine by Martin Ujlaki, some rights reserved)

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August 9, 2015

Coffee house photographs developed using coffee

Filed under: Art,Photography by Orangemaster @ 2:04 pm


The Netherlands is known for its coffeeshops (the ones that sell soft drugs), but it also has a lot of places that just serve coffee, called coffee houses or if you want to be cool, ‘coffee tents’, the equivalent of ‘stand’ or ‘joint’, as in place, not the soft drugs.

Amsterdam photographer Gijs van den Berg has a collection of pictures he took of coffee houses with actual film, which he then developed with the coffee of the places in question using the caffenol process.

The project is called ‘Gewoon Koffie’ (‘Just Coffee’) and currently includes 11 coffee houses, highlighting the interior, owners and patrons. “Caffenol gives the prints a natural yellow and brown tint, and the different coffees produce an ever-so-slightly different look for each of the prints,” Van den Berg explains.

For anyone in Amsterdam, you can see Van den Berg’s photographs at the Werkplaats of the Volkshotel in Amsterdam for free through 28 August.

(Link:, photo: Gijs van den Berg)

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April 13, 2014

Photo mag New Dawn features young photographers

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 10:37 am

newdawn-branko-collinAs I swung by the (relatively) new PhotoQ photo book store on Ferdinand Bolstraat in Amsterdam last week, the owner handed me a free tabloid paper called New Dawn.

New Dawn focuses exclusively on photography and puts photos and their makers front and centre. It contains announcements of exhibitions, portfolios (often of young photographers), interviews and reviews of photo books. It appears once every two months and is distributed via a large number of venues such as art schools, museums, coffee houses.

If you’re not in the Netherlands you can still follow the New Dawn blog which contains much of the same content (albeit not in tabloid format). You could also contact the publishers and ask them about a paid subscription.

To me magazines about photography are much more interesting than the unfortunately far more common magazines about photo equipment, so I definitely hope New Dawn keeps it up.

The current issue contains photos by Sharieta Berghuis (cover), Sarah Mei Herman (below), Koos Breukel, Iris van Gelder, Paul van Vugt and others.


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October 7, 2013

Funny website lets designer Niek Gooren look for a job

Filed under: Design by Branko Collin @ 12:59 pm

Multimedia designer Niek Gooren from Weert in Limburg lost his job earlier this year. Applying for new jobs the traditional way did not help, so he decided to set up a website full of funny hyperbole to show the world why it should hire him.

Next to a photo of Niek begging in the street a banner admonishes would-be employers: “As a citizen of the Netherlands you contribute to Niek’s unemployment benefits. Surely it would be better to hire him. That way you and he both benefit.”

Overlayed on a photo of Niek watching noise on the television is the text: “While you are reading this, Niek lies on the couch at home, lonely and unemployed, eating crisps.”

Also: “Did you know that Niek likes his coffee black? That makes him cheaper than the average coffee drinking employee because you will save on sugar and milk.”

Gooren’s campaign appears to be a success. He told that he has got a day job, figuratively speaking, in going to job interviews on the basis of his website. He’s already been interviewed by Banbao (toys), Wehkamp (mail order), Air France KLM (airline) and De Bijenkorf (department store).

Gooren’s website is at, ‘help Niek off the dole dot nl’. The illustrations are screen shots of that site.

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January 21, 2013

Fireman saves 65 coffee containers by putting foot in ship’s leak

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 9:18 am

Last Friday a diver of the Schoonhoven fire department saved millions of Dutch people a few jittery hours when he put his foot against the wall of a ship carrying coffee to stop water from flowing in.

The captain of the river boat Salamanca had noticed on Thursday evening that his boat, which was moored to the quay, was suddenly deeper in the water, Schuttevaer reports. When the fire brigade arrived the engine room was already flooded by a metre. The boat was moved to another location where fire trucks could get near it.

The hole turned out to measure about 5 by 2 centimetres. One of the divers who had entered the engine room to place the suction tube plugged the hole temporarily by placing his foot on it.

The Salamanca was transporting 65 containers filled with coffee. It is unknown how the boat sprung a leak.

The Dutch are among the most enthusiastic coffee drinkers in the world, consuming 8.4 kilograms per person a year. Only the Scandinavians drink more.

(Photo by Vitaly Volkov, some rights reserved)

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December 14, 2009

Kees van der Westen’s espresso machine

Filed under: Gadgets by Branko Collin @ 8:59 am

For those who grumbled about my taste in coffee before, here is the other end of the spectrum. Kees van der Westen (first name pronounced like ‘Case’) from Waalre, Noord-Brabant, has been creating coffee makers since the 1980s. This is one of his latest, the Speedster.

A previous incarnation of the Speedster was made in a limited series of 6, sold to friends and relatives. The price of the current version? A mere 5,000 euro.

We strongly emphasize the need to contact an experienced espresso machine technician locally. The Speedster is a commercial machine that needs to be installed properly. Also for maintenance/service later in its life, a technician who knows espresso machines is essential.

Coffee Geek says, and I paraphrase, that the Speedster is a decent espresso machine. (“Just about perfect,” I believe that is their exact wording.)

(Link: Bright. Photo:

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September 26, 2009

Nespresso most expensive cup of coffee

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 1:08 pm

Consumentenbond compared the prices of making a single cup of coffee in regular households and came up with the following figures, according to Z24 (Dutch):

  • Instant: 3 euro cent.
  • Regular (using a coffee filter): 4 euro cent.
  • Aldi pods for Senseo: 5 euro cent.
  • Albert Heijn pods for Senseo: 7 euro cent.
  • Official Douwe Egberts pods for Senseo: 9 euro cent.
  • Nespresso: 33 euro cent.

Of course, the real coffee snobs own (or want to own) their personal espresso machine. Senseo pods are called pads in the Netherlands, but when Philips and Douwe Egberts decided to export their product they wisely chose to avoid any associations with women’s hygienic products. The Albert Heijn figure was added by me.

I switched to Senseo myself, because using the regular method you never end up with just a single cup, and instant coffee is just vile.

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