Alton Brown

by: Erik Evenson

Well, it's official. The twenty-somethings of today are now known as "The Lost Generation" according to the magazines. Don't believe me? Read about it here. The unemployment rate for 16 to 24-year-olds is 18%, and only 82% of college graduates ages 22-27 are finding jobs. We've got many reasons to feel down, and it's not just the numbers that are grim. How many of us know someone who has been laid off in the last year? How many of us are trying to find jobs? My fiancee has been trying to find a job for months now--it's not the rejections that bother her so much as the no-replies at all.

I had been feeling pretty down about all this, not knowing what to do about it when, the other night, I went to see the mad genius Alton Brown, a culinary hero of mine.  During the question-and-answer session, someone from the audience asked him, "Where do you get the inspiration for your shows and dishes?"

He gave a pretty good answer.

"You'd be surprised at how closely inspiration is linked to desperation."

A couple of minutes later, I moseyed up to the desk Mr. Brown was sitting behind to have my new cookbook signed. I mumbled a few things, told Mr. Brown I love his show, and gave him a bag of our Guatemala El Socorro coffee. He thanked me, said he would inhale it straight out of the bag, and wrote something in my new book. When I got home, I checked it, thinking he had written something about the history of French presses or the chemical makeup of caffeine. What he wrote was this: cook smart. The bulb went on.

Maybe it's time we started doing things smart, simple, elegant and stop taking all the things we do on a day-to-day basis for granted.

Yes, the situation we find ourselves in at the moment is pretty desperate. It's as volatile as forest fire, but like forest fires, it means that the old trees are clearing out, making a way for new growth. Now's the time to be inspired. It's time for this "lost generation" to step up to the plate and take ownership of the hand they've been dealt. It's time to change a few things. It's time to reexamine what we are doing with our lives: how we work, what we eat and drink, how we get from here to there, the habits we form. It's time to cook smart. It's time to start something new.

Do what you do. Do it well. Do it deliberately. The rest will follow. We here at Zoka will strive to do what we do well: make premium coffee. We'll make it simple, make it elegant, and most of all, make it delicious. I hope you'll follow with us.

Respect the brew.