Monthly Archives: November 2013

Welcome to Soft Explosions!

View More:’s a cold, misty day in Kansas City and coffee is in the offing. Hi. I’m Emily McIntyre, and welcome to my blog. If you visited from The Planet D, thanks for taking the time to click over. I was honored to guest post there today!

This blog is a mixture of personalities, rituals, and craft businesses in the beverage industry and travel stories, snapshots, and how-to’s.

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May your day be filled with brilliance.


Beverage Personalities: Dean Kallivrousis


The world of coffee is filled with personalities large and small, introverted and extroverted. Most of us in this culture are here because we care deeply about the magical bean but also because we thrive on the interactions springing from it.

One of those personalities is Kostantinos Adonies Kallivrousis (I challenged myself to write his name without checking his Facebook feed for spelling and, well, I lost my challenge). Small, dark, and supercharged with energy, Dean is a well-known face by now in the Kansas City and regional coffee scene. Unhesitatingly Greek, possessor of a killer handlebar mustache and an unshakeable latte art hand, Dean and his lovely wife Jessie just celebrated the birth of their daughter, Sophia. He’s one of the dynamic baristas at Parisi Artisan Coffee (also home to reigning World Barista Champion, Pete Licata).

Dean’s star is rising. I know I’ll be another onlooker who found herself a bit happier because Dean is in her life, smiling swarthily over coffee. Here’s to the Kallivrousises, and to another meteoric year!

Kansas City, Missouri / early morning / Parisi Artisan Coffee

Convivial Fridays: Rhum Clément

The air as I entered the tasting room (through the aisles, down this stair, find the man in the suit) tasted of spice and smelled of cellar. I was here for a tasting of Rhum Clément, with little idea what awaited me, which happened to be amber-colored magic in a plastic cup. Rhum Agricole, the finest rum in the world (some would say), from the steamy island of Martinique to the crisp bustle of Kansas City, Missouri.


My beverage expertise runs strongly toward coffee, so this was an educational, as well as sensory evening. Chris Morales, the Midwest rep for Rhum Clément (and a classy gent with a strong background in spirits), packed an incredible amount of information into 45 minutes. Before me were 8 samples, ranging from clear to a deep amber.

The classic Clément Première Canne, with a strong impression of grappa and almond bitters, is made from fresh-pressed sugarcane rhum-clement-maison-9959grown on the family plantation, Habitation Clément. A white rhum, it is aged for 6 months in stainless steel barrels. Terroir plays a big part in the development of these rhums, as with any agricultural product. Two of the rhums we tasted were identical, except one was made with cane from the north side of the island, which rests under the looming shadow of Mount Pele and has a heartier, earthier taste. The southern cane produced a simpler and less impactful rhum. Like springtime.

We progressed slowly through our samples, discussing the aging process and lingering over the concept of the “angel’s share”–in the high humidity and heat of Martinique, so much alcohol evaporates during the aging process that barrels of the same distillation year must be combined several times over the process, which produces an exceptionally rare liquor. Rhum Clément offers a classic 3.5 year aged rhum, as well as 6 and 10 years. I’m relatively new to spirits, and I could feel my palate opening and tentatively receiving impressions as time passed. I surprised myself by identifying pomegranates in the 10-year rhum, and quickly started finding creme brûlée, pecans, and a wide variety of spice and mellow fruit.

As you can see in this video, Rhum Clément is a richly evocative brand. Established by Homère Clément (who, incidentally, was the first person of color to graduate from the University of Paris) in 1887 during the peak of the Martinique sugarcane crisis, Rhum Agricole was an innovation that saved the entire island’s economy. Other rums are made from molasses (hello, Bacardi & your good enemy Captain Morgan!), while rhum is made directly from sugar cane. Here is a basic post on the difference. Based on his experience with French liquors like armagnac, Homère created a recipe which his descendants still create.

The result is countless evenings like this one, where palates of all ranges and humans from every background gather to sip in silence and sigh, appreciatively.


℅ Rhum Clément

Kansas City, Missouri / evening / @Gomer’s Midtown w/Rhum Clément


The Secret of the Monkeys’ Confidence


The shriek of macaws, the rustle of leaf blades, the chittering of monkeys. Children flock around their mothers and fathers in crowds of neon colors and tanned skin. The tang of manure mingles with the scent of sunscreen. With utter confidence, Eire strides forward holding her tail in her hand.

We’re at the Santa Ana Zoo (Also known as The Monkey Zoo). Apparently Joseph Prentice, the founder of the zoo, required that there always be 50 monkeys present. And present they are, with the tangerine-orange ruff of the Golden Lion Tamarin and the black-capped spider monkey’s wizened face. Eire looks around her in wonder and walks away, her shoes scuffing the dirt and leaving tiny clouds hanging behind. She, like the monkeys, moves with utter sang-froid. What is the secret to their confidence?

Santa Ana, CA / morning / SAZOO