It's a bit wild on my porch. With moths flittering about and the tiniest hummingbirds hovering precisely, pointy beaks inside cone-shaped flowers three shades of pink. The three-foot-tall bouquet of green onion stems sprouting from my concrete steps. An army of green vines straight out of the Amazon, slowly marching across the entry all Summer long. One night a rat-tailed possum climbed the Crape Myrtle next to my green-cushioned love seat, and three brave and curious raccoons scampered up to try and make off with the round slices of venison sausage and club crackers that are so often my dinner.

But I love contrast, and so I sit smoking a Nicaraguan cigar, sipping Russian River Pinot Noir, listening to Mendelssohn and reading iPhone texts from my winsome girlfriend about the beauty of the moon (which is glowing from behind my arched roofline) and the bright planet hanging below (and behind a tall, tall tree).

Contrasts are important. All of one or the other and you might not notice either.

We had driven for hours along a graded dirt road strewn with rocks and the holes they dislodged from, occasionally passing another vehicle and its trailing red cloud of dust, sporadically stopping to look at a care-free elephant or a distant ostrich, a black orb overing on the horizon, or an almost-imperceptible serval cat with its over-sized ears, pouncing on a snake in the knee-high grass. We passed wandering Maasai warriors in tartan shukas driving emaciated cows and goats, and awkward, skittish, knobby-kneed giraffes chewing leaves of the thorny Acacia. The road became paved and began climbing and I nodded, fighting drowsy, motion-induced slumber. The plains turned to forests as we ascended the side of a volcano that was probably one of the tallest mountains on the continent of Africa before it blew its top and formed a 12-mile-wide crater. The cool green rainforest was a far cry from the brown, endless plain we spent days criss-crossing, pointing out perfectly camouflaged antelope and their predators. The smallest Dikdik, the fastest Topi, the ugliest Wildebeest, the sleekest Cheetah.

In high-elevation mist, Baboons sat on the road, licking the pavement and plotting, like Yogi Bear, to steal our pic-a-nic basket. And as we rounded a switch-back, our Tanzanian guide quickly stopped and exclaimed, "Oh look at this!"

Five lionesses and a great, maned, muscular beast walked down the road toward our Land Cruiser and warily but confidently skirted by, three feet from our faces pressed against the nippy windows. A wild kingdom. Our hearts raced, and we continued our windey, ascending drive. Until suddenly, the trees opened up before us, over the edge of the crater into the clouds below and the ridge beyond, and the wilderness transformed into a palatial hotel, colorfully-robed and kufi'd bellmen dashing here and there, fetching bags and escorting us, like foreign dignitaries, into a grand lobby. Marbled floors and huge, carved, wooden columns, exquisite lounge furniture next to glowing fires, under an ominous, thatched dome. We lived like royalty, sipping Scotch in the bar overlooking the crater, fine dining on white tablecloths, and escaping to our '70s-style quarters to where we were escorted by an armed guard, wary of the predators about.

A shocking change. But I don't think it would've had the same effect on us, had we not spent the previous three days in a primitive safari camp, washing in a gravity shower, eating in a mess tent, and zipping our door behind us at night to slumber with the sound of hyena calls.

We'll be exploring contrasts in coffees through a coffee tasting that you are invited to on Thursday, October 27 at 7pm. I'll brew a few of my favorite coffees for you, tell you where they were cultivated, how they were processed, and together we'll taste and smell and enjoy the variety that DoubleShot Coffee can offer.
Entry is $10 and we're using the funds through our 501(3)(c) not-for-profit, Coffee Illuminati, to give to projects that support coffee-growing communities.
Spots are limited, so register right away by emailing me at