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When coffee meets Pynchon

TrysterocoffeeThis morning, I had my coffee with Thomas Pynchon -- well, sort of. I was drinking my first cup of Trystero Coffee, named for the conspiracy threaded through Pynchon's book "The Crying of Lot 49."

Based in Los Angeles, Trystero Coffee is a microroaster so small that it says it roasts in "nano batches."

The connection between coffee and Pynchon's book isn't obvious at first. There is some coffee drinking in "The Crying of Lot 49," but it's not the high-end, sensual experience today's coffee drinkers expect. In the book, protagonist Oedipa Maas drinks "thick lukewarm coffee from a clay pot" with revolutionary Jesus Arrabal. Later, when the psychiatrist Dr. Hilarius is threatening people with a gun, his assistant Helga Blamm burns her mouth on instant. Instant?

What Trystero Coffee does have in common with Pynchon's book is a muted post-horn logo, and its just-under-the-radar presence. There is no Trystero Coffee storefont or advertising campaign. To discover its website, you have to go looking -- or it's possible you'll stumble across its Facebook page, where Trystero's owners post information about beans and batches (upcoming: new beans from Papau New Guinea and Ethiopia).

The roaster accepts orders via e-mail, with buyers being able to pick their beans and roasting level. Trystero delivers -- for free -- to downtown Los Angeles and select parts of the city. It also ships via e-mail.

Is it good? I'd tell you, but I might just have to run around the block first.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Trystero Coffee. Credit: Carolyn Kellogg

Comments () | Archives (15)

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If 'tis a Combination of Coffee and Pynchonian Allusion one seeks, the Booke to which One should ever revert, is his 1997 Masterpiece of 18th century Impersonation, "Mason & Dixon",— wherein is Featured the Transits of Venus, the famed Visto separating the Penns of Pennsylvania from the Calverts of Maryland, Native Americans and frontier Folk, Bodices ripped and Musickal, naval Warfare, Conspiracies Erotick and Politickal, and, if yese recall, "major Caffeine abuse."
'Tis a bonny fine Read, for fair.

This is slightly off topic, but I want that Eric Carle Hungry Caterpillar coffee mug! Where did you get it?

Ah, Joanna, that is one of our legendary LA Times Festival of Books coffee mugs, given as a thank-you to participating authors (and blogger-moderators). What you see is the mug from 2009, when Eric Carle provided the Festival of Books' logo.

If I remember right, someone claims in Mason & Dixon that the first cup is the only good coffee in the pot, and the rest of the coffee serves as a sacrifice to the glory of that first cup.

I've had Trystero coffee a few times already. Good stuff!

Aye, you're right, Casey.

Slothrop, eh? Hmm. Have a banana, pal. I'm watching you.

I bought my husband a roaster 4 years ago. He's my personal nano roaster!

We await silent Tristero's empire.

Thanks for the tip, Carolyn.

It ships via e-mail? This I must see for myself.

You will need a lot of coffee to get through his next-to-last novel "Against the Day", over 1000 densely written pages that wander all over the place. I did finish it eventually, reading a few pages at a time over the course of a year. Of course, I read several other books straight through during the time it took me to complete reading it.

adopting the style and title of a secretive organization does not, to me, seem the most effective model for doing business.
and how did they manage to license the image and name from pynchon and/or the publisher? or is that not relevant in the world of books, as it is most everywhere else?
or... is Pynchon himself behind this operation?
(envious of Coppola's success in winemaking no doubt).

I like coffee. Good article.
But all I want right now is that mug!

Some of you people need to read 'The Secret Integration.'

The 35 years have wiped any memory of The Crying from my mind. But having just finished (on the 3rd try) Vineland, where coffee plays no role at all...It's the sentence that never ends my friend... And alive where conspiracies always abound. A genuine California Roast.


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