Little Waves Coffee Roaster

I am straight up backlogged with multiple bags of coffee. I’m finally finished with the sudden influx of beans from January and February. Going back to my subscriptions, February’s Angels Cup delivers a bag of beans from El Salvador roasted by Little Waves Coffee Roaster.

Opening the bag, I’m greeted with a sweet fruity aroma. Making my latte, I taste a sweet raisin, sweet berry, maple syrup flavor. There’s a subtle molasses after taste as well. Subsequent sips also reveal a chocolate flavor that kind of just lingers along with that molasses. I’m a little disappointed I wasn’t able to taste this when I first got it. I think this would have been much more aromatic and a deeper chocolate aftertaste.

Yet another hate crime.

The recent racist killings of Asian Americans by “not a racist” white male suffering from a sex addiction and a “bad day” has been in the making it’s way around the interwebs and news media. Of course, the white male suspect has been captured without any further incident.

Can you imagine if he were black, latino, or asian? Wait… Did you think that too?

Wait… Why did you think that? Hmm… but I digress….

*****

Here’s a fun fact… Columbine HS shooting/massacre happened 21 years, 11 months ago. This guy is 21 years old. He probably wasn’t even born yet when Columbine happened.

Here’s another fun fact… Apparently, this guy bought his gun the SAME DAY he killed the Asian Americans. How the FUCK does that even happen?

Here’s another fun fact, since 1982, whites have dominated the mass shooter market (another data set) making up the majority of the incidents relative to other racial/ethnic groups. I think it’s actually white males but the data set doesn’t seem to make this distiniction.

Here’s a final fun fact. HE WAS KICKED OUT OF THE HOUSE BY HIS OWN PARENTS. As much as his parents and the church community attempted to help him with his “sex addiction,” the moment the parents kicked him out of the house, they should bear some of the responsibility of his actions. Do we know if his parents called for help when they kicked him out? Did they advise him to go to his church group for help? What we do know is that he ended up with a firm belief he had to “eliminate temptations.”

*****

On Friday, an employee resource group where I work held an impromptu session to listen and discuss the events of Atlanta specifically but also as a broader forum with other people and experiences. The discussions got me thinking too much and is now prompting this post that’ll probably be written over the course of a few days. There is one question that people always ask… how can I help? As much as I appreciate this question, I think as a society, we have to reframe this question two ways…

  1. How can society change?
  2. What can society change?

Apart from the typical “create an open dialog” mantra that you hear from everyone, that’s clearly not enough. Ever since the LA riots in 1992, the dialog has been open but it’s not enough. Fast forward 30 years from the LA riots, the Black Lives Matter marches from 2020 shows us that there has been progress but why is there still violence against minorities? We ask all sorts of questions yet change comes slowly. But society has shown it can adapt from the rotary phones to a hand held computer/phone/camera/video camera in just 40 years. What does that mean? IT SHOWS SOCIETY IS CAPABLE OF EMBRACING CHANGE.

So how can society change? Unfortunately in the past 20+ years, I’ve come to realize (as many people should) the government is ultimately the only place where societal change can be implemented. Slavery? Gone with the Emancipation Proclamation, a Presidential executive order followed quickly by the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. Women can vote (again) via the 19th Amendment. But have you noticed that every time the change has always resulted in issues. Jim Crow Laws, poll taxes and literacy tests come to mind. This makes me wonder…. why does the government HAVE TO EXPLICITLY GRANT these freedoms? I don’t know but I think society fears the unknown and the unfamiliar and thus have a tendency to push back against this.

So back to my original question… how can society change? I believe there needs to be a concerted effort to CHANGE the dialog of the selfish “You’re infringing on MY rights” and to CHANGE the government at all levels. With the “infringing on my rights” dialog, I’ve always admired at how crazy and self-centered certain segments of the US population are when it comes to rights and freedoms. Let’s take healthcare… certain people were rabidly opposed to having to pay for health insurance and also opposed to paying the tax penalty for NOT having insurance. It was “my right” to not pay for health insurance. What about the all the rights of the others who paid insurance? If you went and used services like ER/urgent care, where do you think the majority of those expenses get passed to? Your lack of insurance passed the costs down to the insured. With more than 60% of bankruptcies caused by medical issues/bills/expenses, you’re “right to no insurance” now infringed on all the rights of the insured. Why should the insured have to pay for such stupidity? So what is the proposed change? I think a very simple change might be to start thinking about how our actions will affect other individuals and then adjust accordingly. As a society, we might not get it right all the time but if everyone is trying to think of others then at least we’ll get some great change out of it.

Now… how do we change government? Society holds power over politicians in at least two simple ways. The first is to vote. Society should vote against politicians that do not support the values that lead to a “positive society.” What is a “positive society?” A simple answer would be a society that embraces the mantra of the “golden rule” aka “treat others as you would like to be treated.” The second way is to control where the money flows to. Politicians require money for their campaigns and to stay in office. And since politicians require money, society should control where the money flows. We should only support politicians that values a positive society. In addition, corporations (since they are people too) also have the power to affect government. The workers should also encourage their companies to only support politicians that value a positive society. Simple yet very complicated. I think if society can embrace or even strive to follow the golden rule, only positive outcomes will be expected.

So what can society change? First, what are common themes everyone can agree on? I can actually think of a few items…

  1. Healthcare reform. In US, the amount of care relative the amount spent for the care is considered horrible. Studies have shown that medical inequality is a significant issue for low income families potentially even bankrupting them. Providing a basic level of healthcare that consist of yearly medical, dental and vision visits, routine bloodwork (metabolic panel, lipid panel, CBC), STD checks, and other basic female/male tests should be mandated. Additional services would be provided through insurance and the private market.
  2. Tax reform for individuals and corporations. Currently, there is a growing divide between the top richest and the poorest. The growing disparity should be a concern especially since the the bottom incomes are slowly being pushed into perpetual poverty with minimal paths to middle income. What’s even more concerning is that the poorest are forever saddled with unfavorable situations that continually keep them in the same poor economic situation. Would universal basic income for the poorest help? What percentage of taxpayers are actually living below the poverty line? I think there is some equitable way to allow people to keep getting rich from their businesses while at the same time provide help to the poorest to live with some sort of dignity.
  3. Education reform. The idea of “free 4 year tuition” is nice but I actually don’t think that is feasible. I think what’s most important is tuition and loan borrow reforms. The tuition has gradually increased over many years. One study implicates the free “unlimited” lending power of the government to provide loans for students to attend college (source data, second source). The government should offer a capped loan amount to the students. This would restrict the “supply” of money forcing students and colleges to reevaluate where to spend the capped amount.
  4. Political reform. Let’s get rid of lobbyists from even being able to interact with politicians. Else, there should be a system where lobbyists must register who they will talk to during the day. If found to have conversed, the politician should be immediately removed from office and the vote transferred to the politician’s party. Coupled with the ability to direct money, this reform has the most potential of creating political operatives who will work towards a positive society.
  5. Gun Reform. NO ONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO PURCHASE and KEEP A NEW GUN on the same day!!! This does not limit the 2nd amendment rights of “bearing arms”… it is a matter of accountability, background check which leads to a safer society.

Pappy & Company

The algorithms that power my news feed apparently thought that I might be interested in this particular product: Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee. Based on the website, this collaboration between a coffee roaster Good Folks Coffee Company and Pappy Bourbon results in dark roast of single origin beans from Guatemala. Interestingly enough, apparently you can’t purchase any bourbon from the website.

Opening the bag, I’m greeted with aromas of spicy oak. This reminds me of aromas from alcohol aging (like wine). But since it’s bourbon (aka whiskey that’s been distilled with more than 51% corn mash), the distinctive grain smell also lingers as well. In addition to the oak and grain smells, I also get a “yougurty” aged smell that is very similar to the geisha beans. Grinding the beans, I’m struck at how a subdued the aromas are. Making my latte, the whiskey flavor is the most outstanding flavor that I taste first. After this initial whiskey flavor, I taste this grain-like/grass-like flavors as well. I think this related to the whiskey aging too. After overcoming these two flavors, I also start to get hints of the “agey-ness” and fermented flavors. The latte is different from what I’m normally used to. What surprises me is the lack of nutty, floral or fruity flavors. Overall, these beans taste nothing like the normal beans from the coffee subscriptions. They’re not bad but clearly different from the norm.

A Mini-FAQ to Mutual Funds

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a financial planner. The opinions stated in this blog post are my opinions based on my current financial portfolio and the hours of reading and research. I suggest everyone to also perform your own research since everyone’s financial portfolio are uniquely different.

A few weeks ago, I posted a “Vanguard Mutual Fund Reference Guide” and actually wrote quite a bit afterwards intending the guide and this post to be a mini-FAQ for any readers interested in investing or anyone not sure how to pick mutual funds. Although everything mentioned is strictly related to Vanguard, other financial institutions will have similar mutual fund options that I’ve listed. Remember, do your own research and retirement planning and investing is a long term endeavor!

____________________

Vanguard is one of the top financial institutions that provide retirement accounts.  Many investors recommend opening up a Vanguard account for retirement since Vanguard offers a wide variety of options for investing.  However, the number of funds that they offer can be overwhelming.  Over the past 15 years, I’ve come to learn a lot about personal finance and investing. In this post, I will try to explain and simplify these mutual fund choices based on the research that I have done.  

Mutual funds are an investment diversification tool.  Within their portfolio, the funds can contain various asset classes such as stocks, bonds, real estate, or even cash that appeal to the investors. Generally, mutual funds are populated with stocks. Most mutual funds also focus the portfolio investments around a certain “theme.” One of the most common “themed” mutual funds is based off an index (S&P 500, Whole Market, etc) which seeks to mirror the stocks listed in these indexes. These types of funds are generally known as “index funds” and are relatively solid investments if you’re not sure what funds to invest in. Another common “themed” based mutual fund is known as a Target Date Mutual Fund. This type of fund simply targets a retirement year (the Target Date) and adjusts the amount of risks the portfolio is exposed to as retirement approaches. This is a common “one stop shop” for many people who do not wish to perform their own research. Other common themes would include assets classes that focus on a particular sector of the economy (finance, healthcare, real estate) or focus on social movements like social injustice and climate change. I find there will always be some mutual fund that satisfies an investor’s goal or personal beliefs.  

Diving into more details, mutual funds will contain a blend of asset classes (bonds, real estate, stock, etc) while other funds will only focus on stocks.  Generally, the mutual fund will list the type of asset class that it’s categorized in.  In the case of stocks, investors have subdivided stocks into three categories depending on the market capitalization (i.e. how big a company is): small ($0.3B to $2B), mid ($2B to $10B) and large ($10B+).  There are various risks and rewards associated with market capitalization to be aware of.  Small cap offer greater growth/value but also greater risks. Large cap offer consistent value but also offers minimal risks.

In addition to different asset classes, mutual funds are also divided into three distinct stock types: growth, value and blend.  Growth funds contain a portfolio where a company prioritizes growth (and increased market capitalization) while Value funds contain a portfolio where a company might be undervalued relative to the market.  Blend funds are a combination of both types.  There is also a fourth option where the fund focuses on companies that consistently provide dividends to also consider as well.  I’ll call these out as “Dividend funds” but they seem to be classified as Value.  Dividend funds are a unique type of fund since they invest in stocks that provide consistent dividend income to the investor. There is a whole investment thought process that is devoted to investing only in dividend stocks such that at some point in the future, an investor could live off the income generated by these stocks. Overall, investors will need to read the fund objectives to determine which asset stock type is best for them.

Finally, mutual funds are not free.  They charge an operating expense that’s known as an expense ratio.  This ratio is the fee charged over the total fund amount.  The fee is usually taken out of the return on investment.  Why does this matter?  Funds that have low expense ratios generally mean more money for your dollar.  For example, a fund with a 0.4% ratio means the fund charges $4 for every $1000 invested.  But a fund with 0.04% charges only $0.4 for every $1000 invested.  Over time and compound interest, more of your money is invested and working for you.  I also look at this ratio as a factor of whether or not the fund might be worth looking into.

If you recall, here’s the table of the various Vanguard mutual funds. If you only had enough money to invest in one fund, I suggest investing in either VFIAX/VOO or VTSAX/VTI. The VFIAX mirrors the S&P 500 while VTSAX mirrors the total market. A quick Google search will show you that funds mirroring large index funds like VFIAX will generally net positive returns in the long run.

Market CapGrowthValueDividendBlendTotal Market
Large CapVIGAX (Admiral)
VUG (ETF)
VVIAX (Admiral)
VTV (ETF)
VHYAX (Admiral)
VEIPX (Admiral)VYM (ETF)
VFIAX (Admiral)
VOO (ETF)
VTSAX (Admiral)
VTI (ETF)
Mid CapVMGMX (Admiral)
VOT (ETF)
VMVAX (Admiral)
VOE (ETF)
VIMAX (Admiral)
VO (ETF)
VEXEX (Admiral)
VXF (ETF)
Small CapVSGAX (Admiral)
VBK (ETF)
VSIAX (Admiral)
VBR (ETF)
VSMAX (Admiral)
VB (ETF)

Large, reputable retirement plans will offer a mix of growth, value and blend funds as well as large, mid and small cap funds. The company generally determines which funds to invest in but I suspect they follow the general advice of the retirement plans. Since retirement plans vary, doing your own research is important for your own specific plan. Just remember two key points. 1) Select one of the proven types of mutual funds like S&P 500 index funds or a similar large cap blend mutual fund. History has shown these types of fund have had consistent growth. 2) Retirement planning and investing is a long term endeavor. I recommend a “set it and forget it” mentality since you you won’t start to see gains immediately. But come back after 5, or 10 years, the compounding effect will be very apparent.

3rd Julian Coffee Kickstarter

Following up on his previous two coffee Kickstarter, Julian Coffee is back for a third time. This time it’s from Nicaragua. As a small US business, I appreciate how simple the packaging in. To be honest, it has been two months since I received these beans. I haven’t had the time to be able to try these beans amongst all the other beans I’ve received.

Opening the bag, I’m greeted with a subdued roasted nutty, chocolate aromas. There’s a visible difference between the strength of the aroma now compared to two months ago. Also, I am reminded at the similarity of the smell compared to the previous Julian Coffee beans Columbia and Puerto Rico. The beans do look visibly roasted more as well relative to the Trade Coffee or Angels Cup Coffee roasters. Making my latte, I’m actually surprised at how dark espresso slurry is inside the Aeropress. With the first sip, I am reminded of the ashy profile similar to the Columbian and Puerto Rican beans. The taste is not very strong and probably a result of using 2 month old beans. I think these beans would have been much more delicious if I had opened them earlier. Nonetheless, I’m glad I was able to kickstart these coffee product.

Joe Coffee Company

February’s Trade Coffee brings beans from Burundi. If you’re like me, I had to look that up. It’s a land locked country in the middle of Africa bordered by Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. Joe Coffee Company is such great branding name. Most Americans should be familiar with term “cup of joe” which is a nickname for a cup of coffee. Apparently, the origins of this term is shrouded in mystery! Snopes, Readers Digest and the Roasterie offer some potential theories. I digress…. getting back to what matters, these beans are from Burundi’s Kayanza Province.

Opening the bag, I’m smell roasted nuts, fruits and floral aromas. Making my latte, the initial sip contains an explosion of citrus (pomelo?) flavors. After each sip, I also taste this subtle roasted grain/barley flavor that rounds the sip. This “roastedness” remains with each sip. It doesn’t quite become milk chocolate like either. It’s a little hard to describe as these beans are subtly different from Ethiopian beans. It has that familiarity of Ethiopian beans yet at the same time has it’s own unique taste differences.

Black Stallion Coffee Company

Today, the coffee beans I’m writing about are not from Angels Cup nor Trade Coffee — surprise surprise~! These beans are Black Stallion Cofee Company which also happen to be a local black and veteran owned business. #SupportLocalBusiness. To be honest, someone told me about this local coffee roaster. And like all coffee chasers, I went to visit the roaster expecting to get a latte. Unfortunately, they are still just roasting coffee beans on site with plans of opening up a future cafe. (Thanks Coronavirus!) On impulse since I was already at the cafe, I bought a bag of the Majestic. I look forward to a day I can sip a latte.

These coffee beans are actually a blend from 3 regions: Ethiopia, Brazil and one other South American country (Colombia?). I am greeted with floral, citrus and toffee aromas upon opening the bag. Making my latte, I initially taste berries and this wonderful rich dark chocolate flavor. I also get a familiar dark roasted barley/roasted grain taste reminiscent of the lattes made from Kona coffee beans. For randomly buying and trying the beans, these are very delicious.

Reference Guide to Vanguard Domestic Mutual Funds

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a financial planner. The opinions stated in this blog post are my opinions based on my current financial portfolio. I suggest to also do your own research as your financial portfolio may be different from mine. If you are interested reassessing your finances, please seek professional advice from a Certified Financial Advisor that charges based on a flat fee (not commission based).

A few weeks ago, I talked about a 2021 financial portfolio re-assessment. As a result of that post, I looked into the various domestic Vanguard mutual funds that would be good long term investment. This table below lists these mutual funds divided by market capitalization and stock types. I included a dividend option for those investors that are looking for companies that consistently pay dividends to shareholders. In addition, I found this “Total Market” fund which exposes investors to the market including large, mid and small cap stocks. Even though these are Vanguard stocks, other financial institutions like Fidelity/Schwab/Etrade will also offer similar mutual funds. As an investor, more research is needed to find the equivalent non-Vanguard fund at these intuitions.

Here’s the table:

Market CapGrowthValueBlendDividendTotal Market
Large CapVIGAX (Admiral)
VUG (ETF)
VVIAX (Admiral)
VTV (ETF)
VFIAX (Admiral)
VOO (ETF)
VHYAX (Admiral)
VEIPX (Admiral)
VYM (ETF)
VTSAX (Admiral)
VTI (ETF)
Mid CapVMGMX (Admiral)
VOT (ETF)
VMVAX (Admiral)
VOE (ETF)
VIMAX (Admiral)
VO (ETF)
VEXEX (Admiral)
VXF (ETF)
*No S&P 500 stocks
Small CapVSGAX (Admiral)
VBK (ETF)
VSIAX (Admiral)
VBR (ETF)
VSMAX (Admiral)
VB (ETF)

After making this table, the distribution of my retirement accounts are much clearer to me now. I have adjusted my portfolio to invest in large, mid and small cap mutual funds focused around growth, blend and dividend.

Hey (Republican) Senators!

So if Republican Senators listening to the impeachment trial do not believe Trump is responsible for causing the 06JAN2021 Capitol Insurrection, who do they think should be held responsible? Have the Senators asked themselves why these Trump insurrectionist supporters decided to storm the building?

Since these Senators are very keen on “interpreting” the Constitution narrowly, they should be very clear to mention the fact that Trump was impeached in his final days as President. Thus claiming it is “unconstitutional to impeach a former president” is obviously a lie. Furthermore, claiming to follow the Constitution, these Republican Senators failed to follow the Constitution when the Articles of Impeachment were delivered. The Republican controlled Senate slowed any discussion of a trial until AFTER they lost their power 20JAN2021. Furthermore, if the Senators are going to interpret the Constitution, they should also remember that 14th Amendment also has language related to a President who took the oath to “PRESERVE, PROTECT and DEFEND the Constitution.” Didn’t Trump encourage Pence to disregard the Constitution and the Electoral College so that the election will be cast in Trump’s favor? How is that “PRESERVING the Constitution”? Reports about how Trump watched with glee the insurrectionist storm the Capitol Building…. How is that DEFENDING the constitution? Trump proclaimed himself to be the “law and order” President… yet allowed his supporters to storm and damage the Capitol Building.

Everything the Republicans are doing infuriates me. In fact, it should infuriate anyone who believes in the Constitution and in America.

Little Amps Coffee Roasters

January’s Angels Cup comes from Little Amps Coffee Roasters. The Ethiopian coffee beans come from coffee collective Daanisa in the Guji zone. Ethiopian beans have been consistently delicious with floral and fruity flavors.

Opening the bag, I’m greeted with a wonderful floral and fruity aroma. This aroma fades into the nutty familiar smell of coffee beans. Making my latte, I mainly taste berries that morphs into a nutty chocolaty aftertaste. Interestingly, if I extract with more water, I get a more citrus flavor. This latte has a great mouthfeel that coats the tongue hours after finishing the drink. It’s amazing how consistently fruity Ethiopian beans have been regardless of the roaster.