Monday, December 27, 2010

The Coffee Collective

As an American, my concept of Europe has always been like a fairytale land. There are real castles, royal families, and enough smugness to make the untraveled Yankee feel like he stepped into a story where everyone is better educated and impeccably dressed.

Such presuppositions certainly carried over into my thoughts about the Coffee Collective, the Copenhagen based roaster and coffee bar. Having followed their blog for several years now, I was already a huge fan before I took a sip. The Coffee Collective belonged with Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales and free health care, wonderful ideas that don't actually exist.

Amazingly the Coffee Collective is a real place in a real neighborhood and anyone, even regular people, can have a cup of coffee there.... and it's really good.

Highlights of my visit:
  • Meeting two fellow coffee pilgrims, Haley and Neil, from the UK. It was wonderful to talk with other people that love coffee so much that they flew to another country to taste it. Haley runs a coffee shop in Norwich called The Window. It serves Hasbean coffee (delicious!) and looks lovely.
  • An aeropress of their La Esmeralda Special. Honestly one of the best coffees I've ever had. Sqeaky clean with a honey-like body. Tons of floral and fruit subnotes my limited palate has a hard time articulating. In a word: wonderful.
  • Seeing the very bemused look on the barista's face when I asked her to pose with Toto (see above picture). Actually this is only sort of a highlight because Danes are really hip and I really felt like a dork asking.
  • being mistaken by a group of customers as a barista- I wish.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

It was the worse (day before) Christmas (Eve) Ever! Part 1

The trip so far:

Our trip to Copenhagen for Christmas began with our flight being delayed an hour in Istanbul. It was mildly frustrating at the time, especially because I wanted to experience as much of the city as possible before the 3 day holiday began.

We had no idea what lay in store for us.

After a fairly uneventful 3 hour flight, the pilot made the announce met to raise seats to their upright position and so forth and everybody collected their things as we prepared for landing. And we waited.... and waited. After circling for an hour and a half the pilot made the announcement that it was not safe to land and that we would be land in Gothenburg, Sweden- a short 30 minute flight away. A Swedish passenger informed us from there we should be able to catch a train to Copenhagen.

However, Turkish Air had a different plan. The pilot announced that we were going to wait for the weather to get better in Copenhagen. We may be delayed 1 or 2 more hours. So I pulled out a book I've been meaning to finish, put in my ear buds, and tried to make the most of it.

After 2 hours of sitting on the runway, the pilot basically repeated the exact same announcement- we would be able to land in Denmark in 2 hours. At this point a Swedish family asked to get off the plane- their families could drive to the airport and pick them up. The flight attendants relayed the message to the pilot who announced that was impossible because weather conditions could change at any moment and the delay of letting people off the plane could make us miss our window.

Around the 4 hour mark my long dormant claustrophobia begin to kick in as I had a mini-panic attack. People who have seen me when my blood sugar crashes knows that confused, illogical Michael very well. I seriously considered pulling the emergency hatch.

At some point an Irishman with a smartphone relayed the information to the rest of the plane that other flights were landing in Copenhagen- including a plane from Istanbul that left after ours did. Essentially this proved that our pilot had lied to us and was mostly likely incompetent to fly in these conditions. People began secretly conspiring, alliances were formed, and some people got loud.

Finally after 6 hours of sitting on the runway Turkish agreed to let every off the plane, though the pilot was still insistent that the aircraft would be ready later that night. After going through immigration Turkish Air informed us they were hiring a bus to drive us Copenhagen, which was 5 hours away by car. We were so relieved to get out of that claustrophobia/inducing den of lies that a long drive didn't seem like that big of a deal. I even thought it might even be nice to see the moonlit Swedish countryside, which was covered in snow.

As we settled into the bus we felt a certain sense of contentment, admittedly balanced by the contempt we felt for Turkish Airlines. A long, miserable ordeal was finally behind us.

At least that's what we thought.

To be continued....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wright on Mark 13

"Most popular Christian readings of the text, not least within fundamentalism, have shared Schweitzer's understanding that Jesus predicted the end of the world, but have said that, since this did not happen within a generation, Jesus must have meant something different by 'this generation'. Here we have the solution to the problem of the timing of the kingdom, which of course is also raised by such verses as Matthew 10.23 and Mark 9.1. Already present in Jesus' ministry, and climatically inaugurated in his death and resurrection, the divine kingdom will be manifest within a generation, when Jesus and his followers are vindicated in and though the destruction of Jerusalem. The generation that rejects Jesus must be the last before the great cataclysm. There can be no other, because if there were they would need another warning prophet; once the father has sent the son to the vineyard, he can send nobody else. To reject the son is to reject the last chance. "

N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 365.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Skate Istanbul

I started skateboarding in the 6th grade, broke my arm 50/50ing a curb in the 8th grade, but stuck with it until my junior/senior year when playing music became a more viable means of impressing girls.

My roommate Seth has a similar story, only he never sold out. I recently snagged this footage of him killing/chilling it on a miniramp at one of Istanbul's several skateparks.

It's pretty amazing how skate culture has globalized.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Top 5 of '10

I feel completely uncomfortable trying to make a "best albums of 2010" list- I have not listened to enough albums to make any such pretensions. More so, I realize I've spent most my life developing a highly specified- and dare I say subjective- aesthetic that is completely unfathomable to the uninitiated and thereby disqualifies me from being able to choose what music should be esteemed by popular culture. That being said, I am completely comfortable sharing my "favorite albums of 2010"

#5. Sleigh Bells "Treats"
One of my biggest regrets about 2010: I never got to dance at a party playing Sleigh Bells. This album is big, loud, and genius. Literally every track makes me want to get on the floor. Ghetto-blasting beats, screaming guitar licks, and hipster sensibilities never sounded so good.

#4. Beach House "Teen Dream"

When I first heard this album early this year I thought it might just be my album of the year. It turns out it isn't, but I still love this droning dreamlike record.

#3. Arcade Fire "The Suburbs"
The Arcade Fire prove that a good concept is still a viable means of making a record more than the sum total of its parts. As a product of rural, small town America I can't completely identify with the subject matter, but I certainly understand the angst and disillusionment that comes from being part of middle class America. Thankfully this album is not shallow or sententious, but an honest investigation that's willing to point fingers at the mirror and not just just our parents. Thought provoking line of the year: "Do you think your righteousness could pay the interest on your debts? I have my doubts about it."

#2. Sufjan Stevens "The Age of Adz"
As an individual I'm prone to speak in superlatives and hyperboles. My only regret is that people often don't understand or believe how much I love Sufjan. This album only makes me love him more, and there's a lot of reasons why: the juxtaposition of digital and orchestral instrumentation, the emotional transparency, catchy-yet-complex melodies, the list goes on. But I think what I love the most is that Sufjan made a unique and unexpected album that still fits perfectly in his discography. I really don't see how any fan could be disappointed in this album.

Perhaps the simplest way to determine my favorite album of the year is to see which album I played the most and in that case there is only one option:

#1.The Wild Hunt by The Tallest Man on Earth .
The release of this album coincided with my move to Turkey and in many ways has been my soundtrack for the entire year. The adventure of unexplored horizons, the excitement of dreams coming to fruition, the elation and excruciating pain that loving someone can bring: all of these emotions/experiences have found a voice in Kristian Matsson's carefully crafted album. "Troubles will be Gone" optimistically describes the day I'm still hoping for; "You're Going Back" the frustration that we all experience in the meantime. The dissonance of "Love is All" and hauntingly simple piano of "Like the Wheel" provide pensive inflections in an otherwise positive outlook.

Perhaps more than any other song, Matsson's cover of Paul Simon's "Graceland", released as a single in conjunction with this album, voiced an authentic heartache I found strangely comforting. In a sense, Matsson provides for "Graceland" what Art Garfunkel once did for Simon's early work: a voice that somehow seems to capture the very soul of Simon's pen. When Matsson belts out "I see losing love is like a window in your heart/ everybody sees you blown apart/ everybody feels the wind blow" you feels as though you know Matsson/Simon, and the pain they feel is your own.

Honorary mentions:

Vampire Weekend "Contra"
The Radio Dept. "Clinging to a Scheme"
Wovenhand "The Threshing Floor"
Kanye West "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" [admittedly if this had come out a little earlier it probably would have found it's way onto my top 5, but I just picked up this album and am still getting into it. definitely a masterpiece. ]

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


My messenger bag recently developed a small hole so I did my best to mend it by hand with a needle and some red thread that matched the trim nicely. It was a rather amateurish job, and I'm quite certain my neighborhood tailor could have done it perfectly for a few lira, but there was a certain amount of satisfaction in sewing it myself, crooked stitches and all.

Actually that small, traveling sewing kit is very precious to me. It was the last present my mom ever gave me.

I remember that it was a last minute gift back in April that came as I was hurriedly chosing which of my belongings to take with me to Istanbul. I was resolved to only pack two duffels and yet I wanted to bring most of my library. At some point in the midst of trying to determine which books were the top priority Mom handed me the sewing kit and told me I might need it.

My first response was that there wasn't room and I was quite certain people sew in Turkey; I could just get one there. But as soon as I said that I realized that this gift was very important to her (as small, thoughtful gifts usually were), and quickly found space for it, assuring Mom it would be useful.

I'm positive I said thank you, with all the sincerity I could muster, but I'm not quite sure I meant it.

I do now Mom.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


Revelation is an amazing book. Unfortunately, most evangelicals either abuse it with preposterous interpretations or completely ignore it in fear of being like those other guys. This is really a shame because Revelation is a bookend for the entire canon, tying together numerous strands of biblical theology. Also it's about Jesus, which makes it really important.

Thankfully my church, Sojourn, is trying to find a third way. Starting today, Sojourn is working through the book of Revelation, wrapping up a year-long overview of the entire New Testament. In keeping with the cinematic feel/apocalyptic genre of Revelation, this month's devotional is in comic book form. It's very cool.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas in Copenhagen

It's after Thanksgiving, which means it's okay to start (openly) listening to Christmas music, decorate the house, and subtlety drop hints about reasonably priced present ideas when talking with friends. I've been listening to Sufjan's Christmas albums (of course), Sojourn's Advent Songs, and Vince's Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas; I haven't put our tree up (maybe after my Turkish test on Friday?); and Peter Pan Peanut Butter is pretty much a commodity in my part of the world.

Sadly, this Christmas will mark the first time I will not be with my (biological) family for the holidays. But thankfully some good friends in Denmark are hosting me and a few expat friends in Copenhagen. While I don't think we'll be spending $200 at voted-best-restaurant-in-the-world Noma it's my ambition to visit:
  • The Coffee Collective, an innovative group that's doing wonderful things in the specialty coffee industry.
  • The Louisiana Museum, which hosts a impressive collection of modern and contemporary art.
  • Malmo, Sweden. A charming nordic city with cool cafes and architecture that will also bring my total countries-visited count up double digits.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Makota Fujimura's Illuminated Gospel

Makoto Fujimura - The Art of "The Four Holy Gospels" from Crossway on Vimeo.

Simply stunning! View the preview pdfs here.

Wright on Salvation and Exile

"From the point of view of a first-century Jew, 'forgiveness of sins' could never simply by a private blessing, though to be sure it was that as well, as Qumran amply testifies. Overarching the situation of the individual was the state of the nation as a whole; and, as long as Israel remained under the rule of the pagans, as long as Torah was not observed perfectly, as long as the Temple was not properly restored, so Israel longed for 'forgiveness of sins' as the great, unrepeatable, eschatological and national blessing promised by her god. In the light of this, the meaning which Mark and Luke both give to John's baptism ought to be clear. It was 'for the forgiveness of sins', in other words, to bring about the redemption for which Israel was longing."

-N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, 271.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Way Back Home"

Maybe you're one of the nearly 2 million people whose watch this video already, but if you're not you need to, and if you are, you probably want to watch it again.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Beirut it a crazy city. Admittedly, the nightlife is overrated if you're not into Hummers and designer clothes, but it's a beautiful place with hospitable people and delicious food. Highlights include:
  • Exploring the city by bike, thanks to a great company called Beirut by Bike. It was remarkably easier than biking in Istanbul.
  • Riding a Ferris Wheel- maybe for the first time(?)
  • Sleeping on the roof of a hostel (because there wasn't room inside). Actually this is only sort of a highlight because the mattress and pillow were really moldy and smelly.
  • Visiting the very impressive National Museum of Beirut, whose artifacts barely escaped being destroyed in the Lebanese Civil War.
Anyway it was a great trip but I'm glad to be back home in the 'Bul.

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's about time...

We got some art on the walls at the Safehouse. Thanks Seth for showing initiative and critical thinking.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

İyi Bayramlar

I'm going to Beirut with some friends for Bayram. The city, not to see the band.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bike Istanbul: the helmet cam.

Biking in Istanbul is crazy. But you could say that about biking in a lot of urban areas. Somehow it doesn't accurately denote the full significance of cycling in Istanbul. Thankfully, my roommate Seth set out to document a fairly normal ride.

Biking in Crazy Istanbul Traffic from Michael Butterworth on Vimeo.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

PTs v. Square Mile

This is the coffee I've been drinking lately. Both are delicious, but I have to admit I'm enjoying the peachy sweet PT's El Salvador Finca Los Planes a little more than the smooth blackcurrant of the Kangocho AA Nyeri Square Mile.

Both are first class though and I'm feeling pretty lucky to have fresh coffee from (possibly) the best roasters in America and the UK.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wright on Colossians 1

The small house church I am apart of here is working through the book of Colossians (which I might add, was originally written to a small group of Christians not far from here, 2000 years ago) and this Friday it is my turn to teach. Whenever I have the opportunity to teach from the scriptures I always try to spend most of my time studying the actual source material. But after I think I have an idea of what the text is saying consulting commentaries can be really helpful. For Colossians, I especially love Peter O'Brien and N. T. Wright's commentaries (both are older than I am, but have stood the test of time!).

Here's a great application point from Colossians 1 from Wright's.

"The task... is therefore best understood as the proclamation that Jesus is already Lord, that in him God's new creation has broken into history, and that all people are therefore summoned to submit to him in love, worship and obedience. The logic of this message requires that those who announce it should be seeking to bring Christ's Lordships to bear on every area of human and worldly existence. Christians must work to help create conditions in which human beings, and the whole created world, can live as God always intended. There is a whole range of ethical norms which God built into his world: a respect for persons and property, maintenance of family life and of the ecological order of creation, justice between individuals and groups. Christians must be in the forefront of those working to promote such causes. Many opportunities to speak about Jesus will occur in the undertaking of such work, as it becomes clear that the gospel provides a coherent and satisfying underpinning for those standards which uphold and enhance a truly human life."
-N.T. Wright, Colossians and Philemon, 83-84.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

London Coffee: Part 2

Day 2 in London I was joined by two good friends that I met in Istanbul, Chris and Jana, both of who now work in the UK.

First stop: Tapped and Packed. Although they repeatedly came up in my research about London coffee shops, I didn't initially plan to check them out. However, they came highly recommended from Kaffeine and the fact that the serve coffee from 3 different UK roasters was enticing.

After finding their shop in the ultra-trendy Fitzrovia neighborhood (the shop's sign only has it's address on it, which is kind of tricky). I ordered a pour-over of the seasonal single origin selection, a Costa Rica Finca de Licho from Has Bean, and a shot of the house espresso, which is roasted by Climpson & Sons. The Costa Rica was honey sweet with notes of strawberries and raspberries - honestly the most exciting coffee I've had in a while. The espresso was great too, but was definitely overshadowed by how much I enjoyed the pour-over. Chris ordered a giant piece of cake with his coffee and Jana had a flat white (which I also ended up drinking a good deal of).

[Jana poses with her Flat White.]
[Chris enjoyed his cake.]
Next up was Flat White, a cafe in SoHo that helped pioneer the new wave in the mid 2000s. I ordered a shot of their espresso, which is a custom blend from Square Mile. It was good, but I think it probably was better suited for milk. Next time I'll be sure to order their namesake.

Friday, October 29, 2010

London Coffee: Part 1

London is easily a contender for the greatest city on earth. It was the first city to reach a million people since before the fall of Rome, has many of the most iconic landmarks and priceless artifacts on earth, and is the location of the beloved film from my childhood, The Great Mouse Detective.

And yet the single thing I was most excited about in the city was the coffee.

Yes. Even though Brits are traditionally a tea-drinking people, London has emerged as one of the leading urban centers in regards to roasting and brewing specialty coffee- so much so that after looking at the list of coffee shops I wanted to visit I quickly realized I didn't have the caffeine tolerance to check out even half the list during my short stay in Jolly Ole'.

First up was a shop that captured my imagination some time ago when I first learned of it's existence.
The Espresso Room is aptly name; there's barely enough room for all the coffee equipment there and none for a table. They have a modest selection of soups and sandwiches but the lion's share of this glorified closet host a serious arsenal of coffee equipment brewing up Square Mile and Has Bean coffee. I had a shot of Square Mile's Autumn Espresso blend and a flat white, both expertly made by Daniel, an Aussie who was nice enough to explain the Australian etymology of "flat white" as well as explain a bit of the history of the coffee scene in London. I'm not the only customer who's been impressed recently- Time Out London voted The Espresso Room "Best New Coffee".
Next up was Kaffeine, another Antipodean owned cafe serving Square Mile. Exposed brick and a gorgeous Synesso provided a hip atmosphere and my latte was top-notch; however, what impressed me the most was how amicable and helpful the baristas were. In fact they even asked me questions about my coffee experience in America! I must say, if British third-wave is beating its colonial cousin in any category it's here: customer service/interaction. At some of best shops I've been to in America the approach seems to be "treat everyone like an idiot until they prove otherwise". In the UK, my coffee experience was that most baristas are courteous, respectful, and friendly. In fact the only disappointment of the day was that James Hoffman was suppose to be there to help them install their new 3 group head Synesso but instead he was in America. Ironic.

Next time in part two: Tapped and Packed and Flat White

Thursday, October 28, 2010

London Calling

I've been in London for the past two days visiting good friends, drinking fantastic coffee, seeing priceless artifacts/works of art, and seeing incredible places. (ordered in list of importance).

There's more words and pictures to be shared about the awesome time I had here but any in depth reflection will have to wait till I'm back in Istanbul.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cherokee Park

"As I walk through the hills of Kentucky,
the trees begin to turn red, and I think of you,
the prettiest tree on the mountain."
-Ben Sollee


The new location surpasses all my expectations. Great job guys.