When coffee meets Pynchon


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This 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