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E as in Exoticism / Sumatra Kayu Aro Nusantara

E as in Exoticism / Sumatra Kayu Aro Nusantara

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"This year Alex Wong introduced The Permission Parties, a multi-sensory experience where each track from his upcoming album Permission is paired with a Chinese-inspired dish that shares a common emotion. In Alex’s words, 'Growing up in the US as a second-generation Chinese American, I struggled to feel permission to take up space with my body, my voice, or my point of view. Movies and media told me I was allowed to be a buddy, a punchline, or a decoration, but there was not enough space for my story in the center of the room.  By showcasing the emotional narratives connecting my music, food, and cultural identity, I hope to empower everyone, especially those on the margins, to feel permission to take up space with their stories.'” - Source

E is for Exoticism.

This topic was entirely inspired by creator @alexwongsounds who I met on the Memphis leg of their audio/tasting sensory tour called Permission Parties. The #permissionparties can be  more eloquently explained by Alex Wong, "To celebrate the release of my newest album Permission, I am thrilled to present a brand new type of experience called The Permission Parties! The Permission Parties is a multi-sensory listening and tasting dinner series. Attendees will enjoy six Chinese-inspired dishes I've created that share some common emotion with each of the six tracks on the album. I will share a personal story about each course before serving, and then premiere the track while the guests enjoy the dish.”

During the dinner, which had an atmosphere of warmth and fun, Alex found moments to share gripping stories about Chinese Immigration as told to him by his family as well as the establishment of Chinatowns across the nation as a measure to confront attempts of racist expulsion by retooling the mechanics of the Western White Eye for the “exotic”. I asked Alex to virtually sit with me and record this story on tape - which he so graciously did. He also allowed me to use his music for the tape. So much I have consumed from this man and I am so pleased I can share it with you all. 

The background of this story called for sourcing green coffee from regions in China and SE Asia to roast. This proved to be difficult and I’m slowly coming to understand this complexity. More and ore I focused on the term and was reminded how often this has been demonstrated in my own coffee experience as both a spectator and perpetrator. It was unnerving to reflect on this. 

I found that it would be better to focus on taste and regions I hadn’t given attention to yet. I wanted to find things that paired with Alex’s menu he crafted with candied fruit sweetness, caramelization, & delicious soy sauce infusion. Places that are still seen through that colonial lens. You will be able to hear and taste this coffee on the tape as well as listen to a track from Alex's album.


Coffee (40grams)
Brew Recipe
680 Smallholder farmers  Filter/Espresso
Mill: PT Agrotropik Nusantara (AGTN)
20 Grams
Sumatra - Kayu
Finer Side of Life
Andung Sari, Borbor (Gayo 2), Komasti, P-88, S795 (Jember), Sigaran Utang (Ateng Super), Tim-tim (Gayo 1) 202-208F
Wet Hulled and Sun Dried

Bloom - 45 sec, 3 pours, 1:15 ratio

Expression: Vibrant, Acidic, Sweet Edge of Tongue: lemongrass, raisin, grapefruit

TRACK LIST: Side A & Side B 
Side A
E Words - Alexander Roach
Exoticism - Alex Wong
Side B
Me, Forever - Alex Wong

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