“Economists would have designed the human body to have one lung and one kidney.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

When I first watched Independence Day, I was convinced the world was toast. Then, Jeff Goldblum had his brilliant idea: “We’ll give them a cold.”

Twenty years later, I stumbled across Nassim Taleb. One of his key ideas: scale is a great thing, but it isn’t free. If you scale something, you’re going to scale risk with it as well.

How are these two related? Think about the dynamics:

  • The aliens in Independence Day were scary because of how efficiently they could attack…


When I first watched Independence Day, I was convinced the world was toast. Then, Jeff Goldblum had his brilliant idea: “We’ll give them a cold.”

Twenty years later I stumbled across this life-altering passage from Nassim Taleb: “scale is a great thing, but it isn’t free. If you scale something, you’re going to scale risk with it as well.”

If “scale” doesn’t make sense, here’s an example. If I tried to build a Model-T in my backyard, it would take a lifetime. But build a factory and I can produce thousands a day. I can produce “at scale.”

  • What made…


I went to a tiny college in rural Iowa (Grinnell). Whenever we had a home football game, the local pizza joint had a field day. It made more sales in one night than the rest of the week.

Here’s the thing: the visiting football team nor the fans (we didn’t really have “fans”) weren’t the patrons. It was the students who were displaced in the dining hall by the 60+ members of the opposing team. Rather than wait in line, these students bit the bullet and bought some pizza.*

Here’s why this matters insofar as coronavirus is concerned:

  • The first-order…


The past five weeks, I’ve been living with my family on an isolated coffee farm in the Costa Rican mountains. From there, I watched the exponential growth of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases first in China — then in Asia, Iran, and Italy.

Worldmeters.info/coronavirus

All along, I assumed people back home were taking aggressive precautions. My wife and I strongly considered staying isolated in the mountains for two extra months with our two kids. (We’re back at our Shorewood home now).

But when we called back to the States and talked to family and friends, I was surprised: though it was making headlines…


Readers of Epsilon Theory are a different pack. They refuse to abide by the narratives pushed on them by the media, the political elite, their neighbors. It can be a freeing experience.

At the same time, it can be a depressing one: The Widening Gyre. The Long Now. To read and nod your head “Yes,” is to acknowledge that things are falling apart.

Image source: Pixabay

Of course, Epsilon Theory also gives us two mantras to forge ahead:

I wholeheartedly agree with both of these. But I also want a story of hope to…


In 2010, my wife and I were inner-city teachers who decided to spend a year abroad. We settled on Costa Rica and — through dumb luck — found a coffee farm with an amazing story.

You can read more about it here, but the quick version: The farm — El Toledo — had a long and arduous journey, but discovered a way to farm sustainably without any artificial inputs.

The Calderon-Vargas family with my family. Photo source: Kaneeta Hardman

Because El Toledo has such a diverse ecosystem, it produces a very high quality coffee.

For seven years, we spent months on the farm, enjoying their coffee. When it was time…


(My day job is as a writer for The Motley Fool. As Bitcoin isn’t an area of deep expertise, this will not be published there, and instead be published here on Medium.)

I’m no bitcoin bull. I’m not even a crypto-currency bull. I believe there’s a better-than-50% chance that Bitcoin will forever hover between where it is now and $0; I personally hope that’s actually the case.

And yet, by the end of the year, I will be buying bitcoin for my family’s overall portfolio. I’m not doing so as a long-term investment. …


Since we started selling coffee from Cafe El Toledo during a summer farmer’s market, we quickly realized that cold brew was going to be just as — if not more — popular than the hot stuff.

That led us to months of experimenting with tons of variables: types of filters, grind size, roast of bean, and time steeping…to name a few. Below are the secrets that we’ve divined so far. According to our customers, this will yield some pretty great cold-brew coffee.

Can you taste it already?

What you’ll need

  • Coffee, preferably 150 grams
  • Half-gallon mason jar. We use this one.
  • One immersible coffee filter. …


Almost to a fault, when people ask for a “strong coffee”, they mean that they want a dark roast. It might surprise you to know, then, that dark roast actually has the least amount of caffeine in it.

In effect, what people are asking for is a “strong taste”, not the beneficial effects of the odorless, tasteless compound that is caffeine.

French roast is one of the darkest available. Image source: Flickr

But that doesn’t mean that you’re crazy for feeling the effects of caffeine shortly after drinking your espresso (which is almost always made with…dark roast beans).

The Counter-Intuitive Science of Coffee

Here’s what you need to know: caffeine is a compound found in coffee…


Why every global coffee brand loves a dark roast

Photo: FluxFactory/E+/Getty Images

It wasn’t until I was 29 years old, spending a year living in Costa Rica, that I had my first real cup of coffee. As an inner-city middle school teacher, the first six years of my professional life were fueled by an unhealthy Diet Coke habit. Little did I know that my first cup of coffee, enjoyed at El Toledo coffee farm, would ruin me once I returned stateside.

Upon moving back to the Midwest, I tried Starbucks and our local coffee chain, but I noticed a huge difference in taste. Sure, that probably made me a coffee snob. …

Brian Stoffel

After 5 yrs as DC middle-school teacher, my wife & I moved to Costa Rica & discovered an inspiring farm. We split our time b/t there and the US w/ our two kids.

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