3/24/14

How I sold my BMWs, quit my job, and bought an Isuzu

One of our only photos from the Grand Opening
Many of you know me from Twitter, Bimmerfest, or from my days working for BMW and Porsche.  I spent many years grinding away learning everything I could about the vehicles that I love and was lucky enough to drive more fast cars than many people can achieve in their life time.  I was incredibly lucky.  But I wanted to do something different.

While my wife and I loved being near our friends and family, there was something about the pace of the Washington DC area that never really resonated with us.  We were working 60 - 80 hours a week to pay for a lot of things and were not taking the time to work on our own personal passions.  While I loved working with BMW and Porsche it was not my own thing.  After spending a week in Puerto Rico we fell in love with a little island off the coast of Puerto Rico that had a whole lot of charm and offered a more simple life.  On a whim (though admittedly with a lot of analysis and planning) we decided to sell our home in DC and move.  We wanted the opportunity to stop and smell the roses along with the chance to make our own way.  Luckily my wife was able to keep her job with her company and work remotely and I came down here with the hopes of getting this site running regularly.  Of course, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.

So off we went.  Sold our beautiful cars, moved to this island, and bought a 98 Isuzu Rodeo.

I was lucky enough to have developed a set of skills that made me invaluable here on the island.  Given our penchant for home remodeling and DIY addiction, I was able to start a side job working on homes.  Shortly after my clients found out that I was building furniture for our home here, I started getting more and more requests for furniture.  This is how Woodstock VQS was started.  Brittany wrote up an in-depth origin story about the opening of our store over on the Woodstock blog so I won't go in depth with all of the details.  Suffice to say we are living our dream here in paradise.  And while we are working the same hours we were back in DC, we love the lifestyle and the opportunity to really build our own thing so much more.

As the store ramps up, I'm going to start writing about DIY, design, and advice over there.  And assuming I make time Six Speed and Caffeine will get back and full swing too.  Thank you again for all of you who have supported the site and continue to support the site.  I only hope that you give us a chance over on Woodstock too.  Stay tuned.  Great things are coming.

12/30/13

Michael Schumacher is in a medically induced coma



Here at Six Speed and Caffeine, our hearts go out to Mr. Schumacher and his family in this difficult time.  He is in critical condition after hitting his head while skiing at the Meribel resort on Sunday.  Luckily he was wearing a helmet otherwise he would not have even made it this far.  Doctors are unsure if Schumacher is going to make it at this time.  He sustained pretty substantially head trauma despite the helmet.

For those of you who don't know, Schumacher was one of the most dominant drivers in all of F1.  He won 7 championships and shattered records over and over.  Throughout the winning years he was driving for Ferrari and then after a short retirement came back to drive for Mercedes, albeit, not as successfully.  Many people will remember him for his (and Top Gear's) sense of humor when they revealed him to be the Stig.  Of course, this was just a joke since Schumacher was the only driver who could drive his Ferrari FXX around their test track.


If you want to see the full video and interview with him you can find it via Vimeo here.

It's hard to see anyone, much less a racing legend like this.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and we hope for a full recovery.

10/10/13

Product Review: Mayorga Cafe Cubano coffee



Welcome back for another product review about coffee from your favorite coffee addict.  I was browsing through our local fresh, organic, hippy, overpriced, Fair Trade store that we shop at trying to find a brew and one of them caught my wife's eye.  Now for those of you who know here.  She's a big tea drinker and absolutely hates the taste of coffee.  Well all except the Turkish coffee we had a few weeks ago on one of our date nights...  But, I was at a loss of what to try and I trust her eye for good products so I rolled with it.  She picked out a dark roast by Mayorga called Cafe Cubano.

Interestingly enough, Mayorga was founded by a Guatemalan born, Nicaraguan raised, person who has their roasting facility in Rockville, Maryland where I used to work.  I've always seen their coffees in the local Whole Foods or Moms but never thought to try them.  They are Latin American grown beans which I seem to be buying a lot of lately but, the dark roast caught my eye.  Mayorga focuses on Organic or Rainforest Alliance coffees so those of you who shop with a conscience should feel good about buying them.

Cafe Cubano is billed as a dark roast with hints of vanilla, sweet smokiness, and a peppery finish.  The initial sniff test was good and you can tell there is that faint odor of smoke to the beans.  The beans had a good dark quality to them, darker even then the La Colombe brew that I tried last week.  Like my previous taste tests I made sure to brew at least three times in my French Press to get a good feel of the flavor.  I've been using a mix of 16 oz of water to 5 scoops from my Bodum press while letting the beans sit for 5 minutes.  There are definitely elements of the sweet smokiness balanced with a hint of vanilla.  I did not get the peppery quality to it but then again I was not looking for it.  It had a slight grit to it with a medium mouth feel.  It wasn't quite as good as the the Phocea from La Colombe but it definitely was one of the better coffees I tried recently.  I definitely have to temper exactly how much I drank because it was quite good.

Give it a try.  I think you will like it too if you share my love for a dark roast.  What do you think?  Have you tried Mayorga's coffees before?  Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.  If you want to check out my other coffee reviews you can check out my Product Review section.

10/9/13

Porsche Macan update


Porsche is following their wildly successful Cayenne SUV with a smaller one called the Macan.  The Porsche Macan is smaller than the Cayenne and is line with the size of the Audi Q5.  While many questioned the wisdom of a Porsche SUV when the Cayenne was first introduced, there's no question that it was a smart business move by Porsche.  The Cayenne has single-handedly saved the company.  No matter how many purists they pissed off...

Autoweek does a great job diving into the nitty gritty details from Porsche on their site.  But, what you need to know is this:


  • It's roughly the same size as the Q5, + roughly 2 inches all around
  • It shares the same frame as the Toureg and Q5
  • The suspension is an offshoot of the Q5's suspension
  • The electro-mechanical steering is Porsche derived (thank god)
  • Shares much of the fit and finish to the second generation Cayenne (also, thank god)
  • Likely available in at least a Turbo 4 cylinder option and a Turbo 3.6L option here in the states
According to Autoweek it drives like a Porsche though.  Which is good news.  Because the Q5 is abysmal in my experience.  It would appear that the Macan will benefit from the Porsche derived steering system along with Porsche's magnificent engine (at least in the 3.6L, the 2.0L is based on a VW design).  Starting at $45k (though who is ever going to buy a Macan that's $45k?) it seems like we have a bargain Porsche available for the market.  I imagine they will sell like hot cakes.  Hot cakes that have $1,200 butter upgrades and $550 coffee additions to fully finish the hot cake design.  Not sure if that analogy went anywhere but dammit I could use a biscuit now...  

At the end of the day, I find myself wanting to like SUVs like the Macan or the X3.  The X5 and Cayenne drive like beasts and can handle all of the versatility tasks that you would need.  But they really aren't made for me.  I hate being that high.  I hate feeling like I am driving a tank even if it can corner better than most cars on the road.  It really isn't my style.  I'd take a Panamera or even better yet, a Cayman S any day of the week (or for you BMW fans, an M3 or 135is).  But, for those of you in the market for a luxury SUV, the Macan might be the new king on the block.  We'll have to see if BMW's X3 has anything to say about that when it's launched sometime next year.

What do you think?  Is the Macan flipping awesome or more of the same from Porsche?

BMW 4 Series Convertible Pictures Leaked


BMW has been building up to a November launch of their new 4 series convertible.  The new 4 series will be based on the 4 series coupe that was launched in August.  The coupe has been well received thus far and we've seen BMW make improvements to their servotronic steering that they've been integrating into all of their model lines and it benefits from a stiffer suspension feel than the F30 3 series sedan.  The really good news for people in the northern hemisphere is that we will see the convertible during peak convertible driving season north of the Mason-Dixon line...  That being said, the leaked images are gorgeous.



The Mineral White with Saddle Brown interior is one of my favorite interiors to date.  Interestingly enough in the interior photo, you see a steering wheel that almost has the same "girth" (for lack of a better word here) as the M Sport Wheel in the current F30 sedan.  The shift knob in this photo also appears to be the same M Sport shifter.  There's no surprise that the 4 series convertible will share the same options and standard features as the coupe.  Keeping with BMW's desire for "alles in ordnung" for people debating between the coupe and convertible, your hardest decision will be whether or not to go topless and sacrifice some of the torsional rigidity.  Or, opt to have the sportiest two door BMW this side of an M.  More excitingly for people who wanted an AWD convertible but didn't want to go with the A5, the 4 series will be available in BMWs well-known xDrive system.

It would appear that BMW is prepared for a great launch.  It's just a shame that people in the colder climates won't be able to enjoy the benefits of driving topless.  Unless you're as insane as I am.  I was driving a 328i convertible for a month last year and picked my wife up from work with the top down in 40 degree weather.  Sadly, I had to put the top up when she got in but hey, at least I got to enjoy it?  What else can you do with a convertible in December in the DC region?

What do you think?  Great look or would you prefer one of the remaining 3 series convertibles?  I hear there are some killer incentives on the remaining stock if you want to get your hands on the last hydraulic steering equipped 3 series convertible.

10/8/13

2014 BMW 3 series wagon review



BMW left a void in many of our hearts in 2011 when they announced that the end of the e90 3 series BMW wagon was near.  For the 2012 and 2013 model year, we were left without a BMW wagon.  We didn't have a 3 series or a 5 series wagon.  Your only option was their line-up of SUVs (including the wagon like X1) or the much maligned 5 series GT.  Thankfully for automotive enthusiasts who wanted something that was less suburban grocery getter and more fun, the 2014 BMW 3 series wagon returned and they even included a diesel variant much to the excitement of enthusiasts!



While they are now offering the touring inspired 3 series GT at the same time, for true performance, the wagon is the better way to go.  Yes, it's true, you cannot get the N55 powered 335 in the wagon whereas it is available in the GT.  The GT has too much body roll to really tear through the bends with that motor.  The new Sport Wagon is powered by the N20 turbo 4 cylinder motor in the 328i xDrive (I dare you to say BMW 328i xDrive Sport Wagon 5 times fast).  The motor is capable of 240 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque that will rocket the N20 powered wagon from 0 - 60 in 6 seconds according to BMW.  And diesel lovers rejoice!  BMW is finally offering a diesel version of their vaunted Sport Wagon as well to satiate your diesel wagon needs.  They even offer it in Jalopnik brown (trademark pending).  The diesel shares the same motor as the 328d sedan featuring 180 hp and 280 lb/ft of torque capable of a respectable 0 - 60 sprint in 7 seconds.  More importantly for those of you who are fuel conscious you can achieve 43 MPG highway in the diesel compared to 33 MPG with the N20 motor.  Though you lose a second in speed with the diesel you do gain +10 MPG which given the current gas prices ain't half bad.  And the amenities available in both models are no slouch either.

When you're building the wagons to your desired specifications it's easy to push the price into the $50k range like any respectable BMW but there's just so many cool toys available these days.  Available options include things such as the BMW Navigation system, BMW Apps, rear-camera, blind spot detection, lane departure warning systems and more.  More importantly for enthusiasts though is the fact that the Sport Automatic Transmission is now standard which kind of makes up for the lack of available manual transmission.  The SAT is capable of faster more efficient gear shifts and include that delectable exhaust burble when you change your own gears.  Add in the fact that the M Sport line includes the M suspension on top of the sportier look and you can build yourself a rather aggressive wagon.  (editor's note: upgraded suspension only comes in Dynamic Handling Package, not M Sport despite their website saying the contrary. Thanks MJ for pointing it out)  While you can't get the N55 twin turbo 6 cylinder here in the states, there's no end to the fun you could have with one of these wagons.  Picture bombing down the back roads with the latest mid-century piece you found while "antiquing" with the better half on the weekends.  Ahhhhhh, it's practically suburban bliss...

The drive of the wagon does not disappoint.  While it does have the distinct numbness of the F30 chassis, the car still goes exactly where you want it to.  You do lose some of the feedback that the E46 and the E91 wagons enjoyed but it's still a BMW worthy of the Roundel on the hood.  When comparing the GT and the Sport Wagon, the advantage of the Sport Wagon is the lower center of gravity and more aggressive ride height.  While neither will compare to the sedan or even the new 4 series, it's still a much better alternative to giving into the American dream and buying yourself a giant SUV.  The Sport Wagon sacrifices some of the passenger comfort of the GT but gains in greater versatility and the more fun drive.  Remember when choosing which one to buy that you should be analyzing YOUR needs.  Either car is a great addition and you should be choosing the right ride for you.

Overall, the new Sport Wagon is a worthy successor to the outgoing E91 model and gains in versatility and size while sacrificing some of the sportiness of the last generation.  However, with the right configuration, you can build yourself a downright fun wagon that enjoys the benefits of the new N20 motor.  It won't sound like the 3.0L inline six it replaced but the early introduction of the torque will more than make up for it when you depress the throttle.  Make sure the kids are buckled in.  It's a hell of a ride. 

10/7/13

Featured Playlist: Porch and Bourbon


Whenever I spend time in the kitchen my default music has a tendency to be the Blues.  It's likely a byproduct of the house I grew up in.  Every Friday and Saturday night, there would be blues music playing while food would be cooking in the kitchen or on the grill, depending on the season.  So of course, we are the product of the environment we grew up in.  So tonight's mix has been inspired and brought to you by my childhood.

The White Stripes: Rag and Bone
Dr. Dog: The Beach
The Black Keys: Stack Shot Billy
R.L. Burnside: See My Jumper Hangin' On the Line
The White Stripes: Death Letter
Seasick Steve: The Banjo Song
Louis Armstrong: La Vie En Rose
M. Ward: Howlin' For My Baby
Beck: Bad Blood
Seasick Steve: Never Go West
Big Sugar: Goodbye Train