Greetings to all! I've to admit that it has been quite some time since I've send a news letter out. With some of you I've been in touch but with some not at all, alas. Time to change that seems to me! There were some big happenings in my life recently (and I do not mean the corona issues by that), one of the reasons why I decided that it is time for some updates. I'll separate the letter into few "categories" so it is more easy to go through it. It will be short overview of history, present and future. As usually I've some activities going on which you may find interesting and support them if you like, they are by the end of the email. To mention just one, "cider bottling, season 2019 crowdfunding," which is going on just right now. The main aim of this email is however to stay in touch, if possible get back in touch and after that to stay up to date. So if you find time to send me an email back, that would make me happy.
Most of you do realize that I don't live in Korea anymore. I left the country in autumn 2016 for Europe. After nearly five years it was hard, I've became a single man again by my own choice. I've decided to learn more about cider making so I spend the 2016 apple harvest season in Cotentin, Normandie, France. I've helped Christophe Bouvet, patron of Ferme du Vastel, who showed me the usual "harvest rituals", nice, organic, community based and clean. During this time I've decided that I would actually like to stay in the region for bit longer. It was not just the community which I really enjoyed, beautiful nature or shitty weather which I got so much used to in Ireland, Galway. You know that for years I wanted to make my living out from fermentation and I've realized that cider may be the most easy way. I've loved the drink since I first tasted, the sales for small artisan cider makers are going steadily up and seems like, that the situation in Czech Republic, where I would like to come back, is very good in this field too. Well Spring 2020 and I'm still here. I've been lucky and I've rented an atelier in a artistic community called la Cherche, I'm still part of the "gang". I've learned the language, completing a half year course of French at l'Espace Temps Cherbourg. I was in the class with emigrants who came to France for better future. At the school desk it was similar like when I've studied back in Korea the language with the foreign workers and foreign wifes from Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh etc. In this case I had a chance to meet people from Sudan, Syria, Ivory Cost and many more. I have to say, I really loved this period, many really nice memories. I've also realized, how little the people who came here are asking. Dream jobs like garbage collector, cleaner, landscaper or chef were usual even from people with university degree. They just wanted to get work, became part of the society, hoping that their kids can do better. It always impressed me how much the parents are willing to sacrifice for better of their children. And yes lets be honest here, I think that most of them came not because of saving their life but moved in for better future. Like I've been doing during the past two decades. Anyway I've successfully completed the course and after that I've been lucky enough to find a job. I worked in an electronic cigarette business for over a year, it is now famous Petit Vapoteur. I have been working in the production, so if you have been smoking some of our "booster", well it may be me filing up your favourite drug during the night shifts, listening to Françoise Hardy and her Voila, Georges Brassen's Les amoureux des bancs publics or Renaud's Morgane de Toi and I could continue. During this time I've managed to be accepted into the prestigious cider formation at le Robillard. Le Robillard is currently the only place on the world, where you can take complete specialized training to become cidrie and it was actually what I've been here after at least since I've learned about it's existence. Ten months of combined theory, practical training and pretty though final exams and voilà, I became certified "cidrier", hurraaaa! And yes if you ask, I'm still fermenting on daily basis, doing kimchi, kefir, tempeh, ginger beers and so on, giving workshops, well not too much changed there, it is a passion. Recently I've obtained some sassafras (used sometimes to make ecstasy), however in my case I'm experimenting with more traditional probiotic root beers. They are really potent you know, who guess? I think perfect drink when I need help with bottling of my cider.
The last autumn, therefore the 2019, I have started my fourth cider season, second independent and first commercial one. The weather was absolutely horrible, raining nearly all the time, I've been told it was the worst season in decade or two. Also shortly after I launched my father had died. In 2018 in March I lost my mother, now my father. From the close family it is just my brother and me now. It made me think about many things but well that would be a long long email than, better in person. But back to the cider. Now I'm making it all legal and to be honest about that, the amount of time which I'm spending on "bureaucratie" to make this happen is horrible but well it has to be done. The ones who have known me for longer may remember it has been back in 2007 in California when I decided, inspired by Three Stone Hearth Kitchen to do fermentation as my passion and for my living. Since than concerning the legallity I've always been in the grey area at the best. So now I'm setting up my professional cider atelier and also micro-entreprise business entity. It will allow me to do ciders and hopefully also probiotic drinks, syrups and more. Concerning the production I've successfully finished the first part of the season, harvesting and transforming around 15 tonnes of apples resulting in around 95 hl (9 500 l) of apple juice. This cost me around 5 000€. Now over the winter I've managed to conduct the fermentation quite pretty well and got the ciders close to the bottling. At the moment I think that I can bottle around 5 000 l or bit more of cider, rest will be mostly for distillation and bit for vinegar. I estimate that to finish the season properly, it will cost me another 5 000€ or so which I do not have. I'm looking for people to support this activity by crowd sourcing campaign, pre-buying and depending on how well it goes possibly I will look for investors. More info at the end of the email as promised. I'm asking friends first and I hope that it will suffice so I do not have to go out from my friend circle.
Bit of Travel
You know that I love to travel, well lets talk a bit about recent travelling. I'm much more sedentary than I used to be, mostly because of the cider project here, otherwise I would be "gone with the wind" long time ago. Still I'd a chance to visit Eunha in Korea in 2018 for a month and help her to finish her restaurant, that was lovely, all that memories back. I've realized how much I've missed both her and Korea. I did another CCC Summer Camp with Food Hacking Base (fhb) project last summer in Germany. We had a really nice time this winter doing 36c3 in Leipzig, visiting afterwards with Eunha few places in Czech Republic like Český Krumlov, České Budějovice and Kout na Šumavě of course and after that we have travelled France. We did the West coast, La Rochelle, Bordeaux and went all the way South through Toulous and Carcassone, hitting the coast at Narbonne, going towards Marseille, finishing at Cassis. Especially the Mediterrean coast was lovely. It was really not easy to come back North to Normandie I have to admit. I had also business trip few weeks ago to UK for cider technology as an external expert visiting Rich's Cidrerie, cidrerie Wilkins and for second time Hereford's Cider Museum. Unfortunately it did not lead to a contract or job proposal.
Activities which I do in near by future and with which you may help me
So here it comes. I have as usually "some" activities going on and if you like, you can help me to make them happen. It is changing from the "financial injection" mode only to "come, roll up your sleeves and make it happen", with additional options depending on the skills needed. Of course there are also some invitations to events which I help to organize or I participate at, so you can profit from fruits of my efforts.
- 2019 Cider Bottling Crowdsourcing Campaign. During March possibly April 2020 I need to bottle the cidre, product of my 2019 season activities. This is both money in and sleeves up activity. I need to find people who would help me to finance it and who would be OK to help me to make it happen, hands on deck. I've around 5 000 l of fine cider for bottling and nearly another 5 000 l for distillation. I need to get around 5 000€ to make it happen. I'm running crowdsourcing campaign with cider perks and pre-sale of the cider which we are going to bottle. If I do not reach my goal, I need to find investors who would be OK to put the money in. If the later is something what you would consider, please get in touch! It is first time in years when I'm actually asking people who I know or met to help out with a personal "for profit" project. I ask for help because I do not have money for it and I need to bottle soon!
- Personal pages frantisekapfelbeck.org They have been down for years and it is time to set this right. If you have any experience with this great! I’m fine with basic media wiki set up and I pay for the cloud server. Please send me a note if you can help me with this.
- Design of logos and labels". I need one or rather two logos for my commercial entity Jara and I need to prepare set of labels. I've some ideas in my head, however the realization should be done with some artist, if you are interested please get in touch! Fair warning I've an idea in my head what I'm after so I'll try to really get it.
- Cider World Frankfurt, 18-19/4/2020. I should be present at this event as a visitor, if you are around please let me know so we can meet.
- Kvas 2020, 24-26/4/2020. It will be already third Kvas, the first being in the autumn 2017, and second last year in the spring. Kvas means "to ferment" in Slavic languages and that is what it is about. People who do already ferment or have really interest to start and join the movement are the ones who we are looking for. We are considering to go more and more in the direction of "fermentation community" event, so less general public and more "us". For more info please check the link. I should be able to take care about an accommodation at least for some of you, especially the ones who would like to present or share some of their skills through workshops or presentations, plus to people who volunteer to help us to make it happen. The accommodation will be quite “rustic” but doable. If you would like to come and present please let me know, we are trying to get people from other countries involved.
- Apple harvesting and transformation, season 2020, September till December. It seems more and more that I will do this season in France but I hope to do smaller part of it in Czech too. I'll be looking for people helping me to harvest and process the apples. It is quite fun activity, especially if it is just for few to several days and together. Also I will be looking for more financial support, because I estimate that the cider season 2020, whole season, will cost me again around 10 000€ (roughly costs of 2019 season), which I do not have a chance to safe in advance, some yes, not all. Since than, 2021 season and on should be better because I will get money from selling the cider from 2019 season and later on from 2020 and so on. It is the first two seasons which are especially hard.
- Kleť 17/11/2020. If all goes well I should be visiting České Budějovice on this date to participate on yearly walking trip to near by mountain Klet, which is organized by Faculty of Science (formally Biological faculty which I've studied) and open to all. This is a great opportunity to chill out. Also it will be one of the first opportunities to get 2019 ciders, perks or if you pre-buy, it is OK I think to visit few places around Czech Republic to do the distribution.
- 37c3 - Chaos Computer Club Congress, 27-30th of December 2020, event location is not known yet but I will be there with Food Hacking Base (fhb) team, probiotic drinks and my ciders of course.
- 2021. If all goes well after bottling of 2020 season, I would like to start my moving back to Czech Republic, it has been seventeen years I’ve been living abroad. Depending on the projects and contracts I may start to work at Czech Republic quickly. The other option which I consider, is to take a trip around the world and try to promote my cider activities both as producer, therefore sell but also as an expert which I'm becoming. I would be doing professional cider tastings, promoting the ciders and my merchandise. That is one of the reasons why I'm now going to quite an extent to make as much cider as possible because I know, that it is highly likely that I will have to skip one season or make it really really small, either 2020 or most likley 2021. I really do not think, that I will have time and money to move back to Czech Republic quickly enough to set up professional certified production there without loosing one season, so I need stock.
Now I believe that this would be all for now. You know bit more about what happened in my life in the past several years, what I'm up to and what direction I have. You can see I guess that I've not changed much for better or worse. Now it is about stabilizing my self and getting my living from what I love and what I've been doing for many years. I think you can expect another mail from me within three to four months with further updates, however I hope to hear back from you before than! If you do not want to receive my newsletters, please let me know and I will take you off from the list, no problem there.
Best of luck to all!