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Posted by on Sep 21, 2013 in Blog, Coffee News, Lisa's videos, Local Coffeehouse Visit | 0 comments

Coal Creek Coffee, Laramie, WY

First stop on my indie coffee road trip: Laramie, WY

“Home to Malcontents, Revolutionaries, and Do-Gooders of all types” is on the door.. A grand description of many coffeehouses I’d say, as they have historically attracted people that gather for the greater good.

Coal Creek Coffee Company has been part of downtown Laramie‘s landscape since 1993; an old-timer in the industry by U.S. standards. The founder is local entrepreneur, John Guerin. According to another John, one of his three employees behind the counter today, the owner is passionate about coffee and owns two coffeehouses and a roastery also in Laramie. But it doesn’t stop there … Founder-John also loves to bake tasty sweets like homemade graham crackers drizzled with dark chocolate, granola and cookies to name a few of the tempting treats behind the glass.

Next on his list of loves is brewing beer and is in the process of opening a brew pub next door to the coffeehouse on Grand and the railroad tracks … does this guy have it goin’ on or what? His business partner and wife is Jodi Guerin … A fellow Sister of mine with Sisters in the Fly!  I love the synchronicity!

I just had to post a photo of their retro Elektra espresso machine … wow!

It is a Saturday afternoon with bright blue skies and a crisp, almost-autumn breeze swirling through town. the customers I see are musicians, students, local homeless, young families, and a Tibetan monk. All are welcome and comfortable here.

My drink of choice? … a made from scratch iced chai!

by Lisa via PressSync

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Posted by on Oct 14, 2012 in Blog, Coffee News, Local Coffeehouse Visit | 0 comments

America’s Best Coffeehouse Competition debuted at CoffeeFest Seattle 2012

Although I spend most of an average day immersed in coffee culture and coffeehouses, CoffeeFest Seattle was the first industry event I have ever attended.  I was surrounded by people who speak my language and share my passion.  It was absolutely invigorating!  Or … maybe that energy came from all the espressos and lattes I sampled while navigating through the rows and rows of exhibitors.

The CoffeeFest is held every four months and rotates between Seattle, Chicago and New York City.  This  event featured the first annual America’s Best Coffeehouse Competition, sponsored by DaVinci Gourmet.   According to The Gourmet Retailer, it took 60 days to determine the top coffeehouses in the western U.S. with a “60-day process of elimination by secret shopper evaluation and public vote”.  Eight semifinalist coffeehouses were chosen based on ratings in categories like customer service, drink quality, ambiance, cleanliness, organization and efficiency.

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Posted by on Sep 10, 2012 in Blog, Coffee News, Local Coffeehouse Visit | 0 comments

Bluebird Cafe, Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Andy lives and breathes organics!   He bakes gluten-free delicacies in his on-site kitchen and roasts his single-origin beans with great dare.  His roaster is at a special location where he can

My sister and I shared his Green Chili Quiche with a GF crust to go along with our rich and delicious americanos.  Gotta tell you, that a week later, I STILL desire the taste of the quiche in my mouth … MmmmmMmm!

Toward the back of the space is a large community table with a LARGE coffee  mug, too.  Betcha I could drink that whole thing full of his Silver Sky Coffee!  

Find out more about his coffee at www.SilverSkyCoffee.com

Visit his shop:
Bluebird Cafe
730 Grand Avenue
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
(970) 384-2024
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Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 in Blog, Coffee News, Local Coffeehouse Visit | 0 comments

A “soccer blogger” speaks about local, independent #coffeehouses and roasters in the US!

MLS Mornings: Pre-Game Roasts & Brews

Eric Giardini spills the beans on what should be in your mug….the first in TSG’s MLS Travel Series

It’s 7:00 in the morning and you’re settling in on the couch to begin a long day of soccer viewing.

What are you reaching for?

If you are like me, perhaps 7:00 is a bit too early for beer (and if it isn’t, you are my hero).

Perhaps you need something else. Something that can wake you up for a long morning and afternoon of games.

Or, if you’ve ever road tripped to see your club or national team play and have had to leave first thing in the morning, what are you in need of? If you are anything like me, you are reaching for a cup of coffee.

Coffee, much like beer, has undergone a revolution in recent years. Gone are the days of the giant tubs of pre-ground coffee, scooping it into a machine and hitting “Brew.” Coffee is becoming more and more like beer with localized roasters fine-tuning their craft around the country, which allows for a higher quality, fresher product.

And so, piggybacking off the success of any of the beer focused pieces we’ve done in the past, we though we’d reach out to local roasters in cities with MLS clubs and compile a list of those doing great things with coffee.

Our goal is to provide a resource for places to grab a cup when in town for a match, or beans to brew at home. We contacted roasters in each of the 19 MLS cities and, while we weren’t able to hear back from all of them, we had quite a few that were more than happy to participate and were gracious enough to send samples. It was a difficult task drinking fantastic coffee every morning from some of the best roasters around, but I did it for you.

(Also, I’m not a professional taster so forgive my amateur tasting notes. Thank you in advance.)

Eastern Conference

Philadelphia: Old City Coffee

Founded in 1984, these guys have been a staple in the Philly coffee scene for 27 years. Roasting in small batches guarantees that the freshest coffee will be available at either of their two café locations in Philadelphia. I was fortunate enough to be able to taste their best selling Old City Blend coffee, and I can see why they sell so much of it. The Old City Blend nicely combined the earthiness that South American beans tend to give with the more floral, citrus notes of Ethiopian beans. If you find yourself in the Old City District of Philadelphia, stop by their location on Church Street.

Kansas City: PT’s Coffee

While technically not in Kansas City, we would have been remiss to leave out a former Roast Magazine Roaster of the Year out of Topeka. After beginning as a single café in 1993, PT’s has grown and supplies coffee around the country. Of the coffees we were able to try, the Guatemala Finca El Injerto was my favorite. The caramel and chocolate flavors were pronounced; yet overall the coffee remained round and well balanced.

And to tie this into soccer, PT’s has partnered with the Prodigy Youth Soccer Association in Topeka to help Topeka-area youth soccer players receive the funding to offset annual dues. Through the sales of Flor del Sol, PT’s hopes to raise $1500 for the Jon Kaspar Memorial Scholarship Fund in memory of a former barista and soccer player in the Prodigy Soccer set up. The Flor del Sol is only available for a limited time, so if you are into great coffee and helping youth soccer players and their families, act quickly. I know I will.

Houston: Java Pura

With five cafes in the Houston area, there are plenty of locations for Houston coffee drinkers to find Java Pura. Named the Best Coffee Roaster in Houston by the Houston Press, Java Pura’s mission is to provide drinkers the freshest, locally roasted coffee possible. Many of their coffees are Fair Trade and organic. The Costa Rica “Don Teofilo” was sampled and the earthy, nutty aroma was balanced with chocolate and citrus flavors to create a very enjoyable cup.

Western Conference

Portland: Stumptown Coffee; Public Domain Coffee

Not surprisingly, two roasters from Portland participated in our guide. Stumptown is a fairly easy-to-find coffee that can be purchased by the bag across the country, and they have cafés in Portland, Seattle, and New York City. The Hair Bender blend is their most popular coffee and most versatile as it worked well in my French Press or as espresso.

Public Domain has been in business for 40 years providing quality coffee in downtown Portland. Their Guatemala Finca Santa Felisa coffee was a favorite with a fruity, berry-like flavor that created a smooth cup that made getting up early to watch a 0-0 draw a little more palatable.

Seattle: Victrola Coffee

Recently named by Food & Wine magazine as having one of the country’s best cafés, Victrola Coffee has been providing Seattleites coffee since 2000 and have been roasting their own on site since 2003. I tasted the Finca Vista Hermosa coffee from Guatemala and was impressed by the chocolaty, nutty flavors that were present in each cup.

Surprise brew!

Colorado: Novo Coffee

Not knowing this ahead of time, we hit the jackpot with Novo Coffee out of Denver.

Not only has their coffee and café been recognized by Denver Magazine as one of the Top 100 Things to Taste in Denver, by Westword as the Best Local Roaster in 2011, AND as one of the Top 10 Boutique Coffee Shops in America according to Bon Appetit, but Jake Brodsky, one of the owners/co-founders, is also a self-described “huge soccer fan.” After finishing his collegiate career at UMASS, Jake played semi-pro soccer in Colorado, where he was able to train with the Rapids and Arizona. After “retiring” in 2002, he started Novo but still plays in a weekend men’s league in Denver. Both of the coffees sampled (an Ethiopian and Columbian) were fantastic and it was easy to see why Novo is held in such high regard around the country.

Los Angeles: Handsome Coffee

Last, but certainly not least, we have a roaster worthy of the city that’s home to the defending MLS champions. Three guys who’ve been around the coffee business in locations across the country formed Handsome Coffee in 2011, and only the Galaxy’s Big Three of Donovan, Beckham, and Keane only dwarfed this partnership in media exposure. They had garnered such a reputation built upon social media and coffee blogs that I was a little skeptical of whether their coffee would be any good. My skepticism proved to be misguided, as the coffee is good, very good. Their first café in the Arts District of Los Angeles opened earlier this month and heavy lines are the norm. Don’t worry, like everyplace else on this list, you can order online from their site

This is by no means an all-encompassing list of the roasters in every MLS city, or even all of the roasters within the cities highlighted. We tried our best to reach out to at least one business in each location, and sometimes we were lucky – other times we weren’t. If you know of any that I may have missed, please add them into the comments section. This also goes for little coffee shops, cafés, and breakfast joints. Our ultimate goal was to create a communally developed source of information for supporters traveling to see their teams play. Enjoy!

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Posted by on Mar 2, 2012 in Blog, Coffee News, Local Coffeehouse Visit | 0 comments

#Coffeehouse conversations

By David Ryan Polgar (Hartford, CT Resident Blogger)

From now until March 11, West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park will be presenting the musical “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

Clipping from an article about Espresso Yourself in Winterset, IA

The musical is based on a wildly-successful collection of essays published in 1988 by the author and minister Robert Fulghum. The concept is simple — the world would be a better place if we applied the lessons we learned in Kindergarten.

Kindergarten, however, is not the only place where we learn a thing or two about life. For me, everything I need to know I learned in a coffeehouse. If you want to learn about people, grab a cup of coffee and sit down. A coffeehouse provides an ideal environment: customers are well-fed and caffeinated, conversations are free-flowing, and the background music creates a soothing ambiance. Also, given the close quarters, time spent with your drink usually includes overhearing coffeehouse conversations. This unintentional social spying has taught me a lot about relationships.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people go on first dates at coffeehouses. While an upscale restaurant might seem like the obvious choice for the occasion, a coffeehouse makes sense. An upscale restaurant requires a large financial and time commitment—a coffeehouse date is affordable and allows for an open time frame. If the meet-up is going bust, one party has a quick escape hatch. No need to awkwardly utter, “check please.” People, however, are usually at their sharpest when they just finished a double espresso. The likelihood for a spark is greater.

What’s interesting about sitting right next to couple on their first date is that I am an accidental player in their life. How important that date is in the grand scheme of their lives depends on future events that I’ll never be aware of. If the first-date couple go on to marital bliss, then I become a minor actor in a story they will repeat for forty years. “Remember our first date at the coffeehouse…”

I’ve also noticed a great amount of similarity in how first-date couples talk to each other. It’s what I like to call the Greatest Hits Conversation. Given that they don’t know each other well, each person runs through their top hits—their best stories. It’s a selective, well-curated, display of who they are. The greatest hits are catchy and memorable, so there is a good chance that the other person will tune in and nod along. What happens, however, when that couple moves past their greatest hits?

This is what separates the couples that grow from the couples that perish. After the greatest hits have been played over and over, one person either tunes out or digs deeper into the other person’s catalog of stories. As the first-date couple moves along in a relationship they’re either going to develop an appreciation for the b-sides and rarities, or they’re going to decide that they just liked the catchy stuff.

All of this, and more, is on display as you finish your coffee and scone. As Ferris said in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” A coffeehouse is a great place to catch it.

David Ryan Polgar is a West Hartford resident.

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Posted by on Feb 23, 2012 in Blog, Coffee News, Local Coffeehouse Visit | 0 comments

Denver’s Wash Perk #Coffeehouse celebrates success!

Coffee Shop Becomes Popular Destination In Tough Economy

Wash Perk Opened Doors 4 Years Ago, Expanded Twice

AnaCabrera, 7NEWS Anchor/Reporter
UPDATED: 9:04 am MST February 22, 2012
DENVER — At a time when many small businesses have had to close up shop, a Denver woman decided to open a coffee shop that isn’t just surviving, it’s thriving. “I love this place. I love good coffee,” said Teri Meehan, owner of Wash Perk.   Wash Perk is Meehan’s labor of love.
She had no prior experience operating a business. In fact, Meehan was an oncology nurse and massage therapist before she decided to open a coffee shop in a location where two other coffee shops had failed previously. “I actually didn’t think about being successful,” said Meehan.   That was four years ago, right at the beginning of the recession.

“Coffee went up for the first time in 5 years, gas prices went up, and wheat went up so the pastries went up … all of those things. But, I think it was the right time for a place like this, a gathering place.”

The community responded in a big way.   “People constantly came in and said, ‘What can we do to help you last?'” Meehan said.

Tucked in the middle of a residential street, on the corner of Ohio and Emerson, Wash Perk is now a destination location.

On a Friday morning, it’s bustling.  “This is actually slower than normal,” said barista Jessica Engman. “Usually there’s a line out the door.”

The shop is full of people reading books, surfing the web, even doing business.  “When I work from home I work from here. It’s a good place to work,” said Andrew Myers, who travels from his Capitol Hill neighborhood to hang out on the comfy couches inside Wash Perk. Since opening the doors about four years ago, Meehan’s business has grown to 16 employees. She has expanded the shop twice.   “It was like the day we expanded the space our sales went up,” she said.

Wash Perk reaches more customers with a bicycle coffee cart, called the Perkolator, which Meehan rides to Washington Park in the spring and summer months.

“The bike alone, before having the water tank in it is 100 pounds. Then you add me and water and coffee and it’s quite a feat. It’s kind of like steering a boat while you’re riding it because you can’t control it so rigidly. You got to kind of go with the flow,” said Meehan jokingly.
Meehan has humor and a contagious personality that permeates her business. That’s what keeps customers coming back.

“Everything she’s done and put into this place comes from her heart,” said Brian Spinner, who considers himself a regular.   “It’s just a good place. Good environment, good people,” said another customer.

“I do believe that there’s a bigger purpose other than just selling coffee, and it’s clear by the fact that there are so many people that support us and feel so connected and how our staff feel about being here,” said Meehan.  “It’s more than me and it’s more than coffee.”

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