How I Panicked About Shit Coffee

Back in August, when I was feeling particularly adventurous, I decided to take a long two week vacation for Christmas. The plan was to spend a week in Denver with my family and then fly to Salt Lake City for five days of rest and relaxation.

Now don’t get me wrong. I had a lot of fun on the trip, experienced a lot of new things, and found valuable perspective, but man, was I glad to come home.

So that begs the question, why did I miss home so much?

Well, altitude sickness always puts a damper on the best of plans. Severe nausea, headache, breathlessness, and a boat-load of exhaustion are not very conducive to holiday fun, and while the worst of my symptoms lasted only a couple of days, my Vivofit was a regular reminder of just how much harder my heart was working every single day to do the simplest of tasks, like walking to the bathroom or eating.

The other issue that I experienced on this trip was that Salt Lake City is weird and not in a good way like it is for Austin or Portland. It’s a little hard to explain (although, I have found that I am not the only one to feel this way), but Salt Lake City’s vibe can best be described as stiff and stifled. Creative energy was just dead there, and I certainly didn’t appreciate having to go into a hidden, sketchy state-owned liquor store where they scanned my driver’s license into their system just to get one bottle of wine. I mean, how can you not feel singled out and judged with that?

But honestly, that wasn’t the worst of it. No, the worst came about two days away from the end of my trip when I couldn’t find a decent cup of coffee.

While I was in Denver, despite the altitude sickness, I did enjoy some delicious java. My mother and I were able to check out Downpours Coffee and Hunter Bay Coffee Roasters when we had a free moment, and my sister has made the switch from K-Cups to the Aeropress, greatly upping her home brew game.

Salt Lake was a different story though.

I rented out a cute little Airbnb, and while the owner provided about four different coffees for consumption, all of them were dark roasts and pre-grounded. Most Americans can enjoy such coffee, but for a snob like me, I had to douse the stuff with almond milk to make it drinkable.

IMG_1448.jpg
You bet your ass that’s almond milk in that coffee.

So by mid-week, I was desperate for a good cup of coffee.

After a quick Google search, I found myself packing up my laptop and heading for Jack Mormon Coffee Company, which was within walking distance and had great reviews. The trek took a mere fifteen minutes, but by the time I arrived, the altitude had sapped me off all my strength and breath. I staggered over to the door, ready to sit down with a cup of Joe, and that’s when I saw it: A sign alerting anyone who approached that the store was closed until the next week.

I’ll admit it. I cried.

Using the anger and desperation within me, I somehow trudged back up to my Airbnb and promptly collapsed on the couch, wheezing and mentally fuming, How could they do this to me?!?!?!?

It wasn’t one of my better moments.

Eventually, I pulled myself off the couch, and after about an hour of furious pacing around the apartment and then panic-driven Google searching, I was able to find another nearby coffee shop, Publik Coffee Roasters, which irritatingly is located literally a block away from Jack Mormon.

Could’t have shown me that in the first place, Google?

Anyway, thank God the shop was open and full of delicious coffee and toasts. I honestly might have killed someone that day if it wasn’t.

IMG_1469.jpg

So moral of the story: Don’t go to Salt Lake City.

Love,

The one and the only Pookachino

Advertisements

Why Am I So Tired? An Autobiography by Me

Alright. I admit it.

I am so fucking tired.

I was so tired this morning, in fact, that I didn’t so much walk into my kitchen as much as bounced off of every wall haphazardly until I ran into the countertop holding my coffee supplies. Balance is hard when you can’t keep your eyes open and your head feels like a fifty pound kettle ball.

If I were to be entirely honest though, this is not an unusual occurrence. Since I was a baby, I always had issues falling asleep. My mother loves to remind me that she didn’t become a night owl until she gave birth to my sister and me, and I can recall many a night when falling asleep took about 3-4 hours to achieve and staying asleep was just as difficult. Unfortunately, physical activity doesn’t always help, and medications carry a risk of addiction and a whole slew of side effects that I prefer to avoid at all costs.

So what is a girl to do when she can’t get enough rest?

Drink coffee, of course.

0F5ECBC5-AA37-4E55-B171-568A639239BC

I drink coffee for many reasons, but in the mornings, when I’d rather die than talk to someone, and in the evenings, when my brain is processing information at the same speed as my 7-year old, crash-prone PC, its caffeine content is the sole reason for consumption.

Its effects are short-lived, but they are life saving and life giving. Without the energizing power of coffee, I would not be able to speak with others, read a book, see colors, hold a job, or write for this barely maintained blog. If I found myself in an apocalyptic future where clean water and therefore coffee was not available, I would probably just lay down in a corner somewhere and die.

And who really wants to live in a world without coffee anyway?

IMG_1067

So if one day, you see me walking down a hall, bumping into walls and slurring my words, I swear I’m not drunk, just in desperate need of some coffee.

And if you bring me some, I’ll love you forever.

Sincerely,

The one and the only Pookachino

 

Coffee in the Land of Maple Leaves and Universal Healthcare

Alright, y’all. I’m going to be completely honest right now: The only reason why this post is getting written is because I am hardcore procrastinating on my work. Plus, I’m really not in a hurry to further burn out my already fried brain.

So I’ve decided to blog about happier, more exciting times.

Like when I left the country. 🙂

My mother and I decided to take a week to visit Vancouver, Canada in October, and while I expected a great time, the experience was so much more than I could have ever imagined. We saw so many incredible sights, ate so much delicious food, and of course, drank a ton of amazing coffee.

So where did I find this amazing coffee?

Well, the first caffeine stop of the trip was actually kind of an accident. My mother and I had intended to check out Timbertrain Coffee Roasters in Gastown, but upon entering the shop, we found that the lack of air conditioning had made the store just too stifling to enjoy. As a result, we turned around and walked down the block to Buro Espresso at the corner of Water and Cordova Street.

Not only was the cappuccino that I ordered delicious, but the location is prime for people watching. With near floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding about 75% of the store, it was easy to take in all the activity of Gastown from any seat. Timbertrain may be the more highly-rated coffee shop, but I highly recommend checking out Buro first.

The next morning, my mother and I decided to have breakfast at the Prado Cafe just a couple of blocks from our AirBnB. We had walked past it the day before, and it certainly caught our eye then, but little did we know that it would become one of our favorite stops of the trip.

There is no doubt about it that this place serves great coffee, and it’s not surprising why: Back in 2011, the cafe was taken over by Sammy Piccolo, who has an impressive resume which includes the title of first ever winner of the World Latte Art Championship. And while the coffee is good enough to support the cafe itself, the food there is just as amazing. My mother is now obsessed with poached eggs because of the delicious toasts that the shop serves, and we ended up visiting the cafe multiple times because we loved it so much.

The next coffee shop that I visited was Revolver Coffee. I had wanted to visit this shop for a couple of reasons: Great coffee reviews and the CW show Arrow was shooting nearby. Since I was on my own for the day, I checked out the film set quickly, and then headed down the block for some breakfast. While the food was limited to baked goods, I could have sat there all day, drinking pour overs and eating coffee cake,  because the vibe was so warm and cozy. It was definitely a good start to a long day of sightseeing.

I walked what felt like twenty miles that day, so before heading home that afternoon, I decided to make a stop at Beaucoup Bakery, which an acquaintance of my mother’s had highly recommended. Sitting near the edge of the Kitsilano neighborhood, this little spot boasts an impressive array of baked goods and sports a fun vibe that is definitely worth a visit. I wouldn’t say my cappuccino or croissant were amazing, but they were decent enough that I would make a return in the future.

IMG_1092.jpg

The final stop on my coffee shop tour was at a place that I had made a priority to check out when planning the trip: 49th Parallel.

I’ll admit, the reason why I wanted to try this coffee shop so much was because of the doughnuts. Check out Lucky’s Doughnuts on Instagram, and I’m sure you’ll understand how I felt. Those doughnuts just look too good not to try, so after touring the botanical gardens, my mother and I headed over to the shop for a sweet afternoon treat.

The location is perfect, with plenty of space, a comfortable vibe, and amazing coffee. I had a peanut butter chocolate doughnut with my cappuccino, and I had to force myself to not stuff all of into my face at once because it was just so good. And don’t worry if you are not all that into the sweet stuff. They have savory food as well.

I could go on and on about my trip to Vancouver as we saw so much while we were there, and we hardly even skimmed the surface of things to do. As much as I tried, there was no way I could visit all of the coffee shops that I wanted to, but I guess that just means I have to go back for another trip, right?

If you would like to see more pictures from Vancouver, check out my Instagram. Also, I have started a list of coffee shops that I have enjoyed over the years, so make sure to check it out if you are looking for recommendations.

Until next time,

The one and the only Pookachino

Coffee Rant: Jack Daniel’s Coffee

If you have been following my Instagram the past couple of days, then you know that I have been frequenting the Jack Daniel’s General Store Pop-Up in Austin a lot this week.

If coffee is my true love, then Jack Daniel’s is that old lover that I just can’t resist when he comes around.

So, of course, when I saw that Jack Daniel’s was selling its own coffee at the pop-up, I was extremely excited. My two loves, together in one sleek, albeit expensive, tin.

Until I saw it.

It’s…ugh, I can barely even say it.

It’s decaffeinated.


Why, God? Why?!?!?!?!

And that is why Jack Daniel’s will never be marriage material.

Now excuse me while I finish my Jack and Coke.

The one and the only Pookachino

Coffee Rant: Sport Shops

Y’all, I tried. 

And I have found that I just can’t.

Coffee shops in sports stores. 

Just no. Please, God, no.

Yes, I know that my response is overly dramatic and extreme, but I have visited many a coffee shop, and these coffee/sport hybrids are, in my opinion, very uncomfortable and, in some cases, just disappointing. 

Let’s take my recent trip to Complex Coffee, which is situated inside Rogue Running, as an example. When I saw the sign saying the coffee shop was open, I was super excited as it’s on my way to the office, but that excitement turned to trepidation upon entering the Rogue Running building. 

In case you couldn’t guess it, I am not a runner, and I’m pretty sure the workers there could smell the laziness on me. They seemed nice enough and asked if I needed help, but as I moved between several racks of running gear, I couldn’t help but feel severely out of place and lost.

The coffee bar itself was easy to find and is housed in a unique crate-like tower, the design of which I found very interesting and appealing. Unfortunately though, the tower was only large enough to house the coffee and food equipment, leaving all tables and chairs for patrons out in the capacious, brightly illuminated space that is the Rogue Running store. Despite some music playing from the tower, the sound was swallowed by the empty building, and when I ordered my drink, my voice echoed awkwardly across the space.

Talk about exposing.

While waiting for my cappuccino, I examined another area of the running store that was clearly designated for on-site fitness classes and immediately felt guilty for craving a danish with my coffee. It made sense to me that the coffee bar would be perfect for before- and after-class chats, but I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to stop at Complex Coffee just for the simple treat of grabbing a cup of coffee and a snack, especially when my drink was only so-so.

And that leads me to what ultimately bothers me about these hybrid shops: the lack of identity. 

Of course when a sports shop is first established, the focus is on selling the sports merchandise and services. That is the original purpose of the store. The coffee service is often added later as a possible revenue stream that could increase traffic to the location. To make this work, the coffee business is made to fit into the sports store as opposed to having its own identity and goals. In effect, it loses many of the aspects that make coffee shops so special, such as drink quality and atmosphere. In addition, because the focus remains on the original money-maker of the shop, improvements and innovation don’t occur.

So please, I beg of y’all, keep the sports and the coffee separate. It’s just good business practice, and coffee deserves better.

Thanks,

The lazy and the cantankerous Pookachino

Life Changing Coffees

Have you ever had a cup of coffee that just made you swoon with ecstasy it was so good?

If you haven’t, then you have lived a pitiful life, but if you are like me and have experienced one of these life changing coffees, then you know just how incredible such an experience can be.

So where have I found such amazing coffee? Two places actually.

My first swoon-worthy cup of coffee was at Barista in Portland, Oregon. A few friends of mine and I decided to tour the coffee shops in downtown one morning, and Barista was the last on our list. We decided to try out an espresso shot of a Honduran coffee roasted by Verve Coffee Roasters with a flavor profile of strawberry rhubarb.

IMAG0562

I’ll admit it: I was really hesitant when I read the flavor profile. I mean, strawberry rhubarb flavored coffee? It didn’t sound appetizing at all. At least, that was until I tried it.

Amazingly enough, the espresso tasted exactly like strawberry rhubarb. It know that it can be hard to imagine how that would make for a good cup of coffee, but it was really delicious and has stuck in my mind ever since.

My second swoon-worthy cup of coffee came from Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters in Lakewood, Colorado (Read more about coffee in the 303 here). I just ordered a black coffee there, but I recall feeling like all my problems were disappearing as I took my first sip of that dark deliciousness. My problems still existed but it was a nice ten minutes as I finished my cup. Now whenever I see a bag of Sweet Bloom Coffee in any of my local shops, I snap it up without a second thought.

unnamed

So if you find yourself nearby either shop, I highly recommend a visit.

Until next time,

The one and the only Pookachino

 

 

I’m In A Good Place Right Now…

… not emotionally. I’m just at the coffee shop. (If you are on social media as much as me, then you totally knew how that was going to end.)

Anyway, I think I should admit to my current love affair with Medici on Congress. I mean, I pretty much spend all my time there, and when I am at work, all I can think about is grabbing one of the shop’s delicious cappuccinos. Add to it an eclectic mix of overhead music and comfortable seating, and what more could you ask for?

I don’t know, but do you think the employees would mind if I just set up a tent in the store? I mean, I’ve had all my shots. 😉

In all seriousness though, Medici is one of the best coffee shops in downtown Austin. Serving coffee almost as good as Houndstooth but with a better location and ambience in my opinion, you can’t go wrong. A must-stop during your next visit to Austin. Check out the website for more information.

And now back to your regular scheduled programming,

The one and the only Pookachino