Crowlers and Comment Wars

Should I start with a disclaimer?


Okay, first of all, I am the daughter of a respected journalist, so my views are regularly influenced by her and the issues she experiences in her current working environment. Second of all, is a blog and nothing more. The information presented here may be skewed towards my own personal beliefs and preferences and therefore should not be treated as a supplier of quality news or anything of the like. Anything said here should be vetted against other reputable sources.

Okay then, so why the disclaimer?

Well, I got into a little fight…

Not a serious one, mind you, but one that brings up a serious issue that can influence the coffee industry, and all industries for that manner, negatively.

That is the issue of accurate and unbiased news reporting.

Let me start from the beginning.

Cuvee Coffee, a growing and well-known roaster located in Spicewood, Texas with a coffee bar located on E. 6th Street in Austin, has recently experienced some conflict with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, also known as the TABC. The coffee bar, which in addition to selling a variety of coffee products, sells several beers on tap that can either be enjoyed by patrons at the shop or on-the-go via Growler or Crowler. A Growler is usually a half gallon glass container in which buyers can transport beer from a restaurant’s tap to their household for later consumption. A Crowler is a 32 ounce can that essentially provides the same function as a Growler except it is not a reusable vessel.

Since the use of a Growler and a Crowler in food establishments is somewhat new in the beer world, the regulations for these containers are questionable and probably need to be revised and improved upon.

Anyway, the TABC walked into Cuvee one day due to a complaint about another issue, and they determined that it was illegal for them to sell the Crowlers without a brewpub license. The reasoning eventually provided for this was that, according to Texas law, canning is a manufacturing process and therefore beer can only be sold in a can by the manufacturer of the beer, not a reseller such as Cuvee.

All in all, it’s Texas law, and the TABC is obligated to uphold Texas law. It’s all kind of silly, and in my opinion, the regulations need to be reevaluated and revised for the changing times, but whatever.

My problem has nothing to do with the facts of this story.

It has everything to do with how one particular publication chose to report about it.

Roast Magazine is a reputable trade magazine within the coffee industry. I am a subscriber to their weekly newsletter, provided by the magazine’s online counterpart, the Daily Coffee News, and for the most part, I enjoy the articles and blog posts that they provide. That being said, I was not happy with their coverage of the Cuvee/TABC war. The article was very much sided towards Cuvee without any quote from the TABC. In fact, it didn’t even mention the regulations that were cited during the incident. The reporting wasn’t just skewed; it completely excluded important facts.

In the end, I commented on the article that unless it is explicitly stated as a blog or opinion piece, the writer should provide an even reporting of both sides without hinting towards their own personal opinions. Someone got mad at me, said I was missing the point, and well, that got the ball rolling.

If you want to read the actual articles that I read, please check out both on the Daily Coffee News and Austin 360, but ultimately, I think you will agree with me that the information provided by the Daily Coffee News was highly inadequate compared to that of Austin 360.

I bring this all up for a very specific reason.

We live in a time of very easy access to information. Just a quick Google search, and we have every little mention of the topic at our fingertips, no matter how insignificant or inaccurate. The problem is though that we have no way of determining whether the information being provided to us is insignificant or inaccurate. Typically out of laziness or ignorance, we just accept it all as fact.

This is so incredibly problematic.

Let’s go into the What Ifs: What if the reason why Texas legislation restricts canning is because of a high incident of injury occurring in places with canning machinery? What if there is legislation against canning in Texas because of the unsustainable nature of cans? What if there needs to be legislation against Growlers in addition to Crowlers because such reselling actually increases the incidence of tampering with the beer?

I don’t know because no one is actually providing any information that might answer those questions.

And that is really the issue here.

The news needs to provide the facts of the matter. All of the facts. And those facts need to be presented in a neutral and clear manner. Otherwise, how will the reader learn anything? How will they know how to act? How will they know if further inquiry needs to take place? How will they improve upon the situation?!?!?!?!

Simple. They won’t.

When it comes to the latest news reports, I encourage all people to question the content and verify the facts of the report. I have seen too many posts on Facebook and Twitter from my friends about things that have been completely inflamed and misrepresented, and that kind of manipulation does no good for anyone. We are never going to overcome the things that destroy our communities and happiness if we don’t thoroughly vet the information that is constantly being thrown at us as well as question our own assumptions and biases.

So please, if there is anything that I post on my site or my Twitter page that you find questionable or if I say anything that you find objectionable, please speak up by commenting below. I want to hear what you think. You may be right, and as an accountant and Christian, I highly value accountability, as much as it may suck at times. It is essential to my career and my faith. All I ask is that you state your objections as calmly and with as little vulgarity as possible.

The one and the only Pookachino


The Morning Grump

As soon as I see sunlight

And hear the birds that chirp

Cicadas with their buzzing

My cell phone’s timed alert

I feel my body stiffen

With stress I know so well

The new day is upon me

Oh, Morning, you are hell

My eyes, I’ll crack them open

I’ll make it out of bed

But let me warn you clearly

Bad thoughts reign in my head

Don’t even think of trying

To wish me a good day

I really do not care

Just get out of my way

So if I must wake up

And function at my best

I just want my damn coffee

I don’t say that in jest

Unless you have a pastry

Or prepped my Aeropress

You really should take cover

My anger will be less

I think there’s only one thing

To tame the rage inside

A ton of French press coffee

In a mug a mile wide

But since that is unlikely

And surely too expensive

Approach only with caution

I’ll probably be defensive

Oh, don’t you fear for me

Or worry about my fate

As I drink my coffee

My anger will abate

Just give me time and space

A Yirgacheffe brew

And certainly by lunch

My mood will be brand new

I’ll never give it up

My morning cup of joe

But if you push for it

I’ll mark you as my foe

Oh, how I love my coffee

My little morning jump

It is the only thing

To defeat the morning grump


Hipster Coffee: My Issue With Third Wave Coffee

Okay, so the past couple of weeks have been a bit trying, so this post is going to border on bitchy and contain quite a bit of complaining, so if you don’t want me to put a damper on your 4th of July (or weekend for all you international folks), please redirect yourself here.

So why am I in such a mood? Well, during the past two weeks, ants have infested my car (I’m probably going to die from all the bug killer I’ve used) and the father of a close friend of mine died (I knew the father, and he was a quality guy). When it came to figuring out plans for the 4th of July holiday, I pretty much said, “Well, fuck it,” and instead of partying in a pool or at a BBQ, I’m instead taking care of the ton of laundry that I’ve neglected this week.

I was out of coffee though, so I had to go somewhere this morning to get my daily caffeine fix, and I set my sights on Once Over Coffee. I had been meaning to try it out for a while, and they sell whole beans from Wild Gift Coffee.


One of the reasons why I hadn’t tried out Once Over earlier is because of the parking. The shop does have a small parking lot out front, but it is so small that maneuvering into a spot is tricky, and there are hardly enough spots for all of Once Over’s patrons. If you happen to pull in and no spots are available, good luck trying to get back out.

This morning though, I was fortunate enough to grab a spot on the side that borders the parking lot of a neighboring eye doctor. The lot was empty as the doctor is closed on weekends, and I couldn’t help but wonder why Once Over had never negotiated a deal with its neighbor to use the parking lot on the weekends. Maybe they did try, and the neighbor was less than accommodating, but I kind of doubted that they really pushed for it when I read a note on the front door that said, “If you don’t want your car towed, don’t park in our neighbors’ parking lots ever.”

Tired of getting complaints about it, Once Over?

Despite the parking issues, the shop does sell great coffee, and if you carry cash, you get a 10% discount on everything. There is plenty of seating and a small deck out back that overlooks Bouldin Creek. If you bring a dog, there is a small “dog park” out front as well.

Anyway, what does any of this have to do with hipster culture and third wave coffee?

When I was in Portland, I visited many coffee establishments that made fantastic coffee, and when I say fantastic, I mean fantastic. These places served some of the best coffee that I have ever tasted. That being said, there was a problem with these shops that I didn’t recognize until my final stop, Grendel’s Coffee Shop.

They were unwelcoming.

This unwelcoming trait is not blatant, but it was there, hidden behind the modern decor or complex menu of bean variety and various brew methods. In these environments, it is expected of the customer to know what the difference is between Colombian and Rwandan beans, the difference between a French press and Chemex. Espresso is brewed with such revelry that ordering a latte immediately brands that person as someone who doesn’t understand the intricacies of coffee taste profiles.

Of course, there is delicious coffee, but it is ultimately branded for a very distinct type of person.

Let’s put it in the context of liquor.

Whiskey neat, y'all.
Whiskey neat, y’all.

I am a whiskey lover, but I mainly stick to Jack Daniel’s neat. That is my preference, and I am not prone to trying out other types of whiskey out there, unless Jack Daniel’s is not available. Now, another person may like Jack Daniel’s but can only stomach it in a Coke, or that person may hate whiskey altogether but enjoys vodka martinis. That is his or her preference. He or she could walk into any bar, order any kind of drink, whatever level of knowledge they have about liquor, and walk away with nothing more than a smile from the bartender. Any preference towards one bar or another will likely develop due to the quality of the drinks or the atmosphere of the establishment.

That is not so with coffee shops.

No, with coffee shops, the places with the best quality coffee usually contain the most derision towards those with limited coffee knowledge. Whereas I could ask for a Jack and Coke at a respectable bar with not even the slightest glance, ordering a large nonfat latte at a respectable coffee shop usually incurs judgement.

So what does this have to do with Once Over?

Let’s go back to the parking issue.

It seemed kind of strange to me that Once Over did not try and work out some kind of deal with the neighbor to utilize the available parking on weekends. Yeah, those who wanted to visit the shop could park on a side street instead, but more and more, the surrounding areas are enacting parking restrictions in the residential areas to just those with parking permits. In other words, customers who don’t live in the immediate area wouldn’t be able to park along the side streets without the risk of being towed.

So with a limited parking lot and no available parking elsewhere, isn’t Once Over limiting how many customers can visit them to just the capacity of its parking lot?

Not necessarily.

Because of the hipsters.

I know, I know. I just made a huge leap, but keep with me here.

Hipster culture has most recently been closely connected with biking and third wave coffee, so interestingly enough, those who are the most knowledgeable of the new coffee lingo and standards are also the ones who don’t travel by car.

So when I saw that sign on the door about my car getting towed, it rubbed me the wrong way. I love coffee. I hope to make a living in coffee, but I do not ascribe to the hipster culture. I do not like alternative music. I like my country, pop country, pop, rock, techno, swing, or whatever best emulates my mood at that point in time. My beliefs are a somewhat confusing mix of conservative and liberal standards. I am a Christian but also a feminist. I won’t stand for the discrimination of anyone, and I believe in second chances for those who have been convicted of the most heinous crimes. I hate biking and exercising, but I do planks and crunches and stretch almost everyday in the privacy of my own home. I love reading and writing, but I studied finance and have a career as an accountant.

No one person is the same, so when I see a coffee shop that puts off an air of superiority and so obviously favors a particular set of the population, I am completely turned off by what they offer. I hate it, and I find that I, often unconsciously, do not frequent shops that display such attributes.

Before I traveled to Portland, I was told that I would love it and want to move there, but because of this general theme in so many of their quality coffee shops, I did not fall in love it in, and I ultimately had no desire to move away from Austin.

Serving coffee of the utmost quality is incredibly important for the entirety of the coffee industry. Serving quality coffee goes beyond the walls of the coffee shop and can influence the lives of the roasters, importers, exporters, and farmers that helped get the bean from plant to cup, but it is not going to make the difference that it needs to make if coffee is constantly presented as a drink for only a particularly set of the population. It is for everyone and needs to be presented as a drink for everyone.

I know this is quite a challenge for some places, and I think it is an even greater challenge for a city like Austin, where even the smallest innovative or quirky change is greatly applauded and praised and then overwhelmed by those doing the applauding and praising. Such extreme excitement eventually pushes the common man into exclusion.

But it must be done. The bridge between the hipsters and the rest of the population must be built.

And I hope, when I finally get the courage to jump fully into the industry, that I will do just that.

Happy 4th of July,

The one and the only Pookachino

In memory of Lester Kothmann. To say that you will be missed is an understatement. I am so thankful that God brought you and your family into my life, and I hope that the lessons you taught me just in how you lived your life will continue to positively influence my actions and goals from this day forward.

A Rainy Day On The Lake

A couple of days ago, my doctor told me that I needed to stay away from caffeine.


So following her advice, I decided to skip church this morning and headed out in the rain to Mozart’s Coffee Roasters for a delicious pastry and bottomless coffee.

Even on rainy days, the view is fantastic.

If you have never made it out to Mozart’s before, it is one of the most well-known coffee shops in Austin and has been around since before the third wave coffee scene developed. It is located right on Town Lake and has always received a great deal of respect from me for several reasons:

  1. Free refills on its freshly roasted coffee. I’m not kidding. For $3.50, you have your pick of up to six different roasts all day long. My favorite is the Lake Austin Blend, which is their lightest roast, but if you like the burnt stuff, they also have a dark Italian style roast to enjoy.
  2. The desserts and pastries. Damn it, forget looking dignified while eating their baked goods. One bite and you’ll try to shove it all into your mouth at once.
  3. The view. Mozart’s is literally on the lake. No matter where you sit, whether inside or out on one of the three decks, you will always have a view of the water. If you sit on the lower deck though, you can watch the turtles as they swim by.
  4. The website. This is a pet peeve of mine, but in this digital age, coffee shops need to have a clean and functional website. It doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive (I mean, have you seen my blog?), but it should provide the basics such as an About Me section and a menu as well as a few pictures. I am a very visual person, so a crummy website can really kill any interest I may have in visiting. Mozart’s though has always had a unique and helpful website that effectively expresses the look and feel of the shop.
  5. The parking. I know, I know. The parking lot outside of Mozart’s is tiny and dangerous, but if you don’t have patience for that, like me, outside of typical business hours, you can park across the street in the LCRA parking lot, which is rarely full.
  6. The holiday light show. Every year during the winter holidays, the Mozart’s crew hangs thousands of twinkle lights for a programmed light show. This past year’s show, in addition to the usual holiday characters and music, included the song “What Does the Fox Say?” as well as structures shaped like the Texas Capitol building and the Austin bats. Because that’s Texas, y’all! (I apologize for the low picture quality in the slideshow below. I am not a photographer by any means.)

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The shop isn’t perfect. It is full of students all the time, usually of the UT or “bro” variety, and the Wi-Fi sucks, but those are easy enough to avoid on Sunday mornings with a book in my purse.

I have many fond memories of this place, and I certainly plan on creating more.

As always,

The one and the only Pookachino

Café What?

In Austin, Texas, the coffee industry is booming.

If you ever have the chance to visit, I’m sure you will be encouraged to try out a bevy of quality shops such as Houndstooth and Mozart’s, who have been around for years now (and for good reason). You may even be directed to some of the newer places that have very quickly risen to prominence in the coffee scene, such as Stouthouse, Patika, and Sa-Tén.

But I’m not going to talk about those places today.

No, today I’m going to write about one store in Austin, just east of the gorgeous St. Edward’s University, in an area known for its flammable and sketchy apartment complexes, that has remained under the radar since its opening in 2014 but is slowly and surely gaining popularity and favor: Café Crème. (Just in case you don’t believe me, this shop made the People Magazine’s list of 24 Coffee Shops in America that You have to Visit.)

As are most of my great coffee finds, I became aware of this place by accident. I was looking for another restaurant in the area, and Google Maps marked it as a possible point of interest. (Google knows me too well…)

I determined that I had to visit after checking out their website and finding that they did a monthly French movie night (I was really into France when I was in high school) and sold a unique menu of crêpes, pastries, and coffee drinks.

I’ll admit that it took me a while to get there, but I am so glad that I did.

First of all, in a city where accessible and free parking is becoming less and less, this place is located in what was a small office building, so it contains a great amount of easy parking just outside the front door. It’s hot in Texas now, and I carry a lot of books in my bag, so any shop with easy parking automatically gets brownie points from me.

When I walked in, I was immediately greeted with a chalk board listing the day’s crêpe offerings, and even though I had every intention to go for the pastries, I couldn’t help myself. I ordered the Versailles crêpe, which contained brie, artichokes, mushrooms, onions, and spinach. Dear God, it was good.

As for the coffee, I ordered their medium roast brewed in a French press. I know there are a lot of haters of the French press out there, but I love coffee the consistency of sludge. And let me tell you, Café Crème knows how to make a mean sludge. 🙂

I think what really did it for me at this shop though is that it was remnant of my first days in Austin, back before the city was winning every “Best Of” award in the nation and receiving a 100+ new residents each day. The furniture was a little rough but clean, the decor simple yet eclectic due to local artwork and a makeshift bookshelf-sheet-wall hybrid in one corner. Even my food flag, a card with cats in various yoga poses, was characteristic of the weird hippy vibe that had made Austin so unique and exciting.

11250203_10152903656341074_3150280245278607808_nIf you ever find yourself in town, you will be pleased with the coffee shops that fill Downtown and East Austin. There is nothing amiss with any of those establishments, but for a true taste of the spirit of Austin, make sure to head down to Café Crème.

Don’t let the traffic on 35 deter you. It’s worth it.

Reporting from the oven also known as Texas,

The one and the only Pookachino

Let’s Talk About Ristretto…

So back in April, I had the opportunity to travel to Portland, Oregon for some coffee training and to experience the city’s awesome coffee scene.

One of the places I visited was Ristretto Roasters, and let me tell y’all, it was fabulous and one of my favorite stops on my trip.


I first came across the name as I was researching Portland travel destinations, and I made it a priority to stop by mainly because it was close to my hotel. I wasn’t renting a car, so I needed coffee shops that would be easily accessible by foot.

Also, it’s on Couch Street, and I had to visit the one coffee shop on the street that was the same as my last name.


Anyway, I first visited the shop while I was on the Third Wave Coffee Tour. It was our last stop of the tour, and while we were there, we had a cupping of three different roasts that the shop offered: the Beaumont Blend, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, and the roaster’s decaf (I preferred the Beaumont Blend at first for its fuller scent, but the fruitiness of the Yirgacheffe that developed as the coffee cooled really won me over in the end). It was a fantastic experience in learning how to discern the flavors of different beans and roast levels, and it taught me that not all decaf coffees suck.


Don’t get me wrong though. I still think decaf is for weaklings.

Overall, it was the perfect way to end a coffee tour, and the major caffeine intake made me very productive for the rest of the day.

I was delighted a few days later to return when some of my fellow coffee trainees wanted to try out Ristretto before class. We first ordered two espressos, one of each coffee on the menu for espresso (I believe one was the Beaumont Blend and then the other was a single origin from Colombia), a cortado, and then some coffee brewed in the Steampunk brewer.


I had never heard of the Steampunk brewer before that day. It was a very cool machine that fit in well with their decor, but to be quite honest, I don’t think it made a better cup of coffee than any other brew method I tried while in town. I am curious though to try out a vacuum brewer in my own home, especially now after seeing the Steampunk brewer in action.

As for the espressos and the cortado, each one was delicious. You can rest assured that you will get a properly extracted espresso at Ristretto.


My last visit to the shop was during my final Saturday morning in Portland, and I mainly just stopped to get a couple bags of beans for home and a quick coffee. I was going to stop by a couple of other shops for beans before I left, but I was coming down with a cold and only had the energy to stop at Ristretto. That was alright though as the coffee was just what I needed to help me get to the airport. 🙂

Then disaster struck. My bag was left out in the rain in Las Vegas, and the coffee beans sustained water damage. Noooooo!


It’s been over a month, and I still feel pain when I look at this picture. We tried to save what we could, but it was such a disappointing way to end a trip.

And stupid too. My layover was in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada, people! It never rains in that city!

Anyway, there are several coffee shops that I would suggest everyone should visit during a trip to Portland, but Ristretto Roasters should definitely be at the top of the list.

And if you can’t make it to Portland? No problem. You can still order some of their delicious beans online.


The one and the only Pookachino

To Starbucks or Not To Starbucks

So a few weeks ago, I went to Portland, OR for some coffee training.

While I was there, I drank a massive amount of coffee. Case in point, Ristretto Roasters:

Drinks from the back: Espresso – Beaumont Blend, Espresso – Single Origin (Sorry, forget from where), Cortado, Steampunk coffee.

Now, I didn’t drink all of that by myself. I was with a few other of my fellow trainees, but that was the second stop of three that morning. We were also tasting coffee and espresso all day long, so to say I was highly caffeinated during my trip is an incredible understatement.

But let me just say that almost all of the coffee I drank, including some of the espressos that I personally made, were delicious.

Since I’ve been home though, I really haven’t had a cup of coffee that matched the quality of those in Portland. The last cappuccino that I grabbed at Houndstooth Coffee was the closest I got.

The lack of coffee quality really hit me the last time I grabbed a drink at Starbucks. I probably wouldn’t have ever gone back after Portland for several reasons other than just taste, but I had a couple of free drinks on my gold card, and then someone got me a gift card for my birthday…

But I cannot deny the truth. My coffee tasted pretty disgusting.

Which makes me so sad.

I know, I know. Starbucks is a massive corporation, and the coffee’s low quality isn’t really a secret. I’ve know for a while that the beans are roasted too darkly and that their baristas are typically not trained correctly in espresso extraction. I know that their drinks sizes are total crap and that they drown out all of coffee’s great traits by using way too many processed syrups.

What really kills me about it though is that Starbucks was what got me into coffee in the first place.

Sure, when I was younger, I went for the Frappuccinos, the Caramel Macchiatos, and Mochas, but eventually that led to regular lattes, black coffee, the Verismo, and then, even further, to shots of espresso and experimenting with the French Press, Aeropress, and Chemex.

My Verismo that I won by creating a Pinterest board. That's right, bitches. A Pinterest board.
My Verismo that I won by creating a Pinterest board. That’s right, bitches. A Pinterest board.

Starbucks also introduced me to the Third Place, a place where people can gather outside of the home and work or school. It became a comfortable location where I could study or see my friends. It was a safe haven where I could spend time with my family or escape from them…

Starbucks also introduced me to ethical business practices while I was in high school and encouraged me as I pursued my own business degree to keep people and the environment at the forefront of my future business plans. It has been just as influential in how I approach business as any of my professors.

But my time as a regular Starbucks customer is coming to an end.

I just don’t like the coffee any more. Additionally, the stores don’t quite meet the local feel that I need for my third place, and when it comes to ethical and sustainable business practices, supporting local businesses is in my opinion right in line with those standards.

I’m sure I’ll stop in a Starbucks every now and then, like when I’m visiting family, since they don’t know any better, but I am certain this will be my last year as a gold card member.

It’s been a great ride, Starbucks.

Thanks for the memories.

P.S. I’ll see you in the morning. I still have $4 left on my gift card. Waste not, want not. 🙂