Coffee Shop Chronicles

Life and Times of a Barista

Assumptions

I feel stuck in the blogging world.

For as little as I post, a surprising amount of time is spent thinking of things I can and should be writing here.  Yet every time I sit down to type something up, I get stuck.  And it isn’t just the blog.  The play I’ve been writing for the past few months has me stumped too.

Jose Rivera wrote in his “36 Assumptions about Writing Plays” that a writer should:

Embrace your writer’s block.  It’s nature’s way of preserving trees and your reputation.  Listen to it and try to understand its source.  Often writer’s block happens because somewhere in your work you’ve lied to yourself and your subconscious won’t let you go any further until you’ve gone back, erased the lie, stated the truth and started over.

He also wrote:

If you’re not prepared to risk your entire reputation every time you write, then it’s not worth your audience’s time.

And that is an intimidating statement.

There are plenty of posts on here that are riddled with non-reputation risking writing as well as lies that block my ability to write the way that I want to.

Yet I can’t quite find the source.

Recently I’ve made a new friend who enjoys coffee and conversation apparently as much as I do.  Almost every invitation to spend time together involves a cup of coffee and piece of chocolate, as well as a strange dose of self-analysis.  I’ve realized how difficult it is for me to vocalize the things I feel and how shallow so much of my conversation and writing has become.  So often during our conversations I have to go into my pensive place to consider a real answer and find that I am lacking the words that I want to express myself.

How can language be so limiting?  Are the lies creating the writer’s block coming from a lack of accurate words or are they from a confusion of where I stand on the subjects that arise?

Or maybe it’s from the fear to write about the topics that come up over the coffee.  I could talk for days about how nice it is to enjoy coffee with a friend or loved one, the satisfaction that comes from a perfectly produced latte, the feeling that comes with enjoying a warm cup alone on a rainy afternoon.  However, nowhere in my writing do I get down to the gritty questions that are being addressed over that same cup.

Don’t be afraid to attempt the great themes: death, war, sexuality, identity, fate, God, existence, politics, love.

A nice thought, Jose, but how can I write about things I can barely discuss?

Maybe it was fate that made me meet my new coffee mate.  Perhaps my identity is less impacted by the coffee in my cup and more by the person on the other side of the table and the conversation about our existence.  It’s possible that sexuality is inextricable from a sort of political system, and maybe it’s possible to love without knowing how that system functions.  And yet, maybe not.  I’d like to think that God brings people into our lives to challenge our faith and values, but how much of a hand does He have in every interaction?

I don’t know the answers.  So do I erase everything in an attempt to find the lie, or do I not write until I know the truth?  Or do I just give up and go drink more coffee instead?

Let the Coffee Match the Mood

The Seattle weather has been all over the place lately.  I wake up to dark cloudy skies and find myself shielding my eyes from the bright sun after being out my front door for three minutes.  Sometimes the rain falls, sometimes it comes out of nowhere and follows me like a petulant child with a never-ending bucket of cold water over my head.

I’m not sure how anyone gets used to this place.

On those darker days, I try to venture out from my usual spot and seek out a coffee-house that better suits the weather along with my mood.

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The large windows provide protection from the dreariness without shielding it completely from my view; it’s the perfect combination.  Seattle rain, an Americano and this coffee shop allow for every ounce of hipster I have to come to the surface.  Art is made, poetry written, and iPhones are played with.

Caffe Vita

1005 East Pike Street

Seattle, WA 98122

The Coffee Files

Does love have you feeling all the feels?  Are you spending your nights and days trying to think of ways to woo that special someone?

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My other side project of The Sketch Files is working on capturing just this issue.  Our leading man Rob is on a desperate journey to win back the love of his ex the only way he knows how: with a cup of coffee in hand and beans to gift.

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If only he had bothered to ask the camera girl first, I would have let him know that if he really wanted to win the lady, Starbucks was not the route to go.  All he had to do was ask, and he might have saved himself from ending the evening with this look on his face.

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Interested in learning more about The Sketch Files?  Check out our trailer and join us on the comedic adventure of a lifetime…or something like that.

Design Delivered

While considering a cup of coffee, should the occasion arise for something artfully constructed, I appreciate the presentation.

Beautiful latte art, a charming mug, these things only enhance the experience of indulging in a cup.  But how does one have the same sort of visually pleasing experience at home, without a fancy espresso machine or matching mugs?

Thanks to my brother, I have the answer in the bag.

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Or rather, on the bag.

I had no idea Idaho was roasting such delicious beans and was thrilled to see such an eye-catching design.

Well played, DOMA Coffee Roasting Company.

Doma Coffee Roasting Company

Post Falls Idaho

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Crisis and a Cup

All my existential questions seem to arrive over a cup of coffee.

What does love mean anymore? 

Does all creativity exist inside the messy shadows of ourselves that we hide from society?

While I’m out making art, is there one clear goal of what I should be saying?

How does coffee taste so good?

It’s a lot to take in over one cup, which might explain why it takes me so long to finish.  In the last three months I’ve had multiple sources point out the amount of time it takes for me to consume twelve ounces of heavenly liquid.

The forced attention makes me want to turn and yell to my accusers, “I can’t drink this quickly!  There are too many things to consider!  Too many crisis to solve!  So many sensations to enjoy!” but instead I usually just develop a bad case of wiggle arms and add more questions to list:

Don’t you want to slow down and savor every second of this time? 

Can’t you cherish the opportunity we have to sit with each other, problems momentarily set aside, and absorb the warmth radiating from our cups? 

Have we lost our ability to live in the present?

But then again, maybe I’m just drinking my coffee too slowly.

Shared With me

and from me to you; here’s a little black coffee to move your shoes!

I Like Big Cups

These past few months have been full of pivotal turning points in many of my relationships.  There are the good ones; the transition from having an acquaintance suddenly  become a close, trusted chum.  There are also the bad ones: when realizations that a friend is not actually someone who should be around, finally sink in.  Turning points are necessary.  They keep life moving forward with joy and often with what seems like a lot of unnecessary heartache, too.

But there’s a third kind of transition.  I have experienced it before many times in my life, but this was the first time the light was turned so quickly.  It started with a ferry ride.

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But first, I think it’s important to give some background.  In December of 2011, I had returned to my job as a volunteer barista for a local coffee shop.  I was in love with a customer.  So in love that every time he walked into the shop, I’d lose my ability to perform my duties and would make mistakes that, while hilarious to my friends, left me burning with embarrassment in the back of the shop.  When I left Texas that January, I moved back home and was looking for a way to stay in touch with my friends who were still in College Station.  I started this blog and wrote about the mishaps I had trying to serve my adorable customer.

I soon realized that writing stories about a customer that I had a crush on and posting them over the internet was probably a really terrible idea and deleted all my posts and started over.

This blog turned out to be a great outlet for me.  I had the chance to practice my photography, advertise for the great people I worked with and just write.  It was my creative outlet when I was going crazy re-applying to schools, working two jobs and going to school part-time.  I was allowed to be passionate about something that brought me together with some of the best people I have ever known or worked with.

Coffee is just an incredibly delicious liquid in a cup, but for these past few years, it’s been the binding force in some of the strongest relationships in my life, the ritual I share with people I love, and the comfort that calms me in the midst of a sometimes chaotic life.

When I moved again, this blog ended up serving its original purpose.  I went to the city of coffee and shared it with the people I loved back home.  And when I got Freshly Pressed, I got to share my passion with people all over the world who understood and shared my love for such a simple thing.

But back to the ferry.

I was on a day date. It wasn’t going very well.  The two of us went out for brunch at a little diner I used to frequent with my grandparents.  The day was gorgeous and the conversation was faltering, so I pulled out my camera to take a few photos of the diner and, of course, my coffee.

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He looked embarrassed.  Which, given that I am a moderately attractive human being and had a professional camera in hand, I didn’t quite understand.  I asked him what was up and he proceeded to rant about “hipsters all taking pictures of their food”. “I’ve seen,” he said, “all the young kids pull out cameras like yours and just take snapshots of stupid things on their plates. I don’t get it.  I think it’s dumb.”

That was it.  I knew in that instant that this person was not going to be in my life anymore.

I tried to explain to him how food photography is actually an incredibly difficult and refined type of photography.  I attempted to show him that there’s no way a bunch of kids had a camera like mine, because…well, I have a really nice camera.  I even pulled up my blog on my phone and tried to explain to him why I was passionate on the subject.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me.  It’s just coffee…what’s the big deal?”

Well you, dear loyal followers, surely understand what the big deal is.  The relationship transitioned.  I can care about people who don’t drink coffee. But I refuse to surround myself with people who aren’t passionate; people who can’t understand another person wanting  to be passionate.

Readers, I am passionate about coffee.  I am grateful for the support and input I’ve received from all of you on the subject and I sincerely hope that you’re surrounded by people who support your passions, whatever they may be.

Go be creative, be passionate. And while you’re busy being passionate, I hope you enjoy a hot cup of coffee.

Cheers –

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A Vote for Brunch

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When making the decision between whether it’s too late for breakfast or too early for lunch, I almost always side for breakfast.  I think it’s probably because I always order coffee first, and you wouldn’t have coffee with lunch, not when French toast and bacon are on the side.

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Coffee and Crumble

When it comes to coffee, I never had a chance to get through life without loving it.

The love for coffee and a crumble comes directly from the line of women in my family.  Spending time with my grandmother this last week our days easily fell into a comfortable routine: 8 AM coffee and crumble run, home to read, light lunch, more reading (and possibly another coffee) then dinner, discussion and finally bed.

While I was visiting we tried to check out all the good shops on Bainbridge Island, but one of our favorites was Pegasus Coffee House.

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I can remember very clearly being inside Pegasus once with my grandfather who, while after his stroke was only able to say a handful of words, was having a heated yet hilarious political debate with the baristas and customers there who knew him.  This was all before I drank coffee, but the building itself has since then held some nostalgic comfort for me.

The weather wasn’t quite warm enough to venture outside, so my grandmother and I sipped our vanilla lattes and enjoyed our crumbles in a small table inside, insulated by the amazing leaves covering the building.

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Our morning was filled with lively discussion of theatre, literature and somehow, in the space of an hour, we managed to solve all of our country’s political problems.

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Before we knew it, our cups were empty and it was time to move on back home and settle in with a good book, with a perfectly produced latte sitting happily in our stomachs.

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The Pegasus Coffee House
131 Parfitt Way S.W.
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Phone: 206-842-6725

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