Smeagol is Free!
A hermitudinal view of...stuff...


Seattle Visuals: Day 3, Part II

posted by Bolo | 11:43 PM
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Seattle Thoughts: I Love Starbucks

Since my first reflection on Seattle was a wee bit...oh...blunt, I figured a little session of making nice-nice was in store.

Let's get the dirty little not-so-secret truth out and on the table, shall we? Most coffee nuts, in one way or another, have been influenced by Starbucks, and in many cases, that influence has been for the good. I'm not stupid; it's not been only good, but to depict the company that collectively dons the green apron in a nasty, uncaring light just isn't fair. If you're a coffee-crazed human and you're reading this, ask yourself this: Did Starbucks in some way influence my love for coffee, and for the better? I'm willing to wager that for most of us, the truthful answer is an affirming one. If not, let me ask this follow-up question of you: Do you work in the coffee industry, and if so, is it possible that your customer base would not be nearly so large were it not for Starbucks and their influence on the coffee-drinking world?

A little over a month ago, I wrote about how the coffee scene here in Louisville was found, in my own estimation, lacking. A few may have taken exception to that, but, as I explained to others, my frustration was similar to that of a parent with an underachieving child. I wrote what I did because I care about the state of coffee in this city, and I believe that it can indeed and should change for the better.

I feel much the same way toward Starbucks. That company has done so much for the advancement of coffee in the world, and on many different fronts: Farmers looking to provide for their families, burgeoning coffee aficionados, college students paying their way through college, etc. To look the other way and ignore the influence Starbucks has had would be quite ungracious of me, and I don't want to do that any more than I already do. Sarah Dooley said it best last Friday night at the Coffee Enhancement Lounge when she shared her experience interacting with Howard Schultz. She explained to us that he had a passion to get Starbucks on the right track, pushing the experience of the Starbucks customer to the point where they are tasting great coffee again. Whether or not they'll get there, I don't know. I'll still be honest in my assessment of them, but in the long run, I honestly feel it's for the betterment of coffee that they succeed; their voice is too loud for me not to want that.

posted by Bolo | 6:42 PM
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Seattle Visuals: Day 3, Part I

posted by Bolo | 6:49 AM
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I hate typos. I need an editor. Self-editing sucks.

posted by Bolo | 10:10 PM
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Seattle Thoughts: Mediocre Espresso

Kenny laughed. Immediately.

Anyone who has spent a great deal of time around me when I'm talking coffee will tell you, from personal experience, that I won't shy away from being honest when I feel the occasion calls for it. Unfortunately, those occasions are often precisely when others do not want me to be honest.

Allow me to clarify.

As I explained to Kenny and Pablo, it does a coffee shop no service when a barista asks how my espresso was and I tell them, "It was good!" and then promptly walk out and tell my friends and everyone else who asks, " was mediocre." Sometimes, the truth hurts. Sometimes, feedback isn't helpful. Sometimes, hurtful truth isn't helpful. I honestly wanted to be truthful, even hurtful if necessary, and I certainly wanted to be helpful.

Allow me to clarify still more.

I told Austin, the barista at 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea, that the single-origin Kenya AB espresso I had been served was mediocre. Actually, I didn't say the word mediocre; I had lifted my hand, palm-downward with my fingers spread open, and wiggled it in a motion while making a noise which clearly indicated the word I wanted to indicate: Mediocre.

It was the truth, and it clearly hurt. Kenny's laughter wasn't helping.

At that point, my feedback wasn't helpful, so I expounded. I told him what I had told Kenny and Pablo: The fruit was there, the flavor was there, it just didn't "pop" at all. A Kenya pulled as espresso is a unique animal: wild and flashy, vivid and powerful and woefully dangerous. I felt it should have ascended quickly up my palate and made my eyes pop open intensely in surprise; instead, it just sort of stood there...and boredom.

The reason I gave such honest feedback? They cared. Austin and the other barista clearly wanted to offer up an outstanding product. My aim was not to bash the latest Starbucks project into oblivion; it was to enjoy it for what it was, offer up some critique, and be on my merry way. In retrospect, I think Austin was not prepared for my up-front honesty. Kenny, however, was used to it, and so he laughed. I took the time to explain myself to Austin, telling him precisely why I felt no qualms in being so honest in what I tasted. It had nothing to do with the fact that I was in a Starbucks and wanted to engage in some high-handed, silly game of Charbucks-bashing. No, it was and is simply this: The espresso was mediocre, and if they want to serve up a good espresso, they need to know when they serve up mediocre espresso. Otherwise, how will they know the difference?

posted by Bolo | 9:50 PM
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Seattle Visuals: Day 2

posted by Bolo | 7:31 PM
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Seattle Recap: Day 1

I'm going to do two types of written posts concerning Seattle: Recaps and Thoughts. In the Recaps, I'll just give a bit of running commentary, summing up what Kenny, Pablo and I did in the Emerald City. In the Thoughts, I'll take the time to ruminate over what happened, doing so in a much more free-flowing manner.

We flew out of Louisville at the butt-crack of dawn with a layover in Minneapolis before we headed way west to Seattle. While waiting at our gate at SDF, I brewed up some of PT's Wondo Bonko using a Clever. Not bad for airport coffee, I assure you.

Fast-forward past our arrival and pickup and settling in at our host's house in Bellevue, just outside of Seattle. The first coffee destination? Victrola on 15th Avenue. We also hit up 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea, Tougo Coffee, an already closed Porchlight, Stumptown, then Caffe Vita and Vivace. Espresso and more was obtained -- some more enjoyable than others -- at each stop, and a wonderful experience was in the making.

posted by Bolo | 4:51 PM
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Seattle Visuals: Day 1

posted by Bolo | 4:36 PM
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