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Archive for March, 2008

People of the Internet: I need you all to clap your hands and say “Yay Sara!” for on March 9th, 2008 Sara Rose mastered the art of bike riding and her life will be forever changed! But that comes later in the story, first come all the wake up, get dressed eat breakfast kind of things.

The two of us were sharing a bed when Kate came in and pounced us awake! We three lay around for a while chatting and laughing; basking in the glory of our trio united. We rolled out of bed and began breakfast preparations. Lightly sautéed vegetables laid on a bed of fresh baby spinach; half a sweet and juicy grapefruit; eggs-in-a-basket; with homemade cappuccinos. Close friends gathered around a sunshine soaked table on Sunday morning. Thank you world for this moment.

The Plate.Spring sun.

Chris and his roommate Matt live in a house with 10 bikes. 4 people, 10 bikes. Being cycle enthusiasts, She’s a natural!they proposed we bike into Ft. Collins to get our mid-morning cup o’joe, and we were all gung-hoe about it….well….almost all. Sara was psyched but she had her reservations, she had only been on a bike two times before in her life, each time involved a fearful fall. But she was confidant and ready to try again. Along the bike bath, under bridges, past puppies and strollers, hang a right on to the street, cruise in the bike lane (that means next to traffic), hop on to the side walk and lock up the bike. Sara was a rockstar! When we got to the Beancycle, a bicycle themed coffee shop, we were all so excited about Sara’s accomplishment that the barista treated her to coffee on the house! Thanks Beancycle! (I promise to cut back on the “!”s from now on)

The sun was still shining brightly so we decided to stroll the streets of Fort Collins.Nosey Bear! Once we had posed with statues and explored nature and toy stores for a while it was time to eat again! We moseyed on over to the Ft. Collins Food Coop for more fresh produce and other organic snacks. With our tummies sufficiently satiated we hopped back on the bikes and rolled home. A pleasant pedestrian called out to us, as our clan cycled by “Yeah! You go, get some spring!” Thank you stranger! (So I lied about the “!”, but hey, there fun!)

It was time for us three ladies to head to Boulder so we snapped a family photo, exchanged bear hugs and headed south.

Say “Cheese”

Seeing as we didn’t really eat lunch, low blood sugar hit us as we arrived in Boulder. Unable to make cooking decisions we headed down to a Tibetan restaurant where we were joined by a fellow Clark Alum, Brian.

A bright exciting day melted into a warm cozy night and we all drifted happily out of one dream world into the next.

-Melanie and Sara Rose

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March 8th, 2008
First Day in Colorado!

Driving out of New Mexico into the breaking dawn; the inky midnight sky evolved into deep hazy blue. A slight glow cresting in the distance beckoned us on, “sunshine is coming, this will be a good day”. The horizon brightened in the East and Melanie drifted in and out of dreamy sleep as Sara drove on.

Switch.

big sky country

Big skies and bold mountains held Melanie’s attention.woah!

Sara slept. And slept. And slept. sleeeeeeeping
…and then…
We finally arrived in Denver. We went straight to see Kate and Rachel. Laughter and loving ensued. We were only able to hug Rachel before she flew away back to Northampton. Since the supposed 9 hour drive only took us 6, we had a few hours to relax. What do people on a coffee tour do? Go to coffee shops of course. Kate’s friend directed us over to St. Marks Coffeehouse. Once again, our coffee was paired with excellent conversation while sitting outside in the sunshine. 300 days of sun in Colorado seemed to be coming true for us.

 

Kate took over driving up to Fort Collins since our clutch muscles were cramped. The sunshine continued as we unloaded at our friend Chris’ house.

The evening took us over to a business that enlightened our environmental minds. The New Belgium Brewing Company, besides making some incredibly tasty beer, focuses on the same things that CoffeeInAction does: environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and community; the three seeds. Their website, which is also pretty cool, lists what they are doing to be more conscious on a day to day basis. Check out their sustainability practices:

  1. Increased efficiencies in the brewing process
  2. Utilized green design throughout our building
  3. Implemented a process for treating our wastewater
  4. On-site energy production
  5. Wind-powered electricity since 1999
  6. Employ a High Involvement Culture
  7. Sustainable Eventing
  8. Actionable Advocacy
  9. Constant benchmarking
  10. Partnering to support innovative technology

We learned a lot at the brewery in Fort Collins and while exploring the website. According to our host Chris jobs at New Belgium are hard to come by because they provide ownership into the company after a year and support riding your bike to work by giving each employee/owner a new bike!

p3080188.jpg Chris and Kate

p3080201.jpg three united!

– Sara Rose and Melanie

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Friday, March 7th, 2008

Logs and Figures:
Coffee/Espresso drinks: 131
Related Bathroom Breaks: 126
Suzie gets an Oil change
Our most Western point!

The Santa Fe adventure didn’t end with the portal, oh no it didn’t. We had a lazy morning at the Brubaker’s with Coffee from the local shop. Oh sweet nectar. There is nothing like getting a good nights rest and being able to fully enjoy your coffee for its unique profile instead of for the caffeine.

Downtown Santa Fe was a break from our normal routine as we had no intentions to imbibe coffee. Admittedly, we were thrown off. What is a city without hours of conversation about coffee? Who exists besides coffee enthusiasts and couch surfers? This was our day to find out! This was “our ode to the tourist” day.
Hi Brumbaugh!It a Burrow, not a donkey - obviously.
We window shopped. We bought some stationary on sale.We found out about some kick-ass chili at The Shed. Our recommenders could not have been more on. One of the hosts guided us through the menu by quickly handing over amazing garlic bread and a sample of red and green chili. HEAVEN! A sunny spot on the plaza proved perfect for our green chili enchilada picnic.

We wiled away the afternoon in the halls of the Institute of American Indian Art. Beautiful silverwork, modern film and multi-media displays captivated us for hours and hours. They were showing a special exhibit on Valjean McCarty Hessing. My goodness, deep expression in simple colors. On a bench in the middle of the room we sat in silence. Sitting. Thinking. Absorbing all that had been poured into her canvas.

AIAI

We had planned to visit the Georgia O’Keeffe but the hours had flown and our aesthetic selves were satiated.

Denali gets her cowgirl on.Walking towards our car some strong, unimaginable force led us into a thrift-store. A bold magnetic pull wound us through the isles, shelves and rows upon rows of assorted cowboy accoutrements. In the back corner of the room we found what had beckoned us in from the street. A dress of sheer beauty and style. Its a mid-1900’s hand sewn silk dress and it fits Sara like it was made for her. Gorgeous.

Sunset in Santa FeClimbing the mountains out of Santa Fe, the day bid us adieu with a stunning sunset. Denali made us step out onto the Portal so he could get a better view. Desert was a smorgas board of chocolate and ice cream then we hunkered down in a cozy bed for a short night of sleep. The next day would bring us to our better third: the queen of the cuddle, the connoisseur of deep conversation, the apple of our eye, Kate in Colorado.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Logs and Figures
10:06 am or 9:06 am (at some point we crossed a time zone) – Welcome to New Mexico :). We see snow 😦.
12:24 am – First view of the Rockies

 

Thank you Albuquerque for your sunshine; helpful men in hard hats; long-walks (but not on the beach) and interesting tourist attractions. We GPS-ed the city center and found a cozy spot for Suzie. The aforementioned hard hats pointed us in the direction of “Old-Town” and the bus to take us there. We decided to walk (according to Atlanta-ites, that’s because we are from New York). Seeing snow earlier in the day had made us so sad, but the sun helped us quickly warm up so we removed our jackets and sweaters.  Yay! We wandered the streets of the old city for a while, admiring turquoise, hot peppers and blankets – then we needed coffee. 

On our friend Kerry’s recommendation we headed over to R B Winning coffee next to the University of New Mexico. Our overextended former student selves felt a little bit at home around all those students. The mix of community: hippy to hipster, baby to professor, and student to professional, was welcoming and comforting. The barista’s knew almost everyone in the store and our travel mugs got us an automatic discount (good for our wallet AND good for the environment – sweet)!

Our last stop that evening was the Brubaker’s of Santa Fe. Lauren, Lida, and Kate live in the mountains. We spent the evening relaxing and chatting. We were even taken to the portal.

– Sara Rose and Melanie

 

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Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Logs and Figures
1:34 pm – Welcome to Oklahoma
3:58 pm – We see snow for the first time in 4 weeks. Sad faces all around.

Making the left turn onto a familiar street in Tulsa Melanie consults the GPS again, and then takes out a map. “We are in the right place, but it looks all wrong.” The neighborhood which Melanie remembers looking like a quaint English town with tree-lined streets and green, softly rolling lawns looks more like ice storm disaster zone. Branches strewn all over the place, entire trees cut into large pieces on people’s lawns, and the trees in the medians trimmed to about 4 feet in height.

Melanie:

I met the Stanbaughs back in October. The youth programs I work on have a two week long home-stay component for the students. In October we brought a group of Serbian students to Tulsa and I had the option to stay in a hotel or with a host family of my own. Easy choice – host family, of course! What better way to get to know a city then through people who live there (which is also a major premise behind Couch Surfing)? I lucked out, man. Being with the Stanbaughs felt natural, fun, loving, comfortable (the list goes on). Basically, they are the best you could ask for. When Sara and I decided to take this roadtrip I knew I had to see them again; they feel like family now and I really want Sara to meet them.

The story continues…..

We cooked dinner and played board games with the family all night long. People of the Internet: you must play Ticket to Ride some day, it’s the best game ever. Not too much happened on the coffee front but the Stanbaugh’s home was good for the soul.

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

FIRE!

Yes, today was the day we had long been waiting for. We learned to WELD. Metal and Sparks and Big Helmets! It was fun. We are women who like power tools and big machines. Ok, you need context:

We spent all day Tuesday with Dan Joliff and the awesome dudes of the US Roaster Corps. Our day with Dan was full of experiential learning opportunities, the best kind. The Roasters Exchange is a building and repair facility for coffee roasters. Side note: the person who roasts coffee, the machine that does the roasting, and the facility that holds the machine and the person are all called ROASTERS.

Our first flame of the day came from the test roaster. Dan coached us a bit and then let us run a roast or two under his watchful gaze. TutoringThe company tests all of their machines before they send them ouSample Roastert to customers so they have a wide variety of green beans available to test the machines on. Neither of us had seen low grade Robusta beans before; it was an incredible learning experience. High quality green beans are well washed, well sorted and even in color. These low quality beans had sticks and pebbles in the sack with them, were littered with black rotted beans as well as unripe tan/white beans. Holding the dirty beans really gave us an appreciation for the effort and attention that goes into creating a well made bag of coffee seeds.

 

Bad Beans!

Once he trusted us not to destroy the good coffee beans, Dan moved us up to a larger machine. We liked the BIG MACHINE. One of the highlights from the day was walking around the factory looking at all the machines in pieces. There were a few antique roasters around (and we mean the machines this time), it was fascinating to look into the old machines and really learn the mechanics of it all.

Roaster face

Body

Cooling tray

 

 

Drum
Antique Roaster survived Katrina
Peek-a-boo

For Me? Thanks!

Continuing our day of hands-on learning we moved to the metal wPower Ranger!orking section of the factory. If you ever want to feel powerful, learn to weld. FIRE, harnessed, is awesome! Here you have two pieces of steel, STEEL – superman is made of steel, this stuff is strong. With just a few moments of effort these two pieces of metal were stuck together. And we did it! We stuck the metal together! That’s power. Heh-heh-heh.

view from inside the helmet Melting Metal

 

Banana Curls, Puffy sleeves, BIG METAL HEAD???????

 

We did it!Thanks Guys!

 

The HopperWe played with metal for half-an-hour then Dan had some roasting orders he needed filled for the factory shop. He let us roast the rest of the beans that day – about 10 batches in all. We took turns operating the machine until our stomachs were rumbling as loud as the roaster.
Go, Roaster, Go!

 

Hee-Tee!!

Our learning cycle was complete during dinner at Toby Keiths. A few months back Dan told us via e-mail that we “could not come to Oklahoma City and not go to Toby Keith’s”, to which Sara replied “What’s a Toby Keiths”? Toby Keith, for those of you who don’t know, is a country singer and he also has a string of restaurants. We dined at one of his establishments that evening. The dish was so big we shared it and still couldn’t finish. A hard days work earned a great meal.

The night ended at the home of our Couch Surfing hosts, Matt and Amanda. Matt works as the Director of a Kayak Center in the middle of Oklahoma City. Who knew there was Kayaking in Oklahoma? Matt, that’s who knew.

We ended the day significantly smarter then we started. Thanks OKC!

Melanie and Sara Rose

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March 2nd, 2008.
Logs and Figures

Coffee/espresso drinks: 113
Bathroom stops: 104
12:41 pm: Suzie hits 3000 miles

Our time in Austin had to be short since we had a date with fire in Oklahoma City. Arriving around 2 pm, our goal was to hit up at least 3 coffee shops before night fall. Our first caffeination destination was Progress Coffee where clean white walls, a hip, modern feel and bright accents greet you as you walk in the door.

Tyler, the adorable and scruffy red-headed manager, told us about the environmentally friendly practices of Progress. They use bio-degradable to-go containers and utensils made from potato starch. We were both really impressed to hear that none of the products at Progress have corn syrup or hydrogenated oils and that all of the cleaning products are eco-friendly. Love it! Icing on the cake? The employees benefit from the socially responsible policies of the store; all staff is paid a minimum of $9.00 per hour, plus have an option for health insurance.

The owner, Josh Bingaman, was not around so Tyler handed us a copy of L Style/G Style magazine where Progress is featured in the March/April 2008 issue. G Style describes Josh as “Open-minded, enlightened and welcoming…” and highlights the environmental sustainability of his store and the way he welcomes all members of Austin’s community into the café. Progress pairs their fair trade organic coffee with the use organic food sourced from local farms. To extend that connection, Josh joined the board of the Sustainable Food Center and hosts fundraisers for a variety of charities in the Progress space, including an event for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Progress’s progress was made clear in both the article and from our experience inside the café. As you cozy up to the counter to order your drink, you find yourself next to fire-engine red bike (its an awesome cruiser!) with a sign advertising the Hill Country Ride For Aids. According to G Style, this is the first bike out of 13 to advertise the event in Austin. Progress will sponsor several riders from the Progress Cycling Community Club in this year’s event. Community in Austin ran (er…wheeled) right into us!

On the way to our next fix we stopped to meet Trevor, our Couch Surfing host for the evening. Trevor needed a place to do some work and was intrigued by CoffeeInAction, so he came with us to our second caffeination. Meeting with Sharla Megilligan, the founder of Dominican Joe on the sun-soaked patio was a relishable experience. The bright rays warmed our cheeks while the espresso tingled our taste buds.

The concept of Dominican Joe’s captivated us, and we had lots of questions for Sharla. First, Sharla and her business parter Mehul Patel founded Makarios, “a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities and vocational training for the impoverished in the Dominican Republic and Haiti”. A while later they decided they wanted to be able to have an even greater positive impact in the DR. They wanted employ another type of business model in order generate greater returns on the coffee the farmers produce. Their website explains that by “…Skipping the large corporate middle-man, Makarios works directly with farmers in the region and pays them higher wages and supports their communities in an effort to develop self-sustaining skills for the future.” The money earned though this trading system is used to support educational programs in the farming communities.

Sharla had to run, so we went back inside and took some pictures. Behind the counter stands a big sign that reads

sweet signage The t-shirts sport the motto “drink coffee, change the world”. We like that!

p3160363.jpg p3160364.jpg

Proudly displayed throughout the store are pieces of pottery and art from the Dominican Republic as well as many recycling bins.

 

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Kristin, one of the managers, sat with us and told us about her experience working at Dominican Joe’s while Sara sipped on fresh squeesed limeade (an incredibly refreshing comfort food after living on an island for a year). Kristin explained that employees are encouraged to learn more about the Dominican Republic through Sharla’s first hand accounts and are given opportunities to travel with Makarios to origin. We found out that Dominican Joe’s is involved with the Texas School for the Deaf: a high school student interns four days a week.

This interesting pairing of non-profit organization and for-profit coffee shop fosters the education of coffee consumers about the farming regions as well as education for farmers in their communities. Education for all, and we support it!

After picking up our travel mugs from Caffe Medici we met up with Emma, a Clark U friend and fellow Couch surfer, at Trevor’s house and drank wine, cooked yummy veggies and tofu, reminisced and rejuvenated our minds.

whose that? p3020462.jpg action shot

Sara missed Majuro when the palm tree outside Trevor’s apartment swished in the wind during the night.

The next morning we needed some coffee on the way out so we stopped at Jo’s. Attached to a hotel on South Congress St, a hip commuting crowd patronizes the walk-up only window. Then we settled into Suzie the Saab for our long drive to Tulsa.

– Sara Rose and Melanie

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Feb. 28, 2008

We roll into Houston late Thursday night and are welcomed to Texas with a good old fashioned Craw boil. Sara’s cousin, Danielle, had crawfish, spices, potatoes, and sweet corn ready to go when we walked in the door. Man, those things are delicious. This was just the beginning of what we called our “Texas Texas” weekend (italics to be read with the thickest Texan accent you can muster).

Feb. 29, 2008

I don’t know how you mark the occasion, but we celebrated the leap year by sleeping in. The rest of the morning was spent taking care of essentials; reorganizing the car, washing our dishes and doing some very necessary laundry.

Medici staff in HoustonAround three in the afternoon we made it out to Spring, Texas to meet with Mike McKimm at Cuvee Coffee. Three barista’s from Caffe Medici in Austin, TX were visiting Mike and we walked in just in time to snag some Rwandan coffee from Mike’s clover. Rather then wasting paper cups we lent them a few of our travel mugs, knowing we would see them again in Austin.

Denali and Clover

 

Mike started Cuvee Coffee almost ten years ago, but like many other small roasters we have met, maintained a separate full time job while he built up the company. In 2007 he made the transition to running Cuvee full time and has now brought in a second roaster, Clancy Rose (is that not a GREAT name?). Since going full time Mike has decided that he wants to offer greater support to the farms he knows produce great coffee and are more environmentally aware. With this in mind he has cut down on the number of origin countries he buys from in order to be able to purchase a larger quantity of coffee Mike and Sarafrom the farms he does work with. Mike told us he thinks its “important to try to make a substantive difference”. Mike had to leave soon after we arrived to take his son to soccer practice, but we stayed to talk with Clancy about coffee roasting. Shortly into the conversation Clancy delivered one of our favorite lines on the trip: “Asking a roaster which coffee is his favorite is like asking a parent which child is their favorite”.

 

Clancy and Denali

Pema and FluffyThat night Danielle and her fiancé David took us to The World Championship BBQ Competition where we met up with Melanie’s former housemate Sam and his partner Scott. The World Championship BBQ night is considered the Mardi Gras of Houston.

Remember!

 

David had a connection with one of the competition tents for free all you can eat BBQ and drinks. The six of us ate our fill and then wandered around the hundreds of Competition tents lined up to create a mini-town of BBQ and dancing. We even went to the Alamo –

 

March 1, 2008

Saturday morning Danielle came with us to Taft Street coffee. Taft street coffee was opened by a church in Houston, but the people who run it are not Taft Chairsnecessarily affiliated with the church. The lofty, industrial space was well designed; split into three rooms. Each room had its own feel with soft touches to warm up the environment. The entrance is through the café/bookstore with well arranged seating and meeting areas. Through a door on the left you can enter the large room which serves as the church sanctuary and doubles as an event/meeting place. In the Chairs and Tablesrear is an art gallery which at that time was holding a well curated collection of inquisitive, religiously oriented contemporary art. The café is known in the community as a place of social activity and community building. That morning a group of young Obama supporters were gathered outside to prepare for canvassing, while a personal support group met indoors. Stopping to smell the flowers on our way out, we headed for our next adventure of the day.

Not Roses, but smells nice!

Danielle asked Sara to be her maid of honor so we spent the afternoon dress shopping. Sara sampled some beautiful gowns while Melanie went on the hunt for the worst dresses ever. Much to our surprise, any of the dresses would make a beautiful bride. Pictures forth coming (oh, just you wait and see!)

Danielle and Sara headed home while Melanie took off to spend the afternoon on a poolside patio with Sam. That night Scott and Sam took us out to the Brazos River Bottom for cowboys, line dancing and two-stepping. Fan-Texas-tastic!

– Melanie and Sara Rose

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