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A quick update.

Monday March 10, 2008

Logs and Figures
5:49 PM Suzie hits 5,000 miles!
Coffee/Espresso drink: 150
Related bathroom breaks: 145

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March 10, 2008

A few days away from coffee coffee coffee at every turn and we were ready to rejuvenate CoffeeInAction in action. Our first stop was Ozo Coffee Company on Arapahoe Ave. Drip coffee in pint glasses was a neat spin on the traditional mug (although a little hot on the hands). Sipping our delicious drinks and creating an office space took up about an hour, when the owner was able to sit and chat.

We were introduced to the Baristas as well as the hand-lever espresso machine in the shop. Woah! Our Fort Collins host had been talking about hand-lever espresso machines, but we had never heard of such a thing. What a treat we found in Ozo. Are you ready for some technical stuff? Here is Sara’s best explanation:

Pulling a lever allows a certain amount of water to fill a chamber. A spring causes the lever to pull back to its original position, pushing the piston down and creating the appropriate pressure (9 atmospheres for espresso) to push the water through the espresso, through the portafilter, and into the shot glass or ceramic cup. The barista can control the speed at which the lever goes back to its original position, therefore controlling how fast the piston is allowed to push down on the espresso. What control! What science! What art! See below for more information on these machines.

Pulling the lever, watching as the chamber fills with water.l

Observing espresso in action... ...and the beautiful nectar has arrived!

A very fascinating fact is these crema creating contraptions only need a power source to heat up water. With our limited knowledge of engineering, Melanie and Sara discussed the possibility of providing an alternative energy source to heat this water. We envisioned solar powered espresso shops all over the world! A friend suggested a hand cranked power source. After some discussion we agreed – hand cranked power would probably be great for a home machine like the one pictures above. However, for commercial machines (see picture of Sara pulling an espresso shot) this would be way too time consuming. Here is a call to engineers and inventors (Arthur, are you out there?): how could a commercial spring piston lever machine (apologies for the lack of descriptions and details here…we could not find them) be powered in a way that leaves a small carbon footprint?

Another appealing idea is that espresso can be an art form. Automatic machines, like ones used at certain corporate coffee shops, do nothing for the individual flavor profiles of one espresso over another. They do not allow the barista any control or influence on the drink. Yes, this is great if you want efficiency, standardization, and quantity. This is NOT great if you are looking for excellence and quality. The hand lever machines mentioned give the barista complete control to make the most delicious espresso, as long as she/he has proper training and experience.

Since we are experts on neither physics nor espresso machines, here is an excerpt from a great website all interested in coffee should be aware of: CoffeeGeek.com. If not interested, keep scrolling down.

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A spring piston lever espresso machine is a “manual” espresso machine; that is, you, the user, provide the pressure needed to brew the espresso. These machines are different from normal piston lever machines in that instead of directly applying the pressure to water, the force of your arm is used to cock an internal spring inside the machines’ grouphead. Once you release the lever, the spring pushes water through the bed of coffee at a steady, high pressure (approximately 8 to 9 BAR). Spring piston lever machines are capable of producing the best espresso possible when used by a seasoned veteran, by nature of the constant pressure they provide (as compared to the pulsing action of rotary or vibratory pumps).

Machines in this class feature two different types of boilers. Dual switch machines maintain the boiler at brewing temperatures. Single switch machines maintain the boiler at steaming temperatures, but a heat sink design in the grouphead and the tubing between machine and grouphead reduce the temperature of the water that eventually is used to brew. The advantage of a single switch machine is that they can steam and brew at the same time. The disadvantage is that the machines can deliver brewing water that is too hot.

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The afternoon continued with a stop at Folsom St. Coffee; a venue truly committed to sustainable practices, which CoffeeInAction always loves to see.

We were directed to Moto Modern Markets (MoMoMa) by our friend Brian, which happened to be right across the street from Folsom St. Coffee. A recently converted gas station and garage now sells domestic fuel gas outside, organic and natural convenience food in the garage, and specialty coffee by the cashier. Creator and owner Michael Marsilio told us about the responsible practices of his business.

Boulder was certainly presenting an aware business culture.

-Sara Rose and Melanie

A friend sent over this link.  Truly mind-boggling.

http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php

 Most specifically to this blog, make sure you take a look at the paper cup one.  However, they are all fascinating and hopefully illuminating.

 Sara Rose

Bike-tastic

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

Colorado Sun

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

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.

Old Town sunshine

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