Journal

Coffee in the Morning

I came back from San Francisco and Richie invited me over for pizza. I had literally just shot 4 rolls of portray 160 on my trip and decided not to bring my camera. Big mistake. It was my first time being at his and Joss' place in day-light and the light in his kitchen and bedroom are essentially exceptional! Later, as I was cruising through IG or FB I came across a great photo of Bella on some cool steps. I had 20 exposures left on my last roll of film and decided to use it shooting Bella at Richie's house.

I consulted with Richie before Bella arrived about the approach to the session. He recommended that I go for a series depicting the process of making coffee. Bella was really professional and brought three different looks for me to choose from. To be 100 I had a difficult time communicating my take on which one to go with and allowed Richie and Bella to take the lead. Some how, we landed on the outfit that I wanted: dark button down with shorts and no socks.

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I didn't come prepared with any coffee peraphanelia, because I figured Richie had enough to get by for the photos. Of course he ended up having not only some sweet gear, but outstanding coffee from one of my favorite roasters in Denver; Common Wealth. He was still having some issues getting the results he wanted from his coffee brewing. I directed him towards an american weight scale in order to measure his coffee and water ratios and explained the grind setting he should be shooting for.

The entire session was staged, so I placed the props as well as Bella how I envisioned the images. Each pose and step in the process was taken with a single exposure. This made me plan, really wait, take my time, and make sure it was exactly what I wanted before I solidified my settings and hit the shutter.  

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I put Bella in the frame of mind that I was going for a conversational, comfortable, situation like she was just having a good friend over for coffee in the morning. I asked her to make specific facial expressions that you would typically and unconsciously make while a friend was telling you a story.

I was planning to use my 50mm 1.8f, but Richie suggested his 24-70mm 2.8f mkII L lens. It most likely lead to a different feel in the photos, but they came out fantastically. It was the first time I recognized that working with different lenses not only affected the images, but also the process of taking them. This lens focused so quickly, smoothly, accurately, and quietly that I was in disbelief! It felt so solid and yet it wasn't very heavy. The ability to zoom in and out is definitely convenient and I have to say I became a big fan of this $2,200 lens.

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Perfection in Berlin

Training into Berlin and looking up the coffee spots online was astounding. There were so many cool looking places and a lot of them with supporting background stories, so it was difficult to choose which to visit.

 

I was most psyched about visiting the Barn and it was closest to where we were staying and so we started there. After renting bicycles we came up to the place and I quickly realized that we were directed to the retail store location. 

 

It was great, though, because the vibe of this roaster’s 2nd location was bumpin’. I was so happy to see that they had some awesome looking sandwiches ready to go!

 

We asked for an espresso, cappuccino, and filter coffee along with our sandwiches. The espresso was one of my favorites so far and the most interesting. 

 

Acidity and sweetness was definitely its highlights and flared up the back of your mouth. Filter coffee was also solid, shown by proper extraction, peach acidity, cleanliness, and brothie mouth feel.

 

After hangs at Barn we headed to the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, which is an architectural/design marvel. Since the Berlin Wall was next on our agenda we decided to first stop at Five Elephant for cheesecake chills

 

We walked in really hot and thirsty! I’m not sure that the baristas knew how to handle our situation, but as we gained our equilibrium I put in an order for filter, spro, and some cheesecake.

 

The espresso came out, literally, as I ordered it and appeared as though it was an extra shot. Happens. They let me have it on the house and offered to make me another with the filter; I couldn't say no. 

 

The espresso was consistent with both shots I got and also highlighted acidity and sweetness on the back of the palate while attributing dark fruit flavors. The filter coffee was only slightly under extracted, had a clean fruit presence, and a light body.

 

I could see why everyone hyped up the cheesecake; it was so fluffy! After stopping at the Berlin Wall we headed to Bonanza Roaster’s retail store front. 

 

At this point we were actually shfitzing our butts off! We needed some cold coffee and the barista was so down. We got an iced flat white, iced filter, and an espresso.

 

Spro was the most balanced of the day while still offering that German coffee style of acidity and sweetness. This time the whole palate was hit and I knew I found the crowd pleaser. 

 

The iced filter was exactly what I would be looking for. It tasted like a hibiscus tea with raspberry and refreshing crispness.

There are still a few places I wish I could visit and that only means that I need to come back to Berlin to explore their never-ending coffee scene. 

Trippy in Amsterdam

Yoo! Amsterdam is the illest. How have I not spent time here sooner? It is a beautiful heaven on earth. My sister and I went to 2 different coffee roasters today and definitely vibed with the coffee scene in this city. Definitely third-wave with gorgeous spaces and enthusiastic customers.

Our first stop was a roaster in the center of the city called Lot Sixty One. Walking up, you can quickly notice a crowd which is an indication of good coffee ahead. As you get through the door you realize it is a small space and are immediately at the counter; I liked this cozy feel. 

The spot is awesomely set up and has all the sweet gadgets to make awesome coffee while also looking the part. The service was off the chain and we were quick to make friends with the english speaking baristas.

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I ordered a single origin Ethiopian espresso along with a cappuccino made with their Brazilian and Costa Rica blend.  The espresso was solid and pulled as ristretto (21g in : 32g out). It was fruity, complex, heavy bodied, and ended on a bitter note while the cappuccino was coffee forward and sweet.

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Later in the day, we headed further west in the city to visit a more local area of town for White Label Coffee. 

Another place you walk into and simply by their build out can tell that you are about to get a good experience. This owner/operated spot was more roomy, slow paced, and interactive. Getting to order with more room to shmooze allowed us to learn that the guy making our coffee had traveled to Rwanda and sourced the coffee that we drank as espresso.

I ordered the single origin Rwandan Espresso along with a filter of Ethiopian and my sister got a latte. The espresso was good and was also served as restretto (20g in : 35g out) showcasing Rwandan terrior, dark fruit, cooked caramel, and a heavy body. The filter coffee had a medium body, caramel notes, and black tea finish.

Paris Is Always A Good Idea

Boy.. Did I forget how much I missed Paris, France!!

It is so easy to get around, I love the architecture, it is clean, more and more people are speaking english, its so diverse, people are becoming warm, the history is rich, walking around is so fun, and the food and drink are fantastic.

Besides doing the typical tourist things; my sister and I started our day at Cafe Lomi, a roaster in the North East side. I loved the more local location and chill vibe. When we walked in I was greeted, put my things down, and went to the counter, but quickly found out that table service is how they operated. I really dug the European-style table service intertwined with a third-wave coffee menu and approach.

The barista and waitress spoke english and we ordered espresso, filter (chemex), a croissant, and toast with home-made marmalade. Right off the bat, I can tell you that the pastry and food made by another girl behind the counter were exquisite!

The espresso was solid with some balance, a little complexity, bitter finish, and heavier body. I believe they served me their espresso blend and while the pull seemed to be restretto, I want to say they probably grind course since the shot wasn't over-extracted at all. As for the chemex we got of their Kenya Thunguri AA, It was one of the better coffees I have had in a while! It had the elegance and delicacy of the tea like flavors found in a fully washed Ethiopians, miraculous finish, and silky body. Just so damn good, it made me happy!

The next day we started our day on the south side of the city at Coutume Cafe, an absolutely gorgeous place my sister had actually showed me a picture of a few years before. We got there an hour before they opened and although they had a door open we were not allowed to wait inside. We were cool with it and walked through a nearby park for a little. On our way to and from the park I was enthralled by the barista as she sang so beautifully while she dialed in. I could hear the sounds of love that went into the singing and dialing in, and I could feel the joy she had doing both things.

Again, we found this establishment to prefer table service and I just love getting a real menu and being waited on while my sister and I started a nice conversation. We ordered a micro-lot espresso, cortado, filter, hot chai, croissant, and a sandwich, The staff all spoke impeccable english, which is always a plus.

The cortado was excellently executed and very tasty. The filter coffee was brought out and explained to be a natural Ethiopian coffee roasted in-house. The filter was solid, but I felt as though it was a little under extracted, again leading me to believe that third-wave cafes in Paris grind on the course side. That being said, I would rather get a slightly under extracted cup as opposed to an over extracted cup any day. A simple finer grind, using more coffee, or using less water may have helped them there. However the filter still had fruity-ness, origin characteristic, really clean, and totally enjoyable. The espresso could have been a bit more balanced, but it was after all a micro-lot shot and not a blend; so what do you expect? I appreciated the espresso's complexity, medium body, and clean finish.


Pitt stole my heart

Not sure why, but we decided to start at The Common Place for breakfast coffees. At first, the baristas wanted a quick transaction, but after some chit chatting we ended up filming their lead barista making a v60.

 

We hit up Espresso A Mano which I had a feeling would be totally legit. It was a very busy store in a brick space and they served up some awesome roasters from all over the country. The two baristas working were freakin tight! We had a very cool filming session there and deeply enjoyed our time there. 


The folks at Espresso A Mano sent us to a new spot that is kind of flying under the radar called 4121 Main. This was a tiny store, but beauty laid in every little crevasse. The owner was a sweet girl who had traveled and was inspired to open a store of this kind. She served heart, had a sick Kees Van Der Westen Spirit, and new how to use them. We had such a wonderful time chatting with her, getting some footage, and drinking some great coffee.

Philly Quickly

A little outside of Philly is where we decided to begin at ReAnimator. Their flagship roasting and retail store is breathtaking and everyone there were extremely welcoming. We got to film a filter brew as well as espresso with some of their head honchos. 

 

As we got into the city we headed to Elixr which is still working on the construction of their new roastery. This was their flagship retail store and the well staffed, well attended, and chill vibe store was really conducive to our filming their manager making a chemex. We also got pointed in the right direction towards other cafes and cheese stakes.

 

Menagerie was the next stop, a multi-roaster with a sweet set up/environment, and some small bites. We waited for one of their baristas after shift change to film him making a couple cappuccinos and  discuss the scene in the town.


Boston Calling

I was so happy to roll into Boston, see my friend Greg, and spend a few days at the furthest stop. Greg started us out at 3 Little Figs and as we drove up we could see a line out the door. It is a hip neighborhood breakfast joint that kills both the coffee and the food game. I thought for sure we wouldn't get filming done there, but Andy the owner was so nice and made time to talk about the coffee program. It was the first place since I started to drink longo style shots that made me rethink the validity of restretto shots.

 

I was super stoked to go visit George Howell and so that is where we headed next, although its not really in Boston. We wanted to go to the roaster which is in Acton, MA and it made for a gorgeous drive. When we got there, we were scared that we made the trek for nothing, because the entrance was hard to find and once inside it looked more like an office. After a bit of chatting we got taken back to the production area and introduced to Jenny, George’s daughter. She was bad ass and invited us to do a catalog cupping in which Greg and I played a competitive guessing game. Jenny recommended that we go to their flagship retail front closer to Boston and so we went to get more footage there. The barista decided to indulge us in how they make their iced coffee by brewing over ice cold metal cubes for a clean and crisp iced coffee.

 

The next day started at a gigantic multi-use space where Barismo roasts their coffee. The founder was there roasting and and we got to film with him while he was roasting a batch. The coolest thing there was a board with each coffee they bought, how much they purchased, and for how much. 

 

A short walk away, kind of in the same building was a pop-up coffee cart called Triangle sharing a space with a rock climbing gym. They used Blue Bottle Coffee and it was surprisingly good out of a baby chemex and gs3 espresso. After doing filming there we went for donuts and bagels in the same neighborhood.


We hopped on the train, went under the water, and came back up in the heart of Downtown Boston. There in Dewey Square during an awesome farmers market we found The Coffee Trike. San, the owner was very busy, but made time to film with us. He makes awesome coffee using local, Gracenote Roasters, and he is just a pleasure to be around. It was an awesome way to wrap our work in Boston.

The Density of New York

Due to how the East Coast is laid out and our driving schedule we had to pass some major cities on our way to New York, only to get back to them later. I recall enjoying the sit in traffic as we drove along side the Island. We were heading to my friend, Panda’s, new place up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. I got a parking spot, we hiked up to their apartment, and hung out on the roof for the rest of the evening.


We started the first day by taking the 1 subway down to Union Station and visting Everyman Espresso where we got to film with the owner, Sam Penix. I was dying to see Parlor and we decided to take the a subway over to Brooklyn. We walked a lot that day only to realize that Parlor wasn’t open and Toby’s just didn't have the right vibe for us. 

 

So, we had to take the A back to Union Station for an after hours experience at Amor Y Amargo. Amanda Whitt was waiting for us at this trending bitters bar in order to show us her new project called Double Buzz. She exclusively makes coffee cocktails and walked us through how she makes a few of them.


We opened up the next day with Williamsburg, Brooklyn at Sweatshop. Walking up, we already had a great feeling. It was a small spot, but every detail was perfect, and it was a very busy little shop. The barista working recognized me and that probably opened the door for us filming there. From there we walked over to the the Parlor pop-up inside of Person of Interest Barber Shop. Vanessa, who was the barista working there was down to film after we had mutually been talking up Caffe Streets in Chicago. After that day of shooting we decided to call it a wrap and do some of exploring of Manhattan.

Presidential in DC

It was a pretty drive to DC and there is not much like turning a corner and seeing the Washington Monument. Driving through DC in my own car was kind of trippy, because it is the Capitol! We got breakfast at Bayou Bakery where our friend, Michelle, got her start in Coffee. After, we met up with Michelle at her house, settled in, met her family, and took off for some National Mall hangs. That night we wanted to make sure that we attended the monthly throw down which was being held at La Colombe. It was a fantastic throw down. The community in DC is so fun, large, and diverse. Both Michelle and I participated, but got knocked out in the first rounds.


The next day was a Friday and Counter Culture hosts their weekly public cuppings. You would definitely need to be searching for the spot to find it tucked away in the back, top floor of a commercial building. There were two trainers and two others that were about to cup as we stepped in. Two coffees where on the table and we dived right in only to hear each others similar yet differing ideas of how the coffee smelled or tasted. 

 

14th Street seemed to be the next logical area to hit being that there were at least three places to visit. So, we hit up The Wydown first for some multi-roaster goodness and ended up getting the owner to dial in and do some filming with us. They decided to make us a cortado using the espresso blend by Blueprint. 


We walked to Peregrine next and found ourselves in a small place offering some good sounding sig bevs. It was a hot and sticky day so we decided to explore their drinks. Next we went to Filter to hang out with Jon who decided to tell us a little bit about their flat whites. 


Adams Morgan is the area we started out at the next day to check out Sweet Science. It is a tiny little space being shared with an interior accessory store. The owner and only barista, Sandra, specializes in pour overs and so we indulged! Then we went to Slip Stream for some fancy coffee experience. They used madcap, had two modbars, 3 ek43s, 2 k30s, a 3 group strada, and a full liquor bar. 

 Flight of tasting notes to go with your coffee at SlipStream

Flight of tasting notes to go with your coffee at SlipStream

One Half Day in Indy

Oh Indy.. While we were in Chicago, people were talking up this town a bunch. We wanted to end up in DC and looking at the map it made sense to use as a half way point after an extra half day of shooting in Chicago.

We found a cute, lakeside camp ground and crashed for a busy following day of filming and more driving. As we went to bed a few folks recommended we pay a visit to Milktooth, which we weren't yet purvey to. It looked like a place we could start at, get breakfast, ask for more recommendations, and continue on from. We also spotted a new roaster called Tinker that we wanted to drop by at and after meeting the Quills and Bee guys at Coffee Fest, wanted to check out their locations as well.

 

Getting to Milktooth, you drive into the Fletcher neighborhood which appeared to be the yuppie part of town. As you walk up you can tell that this place is going to be sweet. The person who greeted us was a guy that I had met in LA through Bar 9 and SCAA organized competitions and the other barista working had been at Coffee Fest as well. We did a little filming for the project and thoroughly enjoyed our beautiful breakfast and coffee there. If I could compare it to anything I would put it next to Superba in Venice Beach.

 

We had a great espresso of a Tinker roasted coffee at Milktooth so we were pretty sure that they were going to be legit. A short drive away in a sweet location and space was Tinker where we found a dope parking spot. Again, walking up you could tell this place was legit. At first we were bummed that they had just dropped their last roast for the day, but it just so happened that they were about to cup, so we had something cool to shoot still. It was a laid-back cupping where we got to get to know the owners and a young fellow coffee nerd.

 

Quills is another new place that opened at the lobby of a condo/apartment complex. The guys working seemed to know we were coming and took really awesome care of us. We did a little coffee exchange, filming, and chatting. I started to realize at this point of the trip how people were moving from city to city in a way that I was familiar with, but not so used to the same cities.


On our way out of town we hit up Bee Coffee, owned and run by BJ. We hear that this was the first place to bring “specialty” coffee to Indy. Walking in, you do not get the third wave vibe. In-fact their roaster location feels quite the opposite. But, the drawing point to the place is BJ and her story and experience with the industry. She had worked at a crummy coffee joint for years, but started to get involved with the SCAA and the competitions that they organized for baristas. It was there that she learned about “specialty” and the bigger meaning of being a barista. When she bought a different roastery/store she implanted that new world and roasted lighter, offered less flavorings, and considered the farmers in their operations. It almost kind of reminded me of my days at Urban Beans and the owner there, Virginia.


Overall, I would have to say I really enjoyed the vibe of Indy, being surprised that it had some options to offer, and that there was a budding coffee scene there which is pretty exciting!

Chicago Day 3

Chicago was the hardest city for us to work in so far.

 Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park

Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park

I'm not sure if its being on the road for a while now, just one of those days, or the way the city is, but day 3 was the hardest of the trip. It was hard to wake up, hard to get out, hard to get into the city, and hard to get places into the idea. I realize that we are popping in unannounced and asking for precious time from people who are in the middle of work, but we just weren't feeling that same southern hospitality that we have been during the trip.

 Espresso and milk at Caffe Streets

Espresso and milk at Caffe Streets

We decided to start out at Wormhole, a Chicago staple for baristas and coffee enthusiasts alike. Once you are inside you realize you are more inside of a 1980s museum than anything else. I spotted really cool bar seating where they prepare their pour overs, took a seat, and waited for the baristas to great me. Once the ice was broken and we got to talking the baristas seemed to open up, but it wasn't until Andreas, their educator, was introduced that filming for Coffee Scene began to become a reality. He ended up making us a an aeropauses of their espresso blend and talking about both Wormhole and the scene in Chicago as a whole.

 Hangz at Caffe Streets

Hangz at Caffe Streets

From there we had planned with Dark Matter to partake in a cupping while we were at Coffee Fest. We arrived to their roaster and store front for a cupping with their QC, Nicole, and roaster, Dennis. The cupping was great, inciting, and delicious! The people there are so chill and we got some great footage of what an ideal cupping looks like. While it wouldn't be my hang out spot in Chicago, it would be the people I'd kick it with and go grab coffee at other places with. If I could compare it to anywhere in Phoenix, I'd say it's like Jobot, except they are way more into their coffee.

 Prepping a v60 at Caffe Streets

Prepping a v60 at Caffe Streets

Everyone had been talking about Caffe Streets and the owner, Darko, so we knew we had to check that out. Walking up you can already tell its a slick set up. Inside, it becomes clear that this spot was well thought out, designed, and executed. The service was outstanding and personable, the coffee was the best in we had had in the city, and the customers were plenty and super chill as well. This is the place I would hang out at all the time if I lived in Chicago. They use Metric, the owners new roasting project, and have a phenomenal setting and vibe. If I would compare it to anywhere in Phoenix, I'd say it's like Giant if Matt started his own roasting company. 

 Retail at Caffe Streets

Retail at Caffe Streets

Finally, we dropped by Gaslight to scope things out and see if we could get any filming to cover that part of the scene in Chicago. This was the first place in the entire trip that sent us weird vibes. The roasting in the back was not into the Coffee Scene idea and the store itself was too hesitant to get involved as well. The setting was nice, hip, and popping, but the coffee and service did not back it up. If I could compare it to one place in Phoenix it would be Cartel.

 Bar flow at Caffe Streets

Bar flow at Caffe Streets

Chicago Day 2

This would be my first Coffee Fest and I was curious what the feel was like.

 PTs going for Best Coffee House

PTs going for Best Coffee House

We made it to the Navy Pier in downtown Chicago around noon and walked into the winning announcements of the highly acclaimed latte are competitions. From there we went into the trade show and walked up and down each isle while bumping into a couple people we knew. Compared to SCAA, Coffee Fest is a little bit smaller and tight knit while seeming to focus more on coffee houses than companies and supply chain as a whole. The top booth by far was Slayer, due to the beauty, crowd, and rotating roasters.

 Tonya capturing the Metric Roasting Facility

Tonya capturing the Metric Roasting Facility

We got to check out the finals of both the best espresso competition and the best coffee house competition which are so different than SCAA, but still high energy and fun. It was great to see two groups of people we had visited earlier in the trip competing in those events. Sump ended up getting first in best espresso, Blueprint got second, and PTs got second best coffee house.

 Xavier and Jon of Metric

Xavier and Jon of Metric

After all the announcements, feedback, and walking around downtown we hung out in the hotel room of the PTs guys and decided where to hit up for dinner and a drink. We took the blue line over to Wasabi for some sick ramen eats and then to Violet Hour for some speak easy cocktails. It was so much fun hitting the Chicago area with friends we had made in Kansas City!

 Ozzie killing it for Best Coffee House

Ozzie killing it for Best Coffee House

Chicago Day 1

It has been a long time since I explored coffee in Chicago.

 View from Navy Pier

View from Navy Pier

We drove into Chicago and hit traffic right away, but once we got sight of the skyline it was so worth it. While we were sitting there wondering what to do before night fall a buddy of mine who was working Coffee Fest told me to hit a throw down at Ipsento.

 Phil Hall at Coffee Fest

Phil Hall at Coffee Fest

We swooned over the views through the city and just couldn't believe we had made it this far in such a small amount of time. We found the place pretty easily in a part of town called Wicker Park where its a little more rural and parking was not a problem. 

 Single group Slayer at Coffee Fest

Single group Slayer at Coffee Fest

When we got in all the homies started to present themselves. The guys from Kansas City, St. Louis, and all over the country were excited to see us again. My friends from Slayer, Spotted Cow, and Acaia came out in stride.

 Phil lays it down at Best Coffee House Competition

Phil lays it down at Best Coffee House Competition

The atmosphere was electric and I was excited to see the Coffee Fest vibe and crowd which is different from the SCAA events that I am used to. It was there that we set up some of our visits for filming in the next couple days, got extra tickets to the event, and met some people we had only known through social media.

 Sump knows he is about to win first place at the Best Espresso Competition

Sump knows he is about to win first place at the Best Espresso Competition

St. Louis bts

Another coffee town flying under the radar in a big way.

 Beautiful view of downtown St. Louis

Beautiful view of downtown St. Louis

 Smorgasbord at Comet

Smorgasbord at Comet

After driving clear across the state of Missouri we rolled through the city of St. Louis. It was funny to us how both the major cities in Missouri are on opposite borders, yet the cooler side of both of those cities is the Missouri side. The first thing we wanted to do was get a sweet view of the Arch and skyline and so we drove to the Illinois side of the river. We parked at a casino, trespassed through some train tracks and climbed down to the river side where the view was magnificent. After Periscoping for a second it was time to figure out where we were going to stay.

 Tasty coffee at Blueprint

Tasty coffee at Blueprint

It was our first night sleeping in the back of the truck and we found a nearby RV parque. I was stoked on it, but I wasn't too sure about Shaunte. The park was nice, relatively empty, had clean amenities, and was in a great location. Getting to bed was no problem, but at 4am it started to rain so hard! After an hour of it coming down I had to check my phone if there was a tornado or something, because the rain went on for hours. I found it to be a really cool experience!

 Barista on bar at Blueprint

Barista on bar at Blueprint

The next day we decided to start at Blueprint which is a roaster and store front in University City. Again, we popped in unannounced and not knowing anyone. When we told the barista our story she pointed us to one of the owners and a top six barista competitor, Nora. She was super chill and was totally into helping us out. She made two v60s for us of some bomb ass coffees and we discussed her company, city, and perspectives. It was a gorgeous space, with an invigorating atmosphere, excellent service, and great drinks.

 Barista making pour overs at Blueprint

Barista making pour overs at Blueprint

Nora told us to check out Comet Coffee down the street which we had never heard about. Since it was so close, was known for pastries, and was on the way back into town we stopped in to check it out. The staff was almost overly friendly and we were quick to hit it off. Their multi-roaster concept was outstanding and Jules prepared us 2 v60s of the coffee we ordered from the shelf. Their reputation proceeds them and by the time we had started diving into our brewed coffees 4 or 5 espresso drinks were brought out to us along with 3 of their killer pastries. It is definitely a place where you leave happy, full, and fulfilled.

 Crazy macchiato art at Comet

Crazy macchiato art at Comet

 Sweet line up at Comet

Sweet line up at Comet

We wanted to get Sump in Coffee Scene before we took off for Chicago ourselves and so we stopped by on a whim in case anything cool happened. We got in and it seemed a little bit slower than usual; most likely because the space is quite big. There was a hella cute barista working and I ordered the Yemen coffee recommended by the Comet crew which costs $8 a cup. While she was making it, I told her about the purpose behind our trip and she told us she could grab the owner for us. Scott came out and Shaunte and I were a little intimidated. He is this big, bald, bearded dude and he was really curious as to what we wanted. By the time we got him mic'd up, roasting, and talking to us, he was joking, smiling, and telling amazing stories.

 Set up at Sump

Set up at Sump

 Barista making an amazing Yemen coffee at Sump

Barista making an amazing Yemen coffee at Sump


Kansas City bts

Kansas has to be the most underrated coffee town I have encountered.

 Kuma on deck at Quay

Kuma on deck at Quay

 Slayer inside of PTs at the Cross Roads

Slayer inside of PTs at the Cross Roads

After driving clear across the hilly, grass-covered, farm-sprinkled, breezy state of Kansas we arrived at my friend, Ozzie's crib. He was cooking up a bitchin' Puerto Rican dinner for Shaunte and I. This kid was all about spoiling us and making sure we were more than comfortable. He had over a couple friends, we drank, ate, talked about KC and the coffee happenings within it. By the time we called it a night we were super happy and ready to get to work the next day.

 V60s at Quay

V60s at Quay

 Latte at Quay

Latte at Quay

It was the first city that I have never been to and we didn't have a guide since Ozzie & Co took off to Coffee Fest in Chicago. So it was up to Shaunte and I to drop into these new environments unannounced and woo them into filming with us. We decided to start at Quay "Key" Coffee since we were told that the owner is usually there in the mornings. We drove to the end of downtown, right next to the Missouri River, to a part of town called River Market. We found the humble shop, walked in, and were treated and treated really well. When we brought up filming we definitely felt a touch of hesitation, but sure enough when a moment presented itself the owner, Cory, suited up and was an awesome sport.

 Quay seating

Quay seating

 Cory and Co barring at Quay

Cory and Co barring at Quay

After that we drove to a different part of KC called the Cross Roads to check out one of the first specialty coffee companies in the city called Oddly Correct. Having heard such great things about them for so long I was a little underwhelmed walking into their roaster. It wasn't your typical "3rd wave" space which is typically sleek, bright, and stern. It was more of a creative work space with an old operating printing press, drum sets, and other miscellaneous things floating around. Yet, it worked so damn well for them and Mike, the roaster, was one of the nicest guys.

 Oddly's packaging game strong

Oddly's packaging game strong

 Waves at Oddly's retail space

Waves at Oddly's retail space

We made a quick stop at PTs at the Cross Roads near by to get to know their shop, meet their baristas, and drink an espresso. We continued on to Workbench / About the Coffee / Service Call which is a main staple in the coffee community of the city. The day before on our way into town we bumped into Marty, the owner, in Topeka at PTs College Hill location as he was repairing their espresso machine. So he was excited to show us around and took us through their huge and all inclusive facility. As we stood around talking about stuff, Pete Licata walked up and seemed interested in what was going on. A few minutes later we were interviewing him about his new Project called Roast Ratings.

On our way to the next spot we stopped for some good ol' Kansas City BBQ and headed towards downtown for Thou Mayest. It is a really big space in a beautiful brick building. They have a long bar that serves both coffee and cocktails, and the customers were of all ages and backgrounds. Immediately, I compared this place to Lux in Phoenix, because of its popularity, vibe, service, and layout. We hung out with the owner, Bo, who was such a fun character while he made us a coffee white russain and explained how his store was like a constant house party.

 Different negronis at Thou Mayest

Different negronis at Thou Mayest

 The set up at Thou Mayest

The set up at Thou Mayest



Denver Day 2

Day 2 in Denver was so chill.. At this point, I already felt like a regular to the scene.

 Shaunte in the Steadbox

Shaunte in the Steadbox

We decided to start out at Sweet Bloom and I was psyched to see the owner, Andy, again. It was a little drive away from Paul's place and has a good breakfast situation around it. As we walked into the sweet open ware house roastery; Andy was at the tail end of his roasting session. We asked him if we could, impromptu, shoot for Coffee Scene and he was totally down. We got some fantastic coffees from their tasting bar and were honored to ask Andy a few questions as he showed us how to roast during the day's last batch.

 Paul and Caleb chatting it up at Sweetbloom

Paul and Caleb chatting it up at Sweetbloom

After that we headed to Black Black Coffee for some multi-roaster goodness. We figured the owner, Josh, would be running it and he is such a cool guy we had to fit him in. It was off the beatin path of RiNo and was pretty busy as we walked up, but Josh was still into strapping in and filming for Coffee Scene. We even ended up getting some of our favorite drinks here a V60 of Colombian, Caturra from Four Barrel and a macchiato made with Tanzanian espresso. 

 Josh holdin' it down at Black Black

Josh holdin' it down at Black Black

 One of the best maccs ever from Josh

One of the best maccs ever from Josh

To close out the couple days in Denver we kicked it with Paul during his closing shift at the Gilpin Novo location. It was so much fun shooting for Coffee Scene in that space with him and Paul was so into it and getting super excited about it all. I love the vibe of that store because its this sleek coffee bar in the center of a beautiful neighborhood. The customers that come in all have a special connection with the place and servers.

 Paul pullin sweetness off the Slayer

Paul pullin sweetness off the Slayer

 Paul impressing us with swans

Paul impressing us with swans



Denver Day 1

By now, Denver is considered another home for me.

 Basic bitch outside Huckleberry

Basic bitch outside Huckleberry

 Middle State's work bench

Middle State's work bench

Having met "coffee people" from Denver over the years and visiting them a couple times; coming here is like a big welcome home with open arms. After 15 hours of a terribly beautiful long drive, Shaunte and I pulled up to our friend Paul who was in total 1am party mode! We calmed him down and went straight to bed for the next day.

 Amethyst's retail shelves

Amethyst's retail shelves

 Espresso, macarons, and pastry at Amethyst 

Espresso, macarons, and pastry at Amethyst 

Once we got up and out of Paul's apartment, we headed to Amethyst to start our day, spend time with my friend and owner of the store, Elle, and film a bit for Coffee Scene. I had stopped by a few months before while it was still under construction and I was so excited to see it finished! Not only is it a beautifully quaint store, but Elle freakin rocks the bar, and the clientele are so homie.

 Elle killin' it at her work station

Elle killin' it at her work station

 Elle's cold brew cobbler

Elle's cold brew cobbler

From there, we went to visit Huckleberry Roaster's first location and roasting facility; where Koan, the owner, was putting in some work. It was my first time at that location, so it was nice to have the owner give us the grand tour, pour us a wave of Guatemalan micro-lot coffee, and talk about the scene with us.

 Koan and Kevin roasting it up!

Koan and Kevin roasting it up!

 Serving greatness on the retail side

Serving greatness on the retail side

After our awesome experiences at both Amethyst and Huck we headed over to Middle State / Steadbrook to kick it with Jay and Dustin, the young owners of this clothing store / cafe / roaster. We were lucky enough to see a shipment of green coffee come in while the weather changed in a matter of seconds and got to talk in depth about roasting, whats going on in Denver, and the coffee scene as a whole with Jay

 Jay and Dustin moving and shaking the Denver scene

Jay and Dustin moving and shaking the Denver scene

 Jay takes a breather after getting this shipment

Jay takes a breather after getting this shipment

By then we had worked up quite an appetite and Paul had wrapped up working at Novo. We met up at the uber hip Wursthuche Sausage Bar and went in on some bockwurst and fries. From there the weather turned so nice that we decided to walk around downtown for a few hours until we planned to meet up with all our friends for drinks at Denver Bicycle Cafe. Once we had our laughs, conversations, and memories all out of the way it was time to get some more rest for the next day in Denver.

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Cross Country Dates

For those who are interested in (loosely) where and when Coffee Scene will be, here you have it!

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Salt Lake City - Sunday, May 31st

Denver - Tuesday, June 2nd & 29th

Kansas City - Thursday, June 4th & 27th

St. Louis - Friday, June 5th & 26th

Louisville - Saturday, June 6th & 25th

Charleston - Sunday, June 7th & 24th

Washington DC - Monday, June 8th & 23rd

Philadelphia - Tuesday, June 9th & 22nd

New York - Wednesday, June 10th & 14th-17th

Boston - Friday, June 12th & 13


A Film About Coffee

We're taking it back to April of 2014 in Seattle for the annual SCAA event for this one!

 Downtown Seattle

Downtown Seattle

 The infamous gum wall at Pike Place

The infamous gum wall at Pike Place

I wasn't aware of the film coming out or being shown during the weekend of the event; besides the possible spurge article or a mass email sent by the event which I glanced at. However, at the event and between barista competition presentations they showed the enticing trailer for the film which had its world premier on a Saturday night. This struck up an interest to see it, but it wasn't until my friend Bill suggested we actually all go that it started to become a reality.

 Tourist

Tourist

 Tourist

Tourist

We piled into the Fiat 500 that Sean and I rented for the weekend and drove through the rainy downtown streets in search of the theater after a brief pizza and beer at Kuma's Roastery. We found the indoor shopping center and went to the top floor for the theater. As we entered we were greeted at a booth run by Stumptown where they were making chemex brewed coffee. They informed us that the coffee they were serving would be the same coffee that we would be seeing getting harvested and processed in the film. I couldn't even wrap my head around that thought. It was so rad that it was a life changing experience before the movie even started.

 Stuck at a coffee shop

Stuck at a coffee shop

 Sean taking a picture of Seattle

Sean taking a picture of Seattle

Of course all the "coffee celebrities" were out and all the homies came through so there was a great atmosphere in the audience. I have maybe seen the film once or twice online since and there are parts of it that still stick out so vividly from the first time. The amazing cinematography, the geographical shots, the women picking cherries, the short history of coffee consumption, Stumptown getting water to the producers, workers dancing and singing on fermenting coffee, people biking sacks of cherries up the mountain, cupping with producers, the coffee cultures of the far east, and Kevin Bohlin making espresso and filter coffee for farmers. The film is also star studded with pros I was familiar with like Kyle Glanville, Michael Phillips, and Eileen Rinaldi. Yet, It was also the first time I saw what George Howell looked like and it introduced me to Darrin Daniel.

 Waiting for the movie

Waiting for the movie

 Q&A with "celebs" to end the experience

Q&A with "celebs" to end the experience

After the movie there was definitely a feeling of revolution, the audience's vibe felt bewildered, and at the end the producers and "coffee celebrities" in the movie answered questions. The biggest take-aways from their answers were the importance of producers tasting their own and different coffees, giving them enough financial incentive to continue their work, and trying to convey all this through our businesses. It's a movie that you feel as though you need to share with everyone right after you see it. So, when a few of us came back from Seattle to Phoenix we really wanted to organize a showing.

 Stumptown booth serving the coffee in the film

Stumptown booth serving the coffee in the film

It was hard to see city after city premier this awesome film in some really cool ways and not see it happening in Phoenix. Especially because I kind of sort of felt that Phoenix might "deserve" a showing more than some of these other cities. After getting in touch with the film's producers and getting all the info we needed to get rolling it began to get super complicated. We needed a certain amount of money, a certain projector, major companies involved, a venue, and good marketing. It was hard to get all these things into place for a tiny group of people who all had their own priorities. Because of this struggle, I am so happy to see that Cartel is finally able to make it happen. It is an important experience for many people in Phoenix and for the city in general. Way to go, Cartel, for making something that was so difficult for me and others to organize turn into a reality.

Buy tickets for the film, Q&A, and accompanying tastings on Friday - June 5th at 6pm here http://cartelcoffeelab.com/afilmaboutcoffee 


Chop-up at Camelback Flowershop

This was another instance where the universe opened up and swallowed me into an unbelievable opportunity.

 Photo by Cheyp for Eats and Sights

Photo by Cheyp for Eats and Sights

 Photo by Cheyp

Photo by Cheyp

The pop up at Camelback Flowershop was a really fun experiment and all began when I met my friend Richard there for a photo shoot he was working. The shoot was for a spread and cover in AZ Lifestyle Magazine on Teresa Wilson and her flower shop. The space is breath taking and Teresa is a doll! I spotted an empty corner behind the garage door and it just so happened to have a nespresso machine sitting there. When the shoot wrapped up I asked Teresa if she wanted to upgrade her coffee situation and we set up a meeting.

 Richard geekin' out

Richard geekin' out

 Photo by Kristine Morgan

Photo by Kristine Morgan

I came to the meeting with Nela and the coffee cart in hand. I asked Teresa if I could make her and her employees drinks from the cart and she was totally into it. After I handed a cappuccino to Teresa, she looked up and said, "that is the best cup of coffee I have ever had" and then the cart stayed there for two months. I decided to have the cart operating monday-friday from 10am-2pm. Pretty tough hours for people to get to, but I had to have a balance of convenient for me as the operator, while having time to work on other projects, and serving visitors amazing drinks.

 Photo by Bryan Overstreet

Photo by Bryan Overstreet

 Photo by Cheyp for Eats and Sights

Photo by Cheyp for Eats and Sights

I really enjoyed having a creative outlet where I could bring in coffee from all over and prepare them the way I felt was best for people who came for a great experience. However, it really opened my eyes and reminded me what a risk opening a cafe is. Even though I have a good reputation and following in Phoenix for coffee, I never felt as though I was very busy and/or profitable. I thought that even if I had the money, time, and know how of how to create a gorgeous space like the flowershop in such a sweet location and had this kind of turn out that I would be scared shitless.

 Inside the flower shop

Inside the flower shop

 Photo by Bryan Overstreet

Photo by Bryan Overstreet

Getting to work with Teresa at the flowershop was amazing. I didn't realize how you could get into flowers like you could with coffee. There are so many different plants and ways to arrange them and I started to see the parallel between flower shops and coffee shops. Teresa is a really good example of a successful business owner to me. She has her concept figured out, the people working for her are considered family and appear to be so harmonious, and she keeps pushing to get better. Somehow she finds time to be a mother of two boys, socialize, and enjoy herself. Watching her waltz into and around the shop, work with her employees, make her coffee, chat, and play with the kids was an absolute pleasure. But, it was time to wrap it up and begin to focus on Coffee Scene!

 Nela came for Mother's Day

Nela came for Mother's Day

 Photo by Ryan Strongin

Photo by Ryan Strongin

 Brooke, Laura, and Alba

Brooke, Laura, and Alba

 Photo by Richard Douglas for AZ Lifestyle Magazine

Photo by Richard Douglas for AZ Lifestyle Magazine