The Indie Coffee Passport – East Bay

Last week, Marc Callado, who launched Shift Local in 2012 with his fiancée Mari, swung by my About Me page to let me know about an amazing opportunity for lovers of coffee on this side of the Bay.  When I say this is a bargain, folks, I say it as someone who knows just how much a standard drip coffee can run these days, much less a pourover or espresso drink of any form. I’m a freelance writer, I work at home, I know coffee. Even more so, I know the value of local coffee shops.

indie coffee passport

The Indie Coffee Passport costs $25 + tax, and it is good for 22 drinks at the participating cafes. 22 drinks! That’s an amazing deal! And with that work-at-home cred I just established, I also know how important getting out of the house is, which is the fun part of this bargain. Because each of those 22 drinks represents 22 locally owned coffeehouses in the East Bay, and you can redeem 1 drink at each of them. Maybe you are someone who takes comfort in always showing up at the same café…I am not. I try somewhere new nearly every week, and the Indie Coffee Passport would increase my motivation to do so, if that’s even possible.

And what’s better? Those coffeehouses are easily accessible. As Marc wrote, “These 22 shops are all independent coffee shops in 8 East Bay cities along Highway 580 and BART. The idea is to get people to try out and experience the blossoming independent coffee scene in the East Bay and also to explore a variety of interesting neighborhoods in Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany, Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda, Hayward and Dublin.”

A pourover from Eko in Hayward, which I reviewed last year and is participating in the Passport.

A pourover from Eko in Hayward, which I reviewed last year and is participating in the Passport.

Walking distance from BART?! This promotion couldn’t smell better to me if they dipped it in tri-tip seasonings and set it on the grill. As I can attest from using the Santa Cruz Winegrowers’ Association Passport, simply getting stamps on my passport will keep me entertained. (Yes, it’s that easy.)

Coffee Passport

 

That’s a scan of the passport, which folds up to business card size to fit easily into a wallet so that it’s easily accessible. And yes, that’s the full list of participating cafes as well, nicely divided by city.

The Catch? You can only use the passport through August 31, 2015. Why? Because this is a promotion, my dears, designed to introduce you to the wonderful coffeehouses you’ve overlooked so you’ll go back again, again, and again in the future. And you can bet there will be very little money made on the endeavor. At a little over $1 per drink and considering printing and mailing costs, the coffee shops are basically giving them away. Knowing all that, I honestly think the end date of August 31 is generous. I know I’ll be drinking that amount of coffee times a million in the next 5 months, and that’s likely an underestimation.

The Catch #2? You can only pick from a menu of 6 drinks at each cafe, but those menus have quite a range as most of the cafes are wisely showing off some of their signature drinks. Chrysanthemum tea, frappuccinos, iced coffee, and peppermint mochas are a few of the offerings I’ve seen. You will find something that works for you at each of them, even if you don’t drink coffee. The full list of participating cafes and their menus is right here.

Are you in?  Purchases go through their website here. You will eventually be able to purchase them at some of the participating cafes, but that’s not an option quite yet. While you’re at it, why not also check out Marc and Mari’s Shift Local site and sign up for the newsletter?

shiftlocal-logo

This dynamic duo is coming up with lots of ways to make buying local fun, and I’m excited to see what’s next. I’ll sure be caffeinated enough to enjoy it.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia

2014_Barcelona_237

I don’t often let my photos speak entirely for themselves on this blog, but other than for a few tourist tips, I’m going to let them do just that. Why? Because I can’t describe how beautiful it was to spend the day at La Sagrada Familia, the masterpiece basilica of Antonin Gaudi’s design that is still under construction today. If you are visiting Barcelona, you simply have to set aside a day for exploring it. Plan it into your agendas now. I’ll wait.

So here are the basics:

Location: In the Example, 401 Carrer de Mallorca. Buy tickets on the Passion side and enter on the Nativity side.

Tour Prices: Varies depending on if you want a guide or not and if you want to visit the towers or not. We did not get a guide, but we did do the towers, which was 19.50 Euros. WORTH IT. Do the towers unless you are not physically able to climb stairs, go through narrow passages, or get afraid of heights. Note: The price is for only one of the two sets of towers, and it’s the luck of the draw which you get. Both have great views, though, and the experience is supposedly similar in each.

Time: We spent around four hours at la Sagrada Familia, which gave us time for the towers, the museum beneath the church’s main floor, and exploring the inside and outside at our leisure. But neither of us stops and ponders for long, so you may need more. Plus, if you want to see the colors change, stick around for a while.

Wait Time: You can buy tickets online and save yourself the wait for tickets at the church itself. We didn’t, however, and it only took about 20 minutes to get in—but the line was only wrapped around one street corner. I believe it gets a lot worse in summer. We were there in December.

Decorum: This is an operational church. Quiet reverence is the best way to behave on your visit there.

And now, enjoy my favorite photos from La Sagrada Familia.

The interior:

2014_Barcelona_238

2014_Barcelona_241

2014_Barcelona_244

2014_Barcelona_258

2014_Barcelona_260

2014_Barcelona_265

2014_Barcelona_275

2014_Barcelona_281

2014_Barcelona_200

For more pictures of the interior, click here.

Read more →

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather

Best New Products at the 2015 Atlanta Coffee Fest

Everything that goes into a David Rio Chai.

Everything that goes into a David Rio Chai.

You can find fast-paced, ongoing barista competitions in any corner of a Coffee Fest show, but at their heart, these events are trade shows. And I had far more fun than expected discovering up-and-coming products among the many established brands. This isn’t a list featuring my favorite coffee beans from the weekend—that would be expected. Rather, it’s a list of my favorite unexpected finds, all products I hope may be appearing at a coffee shop near me soon.

1. The Airflow Cooling Lid

Founder Akiva Shapiro with his prototype.

Founder Akiva Shapiro with his prototype.

This lid is designed to deal with a very important problem of coffee consumption: how to cool down coffee with a lid on! I understand that many of you enjoy super-hot coffee, but I prefer mine only a few notches above lukewarm. And while taking off a lid does create a beautiful steam show, it’s not very convenient in many circumstances, especially if the liquid threatens to spill over.

Apparently I’m not alone in that concern, because Akiva Shapiro has invented the Airflow Cooling Lid to solve the problem! With its double-hole design, you can blow through one end to cool down your coffee, and hot air will exit out of the back hole.

Up-close with the Airflow Cooling Lid.

Up-close with the Airflow Cooling Lid.

This product is still in the prototype stage and seeking investors, so I avidly await the day it’ll be mass-produced.

Read more →

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailby feather