2015 Spring Coffee Tour, Day Two.

Day two of my trip. I started out from Fort Worth and headed for – Fort Worth. Of course I had to get to Trader Joe’s for a few supplies (Crispy Crunchy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, hello!) and then I headed to Avoca Coffee Roasters. In Fort Worth.
Avoca is pretty amazing. Right now, it is the standard by which all other espresso drinks are measured. It was the first latte I had where I went, “WOW.” And every time I’ve gone, it’s been that good. Every time.
Today was no exception, although it started out a little rocky. My favorite barista wasn’t there – the tall guy with the dreadlocks. I’d really grown to trust him, because one time I was there and he was about to hand me my latte but instead he looked at it pensively, said “no, that’s not right, I need to make you another one” and proceeded to dump the first one and start over. Now that’s QUALITY. He wouldn’t serve something that wasn’t quite right. Respect.
But this time he wasn’t there. I was going to have to trust the guys that were. As I was waiting in line, I watched the two baristas. One was dark-haired, and quiet. He would call out names in a normal voice and he looked very serious while making the espresso drinks. The other guy had a blondish-brown man-bun and the voice of a Sesame Street character. That he used incessantly. At a very elevated volume.
He would laugh. He would yell out names. He would sing out names. He would talk loudly to his coworkers. And you know what? It really took away from the atmosphere. The place doesn’t have a whole lot of atmosphere to begin with, and that’s ok! But this made it just downright annoying. I was getting nervous.
Finally Normal Voice Guy called out my name and I got my latte.

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And – thank goodness – it was delicious.
Even flavor, nice and smooth. It made up for the annoying barista.
So after I finished, I drove down to Austin. I only got caught in traffic the last 30-40 minutes, so that wasn’t too bad. My friend Michael, whom I know from my college days, has been kind enough to put me up while I’m here, so we spent the rest of the evening hanging out and then going to eat at Joe’s Place.
Joe is a caterer by trade, who opened up a restaurant technically so he could get a liquor license for his catering business. We sat in the “garden” out back and had a delicious, fresh dinner. Joe came out and talked to us for about a half hour – interesting guy. Stop by there if you get a chance.

When we got back, I was pretty tired, so I went to bed. Day 2: complete. Coffee: successful.

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2015 Spring Coffee Tour, Day One.

Today I left Tulsa for Fort Worth, Texas. First off, I made it to my destination just fine. I am enjoying an evening on my own, at a friend’s house. She’s out of town but is letting me stay at her lovely place. I admit, when I walked in the door and put down my bag, all of a sudden I didn’t recognize my life anymore. NOTHING was the same! Different house. No people around. I am now self-employed so technically this isn’t even a “vacation.” And the next leg of the journey holds a whole bunch of unknowns for me. Which is difficult, because I’m not really the greatest traveler. As a recovering Desk Hamster, sometimes it’s hard to break out of the routine. Which is exactly why it needs to be done. But it doesn’t make it any easier.
So here I am.
On the way here, I stopped in Oklahoma City for coffee. We had heard from a fellow Coffee Geek in Tulsa that Coffee Slingers was the place to go for espresso drinks when you’re in OKC. I was skeptical, mostly because I thought the name was kind of goofy. But trying new things is part of the theme of the trip so why not add coffee to the theme too…
I discovered that Coffee Slingers is located in the downtown area. Which is a hectic place to drive into at noon on a Friday. I realized that I needed food before I had my coffee but didn’t see much around, so I hoped that Coffee Slingers maybe served something that would pass as an actual meal… which they don’t. By this time I was getting kind of anxious as I could feel my blood sugar dropping so I walked down the street and sat at the bar at The Hideaway (OK pizza chain) and had a salad and some meatballs with marinara. I sat between two younger guys who both had work ID badges on and were drinking beer with their pizzas. I was the only woman at the counter… I just did it because it was FASTEST. By the time I left the place was completely packed. I put the leftover meatballs in the car and headed back to Coffee Slingers.
By this time it was around 12:30 and the tables were about half full. I ordered a latte and asked if there was just one size. The dude said yes but they could put a shot of something-that-I-couldn’t-make-out- what-he-was-saying in it if I wanted something sweeter. I shook my head in horror (and I’m still a little offended that apparently I look like someone who wants some gross syrup in their espresso drink). I even had to request that he NOT put the latte in a paper to-go cup. I mean come ON now!
A few minutes later I got the latte and did the standard coffee geek thing – I took pictures of it before I tried it.

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Then I got out my notebook and pencil. And took more pictures. Then I tried it. Really good! As you may be able to see, the crema was quite dark, and it stayed on the surface all the way till the end. Crema is bitter tasting, so I would get a little of this taste with each sip, but it was still good. And I would say the drink was pretty mild. In that it didn’t slap me in the face (like what Starbuck’s does, which always tasted burnt to me, from what I recall. Which is hard to do now since I have refused to drink Starbuck’s for quite some time – no one should be THAT desperate). Anyway. Despite my Prior Anxiety and Weird Lunch, the latte went down pretty easy.
Although I’m starting to wonder if I should maybe switch to cappuccinos at this point… I am going to do more research on the differences before lattes and cappuccinos. The main difference is more milk in the latte, but brew ratios / shot sizes / milk ratios vary so greatly that sometimes it’s difficult to tell for sure. I decided that on the way back to Tulsa, I would stop there again and try a cappuccino, just to see if I could compare them. And what a great excuse to stop again on the way home.
The espresso machine was a Synesso, which I admit, I hadn’t heard of before today. I just looked them up on the interwebs – they are hand-built machines made in Seattle. It was a great looking machine – and based on what it produced, I’m a fan.
It just so happens that Coffee Slingers roasts their own beans, and they had one of the biggest roasters I’ve ever seen. Of course I took pictures of that too.

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There were quite a few people working behind the counter, but no one was roasting today. Too bad. Or maybe that’s good because if there was, I probably wouldn’t have left for another hour. There was a woman with a full sleeve tattoo and a big dark braid walking around like she was Boss. I don’t know if she was The Boss, but she was definitely Boss. And as for the customers, there was, of course, a very large proportion of Earnest Hipsters. I was not the oldest person there, but I was one of THE oldest…
Overall, that experiment was a success and I’d give the latte an 8.5/10. I’ll definitely stop there on the way home.

So here I am in Fort Worth, Day One complete. I’m sleepy and my back hurts and I am apprehensive about tomorrow. It’s been a strange trip so far, everything feels different, I’ve been thinking about my Mom a lot, and somehow it feels very final like I’m not going back to Tulsa. I don’t mean this literally (at least I hope not!) but rather, something is changing or being left behind.
Change is good. On to the next adventure.

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Spring Break 2015.

Today I am trying to finish up a writing project, and also pack for a Road Trip. Because tomorrow, I am leaving for Texas.
This Texas Trip serves several purposes – to make some business contacts, to see some music, to meet some people, and to see some friends and get some crafting done. And there is also one other objective…
I’ve been thinking of what to call this trip. Because it needs a name. Here are some ideas:

  • “Middle Aged Spring Break”
  • “Keep Track ‘o That Mileage” Business Trip
  • “SXSW One Week Too Late”
  • “The Tax Deductible Coffee Shop of Oklahoma &Texas Tour”

I think the last one comes closest. I’ve already found a place to stop in Oklahoma City tomorrow, as I drive the first leg of the trip: Tulsa – Fort Worth, TX. The place might be a little out of the way, but I’ve heard it’s really great so I’m going to stop.
And I also have a destination in mind for Saturday, when I drive from Fort Worth to Austin. Once I’m in Austin, I’ll have to do some homework and find out where to go. I have a few names, but I’m hoping to find some Coffee People who can steer me right. I. CAN’T. WAIT.
I am going to document my journey – I’ll bring you all the coffee highlights, and anything else that might be worth mentioning (if there IS anything else to mention besides great coffee). So be sure to check back so you can read all about it.
Did I tell you I’m going to write a book about coffee? I think this means I can deduct all lattes and bags of beans that I buy. Yesssss.

I think this trip will be the Tax Deductible Coffee Spring Tour 2015. It might be a while before I get the t-shirts printed up.

Texas will have some stiff competition - Chimera here in Tulsa is all that and a bag of chips.
Texas will have some stiff competition – Chimera here in Tulsa is all that and a bag of chips.
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ace and stuff.

If you’ve been reading my blog from time to time, you’ll know that occasionally I write about my stuff. I’ve written about my car, my fridge, and my air conditioner…
Well today I’m writing about my Chemex.
I have been carrying on a very fervent, passionate love affair with coffee since Thanksgiving. I owe it all to one of the tastiest and most enjoyable cups of espresso I’ve ever had, down in the ATX. Since then I’ve come to appreciate the goodness that is home-ground beans and home-brewed coffee.
Last year, I inherited my Mom’s Chemex and for 9 months kept it in a cupboard thinking, what the heck am I going to do with this thing, as I get my lattes from Starbuck’s, and what’s the point of actual drip coffee anyway, lattes are the only drink worth having. But now I know better.
According to the Chemex Web Site, this glass coffeemaker was invented in 1941 by a Very Smart Person. The special glass and filter prevent bitterness, and it looks darn spiffy, too.
I’ve discovered there are very strict rules for brewing A Cup Of Coffee, including using a burr grinder for the beans, getting the filter wet before making the coffee, using a special kind of kettle to heat/pour the water, weighing the amount of coffee to use… yeah, I’m not quite there yet as far as actually doing all that – but I’m working my way up to it. For now I wing it – I brew the coffee, add some steamed milk and a dash of cinnamon every so often – voila, something that makes me happy.
As far as what type of coffee to use… I’ve been buying local from Topeca, here in Tulsa, and I also met someone on Instagram who suggested a coffee trade, so I’ve been enjoying a bag of Fourbarrel coffee from San Francisco. Once I’ve gone through what I have, I’ll be adventurous and order some from somewhere else, probably on the advice of Mr. @crunchytoast on Instagram, who does seem to be quite the expert!
And yes, true to form, I have named my Chemex. And it’s a masculine name, in keeping with Murray, the Man Fridge, and Steve…
My Chemex is named Hugh. He may be small in stature, but he’s strong, elegant, talented, and brings me happiness, in a civilized, albeit slightly melancholy way. What he produces is food for the soul. Thank you, Hugh. Here’s to a long, satisfying relationship.
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