June 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
Weekend Reading – It Turns Out Entrepreneurs Less Concerned About Tax Rates, More Concerned About Not Living In A Nightmarish, Ayn Rand Fantasy World
February 14, 2014 § Leave a comment
This will blow your mind, but entrepreneurs are actually drawn to cities with a high quality of life (read: investments in infrastructure, environment, arts, etc) and a pool of skilled employees (read: investments in education, k-12 and beyond). Not, apparently, the low wage wastelands with low taxes and minimal regulations (read: gutted protections for clean air and water and for labor).
This is the sort of thing that makes me nostalgic. Bars have gotten louder and cafés have gotten quieter… and each change affects the promise of political change. I can remember when you could have a conversation and even read in a bar. I used to read in bars all the time. Not so much anymore. And how long has it been since a coffeehouse was the site of active discussion? A long time, I bet. I can remember when coffeehouses were far more boisterous, with strangers engaging in conversation. The coffee wasn’t so good, but I was actually okay with that trade off. And it probably promoted entrepreneurship. I just sayin’.
January 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
This a great idea. A cafe where you literally pay for time. The coffee is free, but you’re paying for a place to sit, relax, think, and discuss. Presumably, you won’t be getting a fancy coffee there, but mostly just regular and decaf. It reminds me of what a coffeehouse was in the good old days. Being just a shade under forty, the good old days, for me, are roughly the late eighties and early nineties. Coffeehouses multiplied, but they weren’t Starbucks, but independent places that focused on providing a public space, rather than on providing fancy or, in some cases, even good, coffee. You played chess with strangers. You wrote manifestos. Your plotted and planned. It wasn’t a place to quietly bring your laptop and steal wifi (the internet, much less wifi, being not widely available), but something closer to one of the places Samuel Pepys visited for useful gossip and political intelligence. Not very profitable, though, so it wasn’t so hard for Starbucks to kill them off. Hopefully, this model will work. And maybe come across the pond and into my neighborhood.
This is taking historicism to a whole new level. I’ve been to several theaters that attempt to recreate the Elizabethan/Globe theatrical experience (namely the Folger in Washington, DC and the Blackfriar in Staunton, VA), but to actually use candles and flame-based lighting! That is awesome!
December 15, 2013 § Leave a comment
September 13, 2013 § Leave a comment
June 12, 2013 § Leave a comment
March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
I had a $25 gift card and a 20% coupon burning holes in my pockets, so I made the trek up to a Barnes and Noble. On my walk, I stopped at Union Station to see if it was still there. I knew they were closing it down (a dispute over rent increases) but thought I would support it while I could in hopes they might decide to stay (futile, I know). I was also thinking they might have a nice sale to clear out the stock.
But when I arrived, the windows were papered over and this enormous, lovely public space was gone. It had always had a surprisingly good selection , including an excellent array of periodicals. And now it’s gone.
I walked a mile further to the downtown store, where I bought Emil Cioran’s A Short History of Decay and an espresso.
While waiting for my espresso, I got an email from Barnes and Noble alerting me to the closure of the Union Station shop and offering a small discount on coffee or tea by way of consolation.
Was today the first day without it? Did it just close down? Had I happened to stop by yesterday, would it still have existed? It just seems an odd coincidence.
March 19, 2013 § Leave a comment
Damn if Peregrine, which had it’s start over by Eastern Market, just a few blocks away from me, didn’t just win ‘America’s Best Coffeehouse Competition’ in New York.
When they first opened, I loved them. I still like them, but honestly, I feel like their coffee slipped a little in the last couple of years and sometimes… just sometimes… I feel like some other places (namely Pound and Sova) manage to brew a better brew.
But still. Damn good coffee. Good job, Peregrine.
February 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
The artisans versus the cyborgs is what this article is about – Joy in the task: Even the finest restaurants are serving coffee made with capsules. Have we completely lost faith in the human touch?
Basically, a taste test of a very high end automatic espresso machine (Nespresso), versus hand pulled espresso, versus c–p stuff from some place down the street. Obviously, the last wasn’t a serious contender.
I tend to fall on the same side as the author. The Nespresso machine may have won the taste test, but the sameness was noted.
Several years ago, I remember the president of Starbucks convening a bunch of baristas because he felt that the coffee chain had lost something in the systemization and automation of the process: the individual touch and character of a quality barista.
Also, I worked in an office that had a Keurig and frankly, it made terrible, terrible coffee. Maybe it just wasn’t a good enough machine, but I just couldn’t pick out any particularly redeeming qualities. After all, it wasn’t so much easier than just making some coffee the normal way.
Finally, finding good coffee, like finding a good anything, should be a quest. Choosing to walk up to Peregrine Espresso, rather than settling for the Starbucks stand in the grocery store next door. Comparing Peregrine’s coffee with Pound the Hill (note: Peregrine has retaken the title in that fight). Sometimes taking the trip to Sova in the Atlas District or to Chinatown Coffee to explore what distinctions other coffeehouses can offer.
It’s not more about the journey than it is about the destination because, after all, if the destination is c–p coffee, than the whole experience will have kind of sucked. But the journey matters, doesn’t it?