Tag Archives: coffee

What We Can Learn from What We Drink!

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite new inspirNational thoughts…what we can learn from what we drink! Yes, there is something scholarly you can learn from the Guinness you are holding in your hand right now.

While attending the Furman Women’s Leadership Institute this winter, I sat next to an inspiring doctor who told me about me about an interesting book she was reading, “The History of the World in 6 Glasses.” I was preparing for a brewery tour for my birthday, and I thought what better way to be inspired for my tour than to learn the significance of beer (of course it was only scholarly ;)).

Thinking about it….every day you are drinking (hopefully!) 8 glasses of water, and several other beverages based on your culture and preferences. Americans can’t seem to get their hands off a cup of coffee, the British and the Chinese don’t go a day without tea, the Italians don’t go a day without wine, and the list goes on! Each of these beverages comes with historical and cultural significance.

cheers-debbie-dewitt

Image Source: Fine Arts America

 

I’ll give you a taste of what I learned from the book….

  • Coffee represents scholarly pursuits as it keeps us focused and energized.
  • Tea represents colonialism and the daily reminder to pause and relax.
  • Wine symbolizes religion, prestige, and royalty.
  • Beer symbolizes social gatherings…it was one of the main reasons humans began living in civilizations (waiting for the beer to brew)…and to this day brings people together!
  • Spirits symbolize business deals at first, and later a way to calm the mind.
  • Soda represents the American dream…in the pursuit of happiness through a refreshing drink.

So, the next time you take a sip of your favorite beverage whether at home or while traveling, think about what it means! You can learn a lot about yourself, your heritage, and your surroundings by the drinks in front of you. Cheers!

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Seattle’s Best

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Next up on my list of travel reflections is Seattle, Washington. I had the opportunity to visit Bellingham for a wedding in May and combined the trip with a visit to my preschool best friend who lives in Tacoma.

When you have the opportunity to visit the Pacific Northwest, I highly recommend going to Bellingham, Tacoma, and Seattle. Below I captured some highlights from each of the places.

Bellingham: Ideal for a quaint, romantic getaway surrounded by beautiful yachts in the Pacific Ocean, and an adorable downtown. You can’t go to Bellingham without visiting the Yacht Club for spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Make a point to try local Washington wines, both red and white. Stroll through the streets of Downtown Bellingham, where you will find unique boutiques and restaurants with some of the best seafood in the country. The nightlife is a lot of fun too, with live music, craft beer, and speakeasy style clubs. If you enjoy skiing, visit Bellingham for the world famous Ski to Sea Race in May. I happened to be there at the time of the race and the locals were proud to share stories of Ski to Sea Races in years passed.

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View from the Bellingham Yacht Club

Tacoma: Just 20 minutes outside of Seattle, Tacoma is rated as one of the most livable and walkable cities, with beautiful views of Mount Rainier in the distance. I tried some of the best chowder and seafood I have ever had at Duke’s Chowder House. Stop by the hip coffee shops for brunch or a quick pick-me-up, especially the Anthem Coffee Shop. There are cute boutiques and restaurants scattered throughout the city, so be sure to take a stroll one afternoon. If you’re up for a hiking adventure, you have several options around you. I hiked at Olympic National Park and was amazed to go from 70 degree weather to 30 degree weather along the 4-mile hike to one of the summits. I can’t wait to go back to this park and other parks near Tacoma.

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View from Duke’s Chowder House

Seattle: One of the most unique cities I have visited, with gorgeous snow capped mountains in the distance, fresh flowers and vegetables everywhere you go, gourmet coffee shops, free spirited people, and some of the cleanest air I have ever felt. The first must-see is the Pike’s Place Market, which has some of the largest, most vibrant flowers I have ever seen. Fresh fish samples are available at many of the booths, and you can watch the famous fish tossing show. Shop for artisan goods, fruits and vegetables, and local delicacies. I could have spent a whole day just at the Pike’s Place Market.

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Another fun opportunity is to tour the Starbucks Reserve, where you can learn about the coffee making process and the history of Starbucks, and try the latest coffee creations. I enjoyed an espresso with mint ice cream in it and it was to die for! I spent one afternoon in Capitol Hill, which was very proudly LGBTQ and open to all people. Capitol Hill is conveniently located near the Starbucks Reserve, so I would recommend that you stroll the streets there and make a stop at Unicorn bar – one of the wildest bars I have ever seen.

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If you’re into architecture and want to laugh like crazy, you have to try the Seattle Ride the Ducks boat tour, which gives you cityscape views through the pier…and yes the boat can both drive on land and go in water. Shoutout to my mom who did the same tour many years ago and it was still the same amount of fun that she had. After the boat tour, make a point to walk around the Space Needle, which I didn’t actually tour, but enjoyed seeing from the outside. Also, stop at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation museum, where you can learn about the inspiring acts of Bill and Melinda Gates through Microsoft and beyond in the communities throughout the world.

Long story short, for some of the freshest air, stunning mountain and coastal views, best seafood, most beautiful flowers, and delicious coffee, visit Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellingham!

Best Coffees to Celebrate International Coffee Day

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In honor of International Coffee Day, here is a list of some of my favorite coffees throughout the world.

  1. Cafe Britt in Costa Rica: I may be biased because my name is in the title of the coffee shop :), but I became so much more appreciative of the intricacies of coffee production after touring Cafe Britt and tasting the coffee varieties last spring. I learned the importance of the amber color of coffee, which indicates freshness. I recommend you experience the Cafe Britt coffee tour and try the Tarrazu and Tres Rios varieties, in addition to the organic and fair trade brands. Also, if you can prepare yourself for a new addiction, try the chocolate-covered coffee beans while there!

    Café Britt Coffee Tour

    Café Britt Coffee Tour

  2. Mountain Thunder Kona Coffee in the Big Island of Hawaii: Kona Coffee has a unique flavor (and in my opinion, stronger than others) that can’t be matched because of its production in volcanic terrain. I enjoyed learning about Mountain Thunder coffee production and also appreciated the teas available there. Whether you are a coffee or tea fan,  I highly recommend sampling the organic varieties!
  3. Café au lait in France: I had some of the best coffee with the prettiest designs (made with milk) while touring the countryside of France. I’m not sure what was better, the coffee or the fresh pastries on the side? I don’t think I’ve found a better breakfast pair than a chocolate-filled croissant and café au lait. I was also fascinated by the coffee machines in France (mind you this was in 2011 and now we have more modern coffee appliances in the U.S.). One day I would love to learn how to make café au lait like the French.
  4. Café con leche from Chocolatería Valor in Salamanca, Spain: I first fell in love with coffee while studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain. I became accustomed to drinking café con leche (the Spanish version of café au lait) while relaxing, studying, or blogging during my afternoons in Spain. Similar to my perception of café au lait, part of the reason I love café con leche is that I often paired it with a churro con chocolate from Chocolatería Valor- iqué rico! I will always think of my wonderful experiences in Spain (more details to come in future blogs :)) when I drink café con leche.

    Café con leche y churros con chocolate de Chocolatería Valor en Salamanca, España

    Café con leche y churros con chocolate de Chocolatería Valor en Salamanca, España

  5. Mocha from Espresso Royale in Ann Arbor, Michigan: Every time I go back to visit my alma mater, I stop at Espresso Royale for a mocha, which makes me nostalgic of the cold winter days walking to class, meeting with student groups, and cuddling up to study with a mocha. Espresso Royale features several coffee blends, delicious pastries (I highly recommend the zucchini bread), and some of the best couches you could ask for (they are in high demand during finals season at the University of Michigan).

As a business professional, my list of coffee favorites keeps growing, as I am eager to try new coffee specialties everywhere I travel! I especially appreciate local coffee shops because they often sell native coffee blends and give you a taste of the local culture by featuring local musicians and artists. For such a staple in daily life, I enjoy learning how each country has its own spin on coffee. What are your favorite places for coffee?