Saturday, 17 March 2007

First Crack 98. I Drink Coffee From a Cat’s Butt

“It really does taste different: musty, heavy, rich, strangely complex. Hints of chocolate, old wood, hazelnut. Fresh out of the roaster, it smelled a bit like a newborn baby’s urine.” – Sam Buchanan

On the first nice Saturday of the year, Sam Buchanan and I met at Coffee and Tea Ltd for a $10 cup of coffee that came from the backside of the Asian Palm Civet (not something that happens in the wine world).

Listen to Sam and I taste the Kopi Luwak coffee [8 min].

Friday, 2 March 2007

Starbucks Tomorrow: McDonalds or Neighborhood Roaster?

When I’m on the road, Starbucks is where I get my internet access.

My taste for their coffee has gone from dislike to barely tolerable. These days, I spend $1.57 there on a small decaf that I sip for my 2 hours of laptop battery life.

“Put another way, there are two markets for coffee drinkers: those who love coffee, and everyone else. Can Starbucks really continue to try to serve both” – Peter Meehan

That’s the question. Doc says they should go back to their roots.

4) Give your employees better training around what makes great espressos and cappuchinos. (Lattes are too milked-down to serve as a reference point.) Don’t hire them if they don’t grok the basics.

5) Get more involved in local communities. Peets puts on workshops that educate customers on great coffee drinks. That’s a good model. Do the same.

Sunday, 31 December 2006

Starbucks – Community Building in Small Communities

I’ve talked about the value of places like Starbucks in places like…Wausau…before.

That was from a city-mouse in the smaller city perspective. Now that I’ve been in Wausau for a few days – popping to Starbucks for internet access – not coffee. I’m aghast.

The place is packed. Filled with an amazing cross-section of the community. Reading the paper, catching up, working. So packed, that friendly people are sitting on each other’s laps.

Here, I’m pleased to say, the Starbucks – just of the highway – is a functioning 3rd place.

On a related note – the locally-owned coffee/wine/martini bar in downtown Wausau is no longer.

Friday, 28 July 2006

Why I’m Rarely Sad When Coffee Shops Close

On my daily walk this evening, I noticed a coffee shop here in St. Anthony Village was no longer. Based on the emptiness on the other side of the windows, it’s been a while since they left. While it’s always sad to see small, local, non-franchise, non-chain, coffee shops close – it’s also sad to see places with bad coffee and uncomfortable vibes stay open.

I remember a small local shop back in Evanston that always felt uncomfortable, had bad coffee, and finally used a Starbucks opening a couple blocks away as their excuse for closing. When in fact, any competition would have overtaken them.

On a related note, Marysburg Books and Coffee, in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District, where I recorded many of the First Crack Podcasts is also no longer. It appears they’ve succumbed to the new Dunn Bros across the street and the fantastically renovated Moose and Sadie’s.

Mostly unrelated, I received a brand new shipment of Indian Monsooned from Sweet Marias last week (can’t believe it’s been a week already). Just the smell of the raw, green beans, has powered me through this week. Can’t wait till I get a chance to roast them. It’s been so hot these past few days, I fear if I take them outside, they’ll roast on their own.

Lastly, the Giz Wiz Biz featured the Capresso CofeeTEAM Therm a couple days back (behold, the power of podcasting) which you can thank for inspiring this post.

Here’s the write-up from last December WCCO did on the issue. As much as I dislike Caribou’s coffee, I can’t see them setting out to kill “the dream”.

Sunday, 14 May 2006

Wednesday, 11 January 2006

First Crack 70. Ted Lowell from the Acadia Cafe on Being an Original Venue

Last year, PodcastMN got it’s start over drinks at the Acadia Cafe. This week, I sat down with Ted Lowell – one of the owners.

We talk about:

  • The history of the Acadia Cafe.
  • The decision to be an all original music venue.
  • What it’s like having a Starbucks across the street.
  • Riding the 75-cent pony.
  • Having one of the best beer selections in all of the Twin Cities.

Listen to Ted Lowell from the Acadia Cafe on Being An Original Venue [23 min]

Thursday, 3 November 2005

Moose and Sadies Almost Best Coffee Shop in Warehouse District

A couple years back I spent a good chunk of time in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District. Aside from convenience (it’s right between downtown and NE) it’s got a nice comfortable, creative vibe to it. Unfortunately, there’s not a hands down winner for a good cup of coffee.

If you prefer coffee mixed with single speed bikes – the Go Coffee inside the 1 on 1 bike studio has free wifi, great service, great people, and decent espresso.

If you’re looking for a quieter place with plush seats and perhaps a glass of wine instead of their on average coffee, then walk across the street to Marysburg Books.

Then, a block north, there’s Moose and Sadies. My memories of it are dark, cave of a place emanating 50 years of cigarette smoke and stale pastries. When I needed a hit of second-hand smoke, I’d pop in there.

Not anymore.

They’ve completely remodeled the place. Today, it’s bright, sunny, place that’s easy to move around, with a good looking breakfast menu. I was stunned. Impressed. Amazed at the transformation. The coffee even tastes better. Still not free wifi though.

UPDATE 28 Friday 2006:
There’s a Dunn Bros in that neighborhood now – 228 Washington Ave North specifically. So, the race for best coffee shop is fully on.

Thursday, 14 April 2005

First Crack 37. From Betty’s Bikes & Buns

A big thanks to everyone that helped keep Betty’s open. Betty’s is a great independent coffee shop and I’m happy to see the community pull together and keep it open.

Tom Roe owner of Betty’s Bikes and Buns and I talk motorcycles, community, and the best coffee in Minneapolis.

The First Crack podcast website has been recently redesigned. It now has episode voting courtesy of the Votio plugin from I want to thank First Crack subscriber Jonas Rullo for identifying and resolving a CSS issue with the new site. Thanks Jonas and good luck on your quest for a West Bend Poppery I.

Listen to From Betty’s Bikes & Buns [18 min]

Got questions about coffee or comments about the show? Call: 206-20-BEAN-1

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Wednesday, 12 January 2005

First Crack 19. Coffee and Community at the Blue Moon

Cindy, owner of Minneapolis’ Blue Moon and Second Moon, and I discuss the community value of independent, neighborhood coffee shops.

Listen for a patron-thwarted robbery and why coffee should come in small cups.

I end the show with “Don’t Tell a Soul” by the Revamps. For more on them, drop lead man Darren Harff a line or catch them at their show on Jan 14th at the Terminal Bar – they go on around 11:45pm.

Listen to Coffee and Community at the Blue Moon [29 min]

Got questions about coffee or comments about the show? Call: 206-20-BEAN-1

Like the show? Support the First Crack Podcast

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

First Crack 16. Interview with a Roastmaster: Greg Beale

Greg Beale, a Dunn Bros. Coffee roastmaster, and I roast 8 pounds of Colombian beans, discuss holiday brewing tips, and the local flavors of the Dunn Bros shops.

Intro: PodCat from PodCat’s Daily Best of Podcasting.

Listen to Interview with a Roastmaster: Greg Beale [38 min]

Got questions about coffee or comments about the show? Call: 206-20-BEAN-1

Like the show? Support the First Crack Podcast