(p)inspiration saturday


I had a hard time getting inspired to accomplish much of anything this week. My new work schedule has totally shifted the way my week runs, so I’ve been fighting physical and emotional fatigue to acclimate to the change.

Pinterest was created for times like these. It’s a sensory escape. I’ve been drawn to girls in glasses, all things mod, spring-colored shoes, art, and quirky home decor.

I’ve glanced at The Lovers by Rene Magritte over and over again in the past few days. The image is startling, eerie, romantic, and insightful. In a sense, we must approach interpersonal relationships with bags over our heads; we never see a person objectively and we never fully know them. But we take the plunge anyway. It’s a harsh truth that while we long and seek to be fully understood – fully known – we can never achieve it. It’s a testament to our will to thrive that we continue to seek it out anyway, that we devote so much of our lives trying to get to the core, the essence, of ourselves and our loved ones. We sense that if we could just see into people’s souls, if we could whisper their true names*, we’d have arrived at a place of peace. Of perfection.

*Eragon reference. 

Image sources: one, two, three, four, five, six

tips from a barista

‎”We don’t have flavored creamer because this isn’t a waiting room at JiffyLube.”

latte art

I discovered the site, Bitter Barista, this morning and it had me laughing out loud while I drank my coffee. I agree with almost every statement, but I am happy to say I have a much better attitude about working in a coffee shop than the author. I thought I’d provide some (gently put) insider knowledge to assist you in your next coffee shop order:

  1. A Macchiato, if made correctly, is a shot or two of espresso with a small amount of foam, typically served in a short ceramic cup. It is not, as Starbucks would have you believe, a double shot latte with caramel. It’s not possible to make a real macchiato in a 16 oz cup (unless you add 8+ shots of espresso, which may make you go into cardiac arrest). 
  2. If you order an Extra Hot Soy Latte, you’ll either get scalded soy milk or a regular temperature latte. Soy milk scalds at around 140 degrees. It won’t taste very good, but we’ll do it if you insist.
  3. Soy Milk doesn’t foam well, partly because it can’t be steamed for as long. If you ask for a Soy Milk Cappuccino, you’ll get either a wet cappuccino (less foam) or a latte.
  4. More foam is created as you reach maximum milk temperature (above 150 degrees). If you ask for an Extra Hot, No Foam Latte, know that you’re going against nature.
  5. To make enough foam for a Dry Cappuccino (lots of foam, very little liquid milk), the milk must be steamed first, then tapped against the counter and allowed to sit so that  the foamy air bubbles can rise to the top of the pitcher. Cappuccinos take extra time to complete, but they’re worth it. It pays to be patient.
  6. We don’t offer flavored coffee or flavored creamer because they’re gross. High quality coffee has layers of flavor notes, like wine, that come together to create a delicious, complex taste experience. We can put flavor syrup in your drink, though, so please don’t act too disappointed.
  7. Some customers ask how old the drip coffee is. I understand the concern, but the shop is typically busy enough to go through coffee in an hour or less. If you need your coffee fresh, please ask the question before you pay, then order a different drink if you’re in a hurry. We try our best to keep up with coffee demand, but if we run out or need to make a new batch, it takes almost ten minutes to complete the brewing cycle.

I really do think it’s the job of the barista, and the coffee shop, to accommodate as many specifications as possible while maintaining quality. I’m more amused than annoyed when customers make their drinks incredibly complicated or ask for things that aren’t possible. But it’d help to have basic coffee information dispersed to the wider, coffee-drinking audience. A good barista cares about both quality and efficiency, and sometimes has to strike a balance between the two to keep things running smoothly. I like my job and I like customer interaction (for the most part), so please don’t scowl at me if things don’t go your way. I really want to help you.

I’m not a seasoned veteran of the coffee shop, so if you have more advice (or need to correct some of my statements), please feel free to do so in the comments section. 

*photo source: Coffee Art

week in a list

  1. The online business experienced a high point this week, for which I am quite thankful. If you need to update your wardrobe, you should take a look
  2. My manager asked me to take some photos of the shop for the company website. Although I didn’t get paid anything extra (apart from photographing on the clock), I’m excited that I had the opportunity to dabble in commercial photography (I have previously only done portraiture or product photos for my own business).
  3. The weather makes everything better. Today, everyone downtown whipped out their boots for their first wear of the season. A friend once told me that fragrance travels farther (or at least we can smell it better) when the humidity drops. I theorize that that’s why we’re hit by a wave of nostalgia in the fall and spring; scent is one of the strongest memory inducers. Alternately, we’re just all relieved to be able to walk outside in a single layer of clothing and feel perfectly comfortable.
  4. Daniel and I explored midtown today. It’s where all the cool people are. Charlottesville pleasantly surprised me again when we discovered they have a local food market and an organic, locally farmed butcher shop!
  5. A middle aged, male customer told me I have nice skin today. I could feel creeped out, but let’s be honest: when people say they are creeped out by compliments, they are just covering up their elation at having received one.
  6. We hung out with some of Daniel’s colleagues at Mellow Mushroom last night. It was less awkward for me than I anticipated (when you’re a non-student among students, it can be difficult to add to the conversation).