coffee

Day 6 Blog Challenge – Thank You For Making A Difference!

Day 6 Blog Challenge – Thank You For Making A Difference!

Making A Difference!

How often do we say to someone we meet, “Thank you for making a difference!”

My personal experience is – ‘not nearly enough!’ And I meet people almost daily who make a huge difference in my life; I just don’t tell them that they do. Maybe in subtle ways they get the message, but they need to hear it loud and clear.

Today I’m going to shout out to some people who are changing my world, one coffee at a time.

Seattle

I arrived in Seattle on the 11th day of December. It was cold! Probably not cold in local terms but definitely cold in Aussie terms. When I left Australia on the night of 11th of December, it was hot! No, it wasn’t the shortest flight across continents in history, or space travel, it’s just the quirky bit about crossing the International Date Line that landed me in the US of A seemingly two hours after I left the fair shores of Brisbane, Australia.

But here I am in the beautiful city of Seattle, meeting some really amazing people. All have had a profound effect on me but there are some who have made a bigger difference in my life than they will ever know.

This Is A Shout-Out To RedWing Cafe!

My second home in Seattle: The RedWing Cafe

Collectively, the staff at RedWing Cafe have been responsible for maintaining my sanity, and therefore the safety of others, for the duration of my holiday. Individually, they brightened my day every time I made the twenty minute trek down the hill from 63rd Avenue S to be greeted by a warm smile, friendly hello and large Cappuccino as I walked in the door.

God Bless You All At RedWing Cafe

Anyone who knows me well or keeps up with my blogging, knows not to approach me before I am caffeinated. Am I addicted to coffee? Yes! Generally I have just one cup of coffee a day, therefore I don’t think my health is compromised in any way because of the addiction; the safety and well-being of family, friends and the general public? Now that’s a different story. My one cup of coffee, best partaken of early in the morning, is the difference between:

  • civil and grrr!
  • pleasant and ‘stand clear!’
  • ‘Hi there’ and ‘just give me the coffee and no one will get hurt!

Anthony co-owns RedWing Cafe with Su; Bringing a successful business to 9272 57th Ave S, Seattle

Su and Anthony brought their vision of a much-needed cafe to the Rainier Beach area at 57th Ave S. Their dream has made a huge difference to the lives of the locals who call this area home.

Su (and Anthony) own Redwing Cafe;

It Really Is A Serious Problem

The severity of my addiction goes beyond having a hot beverage of caffeinated liquid in either a ceramic or paper cup. If it was that easy I could simply make a cup of what is generally considered Instant Coffee, within minutes of opening my eyes each morning, and the world would be a better place for everyone. But since my discovery of the Cappuccino, especially a large one with a double shot of espresso, the instant variety is no longer a part of my vocabulary. It just doesn’t happen!

It’s Complicated!

There are Cappuccinos, and there are Cappuccinos! There are some that I struggle to describe in terms of real coffee and there are some that I would walk over broken glass to get to, well, almost. It comes down to how conscientious the Barista is about their craft – and believe me – pulling the perfect shot is almost an exact science. There is a little wriggle room, but not much. My heroes at RedWing Cafe have perfected the craft of pulling the perfect shot and consitently provide the ideal combination, every time. Steamed milk blended expertly with the perfect shot; what more could I ask?

Danielle greets everyone with the same great smile that says ‘Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.’

The Coffee Is The Best!

This is a great photo of Danielle but trust me, she looks even better with a large Cappuccino In her hand; as long as it has my name on it. Danielle, you make great coffee!

And it isn’t only about the taste of the coffee; RedWing Cafe provides the perfect place to sit, either alone or with friends, and just soak up the incredible atmosphere.

Just one of the beautiful tables handcrafted by the very talented Shawn

It’s About The Ambience …

From the amazing tables lovingly handcrafted by Shawn out of a maple tree that once shaded the owner’s backyard, to the menu that specifically caters for vegetarians and vegans but is equally enjoyed by those other people (the carnivores).

The menu caters for all tastes and a variety of dietary needs

Master Craftsman

I was lucky enough to be sitting at my favourite table when Shawn called in for a coffee. His craftmanship is reflected in so much of the outstanding decor at RedWing Cafe. Warmth and comfort emanate from every table and piece of timber on an otherwise cold, wet Seattle day.

Shawn called in for a coffee and stood humbly by one of the outstanding tables he carved for the cafe.

It all works to make RedWing Cafe my home away from home and the perfect place to write. My favourite writing-space is upstairs in either of the two back corners, but the downstairs section works just as well.

Ed is always ready with a smile and warm welcome

Everyone at RedWing Cafe makes a contribution to creating the perfect place to enjoy a great coffee and spectacular food.

Tyree takes care of the food department and makes the best Avocado Toast on the planet!

The combination of fabulous coffee, food and exceptional staff make RedWing Cafe the place to be in Seattle if you are in need of a great place to hang out.

Franky keeps everything running smoothly in the kitchen and dining room.

Franky, Tyree and Brett make sure hungry diners enjoy the best food, every time. Did I mention the Avocado Toast? You really haven’t lived until you’ve tried this RedWing Cafe speciality.

Brett creates another breakfast culinary masterpiece for a diner on-the-run

My apologies to the many people behind the scenes at RedWing Cafe that I either didn’t meet or have the opportunity to photograph; just know that you all contribute to creating a great dining experience and I thank you all sincerely.

Tristan is just one of the great Baristas who keep the coffee coming in my direction.

Thank You RedWing Cafe For Making A Difference

Judging by the people I meet at this amazing place, I’m not the only one whose life has been changed for the better by the staff at RedWing Cafe. I may only be passing through Seattle for a short time, but I will be holding up each and every one of the inspiring staff of RedWing Cafe as a yardstick by which to measure cafes in the future.

RedWing Cafe – I Thank You – And I Will Return

Ready to write!

To sit at my favourite table again and indulge in a Cappuccino and Avocado Toast, surrounded by such happy and dedicated people will be all the incentive I need to return to Seattle. I look forward to walking through the door and greeting you all with “G’Day – I’m Back!”

Until then, keep doing what you do best:

Making a difference in people’s lives, one coffee at a time, at RedWing Cafe

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 12 comments
And The Sun Came Out Today At RedWing Cafe

And The Sun Came Out Today At RedWing Cafe

The Long Way To RedWing Cafe Coffee

Because there is no rain (yet) and to prove that RedWing Cafe coffee isn’t the only thing I think about, I actually took a slightly longer way to the RedWing Cafe this morning. The comparative warmth of the sun peeking through some dark clouds in the distance, and lighter ones close by, made it an easy choice to take longer to get there. In the process, I took some photos of the beauty of this part of Seattle. We’re staying at Ranier Beach and almost every direction we take as we leave the house has a fabulous view of the water.

The view from Cooper Street

There are so many things along the way that seem unusual for this time of year, apart from the weather of course. I didn’t get a photo of it, but there is a huge Holly bush in a front garden on 61st Avenue S. When I say unusual, I mean it would be  ‘unusual’ in my part of the world, but very ordinary in this hemisphere. Trees stripped bare of their leaves; holly bushes; cloudy skies; cold weather; ivy climbing across buildings; moss and wet leaves underfoot. Nothing that we would expect to see this close to Christmas in the Land Down Under, but here, it just looks and feels like winter. Coupled with the sights and sounds of Christmas all around, the winter scenery brings to life all the Christmas Cards ever sent or received.

View from the end of 63rd Avenue

What Better Way To Spend Winter Than Reading

On long, cold winter days there is nothing better than being snuggled up somewhere warm, with coffee in one hand and good book in the other. The trend towards community libraries is something I have noted lately in Australia and it is certainly a big deal here. Conveniently close to the RedWing Cafe is a cute little library that people can borrow from or share books with.

Borrow a book or leave one to share

And Now, The Coffee…

I could have spent hours taking photos of interesting things along the way, but my first RedWing Cafe coffee of the day beckoned. The usual 15 minute walk had dragged out to almost 25 minutes and I was starting to feel the first signs of caffeine withdrawal. So, with my camera securely stowed in my bag, I soldiered on down the last hill. As I turned the corner from Water Street S into 57th Ave S, the RedWing Cafe sign stood out like a beacon on a starless night. I had arrived.

My second Seattle home: The RedWing Cafe

Yes, the sun is actually out; it just looks a bit dreary because the ground is still wet from the recent rain. First task: order the coffee and some coffee cake. Luckily, my favourite table was empty so I made my way over, taking the first layer off as I walked. With coat securely hung on the peg, I retrieved my iPad from the bag.

Coat securely hung on the peg; I’m ready to write

Once my iPad was set up, I had to decide whether to peel off another layer.

Decision made: I’ll just leave my outer jumper on. I’ll wait until the warmth of the coffee warms me from the inside before stripping back to the long-sleeved t.shirt.

With iPad set up, there is only thing left to do

Without coffee, nothing gets written. Period. (Nancy Kress)

That’s better!

And now, with coffee and cake safely delivered, I’m ready to start writing.

Life is good!

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments
Exploring Seattle – One Coffee At A Time

Exploring Seattle – One Coffee At A Time

In Search Of Coffee in Seattle

When you arrive in a new city, especially when staying out of town, you need to know where the coffee is. My first day in the Seattle area was spent in search of a comfy place to drink my morning cup-of-joe, which has become the ritual for kick-starting my heart and getting my eyes not only open, but functioning as they should.

A quick search online highlighted the Stone House Bakery as a place to be able to partake of a reasonable cup of coffee. Google Maps pointed towards the water, which isn’t too far away. But, there were a few twists and turns along the way, including a very steep and slippery path. This was not going to be sustainable long term and certainly not an option for the return journey.

This was a seriously steep and very slippery path

Christmas Spirit

The Stone House Bakery was right next to the bottom of the slippery path. This quaint place reflected the Christmas spirit that is alive and well in Seattle. There is a definite push to go back to the traditional Christmas sentiments of old and this place was no exception. with Christmas spirit hanging off every corner and flat space. Warmth and Christmas oozed from the festively lit windows and we were drawn into the cozy atmosphere that greeted us as we stepped through the door.

An Almond Croissant and coffee sufficed as breakfast – both really good – but as good as everything was, there was something lacking that would prevent us making the Stone House our regular haunt for our morning caffeine. WiFi, or lack of, was just one of the sticking points. When I asked the waitress about the WiFi, the response, as she walked away was, “If I could only remember the password…”. We didn’t see her again.

The Stone House Bakery

The Stone House would become our ‘sometimes’ place.

On The Way Home….

We left the Stone House Bakery and walked along the water for a couple of blocks. To our surprise, when we turned left we found another coffee place – the RedWing Cafe. Unlike the Stone House where we were the only customers, the RedWing was full of people. It looked warm and inviting, so we made a commitment to explore it another day.

Update:

The RedWing Cafe is now my ‘go-to’ place for my morning coffee, except on Mondays when they are closed. On Mondays I will find a Starbucks – not quite the same coffee – but just as good for WiFi and power outlets.

It’s all good!

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 1 comment
And Another Day Dawns

And Another Day Dawns

Another Day Dawns –

8.30 am – eyes slowly open. OMG! We were supposed to meet my travel-buddy’s friend downtown at 10.

Quick shower; throw on some jeans and a couple of layers of t.shirts and jumpers, ugg boots, make-up and I was ready to go – but when I said my eyes were open – they were open; they just weren’t functioning too well. Oh – and I grabbed my coat on the way out the door – and needed it – it was kind of cold at that time of day.

I don’t know how we did it, but we arrived with time to spare.

Breakfast was at a diner called ‘Geraldines’. I ordered a Cappuccino, as usual, only to be (apologetically) told they only had filtered coffee. The coffee arrived and was drinkable, but didn’t quite cut it as my usual caffeine-kick-starter. I’d forgotten how Diners work and the coffee kept on coming, but I called it quits after the first cup.

University of Washington

The rest of the day was spent exploring the University of Washington Campus. I took lots of photos of the magnificent buildings, interspersed with the occasional squirrel or bird. The only disappointment was that the fountain was turned off – I guess the University grinds to a halt over the holiday season, although there were still people around – probably tourists – like me.

Two squirrels scamper across the path

No fountain today…

 

I managed to get a photo of a bird in flight.

As we made our way away from the main hub, we stopped at a Deli for a cold drink. Unlike the other days, today had  warmed up a bit, due apparently to a prediction of rain for the next week.

The University of Washington precinct covers a large area and has a very ‘cozy’ feel; lots of coffee shops for hanging out in that are very user-friendly, with free WiFi in most of them.

A quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some groceries and then back to the cafe opposite the Deli we’d stopped at earlier. I knew they had free WiFi because I’d been using it while we were at the Deli.

Beautiful Seattle at night.

Dinner at a Thai Restaurant near the bus stop was the perfect way to end the day.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments
Singapore Stopover

Singapore Stopover

Day 2
Arrival in Singapore was as would be expected, with eleven tired bodies making their way from the aircraft to the terminal via the air bridge. Those amongst them who are driven by the need to know where they need to be in advance of getting there, stopped at the first available monitor to check the departure gate against the flight number. As luck would have it, we were very close to Gate 7, our gateway to the flight to India. Those who are happy to saunter along and find out where they need to be just in time to be there chose to use the first bathroom along the way, but I quickly caught up with the ‘need to know in advance’ group.

Having taken care of one somewhat urgent need, my attention turned to the next one: Coffee! On arrival at our designated gate, and with 2 hours between us and the next flight, the travellers flowed away in different directions like liquid mercury, finally free from the thermometer. Jan and I walked to shake off the stiffness in our bones from being cramped into the frugal confines of the economy seats for the past eight hours. The Duty-Free shops beckoned, with their wares tantalisingly displayed. For me, temptation lay in the Electronics stores while Jan found solace in the cosmetics departments, in search of her favourite mascara. In the process of meandering through the relevant stores, Jan found the ideal camera bag to solve a storage problem and I found the coffee.

Two hours disappeared at a rate not found earlier on the long flight. I can’t understand how 120 minutes spent cramped up between the seats on a plane can be so different to the same 120 minutes spent aimlessly wandering through Duty-Free shops and drinking a much-needed shot of caffeine. Perhaps that’s a PhD thesis in the making.

The Koi Garden in Changi Airport

Eleven sleep-deprived bodies anxiously awaiting the moment of arrival in Amritsar, still more than eight hours away have little thought of photography, hence no photos to show for the Singapore interlude. I will attempt to find suitable memories from my time at Changi Airport almost a year ago and supplant them into this blog. We were there, trust me.

Spectacular colour with a Dutch perspective

At the designated time of 1.30am, Singapore time, the weary eleven congregated once more at the departure gate, ready for the next leg of the trip. Again, laptops and iPads were removed, along with little plastic bags containing hand-sanitiser and any other liquid necessity from our carry-on baggage, for the security check.

Scooting off to Singapore anytime soon?

Don’t forget to check out the Sunflowers

Once on board, the weary travellers settled back and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, there was an announcement from the Captain apologising for the delay that the thunderous electrical storm playing out on the outside of the plane was necessitating. No complaints from me. I was more than happy to be viewing the lightning from the reasonable safety of the ground. There’s no way I wanted to see what those flashes look like up close and personal. But then, seemingly seconds after making the announcement, we started the take-off process. I chose not to look in the direction of the window and was very glad I hadn’t been issued a window seat this time. It’s moments like this that the pre-flight safety presentation starts to take on a much more serious meaning. I made a mental calculation of how futile the whole process would be if we actually made contact with one of those bolts from the sky (lightning) and had to make an emergency landing over water. They might just as well hand each of us a big neon sign with a bull’s eye on it as we evacuated the aircraft, saying, ‘here I am, come and get me’. Still, futile or not, I mentally ran through the procedure so at least I’d meet my end with a full capacity of air from the mask that would strategically drop from the overhead. And the life-jacket might help a bit as well – maybe.

But to their credit, the Captain and crew got us off the ground and through the storm without any problems. I was very glad I didn’t have to put all that safety stuff into action.

When we were safely delivered to the other side of the storm, the meal was served and cleared, and everyone settled down to sleep, including me.  It didn’t seem too long before another meal was served, presumably breakfast, and we were approaching our descent into Delhi. Five hours done and dusted and just one more short flight to our final destination – Amritsar.

The Customs experience was much less impersonal than the Brisbane deal. If anything, it was a much more casual affair with some of us being processed at the counter that said ‘Crew and Media’, manned by a human Customs Officer who sent us on our way with a quick wave of the hand towards the exit barrier. On to the carousel to collect the array of luggage accompanying us, and out into the terminal where we were met by officials of the Church group we were to visit. Waiting for us outside the terminal were cars and mini-vans and local people carrying exquisite fresh flower garlands, which were ceremoniously presented to each of us, along with a very warm welcome.

We had arrived!

 

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments
Caffeine Fix(er)

Caffeine Fix(er)

Caffeine Fix in Jeopardy

My morning routine is to put the coffee machine on first, then do all the things that mornings are for, like making the bed, working out what to wear, soaking up the steamy water in a long hot shower, etc.. Then, when all the routine things are out of the way, I make my way back to the kitchen to make the first coffee of the day, and thereby feed my caffeine addiction.  Actually, it’s the only caffeine fix for the day – most of the time.

Last Friday morning the routine was no different until I got to the part of priming the coffee machine ready to proceed to the important step of pouring a double shot of caffeine. The double shot that kick-starts my heart and de-fogs my brain, making me ready for whatever the world wants to throw at me over the next 24 hours.

But disaster struck!

The water refused to pump through the brew head, or whatever that part of the apparatus is called.

I tried it again – nothing! I waited a few minutes and tried again. Still nothing.

As I watched anxiously, awaiting the moment when the golden liquid would pour down into the cup, I kept thinking –  ‘I knew I should have had the machine serviced’. The thought had crossed my mind many times over the past few years and still, I didn’t heed the warning and find someone who could check the machine and make sure that everything was as it should be. And now I was standing before my beautiful Rocket Giotto, waiting, and waiting, and wondering if it would ever work again.

After switching everything off, I Googled: Espresso Coffee Machine Repairer Gold Coast/Murwillumbah, and was surprised to find a repairer who serviced machines from Brisbane to Ballina, 7 days a week. Given how heavy and awkward the machine is, the mental calculation of picking it up and taking it to a repair shop was daunting, which is probably why the service idea had never progressed beyond the thought process.

I phoned Luke at Universal Espresso Repairs and was surprised to find that he would pick the machine up later that day.

All too easy!

Luke Pretki:  owner of Universal Expresso Repairs

When Luke arrived I had decided that the Grinder needed a service as well (trying to be proactive and not suffer the same fate as the Rocket), so I handed over two of my favourite things in the kitchen. I have to admit that I nervously watched Luke carry the Rocket down the steps and out to his van. Every time I’ve moved house – except for the big move back from Central Queensland (CQ) at the end of 2015 – my Rocket travelled with me.  The removalist would carefully place it in the back of my Santa Fe for the journey, and then lift it out at the other end and place it in its new position in whatever kitchen it happened to be moving to. The move from CQ to the Coast was a different matter and I had to trust that the removalists would get it here in one piece – which they did.

Over the next few days, Luke kept me updated on the progress of the repairs.

Assuming there was a blockage somewhere, Luke had checked and re-checked but found nothing out of the ordinary, so he serviced the Rocket and the grinder, and had them both back to me on Wednesday evening, having had to wait for a replacement light for the Rocket. The old one died a long time ago, and while it didn’t affect the coffee making process, it did have a built-in safety feature – it blinked when the water level was low, so it was definitely a good idea to replace it.

Customer service from Universal Espresso Repairs is second-to-none.

Luke brought the equipment in, turned the Rocket on, and then spent ages making sure that everything was working perfectly and showing me how to get the best brew from the Rocket. Having owned a cafe for 6 years, Luke knows about brewing coffee. I discovered that my double shots of the past were high in caffeine but not as high in flavour as they could have been. Instead of filling the shot cups almost to the top, Luke only half filled them in the same time as it would normally have taken me to fill them. This is where knowing about the grind comes in handy. By setting the grinder to a much finer setting, the shots pulled much slower than I would have done – in the past. The shots looked and smelled divine! Before he left, Luke suggested that I call him if I had any questions about the process – from grinding to brewing – and he would talk me through it or call in to show me.

The cost of the service for both items was a lot less than I had expected

I was really surprised, considering that the Rocket even came back nice and shiny. It looked like new again.

Eager to test out the new settings, I jumped out of bed much earlier than usual the next morning to turn on the Rocket. When I made my double shot, only half filling – instead of filling the shot-cup almost to the top, the taste was amazing! It was so good I decided to make a second coffee later in the day (and did the same the next day!).

I’m glad the experts are beginning to realise that coffee is actually good for you because I really can’t start the day without a double shot of caffeine.

Oh, and a big apology to Josh at Re Cafe Nate, my local ‘best coffee on the Coast’ cafe. Now that I have my Rocket back I won’t be coming in every day for a coffee – but I will still be there at least once a week because the coffee really is the best on the coast – and anywhere in Australia for that matter. Not that I’ve tasted the coffee everywhere in Australia, but Bean Hunters have and they voted Josh’s coffee the 34th Best Coffee in the nation in 2016. Not bad for a small cafe on top of a hill, away from the (sort-of) busy streets of downtown. Watching Josh ‘free-pour’ coffee art is amazing; check out his Facebook page to see how it’s done. And even better, call in, and Josh will show you how it’s done. Oh, and watch the board on the opposite side of the road for inspiring messages. The latest one is: ‘A wise man said – “I don’t know – I’ll ask my wife’.  Very wise Josh! – that should earn you a few Brownie Points.

With the Rocket and Grinder back in their respective spots on the bench in my kitchen, and producing the best coffee ever, all is right with the world here in my little part of paradise.

Life is good!

 

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments