Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year: Midnight Skies

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas: Holly Accent

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The 3 V's of Capitol Hill: Victrola

Hello Readers! I’m still in Seattle and enjoying every minute of it! Aside from shopping and sight seeing downtown, my Dad and I decided to explore a new neighbourhood called Capitol Hill today. A few days ago, our tour guide from the Coffee Crawl suggested the 3 best cafes in this neighbourhood - Vita, Vivace and Victrola. Unfortunately we only had time to try one so we picked Victrola Coffee Roasters!

Let me start by telling you a bit about the café. Victrola was named after the very popular phonograph of the 1920’s. The name was chosen to embrace the liveliness, exuberance and fun of the Jazz era. When I think of the 20’s, I think not only of prohibition, flappers and speakeasies, but also of excess. Victrola’s atmosphere transported me back to the vintage jazz era, especially because it was located right in an old 1920’s auto row building!

Victrola first opened in 2000 and only 3 years later began roasting their own coffee as well! Not only do they service delicious coffee, but they also host events with local artists, display art pieces and offer complementary weekly coffee cuppings (sampling). I had a cappuccino which was topped with beautiful coffee art. My dad, who is not a coffee drinker, enjoyed an orange soda and we both shared a piece of coffee cake! It was such a nice place to just relax and spend some quality father-daughter time!

Next time I’m in Seattle I’ll have to come back and try Vita and Vivace. Bye for now and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Seattle's Famous Coffee Crawl

Seattle is to coffee as Alaska is to snow. For this reason, I signed up for an award winning walking tour called The Coffee Crawl hosted by a company called “Seattle By Foot”. After countless cups of coffee at 5 amazing stops through downtown and historic Seattle, I felt more knowledgeable, cultured and of course absolutely wired!

1.    Caffe Ladro

Our first stop was Caffe Ladro, a cute little coffee shop that is Italian for “The Coffee Thief”. Here we learned about the origins of the coffee bean and tried an Ethiopian blend. We drank a pour over coffee in an aero press. This new brewing method produced a very light roast and clean brew. I was amazed at how much the coffee looked like tea. I knew it was very high quality because the coffee was naturally sweet and had no bitter after taste. I usually load my coffee up with cream and sugar but I loved this blend exactly how it was.

2.   Caffé D’arte

Our next stop was an Italian coffee shop called Caffé D’arte. Here we started with a very balanced roast, which had a name that translated to “meaning of life”. I really enjoyed it just the way it was. The second blend we tried was a darker roast called Velletri, a smokey blend commonly used in lattés. I had to put cream in this cup because it was a little bolder than I’m used to. The last blend we tried was called Capri. This lighter blend was my absolute favourite. The barista used this blend to make a latté and demonstrated some coffee art for us.

3.   Trabant Coffee & Chai

I absolutely loved our stop at Trabant. This was the first time I tried coffee brewed by a clover machine. This method is basically the opposite of a French press. First you pour the coffee into the filter on top of the machine, and it vacuums in the coffee, creating a unique and absolutely delicious blend. We had an Ethiopian blend called Barboya, which was very light and fruity. The barista told us that the coffee tastes different each time when it’s made in a clover machine. She also said “making coffee is a balance between science and art”. Our second drink at Trabant was a seasonal specialty called a Freddy Quimby. This was apple cider steam with maya tea spiced chai. It tasted like autumn in a cup!

4.   Intrigue Chocolate Co.

Next we made our way to a chocolate house in Pioneer Square for a coffee and chocolate pairing. We met the owner of Intrigue who is a botanist, and he served us at least 8 different flavours of truffles with a studio blend cold coffee (different from iced coffee) made in a Toddy. Some of the truffle flavours we tried included basil, cranberry, and pineapple. Two of my favourites were the juniper berry – a very Christmassy flavour – and the Jamaican truffle, which was made with nutmeg, vanilla, honey and chili. I loved how every flavour told a story. Between each different flavour we sipped our cold coffee to cleanse our palates. It also worked in reverse, every time we took a sip of coffee between truffle tasting, we found something new in the coffee!

5.    Caffé Umbria

Our last stop was in the Historic Pioner Square at Umbria. At this point I could feel the caffeine buzz but I was having so much fun that I didn’t want to stop! We each had a ‘Gusto Crema’ blend espresso. This specific blend is served at the Ritz in florida and The Bellagio in Las Vegas. I could tell that the quality was very high as soon as I took my first sip. Although I would chose a latté or Americano over an espresso, I still appreciated this particular blend. It was darker and had more of a kick but was also had some smoky undertones. I really enjoyed the atmosphere at this stop. The baristas brought us macarons, which was just the cherry on the top of the icing!

After the tour officially ended, I got some more coffee recommendations from my amazing tour guide and then went to lunch with my new coffee tasting buddy. What an awesome day! I would recommend this tour to anyone visiting Seattle!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Original Starbucks

I’m writing to you from Seattle - The Emerald City! Fortunately, I was able to accompany my dad on a business trip here and I’m quickly learning how incredible this city is! Seattle is home to many famous people (including bands) and is filled with history and culture. More importantly, Seattle has a long history of coffee culture and is home to the original Starbucks!

In 1971 the first Starbucks store opened in Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market. The name was inspired by Moby Dick and the logo (a seductive siren) evoked the romance of high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders. Howard Shultz, the CEO, President and Chairman of Starbucks, joined the company in 1982 and proceeded to explore Italy to research Italian Coffee Bars. He looked for a way to bring the traditional Italian coffee experience to America.

The original location is right inside the Pike Place Market and has maintained it’s original décor and atmosphere. The sign outside is in old lettering and the inside is really small, with no seating! There is always a lineup out the door that consists of either tourists browsing the collectables, or regulars zipping in and out for their daily coffee. The original siren logo is brown and white and advertises coffee, tea and spices. It can be seen both outside and inside the store.

Although the original location was fun to visit, my favourite Starbucks store in Seattle was located on 1st and Pine Street, just steps away from the Pike Place Market. This store opened in 2009 and everything about the design, from the lighting and hardwood to the furniture was so unique. This location had more of a ‘living room’ atmosphere than any other Starbucks I have ever visited. It is the first LEED Gold Certified Store, which means the store made from recyclable materials.

Notable elements include:

  • The leather on bar’s outer facing was scrap obtained from shoe and automobile factories.
  • The walnut used in the tables, doors and bar top was salvaged from a nearby farm.
  • The signage on the bar uses recycled slate from a local high school.
  • The community table is twice reused; it was previously located at a Seattle restaurant and before that, in a home.
  • The restroom partitions are made from recycled laundry detergent bottles.
  • The wall tapestry is made of repurposed burlap coffee bags from a local roasting plant. 

Today Starbucks has more than 18,000 stores and operates in over 60 countries. It is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. It’s fun to see how locations can differ across the world or even within the same city! What never changes is the sense of community and the connection you feel every time you enter a Starbucks. From a small, narrow store in Seattle to an internationally recognized brand, Starbucks has grown to be such a successful business.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Monday, December 2, 2013

Candy Cane Accent

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Finding Your Fragrance Family

A few weeks ago I wrote about searching for a scent. The hunt can take a few shorts hours, days, weeks or sometimes even years. It’s really helpful to know what kind of fragrance you prefer and in order to do that this list by the Beauty Department can help you identify your favourite fragrance families. This is really helpful when you walk into a perfumery and want to talk to someone.

Originally Published on The Beauty Department