Grounds for Coffee Preview

Grounds for Coffee started me on the road towards my coffee obsession. Many years ago I used to go to their main location with my mother. Ever since then I have gone back on a number of occasions. Each of these visits has been satisfactory and I rank them as one of my favorite coffee establishments. I have made contact with them periodically since I started this project. They have been receptive, but, for some reason, we have never been able to sync up. I blame myself for that. My schedule is so unpredictable that it’s difficult to determine when I will have an open spot.

A lot of my experience with Grounds for Coffee centers on their 25th Street and Harrison Boulevard locations. They had a location on Riverdale Road. It’s no longer open. I liked it when I went to it. I felt like it had more of a coffee stand feel to it, which is probably why it’s no longer a contender on the coffee scene. I make it a point to go to their McKay Dee Hospital location whenever I’m in the building. I don’t know what it is. If I’m in a hospital, I want to have a cup of coffee in my hand. Luckily, Grounds for Coffee is on the first floor serving up fantastic brews.

During my many visits to Grounds for Coffee locations, I have tried the full scope of their products. I don’t recall everything I have tried, but I know I have yet to try everything. I would like to. I will make it a point to carve out a spot in my schedule if I am given the opportunity. I feel like I am doing myself a disservice in not devoting considerable coverage to a chain that has given me so much joy.

The most interesting part about Grounds for Coffee is that they’re essentially a chain without all the issues that come with that distinction.  It’s easy to get in touch with them and they maintain a friendly disposition with anyone who walks through their door. I appreciate this attribute because I’ve dealt with so many people in the coffee industry who display the exact opposite behavior. As a person who loves coffee, I have been remiss in my loyalty to this fine establishment. Perhaps that will change and we will become friends. I’ve found that coffee friends are the best kind.

Breathing Fire About Coffee Grinders

My coffee grinder died and it has made me incredibly unhappy with coffee grinders in general. How is it that we have been grinding and consuming coffee for so long and we still haven’t come up with an affordable grinder that pulls its weight? I have already gone over the fact that this project has no funding. Taking this into consideration, the loss of a grinder is that much more devastating. Naturally, as a coffee reviewer, I have to grind a lot of coffee for the sake of my reviews. I need a coffee grinder that’s going to keep up with me.

The grinder on which I used to depend is unable to go the distance. The other day I was grinding away and it suddenly stopped its cycle shortly after it began. I cleaned all the gunk out of it and meticulously made sure every part was spotless. Nothing. The thing bit the dust two months after I got it out of the box. I almost threw the thing out of the window in frustration. My grinder was a black Burr grinder from Mr. Coffee. I had dealt with a blade grinder in the past and the results were less than impressive.

I was ecstatic when I finally got a Burr grinder for Christmas. I went to work and the coffee that came from the grinder assisted in the formulation of many reviews. I loved my grinder. Now it’s dead. I know there are many other grinders on the market. Burr grinders especially. I plan to reach out to the manufacturers of each of those grinders to see if they would be interested in helping me out of my predicament. I picked up another Mr. Coffee grinder, but I’m almost afraid to open it for fear for it dying when I need it the most.

I’ve thought long and hard about starting some sort of project that aims at creating the perfect coffee grinder. A grinder that’s silent and you can completely disassemble it to clean it while also being able to reassemble it without having to have an engineering degree. I shouldn’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to get an industrial strength grinder. The grinder I have should step up and do what I need it to do. After surveying the landscape, I feel like we the coffee drinkers deserve better from our grinders. Perhaps one day we’ll get what we need.

Bones Coffee Company Preview

I had never heard of Bones Coffee Company until I sought out coffee pictures to post on my Instagram. I thought their packages were cool, so I made it a point to include them. This post is the only one from a company I haven’t contacted or written about previously. I did finally reach out to them and the results were underwhelming. They didn’t write me back. This is okay. If I had a nickel for every time a company didn’t write me back, I’d be able to start my own coffee company.

But I digress. Art in the coffee world is such an underrated thing. I don’t fault companies who dump their beans in a generic sack as long as the product is good. I’ve had coffee from companies that go all out on the art, but leave a lot to be desired with the beans. Art is supposed to dress up something that’s already beautiful, not distract people from corners that have been cut.

I’m not saying that the beautiful art on the bags of coffee from Bones Coffee Company is a distraction. I have never tried their coffee. Considering the loyal following they have garnered thus far, I would assume that they produce great products. This post is one of hopefully many more in the future.

What I do know is that Bones Coffee Company has an interesting assortment of coffee types. They offer regular beans as well as more flavorful varieties. I don’t like flavored coffee, but I’m open to kinds I have yet to try. That’s the most important thing about this project. I found myself stuck in a rut. One cannot expect to escape the ruts in which they are stuck unless they go forth and make changes.

I want Bones Coffee Company in my life. If packaging is supposed to intrigue people, color me intrigued. Since I posted a picture of one of their bags, I’ve visited their website a number of times. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not just a coffee drinker. I’m a coffee fanatic. I don’t follow coffee companies. I obsess about them.

The Daily Rise Espresso: Talking About Beans

The Daily Rise Espresso is a company I’ve reviewed on a number of occasions. They were gracious enough to let me sample products from their Layton and Ogden locations along with a pack of their cold brew. I admire the people who run this business. Their dedication to quality products and customer service are two things that are often forgotten in the world of coffee shops, especially with chain establishments. I encourage everyone inside and outside of the area to check them out. And yet, while I have covered them so extensively, I feel like I have unfinished business with them.

While roaming around my local grocery store, I came across a display of The Daily Rise Espresso beans. I was so proud of the fact that this fine coffee company was receiving even more recognition. It reminded me that I had intended to sample their beans in previous review. Somehow it never worked out. Such things are challenging when you’re dealing with locations that only have drive up windows. If beans are sold in these buildings, I couldn’t find them.

Their roastery is on the same property as their Layton location. I’ve dreamed about going in there and hanging out. These dreams don’t involve me trying any beans or even getting involved in the roasting process. They just include me sitting in a comfy chair, reading a book, and basking in the smells. I challenge you to come up with a better way to spend an afternoon.

Saying that local establishments are better than their corporate counterparts makes me feel like an elitist. It’s true though. Starbucks and Beans & Brews don’t care about you. You’re one customer of many at one location of many. Your outrage is neither noted nor dignified with a response, let alone a solution. You won’t have to deal with that nonsense at The Daily Rise Espresso.

As much as I would love to sample The Daily Rise Espresso beans, I doubt it’s possible. They have been so generous so far and I don’t expect anything from them. Consider this post nothing more than more props for a business that deserves them.

The best part about them is that they will respond to this post with sincere praise, even though they don’t have to. That’s how you can tell the difference between a shop that claims to be your friend and one that treats you like member of the family.

Breathing Fire About Being “Too Critical”

I’m a coffee critic and I recently got criticized for being to critical. Imagine that.

After I published the Beans & Brews review, I received an email that berated me for writing something negative.

I don’t like being negative in my writing. I am a friend of coffee companies and the criticism I give them should be seen as well intentioned and constructive. I’ve spoken out in the past about review aggregators like Yelp and Facebook and the unfortunate nature of their destructive powers.

Every aspect of a business is open for criticism. The way the criticism is written makes all the difference. I refuse to write a review when I’m in an overly emotional state. Emotion clouds judgment and gives writing an edge that overshadows the intent of the writer. I do, however, write down the facts. Once my emotions subside, I go to work getting the facts down on the page.

The fact that harsh truths are harsh doesn’t make them any less true. I said some harsh things about Beans & Brews. None of them were false though. They were just harsh.

My harshness towards Beans & Brews (and any other company for that matter) stems from disappointment. I believed in Beans & Brews so much and they let me down. I thought they were the opposite of Starbucks when really they’re no different and perhaps worse.

I will write harshly about a company if they’re deserving of criticism. I will never be harsh for the sake of being harsh. So many creators are harsh because they want to draw attention to themselves. Every word they write screams “LOOK AT ME AND HOW SHOCKING I AM!” I am not one of those creators.

I will tell it to you straight. There’s no agenda here. All my words are as real as it gets. You won’t see me getting paid off. My integrity is not for sale. I understand the consequences behind being harsh. I accept them and will never try to dodge being held accountable.

I plan on writing more about Beans & Brews. I’m waiting for my thoughts on the matter to go from being emotional to analytical. I don’t want to be the guy who shoots off at the mouth and regrets it later. I want you to be able to trust my words, even if they have a critical edge to them.

Full Disclosure on Receipt of Complimentary Products 

Although I have written about it a couple of times and I am not shy about mentioning it in reviews, an email I received made me want to spell it out in black and white, leaving no doubt and creating something to which I can link in every article going forward.

By “it” I mean the fact that all products I review are sent to me at no charge.

I repeat. I request and receive complimentary products, promising I will review them. It’s not a big deal and here’s why.

There have been times where I have requested a product and the company asks me if they’re going to get a positive review out of the arrangement. The answer is and always will be no.

You can trust that if I give a product a good review, it’s a good product. Sometimes I feel beholden to these companies because they have sent me products.

I’ve written reviews that were pandering. I did this out of trying to maintain a relationship with the companies in question. That’s where the Beans & Brews review came from. I thought a lot about what I wrote about them. The more I thought about that review, the less I liked it.

I will never delete a review. All reviews are a direct reflection of the time in which they were written. I’m not about to let hindsight cloud my judgment. The review was right at the time and I will leave it at that.

I ask for complimentary products for many reasons. The biggest one being the fact that this project is a passion project that does not earn any money. I cannot let my passion project negatively impact the rest of my life. I will happily buy the products in question when this project becomes self sustaining. I have to find a fundraising method I’m comfortable with first.

Reviewing products I’ve purchased will be difficult. I have a different opinion of products I’ve paid for, especially if those products cost a lot of money. If the price tag is high, I’ll already have a negative opinion of the products before I’ve tried them. That’s not right. I want these reviews to be about the products themselves, not my fussiness over price tags.

As grievances arise, I will address them. Let me know if this entry missed anything. I’m happy to write a sequel to it.

Beans and Brews: Let’s Do It Again

Awhile back I reviewed Beans and Brews, a chain of coffee shops located here in Utah. I like them. Their Revolver drink is tremendous. Six shots of espresso with any flavor you want can’t be beat. The quality of service at their Ogden location left a lot to be desired. I haven’t been there in a long time, so I’m sure it has changed. If you’re in the area, check them out. They’re like Starbucks if Starbucks still cared about their products and the environments in which they’re served.

I will fault Beans and Brews for one thing though. I told them about the disastrous experience I had at their Ogden location. They told me to reach out to the owner of that franchise. I did. The owner’s response amounted to a lot of hand wringing and very little in terms of efforts to rectify the situation. I went back to corporate and they said there was nothing they could do. I was appalled at their complete disinterest in standing behind their product or holding their franchise owner accountable. In this instance, I thought they were no better than Starbucks.

I also didn’t even have a chance to review their brew at home beans. I wanted to and they said I would have the opportunity. After I put up a stink about the experience I had just had, everything on which we had agreed seemed to go out the window. How am I supposed to write a comprehensive, fair review when all I’m getting is an incomplete picture that does not reflect the thing about which I’m writing in a favorable light?

The review I ended up writing went out of its way to see Beans and Brews in a favorable light. I do not regret writing the review this way because that’s how I felt at the time; however, my thoughts on them have changed and, in reality, this is the review I should have written in the first place. I think that, deep down, Beans and Brews is the coffee chain I described above. A lot of people dropped the ball, including myself.

Beans and Brews, if you’re reading this, let’s do it again…except let’s do it right this time. I want to see the side of organization that made me fall in love with it. I don’t want my last memory of your company to be the bad taste your unfortunate disinterest and one of your drinks left in my mouth.

Enjoying Your Coffee Your Way

The experience a person has in a coffee shop is much different than the one they have at home. A coffee shop makes their coffee how they want. Their customers have no control over the strength of the coffee they’re being served.

They can increase the amount of espresso shots and choose from a variety of other customization options; however, the power ultimately rests in the hands of the coffee shop.

Coffee drinkers go to shops because they don’t have the same equipment or flavorings. Acquiring these implements requires a considerable amount of physical space and capital. Not everyone is willing to make this kind of investment.

The reality is that getting all the stuff needed to fashion your own coffee shop doesn’t cost that much when you think about the uses you will get out of it.

Buying coffee from a coffee shop is a one time thing. You pay for a certain amount of coffee and that’s all you get. When you throw away your cup, you throw away the only physical manifestation of the money you spent.

Those who frequent coffee shops need to come to the realization that their time would better be spent making their coffee at home. It’s almost like they continue to go to coffee shops because they want to stave off the ultimate realization that they have become a coffee person.

There’s nothing wrong with going to a coffee shop a lot. I would do it if I had the money. It’s a problem when you go to the coffee shop so much that it begins to impact your bank account in a negative way. Anything in this world that’s worth enjoying should be enjoyed responsibly. You have to find a way to continue to have the thing you love be a part of your existence without it wrecking the other parts of your life.

Find a coffee shop that you love. Go to it whenever you can. If you run into money troubles, get a cheap drip brewer and some bargain basement grounds. Those who find something they love will let nothing stand in their way of getting it.

Do not limit yourself to one or two shops. Go to a different one every time. You would be surprised at how many options you have in your local area. There are so many different ways you can go about enjoying your coffee.

Black Rifle Coffee Company: Just the Beginning

I never noticed how limited the picture I got of Black Rifle Coffee Company was until they started popping up in my Instagram feed.

I reviewed this Black Rifle Coffee in the past. Their coffee is great and I wholeheartedly recommend it; however, seeing them as they are now, I feel dishonest in a way. The job of the writer is to present all sides of a story. I have failed in that regard.

Dealing with Black Rifle Coffee has been a strange experience. First they didn’t give me the time of day. Years went by without so much as a peep. Finally they cracked the door open to reveal what I thought was the treasure within. Little did I know it was the first of many stock piles.

A story is only as good as the completeness and accuracy of the information that’s used to finish it. Piecing together haphazard details tells a small part of the story. I’m not about to be okay with leaving anything on the table. The sole purpose of this blog is to leave no stone unturned.

I went on to Black Rifle Coffee’s website today. On the top of their homepage, there’s a message that says their coffee is in such high demand that customers would need to wait at least two weeks to receive their order. I’m hoping that, although business is booming, they are willing to continue this conversation.

I have never been so intrigued by a company as I am with Black Rifle Coffee. I love that so many Utah coffee businesses are taking the reputation of this state and rewriting it. Plus, this company has an edge to it both in how they present themselves and the way their products taste. How can you beat that?

My journey through the world of Utah coffee is far from finished. There are still so many stories left to be told. I have tried to make contact with several businesses in the area to no avail. Others are not interested in a continued relationship. I get that. Something has to be said about the value of good, old-fashioned persistence though.

I’m not going away. I’m that pest who will keep knocking on the door until you let me in. Unlike a pest, I just want to be your friend. I love coffee as much as you do. We should talk about that.

Thinking About the Empire Business

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it would be like to run an empire.

I am not arrogant enough to believe I’m entitled to such an opportunity; however, I would be foolish to ignore its potential. A person with power has the potential to reach so many more people than someone without it. Power is regarded as the foremost cause of a person’s fall from grace. It doesn’t have to be that way though. There are plenty of people who can handle power and everything it brings. Perhaps we need to consider that we’re giving power to the wrong people.

Think about all the institutions that currently have power. Are they using their power for good or as a means to become an untouchable, unreachable juggernaut? I’m tired of living in a world where the voice of an individual means nothing. It’s only when numerous like-minded people unify their message that anything gets done. Why doesn’t it have to be that way? An empire that grows so large that it’s unable to meet with each and every person, shake their hand, and hear them out is not one that’s worth sustaining.

Every empire starts small and then grows from there. The rate of expansion has to be gradual to prevent the weakening of the empire infrastructure. An empire that’s worth anything has to be consistent throughout. Any sign of inconsistency could throw off the empire’s purpose and throw its continued effectiveness into question.

I would use my empire to enlighten the masses while also assisting those who have fallen on hard times to get on the path towards a better life.

This existence is not about the accumulation of wealth or other material things. It’s about serving others and making the world as a whole a better place.

Having an empire that helps people while also staying financially solvent is not only possible. It’s necessary. Every industry has an empire that presides over it. These empires are not regarded as monopolies because they still permit competition; however, the existence of competition should not be mistaken for its functionality. In the face of empires, smaller entities are left to sweep up whatever crumbs remain. This is part of the illusion of choice.

If I had an empire, I would do things differently. I would leave the world better than I found it and encourage others to do the same.