Friday, November 23, 2018

Dillanos Coffee Roasters: A Letter to an Old Friend #1

At the onset of this project, there were many companies that rose to the forefront when I began my search. Dillanos Coffee Roasters was one of them. They responded to my requests in the friendliest possible manner and we had such a good relationship for a time. After a while, I became a nuisance and took advantage of their friendship, severing the ties I established and sending myself back into obscurity. The passage of time allows people to gain perspective they otherwise didn't have when they were going through certain things. I have gained that perspective and now realize I'm wrong.

The people over at Dillanos Coffee Roasters are some of the best in the business when it comes to coffee artistry. Though they produce many bags on a daily basis, each individual bag tastes as though someone fussed over it to make sure that it was just right. Each cup tastes like it was made by a good friend who wanted nothing more than to give you a satisfying coffee drinking experience. I have not had the pleasure to try their coffee in many years and it still sticks with me in this fashion. That's how good they are at what they do. I'm not exaggerating.

I am well aware of the fact that I have written many articles about Dillanos Coffee Roasters over the years. I would like to state for the record that it has been a long time since I have discussed them in my writings. It has been so long that I feel like I am doing a disservice to an old friend, which is why I decided to develop this piece as an open letter of source. I plan on sending it to them, if the contact I have in my archives is still valid. Their industrious founder followed me on Twitter a long time ago. I'm not sure if he still follows me. If he does, he will be getting a direct message.

My desperation always seems to have a way of getting the best of me. I get my heart set on having something and I make a fool of myself in an effort to get it. I will no longer make the desperate pursuit of coffee the sole focus of these articles. If you want to call them anything, call them fan letters. I have been a fan of coffee for as long as I can remember and these companies are the closest thing I have to rockstars. I no longer worry about my words sinking into the background of all the other pieces focused on singing their praise. I will continue to tell people how good they are regardless of whether I hear from them or not.

All I know is that I enjoyed talking to Dillanos Coffee Roasters and I hope those lines of communication can be open again. If it's for nothing more than a form letter that acknowledges my contribution and says thanks, I'm cool with that. In the future, I will circle back around and see what's going on with them. Until then, consider this post a monument to my continued admiration and support of their organization.

It's Been a While

Ages ago I made the decision to transition from Blogspot/Blogger to Wordpress. I don't regret this decision; however, I have missed this platform and plan to come back to it in some way. I started this version of the blog because I love coffee and I wanted to write all about it. I broke away from this topic for awhile after becoming disenchanted with it and the art of writing as a whole. I made the promise at the onset of this project that I would cover every possible aspect of coffee in extensive detail so people could look back to this blog as a resource on the matter. Though I have written many posts on this subject, I have fallen short in terms of my ultimate goal.

I plan to start at the beginning, cover places that I covered before, and see about crossing all the places I was supposed to cover but didn't off my list. I really like the content I've written here and I feel like letting this blog fester and rot would be a disservice to myself and the time I put into it. I plan on looking over the old posts and sprucing up the ones that need help and deleting the ones I should've never written in the first place. I am all about having a body of work that speaks for itself. I realized I needed to do more to enhance what was here while also tying it in to what's over on the Wordpress version.

I am by no means a coffee expert and that''s okay. I don't feel like someone needs to be an expert in something to be able to talk or write about it. They just have to make it a point to ensure that they aren't misinforming their potential audience. Entertaining people is one thing. Distributing content that's filled with bogus nonsense under the guise of entertainment is negligence. A large part of the coffee drinking public is unaware of all the intricacies that are present in the coffee expert community. All they know is that coffee tastes great and they enjoy having it on a regular basis.

In the time that I took off from covering coffee, I'm sure that the places I contacted way back when have changed or closed down. These are things that I will find out along the way. My content drifts from talking about firsthand experiences with companies to speculating on companies and trying to get a sense of what they're all about as if I'm passing through. I do this because I look at my content as though it's a conversation and anyone who comes to read it is getting involved and presenting their two cents. Too many content creators get on a soap box and feel as though their viewpoint is the only one that matters. I'm not one of those people.

Discipline is something I've struggled with my entire writing career. Though I have written many pieces, when you take what I've written and consider how long I've been writing, my output is abysmal. I need to change that or stop calling myself a writer. Any person who says that they do something while also rarely doing that thing is undeserving of that title. I have to write more and cover more topics to turn this blog from a dusty relic to a happening place for all people and not just those who have spent countless hours studying their craft.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Mood & Mind - Asheville, North Carolina -

Mood & Mind is a company that has not seen the last of me. I am a person who enjoys variety and doesn’t just want to try one thing from one company. I believe that businesses are about more than one product they sell. There’s a reason why they have so many products in their inventory. Each product says something about them and all the products put together tell the whole story. I want to hear the whole story. I don’t want one piece of it. The story is so much more complex when you’re dealing with coffee or tea companies.

I enjoyed every single tea I received from Mood & Mind. Their teas are fragrant and taste even better than they smell. They have teas for calming you down and teas for picking you up. They even have an instant coffee drink that pulled off the impossible. It made me want to drink something with instant coffee for the first time in my life. From the moment I tried this concoction, I made it a point to mix it with every cup of coffee thereafter. This mixture produced a cup that was like a mocha coffee with some spice undertones. I found it to be quite addictive.

I love doing business with companies that sell a wide range of a particular product. Mood & Mind fits the bill as a one stop shop for tea lovers. They have their teas and accessories like their travel cup, which I love, and their Tea Man tea infuser, which I also love and have a hard time getting away from my children. I would love to tell you about some of their other products, but I haven’t tried them. I would love to do so and turn that experience into a follow-up piece.

I don’t write reviews with the idea of them being one shot profiles in mind. I aspire to follow companies throughout every step of their progression. I feel like there are great things coming for Mood & Mind. I’m hoping that the support they receive grows exponentially going forward. I know that I will be paying attention to what they do regardless of whether they decide to establish a long-term relationship with me. You should check them out right away if you haven’t done so already. Pick up a bag of tea or two. Their products make wonderful gifts at any point during the year.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

On Chain Restaurants/Coffee Shops and Your Freedom of Choice

I hate going to chain restaurants because they’re not accountable. Their corporate structure diverts any pressure away from decision makers to people who work in the individual locations. These individuals might have the best of intentions, but they’re not given the power to solve any real problems. Corporate demigods make halfhearted efforts to please people who are unhappy with them. We take these advances hook, line, and sinker, filling out their feedback forms and getting lost in their endless phone banks in the hopes that something productive will happen. Nothing ever happens and we’re left as unhappy as we were when the process started.

Why do we keep returning to these places? They have perfected a formula that maximizes their profits, which is understandable since they’re running businesses; however, this formula can be reached with sacrificing the quality of the product in the process. That’s not something that most chain restaurants are interested in doing. They feel like their product is high quality, even if the public is saying otherwise. Their bottom line is telling them that they’re doing great, so that’s the only thing they worry about. We make it so they don’t have any other worries.

We need to stop complaining about businesses online and start taking our business to the independent restaurants that need it. The same goes for coffee shops. Instead of going to Starbucks, you should go to an independent coffee shop and buy a cheaper, higher quality cup of coffee. Every major chain restaurant or coffee shop started as a hole in the wall place struggling to gain footing. We complain about not having alternatives when there are so many alternatives around us. If we don’t like Starbucks, we could go to another coffee shop and make them the new Starbucks.

I would never say I hope for the downfall of all the major chains. I go to them from time to time because there are so many around. You can’t drive down the street in most cities without tripping over a handful of Starbucks locations. That’s how they get you. Major chains know that you’re strapped for time, so they crowd the landscape until you see far more of them than their competitors. Look beyond the hoard of cookie cutter establishments and go off the beaten path. Never rest or settle until you have an experience that makes you a satisfied customer.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sweeto Burrito - Riverdale, Utah -

Sweeto Burrito and I have a complicated relationship. I had no knowledge of them prior their opening in Riverdale, Utah, a city that was once around the corner from where I lived. I jump at the chance to try anything new, especially when it comes in the form of something I enjoy eating or drinking.

I followed their Facebook page leading up to opening day. I was surprised to find out that they were having a first come, first serve event to introduce themselves to the public. I went to their event way before it was set to open. I arrived to find a parking lot full of people and cars 30 minutes to an hour before they were set to open their doors. I am a patient guy, so I thought I could squeeze in. I didn’t care if I had to wait for a long time. I was in it for the long haul.

I walked up to their door. Before I could reach for the handle, a woman on the other end opened it for me. She asked if I was here for the event and I told her that I was. She first says that the wait was between 30 minutes to an hour. I have waited that much before, so I didn’t care. I told her that was fine. An annoyed look came over her face. She quickly said “Well, we’re full in here” and told me that I should return on opening day.

I was livid. I went to their Facebook and bombarded them with all sorts of negative comments. I went overboard. I have a tendency to do that. I am trying to get better at that, but that’s another matter altogether. I just feel strongly that any company who sets out to serve the public should treat the public with a tremendous level of respect. I felt disrespected and I wanted them to know that. They got the message.

Their reply was very nice. They wanted to make it right and offered to provide me with lunch at no cost. I took them up on their offer and came back shortly after their location finally opened. I kind of liked what they gave me. I vowed I would come back later on.

A few months later I returned to order some of the other items on the menu. The food was wildly inconsistent, leaving my mouth confused in the process. I was left to struggle with the idea of coming back for a third visit or ditching the idea of Sweeto and me reconvening in the future. I forgot about this dilemma until my wife brought up the idea of getting one of their breakfast burritos a little while after that.

This is where things went south. My wife was not pleased with what we got from this visit. I liked it and became a fan of Sweeto because of it. I stopped going there because the people around me didn’t share this notion. I have this thing where I can’t bring myself to order food from a place when I know that I’m the only person who’s going to be eating it. I want to eat with other people.

I would love to open a formal line of communication between myself and Sweeto Burrito to initiate a formal review. We got off on the wrong foot and my past actions were regrettable. I am hoping that we can put these times behind us and become great friends going forward.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hopped Up Coffee - Fort Collins, Colorado -

Hopped Up Coffee from Flat Hat Coffee and Old Town Spice Shop completely changed my world. Naturally, as someone who has a coffee blog, I have tried more types of coffee than I can count. Most of the coffee I've tried smells, looks, and tastes like how I think coffee should smell, look, and taste. That all changed the moment I opened my first bag of Hopped Up Coffee. For one, the grounds had more of a Tea look to them with several different ingredients thrown into the mix. It didn't smell like coffee either. Regardless, I forged on and made a pot.

Before I go any further, I want to outline the only objection I have about Hopped Up Coffee. The bags in the box I received were too small. It only allowed me to enjoy this unique experience for a short time. Drinking this coffee is like watching a good movie that comes to a screeching halt, leaving you with nothing but rolling credits and disappointment. The only difference is that you have the option to watch the movie again. The same can't be said for when you slug down every bit of the coffee you have in front of you.

I don't fault the makers of Hopped Up Coffee for this issue. They make a great product and I hope to establish a stellar long term relationship with them. That being said, I do not recommend buying Hopped Up Coffee in the smaller size if you're buying it for yourself. The sampler pack is perfect as a gift. If you get someone you care about this sampler for Christmas, you definitely need to recommend that they level up if they like it.

My favorite flavor in the sampler pack was the Black IPA. It had the boldness I like and all the interesting flavors that come with this type of coffee. The other flavors were fantastic as well. I went through the whole sampler in three days.

Hopped Up Coffee is a testament of why you should venture into the world of coffee with an open mind. There will be some things that will challenge your preconceived notions of what should be. And that's good. You should never go too long without having your firmly entrenched ideals thrown on their head. You never know what you will experience until you get up the courage to venture outside of your comfort zone.

Weed Coffee Roasting - Weed, California -

I enjoyed Weed Coffee Roasting for one of several reasons. First, the way the bags were lined up in the box was very eye catching. I know that seems weird. After all, the way bags are lined up in a box shouldn't matter. Much more emphasis is placed on the quality or look of the products themselves rather than how they're presented. I think that's wrong. I think more companies need to go out of their way to make their products look better and not just in the packaging.

I have mentioned several times that I love the way a product's packaging looks. I feel like it's awesome when a company chooses to perfect their products in every sense of the word. Every company needs to approach their business in this way. I couldn't even begin to tell you how many companies have sent me products with some of the most creative designs I have seen anywhere and not just in the world of coffee.

When I opened the box that contained their products, I was greeted with the most magnificent smell. I always know I'm in for a treat with a certain type of coffee by the way it smells. Out of all the kinds they sent me, I liked their XX Mud variety the most. The smell of that coffee was so bold I had to crack the bag open and brew myself a pot immediately. The resulting coffee was so dark it was almost demonic...but in a good way. I was flying high for the rest of the day after drinking a couple more cups.

As I opened bag after bag, I was taken into a world of wonderful tasting, smooth coffees. I didn't know what to think going into testing their coffee. I had never heard of Weed Coffee Roasting before. I wish I had heard about them sooner. I would've had more time to indulge myself and make their coffee a more prominent part of my life.

I continue to savor what's left of the package I got from Weed Coffee Roasting like it's the last coffee they will ever make. I don't know how much longer it will last. What I do know is I will enjoy every minute of it. I hope that I can establish some sort of relationship with Weed Coffee Roasting and this review is just the first in a series of many.