Don’t Get Too Cozy, Washington Coffee Culture: California Is Brewing Its Own Reputation

When it comes to coffee, Washington is widely considered by many Americans to be the king of the hill. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s the birthplace of Starbucks, after all (as well as the subject of many an ironic eyeroll when discussing hipster culture). While most coffee comes from outside of the United States, the Pacific Northwest has put in a lot of work to cultivate its go-to image of frothy lattes sheltered beneath cloudy days.

It’s not the only state sharing the top spot, however.

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Is That Your Final Answer? Fifteen Common Questions I Was Asked As A Barista

The human condition comes in a tall or a venti, it seems. After a few years of serving lattes in movie theaters and old-fashioned cafes I started seeing a different side to the mundane.

It’s not just bagging or grinding that inspires naval gazing, but sitting back with your hands folded in your lap and doing a tally of all the sometimes-funny, sometimes-frustrating questions brought to your attention during an average shift. Why do so few people seem to know what a cappuccino is? Why do so many expect a part-time employee to be omniscient? Is this the real life? Call it soul searching with a dollop of creamer.

Being a part-time or full-time barista may be a common job, but that still doesn’t put a dent in some of these questions! Thanks to these I can approach the vast world of coffee from multiple angles…and many of them humorous.

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Here are just ten common questions customers had about the process nearly every time I was behind the counter:

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A Conversation With Joe: What A Mug, Cup Or Can Of Coffee Has To Say About You

Coffee isn’t just a drink to perk you up in the morning. It’s a personality test.

One person may drink their coffee black with a nigh-religious fervor because they like to keep things simple. Others need a big dollop of sugar and milk to get it tasting right because what is life but a series of indulgences? Yet more prefer to brew at home rather than swing by their coffee shop of choice because they’re flat broke. It’s fascinating how much coffee speaks to our personality, lifestyle and interests.

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What separates a great song lyric from a forgettable one?

Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Ever since starting my Sharing The Goodness series I’ve been getting more and more into the art of songwriting and the impact it has on me. When a lyric sticks with me through more than just the melody, and sometimes exactly because of it, it causes me to look inward and analyze myself from head-to-toe. Why did this particular line bring me to tears? What makes this lyric echo in my head more than, say, this one?

Some might cite songwriting’s relevance to whatever they’re currently going through in their life, while others might prefer something more on the poetic side. You can glean a million different interpretations from a single line and below I’m going to take a look at some stand-outs I’ve been thinking about lately.

If you’re interested in some good music from primarily lesser-known artists and bands, check out my past Sharing The Goodness posts where I looked at disco and funk as well as soul, folk and lounge.

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1. “Is my head in the clouds or are the clouds in my head?”

from “Smoke And Mirrors” by PATRÌCE

I’m going to start this off with the song that inspired this Sharing The Goodness spin-off in the first place. I picked out the S.G. Lewis remix in my Youtube recommendations line-up a little while back, originally finding it a touch stale…yet I came back to it again and again. There was just something about the echoing, mysterious hook that stuck with me. The best part? Thanks to the stylistically filtered vocals, I actually had no clue what they were originally saying the first few listens! When I looked up the lyrics later, I was alarmed that my favorite part was actually my favorite part.

Too often I wonder just how many of my anxieties are valid and how many are not. What’s actually an outside force trying to rob me of stability or an inside one tearing me to pieces. While there are plenty of amazing lyrics to be explored yet, it’s validating to hear a common inner question put to musical form. I don’t think I’ll ever let this one go.

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Indie Pop-Rock & Shoegaze

All genres have their inherent strengths and weaknesses. What can cause some to turn away (and even choke back their bile) on indie and shoegaze is their frequently lackadaisical and meandering nature. “Stop droning about your high school crush!” Some might cry. “Give me something more than just a twangy guitar and some fuzzy feedback!”, others wail at their screen.

This is why I’m here: I do my damndest to find the stand-outs of any genre. Even if this isn’t quite your thing, take a look. Some of these grew on me after a few listens…perhaps you’ll find something you just can’t get enough of where you least expect it.

For those curious about other genres, check out my past Sharing The Goodness posts where I looked at piano pop, alternative and hip-hop!

gus dapperton

1. “I’m Just Snacking” by Gus Dapperton

Starting off with perhaps the most twee name in human history, it’s time for some introspection on your music consuming habits. How often do you come back to songs to double-check whether or not it’s a new favorite? ‘I’m Just Snacking’ took a few listens for it to properly grow on me, but once it did, I wasn’t sure how I went so long in my life without having Gus Dapperton on my playlist.

Much like the singer’s cloying fashion sense and oddball haircut, what you see is exactly what you get…almost. Both the song and video give you a rather interesting push-and-pull of simple and weird, a delight I found sticking with me long after the outro wrapped up. The sexual lyrics are rather on-the-nose, mixed with a variety of instruments that sound almost carelessly sprinkled throughout. It’s conventional, yet eccentric. Mellow, yet quirky. All in all, it has a little something for everybody.

Honey, I’m whole so what are we snacking for?

I’m just a whore, boy, it’s only natural

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Piano Pop & Soft Pop

It’s about time I got around to a genre that’s always acted the part of the happy little angel on my shoulder. I used to listen to a serious amount of piano pop and soft pop during my high school days. Gavin DeGraw, Sara Bareilles, Keane, Coldplay, you name it, I probably listened to it. Luckily for you, though, I’m going to focus more on artists that don’t get nearly as much airplay. …Mostly. Predominantly. You’ll know when you get there!

If piano pop and soft pop aren’t really your thing, check out my previous Sharing The Goodness posts where I looked at rock, ambient/instrumental and house/funk!

I’ve also shaken up this series by doing a music video + song review as well as a top five list of some of my favorite song lyrics.

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1. “Wanting What I Need” by Clara C

Piano pop is like drip coffee with a dollop of something extra. It’s solid, it hits the spot, it’s a mundane staple of everyday life…but there’s an additional sweetness that elevates it to something all its own. When you match it with lyrics that act like your very own personal life coach? It’s a genre all its own.

‘Wanting What I Need’ is the kind of song that wants you to make the most for yourself, online randos and mental illness and anything else tripping you up be damned. Bursting with all sorts of instruments — keyboard, bells, guitars –you also get an unbelievably charming horn section midway through that warms you up just like that cup of drip early in the morning. The video is incredibly cute, too, showcasing the lead singer and her family/friends jumping on a trampoline with balloons, streamers and bubbles.

All in all, what you both want and need is a visual and musical representation of how joy really does come from simple things.

This time I’m gonna break out and be free

Stop needing what I want and start wanting what I need

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Indie & Alternative

I’m the first to say alternative and indie can be a little hard to pin down. Yet I’ve got a cluster here that are indicative of the genre in ways I didn’t think possible. Emotional, raw, breezy, whimsical, you get the full gamut of emotions these addictive genres have to offer. I’ve got one in particular I’ve been dying to share, so I think I’ll use it to start off the list…

If alternative and indie aren’t your thing, glance back at some of my previous Sharing The Goodness posts where I looked at soul and funk, R&B and chill-pop!

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1. “Guidance” by Yeah Boy ft. Ryan Keen

I am overdue for sharing this absolute gem of a piece. A song that makes your soul lift straight out of your body. Not in the ‘I’m dealing with secondhand embarrassment and I can’t handle it anymore‘ way, but the ‘God, I feel like I could touch the sky‘ way.

A breezy summer day somehow condensed into four minutes, this is the definition of bottling up some musical magic. The outro is nothing short of stunning and easily the most incredible part of a strong package. A soft chorus builds and builds and builds with a rolling guitar in the background that’s as grand as it is whimsical. Something I love doing is reading the comments on a video (don’t worry, I don’t read too far) and seeing if people feel similar emotions.

Judging by the amount of commenters saying the song makes them feel nostalgic or like they’re destined for something special…to that I say: yeah, boy!

I really need some guidance

It’s gone way too far

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