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Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: Olympia Coffee’s Decaf Asterisk

A big reason I write these reviews is because I want to get the good word out. According to HubSpot, a solid 60% of customers find reviews to be either trustworthy or very trustworthy. What better way to show a business your appreciation aside from your dollar?

You can’t love what you don’t know about, but today’s overwhelming competition can make even that common sense a little tricky. There are so many roasters in this country that, even years working in and around coffee, I’ve only just scratched the surface of American roasters. That includes ones in my own state! This wonderful decaf coffee list on Sprudge clued me into a few local roasteries that haven’t blipped on my radar, including Olympia Coffee. The flavor notes, as well as the packaging design, captured my interest instantly.

What makes Olympia Coffee‘s Decaf Asterisk special? We’ll take a look up close at the power word-of-mouth brings. If you haven’t read other entries in my Decaf, Decaf Everywhere series, you can get your start here.

Let’s take a look:

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blk & bold coffee bag

Decaf, Decaf Everywhere: BLK & Bold’s Coffee-Ish

I’ve been wanting to buy from this brand for a hot minute.

Black-owned businesses have seen a significant boost in sales these past few months, with the coffee and tea industry no different. BLK & Bold was a name that came up frequently: I knew I’d have to exercise some patience when it was among the first names to crop up in the search bar. Cue me checking back several times over the past month and a half to see their if decaf coffee was available. Good things come to those who wait, right?

(I also bought one of their decaf teas, which I’ll be reviewing in an adjacent series to this one.)

After a rather rough week, I was delighted when I finally got my package in the mail (doubly so for how large the bag is in comparison to others I’ve bought). Does BLK & Bold live up to its hype? We’re going to find out with another specialty decaf coffee review below. If you’ve missed my previous posts, check out my review of another black-owned coffee business for Boon Boona Coffee’s decaf.

Let’s take a look:

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Two Great Things That Are Even Better Together: Wine And Kittens At Townshend’s Sip And Snuggles Event

You heard that right. Cute kittens and hearty helpings of wine all in one convenient place. And you thought perfection didn’t exist.

Back in January I visited the Townshend winery to try out some of their different varieties and get an up close look at all the work that goes into filling up a bottle. It was an illuminating experience for this relative newcomer to the wine scene: I was able to see their stores up close, try wine straight out of the barrel and taste wine that’s been impacted by the Pacific Northwest wildfires. Just when I thought it couldn’t be topped? Cute animals are brought into the mix. Oh, you mad geniuses.

It’s funny looking at these photos in retrospect, taken right before the world decided to spin off its axle and leave us all dizzy.

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wine corkscrews

Wandering With Purpose: Visiting Wanderlust Delicato For A Taste Of Local Culture

Props to my roommate for inviting me to places. I’d probably never leave the apartment otherwise.

My city — and Washington state in general — is well-known for its wine and coffee production. I chose a good spot in my life to bolster my business writing focus, as my location is more than ready to meet me halfway. According to the Washington State Wine Commission, there are around nine hundred wineries in the state of Washington alone: that’s the second highest in the country and an impressive number right after California’s chokehold. As such, I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone and giving some of these locations a try these past few months, all in favor of a (slightly) more adventurous 2020.

(slightly being the keyword here, I’m still a full-time introvert with a PhD in curmudgeonly isolation and now the coronavirus has given me even more ample reason not to step foot outside)

When we swung by Wanderlust Delicato back in February I was taken aback by its lovely decor, greeting me with shiny wooden floors, box crate walls and countless rows of wine varieties. A quintessential and classic choice for wine shops, sure, but with a homeliness that hearkens to the organized chaos of an attic or storage shed (if it were far cleaner). It’s a proverbial repurposed forest, inviting in a cozy atmosphere and rewarding the wandering eye.

And wander I did.

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wine bottles on kitchen counter

When Price Meets Quality: Five Affordable Pacific Northwest Wines At $25 Or Less

The Pacific Northwest is the queen of wine production in the United States. Whether or not this will change remains to be seen, because today’s wine selections aren’t giving an inch.

California has held the top spot for decades, followed close behind by Washington with nearly a thousand wineries to its name. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, congratulations: drinking local is as easy as throwing a rock! I’ll be doing another post on Washington-based wines in the future, but for now we’re going to take a look at some lower price point wines made throughout the Pacific Northwest. With wine still remaining inaccessible and convoluted at the best of times, every little crack in the veneer matters.

I’ll make it plain in no uncertain terms that I live on a small budget. My palette, however, isn’t exactly acquiescing. In an attempt to save and expand my horizons, I’ve decided to compile a list of affordable red and white wine brands I’ve tried over the past few months. I’ll go into the body, the flavor notes and what I like to pair them with, as well as other details like prominent packaging. Because you don’t have to go broke to enjoy a delicious, relaxing cup of pinot noir.

These are ranged from most to least expensive, with none going beyond the $25 tag (and if you exceed the limit, there are plenty of wine stores online).

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wine bottles

What’s Going On In The Wine Industry? Seven Growing Developments To Keep Up With In 2020

Being a newcomer to the wine industry isn’t easy these days. Interestingly enough, the same goes for wine aficionados.

Talk about a great equalizer, right? The former is being faced with a culture shift: a gradual pull away from strong alcohol percentages in favor of lighter seltzers, spritzers and outright non-alcoholic artisan drinks. The latter has to deal with the industry being turned upside down and shaken for all its loose change. That’s not even touching on the side-effects of climate change. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, there’s always something new to learn. Keeping up with every little detail in the global wine industry is a fool’s game.

Here’s to trying!

I’ve listed seven growing developments in the wine industry to keep an eye out for, whether you’re getting into wine for the first time this year or have been loyally sipping cabernet sauvignon for the past fifteen plus.

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Better Late Than Never: Starting Off The Year With A Visit To The Townshend Winery

Ever since taking on wine alongside coffee and tea, I’m facing up again with just how little I know.

So many French and Italian names! So many decades! So much variety! This classic drink has thousands of years to its name and even the most experienced in the industry continue to learn new things about the craft. With the wine industry being faced with a more nebulous interest by several demographics, proposed tariffs and the ongoing impact of environmental changes, I expect everyone is going to see their intimate wine know-how challenged moving forward.

As for me, well…I don’t plan on sitting on my laurels.

My friend’s mother invited me to a Townshend winetasting event in January, set up to celebrate their different varieties and stir up some buzz. It was a night of firsts: I’ve never been to a winetasting event (unless you count my roommate and I popping open a bottle on a Friday night), nor had I ever tried wine straight out of the barrel. Consider me excited to continue seeing what local Washington wine culture is all about.

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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.

smoke and mirrors patrice

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.

wanting-what-i-need

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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