Monday, July 19, 2010

In Search of Espresso Part III

This is the third part of a likely four part series. In short I'm attempting to try a new coffee shop each day in July. You can read Part I here or Part II here.

July 12 - Elliot Bay Cafe
Previous home of the Elliot Bay Book Store (a Seattle stalwart which recently moved locations ... after changing owners) this little coffee shop is underground. It's also famous for being the model for the shop in Frasier although it's been remodeled since.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Search of Espresso Part II

This is the second part of a likely four part series. In short I'm attempting to try a new coffee shop each day in July. You can read Part I here.

July 5 - Original Bakery
This is the nearest coffee shop to me so I've been there a few times. It is definitely a bakery so the espresso quality is not as consistent as other places. I actually had a really nice cup on this day (last time the owner put water in my drink so I preempted the possibility this time) and mean to come back here at least for the great looking baked goods they have.

July 6 - Zeitgeist
This is the nearest place to work for me and I've been here a couple of times. I honestly find Zeitgeist a bit pretentious so admittedly my opinion was biased coming in. They have good baked goods and the space is open so has a "I could get work done here" feel; it is a bit of a meeting place however.

In Search of Espresso Part I

I was recently talking with a couple of online peeps (@RagDoll_Inc and @dorthybitestoto) and I was ... well let's say scolded for taking by business to Starbucks rather than one of the local coffee shops. Let's forget for a moment that Starbucks is local to Seattle (yeah, they know this).

Admittedly I am a creature of habit - don't know the last time I didn't eat Phad Thai at a Thai restaurant or eat enchiladas at my favorite Mexican joint and so on. I do love Starbucks espresso and they tempt me with "gold status" which I guess saves me 6.25% of my drinks in the long-run.

So I decided to test my boundaries and try a new local espresso shop each day for the month of July. I'm no critic and I don't have a sophisticated palette with respect to coffee but I figured I'd find out what else was out there.

My only task for myself was to order my drink (five shots over ice) and see what happens. What was the groove of the place? Was the espresso good? Was the staff service-oriented? Did the shop seem to have embrace stewardship (organic, fair trade beans, cup discount for my own cup)? Overall, what did I think?

The only other rule I gave myself was to go to "coffee shops" which does not include espresso stands or restaurants with an espresso machine. Around here bakeries count as coffee shops - at least for the purposes of my project.

The following list is from the first half of my month and centers around West Seattle (where I live) and Pioneer Square (where I work). In fairness I have gone back to Starbucks twice during this month - once while traveling for my 50k and once because I needed to scoot into the office in a hurry. I've gone back to one of the shops twice. After about a dozen shops you start to lose options within walking distance even in Seattle!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grey Rock 50k Race Report

The Grey Rock 50k is billed as the "Toughest 50k in Washington" - while I have no experience with other 50k's let alone others in Washington - I'm inclined to believe this.

I ran the Grey Rock 50k on July 10. To be honest I didn't have much expectation coming into this "race." This was my first ultra and I wanted to run well. Some part of me thought I was conditioned enough to run in the six hour range. I felt I had a good plan for fueling (what to eat / drink) but did not have a lot of thoughts about the trails. I knew I could cover the distance as long as I stayed safe and since I've done a lot of hiking I felt I could avoid injury on these types of trails.

This was my first 50k so I went in with pretty open expectations. I knew it would be tough - I've hiked these types of trails before but never run. I had an idea about the profile (1800' up, then down, up 2000', down 200' then go back for 6000' of elevation gain). I had a fueling plan and I knew what time the race started. That was about it.