Coffee Snob

Too hot. Too cold. Not enough foam. Too much foam. The coffee is bitter.

Latte art à la Frothy Monkey. My favorite coffee shop in Nashville.

Yes, I admit, I have become a coffee snob. Many, many moons ago when I moved to the US, Starbucks was the best coffee ever to me. Or at least very close; nothing could, even back then, beat Italian cappuccinos and French espressos. And small Parisian cafés have always been the one and only place to get properly made Café au lait.

Then came along Tully’s, Peet’s, and Seattle’s Best, latter becoming Starbucks’ subsidiary over a decade ago. But all chains. Over the years, Starbucks has become my overpriced emergency coffee provider. You know, those late evenings when you arrive to a new city and the only place open is a Starbucks at the airport, or even worse, a Starbucks at Target or any other large store. But somehow the girl gotta get her caffeine fix.

Earlier this week, I was coming home from a trail run when an instant coffee craving hit me on the highway. It was of course the rush hour so getting into one of the quality coffee shops in Nashville would have meant quite a detour so I chose an easy solution: swing by the Starbucks that has drive-thru. And oh boy, what a disappointment! The coffee tasted so burned. While driving and drinking my coffee from the paper cup, another piece of reality hit me (don’t forget that there is a little treehugger in me). Why on earth do I drink low quality coffee from the paper cup instead of sitting down in a coffee shop, supporting local business and sipping the coffee from a real mug? Why is the life so hectic that I wouldn’t have time to sit down and enjoy the coffee, not to treat it as a consumable? It really is not but drive-thru is kinda convenient sometimes.

The first and last pumpkin muffin with almond latte at Plumb Line Coffee in Clarksville, TN. Perfect spot for working, studying, or people watching.

Anyways, back to the coffee. Do you know why some coffees have the burned taste? Because coffee beans used are low quality, and by burning them, it is impossible to tell what quality they were originally. Burned beans tastes always burned – even if it is the best of the best bean, or total junk. At the same time the medium roast, high quality coffee has balanced, soft taste, and aftertaste that lasts and stays good, doesn’t “burn” in the mouth. Lower quality coffees often are a little acidic, which why the aftertaste can be pretty yucky.

So, once again, the chain, fast coffee shops have made it to my no-go list, and sit-down coffee culture is back. Maybe, after all these American years, there is still a little European in me, too? And don’t even get me started about teas, at least not today …. one day I will write about my adventures in the world of Darjeelings, Oolongs, and so on.

How about you? Do you care where you get coffee, or drink whatever you can as long as the caffeine content is high?

At home I prefer French press from freshly ground beans. From the Moomin mug, of course 🙂

 

Alphabets of My Life

I grabbed the Alphabet challenge from Viherjuuria blog (in Finnish). Viherjuuria is written by a writer and teacher, Heidi Viherjuuri. If you speak Finnish, you will definitely enjoy the blog. But if this Scandinavian language is not your forte, maybe Google Translate can help out. Her blog is worth visiting, for sure!

Adventure – I am always up to an adventure whether it is underwater or on the mountains. Life is the best lived with adventures, big and small.

Beer – rare, microbrewery beers are often a real treat. As long as they are not IPAs. Those I can’t gulp down.

California – the state that I have a love/hate relationship. I get to spend a lot of time in California, and like some aspects of it but traffic causes me anxiety, even when thinking of it. Especially in the LA area.

Dreams“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau. I have always had a goal in my life to make myself happy, to live the life in a way that I don’t need to look back with regrets. Dreams are made to be reached.

Environment – I am a tree hugger. I love riding my bike or walking for the errands, I wish the culture here in the US wasn’t so car-centric. I recycle as much as I can. Reusable shopping bags rule! I avoid mass production and plastic stuff. Even though I don’t have children, I still want this world to stay as amazing as it is today.

Fitness – being in a decent physical shape is important to me. Not only I enjoy running, kickboxing, biking …. you name it, but I also love the endorphins from working out as well as the fact that clothes fit better, and I can run a few flights of stairs without breaking a sweat. And don’t even get me started about the relationship of health and being reasonably fit.

Golf – I love to play golf, and used to maintain a single-digit handicap. What happened to all that time…?? I miss it but gotta prioritize – maybe one day I can play 50-60 rounds a year again. Too bad it’s still decades to the retirement.

Hotel – As I travel constantly, hotels have become my second home. By now staying at a hotel is not a luxury but a necessary evil. Although I still like it. A glutton for punishment? Maybe!

Iceland – my new love. I was able to dive in Iceland in July 2017. I fell in love with the country, and can’t wait to go back. One of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.

Joe – a cup o’joe. I am a coffee snob, and love good coffee. Starbucks and other big chain coffee shacks don’t do it for me. I need to get my caffeine from quality beans at the right temperature. If you ever need recommendations about coffee shops around the world, or what coffee to buy, I am your girl. You won’t be disappointed. Great coffee is almost as much science as great wine. And I am a wine snob too.

Knitting – ssshhh, don’t tell anyone since this is going to ruin my tough girl reputation. But, knitting is one of my guilty pleasures. Especially in the winter time. Woolen socks and scarves are so much fun to make and give as gifts. And recipients usually love them. Plus I love staying warm.

Luxury – I was once called a girl who serves champagne with pizza and eats takeout on china. It’s also a quote from Kate Spade, by the way. But there are days when I do enjoy the finer things in life. There is nothing wrong having some Dom Perignon with la pizza Margherita.

Meeting – my life is ruled by meetings quite a bit. To surprise everyone, including myself, I love them. I love to talk to the people smarter than me. I enjoy tough negotiations when the end result is win-win to everyone around the table.

Noora – my sister. The best, most awesome person in the world. Talented and so gifted in her field. Wonderful personality. Love her!

Outdoors – I love outdoors. Mountain climbing, running, biking, hiking, backpacking, skiing ….. I love it all. If I could, I would spend all my time outside. Nothing is better than the fresh air.

Percy Warner Park – one of my favorite trail running spots in Nashville area. Great place to run with the dog, never too crowded as the park is big enough. And it’s hilly, even I can get my heart rate up.

Quarter horse – Whizzy and Peanut shower me in their unconditional love every day. The relationship that a girl can have with her horse is just something nearly impossible to describe in words.

Rule of thirds – always be strict with gas planning. In cave diving, the rule of thirds is essential and shouldn’t be neglected. One third of dive gas is used to go in, two thirds for exit: one third for regular, uneventful exit, and the second third for emergency. If everything goes as planned, diver should always come back one third of gas left. Emergencies are no fun.

Scuba diving – I love scuba diving. Underwater, in shipwrecks or caves, is my happy place. The relentless concentration on a dive mission makes me feel alive. More than anything. Diving is my passion, my love, my life.

Tennessee – the rolling hills of Tennessee are my home. Place where it is nice to come, recharge and go again.

University – I have been going to the school for ~30 years, and have a few university degrees. Now the goal is set to the PhD. Never stop learning.

Val de Loire – or Loire river valley. One of my favorite places on earth. The French spoken there is absolutely beautiful, people are friendlier than friendly, and wine is amazing.

Wreck – shipwrecks are the coolest things ever! Nothing better than being in an eerie-like silence inside a shipwreck and relive the moments of its sinking. It’s amazing how many stories those ships can hide inside them.

Xerophyte – trust me, I am really good at Scrabble, and know a ton of weird words. Xerophyte is a plant that needs only very little water, such as a cactus. They are my kinda plants as remembering to water them is not always my highest priority….

Yellow – one of my favorite colors in the fall. I love my yellow rain boots, yellow umbrella and leaves changing colors.

ZHL-16 – I am a geek. Bühlmann decompression algorithm is called ZHL-16 and its variations are marked with additional letters. The algorithm is a model that is used to describe how inter gases act in a human body when the ambient pressure changes. Dive theory, my friends, dive theory…. 🙂  if the inert gases are not leaving the body when a diver surfaces, (s)he may suffer from a decompression sickness (also known as divers’ disease, the bends….) that requires medical attention.

 

If you’re a blogger, now it is your turn – grab the challenge and share the alphabets of your life!

Hurricane Irma

This weekend the southeastern corner of the United States is holding its breath for approaching Hurricane Irma.  One of the strongest hurricanes ever has forced millions of Floridans to leave their homes and travel north, or at least once again pull out the metal shields for doors and windows, secure anything that could fly away in 150 mph (65 m/s) wind, and hope for the best.

I was supposed to be cave diving in Florida next week but obviously Irma changed those plans too. Nobody knows how catastrophic the winds will eventually be, and I sure do not want to be on the road when weather gets seriously bad. Hopefully the cave diving happens sooner than later though.

However, it looks like even Tennessee is going to get its share of Irma’s fierce love. According to the latest hurricane tracker, we will see winds and rain here on Wednesday/Thursday. Probably time to tie down the yard furniture once again although winds are not going to exceed 30 mph (~15 m/s). While there are no hurricanes in the inland, tornadoes do pose a real risk occasionally as a consequence of a hurricane, or they can spawn on their own when the warm and cold fronts converge.

So far the weather is gorgeous here on the rolling hills of Tennessee. Horses are enjoying the green pastures, gentle wind is bringing a nice, welcoming breeze, and sun is shining. I am going to enjoy my day by heading out for a run, and taking care of grocery shopping – I thought I would be in Florida next week, so edible items in the refrigerator are kinda decreasing as time goes by. But regardless, my thoughts are with people who have already being hit by Irma, and the ones who still bracing for the impact.

Stay safe – wherever you are!

Hurricane tracker information from CNN.