Saturday, January 29, 2011

Urban District Alliance

I briefly mentioned this in an early post, but I have exciting news.

Missouri State's PRSSA, Public Relations Student Society of America, has a student PR firm called Bear Communications. This semester, we have a new client: Urban District Alliance, and I am one of the account executives for one of the teams.

Urban District Alliances is essentially Springfield's community development organizations. They work a lot with downtown. (Which I love!) They want us to create an entire PR campaign for them. I have an awesome team that I met with today for the first time including Megan Haeffele, Doug Gaehle, and Bryan Milbach.

I am looking forward to working on a real life PR project with my fellow classmates and get to invest into an area of Springfield I love. Pin It

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reflecting on Dr. King's Legacy

Last year, almost to the day, I marched with the lovely connally  from Mediacom Park to Central High School in Springfield, MO. It was an experience I will not easily forget.  For the first time, I felt as if I was walking in the shoes, literally, of those who have fought and fight for their civil liberties.  The police car led the way, and I could not help but imagine how during the Civil Rights Movement how the police cars would have been blocking the way instead. That moment made me feel a part of the history stories I always enjoyed reading about.

 Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Men hate each other because they fear each other, and they fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they are often separated from each other.” Racism, prejudice, and mistreatment of others cut into my soul deeply.


When glancing back through history at slavery, Salem Witch Hunts, Jim Crow Laws, and the Holocaust, it reminds us that it is our job to make this generation better at treating everyone humanly. Milton Bennett, an intercultural communication scholar, put a new perspective on the Golden Rule.  Bennett said, “Do unto other as they would have done to themselves.” By following the Golden Rule, one almost behaves in an ethnocentric manner treating others how one would want to be treated.

Everyone is different, and with all of our differences coming together in the workplace, it is imperative to try to understand and empathize with each other. Like Dr. King said, our hate could simply be because we do not know each other. Even though our country and world has come a long way from that March on Washington years ago, we must continue to deepen our knowledge of one other and learn to celebrate diversity. Pin It

Monday, January 24, 2011

Brewing Basics: The Bee House Dripper

Since I am giving away a Bee House, I thought I would give you a tutorial on how to brew coffee on a Bee-House.

First off, a Bee-House is a type of brewing device called a "pour-over". I am giving away a Bee-House from PT's Coffee Roasting Co. Here is what their site has to say about it.

Necessary Tools:

  • A Bee-House
  • #2 Paper Cone Filters from a local grocery store
  • A kettle to boil water in
  • A scale
  • Coffee beans (24g to 26g)
  • A grinder
  • A timer

How-To Make the Pour-Over:

  1. Start the kettle of water on the stove.
  2. Weigh 24g to 26g of coffee depending on the type of coffee.
  3. Grind coffee to a ground somewhere between french press and drip coffee.
  4. Fold the #2 Filter at both ends and place in Bee House.
  5. Place Bee House on a cup or something that can hold 12 oz of liquid.
  6. When the water comes to a boil, take the kettle off and rinse the filter with the hot water. [This also brings the Bee House and mug to a higher temperature.]
  7. Dump hot water.
  8. Place cup and Bee House on scale.
  9. Put coffee grounds in Bee House.
  10. Zero the Scale. And changer to oz.
  11. You want the water to be at a little over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is okay to let it sit on the stove for about 30 seconds before actually letting it touch the coffee.
  12. Pour water in the Bee House just enough to wet the grounds.
  13. Start Timer!
  14. Let "bloom" or sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute. [This depends on the age of the coffee. The closer the roast date the shorter the "bloom", generally speaking.]
  15. Pour water at a steady pace in a figure 8 motion until the water reached about 1.5 centimeters from the top.
  16. Finish pouring very slowing to maintain the height of the water in the middle of the Bee House until you have 13.6 ounces of water.
  17. Let the water finish dripping. It should take between 2.5 and 3 minutes.
  18. Enjoy your cup of coffee from your Bee House.

 Keep in mind this is how I make my coffee in my Bee House. There are many other ways to make it out there as well. Some Baristas suggest different ratios or pouring techniques. Experiment. Make it your own.

Here is a good video on making a Bee House from Topeca. He uses a slightly different technique than what I shared, but if you are a visual learner this might help:

 If you want to win your own Bee House Dripper, get your friends to follow my blog! Enter my give-away!
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

PRSSA Goes Pokerface

PRSSA is back in full swing this semester, and we started out with helping one of our clients, GYN Cancer Alliance. We have an internal student run PR firm called Bear Communications. We help local organizations free of charge with different PR activities.

The local GYN Cancer Alliance in Springfield had a Casino Night called Chips for Cancer in the Tower Club. It was a very swank location, and we got almost full rein to decorate the place with fun cards, dice, etc. Our favorite was probably the giant blow-up dice! Everyone needs a set, seriously.

It was a lot of fun setting up. Enjoy some pictures from the afternoon:

The whole time, I could only think of how I wanted the song Pokerface by Lady Gaga playing in the background. I know, it is silly but fitting with the decor.

In other PRSSA news, we have a new client this semester: Urban Districts Alliance. I am so excited to possibly work with them. Cheers to another semester!
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

One Year Anniversary Giveaway!!! ***Updated***

On Tuesday, February 16, 2010, I published my first blog post on Coffee, Culture, and Community. Now, almost one year later, I want to celebrate this blog's anniversary with my first giveaway! I am giving away a coffee brewing device called a "Bee House".

Okay so here is the deal. My goal is to have 30 followers by February 16, 2011. This is where YOU come in.

The Rules:

  • You have to be a follow through Blogger before you can participate (sorry other subscribers).
  • You have to be living in the United States (sorry international followers but I can't afford the shipping).
  • The Deadline is February 16, 2011!

What to do:

  • Comment on THIS blog post.
  • Get your friends to follow my blog via Blogger.
  • Make sure they comment on THIS blog post and indicate the name of the person who suggested them to follow my blog. (Ex: My name is Amy Sue and Jimmy John told me to follow this blog.)
  • If you have me on your blog roll, add two extra comments.
  • I will randomly select a name from the list. The more people you get to join, the more chances you have to win.
  • If I reach my goal of 30 followers, I will feature EVERYONE who at least one person to follow me either in my blog roll and/or a special blog post. 
Please feel free to ask any questions via e-mail:

Good luck! 
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Monday, January 17, 2011

From Seed to Cup: A Tulsa Experience

So today for Adjusting the Grind, I am going to do a coffee shop review for you. This weekend, I did a quick trip to Tulsa, OK, to visit Travis's momma. While I was there, I took the opportunity to check out Topeca, a coffee shop two Baristas suggested I check out.
Topeca is located in downtown Tulsa, OK, in an interesting hotel building. The decor is fabulous--very inviting, cozy, and Latin-inspired. It serves a full food menu along with coffee.

The menus are hanging chalkboards behind the bar. My favorite part is how they list each size for the coffee drinks, and next to cappecino it says, "Only the perfect size". Love how they turned what can sometimes be negative (only serving the traditional 6oz or 8oz cappecino) into something special.

The coffee of the day was Santa Ana, a blend of coffee grown in the highest elevations of Finca Manzano. They describe it having a lime fragrance, and it is a fully-washed coffee. However, I ordered a cappecino for there, and a bag of beans of Santa Ana to take home with me.

My cappecino was very good, a little too foamy for my liking, but overall a great drink. I gave the Barista working a lot of grace, though, because the place was packed on a Sunday afternoon. It was evident this was an unusual amount of people on a Sunday afternoon because there was only one Barista and one chef on duty.

Travis's mom ordered a Turkey and Swiss Panini, which she let me try. It was delicious, and so was the side salad with some sort of raspberry dressing.

However, what makes Topeca stand out in my mind is not the atmosphere, the coffee, or the food, (even though all of those things are excellent) but how they source their coffee. The coffee farm, roaster, and cafe is all owned by the same people. This is called a "Seed to Cup" method. Their farms are all in El Salvador and have been around since the 19th Century when the founder brought coffee trees from Colombia to El Salvador. Now, six generations later the legacy lives on through their shop and roaster.

This process allows them to control the quality and create meaningful relationships between farmers and Baristas and roasters. All of the people involved are intrinsically connected on a deeper level. I like that.

They also are able to give back to the communities they grow coffee through an El Salvador non-profit called "Libras de Amor".

I greatly enjoyed my experience at the shop yesterday and my cup of coffee in my El Salvador mug this morning. If you are ever in Tulsa, you should check Topeca Coffee out!
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Summer Adventure Plans!

It's time to let everyone know what I have decided to do this summer!


After a lot of thinking and going back and forth, I have decided to study abroad in Ecuador.

I have paid my first deposit reserving my spot. 
The trip is May 22, 2011 to June 19, 2011 with the Spanish Department at Missouri State.
(I will be able to see my little sis graduate May 19th!)


It costs $4,000, but I have a plan.
I graduate next December, 
and I know relatives and close friends will probably want to get me something.
I don't really need anything,
so I am going to make some letters
and ask them to consider contributing to this trip instead.

The trip is only 4 weeks long,
so I may have time to do some traveling in the US, too!
I am very excited about my decision.
Stay tuned for more details!

For more details about Ecuador, go here.
Details about traveling the US, here.
South Korea with ladybug is still an option.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Adjusting the Grind

I apologize for this post being late. School started on Monday, and the beginning of this semester is proving to be more chaotic than most. You will understand more later. 

To start off, I thought I might explain the title of this new series: "Adjusting the Grind". This is common Barista lingo for changing how course or fine a grind might be on the coffee grinder. It is most often used to refer to adjusting the grind of an espresso grinder.

My boss explained it to me like this. Imagine courser coffee grounds are pebbles and finer coffee grounds are pieces of sand. If you pour water through, which will the water move faster though? The pebbles. In other words, courser grounds allow the water to "move faster" through the coffee; whereas, finer grounds allow the water to "move slower" through the coffee.

Different brew methods call for different grinder settings as well. For example, a French Press, or Press Pot, requires a course setting because the brew time is longer (about 4 minutes), and the coffee grounds sit in the hot water instead of passing through. However, espresso requires a very fine setting because the brew time is so short (about 25 to 30 seconds). 

Because espresso is so fine, it also requires adjustments throughout the day. Any minute change like the weather, time of day, or the espresso machine can affect the espresso's taste. A good Barista recognizes this and adjusts the grinder accordingly.

If you are interested in learning more about adjusting the espresso grinder, this video does a great job explaining the process a Barista goes through:

I chose "Adjusting the Grind" for the title of this coffee series because it is my hope to adjust the way the average person views coffee. The industry is changing, and as a Barista, it is my duty to try to bridge the communication gap between the bar. Coffee education is important to me, and I hope to share my little knowledge with you piece by piece.

So next time you are in a local coffee shop, you can impress your Barista by asking, "How is the espresso doing today?" or "Have you had to adjust the grind, today?"
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Monday, January 3, 2011

What's the Point of Coffee?

Welcome to my new coffee series: Adjusting the Grind.

Adjusting the Grind's goal is to provide the everyday person with tips and tools to better understand coffee.

I hope to provide both education on its history and give fun brewing tips from a Barista's perspective. I will always be open for questions and topic suggestions, so please, feel free to suggest, comment, ask, and voice your opinion. I do not claim to be an expert by any means, but I do love coffee and working as a Barista on a daily basis. 

Today's topic is philosophic in nature:
What is the Point of Coffee?

Is it to stay awake during finals week?
Or wake up after you slept too little the night before?
Or to taste good?
Or to analyze?
Or to bring people together?

I know someone whose response to this question is to taste good. 
I agree with him to a point. I think the point of coffee is different for everyone though. For me, coffee equals people.
I would rather drink Folgers with friends and family than Esmeralda (that is a really great coffee) by myself.
Even when I drink coffee by myself, it is a ritualized time with myself that I allow to gather my thoughts or just slow down.

In all cultures, coffee is an invitation for friendship, my mom always says.
And I agree with her.
I know, that coffee is inherently an inanimate beverage meant for consumption,
but I enjoy the humanity behind the cup of black water.
The process of making coffee has so much humanity integrated in it 
from the coffee tree to the coffee mug.

I guess, this can be applied to any product,
but I think it is easy to get sucked into the mechanics and details of coffee making 
and miss the humanity.

I love my job because there is absolutely nothing like
listening to a customer's needs,
selecting a product for them,
crafting their drink with heart,
and seeing their face light up as you pass the cup across the counter
knowing you just brightened their day a little bit.

Yes, it will taste good,
but that is not why I made it,
and that is not why I drink it.

What is the Point of Coffee to You?
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