Posts Tagged 'Coffee'

36 Hours in Seattle

photo by puja

IT’S THE SUICIDE CAPITAL, a city blanketed by a dark watercolor sky for the better part of eight months each year. For a long time, the only thing out-of-towners could say about Seattle was, “it rains a lot there, right?”

But the city has gotten better press lately. The Puget Sound area is becoming known for its balance of urban living and quick access to the rugged outdoors — an aspect which led Seattle’s tourism bureau to coin the unfortunate buzzword, “Metronatural”. And of course, there’s the coffee. Thanks, Starbucks.

What still remains a bit of a secret, though, is how sweet Seattle can be in the summertime. The Emerald City becomes even more lush. A cool wind carries a blended perfume of salt and pine, and keeps the air temperature hovering around a cozy 75 degrees. We don’t use AC in the Northwest, we just open the windows.

And as more people discover the goods, the city grows and becomes more colorful — even as its citizens lament the rise of condo after glittering condo. New joints pop up while old favorites continue to boom, and those who can’t hack the rain trickle out. But the people who stick around love the city for its subtleties; from the Chinatown shops and corner cafes where you can while away the dreary months, to the outdoor markets and bike paths where you can celebrate the sun.

Read more at Vagabondish.

Seoul Notebook: Days Spent at the Coffee Shop

THINKING BACK, I WAS probably first drawn to Coffee Flanel because of its ridiculous sign. It read: “Flanel than ever before.” By then I was accustomed to the butchered, overwrought English phrasing that was plastered all over Seoul, but that line had a quirky ring to it that made me stop and grin.

It was August. I had just trekked all over the campus that was to be my home for the next year and was disgustingly sweaty; the idea of AC and an iced drink sounded fantastic. I climbed a stairway up to the second story to find the cafe’s glass door. Inside it was brightly-lit and cleanly decorated with dark wood and white tile.

The barista greeted me, and after I paid for my drink she pointed to the pastry case and asked me to choose something. I paused for a second before politely explaining that I just wanted the coffee. She smiled. “It’s service,” she said, meaning that it was on the house. I decided on a cookie (a gingersnap, if I recall), and she gave me two. This was surely my new favorite place.

As the months passed, Flanel’s four walls witnessed my life’s changes. When I first came there I brought only the company of my journal, in which I chronicled awkward episodes of culture shock and loneliness. But as time went by I became less like a foreigner and more like a regular. Months later, a girl from school (now my fiancee) and I would go there every afternoon — supposedly to do homework, but mostly just to talk, procrastinate, and eat cookies.

The coffee at Flanel, like most places in Korea, wasn’t great. But the cafe offered something more subtle and ultimately more important: atmosphere. At coffeehouses around the world, intimately personal narratives intersect with burbling public life. We go to these places for introspection, for inspiration, for study, for meetings with old friends or new business contacts. If the atmosphere is right, as we sit and sip our drinks, we become part of something larger — pieces of our conversation seep into the walls and shiver out into the chatter of the city.

Four years later, Flanel is still a fixture in my memory. When I head back to Seoul it will be one of the first places I go after throwing down my bags — if it’s still there, that is. But either way it will not be the same place that it was. Even if I sat in the same seat with the same journal, different words would come to my pen.

Making the Long Haul? Get your Coffee On.

photo by yesmorelight

DESPITE WHAT THEY might tell you in drivers-ed, drinking coffee is apparently more effective than taking a nap in keeping sleepy drivers alert, according to a new study. An article in The New York Times the other day had this to say:

A driving instructor in the car counted the number of inappropriate line crossings during each driving test. Line crossings were measured because drifting over the center line or off the road causes 65 percent of sleep-related accidents.

The decaf drinkers racked up a total of 159 line crossings while drowsy, compared to just 2 line crossings during the daytime driving test. Nappers did better, crossing lines only 84 times. But surprisingly, the coffee drinkers did the best in the sleepy driving test, crossing lines a total of 27 times. [read full]


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