The Vita Escort – On the World’s Top Coffee Cities

| September 15, 2014

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It’s no secret that the city of Seattle is one of the top hubs in the entire country when it comes to coffee culture.

Known for its burgeoning empire on the business, Americans might respect what Caffe Vita has going on here, slowly transforming their own cities into the life of small shops and roasteries, but when it comes to other places around the world, Seattle is just one of many that has developed a deep passion for coffee.

So which international cities are just as immersed as we are here in Seattle? Keep reading to find out—as this is the Vita Escort on the world’s top coffee cities.

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5. London, England

Our friends across the pond might best be known for their tea and crumpets, but thanks to a coffee revolution by transplants from Australia and New Zealand in the past decade or so, London has been introduced to a variety of different coffee types.

The most popular is either the flat white or a cappuccino, and although they are most popular in other European cities, have begun to be loved by the Brits, too.

The city might still be an adolescent in the culture, but it’s beginning to spread.

4. Taipei, Taiwan

With an abundance of unique cafes around the city, Taipei may not be as obvious with the placement of each coffee shop—making coffee drinkers walk through nooks and crannies to get there—but make no mistake, they know how to pull great shots.

Giving guests a great atmosphere with terrific coffee, this city has surprisingly thrust itself into the coffee society quite swiftly.

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3. Melbourne, Australia

In addition to bringing their coffee knowledge to the United Kingdom and London in particular, the Aussies have also focused on building a coffee empire down under.

While people may first associate Melbourne as a beer-drinking city, the coffee culture is very much as prominent, with the city even hosting an annual coffee expo.

Piccolo lattes are generally the drink du jour—made with less milk—with residents enjoying the stronger espresso taste.

2. Rome, Italy

Of all the cities on this list, Rome fits perfectly as espresso and cappuccinos are most associated with Italian culture.

While the Italians remain focused on sticking to traditional brewing techniques, the drinks still standout.

The city is so populated with the nation’s best baristas, that it’s hard not to get a great cup of coffee no matter where you go.

Espressso is still the crème de la crème, as most residents and tourists enjoy the the strong shots each morning—as is custom in Italy.

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1. The Netherlands and Scandinavia

The love for coffee in countries like the Netherlands, South Africa, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Iceland is some of the most prominent in the world.

Over the past 25 years or so, each culture has gone from a focus on mainly food to a newfound love for coffee, and with that, a dedication to refine it.

With coffee shops on nearly every street corner, natives tend to drink a lot of lattes or cappuccinos each and every day, supporting the local business at the same time. In Sweden particularly, black coffee refills come free with each meal in most restaurants, acting as the perfect pick-me-up during the dark winter months.

What We’re Diggin’ on September 2nd

| September 2, 2014

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After a three-day weekend and short work week coming up, what could possibly be going on that we’re all excited about?

Well, for one, the weather is starting to cool down, meaning we can all get snug with some pants and a sweatshirt.

Second, the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks kick-off the NFL season in just a couple of days, no doubt leaving all the 12th Fans anxious for the team’s title defense.

Finally, we’ve continued to see a great turnout to our new, pop-up shop in Bellevue at the Rudy’s Barbershop, where we’ll be serving free coffee until this Friday, September 5th from 9am-4pm.

But what else are we looking forward to and diggin’ on? Keep reading to find out.

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Rick Friel, Grocery Store Representative: “I’m diggin’ that fall is in the air and gently showing its face, hiding behind old pal summer. I’m also diggin’ the new artwork in the Capitol Hill café by Ashley Nicholas. The skeleton couple—I love it!”

Nick Dimengo, Content Creator: “I’m diggin’ on my trip to Boston in a few days for a wedding. Sure, it’s an ex-girlfriend who I stupidly let get away, but I couldn’t be more excited to be part of her big day.”

Beth O’Brien, PR Coordinator: “I’m diggin’ Husky football every Saturday this Fall and can’t wait to watch the game this weekend. GO DAWGS!”

Seny Knyazev, Roaster, NYC: “I’m diggin’ on this freak, end-of-summer heat wave in New York City.”

Dana Ericsson, Customer Service: “I’m diggin’ having my brother in town for a gluttonous weekend of eating at Westward, Stoneburner, Barrio, Staple and Fancy and a few others. I will now fast the rest of the week for the sake of health and low funds. And by fast, I mean lower my bacon intake by half.”

Bob Prince, Sales Leader/Brand Champion: “I’m diggin’ that we are pulling Caffe Vita coffee at Grand Central Bakery in Pioneer Square tomorrow and Thursday as part of the NFL Village that kicks off the game between the Seahawks and Packers. I’m also diggin’ that, starting next week, when staying at the Hotel Triton in San Francisco—a Kimpton property—you’ll be drinking Vita.”

Gina Rivisto, Retail Operations Manager: “I know this is random, but I’m diggin’ on this cat diary video that I just recently discovered.”

Mark Edington, Driver, Portland: “I’m diggin’ the cooler temperatures, I love fall! I also just discovered Class Actress and it’s heavy play in the Vita Van, and I’m currently all about the Mexico Oaxaca at Goldrush Coffee Bar.”

Charlie Holloway, Sales Manager, Portland: “I’m diggin’ an Iced Americano made with Vita’s Organic Espresso and a kale/lime juice at the Grind Coffee. It’s a perfect combination to keep me focused after a long weekend. I’m also diggin’ homegrown Brandywine tomatoes and a little cooler weather in the future.”

Ian Beckwith, Production: “Like Rick, I’m diggin’ the new art by Ashley Nicholas that’s hanging in the Capitol Hill café. If you haven’t already checked it out yet, you should.”

Chrissy Nolan, Wholesale Rep: “I’m diggin’ socks, because its grey and rainy and all my socks and sweaters have been crying out for attention from the jail cell of my dresser. Fall in the Northwest is the best! I’m also digging on nesting, making brunch at home with the new Oaxaca in my French press and making bad art to stave away the fall blues.”

Something you need this week: 12,000 Rain Gardens Blend—because proceeds help support efforts to build rain gardens in the Puget Sound area. (Buy Here)

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The Vita Escort: On Coffee and Alcohol Recipes

| August 29, 2014

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As the warm, summer weather begins to turn to crisp, fall days, it’s no secret that one of the best things to enjoy throughout the day is a nice cup of coffee.

Whether it’s on a Saturday morning during a kid’s soccer game, tailgating before a football game or just sipping on while walking around the neighborhood, we’re always happy when we see others drinking from a Caffe Vita cup.

But one way of staying just a little bit warmer as the cooler days roll in is adding some of Grandpa’s cough syrup to a cup of coffee—otherwise known as some booze.

With a variety of liquors to choose from, the Vita Escort reminds you of a few recipes that are worth trying out—using Caffe Vita coffee, of course.

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1. Vita Flatliner

Looking for something that will really give you a kick in the behind to start your morning? Why not go with a Vita Flatliner that, as one can tell by its name, is a drink that isn’t for the feint of heart.

One-half ounce of Frangelico

One-half ounce of Bailey’s Irish Cream

One-half ounce of 151

Two shots of Caffe Vita espresso

2. The Firlock

For those nursing a killer hangover from the night before, The Firlock might just be the hair of the dog you need to help get you through the next day.

Recommended to make as a cold beverage as opposed to a hot one, it’s still warm enough out to sip one of these without being judged for having ice in your cup.

One-in-a-half ounces Fernet Branca

One-half ounce simple syrup

Five ounces, Vita cold-brew coffee

Ice

Lemon twist as a garnish

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3. Bushmill’s and Vita Irish Coffee

If there’s one thing that should always be at a fall party, it’s Irish coffees.

Providing the perfect balance of coffee to cover up the whiskey, there are a variety of versions out there to try, but this might be our favorite.

One-in-a-half ounces Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey

Four ounces, Vita brewed coffee, hot

Heavy cream, lightly whipped

4. Grand Coffee

Not quite light enough to be called a beer, but not heavy enough to be completely filling, a Grand Coffee is the perfect substitute for anyone who fancies a little bit of sweetness in their coffee each morning.

One ounce of warmed, Grand Marnier

Three ounces, Vita brewed coffee, hot

.75 ounces, brown sugar syrup or whipped cream (if desired)

5. Haute & Steamy

For those who like mochas each morning, the Haute & Steamy might become your new favorite drink this winter.

Much in the same mold as a standard mocha, see why adding a bit of booze can warm you up much quicker than the one you typically sip each morning.

One-in-a-half ounces Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka

Four ounces, Vita brewed coffee, hot

My First Time: Pilchuck Glass School

| August 28, 2014

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For those who didn’t already know, the Pacific Northwest is home to some of the finest and most talented creatives in the world.

Blending backgrounds and styles from different nations, artists seem to get inspiration from their roots, before sharing them with those of us who call this region home.

One of the most decorated artist hubs in the Northwest is the Pilchuck Glass School, which is located in Stanwood, Wa. about an hour north of Seattle.

Since it’s beginning in 1971, Pilchuck has housed students from as many as 32 different countries for their summer programs. From May through September each year, Pilchuk offers courses taught by some of the most renowned artists and instructors in the glass-blowing industry.

And with long hours spent conceptualizing and, eventually, completing their projects, students, professors and staff rely on Caffe Vita coffee to power their creativity after sleepless nights of working on their craft—so much so that one student even lasted three-straight days without sleep to create his masterpiece, living on cups of Vita coffee, with the staff having to put him to sleep because of the dangers of being up for so long.

We were fortunate enough to take a trip to meet Pilchuck’s Director of Development, Whitney Hazzard last week. During our tour of the incredible campus, Whitney shared the rich history of Pilchuk and a crash course in the art of glass-blowing, which we quickly learned is a time and labor intensive process.

Founded by Dale Chihuly, along with patrons Anne Gould Hauberg and John H. Hauberg, Chihuly’s philosophy of “artists teaching artists,” became the mantra for Pilchuck’s educational regime, with the some of the buildings built by the artists himself still standing on campus today. Using a $2,000 loan to build his dream school, he chose the venue on the foothills of the Cascade mountains for its view of the natural landscape and its somewhat hidden, rare mushroom plantation.

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As Whitney walked the grounds with us, she was quick to show-off the hot shop, where students stood amongst each other, working on glass as hot, fiery stoves were burning.

While the students heated their glass to begin molding it, we got the first-hand experience of what it takes to complete just one piece—and it sure is extensive.

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Along our walk, Whitney named some of the renowned alumni who have stayed, taught and worked at Pilchuk.

Artists like Ruben and Isabel Toledo—famous for designing First Lady Michelle Obama’s inauguration dress in 2008—have studied and gave lessons at the school, where they developed a wealth of professional knowledge and experience to share with students.

She also shared incredible stories of some of the men and women involved in the school’s adaptation.

The aforementioned Anne Hauberg’s father, Carl F. Gould, not only founded the University of Washington’s architecture program, but is also credited with constructing famous Seattle landmarks like the Seattle Art Museum and the campus plan at UW.

Another inspiring story involved glass artist William Morris, who began as the school’s shuttle driver before his career began to blossom under the guidance of Chilhuly. Morris is now considered one of the most influential artists in the world.

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Following a quick stop for lunch—which included a presentation from the dining staff for new students on why keeping squirrels away is always a good idea—our tour continued to some of the staples on campus like the famous Buster Simpson tree house residence and the Trojan Horse, a beautifully-designed structure made of concrete with glass accents that reflect the natural pizazz. In fact, we saw the leftovers from a wedding that took place in the Trojan Horse just a few days prior.

The Trojan Horse was a secret, rogue project that students built in the nearby woods. Seeing how beautiful it was upon completion, staff could only marvel at how it came to be—much like we all did.

The wedding was between two students who met at the school, coming back to where they fell in love to say their vows as their home state of Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

Upon walking in and around the sculpture, it was easy to see the romanticism in it.

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Words and even pictures can’t describe just how amazing these installations are, so when visiting Pilchuck—which can only be arranged ahead of time for non-students—make sure to conquer the forest surrounding the main campus.

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Offering a unique experience in a camp-like setting on the hills above the Skagit River Valley, Pilchuck one can certainly see why this landscape and private retreat appeals to the artists.

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While the staff develops a new strategy to feature and sell their art planned for 2015, they host art collectors, events and auctions to promote Pilchuk’s rich history—which anyone can get involved in supporting, as the school’s 36th annual auction event will be held this October.

From incredible art, amazing scenery and delicious food prepared by specialty chefs and bakers, no detail goes unnoticed at Pilchuck.

Somewhat of a summer camp for adults, students are encouraged to be themselves by expressing their personalities through art and around the campus, finding inspiration where needed—which isn’t difficult when walking the grounds.

Pilchuck Glass School may enjoy being the best kept secret in the Pacific Northwest, but there’s a reason why it’s widely considered to be the mecca for glass in the entire world, and it’s because of their approach and expertise in the art.

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