Coffee and cocktails

octane_coffee_logo As some of you may know, I work in a coffee shop that serves alcohol. That said, you won't find Kahlua or Bailey's on our shelves. We're not trained to make hundreds and hundreds of shots that will get you white girl wasted. But we are nerds. Any of the denizens of coffee world can talk your ear off about our espresso beverages and coffee beans, and any of us bartenders comes with a huge repository of product and classic cocktail knowledge.

Despite my description, Octane doesn't employ a cadre of fully functional (and well-coiffed) coffee- and booze-savvy robots. In the words of one of my coworkers, "We're the nerds who finally get to be cool because we're into coffee and cocktails." We geek out on this stuff because it's cool to us, not because of its newly christened place in popular culture. As a writer with a column on cocktail chemistry, I'm constantly looking to study parts of the drink making process that I haven't examined before. Personally, as a perfectionist who studied under one of the best (thanks, Angel!), my technique can always use a little work.

It's not perfect or truly glamorous work. In the past six months, I've lost weight from running around...and taken more time to recover from late nights. I might be young, but I don't bounce back as quickly from sleep deprivation as I used to. On average, I drink less than I used to, mainly because my palate has evolved so that I can't tolerate things I used to like a lot.

Over the past six months, I've learned a lot about how I like to live and work. After almost nine months of jobs I tolerated to pay the bills, not dreading waking up has been an amazingly positive change. It's also made a huge difference to know that I want to learn more about everything I'm doing when I go home. My cocktail book collection is growing at a very steady pace and doesn't appear to be stopping any time soon, and my home bar is getting stocked very slowly.

It's been amazing to see what a change of work environment has done in six months. Needless to say, I'm really excited to see where it will take me next. Until then, I'll be meeting the plethora of deadlines I have looming over the next two weeks.

Drink it in

drink-coffee-do-stupid-things-fasterMy only slips back into drinking coffee happen during Sunday brunch. During the week, my first two cups of tea are usually caffeinated, but their caffeine seems to ease my brain and body back into consciousness. On the other hand, coffee speeds up my heat rate and typing, shocks my brain into overdrive and keeps me shaking. In thinking about these physical effects, I realized that coffee and black tea are the morning equivalents of whiskey and pinot noir. Good coffee, like good whiskey, has a taste that coils around anything mixed with it. The smell of either lingers in your hair and clothing until the next wash, making the drinks hard to forget. These two are easy to drink at the serving temperature, but are more enjoyable if sipped. Each has a bite and a warmth, but can leave you jittery and tired long after you finish your last sip. Each* is good for large-scale social interactions. Both pair well with pork, and both can leave you dehydrated if you aren't careful.

Like pinot noir, Earl Grey dances around any correct pairing, flirting with the taste profile but still keeping its independence. How each is mixed, aged and packaged will have a deep impact on its richness and depth. In my opinion, tea and wine* are more comfortably drunk with a blanket and a book on a cold night. Personally, I find these drinks to be more intimate. I don't usually meet someone for wine or tea until I know that I can be comfortable being quiet and still around that person.

Growing up, coffee was the drink for group meals, before school and breakfasts on the run. Black tea was for enjoyment during leisurely mornings, and herbal tea for sick days or evenings. I miss the ritual of making and drinking coffee in the mornings, but I find that my mood is more even with tea. Perhaps one Sunday I will decide that my one or two cups of coffee each week are no longer worth the shaky hands, but not today. Today I will write.

*Or beer. I didn't include beer in this post because of the variety of beers available.

My Manifesto, OR How I accidentally stopped drinking coffee

Two weeks ago, right before I stared this blog, I accidentally gave up on drinking coffee. The brewing system at work is A. a drip maker B. cheap and C. lacking cream. It's also $9 per month to drink. Yes, I'm aware that the cost is equivalent to that of three cups of coffee at the local shops I frequent. Yes, I'm an insufferable coffee snob who would rather forgo her morning coffee fix than drink poor quality coffee. And yes, I should probably wake up 10 minutes earlier to make my own damn coffee and stop complaining.

Honestly, I would rather forgo doing a lot of things than do them poorly. I have a case of what I call creativity stifling perfectionism. It's not a technical diagnosis, but every time I begin a project, it sneaks up on me. If the hook isn't right, I'll rewrite it until it's passable (my personal record is 23 discarded drafts).

When it comes to the case of writing and social media use (or tweeting about writing or writing about social media), I'm the same type of stickler, and my autocorrect doesn't always watch my back. Wording may be what forms the meat of the post, but it's the intention behind the crafting that makes the whole creation meaningful.

What follows is my manifesto: This blog is a record of the people and opportunities I encounter through social media, and as such, a testament to its connective power. It is an ongoing love note to the city of Birmingham and its citizens. It is an attempt to teach effective personal social media usage as I learn it.

My caffeine headache may have abated, but my desire to work more towards focusing this blog on social media has not. I haven't blogged without the structure of Blog Like Crazy, but as the blog starts to take shape and gain direction, my manifesto will be there as a reminder to stop, think and share the meaningful connections social media has facilitated in my life.