Coffeehouse observation No. 310 – Temporary coffeehouse is pure as the grain

Taking a break from musty, dusty, crusty Stockton is always great thing.

This week I am getting away from Stockton by doing a bit of house-sitting, cat-sitting, and mansion-sitting.

You read that last bit correctly – mansion-sitting.

A friend is the estate manager for a property important to the history of Vacaville, the Solano County city where I worked for more than 13 years before moving to Stockton.

She and her boyfriend – along with his guitar, his bows, her clothing, her books (to be donated to a library), her camera equipment, and a refrigerator-sized telescope – crammed into a Nissan Sentra and headed out of the Sacramento Valley, over the Sierra Nevada, and across a good portion of the state of Nevada for a vacation.

My friend, beside having a grueling workload at the mansion, has been involved in the care and morale for a couple of friends who over the past few months have been battling cancer. One of them seems to be kicking it; we buried the other a couple of weeks ago. Being there for those friends – and the subsequent death of one of them – has taken its toll on her and this is a much-needed vacation.

So I will be here to feed the four or five cats she has welcomed into her home, the boyfriend’s slightly skittish cat, two gold fish (including one who apparently has a problem digesting food), and two turtles in the fish pond that really doesn’t have any fish. I’ll be picking up mail, accepting packages from UPS and FedEx drivers, checking the exterior of the yard and mansion to make sure security is OK, being onsite to make sure security is OK, and doing pretty much what I can around the place to make sure security is OK. The mansion is fairly grand – for the city and for the time period during which it was built – and the grounds are spectacular and a joy simply to visit.

And historic downtown Vacaville is only a few blocks away – it is a perfect morning stroll for a cup of coffee.

Yes, coffee. I will be drinking coffee while here in Vacaville. Was there any doubt?

I used to live and work in Vacaville before I started working in Stockton. I’ve always liked Vacaville and wish now I could afford to live here. I’ve been out of work for so long now that soon I may not be able to afford anything but a Maytag box.

Not too long before I left, the city used redevelopment funds to spruce up things in the downtown – fantastic new buildings, new plazas, new walkway along the creek downtown, and more.

And in one of those new buildings on one of those new plazas is the expanded Pure Grain Café. The coffee is just OK, but the pastries and muffins are fantastic. They have WiFi and a lunch menu, too, complete with sandwiches, paninis, soups and salads. If I didn’t have responsibilities as a temporary assistant estate manager (actually, I don’t think I have a job title at all), I could spend quite a bit of time and money in Pure Grain Café.

I’ll be checking in from here throughout the week. This is my temporary home-away-from Empresso, the coffeehouse I most frequent in Stockton. The other is Exotic Java.

Empresso is fun because it is located in the lobby of an old movie theater, so it’s a bit quirky and on the dark side unless you sit near the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Pure Grain Café is different. It has floor-to-ceiling windows on two walls that open up to Vacaville’s Maine Street and an adjacent plaza. The interior walls are yellow and the high ceiling white, giving it a much more open, lighter feel. The display cases are crowded with cakes, pastries and muffins on one side, and luncheon offerings – sandwiches and salads – along the other side of the counter. The whole place has much more the feel of a contemporary deli than a typical coffeehouse.

It is a nice change.

Apparently, this is the place for old friends to meet, read the newspaper and catch up on the latest gossip. More than half the tables inside are filled. The outside tables have been used since I sat down, but there is a bit of a chill in the air so it is not particularly comfortable to side outside.

Beside facing Main Street and the plaza, the building in which Pure Grain Café is located is just a short walk from the local senior center, county library, a wine and gift shop, and the Ulatis Creekwalk.

OK, time to move along. I’ve gotta get back to the mansion.

All rights reserved by Keith Michaud ©

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Coffeehouse observation No. 309 – Former coworker was an ‘excitable boy’

Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy."

Warren Zevon's "Excitable Boy."

A former coworker, Brian Hamlin, died not long ago. To give you an idea of the type of unique fella Brain was, they played Warren Zevon’s “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” at his funeral. … Now I’m listening to the Zevon album at the coffeehouse and enjoying fond memories of a great journalist – and an excitable boy – gone far too soon.

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The Orion Captures Fifth Straight National Excellence Award – CSU, Chico News – CSU, Chico

The Orion Captures Fifth Straight National Excellence Award – CSU, Chico News – CSU, Chico.

[I was the editor of this paper in the late 1980s for two semesters when Dr. Richard Ek was the adviser. … Of course, that means I had absolutely nothing to do with these awards, but I’m still proud of what the current crew has done. Congratulations! — KM]

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 9:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Coffeehouse observation No. 308 – Girl, you got a panda on your head

There’s a woman in the coffeehouse wearing a panda bear head-hat. … Why? Seriously, why?

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Coffeehouse observation No. 307 – What a weird twist of karma

A guy just walked into the coffeehouse with his combover sticking out from under his baseball cap like a tail. I mocked the combover/tail on Facebook and, in a weird twist of karma, he sat at the table directly behind me. And then started humming along with “Hey, Jude” as it played on the coffeehouse music system. I’m begged someone to simply shoot me to get me out of my misery, but I got no takers.

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Costa Coffee, Kenco, Mars honored by Rainforest Alliance |

New York , NY — UK chain Costa Coffee, the Kenco Coffee Company and Mars Inc. are among the companies and organizations who have been named Sustainability Standard-Setters this year by the Rainforest Alliance.

The nonprofit organization holds it annual Sustainability Standard-Setter award ceremony tomorrow and released the list of award winners today. The group strives to preserve rainforests, conserve biodiversity and foster sustainable livelihoods through responsible land-use and business practices and consumer behavior.

Click to read the rest of the entry found on

Coffeehouse observation No. 306 – The store is closed, folks; Really it is

The at&t store across the street from the coffeehouse has been closed for the past week or so. There are several signs reading “This AT&T location has closed.” But at least every hour someone – a current or prospective at&t customer, it can be assumed – walks up to the door, pulls on the handle, rattles the door just to make sure that it is in fact locked, and puts their hands up to their faces to shield their eyes from the glare as they peer into the closed store. Some have even grabbed the handle again and tried the door one more time before walking away with a slightly befuddled look on their faces. The store is closed, folks. Trust me.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 305 – ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ at the coffeehouse

The guy sitting in front of me at the coffeehouse looks a lot like Johnny Depp. And I think on purpose.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 304 – Topless coffee shop in Maine closing down

Owner plans to close Grand View Topless Coffee Shop: Donald Crabtree sees citation as final straw | The (Waterville, Maine) Morning Sentinel

VASSALBORO, Maine – Donald Crabtree says he opened the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in 2009 so that he, his staff and his customers could smile.

Crabtree isn’t smiling anymore.

Following a recent notice from the town’s code officer that the shop was violating zoning rules by displaying new signs – one advertised a benefit topless car wash – Crabtree said this week that he plans to close the controversial business on Route 3 when his inventory is sold in the coming months.

“I wanted to have some fun; I wanted to see people smile,” Crabtree said. “I started the topless coffee shop to do that, and it did. But now my smile’s gone. I’ve fought that fight for more than two years now and no matter how hard I try to make this work, somebody sabotages me.”

The shop, which has featured topless waitresses serving coffee, garnered national media attention when it first opened in this rural community, provoking outrage among many residents. It has prompted Vassalboro and many other communities to adopt ordinances regulating where and when sexually oriented businesses can operate

Click for the rest of the story by Scott Monroe in The Morning Sentinel.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Space, The Final Frontier: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Offers a Day Trip That Is Out of This World, DAVID, May 2011

Cover page for Virgin Galactic story in DAVID magazine.

Cover page for Virgin Galactic story in DAVID magazine.

Space, The Final Frontier: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Offers a Day Trip That Is Out of This World, DAVID, May 2011

Here’s a story I wrote for the May 2011 issue of DAVID magazine in Las Vegas. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. By the way, the spread was designed by Adam Bucci, a former co-worker at The Reporter in Vacaville, Calif., who until recently was the art director at DAVID. I thank Adam for his fine work to best display the story.

Oh, and here’s the PDF version

Space, The Final Frontier: Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Offers a Day Trip That Is Out of This World, DAVID, May 2011 (PDF version)

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Short film featuring my coffeehouse

Well, it’s not exactly MY coffeehouse, but I do frequent it on a very regular basis. Here’s a brief look at the place. Enjoy! … Oh, yeah! It was shot by a guy named Allen Lin. Good job!

Allen Lin – Empresso Cafe & Stockton Empire Theatre from Chabot College TV on Vimeo.

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Starbucks releases 2010 Global Responsibility Report | Calelus Consulting blog

Starbucks releases annual report.

Starbucks releases annual report.

Starbucks releases 2010 Global Responsibility Report | Calelus Consulting blog