Coffeehouse observation No. 316 – Sweatpants as a fashion statement

Sweatpants are sweatpants, even if they have pockets and you wear them with a nice shirt. … I’m just sayin’. … I suppose I should mention that to the guy who just walked into the coffeehouse, but I’m not sure he would change his wardrobe or sense of fashion style.

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Seasoned writer, editor seeking freelance gigs

Hello world! I’m in between gigs so I am available for freelance writing/editing jobs. Please keep me in mind should you need help with writing/editing projects of any size.

And don’t forget, I can telecommute across the World Wide Web, so projects do not have to be limited Northern California.


Keith Michaud

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Published in: on June 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Coffeehouse observation No. 315 – This guy is trying too hard

OK, a beret and long hair tied in a ponytail? Really? This bozo is really trying too hard to fit in at the coffeehouse.

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Coffee farmers eliminate the middle man |

Purveyors of food that’s said to be better for us or for the planet deploy a growing number of adjectives – organic, Fair Trade, sustainable, local, natural, vegetarian, humane, low-carbon, small-scale or slow – to sell their wares.

Here’s another: Farmer-owned.

Being farmer-owned is the unique selling proposition of the Pachamama Coffee Cooperative, a company owned by more than 100,000 coffee farmers who have formed co-ops in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Peru, Nicaragua and Mexico. They have been selling their organic, Fair Trade beans to customers in the U.S. through select retail outlets since 2006. Now, in a twist, and with hopes of expanding their business, they are selling directly to consumers through a website called

CSAs – the initials stand for community-supported agriculture – have been spreading like wildflowers in recent years. Typically, consumers contract directly with a nearby farmer to buy a weekly assortment of fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat or other farm goods, usually for a fixed fee, in return for which they get a share of the harvest, depending on what’s in season at any given time.

Chick for the rest of this blog item by Senior Writer Marc Gunther.



Coffeehouse observation No. 314 – Lunch doesn’t mean finger food or finger talk

It’s lunchtime and the guy at the next table at the coffeehouse is talking about how one of his employees had a finger amputated. … At lunch you’re taking about amputations?! And in way too much detail?! At lunch?! … Really?!

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Coffeehouse observation No. 313 – Some coffeehouse policies shine above others

“The first refill is free” is an outstanding policy at a coffeehouse. OUTSTANDING!

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Coffeehouse observation No. 312 – It’s worth a conversation about, well, conversations!

I’ve hit onto something, um, different. At Empresso, the coffeehouse I frequent most often in Stockton, I’m among the older patrons. But at my temporary coffeehouse, not so much.

Sure, there are a few who are older at Empresso, no doubt. But it’s pretty obvious to those who see me that I’m graying and balding on top and a bit broader than I once was in the middle.

I’m a middle-age guy. There! I’ve admitted it! Now everyone get off my back! And while you’re at it, off my lawn!

Whew! I better cut back on the caffeine. … Ya, sure, as if that’s gonna happen!

Anyway, I’m away from Stockton for a while and I had to find a temporary port of call to satisfy my caffeine cravings. Actually, I had to re-find this particular port of call.

Pure Grain Café has been around Vacaville for years, but it wasn’t until shortly before I left for Stockton that they opened a coffeehouse in historic downtown Vacaville – coffee, pastries, sandwiches, soup and salads. It is that now-familiar morph between straight coffeehouse and luncheon deli.

It’s a sunny and bright place. The Vacaville city seal is a sun shining down brightly on the golden rolling hills around and outside the city. Pure Grain Café’s interior is painted yellow to match the sun. And many of the patrons are in their sunny golden years.

That means I’m not so much “the old guy” anymore. A couple of times so far this week, I was among the youngest patrons in the coffeehouse!

It was great to sit there enjoying a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin, surfing the Web, and watching a few of Vacaville’s long-time residents. Like many coffeehouses, Pure Grain Café is a place where old friends wave and call out to each other and then plop down beside each other at a table to spend the next few hours talking. Just talking about this and that and the other thing. Talking about everything and simply nothing at all.

It is difficult in this electronic age where lives can change – fortunes forged, fortunes pissed away, careers made, careers decimated, friendships solidified, friendships destroyed, loves gained, loves lost – all in the click of a mouse or in the sending of a text. We seem to have lost the art of conversation. Sad. We miss so much by failing to carry out one of the most human of activities – conversation.

We all should take the time to have long, meandering conversations that seem to go nowhere and everywhere at the same time, conversations that solve the world’s problems, great and small, and conversations in which recipes for “the world’s best chili” or “the world’s best burger” are exchanged with impunity.

We should return to those conversations in which words spoken are as important as the words left unspoken. We should return to those conversations carried out under willow trees dancing in the wind, on boats with water slowly lapping against the hull, in hushed tones of conspiracy or love or both, and conversations accompanied by boisterous laughter.

Conversations should be lively, animated and meaningful. If not, why not just text the person.

I did not eavesdrop – at least, not much – but it was clear that the conversations among old friends going on at the tables in Pure Grain Café were lively, animated … and very meaningful. My table was the only one on which there was an electronic device. Those conversations – those meaningful conversations – required no email, instant messaging or texting. No electronics at all were used to carry out the actual conversations.

Don’t get me wrong! Electronics and the amazing Internet are vital to our world and they will be essential to bringing this country more economic stability. But personal conversations are just as vital.

Let’s talk about it, at least.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 311 – Hot, steamy coffee on a rainy day

The weather in California has been, well, to say the least, weird this year. It’s raining on the first day of June. By now we normally would have experienced a couple of 90-degree days, but I cannott recall even one so far.

It’s been gray, cloudy, rainy and windy today. It truly feels like fall or winter in Northern California.

It’s just the right weather for a hot, steamy cup of coffee enjoyed in an inviting coffeehouse. I’m sucking down the house blend at Pure Grain Café, my temporary coffeehouse headquarters for the week that I am in Vacaville cat-, house- and mansion-sitting. Nothing quite like a hot, steamy cup of coffee – or tea, in a pinch – to chase away the chill of foul weather.

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