Category Archives: Trips

Checking Out Italy, January 2017

My friends have been asking me my plans to visit Italy January 14-31 so I put just a tiny blog post together to capture my thoughts and allow for advice from everyone =]

Planning my trip in Italy. If you're a coffee professional in Rome/Florence/Rimini/Venice/Milan then let's chat!

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First off, I am heading to Chicago Sunday January 8, then leave for Fort Collins, Colorado on January 11. Leaving straight from Denver to Rome, Italy. I chose to fly into Rome because how could that be a poor decision? I am in Italy because I will be working the event in Rimini January 21-25. So I have from January 14th till the 20th to explore. Then I fly out of Milan, Italy on January 31.

With all that said, here is my ROUGH agenda:

  • January 13: leave Denver
  • January 14: get to Rome, stay CouchSurfing in Rome till January 19 when I will travel to Rimini for the work event. I land in Rome at 3:41PM.
  • January 15:
    • 9:30A-12:30P Colosseum, so many choices (3 hour tour $48 link). May even see the Baths of Caracalla & Villa Quintili Combo while there ($11 link)
    • Have till 7P to take this 50 minute tour of Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit ($11 link). Since I work for a brand called DaVinci Gourmet, I sort of have to see this, right?
  • January 16:
    • 9A-12P Catacombs – St. Sebastian Catacombs and Appian Way Coach Tour ($59 link)
  • January 17: make sure I see most of these….
    • Mamertine Prison
    • Capitol Hill
    • Victor Emmanuel Monument
    • Pantheon
    • Piazza Navona
    • St Peters
    • Vatican museum
    • Dolce Vita stroll
    • Trevi Fountain
  • January 18: might head into Florence, if so to see……
    • Florence tourist interests:
      • La Marzocco espresso machine plant
      • Duomo (possible audio tour $23 link)
      • Baptistry
      • Palazzo Vecchio
      • Ponte Vecchino
      • Midici Chapel
      • Piazzale Michelangelo
  • January 19:
      • Cooking class, 10-2p ($86 link)
      • Walking food tour, 3P-5P ($72 link)
      • 2 people required – Beer tour ($63 link)
        • Other odd adventures
  • January 20-25: work at the Sigep event, Rimini
    • Rimini tourist interests
  • January 26-30: Venice
    • Venice tourist interests
      • St Mark’s Basilic
  • January 30-31: Milan
    • Milan tourist interests
      • Milan Cathedral (link)
      • Piazza del Duomo (link)
      • Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II (link)
  • January 31: 10:25AM fly out of Milan, Italy arriving in Chicago January 31st at 5:17PM

Drinking Through Toronto

Off to Toronto! This planes paint is all scratched off — hope the seats aren’t held together with duck tape

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Happy and dehydrated ‘hello, eh’ from Toronto Ontario. This is my 4th trip to Canada, 2nd time to Toronto this year! What a crazy awesome career I have to actually be working in these cities, hard to believe they also pay me! I wanted to share the places I went to and talk about them just a little more. No I haven’t gone to every cafe in the city of course, and no not every bar either! ….but a guy can dream.

Toronto for a coffee festival, Anaheim next weekend for another coffee festival 🙈

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I’m a sucker for taking those cheesy-tourist-photos =]

First off, I should tell the story of where I stayed, 1 place was a host, the other was a shady-hostel. ……more about those later….. That hostel place was so terrible……… Myyyy goodness it could be its own short video, yeah, that may have to be how I do it?

In somewhat chronological order (thanks Instagram for helping me remember!), here are the cafes that I checked out over my two trips to Toronto July and September of 2016. I flew in on a Saturday, giving me all day Sunday to explore one area in downtown.

First place I stopped by was definitely my favorite conversation, turns out I was served by the two owners which is always a blast for me. I love to see a happy healthy couple who are together following their passion, its not terribly uncommon either. I was chatting with them about the Toronto coffee culture and where I should go next. What is so great about visiting a new city is that I pick out a great cafe then ask them where I should go next, I can’t recall a time when this has steered me wrong.


Doughnuts topped with brownies you say???

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They also had some lovely pastries, I only indulged in one….. so far. After my one coffee Outpost suggested I head to Propeller Coffee.

I tried some of their house kombucha on tap because Outpost had me really fired up with caffeine after just one ‘flat white.’ A blessing and a curse. The space was great, its a huge space with great design and thought put into the space.

Digging this huge coffee growing mural map

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Who doesn’t love a little coffee map?

Love this photo: Toronto + Bill Nye + coffee + sunny day + bliss

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There’s a cafe called Extra Butter Coffee? Well yeah, that totally has to be my next stop! Of course, they were making the ‘bullet proof’ style coffee which I started seeing in spring of 2013, really taking full force in 2015. There are a few places doing butter in their coffee, usually coconut oil as well, personally I like it with cinnamon powder as well. I talked to the barista about a few riff ideas but either I was still zinging from espresso or he wasn’t into it – what ya gonna do?

“Ok, let’s talk cascara cherries sir” #NerdOutWithMe

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I spent a bit of time talking to the baristas at Reunion Island Coffee Bar, before running across the street to grab a slice of pizza…. make that two slices actually. The baristas were into the idea of sharing ideas and recipes. Now that it has been a couple of months I don’t remember precisely the ingredients that went into this drink, but it was something like a cascara (coffee cherry) soaked in a simple syrup with a little maple, then poured over tonic. I remember really enjoying it and chatting for a while about tonic in drinks. My thought is there needs to be less espresso in most recipes I see around the USA. I also talked about my own “Espresso Tonic” recipe that I was making in Dublin Ireland for the World of Coffee 2016 event. My main point was to use less espresso than you think you need, then try it again the next day with even less espresso.

Grabbed an iced hibiscus tea on tap

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Lit Espresso Bar, was doing some cool things. Mostly I want to point out their chalkboard sign, and the helpful graph they have that shows milk ratios for beverages. Its such a great graph to help people decide what to get or what they may like the most.

For that Sunday I was shot, I headed to a music festival on the beach and then crashed for the day. Picking up on Monday I headed to Kensington Market where I saw things like this and heard things like that. Eclectic area.

I was blown away by this idea. In August I played around with my own versions of chia meeting soda, how the dynamic textures combine to make one flavor experience. This one was a sort of lemonade soda flavor. Didn’t care toooooo much for the color of it.

Fun Toronto cafe menu

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That location was called Moonbean Coffee, its funny but I was only headed there because I heard they had a clean restroom, so glad I dropped by!


Nearly missed that one 🙄

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There I am nearly missing the plane to get back to Wisconsin! It happens sometimes, oops.


Then I was back from more in September 2016 for the Canadian Coffee and Tea Show. My co-worker Joey led a class called “Barista Meets Bartender” and I helped lead as well. These were drinks with coffee and booze in them. The really cool thing was Joey (the bartender) made drinks that a cafe can bring into their business if they have a limited liquor license (or just small storage), then I (the barista) focused on what can a bar do with just adding cold brew.

"BARIST MEETS BARTENDER" class just finished and one of us is buzzed and one is boozed 😉

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(No the caption below isn’t totally true – but it seemed so playful and fun I just had to)

Busy cafe, Toronto, natural light and caffeine bursting from everywhere

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Dineen, met two baristas from Australia here. I must say, the manager (oh no, I forgot her name!) may the most killer-dream-about-that-foam-latte for me. Gooooooodness it was good. I may or maaaaay have gone back again for a decaf latte, and again the next day, just saying.

This rad cafe has the best phone…..

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The whole space is gorgeous, so old-world and charming. Checkout the phone they have on the wall, yes, that is the phone, yes it does work….. Either its BRILLIANT or ridiculous (and that’s pretty much how I like to live my life).

I wouldn’t have stopped in Hot Black Coffee if not for the sign outside, but I am so glad I did. Look at these crazy creations, how have I not been using agar to turn liquids into gels? What an idea. It was super fun to suck through the straw.

NEO COFFEE BAR as you can see by my Instagram post, there was a lot to love about this space. I think the caption is enough for now.

Sipping a Coffee Soda in Toronto

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After hanging out in one cafe for a few hours and working on my emails I headed to Cafe de Melbourne, to change up the scenery. I love walking cafe to cafe, seeing a city from the streets, hearing the sounds and smelling the smells. Sometimes making friends along to way. This cafe is another one owned by a husband and wife, the husband originally from Portland Oregon and the wife from Australia. They moved to Toronto fairly recently and opened this location, living upstairs in the building. What a dream, right? If you visit you gotta check out the reclaimed hand washing water that is used to fill the toilet water – I had heard about these but hadn’t seen one yet!