The End of a Journey

All good things must come to an end. With the semester coming to a close, so does this coffee journey. It has definitely been an interesting and revealing journey. Never did I picture myself writing a blog. And I will admit that upon first reading about this assignment I was not too happy. Having to come up with a topic of interest and then write about it every other week? It seemed like a lot of work to me. As the semester progressed doing this blog became something that I looked forward to. It no longer felt like an assignment. Instead it felt like something of leisure. With that being said here is a little insight as to how my blogging journey went.

Many tools were used when writing this blog. In my opinion the most effective of those tools was Twitter. Twitter offered me with an opportunity not only to get my blog out to people I knew, but also anyone who was interested in the topic. This was possible through the use of the correct hashtags. Social media in general is a tool that has proven to be effective when trying to reach out to a wider audience than just the people you know. I will definitely be using it in my future endeavors.

One thing I do plan on improving is my consistency. I was really inconsistent when it came to posting stuff. Sometimes posting 2 to 3 blog posts within the hour. I feel that by improving my consistency when posting, not only will I attract more readers, but also keep them wanting more.

My experience with this blog is definitely one that I will carry. Although this blog may be coming to an end, I do plan on starting a new blog. As an aspiring sports journalist I believe that writing a blog related to sports will not only help me grow as a writer, but also help me build my resume and make connections with fellow sports journalist. One chapter may be ending today, but another one is set to begin.

The week of September 21st turned out to be my most popular week. That week had a total of 9 visitors and 25 viewers. My most popular post of the semester was my first post of the semester getting a total of 10 viewers. I believe these two were the most popular because of the way I used social media to promote it. I was also able to connect with another coffee enthusiast via WordPress who read and shared my article on his up and coming blog. What was most surprising to me about these stats was the fact that using twitter really attracted people to the site. Although the numbers weren’t as high as I thought they would be, I do expect them to go up in my next blog knowing what I now know.

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Overall this experience as a blogger has made me realize that writing is what I want to do for a living. I enjoy writing to an audience and having them read what I have to stay. So stay tuned for my new blog coming soon guys and thanks for reading!

 

The Best Cup in Town

With finals approaching this week I am sure we are all looking for a place to study. A place that will provide us with that energy to get through those long all night study sessions. Well that place is right down our very street. Located right on the corner of LBJ & Hutchinson, the Stellar Café is the place for all students to go and enjoy a nice cup of coffee while also getting their studying on.

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Upon arriving at the café, I was greeted instantly by the barista who seemed eager to not only help me, but also converse. We had a good conversation about our upcoming finals and our plans for the break. Not bad for two people who did not know each other at all. The service offered at the Stellar Café is well stellar. They make you feel welcome.

The atmosphere in this café is one of peace and quiet. Whether you want to sit down and study or just find a nice place to read and relax, the Stellar Café offers it all. You are given the option of either sitting at the bar while drinking your coffee. This enables you to have a conversation with your barista. Or you can sit at one of the many tables or couches located throughout the store. If the weather is nice and  you want to enjoy it then step outside with your drink and have a seat on their patio. Overall the Stellar Café offers it all when it comes to accommodations.

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The Stellar Café offers a variety of iced or hot drinks. So no matter the weather, this café has you covered. From regular coffee to one of Stellar Cafés signature drinks, you will have options galore. I decided to go ahead and order the Cat’s Meow on my visit. Boy was that a great choice. The mixture of white mocha with the espresso shots was perfect and the artwork on top of the drink was phenomenal. If you don’t believe me then see for yourself.

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Overall my experience at the Stellar Café was great. I would definitely recommend this to everyone. The drink quality was great. The customer service was outstanding. And the overall vibe of the place was on another level. If you want more information just check out the Stellar Cafés website. Until next time!

 

 

Top 5

In this blog post I will be ranking the top 5 coffee shops I have mentioned in my blog so far!

Don’t forget to check out all of these cool coffee shops! For more info on the #1 go ahead and visit their website!

Home Sweet Home

Hey guys! This post is going to be a little different than my previous ones. This weekend I actually came home for the weekend so I will be giving you a little insight to a coffee shop you must visit if you are ever in the Rio Grande Valley. It’s called Java Café. Located right in the middle of downtown Harlingen. I will be honest with you. Finding a coffee shop not named Starbucks in the valley is not an easy task. But even with all the Starbucks around, Java Café (also known as J&B’s Café) remains strong.

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The location of this coffee shop is key. As mentioned before, it is located right in the center of historic Downtown Harlingen. Also known as Jackson Street. Surrounding the coffee shop you have various antique shops, classic cars museums, and even event centers/old movie theaters. Just walking around the coffee shop is a must. The various works of graffiti art around the area is something any person can enjoy.

Inside the coffee shop is where the magic is. Walking into the coffee shop is like walking into your house. The baristas are friendly and the coffee is just like the one you smell every morning at home. The feeling of homeliness alone left me wanting to come back for more. But trust me there is more to this coffee shop than just that. The variety of food and coffee is a must. In my trip to this coffee shop I was able to try just a regular cup of joe and one of their homemade cobbler. After the first bite I was hooked. I had to get another and another and ANOTHER piece of cobbler. It was that good.

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If you are also looking for some entertainment, then come on down to the café for open mic night. Whether you want to listen or actually perform. It is open to anyone and everyone who wants to join. I almost got up there myself and started throwing out some rhymes. I don’t think the world is ready for these skills though.

In my 18 years of living in this town I had never set foot in this coffee shop. But boy am I sure glad I did now. I know next time I come down here I will be back. Sorry Starbucks, but there’s someone new in my life now.

Wake The Dead

As college students we have all experienced the feeling of death. Whether from a long night of shenanigans with your friends or from pulling an all-nighter studying for an exam. Regardless of the reason, the next morning we are all in search of something to revive us from our death-like states. Well if you are in San Marcos then I definitely have the place for you. Located on Old Ranch Road, Wake the Dead Coffee House is a great place to get your coffee needs.

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Wake the Dead coffee house is a great place to study. Upon walking in you are greeted by two or three baristas all ready to take your order. The dim lighting in the coffee shop gives it that spooky yet welcoming feeling. Once you receive your drinks you have a decision to make. Either proceed to the study or go out the back door to the courtyard. If you are looking for a quiet place to study I would recommend the study. But if you are just looking to relax and maybe mingle a bit I would recommend proceeding outside to courtyard.

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Enough about the place. Let us get down to the drink selection. Wake the Dead offers a variety of different drinks. From beer to coffee. Whether you are looking to awaken from the dead or leave like a zombie, Wake the Dead offers it all. The iced mocha here is to die for. I have tasted many iced mochas from various different coffee shops, but Wake the Dead’s is amazing. The combination of the mocha syrup and espresso shots go down smoothly. You can barely taste the shots in the drink. I had to have two while I was there.

Overall, Wake the Dead Coffee House is a must visit for any student in the city of San Marcos. Whether its to study or just a quiet night of drinking that isn’t the square, this versatile coffee shop gets two thumbs up from me.

Cat-tuccino

This one goes out to all my cat lovers out there. Just the other day I made a discovery of a different unique type of café located right in East Austin. It is actually the only one of its kind in not only Texas, but also the United States! The name of this place is, the Blue Cat Café. What is a cat café you may ask? Well its quite simple its a café filled with cats that are up for adoption and available for you to interact with, while you drink coffee! And we have one right here in Austin!

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Upon driving up to Blue Cat Café, you catch a glimpse of the front of the cat mural painted right in the front of the establishment. You can tell this place is serious about their cats. Also located outside the front door is the food truck where you order all of your beverages and/or food. We will come back to this in a second. At the front door you are greeted by one of the many employees and are asked to pay an entrance fee of $5 as well as sign a waiver. They also have a poster with the three golden rules once inside. After completing all of this, the fun really begins.

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Before we get into what awaits you inside, lets talk more about the food truck stationed right outside Blue Cat Café on the catio. This food trucks has a variety to choose from. Coffee being the primary drink of choice. My personal favorite drink from here was the White Mocha Latte. One thing you should be aware of is that they only offer Soy and Almond milk. Although I did not try any of the food there, the smell of one particular dish left me wanting to come back and try it. That was Blue Cat Café’s signature Blue Ribbon Bris-CAT. The smell was overwhelming and hit you right in the face as you walked out of your car. The coffee itself was also delicious. Despite only serving soy and almond milk, it was still very enjoyable. Overall the food and drink quality is something I would recommend trying.

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Although the food and coffee is great, the real reason to go to the Blue Cat Café is for the experience. Once inside you are greeted by tons of cats. Everywhere you look there is a cat waiting to be played with or even adopted. Just take your pick and have at it! What is better than enjoying a cup of coffee while playing and just cuddling up with a cat? Nothing really. The cats all have either a blue or red collar on. Each signifying whether the cat is up for adoption or whether he permanently resides at the establishment. That is what makes this place so unique. It isn’t just a place to drink coffee or play with cats, but also serves as an adoption center. Aside from the cats itself, Blue Cat Café also offers card games, such as Exploding Kitten, for the customer to enjoy while there. The art work located all around is quite a sight as it stands out and really draws your attention. The vibe from the staff and all your fellow cat lovers is one of homeliness. Everyone is friendly to one another, but how could you possibly be in a bad mood with all the cats around you.

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If you are a cat lover and also enjoy coffee then this a place you must visit. Just don’t plan on getting any studying done because these cats will take all of your attention. It is definitely a good place just to relax when stressed out. Check out there website for for more information at http://www.bluecatcafe.com. As for me, I am going to go back to playing with these cats. So enjoy this cat video. Until next time guys!

Lord of the Bean: The Fellowship of the Bean

Hey guys! It’s me again. Today I’m taking a little different approach. Rather than talk to you about a new coffee shop this week, I am going to talk to you about the blog that inspired it all. I like to compare coffee blogging to the Lord of the Ring trilogy. Before you think I sound crazy, just take a second to listen. You see all the different coffee knowledge we provide is the ring in this scenario. And all of us coffee bloggers are a part of the fellowship aiding in getting the ring to Mordor to save the world. Which in this case would be us bringing you the information need to save you from drinking bad coffee. I like to think of myself as the Legolas of the group thanks to my ravishing good looks. And then there is the man who is the most important role in that he actually carries the ring, in this case it would be the man with the most knowledge which would be Mr. Brian W. Jones, the Frodo Baggins of our journey.

Brian W. Jones is the creator of one of the most popular coffee blogs out there. He started the blog in 2009 and to this day it continues to grow. He is the coffee master. His motto for his blog is, “Love coffee, live well, give back & inspire others.” He has been my inspiration to blog about coffee and has definitely helped my knowledge of it grow vastly. You can find his blog at http://www.dearcoffeeiloveyou.com

Something unique about this blog is that it isn’t just limited to one certain area, but rather provides insight to great coffee all around the world. While most of us are not blessed with opportunity to travel to these places, his writing about this places alone makes you feel as if you are already there. His astounding photography of the coffee shops give you an insight to it that one might not experience without his view. But it is his personal stories about each of these coffee shops that really make you fall in love with these places and leave you wanting to come back for more. Overall this blog is a must follow for any coffee lovers or anybody in general really.

Here is a picture of one of the coffee shops shared on his blogs.

Here is a picture of one of the coffee shops shared on his blogs.

With that being said, I salute you Mr. Brian W. Jones. It is your beautiful blogging about coffee that really inspired me to follow in your footsteps and start my own coffee journey. As for you my readers, go check out his blog along with my other blog posts as we continue on this journey to bring all the coffee knowledge to you. As for me, I’ll continue to shoot these arrows of coffee enlightenment to you, like my good friend Legolas would do.

Yes, that is yours truly as Legolas.

Yes, that is yours truly as Legolas.

Monkeying Around

Hey guys! It’s been a while. Let’s start off with a fresh update on my coffee journey. I am still working at Starbucks. So come visit your favorite barista whenever you please. Also I have been making constant trips to Austin which has lead me to discover many different and wild coffee shops. Just the other day I was out monkeying around when I ran into one of my new favorite coffee shops…

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Located on Burnet Road, Monkey Nest is a 24 hour locally owned coffee shop. Whether you are looking for a place to study or just somewhere to hang out, Monkey Nest offers it all. No matter the time of day, Monkey Nest is a great place to grab a cup of joe and study. If you decide to come by on a Friday or Saturday evening be prepared to enjoy some live local music courtesy of Monkey Nest for FREE. I promise it won’t affect your studying as the music is not overpowering. It is actually quite relaxing and enjoyable. Here is a little preview of one of their frequent musicians, Vance Hurd.

Monkey Nest isn’t just a place to study or enjoy live music though. It also offers a variety of tasty drinks and edibles as well. Whether you love coffee or tea, Monkey Nest has it all. Just like any other coffee shop, Monkey Nest offers your typical coffee beverage. But you can’t come here and not enjoy one of their signature lattes. My personal favorite from this list is the Monkey’s Uncle. It sounds weird, but trust me you won’t regret it. It is an espresso based drink with mocha syrup, banana, syrup, and peanut butter syrup. Whether you want it hot or iced is up to you. Monkey Nest also offers many different pastries. The homemade chocolate muffins are to die for. Not only are they delicious, but they are gigantic. Eat it all on your own if you dare. Or share it with someone like I did.

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Each drink and pastry is made fresh by some of the best baristas around. Such as my favorite barista Mohit who is shown below. He is an aspiring filmmaker so check out his stuff on http://www.mohitjaswal.com!

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Monkey Nest also offers a wide variety of different art to enjoy around the shop. From multiple different monkey statues and memorabilia (of course) or the different photography work found hanging on the walls. But the most iconic and unforgettable work of art is located around back. Walk around back and you will see a mural on a dumpster with monkeys galore. It is one of those murals that you just have to Instagram. Take it look at it below! But you must check it out for yourself.

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Whether you are looking for a place to study or a place to listen to some great music, all while enjoying a cup of coffee, then Monkey Nest is the place to be. The music is great. The drink and food are to die for. And the baristas are top of the line. It is definitely a must visit if you are in the Austin area. If you want more info on their upcoming events or a look at their full menu check out their website http://www.monkeynestcoffee.com/. With that being said, stop monkeying around and get yourself down here right now! Time for me to go. The music is about to start. Hope to see you here!

Coffeeology

Coffeeology as defined by yours truly is the study of all things coffee. Okay so I made that up. But before we embark on this journey together I feel that it is necessary you have an idea of the history of coffee and all that is available to you. Coffee was first discovered in the 11th century in Ethiopia! Can you believe that we drink something that is centuries old?! Although discovered in the 11th century, coffee did not make its way into the United States of America until the 18th century. Since the first arrival of coffee we have found many different ways to get that delicious taste out of those little beans and make all kinds of drinks.

Now guys I really need you all to pay attention to this part. As a barista it really irritates me when people order something but have no idea what they are truly getting then complain because they didn’t realize that was what they ordered. So with that being said I will now teach you all the different types of espresso drinks and what they consist of. That way you won’t be that one customer all baristas despise.

For starters we have your basic coffee. Just plain old black coffee. Following me still? From there our next closest drink to coffee, the Americano. The Americano is basically a stronger version of coffee. It is made with shots of espresso (also its ESPRESSO not EXPRESSO) and hot water. Then you can add cream or sugar just like a coffee. Now here is where things get a little confusing. From here you have your lattes which will be made with shots of espresso at the bottom, followed by your syrup of choice if any, and topped with steamed milk or cold milk if you prefer them iced. These drinks would be like your Mochas, White Mochas, or every girls favorite the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Next we have what would be known as Macchiato. A macchiato is basically an upside down latte. Made with syrup of choice on the bottom, steamed milk, followed by foam, and topped with the shots of espresso and in some cases some sort of drizzle such as caramel. Now we come to our cappuccino. A cappuccino is made with shots of espresso, followed with half foam and half steamed milk. Many people order this drink and then complain because it is only half filled with milk. Even though that is exactly what a cappuccino is. Next we venture off into the frozen world of coffee. These are known as Frappuccino’s. Frappuccino’s are made with coffee roast, your syrup of choice, milk, ice, and a coffee base to make it creamier. Most tend to be topped with whipped cream. For those of you who need a visual as to what I am talking about please refer to the chart bellow.

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Those are your basic espresso drinks. Most are available at any coffee shop you may venture to. There is an even bigger selection of drinks available, but I won’t go into details on those unless necessary in future posts. In case you are curious as to what other complicated drinks check out one of my favorite coffee related sites Espresso Coffee Guide. Now that you have an idea of some of the different types of coffee drinks out there you can actually follow along with what I order as a venture out to coffee shops around the Austin/San Marcos area. Well I’m in need of a cup of joe now myself. Until next time guys!

Love at first sip.

Hey guys! I’m glad you guys are joining me on this journey I am about to embark on. This is my first time blogging so bear with me. So I guess lets start of with a little background information on yours truly.

My name is Ivan Palacios. I’m 22 years old. Mass Communications & Journalism student at Texas State University. I am also a barista at your local Starbucks. Come visit me some time. Don’t be afraid to say hi! I am also a coffee enthusiast. If there is coffee involved then count me in!

Taking orders and selfies at the same time.

Yours truly, taking your orders and selfies at the same time.

I had my first taste of coffee at the young age of 8. I’ve loved it ever since. I guess you can say it was love at first sip. But it wasn’t until I started working at Starbucks that I learned of all the different types of coffee there is out in the world. My eyes were open to a whole new world. Since then I have developed a passion for all types of coffee and espresso drinks. Now it is my passion to go out and try all the different types of coffee I can find.

With that being said, I plan on giving insight to all my fellow coffee drinkers to all the best coffee shops and drinks available in our area. And hopefully in the process turn some of you non-coffee drinkers to the dark side. Or light side if you like cream in your coffee. If you are a coffee beginner and want to know where to start just check out Starbucks website for great information on some of your coffee basics. Or just keep reading my blog and I’ll be your coffee guide. So grab your mugs and lets get this show on the road.