Coffee Lovers and Stocking Stuffers

Well, we’re here. We’ve made it deep into the holiday season, and halfway through our cheap, chocolate filled advent calendars. If you’re like me, you’re still (stressfully) shopping for the people on your list. Bearing that in mind, I give you my final 2016 holiday gift guide! This one covers your coffee lovers and your stocking stuffers. Enjoy!

FOR THE ALWAYS-CAFFEINATED

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Just like last year, I’m obsessed with the idea of coffee being delivered straight to my mailbox (instead of realizing I’m out at 6am and pouting for 10 minutes before I settle for a cup of old tea). Coffee subscription boxes allow you to try different beans from all over the country, and sometimes from all over the world.

Driftaway Coffee is a customized coffee subscription service that bases their selections for you on your given flavor profile preferences. First, they send you a box FULL of different kinds of beans (my favorite so far is the Brazil. SERIOUSLY one of the best coffees I’ve ever had). Once you’ve had a chance to try them all, you enter what you liked and didn’t to the Driftaway app. From there on out, the beans you receive will be chosen by the experts at Driftaway based on what they think will perk you up the most, allowing you to discover new beans and roasts that you never knew about before.

Learn more here!

Of course, it’s not just what you brew, it’s how you brew it! I like to keep it simple with my coffee setup, but also enjoy experimenting with new brew methods.

  • Bodum Pourover Set — I saw this at Target the other day and freaked out! This pourover set up is a) aesthetically pleasing and b) has a built in filter. HELLO. This is great for your friends who are having trouble coming to terms with their strained relationship with Mr. Coffee.
  • Hario Skerton Coffee Mill — This hand grinder allows the brewer to have ultimate control over the grind of their beans, while also getting a sufficient bicep workout. Probably best for the experienced coffee drinker, and not your friend’s mom who is going to mistake this for a ~ swanky pepper grinder ~
  • Bodum Travel Press — ALERT ALERT! YOU CAN NOW MAKE A FRENCH PRESS WHILE YOU TRAVEL. Easiest decision you’ve made all day.
  • Aeropress Coffee Maker — This simple piece of brewing equipment has completely changed the game for my At Home Coffee Routine. The coffee produced by an aeropress is clean, and full of flavor. It also takes less than 5 minutes (if your water is hot) and you’ll look really cool prepping it in your office’s kitchen. Seriously, do recommend.

    [Also the aeropress kit literally comes with everything you need to brew, with the exception of beans. Have I sold you yet?]

  • Turkish Coffee PotWatch this video and then tell me* you don’t have a hip, home-barista friend who doesn’t need this in their life.

*ADMITTEDLY  I’ve never had Turkish coffee, but I hear that it’s some of the most aromatic and richly flavored around. PLUS THE POT IS COPPER!! Who doesn’t love copper in the kitchen?


Looking for something small and (possibly) snackable?

See below for my compilation of food-and-drink-centric stocking stuffers, all produced by small businesses and local makers from across the U.S.!

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And that wraps it up for holiday gift guides! I hope that everyone has had a fabulous holiday season so far, and that it only continues to be great.

SO looking forward for what’s to come in 2017 (and what’s to enter my stomach).

Saturday

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Saturday mornings are great, but there is a particular kind of Saturday morning that stands above all the rest for me.

That kind of Saturday begins by waking up gradually and not to the dreaded, repetitive tones of your cell phone’s alarm clock app. Lazily you toss and turn, take your morning dose of social media, and once you feel like your blankets have agreed to set you free you casually make your way to the kitchen.

Within mere minutes the aromas of hot, fresh coffee and over-medium eggs have replaced the morning’s breath (much different than morning breath). It’s quiet, other than your playlist, and you’re able to live slowly. You plan your day — or not — and you’re able to peacefully breathe for a minute, free from the stress off the past week’s responsibilities.

That’s the kind of Saturday morning I’ve had so far and I’m probably enjoying it too much. I have little to no plans of changing out of this baggy sweater any time soon, and there’s probably a second french press in my future (shout out to Caffe Vita for beans that are giving me life).

These are the jams that are on my Saturday playlist today. What kind of Saturday is revitalizing to you?

Consume | Austin•TX (Food + Drinks Want-To-Do List)

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If I let my mind wander to Austin it skips the plane ride completely and instead takes a shortcut right through my insatiable appetite for all things Tex-Mex. I imagine the types of Taco-centric lunches I’d indulge in; what kind of spicy mimosa I might stumble across on a brunch menu; and how long my eyes would be closed during my first bite of Texas BBQ.

Eating and trying new things is a part of traveling that really deepens the experience, and while I’ve never been to Austin before you better believe that I have a list that I’ve started compiling for when I get the chance to go. It covers all the bases from morning to night and even a little snacking in between. Check it out:

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And after all that I’m just here at a coffee bar eating a cold chocolate pastry and dreaming of doughnuts…

If you have any suggestions for Austin please let me know in a comment or email!

Speak to you soon,

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For the Coffee Enthusiast | Holiday Gift Guide

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If you know me, then you know that one thing I’m completely unapologetic about is being a coffee…snob. That’s right, I said it. With a history of working next to talented baristas, experience in espresso training and a hell of a lot of tastings and cuppings to boot I know what I like my coffee to taste like and love to educate people on why it tastes that way.

I have a few friends who are adamant that coffee is “solely for caffeine.” While that is partially true (I mean it does have caffeine), coffee is so much more than that; it’s chemistry, it’s agriculture, it’s a combination of factors that come together to form this perfect combination of… I’ll stop.

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Regardless of how you drink your coffee, I’m willing to bet you have a coffee-loving friend who you are idealess on what to get for a gift this holiday season. BOY DO I HAVE A TREAT FOR YOU. I present to you… my the coffee lover’s holiday wishlist:

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Hario V60 kettle – Perfect for pour overs and making people feel like their coffee is going to be served with tasting notes of nuts, cocoa and pretentious eye brow raises.

• Falcon Enamelwear mug – Enamelwear for the city dweller who likes to trick people into thinking they spend a lot of time outdoors. (“Yeah I love to take this mug with me when I go camping…”)

• Joco travel mug – Eco friendly and clear so your coworkers know exactly how serious you are about brewing your coffee at home before coming to work. Why use that Keurig in the breakroom? That’s for coffee peasants.

• Hario v60 – I don’t have any jokes to make about this because I want one so badly. A V60 is a way to brew a single, clean tasting cup of coffee. Highly recommend. (Pro tip: To look like a real sucker, put one arm behind your back and use with the kettle from above).

• Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder – One of the best at home coffee grinders on the market; great for a variety of brew methods and for making your friends feel insecure about their at home coffee routines.

Mistobox – A coffee subscription is an awesome way to try different beans from different roasters and different regions of the world. Mistobox was my favorite one that I saw out there; they customize your monthly box specifically for you based on your preferences. Perfect for those friends that love to Instagram their coffee pouring action shots or well composed shots of them holding things. (RLTC pick!)

Acaia Coffee scale – The most unneccessary, neccessary coffee item you never knew you needed. The scale connects to your iphone/android via app and gives you all the info you could ever need. (I’m in lust.) Why would your friend need a coffee scale? Learn more here

**Coffee lovers do not include: people who brew dunkin donuts coffee in a coffee maker daily OR people who seem like coffee lovers because they have an “espresso yourself” print in their kitchen.

Speak to you soon!

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**couldn’t find image credit for the first one so sorrryyyy**

Charleston via Iphone | Photo Diary

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1. My first impression of Isle of Palm was surreal. After being on the road all day ALL I wanted was the sand and the surf. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the salty air was the elixir that would get me through the rest of day.

2. Brunch at Toast! Of Charleston. I went to Toast twice; the first time offhandedly and the second was planned. My first trip there I was there during Sunday brunch. After doing a quick sweep of the menu I decided on a mimosa and a dish called Eggs on Meeting Street: a poached egg perched on top of a crab cake and a fried green tomato with remoulade and the most pillowy biscuit I’ve ever eaten…divine, okay? The company at Toast wasn’t bad either.

3. There was tile work everywhere in Charleston, especially on Kingstreet. Talk about a city with attention to detail.

4. Because, once again, I could not get enough of the beach. One of the best parts of the trip was just grabbing a quick picnic at whole foods and camping out on the sand until the sun went down. People watching was on point–but mostly I was excited about the puppy watching.

5. Black Tap coffee was entirely too charming and delicious. An iced coffee there was the perfect break to walking around in the hot sun all day (and also a break from a chapter in the story called: I locked my keys in my car. Woops).

6. Breakfast in bed because the berries were too vibrant not to capture.

7. Sunny flowers on rainy days.

8. My trip down to Charleston was a self proclaimed #coffeeroadtrip. I stopped at a stop in Chattanooga and a shop in Atlanta. The shop in Atlanta was called Octane and it was by far the smoothest cup of Ethiopian coffee I have ever had. Octane is a café and a bar, so needless to say I can’t think of any better place to be watching the World Cup right now.

9. I could’ve strolled down King Street alllllll day. And I did. And I got a really unappealing sunburn (pun intended)…(the pun is always intended you guys).

10. Another shot of the sunset over the sea at Isle of Palm. Perfection.

11. Milk and Honey was the other shop I stopped at on my way to Charleston. Before I had even gone inside I was in love. How can you deny such a cute store front? The inside was just as charming with the same honeycomb tiling and beautiful typography all over the walls. I’m crushing haaard on their branding. (And also their honey latte was the sweetest of treats).

12. Being on the beach alone was never lonely. No, it was really introspective for the most part. Just taking time to really absorb how the waves work and and massive it all is. It’s crazy. I recommend taking a personal moment or ten by the waves some time. You’ll get more sorting out done in your brain that you bargain for.

All of these photos were from my instagram which you can follow at @lacunningham!

I also updated my personal portfolio today and I would love for you to go take a look!

 

Speak to you soon

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Madrid | Spain Travel Diary

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Exploring a new destination means every day goes by lightning fast; one minute you’ve just touched down at the airport, and the next you’re taking off again. That was definitely the case with Spain. There were a lot fewer free moments than I was anticipating so a break from constant blogging accidentally ensued, but I am excited to share all of the moments with you now!

Madrid was the first city in Spain we visited. It was a buzzing city whose rich history and ornate architecture mesh with the urban, modern style of today. Cars raced down busy avenues past monuments erected for heroes past, and the smell of tapas and coffee was constantly hanging in the air. Once you’re deep into the heart of the city though, quiet side streets lined with Spanish Bakeries, handmade goods and hidden bodegas give you an escape from the fast paced crowds a few streets over.

One of my favorite things in Madrid was the Mercado de San Miguel. The stalls were filled with fresh produce, jamón, meringues, wine, fish, cheeses, spanish candies and all of the tapas you can imagine. We piled a few pieces of Manchego cheese and some croquettes onto our plate and took a few minutes to soak it all in. Afterwards, we got a local recommendation for a place to grab some churros, and made our way to Chocolatería San Ginés. The smell of chocolate immediately took over my senses, and within five minutes our order of six perfectly sweet churros and chocolate to dip in were delivered to our table outside. Heaven.

We headed to the Prado Musuem after that to peruse to hallways of renowned paintings and sculptures. Definitely worth a visit.

Madrid is an experience I recommend playing by ear. There are a few landmarks you won’t want to miss, but you’ll find the best things when you least expect them.

 

Next stop: Segovia

 

Speak to you all soon!

 

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Barista Parlor Mornings via iPhone

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Saturday mornings as a kid meant going out to breakfast with the two of them and my older brother. We’d pile in the car and go reputable places like Denny’s and Waffle House (I’ll take an All Star breakfast, please). So when they come to visit me in Nash, I try to pay it forward. This week: Barista Parlor.

Although they are best known for their coffee (which is also a Grand Slam), I have recently discovered that the breakfast menu at Barista Parlor is full of amazing surprises. For example, that local sausage + homemade biscuit with orange marmalade is something that surely keeps me coming back.

If you haven’t been, you should go. Here are a few helpful hints to make your first time as good as it can be:

1) Scope out a place to sit before you order.
2) Don’t be intimidated by that coffee setup; if you have questions ask your barista. If you just want a “normal cup of coffee,” tell them what you normally drink (even if it’s Folger’s, Dad) and they will point you in the direction of a v-60 (coffee brewing style) filled with coffee from incredible roaster that you will LOVE.
3) Get a pastry. Don’t ask questions, just do it.
4) People watch.
5) As with any new restaurant, order a variety of things on the menu. Unless you’re by yourself. Edit: Hopefully if you’re by yourself you are HUNGRY.

 

Speak to you all soon!

 

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Nashville Guide: 12th Ave. South (Eats & Drinks)

12Smap_2HELPFUL INFOOne thing I can say, with confidence, about Nashville is that there is no shortage of places to get amazing food and drinks (beer, coffee, cocktails–everything). Another thing I can say with confidence is that there are a lot of different neighborhoods; trying to compress all of the them into one city guide would’ve been an overwhelming whirlwind that you never would’ve forgiven me for, so instead I opted to break things down into more digestible bits.

You can take that entire last sentence as a pun, and I won’t be mad about it.

I wasn’t really sure where to start with this tour-de-food, so I opted for my own neighborhood of 12 South. This area is located super near to Belmont University and Vanderbilt, and is about a five minute drive from downtown. I feel like every time I walk down the street there is a new restaurant, coffee shop or food truck parked on a corner that I didn’t notice the day before, and you don’t even need to think twice about if it’s going to be good. It just is.

Something cool about this street in particular is that there is such a wide variety of styles and types of cuisines. From Lebanese to pizza to BBQ–it would take a damn picky eater to not find something that made their stomach grumble. Most of the restaurants around here thrive on being farm-to-table, a lot of the product being sourced locally, and you can definitely taste the difference.

12 South feels a lot like the show Cheers–feeling at home usually only takes about one visit. Don’t be surprised if your second time around people already remember your name.

Unless it’s because you did something shameful. (We’ve all been there.)

 

Speak to you soon

 

 

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March Instagram Catchup

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Being a freelance graphic designer is great. I get to set my own hours, choose the companies I design for, and wear exclusively soft clothes to work EVERY. DAY. I can also take a burrito break whenever I want, so yes–you could say this career path has its perks.

Being a freelance designer also means I’ve been super busy, hence my absence from my blog this week. I’ve been holed up in my room like a 20-something red headed hobbit with a fixation on only eating sweet potatoes and an aversion to sunshine and spring.

I have a lot of places to go and things to see (eat) and I’ll be starting those adventures so soon! Bare with me while I figure out how to balance my life, work, and mental stability.

 

Follow me on Instagram if you’d like to see more of my photos/adventures in real time : @lacunningham

 

Have a great day! Speak to you all soon

 

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Sunday Mornings.

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Here are a list of words that begin with S that describe Sundays:

  • Serene
  • Serendipitous
  • Spiritual
  • Simple
  • Sacred
  • Spontaneous
  • Sweet rolls

If we’re being honest, I’m mainly focused on that last one.

Sunday mornings are the time in the week when I really allow myself to savor every moment as it comes. I take time to be still and to breathe and to make myself relax, because during the week those moments are few and far between.

And sometimes a mimosa (or 2) makes that relaxation all the sweeter.

Take the day off. You deserve it.

Speak to you soon!

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