Denton Caffeine Crawl for National Coffee Day


In honor of National Coffee Day, this morning Tinto Tinta Translations hosted a caffeine crawl around downtown Denton, Texas.


The objectives were to support local coffee shops, build community, and promote biking in Denton. Fellow entrepreneurs in the Denton Area Small Businesses group, neighbors on Nextdoor, local hosts on Couchsurfing, and cyclists in the Denton Bicycle Coalition were invited.

I rode to each coffee shop on my bike.

Drunk driving = bad. Caffeinated bike riding = good (to a certain extent).

First stop on the Caffeine Crawl Agenda, bright and early at 6:30 am, was Upper Park Cafe at 222 W. Hickory.

Daniel and I ordered an Americano. Tori, the waitress who swaps shifts at Upper Park with another night job in between wrapping up her senior year at UNT, clearly runs on caffeine (how else?) and gave us a sample of their popular pecan coffee, which supposedly has extra caffeine. Grinding coffee beans with pecan nuts would smell divine, but the flavor was a little too strong and seemed syrupy.

Café de Antioquia: el mejor café del mundo (Coffee from Antiouqia: the best coffee in the world)

The second stop had a double purpose. Cultivar Coffee Bar shares shop at 235 W. Hickory with Hypnotic Donuts, making for a no-brainer breakfast. At 7:00 am there were already a couple of bikes chained to the patio fence adorned with UNT pendants, and a handful of students inside the cozy space.

Bacon strips top two of the favorite donut flavors, Canadian Healthcare (with maple icing) and Evil Elvis (with peanut butter and banana), but I guess I’m not southern enough yet. Instead, I ordered the third most popular, Express Yo’ Self: a chocolate donut spread with coffee icing and sprinkled with coffee grounds. What else?


Sunk into ‘70s sofas set up family-style in a living room, eerily watched over by a chicken-headed Hindu deity with a donut in multiple hands, we could barely see petite Krysten efficiently running Cultivar behind a mammoth La Marzocco coffee machine. The sleek Italian machinery paired well with the retro bar seats, just as their house coffee paired well with Hypnotic’s donuts.


At 7:30 am on the opposite side of the square, (114) West Oak Coffee Bar was serving up heartier protein-packed breakfasts alongside fall-flavored beverages. Their seasonal barista specialties of campfire cortado (a s’more in a mug: handmade walnut syrup, chocolate milk, and marshmallows) and yam and taro lattes (one-upping pumpkin in nutrition and uniqueness) sounded cozy, and the warm visual palette of brick-exposed walls and worn wooden tables was fitting. Jim, the assistant roaster, said that when they’re roasting coffee downstairs it smells like bread baking. Oh my, sensory overload of yumminess. I’ll have to check back when it finally feels like fall. When does that happen in Texas?


Caroline, the media manager, described her field visit to their direct trade program in Colombia and the goal of offering growers equal wages. Jeremy, the head roaster, and Matt, the owner, came upstairs and the whole West Oak Coffee Bar staff melded behind the bar like one big, creative, friendly, coffee-loving family.

So far there had been only a handful of hipsters, students, and business folks headed to work at each coffee shop. At 106 N. Locust, Jupiter House was nearly a full house by 8:00 am. The line was long, the signs were small (and lacked prices), and the place felt like your typical coffee shop. I found the most atypical group underneath the sign Murderers Row.


It was a small sampling of the large eclectic group that forms every Saturday morning, comprised of professors, lawyers, artists, a county commissioner, and the former mayor. One lady greeted a judge up for election heading out with coffee-to-go, then said she’s friends with the other candidate. The group’s mix of political persuasions makes for interesting conversation. How better to create community?

They came to Jupiter out of convenience and in search of camaraderie, but none came for the coffee. It was a meeting place; the thermos was brought from home as an accessory. This was the only place where I stayed dry on coffee, but I got my fill of conversation.

The last stop on my tour was Shift Coffee, straight down the street at 519 S. Locust. Oscar and I sat outside, soaking up the morning sun and discussing healthy sports habits among children. At this point I was hardly feeling healthy: I had only had a donut to eat, and much too much coffee to drink already. And the coffee shops were clustered together around Denton’s downtown square, limiting my pedaling. I’d have a long bike ride home and would be fueled to the brim by then. My other car runs on caffeine.

Shift has simplistic, contemporary-stylized menus on mini clipboards and a repurposed window, but their coffee is complex. Barista Kat gave me an adorable full sensory description of my Ethiopian pour over with apricot and black currant notes, a light acidity, and the sense that fall is right around the corner (I chose it over the Panama honey because I remember my sweltering days in Panama as an eternal summer, and I’m about ready for that to end here in Texas).


Barista Ramen shifted his attention between me and another customer, giving both of us a full education on our coffee. He pays meticulous attention to quality control, tasting everything from their rotating supply of roasters. But of course their favorite is Spyhouse Coffee Roasting from Minneapolis, as I was wearing my Green Party Minnesota shirt, and I met a fellow Midwesterner at the bar who works across the street at Bullseye Bike Shop. Biking and coffee, on target.


I settled into a parlor chair by a bookshelf stocked with classic literature and chatted with a white-bearded, gnome-nosed man (it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!) about population growth in Denton, the final frontier of the metroplex. Fort Worth used to be where the West began, and Denton is now where the wild expansion butts heads with long-horned ranches.

With thoughts of farms and families ruminating in my head, and too much coffee churning through my bloodstream, I left the knowledgeable staff and hipster haven of Shift and headed home.

Barhopping starts out running and slows to a pub crawl. This caffeine crawl started out barely awake and revved up to 90 RPMs. I shifted to low gear on my bike ride back and wondered how long it would take for over 500 mg of caffeine to filter through my system.

After the splurge comes the purge. Tomorrow is International Translation Day. I think I’ll celebrate starting now with several glasses of water/agua.

Quitarse el (s)(c)(z)ombrero por Hispanic Heritage Month

Con danzas y disfraces, con comida y fiesta, y sobre todo con orgullo los latinos en los Estados Unidos celebran este mes Hispanic Heritage Month.

Entre la diversidad de orígenes nacionales, de razas y raíces que se extienden desde Big Sur hasta el Cono Sur, con diferentes sabores y colores, hay una cosa que unifica a todas las personas hispanas: el español.

No importa si en la calle hablan jerga chicana o chilena, si beben chicha o cerveza, si se juntan dos latinos se pueden comunicar en el castellano.

Para que se entiendan, el idioma tiene unas reglas gramaticales. En algún momento, todos tenían que ponerse de acuerdo si esa cosa redonda sobre la cabeza hay que llamarla “sombrero”, “combrero” o “zombrero”. Así el (s)(c)(z)ombrerero sabrá cómo deletrear el letrero para su tienda.


Jamás comprarías un “combrero” en promoción (y mucho menos en “promosión”) si todo el mundo ya lo llamaba un “sombrero”. Con tal ortografía, ¿como sería la calidad de su producto? Obviamente el artesano no se fija en las detalles. Con un sombrero fino, los detalles son todo, y del mismo modo con las palabras.

Cambiar la C por la S cambia todo el sentido y lleva a malentendidos. Sin estructura y ortografía universalmente aceptada, habrá caos en el idioma.

La Real Academia Española resuelve las discusiones sobre nuevas palabras y cual versión es aceptable. Es una fuente de referencia para dudas, pero la mayoría de nosotros no pasamos el tiempo con la nariz metida en un diccionario. Estamos por fuera, dando paseos, comprando, comiendo, visitando lugares de interés. O navegando el web, leyendo las noticias, chateando en línea, surfeando sitios de comercio.

Aquí se pone en peligro la lengua. Aquí se pierde la educación.

Para poder escribir bien, hay que leer cosas bien escritas. Bien sea por ignorancia, por baja escolaridad, por flojera, o por la prisa de publicar, muchos latinoamericanos no escriben bien el español. Cuando leen una comunicación mal escrita muchas veces, en muchos sitios públicos, y más si es por instituciones respetadas por el pueblo, como la iglesia, empiezan a creer que el error realmente es la forma correcta de escribir esa palabra.

Un aviso mal escrito hace un deservicio a la sociedad, atrasando la educación, enseñando equivocaciones.

Por eso los escritores dudosos tienen a su disposición los diccionarios, los publicistas, los correctores de estilo e incluso los artistas que corrigen tatuajes equivocados.

Cada cual es libre para expresarse de su manera, pero mejor si por lo menos sigue la ortografía usada por las masas. Gracias (no “grasias”) a este tatuador, el tatuaje “libre exprecion” fue corregido a “libre expresión”.

Volviendo a los errores más comunes en el comercio, les muestro unos ejemplos recientes donde vivo en Texas que tratan de confundirse C – S  – Z.


“baja de presio”

Me toca adivinar: ¿faltó la n? ¿baja de presión? Oh, el costo es reducido. Bueno, una venta ayuda a tener un cliente feliz, lo que quizá ayuda con su presión de sangre.

Corrección: precio


“ofresco mis servicios como chofer”

Me toca adivinar: ¿faltó un espacio? Oh, fresco. Mis servicios como chofer te llevan a donde tienes que ir. Todo bien, tranquilo.

Corrección: ofrezco


“Llama has una cita”

Me toca adivinar: El uso de Spanglish, la combinación de español (Span-) e inglés (-glish) agrega otra capa de confusión (no “confución”). Con las primeras dos palabras en inglés y las últimas en español, puede ser mal interpretado como “The llama has a date…with the camel” en vez de “Call and make an appointment” (English) o “Llama, haz una cita” (Spanish).

Corrección: haz

La forma imperativa del verbo “hacer”. Como el hazmerreír.


“si saben de algo me lo asen saber”

Corrección: hacen

Viene del verbo “hacer”. Como, “Los alumnos hacen un esfuerzo por aprender el idioma”.


“fajita marinada para azar”

Me toca adivinar: ¿Es una rifa? ¿Van a vender fajitas al zar de Rusia? ¿O es solo para el señor (no “ceñir”) Azar?

Corrección: asar

Cocinar sobre fuego, como en una barbacoa, donde es común tomar cerveza (no “servesa”).

Espero que mientras celebren Hispanic Heritage Month, tomen el tiempo para fijarse en los detalles de lo que escriban: la letra C, S o Z, la tilde, la coma. Y que tomen inspiración y absorban la redacción correcta de los grandes escritores latinoamericanos. Leer es el consejo de la campaña Dallas Reads.

En honor a la independencia de México, acabo de leer El Laberinto de la Soledad por Octavio Paz. Lo devolví a la biblioteca y presté Rayuela por Julio Cortázar, el argentino quien siempre viene recomendado por los viajeros que conozco. Así, desde Big Sur hasta Cono Sur, celebro los escritores que hacen relucir el castellano.

Mermaids and desert drawings as unauthentic coffee symbols 

It’s fun to watch people make a fool of themselves, live on camera. Fails are as popular as Vines on YouTube. I have empathy for the clumsy, and we all need a good belly laugh.

When it’s a business blunder, though, the entire company cringes. After watching “Mad Men”, we no longer have to wonder about what high-paid ad executives did: drinking on the job makes for mad ads. Flash forward to ultra-sensitive, hyper-connected 2016, and the public will easily get mad at a bad ad.

Marketing is all about images, but thank goodness some of us still read. Even in other languages. Too bad Pepsi didn’t take that into account before launching the campaign slogan “Come Alive With Pepsi!” in China, which was mistranslated in Chinese into “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead”.


Next time hire a professional translator.

My beef today is about graphics for another beverage: coffee, of course.

Misleading marketing piece #1

This month the U.S. coffee giant Starbucks opened their first store in Medellín, Colombia, coming full circle to the source of much of their coffee.

Spanish speakers tend to add an E before an English word beginning with a S, and to omit a final consonant in the word, especially a K (e.g. Facebook becomes “face-boo”, which is disconcerting because it sounds as if they think an acquaintance’s countenance is frightening).

Interestingly, then, Starbucks is pronounced “estarbos”, sounding similar to “estorbo”, which means “nuisance” or “hindrance”.

As an English teacher, I encourage students to divide compound words into ones they already know. Starbucks breaks down into “star”= estrella and “bucks”= billetes. Starbucks: donde estrellan (also means “to crash”, like a car accident) tus billetes.

This parody reflects the backlash against the hipster clientele willing to pay their prices.

These are all just unfortunate pronunciations and double-meanings of a name the company can’t change, tied as it is to Melvillean literature. On to the images.


This lovely mural decorates the new Starbucks in Medellín. The floral flourishes, the verdant foliage, the exotic animals all scream TROPICAL.

Starbucks reported, “the artist Catalina Estrada, known for her bold interpretations of nature and Latin American folklore, created a playful custom mural inspired by Medellin’s nickname.” (emphasis added)

In Colombia, coffee is usually grown at altitude, not like the low-lying fields of Brazil. Certainly not on the seashore, for a coy mermaid to be kissing the coffee cherries wearing a coffee-flower lei (that would be Hawaii). Just a nautical reference to Moby Dick, subtly sneaking in the logo? Or maybe this is part of magical realism?

The muralist gets points for including heliconias, adorning many farms, and a jaguar, still prowling the Antioquia countryside. But the rainforest macaws would better be replaced by a hummingbird, the symbol of Colombia’s magical realism celebrated in last year’s popular nature film “Colombia Magia Salvaje”.

Green rolling mountains, tall fronds of guadua, colorful balconies, and loaded donkeys make up the UNESCO World Heritage coffee cultural landscape that borders the new Starbucks location.

Any of these would have been welcome, realistic symbols to include in an otherwise enticing, albeit a bit too exotic, mural.

Misleading marketing piece #2

If anyone should know about Colombian coffee, it would be the National Federation of Coffee Growers, or FNC. They unwittingly put their stamp of approval on this package without seeing the rest of the decorations.


100% Colombian coffee is characterized by about 30% Peruvian (llama, Nazca lines) and 30% Central American symbols (chocolate, Mayan pyramid). The rest is generic tropical clip art (toucan, palm tree, lizard).


Only one is supposedly Colombian, that of the palenqueras, the AfroColombian women bearing tropical fruits on their heads, iconic in Cartagena. Again, coffee doesn’t grow on the beach. Unless they’re trying to represent coffee grown in the nearby mountains of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta? Why not put an indigenous Arhuaco then, with their characteristic woven mochilas?

Marketers and muralists are entitled to their artistic freedom, but let’s not stray too far into the salty oceans and desert plains when it comes to Colombian coffee.

Looking for aesthetic, authentic inspiration? I leave you with this shot of locals drinking coffee in the plaza in our previous home, Jardín, Antioquia, only a few hours from Medellín.

Jardin plaza mesas
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