The good folks at the community bike shop Qerencia gave us tune-ups before hitting the rail trail. They need a new rental space, and I apparently need a new back tire.
Coffee sacks and baby grands
Trash-turned-into-treasure was on display, like this Rwandan coffee bag repurposed into a rustic dress.
Among other “how could they have thrown that out?!” objects, the environmental educator had seen a baby grand piano crushed into smithereens. It saddens me to see so many tossed belongings that didn’t get sufficient curb alert. I proposed having an alert sent out to thrift stores like the philanthropic Ruth’s Room before it goes into the trash compactor.
Another idea is a neighborhood collection site for unopened food and usable clothing, akin to the Little Library movement. Perhaps old kitchen cabinets or an entertainment center (go ahead and toss that TV at the e-waste site and grab a book) could be salvaged for this purpose. What have you seen in your communities to repurpose perfectly usable goods that people just trash on move-out day?
Our 20-odd group of adult cyclists gathered on the scale at the solid waste compound and clocked in at around 3,000 pounds, about half that of a single SUV Hummer, a monumental waste.
Greased bike chains and Rusty Tacos
Feeling good about our individual weight and invigorated by the exercise on the ride back to downtown, we scarfed shrimp and brisket tacos by Rusty Tacos, which were fortunately neither rusty nor recycled, as in regurgitated (100% post-consumer…ingredients?). For a truly Tex-Mex feel, we had our picnic lunch on Mexican blankets spread over the square’s lawn.
On the courthouse steps, a group of musicians provided folk and bluegrass tunes, as they do every Saturday. Denton vibrates music, down to the musical note bike stands that dot the downtown square.
Daily ways to reduce our trash impact
The latest innovation in my home was to get a recycling canister twice as large as the trash bin. It works! Have you tried a visual trick to promote reuse and reduce garbage?
Here’s a quick ABC of my small actions for food-related waste:
A: Avoid plastic bags. Wash out produce bags and bring cloth tote bags to the grocery store
B: Bring Tupperware to restaurants or group meals where there’ll be leftovers instead of a Styrofoam (not recyclable) take-out box
C: Compost kitchen scraps. Meet your neighbors or ask on a local gardening forum for nearby composters.
Specifically for coffee:
A: Avoid disposable cups. Bring your own ceramic mug or to-go thermos.
B: Buy beans in bulk and a reusable coffee filter for Keurig-type machines, instead of disposable capsules.
C: Compost coffee grounds. Meet your neighbors or ask on a local gardening forum for nearby composters.
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.
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.