Tacoma Coffee – The Mandolin Cafe

The first entry into my quest to find good coffee here in Tacoma, WA, and generally anywhere else I go. I’ll keep a running page of all the shops I go to here with links back to these stories.

First up is The Mandolin Cafe, located on 12th Ave. just up the street from Union here in Tacoma.

It’s a good atmospheric place, lot’s of tables, plenty of room to spread out if you are studying or working. A nice fireplace with a few comfy couches around it. Even a conference room type setting that can be reserved for meetings and the like. Art for sale surrounds you on the walls, available for purchase. All in all a good place for atmosphere. In fact that’s what initially drew me in.

The coffee is roasted in-house by the owner, AJ Anderson, under the label Vahalla Coffee. Seems a good guy, always in the store when I’ve dropped by, working on roasting and picking up small things around the store like owners tend to do.

Let’s get down to the coffee though. The store’s baristas make up the coffee on a 3 group La San Marco machine. I’ve never been a fan of the machine, working on one at The Kickstand Cafe, but it does have the ability to make decent coffee. Does it here? Short answer: no.

The americanos I’ve recieved have tended to be either overextracted, or way under. Shot times are kept short it seems usually, and they seem to miss out on pulling just the right shot. I’d like to play around and really taste what their espresso roast is like. With their light colored and thin crema, it just leaves me wanting in their preperation. The barista’s have been trained, but seemingly only a bit.

As for their milk based drinks, my wife gives their foam two thumbs down. We’ve given it a few go’s, as we plan to do for others, just to see if it was a particular barista. Nope. Foam tends to be bubbly and thin, and not much up there when a drink is poured. I will say though from the few sips I have had though, the espresso is strong, and is not overpowered by the milk.

It all comes down to this: I continue to go there because of the large table seating area in which I can spread out whatever I am working on at the moment, certianly not for their coffee. I’ve even started to not get coffee and get tea (of which they have a very nice selection, and with the ability to get pot’s of it as well, so more bonus points). In the end, it’s a place to study, work, and bring a larger group of friends or family to because of the room. Stay for the space, and enjoy your coffee, but I know there has to be something better out here in Tacoma. I just have to find it!

I’m Not Dead

Really. I’m not. But lots of activity in the life has kept me away. Good news and all though:

– It’s going to be a boy. Due November 4th, little Ash William Anderson will make his way out into the world. It’s amazing!

– We just got our first home. It’s fun, stressful, and a lot of work.

Both those and just regular work keep me busy, but I’ll be back. Honest.

Books, always so many to read

Been away. I know. I’m a lazy guy sometimes. Been focusing a lot of my energy into getting ready for training for my new job. Lot’s to learn and absorb. Hopefully two weeks from now with the training done with I’ll be back and writing again. Been keeping myself busy with reading (covered later) and playing Super Mario World with the wife, along with the game below, Doukutsu Monagatari. Addicting little pleasures. Been to pretty much every coffee shop in Tacoma studying, and still really havn’t found a consistent or even really good Americano here in Tacoma. I’m sure it exsists, at least I hope it does.

But, to keep my mind away from the cardiovascular system, and the joys of treating hypertrigliceridemia and hypertension, I’ve been trying to read more. Been reading comics a bit, but also trying to cut down my backlog of books that I have to read. Both my wife and I havn’t been to a book store in a month or two, because we know we’d just buy more books that would have to go on the shelf and just add to all the other books we want, or just have been meaning to read.

As a treat tonight we went to Borders after a nice meal out (date night!) and while checking up on authors I like I found Nick Hornby’s new book – The Polysyllabic Spree. It’s his account of his own struggle to keep up with the books he buys and the books he’s been meaning to read. It kind of made me think about my back log and since I havn’t been writing much recently I wanted to write about it!

Books I’m Reading Now (Yes, I tend to read more than one book at a time)

  • The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene – I always enjoy a good non-fiction science book and Brian Greene is an entertaining writer, keeping me updated on the latest developments in physics dealing with space, time and the basics of how the universe really works.
  • The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby – Just got it, and it’s for my flight back to New Jersey, but I like it already.
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – This thick and heavy book is slow going. Not because it isn’t good. It’s huge, thick, unwieldy and with a ton of Wallace signiture footnotes. Great writing, but work to read on account of how big and thick the book is to read. I’ll get there.

A few of the books on the shelf:

Reading, my hobby alongside my gaming habit.

It’s been a bit again

Sorry about that. I just got a new job, with a new schedule and tons of new stuff to learn. Good? Yes, very good for me and for my family. Or at least it now means that my wife and I can feasably start a family. I’m excited. I’ve got a ton of binders and manuals worth of stuff to learn for the new job, doing pharmeceutical sales.

So honest. I’m not dead. I’ll be back. Soon.

Bring along your friend – Pt. 1

I love playing games with friends. There is something about playing a game with someone next to you, or even accross the country, who you are both going towards a common goal (be it against you, or a cooporativly). Some of my most memorable experiences playing have others tightly involved with how my experience was shaped and how the memory was formed.

What does multi-player mean to me? Why should you even care? Continue reading “Bring along your friend – Pt. 1”

Happy Holidays

It’s getting to be the Christmas season. Retailers may have started it back in October, but for me it starts on Thanksgiving and that’s when I’ll let the holidays in. Put on the Christmas music and start getting out the decorations and lights. Go to the shopping madness, and try and figure out what to get your wife, family and friends. (Though my wife is smart and we’ve got most all of our shopping done before the maddness.) I love to drive at night during December with the lights up on peoples homes, and trees in the windows.

So anyways have a great holiday season, and drop a comment to say hi. I’ve got a few things cooking in the background that I want to write about so you should see those eventually this month. (Topics? Probably a book or two, a game commentary and who knows what’ll happen in the news.)

The Enforcer

The New Scientist has an amazing article, entitled The Enforcer. It’s an interview with an interrogator from Israel’s security forces. It’s kind of chilling, but exactly what you would expect from a person who will play mind games and get things from you. You get the feeling that he is very formiddable and confident. And in his line of work you have to be.

2004 – Post Election Blues

So as of just an hour or so ago, Kerry has conceded the election to Bush. I’m in kind of a strange place right now. I’m dissapointed, sad, frustrated, and exhausted. I’m not all that optomisitc about the next four years, and I’m worried for my country. With the national vote though, it looks like I’m in the minority. It’s a very crushing feeling. Very.

This has been the first time I felt personaly involved in politics. I’ve never really cared much about the outcomes, or the elections, beyond the superficial sound bites available from the news channels and newspapers. I was not making an informed descision before, I was making a surface decision. That changed very much this year. I watched each and every debate, I read on-line and in the papers, I saw interviews and biographies on the candidates. I invested myself in the outcome of the election. It’s a new thing.

I’m telling myself that America made a surface descision, and that those who don’t really take a look at what their president is doing, but are going on what he tells them is why Bush has won. When you belive the soundbites and don’t look into what the facts and plans and records really are, you are not making an informed descision. I’m not saying that if you were informed you would have voted for Kerry, but that so much of America voted from the hip and not the head. Unfortunatly this isn’t going to change anytime soon, and I personally don’t have a solution, other than to tell people to get off their ass.

I also saw some polls about how so many Americans voted on who they thought had better “moral standards.” A friend of mine had this to say:

So you’re telling me that the 200,000 people unemployed in Ohio, sitting around their kitchen tables, splitting a can of cheap baked beans with their family, sad because their son died in Iraq, said none of that matters, because Bush is a stand up guy. He’s a good person and that matters more than my job, terrorism or the war on Iraq.

What can you say. We all knew it would be a close race, and it turned out to be. America hasn’t fallen apart just yet, and if anything this election and this awakening of politcal feelings that I didn’t know about, really has gotten me thinking. I’ve been reading other reactions to the election on the web, both sides, positive and negative. Alot of the Kerry side is saying what I’m thinking:

Yes, we lost. Okay, not the end of the world. Let’s sit down and figure out what mistakes we made, what we did right, and start getting back our country. Kerry was great, but didn’t connect well with America. Democrats need to find a way to appeal again to the so called “common American” and not just be the anti-Republicans, but be a party that more people can identify with. There needs to be for the Democrats a way of getting back momentum in their platform, being first to the punch instead of reacting to what the Republicans say. And hey, if things keep on going the way they are with Bush now, I’d like to think that we won’t have to worry about a neo-conservative candidate in 2008 at all. I’d really like to think that Bush will really try and unite the country again, and try to bridge the gaps. I don’t think it will happen, but it’s a nice dream.

I’m not a party voter, and prefer to stay that way. I want to make sure, now and always, that the candidates I choose for national, state and local elections are chosen on their ideas and plans and history, not their parties and not their political lean.

Boing Boing has some interesting comments on the recent events.

Part of me want’s to say, “If America falls apart don’t blame me, I didn’t vote for him,” and so I’ll leave it at that. America has four years. We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, I’ll do what I can to make a difference. It’s what this whole democracy thing is all about.