Ross Harada

Besides being like the El Manzano coffee from El Salvador, I like Ross Harada because he’s managed to master something that many people aspire for but never achieve: work-life balance.

His nursing skills do more than pay the bills. They help Land Lines (the band he’s the drummer for) to produce records. As Denverites excitedly await the release of Land Lines’ first full length album, Ross keeps busy with a roommate bromance and saving lives—or at least educating patients about why overdosing on cocaine twice in one month is not okay.

Matt Zambrano, Amy Kersten, Steve Jones and Courtney Esser

The final class of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ National Theatre Conservatory masters program opens two shows this week: Charlie’s Aunt and Fahrenheit 451.

The NTC began in 1984 and was one of the only MFA programs in the nation that paid every student’s tuition (about $100,000) in full. Sadly, the program is being discontinued. I recently had the opportunity to speak with four of the eight graduates of 2012 (originally selected from about 600 applicants).

I know Matt Zambrano from his tRUNks days at Buntport Theater and from when he used to perform his poetry at the monthly readings I organized for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. Although, I was most recently impressed by his ability to play every role in a single scene from Lord of the Rings at a First Friday party at Denver Open Media.

Joining Matt was creator of the Hot Mess web series, Amy Kersten. She seemed to be the most coffee driven of the group and shared an incredible nugget of information with me about editing in iMovie that blew my mind to bits and pieces (I’ve since picked up the pieces and applied her insight to the video in this post).

Courtney Esser and Steve Jones were also kind enough to talk coffee with me (Steve doesn’t even drink coffee and is the second non-caffeinated interviewee—the first was Bop Skizzum co-founder Andy Guerrero) and demonstrate some of their trapeze skills. Yes! TRAPEZE SKILLS.

Like the Four Leftys blend of coffee, this group has a full body (of work!) and is slightly nutty.

Holly Mosher

Holly Mosher makes socially conscious films and is as wonderful and earthy as the single origin Bolivian coffee from Groundwork.

Mosher directed Bonsai People, a feature length documentary film that explores the work of Nobel Peace Prize winner  Muhammad Yunus and his vision from microcredit to social business. I see several parallells between the misunderstanding of labels in the coffee industry (organic and fair trade certifications) and the term “microcredit.” If you would like to be an informed citizen, watch Bonsai People to learn more about what microcredit really is.

Nancy Kissock

Like the Librarian’s Blend from Intelligentsia, Nancy Kissock comes to us from Los Angeles and has a bold base with a bit of sparkle. After speaking with her at the Women+Film Festival, I felt reassured that the direction of women in male dominated industries is moving in the right direction—even if the steps are small and the pace is slow.

Kissock produced The Girls in the Band, a film that reveals the fascinating history of female big band and jazz muscians who endured sexism, racism and diminished opportunities for decades, yet continued to persevere, inspire and elevate their talents in a field that seldom welcomed them.

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

I recently spoke with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy about her Academy Award winning film Saving Face and of course—coffee, at the Women+Film Festival in Denver. She’s an avid coffee drinker and although I believe she would very much enjoy Novo’s San Sebastian from Huila, Colombia, that is not the coffee that I believe describes Sharmeen the best.

Sharmeen is the type of filmmaker who I have the utmost respect for. She is adamant about making films that give a voice to marginalized populations such as women and children and has a spirit of determination and perseverance that I find incredibly inspiring. Much like the Hartmann Geisha coffee that comes from Panama, Sharmeen has extraordinary character and is incredibly bright. In addition to a similar complexity and uniqueness, Sharmeen is undoubtedly of the Geisha coffee caliber that coffee connoisseurs drool over.

Every coffee drinker has a story. I make videos because I love learning about people’s passions and their creative process. Many creatives rely on coffee as a drug. They love what it does to their brain and how it’s a catalyst for creativity.

Coffee is complex. So are people. Drink up.

Saving Face documents the reconstructive work of  Dr. Jawad on some of his patients who are victims of acid attacks in Pakistan. It also focuses on the stories of Rukhsana and Zakia and their efforts to overcome the legal, social and psychological repercussions of that violence. It airs on HBO on March 8 in the U.S. and Canada at 8:30p.m. ET. Take action: Visit the Acid Prevention Foundation, a non-for-profit featured in Saving Face at

Tom Oberheide

Tom Oberheide reminds me of the San Sebastian specialty coffee that comes from Huila, Colombia. Balanced and sweet like the San Sebastian, Tom’s instrument collection is comprised of almost as many pieces as the amount of grower lots that make up the Colombian coffee.

When I spent some time with Tom recently, we talked Grand Slams (his first coffee experience consisted of hanging out in the Silverthorne Denny’s) and the difference between amateurs and professionals (in any field). Tom reminded me of just how awesome his older brother Peter is, by sharing the story of how when Peter lived in Boulder, he started showing up with a tuba to Cabaret Diosa practices and told the band members, “You really need a tuba.” Apparently he’d even show up uninvited to their gigs and play…near them. Awesome and nice, indeed.

Tom introduced me to the instrument in his collection that he plays the most: his Mullen pedal steel guitar, which was made in Colorado, but he had to travel to St. Louis, MO to buy and that can be seen in full effect at any of the New Ben Franklins shows. After doing a little research on Mullen guitars, I discovered that Lloyd Maines (father of Dixie Chicks Natalie Maines) is a Mullen player too. Exciting, right? Not really. But what is amusing is the six degrees of Tom O. that followed.

Tom Oberheide–>Mullen–>Lloyd Maines–>Wide Open Spaces music video (shot in Winter Park, CO and directed by Thom Oliphant). Spelled differently but pronounced the same. Huzzah! Connection.

Here’s the video from my visit with Tom. SPOILER ALERT: there is a cute dancing baby in this video.

Every coffee drinker has a story. I make videos because I love learning about people’s passions and their creatie process. Many creatives rely on coffee as a drug. They love what it does to their brain and how it’s a catalyst for creativity.

Coffee is complex. So are people. Drink up.

Monica Rosenberg

I appreciate magical surprises, which is one of the reasons why I love Monica Rosenberg—and am excited for her surprise in a box art show next month. She’s got this playful spirit and imagination that draw you in and make you wonder what she’ll crochet (or throw, or sculpt) next. She’s as bright as the Kinjo PB and an absolute delight to be around.

I recently visited Monica and talked coffee, craftiness, and game (hers happens to be excellent and caffeinated).

I make videos because I love learning about people’s passions, and I enjoy connecting people to people by sharing their stories. While researching coffee (my obsession) over the past four years, I discovered that many creatives rely on coffee as a drug. They love what it does to their brain and how it’s a catalyst for creativity.

Coffee is complex. So are people. Drink up.