Derek Keenan

Derek Keenan is the type of designer who gives me hope for the future. Hopefully you didn’t choke on the cheesiness of that last sentence, so you can read on and I can attempt to redeem myself for sounding so flowery and idealistic.

We, the people of the United States, consume…a lot. We waste a lot, and we toss a lot. Once our trash is out of sight, for the most part, it’s out of mind. However, there are people like Derek in this world who are proactive in taking what most consider trash and expanding its lifespan.

Derek turns broken skateboard decks into beautiful jewelry and artful belt buckles. He reminds me most of Stumptown’s Honduras San Vicente coffee—comprised of the Pacas and Bourbon varietals, the San Vicente produces well at high altitude and has tremendous balance.

I love thinking about how much space in the landfill is saved by skate shops giving Derek broken boards instead of trashing them. I love the fact that Derek says this idea is just the beginning and that when I talked to him, he seemed to have an open mind to the idea of working with the waste of the coffee industry (remember, coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world!). I told him about the ridiculous amount of silver plastic bags I have in storage; maybe he can drop his industrial design knowledge all over those things so they can stop taking up space in my life and start being something beautiful for others.

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.

Brian Freeland

Brian Freeland is the Artistic Director of the LIDA Project and shared a use for coffee with me that is as unconventional as his theater productions. I recently visited Brian at Laundry on Lawrence, where LIDA’s theatrical editorial, Justin Bieber Meets Al Qaeda, is currently running.

Like Pablo’s Two Stroke Smoke coffee blend, Brian has a subtle smoky character. I admire that he (along with the other members of the LIDA Project) aims to “present works that experiment and challenge the structure and presentation of performance while strengthening culture, community, and artistic growth.”

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.

Jake Weidmann

Jake Weidmann is the youngest Master Penman in the world—a title he earned less than two months ago and one that is currently held by only 11 people. Jake reminds me of a perfectly calibrated espresso machine because he aspires to achieve the highest level of technical skill in every medium he works with. But as a coffee, I’d say he most resembles the El Banco Pacamara, due to the originality and authenticity each possesses.

When I visited Jake at his home in Denver recently, he taught me a few things about the history of scripts (did you know that Italics originated in Italy? I didn’t. Now I do!) and demonstrated offhand flourishing and calligraphy. Jake’s been compared to Master Penman Charles Paxton Zaner (1864-1918) because of the breadth of his artistic abilities (Jake makes his own pens that he uses and works with several other mediums as well). During my visit with Jake, I came to realize that like coffee, quality calligraphy is one of those things in life that goes highly unappreciated.

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.

Eugene Rooks

Eugene Rooks is a friend of mine who makes life a little more magical with each costume he creates. He’s mellow like the acidity of the Nacimiento coffee from El Salvador, but can certainly cut a rug while wearing one of his own costume creations—I’ve seen it happen.

I also know that Eugene has dreamed of one day running his own couture business. I hope that when that day comes, I’ve won the lottery, because I want to continue being one of his clients. During the four years I’ve known him, Eugene has made some of the most creative Halloween costumes I’ve ever seen, altered the wedding dress of my best friend’s grandmother so she could wear it for her own wedding, and managed to make my dream of dressing up as a giant coffee cup and dancing around to Lady Gaga a reality.

He’s currently working on the wedding dress of his fiancé, which is a fairly labor-intensive project. He showed me a picture of all the pins he used to prep the pleats for the top portion:

He’s a very skilled tailor and I’m excited to follow his progress in the upcoming years.

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.

Izaiah Buseth

I don’t bake. Lucky for me and all the other baketards in this world, there are people like my friend Izaiah Buseth who not only bake well, but experiment with flavor combinations in their recipes that result in delicious sweets.

Izaiah’s Double Chocolate Espresso Coconut Oatmeal Cookies recipe won third place in Denver’s County Fair last month. Although they’re what Izaiah considers a winter cookie, he was kind enough to prepare a batch this past weekend and show me one example of how he incorporates coffee and espresso into his baking. Eating them made me feel like I’d been transported to Hawaiian Candy Land and was eating volcanic pumice. Weird, right? Apparently drinking coffee and eating sweets spurs strange mental images for me. The cookies were warm and crumbly in a way that I’ve never experienced before. I’m used to soft and gooey molasis-like texture or crisp and super fine crumbliness. The texture of Izaiah’s cookies was incredible.

Izaiah reminds me most of a coffee I’ve had from Aceh, Sumatra. His interest in intense flavor combinations and his mindfulness of seasonal baking is comparable to how I feel about the Tawar, which is a combination of Catimor, Java, and Jember coffee varietals. Too heavy for summer, I can’t wait to sip on the Tawar in the middle of winter—and if I try my hand at baking (see recipe for Izaiah’s cookies below), I’ll have the perfect cookie to dip in my coffee.

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.

Double Chocolate Espresso Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

1C butter, softened

¾ C granulated sugar

¾ C brown sugar

2 t vanilla

2 eggs

1¾ C all-purpose flour

1½ C rolled oats

¼ C cocoa powder

2 T instant espresso

3 T malted milk powder

1 t baking soda

1 t salt

2 C chocolate chips

½ C shredded coconut, minced

1.       preheat oven to 375

2.       mix together the flour, oats, cocoa powder, instant espresso, malted milk powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl

3.       cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a mixer

4.       add eggs one at a time, beating well

5.       add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3-4 additions

6.       stir in chocolate chips and coconut

7.       refrigerate dough for 15-20 minutes

8.       drop in tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet

9.       bake for 8-10 minutes

Andrew Guerrero

If Andrew Guerrero was a coffee, he’d be a dry-processed Ethiopian with wild tastes, no doubt. I admit, including Andy in this series of 52 interviews feels like cheating, because his life is only partially coffee driven—mostly he’s just a naturally energetic guy.

I’m tempted to take Andy up on his offer to be a guinea pig in a coffee consumption experiment. He’s writing a lot of new songs this year for his band Bop Skizzum, I wonder if drinking coffee would increase the chances of those songs being huge hits. Caffeinated presumption, I know.

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.

Adrianna Santiago

I met Adrianna Santiago in 2005 when we were both working for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver. Like many people who devote years of their life to non-profit work, Adrianna has an optimistic outlook of the world that makes exposure to societal inequities slightly easier to bear. Adrianna was a cultural arts staff person at one of the clubs and ran the type of qualitative programming that can not be measured by pre and post tests.

One project that she completed with the kids was called Patchwork of Life; she taught the youth various photo techniques and had them explore concepts of family history and identity. The completed Patchwork of Life piece was a huge quilt of beautiful photo impressions sewn together.

Garden Project at Harm Reduction Action Center

The connection to community that Adrianna values was not lost in her graduate work at CU Boulder. Her thesis work titled Windows Out, involves a garden project at the Harm Reduction Action Center in Denver. For Adrianna, life is the masterpiece—and all individuals involved in the process of contributing to the world are the art. The culmination of her garden project and graduate work was her thesis show, where she displayed light boxes that she constructed, each displayed photographs or live plants that she created with her collaborators.

Adrianna is like a dry-processed Ethiopian coffee that tastes like fresh produce. The flavors are amazing, and when it is gone, it is gone. An excerpt from her artist statement:

Windows function as safe keepers and are positioned so that I can observe and break boundaries.  My interest in personal histories of family culture initiates engagement and serves to cultivate relationships.  The garden is a site where life flourishes and decays through natural cycles of time; an intangible connection between individuals is shared through refuge and reflection.  Light shines providing nourishment for growth.

Windows Out

Windows Out

I look forward to seeing how her 3 Square Meals project develops. A recent visit of hers to Yuma, Colorado may foreshadow what we can expect to see Adrianna involved in the years to come. Her interest in merging tradition and technology is one that I share.

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.