There are better ways to spend your time

As I sit here typing this I know I’m delaying the inevitable, soul destroying truth. I know that as soon as I publish this I need to hop in my car, sit in Monday morning traffic and head to my job. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But after seeing this photo essay I know you’ll agree with me that there are better ways to spend your time.

Like most friends I make these days, I met Alex Strohl on instagram. And here comes probably the important compliment you can pay anyone these days: he has a beautiful feed. What stood out for me (obviously) is a little adventure he and La Marzocco took. I’ll let Alex give us a quick insight and then I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The whole idea was a bit silly at first when we were planning it. But as the first thick, heavy, shots came out of the Mini and the first rays of sun illuminated the valley we knew we were onto something rather good. The inspiring part is that it wasn’t that hard to put pull of. The big thing was finding the generator to run the machine on which we borrowed from a motorcycle store in town. The rest was smooth sailing, besides maybe driving the old Land Rover Series IIa up the mountain pass, it took a little while and we thought we were going to miss first light. The evening before we loaded up the car with the gear in the car, had a short night of sleep and by 4am we were leaving the house headed to the mountains!

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Alex Strohl is a Madrid born, French adventure and outdoor photographer based in Whitefish, Montana. Ranked as one of the ‘Top 100 photographers on the web‘, his work has been featured in Forbes, Vanity Fair and Gentleman’s Journal. Join 2 million other fans by following his instagram.

 

What do you do when your body doesn’t agree with coffee?

Coffee is a peculiar thing.

Some love it, some hate it. Some start their day with it, others can’t make it through a day without it. 

It can be cheap and incredibly unpleasant or it could be made in a way that resembles art. 

For some it is all about the brewing method, for others it is all about the ratio between milk and espresso. No matter what your relationship with coffee is, how and when you drink it, what roast, whether it is organic or fair trade — we all have one thing in common when we sip away on that cup. It’s the intake of caffeine. 

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I am no coffee connoisseur, but I would say that I certainly know a good coffee from a bad one and I prefer to have good ones (to be precise, a flat white, medium roast, organic if possible, no sugar).

When my options aren’t good, I opt out instead and when my options are good, I’ll walk an extra mile for it. I love coffee for the taste, the ritual of making it and how it simply bring people together. 

I don’t drink coffee to fuel me, neither do I drink coffee for a certain image (yes, some people drink coffee for public perception) and definitely don’t drink it to keep me awake, because I love good sleep way too much. 

The unfortunate thing is, as much as I love coffee — my body (or more specifically my endocrine system) don’t like or tolerate it at all. 

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Women metabolise caffeine differently than men — and certain women, like me, are even slower at breaking down caffeine due to their genetic make up. 

The result? A liver that needs to work much harder than its capacity that gets ‘behind schedule’ with all its other duties. Like detoxing the rest of your body from the gazillion toxins that we are exposed to daily, without even knowing.

Have you ever experienced a backlog of work? Well, that was my liver. Constantly in arrears with metabolising caffeine and unable to do its daily chores to keep me well.

In January 2017 I finally connected these dots about coffee and my hormonal imbalance, better known as PCOS. I asked for help from a friend who also happens to be a holistic health coach (with a history of PCOS) and she confirmed my concern. I knew there is only one way to find out — to go cold turkey on my coffee habit and see if my suspicion holds truth. 

What followed mesmerised me.

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After 10 years of having irregular menstrual cycles (sometimes once in 6 months), my cycle started to regulate. Not perfectly, because caffeine isn’t the only false instrument in this mystical hormone symphony, but without a doubt I could see significant change. 

Not only did my cycles love me for it, but my afternoon anxiety disappeared all of a sudden. 

After more than 6 months of not touching a coffee, I tried one again and felt so disorientated that I actually called off my work and meetings that day. It wasn’t a good sight, or a good feeling. Clearly, the impact was real. 

Now don’t get me wrong here, I still love coffee and I really do have my days where I wish my genetics away, but in order to flourish and feel well, I have to carefully consider when and how I expose my body to caffeine. 

It really helped me to understand the science behind it, and I personally find a lot of wisdom from Alisa Vitti, founder of Flo Living. She even goes as far as to say that (all) women shouldn’t be drinking coffee at all. 

You can’t unlearn what you learn, and for me, my truth is that caffeine doesn’t serve my wellbeing, whether I like it or not. 

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Do I still sneak in a coffee now and again? I do. I am currently trying to figure out if there is a way to still have a coffee here and there without setting off a domino effect on my hormones. Do I want to be completely coffee-free? Yes, I do – because I know I feel my best without it. But the struggle is real, because once you’ve fallen in love with a good cup of coffee, it is hard to fall out if it again. 

On a final note —

Currently I only treat myself with a cup over the weekend and if I happen to be going to the mother city, my latest favourite is the newly opened Pauline’s in Sea Point. For those of you who can have coffee, please do yourself a favour and go have one on me. 

Feel free to get in touch with me if you find yourself in a similar situation. I know it can be a frowned upon conversation to have, but that is exactly why I open up about it — so that other women can see the light before they hit the caffeine tunnel.

This post was contributed by Marize Albertyn, founder of sheisvisual, a creative studio that tells visual & tactile stories through design & thoughtful curation. She also has one of the most beautiful instagram pages in the world. All photography in this post by Marize.

How to design a café

You’ve seen me comment countless times on my instagram posts that “coffee spaces are my favourite kind”. And they really are. I’ve often wondered what goes into designing a coffee space. So I asked an architect. Here’s what Ledda Russo Architects had to say about how they went about creating the space that is Salotto Cafe in Sassari, Italy:

The project is the result of reading the existing context. The main action was to reinterpret, respecting the character, an important Liberty interior, located in the main square of the city of Sassari. The main element of the new project is the bar, located at the end of the room, defining a scenery where the bartender and his activity take on a central role. The supporting plane of the bar is made in matt Orosei marble. The “bar facade” is made up of a series of wooden panels realised with the new 3d printing technology, in which there are different shades and where three-dimensional geometries overlap. The back of the counter, there is a dark grey steel bottle holder, which through the alternation of horizontal and vertical elements, this “architecture” defines the final appearance of the bar. The remaining elements inside the room are a succession of handmade furnishing pieces , combined in complete harmony with each other.

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Photography by Barbara Pau

From a farm in Ethiopia to a Rocky Mountain bike trail

I’m sitting on a summit 6500′ above sea level where the Rocky Mountains of Canada meet the Columbia range. Surrounded by postcard views and staggering cliffs, I take in the crisp alpine air and turn my attention to the bag of carefully roasted beans I had stashed in my pack. Coffee is beautiful. I am reminded of this every time I open a new bag. These beans are more than vessels for caffeine, they have a story, and a purpose. The label on the bag can tell me where they came from, but how did they end up here?

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As I run my fingers over their smooth, chocolatey skin I like to think about all the hands involved in bringing these beans to my cup. I try to picture the faces of the people who planted the seeds and watched them grow into trees, then carefully harvested, sorting through rows upon rows of plants using calloused and cracked fingers to delicately select only the ripest cherries.

For the farmers growing coffee, these beans are more than a job. It provides them with income to raise a family and put their kids through school. It’s a community, both locally and globally. They form relationships with buyers around the world, who in turn form relationships with the shops, roasters, and home brewers. Coffee connects me to people,  many of whom I’ll never meet, but who’s hard work and passion for great coffee binds us.

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My cup was empty, hanging from my pack as I pedalled my way up this beautiful alpine single track. Now, at the top of the mountain, it is filled with coffee that minutes ago was beans spilling between my fingers. The story of these beans, from seeds, to trees, then harvested and processed, sold, roasted and bought, is long and beautiful. This particular coffee started life in the mountains of Ethiopia, and has now found its cup in the rocky mountains of Canada. I take a minute to revel in the fragrances cocooning around me, the alpine flowers and moss gently fraternizing with the sweet and floral aromas of the coffee. I appreciate the warmth of the cup in my hands against the mountain air, then enjoy in the view, and take a sip.

By Tim Friesen

Tim Friesen grew up exploring the forests of northern Alberta, Canada. As he got older his backyard expanded to encompass the endless mountain ranges of Canada and the US. With a mountain bike as his tool and coffee as his fuel, he is as at home in a tent in the La Sal mountains as he is in the back of his truck in the parking lot of Kicking Horse Bike Park. You may mail him here, or find him on instagram, facebook or his blog.

Coffee syrup

If, like me, you’ve had a lingering suspicion that something’s missing from your life, it’s because something is. And it’s this: Angie Batis & Nicole van den Berg’s recipe for coffee syrup.

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup coconut sugar
  2. 1 cup water
  3. a double shot of strong espresso or 80mls of strong black coffee
  4. 1 x teaspoon cinnamon
  5. a pinch of nutmeg
  6. 1/2 cup coconut milk
  7. 1/2 cup almond milk
  8. crushed ice

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients except for the two milks and crushed ice into a pot and bring to the boil.
  2. Turn the heat down to a medium temperature and let the mixture boil slowly for about 10 minutes.
  3. In a jar or drinking glass add crushed ice and the coconut and almond milk, then about a double shot of this coffee syrup (you can make it more or less sweet if you’d like just by adding more or less syrup).

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By Angie Batis & Nicole van den Berg

Angie runs a beautiful blog called Lucky Pony while Nicole has one of the most beautiful food pages on Instagram.

 

How I spent 48 hours in Amsterdam: Little Collins

Brunch isn’t really a thing in Amsterdam. But it is in Melbourne. So Little Collins‘ Australian-born owners brought a slice Melbourne to Amsterdam’s De Pijp neighbourhood.

I could write a book about how good my breakfast waffle was. And turn that book into a best seller by including images of my perfectly prepared flat white. Instead I’ll leave you with this – the most important piece of advice you’ll ever hear about this spot:

Go early.

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How I spent 48 hours in Amsterdam: Scandinavian Embassy

My only regret about my visit to Scandinavian Embassy is that I took an Uber. Hidden away in Sarphatipark in De Pijp, it took my driver ages to get there. But like all of life’s great adventures, it was worth the trip.

The shop is run by the owner / operator duo of Rikard Andersson and Nicolas Castagno. Rikard is a chef. Nicolas is a champion coffee maker. My expectations were high.

Every blog post I read recommended the freshly baked cinnamon rolls. So I ordered poached eggs with salmon on toast. I washed it down with a perfectly prepared flat white. And then I had a freshly baked cinnamon roll.

I recommend it.

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