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Pouring Latte Art: Matthew's First Barista Throwdown

Last month, I competed for the first time in a Barista Throwdown. For those of you unfamiliar with this sort of event, a Barista Throwdown is a specific form of a latte art tournament. Competitors are put into a bracket where they are paired off against another barista. With one barista on each side of the espresso machine, the two minute match begins. When the clock stops, the baristas should have already placed down an eight ounce latte in front of the three judges. A moderator counts to three and the judges simultaneously point at the latte they think has better art. One barista continues on to the next round and the other hangs out and drinks the free beer...

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Buying Direct Trade Coffee Is About Relationship

When I was first getting into coffee the Fair Trade movement as it pertains to coffee was just getting underway. Flag & Wire is, in fact, a Fair Trade certified roaster. Which, incidentally, and importantly, does not mean we only buy and roast Fair Trade coffees.   There are dozens of organizations in the word today that certify products “fair trade”. It’s not one organization or governing body, its many. Among the paraphrased goals of them all is a desire to see the lives of farmers and producers increased in quality. It’s about seeing that more of the money that you pay for your Americano or your chocolate bar or your sugar cane makes it to the pockets and communities...

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The Same but Different: Traveling Indonesia

I love to travel. It’s another mystery to me--how can something that is, on its face, uncomfortable, be something that we long for. It’s proof to me that we were somehow made to do hard things--that it’s as important to our health as love. Love stinks. We all love a dozen or a hundred times before we find someone whose love we can key into. And even once we do key in with someone it’s a daily giving of ourselves to another person. So why do we do it? As I look around at my life I realize that most, (all?) of life’s good things come from hard pounding. Love,children, earnest friendships, fulfilling work and even traveling are difficult endeavors...

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Flag & Wire Benevolence Program

How does a company “give back”? Or just “give”? We want our company to be involved in making things better and one of the ways we’re working toward that is with the Benevolence Program. If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know that we have a blend called “Benevolence”. We picked that name for a number of reasons. It’s fun to say--it’s an easy-to-say long word. Four nice, tidy syllables. The coffee itself is blended to be benevolent, kindly, well meaning. It’s blended to be pretty smooth and approachable. So the name made sense to us. As a company, we’ve always been as generous as we could be. I can’t remember a time we’ve denied a donation request. We...

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The Power of the Schnecken

The Coffee Business We produce a product that’s not necessary for the sustenance of human life. That was the realization I had, sitting on the floor of our kitchen, crying with my wife one night the first winter our coffeehouse in the Granary District was open. We just weren’t making any money. We weren’t long term locals, so we didn’t have the support structure that comes with living/playing/schooling/worshiping/eating in a community for a whole lifetime. We weren’t ace-in-the-hole business people, either. We were really feeling our way forward as young entrepreneurs. A lot of our days felt like they were two steps forward and maybe one-&-three-quarters back. So we were sitting there on the floor together and my wife said...

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