Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cafe Felix 530 E. Benson, across from the Mall at Sears

I think its funny how anytime I want to go someplace downtown I will say, "Hi Galaxy" (thats my phone). She reply's, "At your service cj" I laugh every time. I will then say, "Navigate to ____________" and she will proceed to give me directions and they usually always go like this, "continue down dewberry and turn right onto 88th, stay on 88th and continue onto Northwood, turn right onto Raspberry and take the Minnesota North on ramp. Turn right onto Todor, turn left onto C st. Its at this point in the trip that it changes, today I turned right onto Benson.  I like to think about our "navigation" to heaven. There are a few steps that are for everyone and it never changes, however there is a point in the journey that it becomes very individual as each persons personal relationship is different. Of course the destination is the same but for some our journey may cross other bridges and go down other roads as we each struggle with different issues and God works in us in His timing and as long as we continue to listen to the GPS (God's Providing Spirit).

If I make a wrong turn on my journey, my phone says, "recalculating" and then from that point gets me back on track, if I follow its instruction. Sometimes I have made such a wrong turn that it simply says, "Turn around when possible." God is that way too, sometimes I mess up and from that point He simply recalculates (in away) taking my errors into account and redirects me redeeming the error for His glory. Other times He simply says, "Turn around" which is code for "repent" which means to turn from sin, literally to turn around from the error of my ways.

I walked into Cafe Felix this afternoon and was greeted at the door by statues, Hindu, Buddhist and others, each one staring at me.  I caught myself staring back and then from behind the counter the clerk said, "Can I help you?" I wondered if he could, was I in the wrong place? I thought. Catching my thoughts I saw from the corner the cafe part of this establishment. I said, "Nope, I see it now, thank you though" and with a smile I turned into Cafe Felix.

I walked up to the counter, the barista greeting me with a warm smile asked if she could help me (I must really have looked lost).  I asked for a menu, ordered an americano and a grilled cheese, the sandwich came with feta, cheddar, tomato and bacon and was super yummy! served with tortilla chips and salsa...tortilla chips seem to be the chip of choice for Cafe's in Anchorage. The coffee was exceptional, an organic brazilian blend, smooth and not bitter in the least bit with an earthy flavor.  The room is arranged like a thrift store exploded with different tables and chairs and table clothes. In the center of the room four chairs around a gas wood stove and in the corner a small stage for open mic night or like events.

The internet was down so I tried yet another feature of my galaxy phone, wifi hotspot. Excellent! As I sat and watched people come and go there is a large verity of clientele but I had a feeling that they each shared a common understanding of where they were as opposed to me, still a bit confused, was it the eclectic blend of music playing? Literally from, Bluegrass, Country, Frank Sinatra, Top 40 and Christmas music...what? My ears didn't know what to think. Or was my confusion the result of the potpourri explosion that occurred? or incense or maybe the scented candles? Either way the smells mixed with coffee and grilled cheese confused me I am sure. As the place cleared out and I really began to think I was reminded of my GPS.

God's Providing Spirit. This place as I thought about it would be a great location for a walking with Jesus meeting. As I prepare to launch several options during the week, this place has won (at least for the moment) a spot on the circuit. I don't think it was on accident that I found this place but rather on purpose. When Paul saw the many altars in Athens he didn't run away, he went into the heart of it and proclaimed the Truth. Everyone's journey must start with, believing Jesus died for them, ask for forgiveness, accepting the gift of salvation, repenting of their sin and begin to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. Jesus said,  "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." So why not take the message into the heart of a place that has many altars to other god's? Yes, I think I will.

All in all Cafe Felix gets 4 out of 5 cups U>U>U>U>
Cafe Felix on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Starbucks on Tudor and C street

yes, another starbucks...they are everywhere you know. I can't afford their specialty espresso drinks anymore so went for the drip and a donut, total cost $3.50. I had the Thanksgiving blend, very tasty but I have a bit of a cold so it just tasted good. They also had samples of french pressed christmas blend...also yummy and better than the thanksgiving blend but again one was drip so not a fair comparison. the donut was a old-fashioned  chocolate...i really like the old-fashioned donut and the one that looks like a tractor tire...whats the name of that one....hhmmm

this is an ok starbucks, it was pretty busy, there was only one seat available when i walked in and it was a four seater. i always feel bad going in by myself and taking a four top, but there is no waitress so i wasn't stealing tips or anything, but still i feel bad. there was a mix of christmas and top 40's hits playing. i was right under a speaker so it sounded louder i am sure to me than others in there. there were lots of folks working on homework or work with headphones on and those without were talking one couple was engaged in conversation with another lady, sitting in a comfy chair and they were at a table. she was telling them that she came up from the south east of "america" (lower 48) just for change. wow! i thought...i'll spare you the rest of that thought....anyway her and her 19 year old daughter planned a backpacking ferry trip to south east alaska this summer...sounded fun. i really wasn't trying to listen in she was just one of those loud talkers, i am sure everyone knows one of them and if you don't, you probably are one of them. =D anyway, as people came in i always looked to see if i could move to another open table to give room for them but there never was...i was reading thomas merton and this was the passage, (talking of being alone with God) "'blacking out'...without an interior vocation, simply enters into an artificial darkness of his own making. he is not alone with God, but alone with himself. he is not in the presence of the Transcendent One, but of an idol: his own complacent identity. he becomes immersed and lost in himself." so as i read this, i resigned in myself to offer a seat to anyone who wanted to come in and sit. to which someone did...divine encounter perhaps.

jerry was his name, three kids all living in the lower 48, "america" as i call it. we never got to why he was up here alone. but we did talk about Jesus and the church and life in general. good conversation. i ended up inviting him to thanksgiving at the church. sort of breaking the rule maybe but if we can't bend the rule than it should be broken and its not so much a rule as it is "guidelines" and "comfortability" in place of God's love. love enough.

this starbucks gets 3 1/2 cups U>U>U> J>

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Coffee Cats on Abbott

At the recommendation of a friend I ventured over to the upper east side of south anchorage to "Coffee Cats". It is a cute little place, 6 little tables, 4 of which line up along the wall bench. There is also a taller table in the conner near the door and in the back some black leather or leather synthetic couches. Radio is on playing a local station, 105.7...sounds like hits of the 80's 90's and today sorta station since cyndi lauper is the current artist playing.

I am the only one sitting in here but there seems to be quite a bit of foot traffic stopping in so it is keeping the barista busy between stocking cups and napkins and wiping down already clean counters. I have been talking to her between customers and blasts of cold air from the door opening and closing. The owners originally opened the place to highlight local coffee roasters. They had a roasting business as well. They sold the Coffee Cats store and kept the roasting business but have since closed that or sold it...I missed that part of our conversation. Anyway they now are using Kaladi Brothers Coffee, although they have plans to switch to a local independent soon.

I don't know if this is a great place for really reading or studying with the amount of foot traffic and loud radio but the coffee is good and the costco muffin is fresh. There is quite the selection of coffee flavors and they also sell smoothies and juices. They also appear to have an assortment of soups if I am reading the sign right 12oz for $5.75.

Friendly place for sure, good coffee...cute...but loud. All in all 3 full cups: U>U>U> (it would have been 3 and 1/2 but taylor swift just came on the radio).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cafe Vivachi on Dimond across from alaska usa near the ups store

I was awakened by Daisy this morning nearly clawing my eye out as she wanted desperately for me to take her out. She is an alarm clock without a snooze. So I got up, put on a sweatshirt, my sweat pants, a jacket, scarf, gloves and my slippers and took her outside where -2 degrees was waiting to greet us. greet us it did. after coming back into the house i could not get warm, I was frozen. I had woken up in the middle of the night with a dry throat and that uh oh feeling in my head. I thought here comes the sickness everyone is talking about.  I climbed back in bed at 8am fully dressed, in fact I only took the slippers and the gloves off and wrapped myself in my blanket, a minute later I was out.

I woke up again at 10 and was feeling good (thanks to those of you who knew and were praying), so I took a quick shower, and headed out the door. I new where I wanted to go this morning. A coffee shop that I have been to before but have yet to write about it. Cafe Vivachi. Last time I was here there was an old couple playing "farkle" a dice game and the TV was blasting the History Channel. Today no "farkle" but the TV was blasting the History Channel. The owner, at least I think she is the owner, was sitting and watching intently, "The Fall of Germany" or something like that.

The Cafe Vivachi is small but comfortable. Big windows let the sun in but with adjustable blinds to block direct sunlight. There is a couch and a couple of chairs set around a coffee table near the TV and an electronic fire place mounted on the wall.  The employees all seem to be nice, including the last time I was in. Today's employee was also a stewardess for a local in-state airline, I know this because she was having a conversation with perhaps a son or grandson of the owner. I am assuming this as I say the two of them sitting together and then the young man went behind the counter and was helping himself.

The coffee was good, I of course got an americano and this time a pumpkin muffin...probably from costco which is located just across the street really.  The muffin was good, they had other muffins there, some bananas and an assortment of bagged potato chips. This would be a great place to come and read, low traffic, simple well spaced seating, comfortable atmosphere, if it weren't for the blasted TV. I will come again however, for as I was really just getting settled I got a phone call from a friend, Jim, who was on his way to the church to help me with the wireless internet there, which I am using now to write this blog. Even got the printers back on the network as well. It is good to have friends!

So all in all I will give Cafe Vivachi 3 1/2 cups. U>U>U> J>

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Barnes & Noble Cafe on A and Benson

i love bookstore coffee shops. i don't know why really i just do...there is something about the feel of a giant bookstore, coffee and people.  like a giant personal library except i don't own any of the books, don't know the people and don't have to make the coffee but otherwise its exactly the same.

what was really appealing to the eye was the "starbucks coffee" sign on the cafe sign.  talk about spirits lifted...oh joy to my tastebuds! my steps increased as i got closer to tastebud heaven as i ordered my tall pumpkin spice latte and a roasted tomato compress sandwich. i pulled out my starbucks gift card and was about to pay, "sorry we don't except starbucks cards here." "what?!" i thought, "what of the giant sign, like the bat signal is to batman so is the starbucks sign to me, and you don't except starbucks cards?!?!" i might have said something to the clerk but she was nice and so i couldn't get to upset. besides i had cash to cover so i wasn't to terrible embarrassed.

as i waited for my food and coffee, my sandwich was done well before my coffee...the one barista working the coffee end was slow...and by slow i mean just that slow! "john!" she called. john came got his drink that she set near my food. john now had to reach over my food nearly putting the arm of his coat into or onto my sandwich...that looked really good by the way. "that's the no whip, i have the whip one coming now," she said. "great," i thought, "another chance to have coat lint in my sandwich." luckily she set it further to the side this time and when john came to get his drink no inappropriate sandwich touching.

starbucks coffee is starbucks coffee, you either love it or you don't and if you don't you're crazy, so lets just jump to the sandwich. this roasted tomato, is good enough to make me want to come here for lunch. the bread is a seasoned thin crusted roll with cheese baked on top. it has melted provolone cheese with of course roasted tomato with a basil sauce drizzled on. so so so very good! served with a bag of kettle brand, potato chips with sea salt made for a most excellent lunch.

if you are in the area looking for a great sandwich, great coffee and aren't in to much of a hurry...barnes & noble is the place for you...i am giving it 4 cups, only for the slowness of the barista.

U>U>U>U> (very full cups!)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Elim Cafe on Dimond

Out exploring coffee shops...must be a Tuesday morning! I was rather proud of myself last night for actually getting to bed before 12! So today is already feeling most excellent! Decided to head on down to Elim Cafe this morning. I was here once before and the place was packed...ladies doing crafts, scrapbooking, canasta, whatever it was loud and crowded. I drank my coffee and bailed. This morning there is one guy over on the computer wall (they have a counter with 4 or so computers for public use, not sure if they charge for that), a couple meeting, if I had to guess, for the first time, older, seems to be going well. Oh and I don't want to leave out the young gal working the counter very pleasant but slightly distracted as I had to get her attention in order to order. Today, americano (did you expect anything different?) and a turkey and cheese croissant.

The coffee isn't terrible, but I have a hard time believing I will find anything as good as "Steam Dot" in the realm of coffee. The atmosphere here is rather nice this morning, classical music playing in the back ground if I had to guess who it was, I would say....who are we kidding it all sounds the same to me. I think I want to come back when they have live music. They have a stage area so I can only assume they use it for that or poetry readings maybe...I am sure they have a schedule perhaps online. They do have a website: www.elimcafe.com

Elim Cafe....all in all a nice little place that I will be giving 4 cups    U> U> U> U>

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Downtown Starbucks on 5th Avenue

On my way in from speaking at Wasilla Lake Christian School's chapel service I stopped by the Main OCS office in Anchorage to drop off some paperwork. I am beginning to enjoy downtown more and more. Its really like most downtowns, pretty touristy and yet homey. I guess that's a good thing if I am going to live here. You know to feel as if it is "homey". Anyway there is a Starbucks in downtown on Fifth Avenue near the mall. It just so happens that I had a gift certificate for a free drink...whats better than free? Free, Starbucks! So I drove down the road a bit from the OCS office which is on 4th Avenue then doubled back...you know oneway streets and all. Then paid my parking meter and walked about a block and a half to the store. I really like this Starbucks and in-spite of its "GREAT" location it really is slow. Of course part of its detraction is the metered parking all around.

What can I say about the coffee...not much, it's Starbucks and the good thing about that is it is pretty much the same everywhere you go, and here is no exception. Of course it being a Starbucks the ambiance of the place is typical of all the stores except for the appeal of the downtown city view out the large windows that make up the southeast facing wall.

It has a very quiet atmosphere as well, the music although noticeable is not overpowering. And the customers seem to be respectful of others in the store. This place as I think about it just adds to my growing love for downtown. Starbucks always gets high marks but this one is going to exceed some of the others in town for atmosphere and downtown appeal.

Easy 4 1/2 Cups <U<U<U<U J>

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Steamdot, near O'Malley and Old Seward

"Alaska Air Roasted Coffee" Not sure how exactly Alaska Air can roast anything but it sure is a bold statement, or foolish. It is a spacious coffee shop, streamline good spacing, open entry with two distinct sides...at least today. The giant sign on the front awning reads, SteamDot Coffee (and underneath) espresso & coffee lab, yes, lab. Behind a large window is what moonshiners referred to as a still. Is it still a still if its for coffee?

The Coffee is simply amazing! By recommendation of the Barista I am enjoying, Caldera Blend espresso...again FANTASTIC! It is a complex coffee with a smooth finish and leaves a dark chocolate taste in my mouth. If you know me you know I enjoy a good dark chocolate. The coffee alone is reason to frequent this place and frequent people do, this place is busy!

When I first came in I was only one of a hand full in Steamdot but that didn't last long. On the far side there seems to be some sort of mom's group. They are too far away to know what they are all about but they have their kids with them and they are loudly playing at the table beside the moms who are loudly enjoying their time together...it appears as if they are all having fun. In-spite of the coffee mix up. There was a gentleman in here he ordered a Walnut Latte while he was on the phone. He was on the phone the entire time he was in Steamdot. The barista called out, "latte for Kristen!" Eric, the man on the phone walked up took the latte and sat down. I was looking at some of the products they sell with a giant smile on my face. Kristen walked up to the counter looking for her latte that had magically or not so magically walked away. The Barista, observed the whole thing because when asked by Kristen where her latte was the response was, "I think that gentleman took it." (HAHA you think). Kristen thought about going over and getting it as she turned and took a few steps toward Eric. Thinking more about it she went back to the counter, "I don't think I should have to go over there and get my latte." The Barista didn't want to either and said, "I will make you another one real quick." Funny thing she still made Eric his Walnut Latte. "Eric, Walnut Latte!" I looked over, he looked up, I turned away with a grin, he continued his conversation I am sure thinking, "what did she say?" The Barista called out, "Chris, Americano!" I ran to the counter as fast as I could as to not allow anyone else a chance to steal my coffee...just kidding. I walked over took my cup and sat down, "Eric, Walnut Latte!" You could hear the thoughts almost, "Oh she did just call my name, I thought this tasted different." Eric got up walked over to the counter, took the other cup of coffee and drank it too...two for one special!

check it out on the web: www.steamdot.com

I like it, I will be back for sure! 4 and 1/2 cups :):):):):

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Starbucks on Dimond and Old Seward

this place is busy. i arrived here at about 12:30 to grab a bagel and coffee. the bagel was free as just yesterday i received a card in the mail from starbucks for a free one. how can you pass up free bagels? i don't know, i didn't. i have been to this starbucks before, i like it. the location is decent although in a very high traffic area. pretty much every seat is taken. people reading news papers, books, kindles, nooks, and laptops litter the place. enjoying good coffee and well at least for me a bagel.

there are also tables of people having conversations. for instance the two girls behind me are sharing stories of trips taken. the one just returned from someplace in europe. she seemed to have enjoyed herself and has convinced her friend that, "you have to go there or die!" seems a bit dramatic to me but i don't know i have never been anywhere "over the pond" as you say. i have been to panama where i acquired my taste for coffee. surprisingly i didn't start drinking it black but with "sweetened evaporated milk". not sure why i have stopped that, perhaps i should try that again? we'll see.

i guess what reminds me of panama in this moment since it isn't any closer to the european continent is the service man, who is meeting with another guy dressed pretty casually discussing their relationship with God. i have been eavesdropping into their conversation. i know thats terrible but i am interested in the topic. i am not surprised that i haven't heard the name Jesus, i am sure that is who they are talking about but why not mention His name? are we afraid of it? i think many of us are. whether we're afraid of what people might think of us or offending others and what they might believe, i'm not sure which, maybe a little of both.

i know that if you sit with me as some have come accustomed will hear me ask, "who is Jesus to you?" and then "what is Jesus doing in you," "what is Jesus been doing through you?" "what is it that Jesus wants to do in you" and finally, "what does Jesus want to do through you?" i know for me today Jesus has been my companion and friend. we have had some great conversations. we talked about a little book that was recently loaned to me that i began reading through today, "an hour with...." well some guy i can't recall at the moment (i know, terrible). but in that conversation i was impressed to follow through on a life calling. foster care.

i went online and printed the forms and have been filling them out here at starbucks. there is such a great need to good foster homes. having worked with the system in two states, first california and also while here in alaska, i know first hand of the great need. the need for us to give to others and do for others and answer the call to pay attention to and help, widows and children. i am now in a place that i can do this again and Jesus today reminded me of that fact. Jesus through in me and through me because of who He is to me.

Now back to the purpose of this blog...this starbucks is great for filling out papers, having conversation, listening to conversations, surfing the web and watching people but to concentrate on reading one must not be easily distracted. this is my catch 22. i need people around me but i need them to be quiet...ahahahaha

so the journey continues.....on to the next!

all in all i do like this starbucks and give it 4 cups :):):):)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kaladi's Coffee, New Sagaya Midtown Market

Today I met my friend Brian, at the Kaladi Brothers Coffee, inside the New Sagaya Midtown Market. This is definitely not a place to go if you are interested in a place for some quiet reading. It is a happening place with all sorts of people from every walk of life converging in a market atmosphere that reminded me very much of Pikes Place Market in Seattle, Washington, without of course the flying fish and the pear since it is in midtown.

As I pulled into the very busy parking lot I was immediately asked by a gentleman if I wanted to buy some chew. I assumed it wasn't chewing gum and declined ever so kindly as he opened the pack and grabbed a chunk to put in his mouth. I wondered if that was the pack he was trying to sell me or if he intended only to give me some of that now opened packet. I didn't stick around to find out as I was running a few minutes late. A fact my friend kindly reminded me of with a text, "Dear Lord, bless this food and be with Chris as he is running late. Keep him safe as he speeds across town! In Jesus name, Amen!" I was unable to reply as my phone died as I read it. Seems not only is he a pastor but also a comedian.

I like the atmosphere in there. It is a great place to go and talk over lunch or coffee. They have an assortment of food to choose from, sandwiches, salads, soups, pizza or calzones, chinese, and enchiladas. I of course had the enchiladas because when given a choice I can only choose mexican every time. It's some sort of psychosis I am sure. The enchiladas were decent but really what does one expect going into a place like that anyway...at best subpar for any mexican. The sad thing is I always wish I had gotten something else or at least wish I had gone to a real mexican restaurant.

As far as the coffee goes, you really can't go wrong with Kaladi Brothers and I played it very safe by just getting an americano, black. I drink most of my coffee black because if its not black its not coffee, its a latte or something else with coffee in it. I'm not knocking latte's as I enjoy those too but its not coffee in the tradition sense.

Anyway, New Sagaya Midtown Market, is a win win if you are looking for a place to visit with a friend and drink coffee, eat lunch and visit. It has a specialty market if you wanted to grab some food you might have a problem finding at safeway or fred's. Just not a good, quiet place to read and collect your thoughts.

I am still giving it 4 out of 5 coffee cups because the place is just cool!

Still on the hunt though for the place that fits...so the journey continues..................

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Terra Bella's

Today I met up with an old friend and a new friend at Terra Bella's in Anchorage on Dimond (this is how dimond is spelt in Alaska, I do believe it is a person’s name) and Old Seward near Bed Bath and Beyond. This is a cute little “organic” coffee and sandwich cafĂ©.  I walked into a full room and thought, "this is a good sign." I surveyed the menu and the coffee of the day caught my eye, "Mexico Chiapas" that was an easy decision; now for something to eat. The menu wasn't too extensive, mostly soups and sandwiches. I studied the menu for a minute before locking in on, "Terra Turkey Avocado Sandwich." I took my seat and anticipated the arrival of my lunch and friends. That decision was made for me as well as there was only one table to choose from. I sat down took out my Kindle and began to read just then my coffee and sandwich arrived, “that was quick” I thought to myself. I took the cup of coffee brought it to my mouth; let the aroma waft up to my nostrils…I was pleased. Taking a sip the fullness of this dark roast set my taste buds into a euphoric state. It only enhanced my anticipation of my sandwich but that would have to wait as my friend (the older in time known but younger in age to my new friend I was yet to meet).  

We greeted each other as friends do and knowing that the table I chose wasn’t sufficient said, “This was the only table available when I arrived but some people have left so we can move.” This idea was agreeable so we move into the heart of the coffee shop. My friend after setting his things down went to order his food.  He returned quickly and I had yet taken a bite of my sandwich. I should tell you that the sandwich was served with a pickle spear and tortilla chips.  When he sat down we entered into a conversation that required his full attention to which he was obliged to offer and since I was taught not to speak with my mouth full I held off eating this sandwich that now was calling my name. His wrap arrived, also served with a pickle spear and tortilla chips, so we took a small break and began to eat. 

Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I enjoy “Mexican” style food and tortilla chips fall into that category. I picked one and bit into it and………………stale. Yes, stale, like the chips had been sitting in an open bin for a week. I ate them anyway but come on…stale chips?! “Ok I thought, its only chips.” Taking turns in our conversation I took a bite of my sandwich. Oh, my sandwich, I had been anticipating this bite from the moment I saw it on the menu, anything with avocado should be a win.  I wanted so badly for this sandwich to be a win, but, alas it was not. The bread, a wheat bread, was dry and cut way to thick.  The dressing on the sandwich, cream cheese base, was good but being a cream cheese didn’t help the dryness of the bread. And of course, turkey has a tendency to be dry if not served fresh and cooked to perfection…neither case here. Sadly the whole thing was far too dry to really enjoy.  Stale chips, dry turkey sandwich, saved by a pickle spear? Well, it’s hard to mess up a pickle spear.  To Terra Bella’s credit my friends wrap was, “really good” as described by him. Just as we finished eating we were joined by our new friend and enjoyed some more good conversation in the quaint atmosphere of Terra Bella. When we finished I stayed behind for a bit to read and enjoy the atmosphere and my very delicious coffee. I will try Terra Bella’s again; if for no other reason than the coffee…but rest assured I will steer clear of the “Terra Turkey Avocado Sandwich.”

All in all I give Terra Bella 3 and ½ out of 5 coffee cups but that half is half empty not half full =D