The Bean Brewding Self-guided CBD Coffee Tour

2016-06-04 coffee_tour_frontSpecialty coffee has certainly enjoyed a rise in Brisbane over the past three or four years. Although a number of cafés and/or roasters have emerged in suburban areas, for workers in and around the CBD there has never been a better time to sample some of Brisbane’s finest coffee.

If you are inclined to agree, though are perhaps wondering where to start or visit next, Glenn and George at Bean Brewding have things well and truly covered. The team behind Brisbane’s first and only coffee tours (running since 2012) have devised a handy Self-guided CBD Coffee Tour, mapping your path to some of the better coffee stops across the city of Brisbane.

You can find out more about regular coffee tours of various regions in and around Brisbane, as well as other one-off events on the Bean Brewding Coffee Tour Page, and having attended several, I can highly recommend them.

The tour is a stroke of genius, and reminiscent of the “disloyalty” card which sprang up in London (or so I believe) a few years ago. Regardless of the name, the idea is to guide the budding sipper to establishments where great coffee is served, however might be outside the usual well-travelled radius from your office. Of course I should also acknowledge working in the Brisbane CBD is not a pre-requisite to enjoying the great coffee it has to offer either.

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Listing eight cafés from Margaret St all the way across to Roma St and many in between, the tour operates in a similar way to the well-known loyalty card concept — in which your final stop (in this case the eighth coffee) is free. I’d argue however, the benefits of embarking on this journey far outweigh simply saving a few dollars.

In one sense, yes, it is a geographical journey around Brisbane’s CBD – however it is also a journey through different styles of coffee, roasters, brew methods, and cafe environments. It’s a way to experience something different, yet of a quality endorsed by some of Brisbane’s most experienced coffee drinkers. It’s choosing to step off that well-worn path from the office to your “local” and back.

For me, it is also the unexplored adventure of visiting somewhere a little different, in perhaps an unfamiliar environment — and revelling in the experience for a short while before that inevitable return to those elevator doors back at the office. If you think that’s overstating things a little, perhaps you don’t see your coffee and lunch breaks the same way I do. Fair enough — though either way, I believe you’ll enjoy this tour.

As they say, every journey begins with a single stamp (or something like that anyway), and I’m away. Of course as you can see, the one I have collected so far is at the end of that well-worn path I’ve referred to above, however I’ll get there. You see for me personally, my cafe life is a hopeless combination of familiarity and loyalty (the merits of which I am happy to vigorously defend), so I plan on using this card to do exactly what I’ve suggested above — sample the delights this city has to offer, and with the weather that little bit cooler, there has never been a better time to charge around the city.

So, whether you plan on working from top to bottom, or perhaps random number generating your way around — pick up a card from any of the participating cafe’s and get started. I’ll see you on the trail, or perhaps at the brew bar, and do check in with the hashtag brisbanecoffeetour — I’m sure the guys would enjoy hearing of your journey. Whichever way you go, might I suggest the idea is probably not to get through the entire list in one day.

Though I’m sure if we start early enough…


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The DanDa Stationery Aisle – cheap, cheerful and useful

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Although not likely to replace your favourite online stationery supplier, nor is it Officeworks, Japanese discount store DanDa has a few options which might be handy to those interested in pen and paper. Cheap, locally available, and carrying some items not found in other brick and mortar stores in town all make for a place worth visiting next time you find yourself in the Brisbane’s CBD.

Located in Adelaide Street (opposite City Hall), it’s an easy walk from most places you may be visiting should you find yourself in the CBD.

What might you find here which may be of interest? Quite a few gel pens for starters, including Uniball’s Signo DX, some Zebra’s Sarasa, Pilot’s G-2, and Pentel’s Energel among many others. The predominant tip size is medium and finer, although for those who prefer a wider line you will likely find something for your preference as well.

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DanDa has been my go to supplier for Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto multi-pen refills for some time now, and if you buy three refills, you only pay for two. Speaking of payment — it is of course one of those stores where everything is a universal price (apart from the occasional item marked otherwise – though this is rare). Everything you pick up is A$2.80.

For the fountain pen user? Here, there is probably a little less (read zero) as far as pens are concerned, however I have picked up the fountain pen friendly Campus notebooks by Kokuyo (in multiple sizes); a 3 ml syringe for cartridge refills (you’ll find this in the cosmetics aisle); and a couple of magnifying glasses (albeit not the most powerful) for peering a little more closely at some nibs. Again all at a cost of A$2.80 a piece.

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As I said, DanDa probably won’t become your go-to stationery store, however there are a couple of aisles of pen and paper well worth checking out — and it certainly won’t do your credit card too much damage in the process.


Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesday – a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web by those far wiser than myself:

NoteMaker
Although the Melbourne Writers Festival has now come and gone, some interesting insights into the art itself from one of Australia’s best, Nick Earls. Discussion turns to the new novel Analogue Men, and Nick’s penchant for Moleskine notebooks and a good pencil:
Interview with Analogue Man, Writer and Endless Story Starter Nick Earls

Brett Terpstra
Taken some notes as a plain text list and wished it were a mind map? Develop them further by way of a handy script for converting indented Markdown or plain text to a mind map application of your choice. I also love the integration with popclip, a handy Mac application I use heavily for one click copy and paste (which itself now has 126 different extensions):
Converting Markdown to a mind map

The Weekend Edition
In some decidedly local news, Brisbane is set to see the launch (October 1 this year) of the worlds first NEXT Hotel, on the site of the old Lennon’s on the Queen St Mall. Should we be excited? Maybe, maybe not, however sounds as though there is a nice little bit of tech thrown into the mix:

…guests can download the NEXT Hotel Smart App, using it to adjust lighting, room temperature, music and television channels without needing to leave their super comfy bed.

A perfect place to stay (awake) after the next Strauss coffee cupping evening:
World’s first NEXT Hotel launches in Brisbane

A Penchant for Paper
Although I certainly don’t need an excuse, here are 10 reasons to use pen and paper and get writing by hand. Sketching always seems such a noble and therapeutic undertaking, however it is such a pity I have the exact opposite to a ‘dab hand’, for such an activity:
10 Ways To Use Your Pens and Write By Hand More Often

The Clicky Post
Although perhaps not an everyday colour, the Iroshizuku Yama-budo (Crimson Glory Vine) ink looks fantastic in this Pilot Custom Heritage 92 Demonstrator. A great review by Mike Dudek, and as usual, great photography to match:
Pilot Custom Heritage 92 Demonstrator Fountain Pen – M Nib

Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Speaking of fantastic looking inks, there aren’t too many more striking than the subject of this post by Ian Hedley. If you like your orange with a good measure of substance, check out the link, or alternatively search for “deep orange ink” in Ian’s fantastic new pen blog search engine, Pennaquod:
Diamine Cult Pens Deep Dark Orange ink review

Finer Things in Tech
David Chartier with an elegant piece on…well, the inelegant state of inter app communication and integration courtesy of the walled gardens currently in existence:

But even on OS X, where apps have always had ways to work together, I had to manually copy and paste the title and body of this piece from the Evernote, erm, note where I scribbled my initial ideas into Write. Like an animal. As much as I am a fan of Evernote, it’s a tedious, hindering experience that makes me curious about alternatives.

This is hopefully all about to change with iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite – not long to wait now:
iOS, Mac App Extensions offer some hope for walled gardens

Austin Kleon
Not commandments per se, though a list of ten nonetheless. Manifesto?, Declaration? Creed? Call it what you will, though Notes to self was the author’s choice. My picks – numbers 1 and 10:
Notes to self

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Tech, Tech, Tech!

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Anybody seen the other one?

Amongst the subscriptions to various industry and management/leadership newsletters that arrive in my inbox at work, one in particular caught my attention recently. A weekly newsletter from Verne Harnish, author of The Rockefeller Habits (adding value and growth to your company), contained a snippet with the following:

Atlassian Valued at US$3.5 Billion – congratulations to co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brooks – now billionaires on paper after launching the firm in 2002!!

A further link to this Wall Street Journal article then explains how Atlassian, an Australian firm which develops online collaboration tools for business, is now one of the worlds most valuable venture-backed companies. The focus of the article cites how the company, now with over 800 employees, has seen an average sales increase of over 40% annually for the past 5 years, has done so without employing a single salesperson. How? An exceptional product I expect.

You will also find more on this in the The Australian Financial Review.

Yes, dept4 is far from a business news site, though articles like this get me thinking about the talent Australia has in the tech world, on both large and smaller scales. Need a great Australian made and therefore very accurate weather app (available both on iOS and Android)? Look no further than the Shifty Jelly developed Pocket Weather Australia. Not surprisingly, the developers also make one of the most highly rated podcast apps on the App Store (again for iOS and Android) in Pocket Casts 4. You can listen to developer Russell Ivanovic discuss the challenges and successes of Shifty Jelly on this episode of the Podcast CMD+Space with Myke Hurley.

Although I am not a gamer in any sense of the word, most of you would know the games Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, which were developed (amongst many other great games) just across town here in Brisbane by Halfbrick Studios.

Although I have highlighted only a small few here, there is no doubt about the quality of tech talent in Australia, nor the coverage on great sites like Reckoner (both web and podcast). Whilst it is a small few who will make their millions (or be valued in billions), there are countless others out there toiling away and demonstrating the immense talent in this sector of the country, all of whom are worthy of our acknowledgement, appreciation and encouragement.

My kids tinkering with the HTML on their Tumblr accounts? You never know.

Go little Aussies.

The in-between

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Referring to exactly what you may ask?

Well, Christmas Day has come and gone, now onto the New Year in all it’s celebratory joy – or excess, depending on your particular view. I typically think of this week as the “in-between”.

Should our thoughts drift towards what was accomplished in the year almost complete, what is to come in the year ahead – or neither? I don’t know about you, though for myself the answer is probably a little of all three.

Personally, I am often thinking of what I could, might, or should have done. How I may have done better the things I actually did. In view of this, I don’t feel it is necessarily a bad thing to remind ourselves of what went well, what we accomplished, or those things crossed off the list we never thought we could do.

The year almost complete?

For myself, achievements both big and small, some that stretched me and others that didn’t. Many which could have been done far better though were completed nonetheless, and lastly, some things left undone.

Overall I would say I am happy with 2013, as amongst other things I managed to start this blog in May and have now published 70+ posts. Along with continuing to develop and refine my coffee roasting skills, this is probably what I am most satisfied with.

Professionally? Much the same, however the focus of this blog has never been, nor will it be (save for a passing reference here and there), about my professional life. One aspect from the past year that particularly resonated was a comment made by Tim Ferriss in a breakfast seminar here in Brisbane in the latter half of the year. Tim stated he did not believe in work-life balance, but work-life separation. I certainly second that thought.

I have never been more relaxed than when my head is buried in my iPad (what am I a teenager?) or a bag of green coffee beans I am about to roast.

For the year ahead?

Probably more of the same – just better!

All jokes aside, gaining more knowledge and ability in everything from blogging to coffee roasting and brewing are in my (albeit unwritten) plans. I expect I will also be searching for great pens, paper, apps and other tech goodness . Some or all of which I will continue to share on these pages – those within my ability and comprehension anyway.

Professionally, I will continue to work hard and to the best of my ability, ensuring I grow in this sphere of my life as well. Plain and simple.

For You?

I would like to take this “in-between” time to congratulate you on your achievements for 2013, and wish you all the best for the coming year. Whether your intentions are concrete, well planned and written down to every minute detail, or swimming around in your head, I am sure you will finish 2014 a step or two ahead of where you are now.

Best wishes and good luck!