thesocialeater

Benchwarmers Coffee Company

In Uncategorized on October 1, 2013 at 7:00 am

Today’s post comes from a dear friend (and my brother-in-law) at Explore Reading. Eric has a passion for sharing all that’s good in Reading, PA, including a lot of thoughtful and delicious food. I love what he is doing and I think it pairs well with what we are about here at The Social Eater.

It should be noted Benchwarmers Coffee is no longer available at Goggleworks, but can be found at all other locations mentioned

Benchwarmers Coffee Company recently opened a stand at the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. You may recognize their flavorful, micro-roasted coffees from the West Reading Farmers Market on Sundays, but we couldn’t be more excited that this coffee is now available here in the city the other six days.

Watching the owner Adam Kenderdine prepare a cup of coffee, it is immediately obvious that he takes great pride and care in his craft. You know what you’re getting is fresh because it is ground and brewed one cup at a time. His selection of coffees drives this point even further: here is a man who is paying attention and getting creative with every step of the process.

This care starts before the coffee makes it anywhere near Pennsylvania. Benchwarmers Coffee buys farm-fresh, direct-trade coffee beans, so their supplier has a personal relationship with the farmers who grow the beans in Africa, South America, and the Pacific Islands. This relationship helps to protect against the slave labor and “sweatshops in the fields” that exist in much of the coffee industry today. Adam says their standards are even higher than what is needed to be certified Fair Trade, but the cost of that certification is too high for a new business of his size. The same goes for being certified organic, even though he is committed to all-natural and sustainable coffee practices.

Benchwarmers CoffeeWhen I stopped in last week, I was told to try the Ethiopia Sun-Dried coffee. Instead of roasting these beans like regular coffee, these beans are left in the sun for a few months, retaining the fruitiness of the berry into the coffee. As a result, this coffee has a more complex flavor, which is exactly what sets Benchwarmers apart. Then there’s the New Orleans roast, which includes a spicy chicory flavor unlike any coffee I’ve ever had, although it was inspired by a famous cafe in the city that gave this blend its name.

Their beans are currently being used in a coffee stout by Saucony Creek Brewing Company out of Kutztown, which isn’t surprising, because Benchwarmers seems to be doing for coffee what craft brewers are doing for beer by experimenting with the process and delivering a beverage that is big on flavor and creativity.

Along those lines, Benchwarmers cold brew black coffee is alao available in bottles, some of which are already being sold in other shops around Berks County such as Say Cheese in West Reading and Cigars International in Hamburg.

At this point, Adam is roasting the beans in his dining room, but he is eagerly working towards the day when he can run a full time café where he says his focus will go back to what a café was originally all about: providing a really good cup of coffee without getting too distracted by lattes and sandwiches. But for now we can continue to enjoy his coffee at the GoggleWorks, working at one of the tables or walking around enjoying the many art galleries.

The GoggleWorks complex is officially located at 201 Washington Street, but the parking lot entrance is around 140 N 3rd Street. The coffee stand is in front of the gift shop. Come try a cup Monday through Thursday, 8am-7pm, and Friday, 8am-4pm.

Visit their website here, and follow Benchwarmers’ new ideas and events on Facebook here.

Permacultivate

In Uncategorized on July 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm

The world I live in is covered in messes. Tangible and intangible trash overwhelms my senses, and I am tempted to close my eyes to it all.

I won’t, though.

I will get overwhelmed.

I will step away for a while.

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But I won’t stop looking for ways to dig my hands into those messes because there are committed groups of people who haven’t stopped, either. There are people who are turning trash into what is beautiful, beneficial, and life-giving.

Some of them, like the inspiring people you will meet at Permacultivate, are doing it quite literally and in our own neighborhoods.

Some of them will compel you to bask in the beauty of what they are doing, soak up the hope, and go away thinking, “maybe I could do that, too.” I say that because that is what happened to me.

During a recent visit, I was able to check out the well-cared-for greenhouse that is home base to Permacultivate. Tilapia swim in tanks that distribute water and fertilizer to nearby floating plants. Worms eat trash that turns into fertilizer. Pots of blooms pop with color, the air thick with moisture and excitement for the circle of life happening within glass walls.

Permacultivate’s Reading Roots Urban Farm is constructed entirely of recycled materials and run on passionate volunteer time. There is no shortage to be done, but curious onlookers like me can visit between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm on Saturdays to ask questions, tour, and explore the grounds.

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The Permacultivate team is doing more than turning used materials into beautiful, renewable sources of food. They are offering workshops, field trips, and consultations to local schools so kids can be part of the magic that is happening at the urban farm. They are collaborating with local businesses and organizations to improve the education, aesthetic, nutritional quality in the city of Reading. They are showing up at local events and in local meals.

Want to get involved?

Buy plants and greens at the Penn Street Market on Fridays from 10:30 am- 2:30 pm, order an Urban Salad from Sofrito (the salad mix comes from Permacultivate!), or buy the salad mix during visiting hours on Saturdays.

Volunteer your time, expertise, or money.

Read more about what Permacultivate’s been up to here and how to get involved here.

What do you do when the people you are hanging out with don’t share your (food)(justice) values?

In Uncategorized on June 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

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Oh, hey!

It’s been over two months since I asked you on Facebook how you approach eating a meal prepared by someone who doesn’t share your (food) (justice) values. Here is some of the great advice you gave me:

…the little experience I do have has been friends or acquaintances explaining to me that how they eat really isn’t that bad. I’m unsure of the purposes of this-it could be that they don’t actually feel good about their eating and want to justify it, or it could be (and I think this one is probably it) that they want to bond over food and clearly I must be interested in food because the way I eat is a little weird. The only way I know how to respond to this is to listen to what they’re saying and just keep doing my thing (whatever that is at the time!). People don’t often change, and I don’t expect anyone else to, and I don’t want to either. So if they want to talk for a little that’s fine, if they want my opinion on things, that’s fine. The hardest part is when they’re closer friends, because I really don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I’ve found that the people that I really like don’t care at all if I bring my own food to things or whatever. I can just be very self-conscious when it comes to that. -Katie 

Respect the choices you have made in addition to respecting the choices those around you have made. I personally won’t bend to make a situation easier, but at the same time, I don’t make a big deal about it either. If you are going to a party or gathering where you know that food could be an issue, we always bring a dish of our own that we can eat and/or make sure we eat before going so that other food is not tempting. And lastly, if you want to stick to your way of eating in a social situation, don’t look at it as: “I want it but can’t have it.” Instead see the situation as: “I can have it, but I don’t want it.” When you turn your thinking around, it all seems to fall into place. -Stacey Bennett, Holistic Health Coach

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I think the best tip I can give is that when the people around you can’t share their food with you, share your food with them! Since having intense cravings for chicken was stifling me, I started making really new vegetarian meals. Kyle has never been one to try new things, but when it smells good – he wants it! By doing this, I’m opening up new doors for him AND when he likes the food – we can eat it together! It’s my favorite thing about dating a meat eater, and it’s always exciting when he says, ‘why don’t you make something vegetarian? I’ll eat it!’ -Ashley

In no way do I feel like an expert in this topic. In fact, it is only recently that I feel like I am starting to get a handle on how to deal with touchy social situations (and some still have me running for the hills!). Shared meals are a BIG deal to me, though, so I have done quite a bit of thinking on this topic.

While I still have more to learn, I am inclined to believe that I am not the only one who is currently navigating meals as the (or “a”) one who eats differently.

Here are a few ideas that have worked for me:

1. PLAN!

2. Decide where and if I’ll compromise.

3. Interpret negative comments as curiosity or genuine concern and respond accordingly.

4. Get plenty of practice making delicious foods that reflect my values and share them.

What do you think? What ideas would you add?

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