Railroad Ties are HEAVY AF

Another week in the books… so they say. How is it the middle of June already? This year is going by so quickly and yet also at a snails pace. The shortest longest year I’ve lived.

It’s 1:21 in the morning and I should probably be in bed, but instead I’m sitting at the computer and combing through the internet as if I’m searching for the edge. Drawn to the screen like a moth to a porch light; or in this case June Bugs… Those crunchy little shits are quite abundant in the midwest this time of year. God forbid you stand near a light after dark… it’s like being shot by a shitty paintball gun.

Anyway… I digress. Let’s recap the day. All-in-all it’s been a pretty pleasant Saturday. I woke up a bit later than I had planned. I had two beers the night before and I hardly ever drink these days. Felt kinda nasty. You people that imbibe this shit on a regular basis are gluttons for punishment. That, or perhaps you’re past the initiation hump and feel no pain. Or you just don’t give a shit and do it anyway. Either way, I felt kinda nasty and it was compounded by some muscle soreness from doing resistance band exercises on Thursday because now that I’m old, you have to do shit like that just to exist. I’m trying to get in shape. This whole quarantine situation has really taken a shit on my normal routine. In some ways it hasn’t been all that bad; but I’ve definitely been eating more and moving less which is a bit of a problem. So I’m trying to fix it.

Lauren and I went to the coffee shop for a bit to check up on all the construction progress. We’re having quite a lot done as we prepare to bring the shop into this new COVID-19 world. It’s going to be weird, but we’re definitely not the type of people that shy away from weird. We’re just adapting and figuring it out. The break has been good. It’s given us time to think things over and re-assess what’s important to us. Our priorities are different now. Once all the hustle and bustle came to a stop and all the noise had gone quiet, it was easier to think. Moving forward we are going to prioritize happiness over the seemingly never-ending chase for more. This will result in fewer days open, and less hours worked. It’s the best possible solution. Mainly because the more you give, the more that will be taken… Until there’s nothing left. Understanding your limits can be extremely liberating; although it sounds really funny to say that limits are liberating.

After we spent some time at the shop, we went to Menards and picked up a bunch of used railroad ties to create a border for our backyard fire pit. We’d been meaning to do this for a while, but today the weather was perfect and it happened. I don’t know if the demographic of my blog knows much about railroad ties, but they’re ridiculously heavy and a huge pain in the ass to move; especially with just two people. I mean, we got it done… but it wasn’t easy. Tomorrow we’ll take some measurements and then get some gravel and finish it up. If I don’t get caught up in just living my life, I’ll try and take some pictures.

On the bright side of things… I had the foresight to double dip our time working in the yard to fire up the BBQ. I smoked a pork shoulder tonight on the Traeger. I’ve finally got my pork shoulder situation dialed in on this machine. I found the right temperature, the perfect pre-wrap smoke time, and the perfect post-wrap time. It turned out great. We’ll definitely be snacking on this for the next couple of days. It will definitely make it into some tacos tomorrow.

State of the Shop #001

I realize that without the coffee shop being open, I don’t get to interact with nearly as many people to keep them updated. I’m sure there are a good number of you that are curious as to what’s going on behind the scenes at The Caffeinery being that the retail shop has been closed for more than a month at this point. I figured my own personal blog might be a good medium to provide some updates.

Currently, there’s a lot of push for people to start opening the economy back up at the federal level and I’m sure soon we’ll see that coming from states as well. I’m sure a lot of you are curious as to what this means for us. So let’s talk about it…

I’d like to start things off by letting you all know that we’re fine. We’re healthy and we’re staying safe. We’ve been adhering to all the CDC guidelines and haven’t exposed ourselves much during this whole thing. In fact, I think we’ve spent more time actually caring for ourselves during this time than we have in the past 6 years. We’re actually getting sleep, exercising, and eating well. We’ve taken this time to do a much-needed re-evaluation of our needs and priorities. Thankfully, for us, the roastery has been able to keep us afloat during these times. It’s made it possible to keep things from grinding to a halt. That being said, Lauren and I are still working as we have no choice because we’re essentially all that’s left of the company at this point. We furloughed all of our employees pretty early on in an effort to ensure that they have some form of steady income during these unpredictable times. So there’s that. It’s also our focus at this point to ensure that both Lauren and I stay safe and healthy because if either one of us gets sick for any extended amount of time, it puts the whole operation at risk.

For those of you that are holding on to the idea that things will all go back to normal as soon as this quarantine is lifted, I regret to inform you that things are never going to be the same. In the next 3-6 months, you’re going to see tons of places call it quits. Based on the information I’ve seen, the collective WE are essentially 8 months to a year away from the earliest vaccine (and that’s if all goes well). The government is relaxing the rules to encourage people to start opening. They aren’t doing that because they think it’s the smartest thing for health… They are doing that because taxes aren’t coming in and they know they can’t keep printing money. They are essentially just telling people to fend for themselves. We are all essentially on our own and being thrown out to fend for ourselves while they attempt to spin the narrative. The whole… We need to let people get back to their normal lives and businesses makes little sense. Sure, go back to opening your businesses; but we need you to do things entirely differently while also understanding that most businesses have already been dealt a mortal wound.

We are going to continue to see safety and health restrictions on coffee shops and restaurants in the form of distancing and occupancy regulations. Coffee shops are communal gathering places that fly in the face of these new safety guidelines. To pretend that they don’t and try and re-invent a space set up for communal gathering and aesthetic is silly. When hospitality businesses open back up they will have reduced occupancy by half (if not more). So then, how do you pay your rent and labor costs with half the seating (or no seating)? It means prices have to go up significantly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing… In fact, it’s been a long time coming for most of us in the hospitality industry that have been competing on price rather than quality of product, service, and environment. This is further complicated for smaller businesses like us. You see, the government just thinks small businesses will snap their fingers and all of the employees will be back and ready to go. WRONG. We already have a significant amount of employees that will not be returning due to a number of circumstances created by the pandemic. So, at this point… the coffee shop would require us to hire and train new staff on top of already managing the roasting facility that continues to grow. Also, if we open back up and allow the public back into the shop… it doesn’t matter what safety precautions we are taking… We are all subject to the lowest common denominator coming through the door. Prior to the pandemic we would have people come in with their kids and tell us they had just come from the doctor and they were diagnosed with STREP throat; but that they are psyched because they were able to come into the shop instead of be at work! This is an airborne illness and the coffee shop is a large SHARED AIR space. This essentially means that no matter how far apart you stand, if someone comes in and coughs, everyone is exposed. We have multiple people on our team that are considered “at risk” and I don’t feel comfortable putting them in harms way. So, with the government saying that everything is fine; they are full of shit at the moment. We will not be opening our doors to the retail cafe on May 1st for a lot of these reasons.

It’s all good. We’re fine. The cafe is affordable to keep closed for a while. We are going to keep it in a state of suspended animation until there is a time that we can boot it up properly. It’s the responsible thing for us to do to preserve the shop for the long road ahead. To open up the shop while schools are out, businesses are encouraging working from home, and etc… You see, the shop is expensive to operate; primarily because of product and people. That space isn’t set up for carry-out and curbside. It never will be. If it was something that would work, we would have implemented it prior to the pandemic. It would just lose us money (as most of these businesses will find out). Right now we’re researching a mobile operation that we can set up that could allow us to provide cafe service to our beloved community while also preserving the healthy and safety of our staff and minimizing overhead costs during these unprecedented times. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted as we move forward. We love and miss all of you! I hope you’re all safe and healthy.

Quarantine Ramblings: #02

I’m currently looking over all of my music equipment and wondering why I still have it. Why do I continue to carry this all around with me at this point. I don’t really have time to use it much these days. I don’t have any ambitions of forming a band and playing shows. I’m out of practice… It’s weird. Making and recording music has been a big part of my life for a long time. In a way, it defines a lot of my approaches to things. I think that’s why I keep carrying it with me… Like, if I get rid of it, I’m getting rid of a piece of me. Who knows!?

Well, those were my thoughts earlier… At this point I’ve come to accept that being a musician will always be a part of my life, but it doesn’t always have to be the defining part of my life. I can let it go and view it as a previous chapter and it feels quite liberating to not have to feel some sort of obligation to create something because it’s what I’m supposed to do. To be able to pick up an instrument and just play it without that pressure is extremely freeing. I wish I would have taken a moment to sort of unpack and think this through earlier. I know, this seems pretty ridiculous to write an actual blog post about, but I think the overall message I want to convey to people is that it’s okay to move on to the next thing and not constantly have to drag your past with you. You’re allowed to reinvent yourself, grow, and create new experiences. Sure, you still have your past experiences to draw upon, but let it be a part of you and not outright define who you will be.

Alright, that’s enough. Until next time.

Quarantine Ramblings #01

I’ve been having one hell of a time keeping up with this blog. It’s a combination of being out of practice, thinking what I have to write about isn’t worthwhile, and basically not having fun doing it. I have a hard time writing in the moment because it doesn’t fit a mold or genre. So much of my life is centered around refining and cultivating things until they are polished. I like to make my mistakes behind closed doors. I think that’s why I have a hard time writing. I’m too worried to speak quickly and permanently when I know that everything is in a state of perpetual change and once you make your mark, it’s there for the world to see. The watching world is constantly changing; and us along with it. We outgrow those marks, and yet we are all judged by them as if they are permanent reflections of us at any given moment. The inability to forget is a major cause for anxiety and social paralysis. Okay, that’s enough with that thought. I’m sure I’ll revisit it later… After all, all thoughts are a work in progress.

Let’s move on to another thought…

I find it strange that life could potentially be a collective consciousness (call it God or Allah or what have you) and yet the pinnacle of life (as defined by humanity) is essentially creating a digital medium in which we can all bring us all back together into that collective consciousness (internet, social media, etc.). It’s like we miss all of our collective missing parts. We are striving to be one again; but it’s difficult. After all, if the point of the whole experiment that we call existence is to revel in those differences and have different experiences. If that’s the purpose of life… To redistribute energy, it wouldn’t make much sense for us to all be a single collective. Would it? I don’t know… These are just my thoughts at 12:38AM. I should probably get some sleep.

Coffee Cherries in Bloom

Our coffee plant finally produced cherries!!! We’ve been tending to this thing for the last 4 years and after what feels like an eternity, we are finally entering the flowering and fruiting phase of this beautiful plant. This particular coffee plant has lived its entire life inside of a coffee shop and there’s just something inherently badass about that.

That being said… our yield is abysmal. So, if anyone has any grand dreams of purchasing a bag of house-grown and roasted coffee… It’s looking to be about $20,000.00 per cup. haha

Goodbye 2019. Hello 2020!

There’s nothing quite like starting out a new year with a hangover to really put things into perspective. My drinking days are way behind me and my body’s appreciation for alcohol has long waned. Alas, last night Lauren and I were feeling festive and since Indiana still thinks marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, we got our drank on. We had a good time, but today has been a chore. The weirdest part is that the hangover had a weird time-delay. I woke up feeling fine. I worked out, cleaned the house, took a shower and then BAM, felt like shit. Shit’s overrated. Moving on…

I’ve been pretty bad about updating this website. I think I only managed a handful of posts in 2019. I need to make a better effort to utilize this blog more going forward; if only as a means to better organize my own thoughts. My main issue is that I don’t sit still long and consider any time spent writing about past accomplishments would be better spent working on future accomplishments. At least, that’s the rationalization I’m working with at the moment. It’s not like Lauren and I are working 60-70 hours per week to build a culturally positive empire that’s poised to make our small city a better place for all of its inhabitants or anything like that. But I digress… Let’s dive into some recaps of important shit that took place in 2019. I’m sure some of this could get wordy, so if you’ve gotta rock a piss… now’s the time.

Lauren and I bought our first house, so that’s kind of a big deal. It’s been on our to-do-list for quite some time so it felt great to finally check it off. Buying a house is no easy task when you’re a business owner, but that’s a whole different topic that could potentially become it’s own blog post so I’ll save that story for another time. We didn’t opt for anything giant and lavish. We opted for something that was just right. We wanted a place that we would utilize every room on a daily basis. Thanks to our awesome Realtor, Rachel… We found exactly what we were looking for. Sure, it needed a little work; but the layout and feel was on point!

Buying the house was just the beginning. Before we could get settled, we had to figure out how fit a move into our ridiculously busy schedule. I don’t know if you already know this or not; but there’s a lot that goes into a new house. All the cleaning, buying furniture, putting together furniture, renovations, and etc. The list goes on and on and this shit is not cheap. The house we purchased had an enormous and problematic shed in the back yard that required legit demolition. I mean, this thing was LARGE in a proper sense. So, getting rid of that thing took a good 2-3 weeks. The back yard is 100000x better now that it’s gone. I know what you’re probably thinking… Why would we get rid of a shed?! Did I mention it was FUCKING HUGE? There’s literally no reason for a house of our size to have that big of a shed. We don’t even have enough yard to justify it. The garage we have is more than enough. GOODBYE SHED and good riddance.

Next, we had to tackle the plumbing. We had decided from the get go that we wanted to rip out all of the supply line plumbing and replace it with PEX. The original plumbing looked like something you would set up to show plumbers how NOT to plumb a house. There were so many different types of materials that it made no sense. We had galvanized, copper, pvc, and more. The water pressure was awful and it was in need of some serious TLC. Luckily, we managed to get everything ripped out and updated in a matter of a week and now everything is great. We even went so far as to install a pretty baller water filtration system that’s optimized for coffee and tea. All in all, we’re pretty pleased with the new digs. We still have some electrical work to do and a guest room to get set up, but those are things for 2020. So yeah, the house is hands-down the biggest thing we’ve done personally this year. Shit, we even hosted the Reber family Christmas this year!

Alright… That’s enough about the house. You get it. There was a lot of other shit that happened too, but since I talked WAYYYYY too much about a house, we’re just going to move on. Oh, did I mention that Lauren and I managed to take a little time off and fly to Denver, CO for a long weekend? Yep. That shit happened. It was the first time I had flown since I was a little kid. It was a tiny plane and while I can tolerate flying, I don’t think I like it all that much. Shit’s for the birds. Colorado is dope (see what I did there?). We visited our long-time friends that are now part of the legal marijuana growing industry. I really dig how things are shaping up out there. I hope that more people come to their senses in Indiana sooner than later. Shit, most of our neighboring states are already moving in the right direction. I’m hoping it won’t be much longer for us. That way I won’t have to see CBD being marketed everywhere.

It’s been one hell of a year. It’s crazy to think just how many things have taken place. First off, we had a couple of key personnel changes pretty early on. We also had to shut down unexpectedly for a plumbing fiasco that closed the shop for a week for repairs/restoration. Plumbing emergencies are the worst, but our crew is bad ass and we all persevered through the mess and used the crisis as an opportunity to make things better.

Secondly, we started working on building a commercial coffee roasting and education center for The Caffeinery back in October of 2018. Being on a budget, it takes a lot of time for these sorts of projects, BUT with lots of hard work and patience, we finished the project and moved our modest little roasting operation into the brand spanking new facility in March of 2019! This is a really big move for us and for this community as it took a significant amount of investment from us personally to put this into motion. However, we wouldn’t be doing this sort of thing if we didn’t think it was the best possible move for the future of our business, staff, and community as a whole. We spent the rest of the year quietly working on layout tweaks and workflow so that when the time was right, we’d be ready to go. By December, I think we hit our stride and we’re fired up for 2020!

2019 was packed with ups and downs, but at no point were we shook. Life will forever try to call audibles and alter your plans, but as long as you’re resilient, able to adapt, and ready to improvise… you should be able to find the lesson in every crisis and use it to your advantage. More often than not, what is initially perceived to be a negative will ultimately result in the option for something amazing if you’re open and understanding. You either made 2019 your bitch, or you became it’s. I’m sure 2020 will be similar in that regard. Cheers to all of you people that refuse to lay down and take the passive road through life.

Maybe I’ll post some photos next to give some visuals to all this BS I’m spouting. Until next time!