Barça Bound

It has been several years since I studied abroad in Barca as a junior in college for a semester. I knew I'd come back some day to the same city I fell deeply in love with and can't believe today is the day!  (Today around 2:30am PCT to be exact 😱) 

I made amazing local friends while living there and so I will be staying with them. My dearest friend I made was via an "intercambio" or a language exchange. We met up for coffee or several cervezas (to help loosen the tongue of course) and alternated speaking in our native tongues; 30 minutes of slow broken down English and then 30 minutes of Spanish with extreme patience.

Not only did I truly felt confident and gained fluency in a language, but I was let in on this entire seperate world then what my friends had experienced abroad. Stepping out of my comfort zone allowed me to peel back layers of Barcelona and eat, talk and breathe as the locals did. 

Of course, years passed, and my Spanish is not where it was and my confidence is lacking. But even more of a reason to get back out there - out of my comfort zone.  

And this time around I also have a new vehicle to really dive deep into Barcelona - the coffee culture. And that's why this nomad is #BARCABOUND 

I have reached out to several coffee spots and can't wait to meet the people behind the coffee and share their stories.  

Many people presume that because Europe has been doing better coffee longer that they are spearheading parts of Third Wave coffee. But truthfully third wave coffee is fairly new to them as well.  

However, it won't surprise be should I find the next big thing in coffee in one of the best cities in the world.  

I guess there is only one way to find out. ;) 

Mugs Up,

The Coffee Nomad


The Big Easy & The Gateway to Coffee - New Orleans

Two hundred years before Seattle or Portland were dubbed the coffee hubs of the nation, New Orleans served as America's gateway to coffee. 

Metaphorically and physically a gateway - or more specifically, a port. 

The Port of New Orleans was second to New York in destination for Latin American coffee producers in the 19th century. But we can go even further back to find New Orleans history in one single cup of chicory cafe au lait. 

Cafe Du Monde in 1953: Follow this amazing New Orleans vintage blog: 

Cafe Du Monde in 1953: Follow this amazing New Orleans vintage blog: 

 Coffee first came to the European markets around the 17th century. Soon the dark, rich beverage hit major cities and centers of global trade. It wasn't until the 18th century that chicory, the root of a blue-flowered perennial plant, got in the coffee mix. 

Meanwhile across the pond, America was still part-taking in a heavy tea-culture. It wasn't until the British placed taxes on tea that people began taking a preference to coffee. (Tea - 0, Coffee - 1). 

As the demand for coffee grew, the French had established coffee plantations in Latin American countries.  In 1718 the French found the city of New Orleans along the Mississippi and solidified trade access to the nation. 

Coffee crops became the most consistent and lucrative crop for the port, despite its everchanging ownership (From French to the Spanish back to the French to finally the U.S.)

Born was the coffee addiction. So much so, that when the American Civil War resulted in the Union naval implementing blockades, cutting off the port of New Orleans, the people needed a substitute. 

Enter Chicory. It acted more has a placeholder in the mix to make the coffee product last longer. Although it was without the caffeine, it had a similar taste to coffee and it was cheaper.

Chicory would also find its purpose in warfare shortages and economic hardships like the Great Depression.

Sears at Baronne and Common Street - 1940's. Source:

Sears at Baronne and Common Street - 1940's. Source:

And so when you really take a sip of chicory cafe au lait, you are drinking in the city's history.   From wartimes to Katrina, life has certainly never been easy for the Big Easy. But much like the coffee, the people are bold, rooted deep in their culture and vibrant in their character.  

This weekend I am in New Orleans and I am going to do my best to captivate the world of Nola through the lens of coffee.   

It is said that the American colloquial morning coffee break was born along those coffee shops at the mouth of the Mississippi.

I have no doubt that the 18th century industrial Southerner also began their morning with the half-asleep, mumbled phrase,

"But first, coffee."

Mugs Up, 

- The Coffee Nomad 



TOMS Coffee Shop - Chicago

The Coffee Nomad

Leave it to me to not be able to visit the TOMS store about an hour away from my house in California, but rather visit the one half-way across the country in Chicago.

Anyway, it was a really great experience.

To be honest, I wasn't sure how TOMS Coffee was going to taste.  You already know it's coming from a mass roasting producer and it may not be given the special attention, say, your local roaster would give to their precious beans.

But, all preconceived notions aside - I was decently surprised.

#CoffeeAngel Drew poured me their Rwanda blend and then a shot of their espresso.  (Mind you I was already buzzing after visiting Buzz Killer Espresso down the street.  Too many puns? Can't promise I won't do it again.)

#CoffeeAngel Drew doing what Coffee Angels do best - serve and educate me on coffee

So, looking back I can't give you specifics on the Rwanda except for that it was light and that I didn't throw it out on my way out the door.

What really got me was the espresso.  #CoffeeAngel Drew was also surprised when he started working for TOMS.  He'd previously been a barista for two years at a Chicago roaster.  He had mirrored my concerns as well before trying the stuff, but 'til this day he really does enjoy TOMS coffee.

He did tell me that he has played with the espresso to get it to it's optimal serving peak, but just like any coffee, it depends on that batch roasted and the method of straining the espresso.

All I know is that it was smooth and nutty.

And the aesthetics, in all TOMS-like manner, were to die for.  Not pictured, because I am an idiot, is a little space with a few tables for you to get some work done.

Chair. I want chair.

It also bewilders me as to why not every retail store has a built-in coffee shop.


Nothing is more enticing than good coffee to propel you to wander around and look at things that are over-priced and make over-caffeinated, hyper decisions. Also, I was obsessed with these little TOMS cups.

So, there's that which has no informative value to you as a reader whatsoever.

But I mean - look at its petiteness.  It can even fit in the hands of, let's just say, The Coffee Nomad.

(Little baby) Mugs Up,

The Coffee Nomad