Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room Battling the Basic

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Starbucks is often synonymous with basic and *like totally* known for that time of the year when the leaves fade into a sunset palette and flocks of girls donning their uggs, yoga pants and fleece jackets make their yearly migration for the sacred pumpkin spice latte, or infamously shortened, PSL.

It’s not a surprise that Starbucks faces a branding problem. No one really wants to be called basic, especially in a time where sophisticated coffee culture has reached an unprecedented high and local coffee roasters can get away with charging as much as $15 for a pour-over to patrons curious to hear about the tale of the hand-picked beans and the far away farm.

This so-called “battle against the basic” leads us to Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, which is unlike any other Starbucks I’ve seen. I’d call this place a must-see for any Seattle vacation agenda, especially for coffee lovers.

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The Starbucks Reserve Exterior-Image Source: Starbucks

This upscale, experience-focused roastery features everything you’d see in a hipster joint and more. If I had to describe it simply, it was kind of like a hipster Starbucks museum factory. The coffee is brewed any way you’d want, the baristas are “coffee experts” whom are happy to answer any questions you may have, there’s a spacious floor plan with cabin-themed seating and a vast fancy menu pinned down to little wooden clipboards. Oh, not to mention, you know those little trinkets that capture your attention on your way to pay? There’s a whole section of that with the most unnecessarily interesting things ranging from cute mugs to Penny Skateboards to really expensive sustainably-made clothing. Apparently, the beans gotta pass a lot of tests to make the cut. The Starbucks website states, “less than 1% of all Starbucks beans will qualify for this distinction, and some are so scarce they might never be available again.” Damn!

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What are thoooose

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Anyways, I ended up getting a coffee flight because I’m a sucker for coffee flights and I love having options. My best friend got the affogato which I also contemplated heavily. To my surprise, I could actually taste the difference between the coffees (something I wouldn’t expect from a normal Starbucks). They were served in cute little silver pots with fancy post card-quality labels. My favorite was the second one, the Guatemala.

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Needless to say, I was pretty hyper and bouncing off the walls by the time we left. According to Business Insider, Starbucks plans to shed their basic identity includes opening more of these premium locations in the US and in other parts of the world such as Shanghai, China.

If you head to Seattle or any of these Reserve locations open up near you, I definitely recommend paying a visit. I can’t say that I’ll start going to the various Starbucks chains near me, but I definitely think these Reserves proves Starbucks can be more than just a basic bitch.

I Don’t Have a New Year’s Resolution

Originally published on my medium.

I thought I did and I threw some around, but then I realized I didn’t want to only resolve to improve myself once a year.

I want to make goals and challenge myself all year-round. Although I am completely and utterly guilty of this, I don’t want to have to wait to make change. I want to muster up the courage and face difficulties when it is needed.

I don’t want to have an excuse to wait.

The image above, was taken on New Year’s Jan 1, 2016, about a year ago. I wanted to stand above an LA freeway with the wind blowing my red hair throwing up peace signs like, “Damnnnn 2016 don’t got nothing on me! Anotha year of self-love and confidence!”

But that would have been a lie. I was completely miserable at the time. I had been depressed for countless months and I wanted so badly to love myself and to encourage others to do the same but I really didn’t like who I was. I was breathing but I wasn’t alive. Rather than living my life, I was trapped in my own existence. Only sparsely would I feel engaged with my species-being when I was lost in a flurry of music, bright lights, booze or the pages of a good book.

This is sorta more my attitude.

With that being said, I am so much happier now. I made a lot of life changes, some of which were very hard and left me lost for months. But there’s always a a teeny tiny spark of light at the end of the tunnel that we can never see when we’re looking every other way, trying to dig away at cave walls. I’ve come to appreciate my skills and my curves and my features that make me myself.

I’m far from what I want to be and there are so many things I’m looking forward to working on this year — I’m just saying it’s not one “resolution.” 😉

Here are a few things up my sleeve…

  • Creative work! I’m going to try to do a lot more writing and design. I’m going to have a big surprise project done by the time of Coachella!
  • Health. Cliché yes, but I’m going to get back in shape focusing more on my health than that ideal figure.
  • Organization. I’m a pretty organized person but for fuck’s sake I can never finish a damn planner and get things written in stone so I end up forgetting things.
  • Patience. As a deeply passionate person, let me tell you sometimes we are so blinded by our strong will and feelings that we lose our patience.
  • READ. Oh my god, I need to read more books. My professor told me before that to become a better writer, you need to become a better reader. Let me holla at some works from fellow Asian American writers!

P.S. Change never comes from being comfortable.

America Hates Me

It’s November 9, 2016 and when I woke up this morning, I realized America hated me. I am an American. I was born in San Francisco on a crisp fall day. My parents are both immigrants who came to this country looking for opportunity, hope, and a better future. The way that we read about foreigners coming to America in books and movies, it sounds like a country with open arms and ample work and cash and prosperity.

Years before I was born, my mother was walking through the Tenderloin back to her apartment. When she walked by a man, he spat at her and said, “Go back to China, bitch.”

I realized now nothing has changed.

I am so utterly disgusted that a majority of America has chosen a sexist, racist, pompous, ignorant, disrespectful old rich white man to be our leader. To represent us. I thought it would be impossible, but I guess I’ve been hiding in my safe, accepting, and loving bubble of California, completely unaware to what was happening in other parts of America.

Presidential Election Results by State- Source: NY Times

It hurts to know that most of my country, especially Middle America, believes what he believes — that people of color should be shunned. That there should be a wall separating us. That we should be sent away. That we are unequal. That it is okay to grab women. To abuse them. To objectify them. To be denied rights of our own bodies.

America hates me, and I didn’t realize how much it did until now.

I feel so betrayed by my home, my country.

I always knew we lived in a society with hatred institutionalized in our core, but I thought we had progressed so much over time. The worst part of it is, it’s not all Trump’s fault. He does not create the hate, the fear, and bigotry, but it existed within America and he brought it out. I see now the face of America, which was not the America I knew yesterday. Not “my America”.

America hates me.

Marginalized groups, it is more important now more than ever that we band together in solidarity and support one another.

Originally published on my Medium page.

2015: Pussy Power & Commodity Feminism

Raise Boys and Girls The Same Way

This past year, we saw a substantial rise in the support of gender equality. From students defying to have their bodies dehumanized from archaic dress codes, to defying gender roles in the tech industry, to Target’s daring move to eliminate gender-based signage in stores, there were countless feminist moments in 2015.

In my outfit pictured above, I found a cute vintage-looking scoop neck tee that reads, “Raise Boys and Girls The Same Way.” It has a nostalgic feel to it, reminiscent to the graphic tees that were popular when I was in middle school that read things such as, ”Girls Rule, Boys Drool.”

The slew of clothing and other products centered around positive female messaging has left me both ecstatic and confused. I’m elated that we can unite and support each other’s ideology through fashion and pop culture. But, it also leads me to wonder, why did all this clothing come out recently?

Feminist issues have taken unprecedented popularity in our younger people more recently. It would seem that somewhere in 2014-2015, feminism has become more commodified than ever.

A play on Karl Marx’s commodity fetishism, commodity feminism is the appropriation of feminist ideals in the market place. In this sense, feminism is reduced to products which are packaged and sold. This reaches beyond tee-shirts and cropped tops with feminist messaging, but campaigns such as Dove’s Real Beauty and American Eagle’s Aerie Real. As with any exposure, there is good and bad. It is good that women’s equality has gained so much attention, sparking about change. My personal criticism for most of these campaigns is that the women advertised still very much retain an ideal hourglass shape for the male gaze, large breasts with a small pinched waistline. A little contradictory when we are trying to say that all bodies are good bodies.

As for cropped tops that scream “Pussy Power!” and “Ain’t No Wifey”, I hope that the consumers whom purchase them understand the meaning behind them instead of slapping on things that sound “cool.” 

I own a bomber jacket that reads, “Fight Like A Girl.” An man once asked me, “Shouldn’t that read ‘You Fight Like a Girl?'” 

“Nope!” I answered, “Girls can fight just as good.”

I suppose with any attention there will always be some negative, but exposure brings about awareness, and from awareness there can be change

Outfit:

Top- Brandy Melville

Bottoms- American Apparel