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AFAR Experience Seattle – Day 3 Coffee and a View

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Photo credit: Daniel Y Go

Sunday morning bright and early the AFAR Experiences group headed to Caffé Vita Coffee Roasting Company in Capitol Hill to talk a little coffee and a little pot. Not the pot you pour your coffee into, but marijuana.

To start, we were offered a cup of delicious green roasted Caffé Vita coffee as we waited for head coffee buyer, Daniel Shewmaker, to share a little about coffee buying and roasting.

Daniel is uniquely qualified in that he spent his childhood in Indonesia where he learned to love the taste and aroma of roasted coffee. Now based in Seattle, he travels all over the world to purchase green coffee from farmers and encourages coffee consumers to be selective in choosing where they spend their coffee dollars.

Seattle is a great coffee city, weather considerations aside, between the early European immigrants, tech, mechanical and engineering communities, coffee incites and intrigues everyone. He asked us to embrace specialty coffee shops (as opposed to the big guys) and understand where our coffee comes from. There is a lot of work that goes into a single cup of coffee and before you gulp the next one down, think about the process from soil to mug.

Luckily most of the folks living in progressive cities like Seattle (San Francisco, Portland…) are really concerned about what they put in their bodies in terms of food and this helps the coffee industry as well. There is more interest in understanding where this shade grown plant lives, what it takes to grow and harvest it and who is doing the harvesting.

Daniel’s message definitely has made me consider my coffee choices since that morning.

Fully hyped on coffee we welcomed our next speaker from Seattle’s largest alternative newspaper, The Stranger. News editor Dominic Holden shared a little bit of history around the culture and conditions for marijuana and how it has impacted the latest laws recently passed legalizing this plant.

You can tell Dominic is a writer by nature as he is extremely witty, unapologetically sarcastic and just plain fun to listen to!

I really enjoyed learning about the implications of the new laws and how they will impact commerce in and around the city – I foresee the same issues for San Franciscans should they ever pass the same bill.

We left Caffé Vita and for our last activity of our “experience” at Smith Tower. Located in Pioneer Square this skyscraper which was completed in 1914 is 38-stories tall and is the oldest skyscraper in the Seattle. Our mission was to head up to the 35th floor on one of the 7 manually operated elevators. The Smith Tower is the only building left on the West Coast with manual operators!

Once there we entered into the Chinese Room which has a wraparound observation deck, which of course requires a few photos! Like this one with the Space Needle peeking out.

And I can’t help myself when it comes to finding vintage signs like this one.

Once we gathered inside we had the unique experience of hearing about the artist community from the artist themselves. We began with an intro from Leah Baltus, the editor in chief of City Arts, which is a monthly magazine dedicated to creative life in the Seattle area. Then we heard from several artist from different mediums speak about the threads that bind this family of artist together and the support of activities and programs they facilitate to keep it that way.

We enjoyed lunch where we mingled with the artists and then we had a very unique opportunity. In the early 90’s there were restoration efforts taking place in the building. A part of this project included the removal of a 10,000 water tank in the top of the tower. That opened up space that when combined with a former maintenance man’s apartment became a three-story penthouse, the only residence in the building. The owner, artist/investor Petra Franklin and her family had opened her home up for us to see.

Correct. I am not kidding!

I am not sure how often Petra is inclined to do this, but I felt extremely honored to have a peek into this exceptional, one-of-a-kind penthouse. It was extraordinary!

There are several levels to the living area and “top” that culminates into a glass dome, however the skinny, unsupported stairways to the top really made me nervous and I got only part way up before turning around! Looking up there is gorgeous piece of Chihuly glass.

Looking down from that level you can get a peek of the beautiful apartment below.

Here is another photo looking down.

And one looking out.

I didn’t want to take too many of photos of the living area as I was a guest in a family’s home, trust me when I say it is magnificent. I did find this New York Times story on it from 2010 which has excellent photos.

My AFAR Experiences trip in Seattle really was an experience and I am glad I decided to go on this weekend. It allowed me to further cement my opinion on the AFAR organization as an extraordinary one!

If you think this is something that you may want to do, check out the AFAR Experiences website to see where they are heading to next!

Traveler Tuesday - Rena Thiagarajan of Bly
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