Blog entries

Caffe Vita

Posted in our über-incorrigible libation guide: Coffee.

Guys, get those beards trimmed to look appropriately unkempt; girls, take a couple of hours to give your hair that disheveled look—it’s time to hit Caffé Vita!

For the rest of us, well… I guess we just have to deal with the baristi’s aloof contempt, safe in the knowledge the coffee is particularly excellent here.

Caffé Vita has been around for a good long time in Seattle, where it has developed a good reputation, and I guess I am somewhat surprised an Olympia location exists. Not that I complain mind you; there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be successful here when the only-slightly-better Olympia Coffee is thriving.

That’s neither here nor there, though. Get past a surely barista who probably judges your taste in socks, and the product you get is of a high quality. Our Americanos were well-pulled, with lightly roasted beans as base. The result was, as pretty much any good contemporary coffee, of Scandinavian sensibilities. The flavors were slightly oaky with the expected currant tones. Seriously. The coffee world is all about currants. I’ve yet to get a good explanation why that is.

But let’s get back to the important stuff: Who cares about the product, when it’s really about how over the top hip the place makes you feel. The interiors are, all snark aside, pretty awesome, with the concrete floor contrasting the wooden back wall and counter. It’s a comfortable space.

The baristi certainly know their stuff, and even managed to scare off a bro who had the nerve trying to walk in. (Who needs business when you can have attitude?!) I mean, you’ll feel pretty dang good about yourself having run the gauntlet for a cup of coffee.

We’d go back, at least. I couldn’t care less about being judged by a barista who I have no plans of buddying up with, anyway. Give me great coffee, and I’m good, and good coffee is what you get at Caffé Vita.

The standings so far…

  1. Olympia Coffee Roasting
  2. Caffé Vita
  3. Obsidian
  4. Indaba
  5. Vif
  6. Bar Francis & Co
  7. Milstead & Co
  8. Batdorf & Bronson

Three Magnets Brewing Co Big Truck Stout

Posted in Beer. Because, why not?

Three Magnets in bottles? Who’s excited? I’m excited! What do you mean you’re not excited? You should be excited!

With that said, while this stout-meets-Olympia Coffee’s Big Truck espresso should have me over the moon, I’m left just a wee bit disappointed. This often ends up being the case with low ABV stouts, and Big Truck Stout is sadly no different.

So what is the issue, and what are the non-issues?

To go with the latter first, the flavor is good. Very good. The flavor base is solid, and you can clearly pick up on the espresso which never feels bitter. There are flavors of a great stout in the making is here.

Where it… I mean, it doesn’t fall apart as such as much as wander into letdown territory, is the mouthfeel. As with most stouts, 5.2% often ends up feeling really thin. Like water-y. And you need something thicker than that if you want your stout to be properly propped up, at least that’s how it works in my not-really-too-humble of an opinion.

In that sense, in my perfect world, Three Magnets would take the next step into imperial coffee stout country. The flavor is already there—kick the ABV up, age it a bit, and get the mouthfeel to the right point, and it could be a winner, as many of Three Magnets’s beers tend to be.

What we’re left with, though, is a very solid stout. Jet black, great flavor, and just a hair shy of being the coffee stout I was hoping it would be.

Time Lapse

Here in One Star Classics you will find analyses of Netflix’s finest movies.

Now this is the type of movie One Star Classics was born to cover: An incredibly flawed, yet surprisingly clever sci-fi-esque movie which plays like a David Lynch directed episode of Twilight Zone. (As it turns out, Time Lapse actually was inspired by an episode of the epic show.)

The premise here is simple: Three friends discover a large camera is pointed at their living room from the neighbor’s apartment. The neighbor is missing, yet the camera keeps taking pictures at 8pm every night. To make it all just a pinch more weird, the photos are actually from 24 hours into the future.

Guess who decide to take advantage of these turns of events? And then guess who will find how one should not mess with the future? Yes, this is a true One Star Classic!

There are gleeful things happening here, and you’ll keep questioning them throughout: Does the camera have a mind of its own, one that sadistically starts torturing its users? Is placing perfect dog-race bets every day, expecting nobody to notice you’re doing so particularly smart? How can the kids stand in front of the camera, waiting for a new picture at 8pm when yesterday’s photo clearly showed them in their apartment? I mean, OK, there are plot-holes, but that’s OK. They don’t get in the way of the more mind-bending aspects of the film. Time Lapse could easily stand a second viewing.

The actors do a good job throughout, and particularly Danielle Panbaker (you know her from The Flash) puts in an excellent performance.

As these Twilight Zone things go, the ending has both twists and turns, and I was actually taken by surprise by it. I’m not 100% convinced it truly was logical, and that’s where the second viewing could come in. I wouldn’t be against watching Time Lapse again, just to prove it wrong. Spite-watching? I’m all for it.

Frankly, the incredibly generic cover art at Netflix made me skip past this movie repeatedly. That was a mistake—Time Lapse might have its issues, but at its heart, it’s an entertaining ride, one that gives your brain just a little bit of a slow powerwalk. Check it out, and then thank me for giving you this gift of ninety minutes not too far from three stops before heaven.

Check out the trailer, right here!


Here in One Star Classics you will find analyses of Netflix’s finest movies.

I was somewhat of a big-esque fan-ish of the Cube trilogy, and I take great pleasure in seeing the world-of-sci-fi embracing shapes as their raison d'être. I mean, where was there to go after cubes? God bless the marketing exec who took a look around the room and decided the ever-perplexing circle was what the kids wanted.

Snark aside; the premise of Circle is pretty sound, and the production value surrounding it (wa-hey!) is stylish and smartly designed for what I would assume would be a bottom-of-the-barrel budget. Here we have fifty people abducted by a UFO, where they wake up in a circle (get it?), standing inside individual circles (hence the name), where a Wheel of Fortune-like arrow goes around in a circle (this is a concept movie), killing whomever it stops on. The abductees quickly figure out they can vote for the next victim, and the question is, of course, who will be the last person standing. The kid? The pregnant lady? One of the thirty-four anonymous characters without any lines?

Yes, it’s pretty clear who will be the center (I swear to god I didn’t intend to write that) of the drama, and it’s actually pretty impressive how the writers and directors manage to juggle a good fifteen or so main characters. The actors might not be of Shakespearian quality, but they do a decent job with what I again would assume to be a limited amount of takes due to the movie’s budget. (Apparently Circle took years to film, so getting all these actors on set over that long of a span was no small feat.)

And the bargaining and factions created throughout the whole ordeal is of soap-opera proportions. You’ll find yourself picking sides, rooting for your favorites, and hating yourself for wanting to vote out the annoying eight-year old. (I mean, seriously… Though in the defense of the young actress, it must’ve been hard standing around sobbing for eighty-seven minutes.)

Who is left standing and how the individual gets there is all pretty clever, and the ending is, humongous flaw of logic aside, darkly funny.

Really, I like this movie. It’s obviously inspired by the original Cube, as more movies should be. Flawed-but-fun sci-fi thrillers is what the world needs more of, and hopefully Circle will have a sequel, one they logically should name and shape after Squircle.

PS! Circle, while not a Netflix exclusive, despite what its placement would indicate, went straight to VOD mid-October. I’m guessing this is what we’ll see a whole lot more of for these kind of movies, which is awesome. Now I never have to leave the house again!

Check out the trailer, right here!

We pit three Olympians against two Seattleites against one Spokanite

Posted in our über-incorrigible libation guide: Coffee.

Team OlyCOOL recently undertook the first few steps of a Fact Finding Mission™ in Olympia, Spokane, and Seattle, where we pitted the cities’ finest coffee spots against each other. After countless meetings and seminars filled with deliberation and soul-searching, we are finally ready to reveal our findings.


Obsidian (414 4th Ave E)

There’s something kind of interesting about a family-friendly, quasi black metal spot with an awesome selection of waffles. Yes, Obsidian is different, and their coffee is something Count Grishnackh would approve of. (I mean, he might be a convicted murderer and all, but he’s also Norwegian, so I assume he has an impeccable taste in coffee.)

The beans of choice here are from Stumptown, and the Americanos were surprisingly good. Again: a family friendly, quasi black metal spot with an awesome selection of waffles. Obsidian is just not somewhere I’d expect to get a good espresso based drink, yet the shots were well pulled, and the temperature of the Americano was just right.

It makes sense in retrospect, I suppose, what with the darker Nordic theme. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised the coffee here is reminiscent of what one finds in Scandinavia, currently the epicenter of the hipper than thou coffee scene.

Olympia Coffee Roasting (108 Cherry St)

We have previously posted about Olympia (as we affectionately refer to it as), but with its new downtown location and all, we see no reason why we wouldn’t mention them again.

Their new spot is quite enjoyable. It has a Scandinavian meets Northwest look to it, with a decent (though probably not large enough) seating capacity. Everything here seems customized and automated, from the «Olympia Coffee» branded espresso machine to the Poursteady. The latter made our Honduras pour-over, which was about as good as non-human-made coffee can be. Flavor wise, Olympia’s beans were great as always, and here they were slowly and automatically poured. Perfect timing and perfect temperature—humanity was overrated in the first place.

We’ve had the good fortune of trying many great coffee spots over the last few years, Olympia is right up there with the best of them. It doesn’t take much to figure out why they won Roast Magazine’s «Micro Roaster» of the year in 2013. Currently they’re our favorite of the Mission™, and we’re just fine with that..

Bar Francis (110 Franklin St NE)

Located within Dumpster Values’ bourgeoning vintage-mall is Bar Francis, and a good spot it is. Granted, our coffee was served in paper cups, so make sure you specify you want a mug should you decide to hang out.

Our shots were properly pulled, and the Americanos tasted great. The interiors are, somewhat (but probably not) interestingly, kind of in-between that of Obsidian and Olympia. Think Obsidian’s colors inverted, and you get the idea. A little grungy, yet inviting—a black metal fan who doesn’t like black.

I don’t know, there’s really not that much more to be said about Francis. They do a good job in a good space, and really, while that might sound sort of uninteresting, it’s what a coffee spot should be.


Indaba (210 N Howard St)

One could probably argue that Indaba is not Spokane’s premiere coffee-spot, though then again, one could probably argue that it is, too. Either way, Indaba is quite excellent, and their espresso maker on tap system is pretty impressive looking in its own right.

As for the coffee, my Americano was great. Excellent, in fact. It was served at a lower temperature than most of the others we tried during this test, which certainly helped kick up the flavors. The beans—from Indaba’s own roaster—were light, not exactly to Scandinavian levels, but still to the point where the more delicate details were easy to pick up on.

The space is comfortable, and the baristi friendly, all adding up to a great experience.


Milstead & Co (770 N 34th St)

This was quite possibly the biggest let-down of the Mission™. Milstead has quite the reputation to live up to, but fell flat during our visit. This largely came down to an overeager barista who pretty much punched the AeroPress plunger through the filter-cap in the span of three seconds, jumping on top of it to literally squeeze grounds through the filter. (That might be a hyperbole, but you get the picture.)

OK, the end-result wasn’t actually that bad, but it had a bit of a bitter aftertaste to it, something I attribute to the overzealous press. Still, one should expect a bit more from a spot of Milstead’s reputation.

Vif (4401 Fremont Ave N)

The surprise hit of the Mission™ was Vif, located in the Fremont district. Their pour-over, using light-roasted beans from Olympia Coffee, came out perfectly, highlighting the Ethiopian beans’ acidity, and the currants slapped our faces in a stern but loving fashion. (I know it gets a bit old to point out a coffee’s currant flavors, but you know what… It’s a good litmus test, the fruit-flavor.)

Vif holds a good café feel, with a wine selection, good food, and excellent background music. Kinda French in other words, just with good coffee.


In this first part of the Coffe. Fact Finding Mission™, five of the six spots held high enough of a quality to live up to Washington’s coffee culture reputation. The last one was a disappointment. And for good measure, we threw in Batdorf & Bronson, which we visited a while back, too.

And speaking of coffee culture, why not end on this Anthony Bourdain quote? There is no culture around coffee. Coffee is a beverage, not a culture.

The standings so far…

  1. Olympia Coffee Roasting
  2. Caffé Vita
  3. Obsidian
  4. Indaba
  5. Vif
  6. Bar Francis & Co
  7. Milstead & Co
  8. Batdorf & Bronson