Archive for November, 2010

2010 Album of the Year: The Contendahs

In alphabetical order, these are the 25 records I think represent the best of what the music biz had to offer this year. One of which I think stands out above the rest…I won’t say which one that is until the very last week of December. Or the first week of January. Okay, I’m not sure when but stay tuned!!!

Arcade FireThe Suburbs
Beach HouseTeen Dream
Big BoiSir Lucious Left Foot: the Son of Chico Dusty
Broken BellsBroken Bells
Budos BandBudos Band III

Cee-Lo GreenThe Lady Killer
Dum Dum GirlsI Will Be
DeerhunterHalcyon Digest
Erykah BaduNew Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)
Girl TalkAll Day

GorillazPlastic Beach
How to Dress WellLove Remains
John Legend & the RootsWake Up
Kanye WestMy Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
LCD SoundsystemThis is Happening

Mavis StaplesYou Are Not Alone
The NationalHigh Violet
No AgeEverything in Between
The RootsHow I Got Over

Sharon Jones & the Dap KingsI Learned the Hard Way
Sleigh BellsTreats
Tallest Man on EarthThe Wild Hunt
The WalkmenLisbon
Vampire WeekendContra

Side note: should Bruce Springsteen‘s The Promise be considered a “new” album?


Barista Coffee Bar Caffe Bar Mezzo!

I should be honest. This isn’t so much a café review as it is a sales pitch. In the interest of total disclosure I desperately, seriously want to run my own café. That in and of itself is the subject of a future post but I mention it now  because this desire to open my own coffee shop that lead me to Barista Coffee Bar.

As is my usual routine, I was perusing the commercial real estate ads on the Swedish version of Craigslist called Blocket one night when I saw this ad. From the photo I recognized the shop instantly because just a couple of weeks earlier we were at an adjacent clothing store. I remembered looking at that café then and thinking “man the things I could do if I ran this place.” So when I saw it on the market I tried — desperately but unsuccessfully — to acquire it.

(As a side note: while doing some snooping around on the interwebs, I discovered that this café, located in Grand Passage, actually used to be a Mahogny! In fact, the sign on the entrance to GP still says Attibassi by Mahogny Coffee.)

Anyway, I contacted the seller and expressed my interest, he told me to come on down and meet and chat. I met the owner, Magnus, and his wife, Rocio, at the shop one afternoon and was given the full tour. That’s when I knew I really REALLY wanted this shop. Some would say Grand Passage isn’t the best location, even if it is right in the heart of downtown GBG, but what makes this shop so special isn’t the location. It’s the amount of thought that the couple put into the functionality of the café. Quite frankly it’s one of the most barista-friendly cafés I’ve seen in two years here. There’s a TON of space behind the counter, cushioned floors (very important) lots of under the counter storage space. Lots of counter-space period (which was what really attracted me being that any shop I open I would like to have a pour over drip coffee stand. For those of you who aren’t quite sure what that is click here.) The focus of the bar is as a COFFEE bar. They serve high-quality fair trade coffee from Johan & Nyström, one of Sweden’s best roasteries. Magnus even told me that when they originally took over the shop they only wanted to do coffee with no food at all but soon relented. They do have a ton of baked goodies, many of which are baked by Rocio herself, along with a limited number of sandwiches and dessert goodies.

The shop appears to be doing pretty well. Maybe not necessarily gang buster business but pretty well considering their location which is more or less right smack dab in the middle of what we in the States would call a mall. Or at least a tiny mall. So the downside is that there is no view to the outside world nor is there a convenient place for those who enjoy cigarettes with their coffee. However, I did like that their focus has been to make a coffee-centric coffee bar. Not a retro-Italian thing, not a typical Swedish bakery konditori thing, not a French “bistro” thing. Just a coffee bar. It’s too bad I didn’t have 450,000 kronor stashed away because my ideas fit right along with the overall direction that Magnus and Rocio had for the shop. It really would have been a very simple transition from what they’ve done so far to what I would have done. Oh well.

The shop really could be a goldmine in the right hands. Right now, though, I have to admit that the couple hasn’t done themselves any favors as far as marketing goes. First and foremost Barista Coffee Bar is a very bland name, I’d go for something with either a bit more class or something a bit more aggressive or here’s a common advertising buzzword “edgy.” Also, a website or blog would have been a good touch as well. Shoot, the simplest thing would have been to have a stamp with the shop’s name/logo on it and stamp to go cups. I remember when I was at Murky that would be something we’d do in our downtime, just stamp to go cups.

So this is to whomever winds up becoming the new owner of what is now Barista Coffee Bar: don’t screw this up. Gothenburg needs (another) coffee-centric coffee bar. One that puts to use many of the newest coffee brewing equipment and techniques. I’ll say it again in Swedish: Göteborg behöver en till kaffefokuserad café. If I come back in a few months and BCB has been turned into, well, something that sucks I will…well…I don’t know what I’ll do but you better believe it won’t be nice.

Just sayin’.

*UPDATE: So about that last part, Barista Coffee Bar was purchased. Not by me but by somebody almost as cool. My former DaMatteo and Mahogny co-worker Tony Jegeni shocked the scene when he and a couple of associates purchased Barista Coffee Bar and re-christened it CAFFE BAR MEZZO!

Congratulations Tony and good luck, you’ve earned it!